About 300 scientists, medical doctors, journalists, government officers, lawyers, and policy makers participated in the First European Ayurved Congress on April 23-24, 2005, in the city of Castrop-Rauxel in western Germany. The theme of the congress was based on the idea that the time has come to establish Ayurved (aka Ayurveda) in a proper way and to regulate its practice in Europe, especially in Germany.
The major concern expressed by many attendees related to the misrepresentation of Ayurved as a massage/wellness system that is being promoted as an extension of cosmetology. Currently, virtually anyone can practice Ayurved, and no restriction on its practice has been established by any professional group or government agency. Most of the attendees agreed that the time has come to establish Ayurved as a healing science, to integrate it with modern medicine, and to develop rules and regulations for its practice in Europe.
Kerala Ayurveda Academy in Castrop-Rauxel is the first Ayurvedic institution in Germany working to achieve this goal. Kerala Ayurveda Academy was one of the major supporters of the congress, along with the State Government and Bonn University.
The inaugural address was given by P. K. Warrier, MD (Ay), chief physician of Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala, an Ayurvedic Hospital and Research Centre in Kottakkal, Kerala, India. (Note: The abbreviation "Ay" refers to a doctorate in Ayurvedic medicine.) Dr. Warrier stressed the potential for Indo-German collaborations in Ayurvedic medicine. Mr. Thomas Vallomtharayil, the Director of Kerala Ayurveda Academy in Germany, gave the welcome speech. He emphasized the Academy's present aims and objectives, as well as its future projects and plans. The inaugural function was presided over by the Mayor of Castrop-Rauxel.
There were a variety of presentations dealing with both policy issues and clinical matters. S. K. Sharma, MD, PhD, attended the meeting as a representative from the Indian Government. Dr. Sharma is a member of the advisory board for the India Government's Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH). He explained the rules and regulations for the education and practice of Ayurved in Europe, pointing out that it takes more than 5 years in India to become an Ayurved doctor and an additional 2 years for specialization. To carry out further research and earn a PhD degree requires at least 3 more years. He emphasized the willingness of the Indian government to train qualified individuals overseas for these programs in a bilateral manner.
D. Jobst, PhD (University of Dusseldorf & Bonn), presented a paper on the "State of Naturopathy in Germany." G. Merzenich, PhD (University of Bonn), gave a presentation on "Indication based clinical studies of rheumatoid arthritis in Ayurveda." Mr. Stephan von Bandemar (Institute for Work and Technology in Gelsenkirchen) suggested that "The minimum would be to meet the Indian standards in Germany" and discussed issues related to "Quality management of Indian Ayurvedic medicine."
In numerous speeches it became clear that Ayurved is composed of complex and highly customized treatment concepts that comprise what is considered a proper way of life and nutrition, plus a variety of different therapies, combined with the all-embracing concept of phytopharmacology (i.e., the use of herbal medicines).
There were presentations related to multiple facets of Ayurved. Prof. H. P. T. Ammon (University of Tubingen) presented his biochemistry- and cell physiology-based research on "Sallai Guggul" (Boswellia serrata Roxb., Burseraceae). G.G. Gangadharan, PhD (FRLHT, Bangalore), presented a paper on "Globalization of Ayurveda--Issues and Perspectives." Dr. C. Suresh, Bachelor in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS), MD (Ay), PhD (Triveni Hospital, TVM, Kerala, India), gave a presentation on "Osteoporosis--An Ayurvedic Approach," which was based on patients he has treated over the years in his hospital. (Note: The BAMS degree requires 5.5 years of study and is the basic qualification to practice Ayurvedic medicine.) The writer of this conference report (from Fort Valley State University, Georgia, USA) presented a paper on "Traditional medicinal plants in the light of modern medicine," which used the example of Scutellaria research being carried out in the university labs. Dr. Syal Kumar, BAMS, MD (Ay), with the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, spoke on "Osteoarthritis and Ayurvedic Management." Dr. Madhavan Kutty, BAMS, MD (Ay), Superintendent of the Arya Vaidya Sala in Kottakal, India, gave a presentation on "Panchakarma," a key traditional practice in Ayurved. Prof. L. M. Singh, PhD (Tribhuvan University, Nepal), talked about "Ayurvedic management of urinary diseases," and Dr. E.P. Jeevan, BAMS (Kerala Ayurveda Academy) spoke about "New trends in Ayurvedic research methodology." Many physicians from Germany also presented papers on cancer, gastroenterology, diabetes polyneuropathy, etc.
Panel discussions on relevant topics were also conducted. The subjects of these discussions were as follows: (1) Quality control of Ayurvedic education and Ayurvedic practice in Germany; (2) "New European directives on the medical use of herbal products"; and (3) "Present potentials and limits of Ayurvedic treatments in the EU."
A key point made at the congress was that the German government is interested in establishing and promoting health tourism locally and in collaboration with India. The German government is keenly interested in joint projects that collaborate with the appropriate parties in the Indian government within the area of Ayurvedic medicine. These activities will help to upgrade the status of Ayurved in Germany to establish its rightful place. These efforts will also encourage people to visit genuine Ayurvedic hospitals in India. All the speakers agreed that integrating the modern Western conventional medical system with Ayurved offers great opportunities for both patients and professionals.
In the recent past, a two-year training course for Ayurved therapists, which follows the Indian example, has shown satisfactory results in providing services in Germany. Two research projects are soon to begin at the University of Bonn. The projects will be supported by the State Government of North Rhine-Westphalia, the Institute for Work and Technology scientific center, and the city of Castrop-Rauxel, which intends to position itself as a European center of excellence in Ayurved.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been established in Germany during the past 10 years and continues to receive acceptance. This popularity has caused many Europeans to visit China and learn more about TCM. As a result of this activity many TCM medicines are now available in Europe, triggering the export of TCM medicines and boosting the economy. In the same manner, congress attendees agreed that a similar program needs to be developed to promote Ayurvedic medicine.