This communication addresses the question whether Allopathic Doctors
are legally justified in prescribing Ayurvedic
medicines. A 10-month-old child was brought with a complaint of frequent seizures. During the interview she had a Complex Partial Seizure (CPS). Her general condition and neurological examination Were normal and she had achieved
the expected milestones. The EEG was normal. She was advised Carbamazepine 20 mg! kg, and following that, she had only 3 seizures in the next 15 months.'
Earlier at 6 months of age she had mild fever and a generalized seizure; it was treated as bacterial meningitis, despite a normal CSF report. At 8 months she developed CPS once daily. Sodium Valproate was ineffective, so her doctor added an Ayurvedic "cerebral tonic". That day the child had 10-20 episodes of CPS. The tonic was stopped, and the frequency came down to 1-2 day. It was re-introduced a week later, .resulting in hourly seizures and stopping it again reduced the frequency to once daily.
The prescribed Ayurvedic preparation has 25 ingredients, which seem to consist of 4 "nervine tonics", 4 "nerve sedatives" and 17 drugs which have no definitive CNS
action(1). The main ingredient is Brahmi (Herpestis monniera) which
constitutes 19.2% of the total mass and is described as a nervine
Recently the Supreme Court of India ordered a Homeopath to pay Rs
3,30,000 as compensation and costs to the widow of a patient he had
treated with Allopathic drugs. Allopathic specialists opined that his
treatment was reasonable. Nevertheless the Supreme Court ruled that
the doctor was not qualified to prescribe allopathic.
medicines, "and this. factor alone constitutes evidence of "negligence
per se", and so no further evidence of negligence is
required"(2). Presumably, the same applies to Allopathic doctors who
prescribe Ayurvedic drugs.
Dhanya Mission Hospital,
Kerala 680 722, India.
1. Nadkarni KM. Indian Materia Medica: With Ayurvedic, Unani and
Home Remedies, 3rd Revised and Enlarged edn, Vol. 1. Mumbai, Popular
Prakashan, 1982; PI' 624-625 & passim.
2. Meledam S. Patients can sue quack doctors. Indian Express, Kochi
edn, 1996, 5 June, p 7.