Ram N Kumar, Founder and CEO, NirogStreet shares his views with Prathiba Raju on how technology-led Ayurveda platform Nirog Street aims to nurture future ayurveda experts with the right kind of knowledge and impactful tools
Why do you think common man still has trust deficit when it comes to ayurvedic treatment or doctors? What will you do to bridge this gap?
People trust ayurveda but when it comes to ayurvedic doctors and medicines they don’t have the same trust. Trust is lost when we have more unqualified doctors than qualified doctors. The biggest issue is that in the modern age where other healthcare streams such as allopathy etc. are riding on knowledge, content and evidence-based innovations, torchbearers and experts of ayurveda (world’s holistic and most reliable healing system) are still struggling for the right kind of knowledge-sharing tools that can bring the much-required trust.
NirogStreet aims to bridge this huge learning gap by equipping established doctors and nurturing future ayurveda experts with the right kind of knowledge and impactful tools. Once the doctors pass out from medical colleges, they don’t have a platform to learn or track clinical progress on a real-time basis. So, most of the doctors rely on theory and books to upgrade their practice but what is required is the practical knowledge with live case studies. NirogStreet Ayurveda app is the country’s largest database of curated and certified ayurveda practitioners. This app aims to build an interactive, knowledge-oriented and robust information sharing platform for practitioners, academicians and students.
Another big issue with ayurveda doctors is that most of the time their practice is focussed around a single brand. They also give open medicines to patients. It is not possible for any single brand to offer all medicines for all ailments. We have changed this trend by offering a plethora of trusted and authentic brands under one roof to participating doctors. Now, they can easily prescribe multi-brand medicines so as to ensure timely and effective recovery and cure. We are also pushing the ecosystem to stop the practice of open medicines as it is associated with a large number of health, safety and trust risks.
With technology-based intervention, we curate and empower doctors by working closely with Ministry of AYUSH, regulators and research organisations. Our platform provides peer-to-peer learning where content and cases are created by a real doctor for real doctors so as to bring in standard practice protocols in ayurveda.
With the increase in anti-microbial resistance (AMR) globally and particularly in India, do you see an opportunity for ayurvedic treatments?
AMR has emerged as a global threat and the credit goes to modern healthcare practices and inappropriate use of antibiotics. For example, atopic dermatitis is a typical Japanese problem with no cure available. A herb-based system can easily manage such issues. So, in AMR all traditional medicines such as ayurveda, unani, Chinese medicines and African medicines are bringing success. Wherever surgery is not required, ayurveda is preferred over allopathy.
Ministry of AYUSH is barring non-AYUSH scientists from undertaking any research work on AYUSH drugs and treatments. How do you see this step?
The irony is that people today are selling anything and everything in the name of ayurveda. To strengthen the trust in ayurveda as the first call of treatment, certain standards and norms need to be set. Those who don’t consider reading classical texts which are the base of ayurveda have no right to take the lead in doing research work on AYUSH drugs and treatments. It is a right step by the ministry where they have mandated at least one ayurveda doctor to be a part of the trial before it goes for commercialisation. However, isolation doesn’t help in the long run. The best way is to bring all the different segments of research on one platform to create new drugs and treatments for a better life.
Your startup is working on various disease areas, be it diabetes, Alzheimer’s or liver protection medicines. How and why should a person avail your medicines, what is your USP?
Our USP is simple. NirogStreet is a trust-based platform for streamlining the supply chain for ayurvedic medicine, transforming it into a proper healthcare system by engaging, empowering and aggregating fragmented ayurveda doctors and clinics. We provide skills-based certification, inventory and order management tools and quality real medicines (multi-brand) to ayurveda doctors to create an experience that patients can trust. The biggest failure of ayurvedic doctors and the reason behind lack of trust is fake medicines and lack of quality assurance. It is not possible for any single brand to offer all medicines for all ailments. Apart from learning and certifications, Nirogstreet platform urges ayurvedic doctors to prescribe multi-brand medicines so as to ensure timely and effective recovery and cure.
NirogStreet is said to partner with CSIR – Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM) to conduct research on medicinal cannabis (marijuana) for pain management. What is the status?
Cannabis has a special mention in our classical ayurveda text as Vijaya and is known to have its origins in India. Cannabis can be used as a medicine under ayurvedic classical preparation, however, it falls under the narcotic law. We are working to give ayurveda-based scientific validation to this medicine in partnership with CSIR, ayurveda doctors and other scientific communities.
How can we combine modern diagnostics with traditional ayurvedic healthcare? Give examples.
Modern diagnostics are playing an important part in ayurveda healthcare. We are witnessing a great shift where modern diagnostics is now collaborating with ayurveda. Simple mutra parikshan (urine examination) as per ayurveda, helps in understanding a lot of diseases and now it is being developed as a critical part of modern diagnostic protocols. Modern diagnostics such as blood test, along with ayurveda traditional diagnostics like nadi parikshan can give very accurate data point for doctors to practice. A collaborative approach can provide better medication which will also add growth to ayurveda.