Abstract: This article explores the Indian journey of the traditional knowledge in the current era. It digs into the history of the traditional medicinal knowledge. It analyses the importance of the Indian traditional medicinal knowledge specially. It examines the challenges and the advantages of using traditional knowledge. 


India is well- known across the world for its culture, tradition and development. We hold a legacy of rich history which suffices India as self-sufficient country in every field. The treasure of ancient Vedic maths, the medicines and medical procedure, the trade and business hold a special value in today’s world. Traditional knowledge (TK) is knowledge, know-how, skills and practices that are developed, sustained and passed on from generation to generation within a community, often forming part of its cultural or spiritual identity. With the advent of time, certain knowledge teaching lost it’s presence. One of such knowledge is the ancient medicinal knowledge. The term traditional medicine comprises the total sum of the knowledge, skills and practices indigenous and different cultures have used over time to maintain health and prevent, diagnose and treat physical and mental illness. Its reach encompasses ancient practices such as acupuncture, ayurvedic medicine and herbal mixtures as well as modern medicines. India has always been on the forefront to develop its health infrastructure. Right from Sushruta the father of surgery to the recent use of artificial intelligence in the medical field, the medical field in India has flourished. It is observed that Indian medicinal knowledge has not only taken into consideration physical health but also the mental health.

The rich traditional medicinal knowledge of India is extremely helpful for the contemporary needs. The cost of receiving high class medical facility is huge whereas Indian knowledge about the Ayurveda treats the same disease without any side effects. The traditional knowledge was passed from generation to generation orally, later due the Government’s tremendous efforts the TKDL the traditional knowledge library was established in order to record and preserve the traditional knowledge. The government is taking tons of efforts to make health care facilities available to masses at negligible rates, owing to the large population it is difficult to achieve the goal. In such scenario where healthcare and medicine hold the maximum value in the world, our traditional knowledge can play vital role. 

Even today if anyone falls sicks, Indians switch to home remedies. The use of Tulsi to treat cold and cough, the use of turmeric to treat wounds, the practice of yoga to balance the stress of life, meditation to keep mind calm and many more are the real-life examples of the traditional knowledge. 

History of traditional Indian medicine: 

The Ayurveda which is part of the four important Vedas. It is known to be the oldest healthcare system. In the time being the Ayurveda was practised into two schools- The Atreya Medicine School and Dhanvantari Surgery School. The two major books on traditional medicinal knowledge includes the Carak Samhita and Sushruta Samhita, later Hridaya Samhita was published. it is evident that the Ayurvedic medicine which now forms integral part of the traditional medicinal knowledge had reached around the world with the invasions and spread of Indian religions. 

Indian plants and their medicinal benefits 

  1. Ashwagandha: Reduces anxiety 
  2. Amla: Better digestion. 
  3. Moringa: used to lower body heat, treat indigestion and eye diseases
  4. Aloe vera: reducing dental plaque, accelerating wound healing, preventing wrinkles, and managing blood sugar
  5. Tulsi: Treats Kidney Stones
  6. Indian willow: the use of bark of willow tree to produce aspirin type medicines
  7. Garlic: Good for Cardiac Health
  8. Turmeric: treat liver diseases 
  9. Jimikand: the roots of wild yam plants can be used to make contraceptive pills
  10. Miswak: Dental issues 

And many more plants…

The contribution of traditional knowledge in the medicines today. 

The data given below is from a survey conducted by Authors R Srinivasan and V Raji Sugumar. This shows that the use of traditional knowledge as home remedies is limited to 30% only. The scenario can be changed by spreading awareness via campaigns, advertisement, TV shows etc. The use of traditional medicinal knowledge must increase at grassroot level to implement it at larger level. The use of such medicines will reduce dependency on the allopathic medicines. 

Initiatives for protection: 

Some of initiatives taken specially for the preservation of the TMK (traditional medicine knowledge ) WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine at international level. The Ayush ministry and WHO in collaboration has established the centre at Gujarat. At national level The traditional knowledge digital library (TKDL) is established. 

National protection:

Understanding the potential the traditional medicinal knowledge holds, it was crucial to protect it. The traditional knowledge in India is protected under the IPR laws such as patent, geographical indication etc. 

International protection:

The traditional knowledge is protected under various international treaties like TRIPS, Convention on biological diversity (CBD) and organisations like WIPO ( World intellectual property organisation ) 

Benefits of traditional medicinal knowledge :

Poverty is the harsh reality of today’s world, unfortunately many people in India lose their lives due to lack of financial support to access the expensive healthcare. On the other hand if India on it’s initial level starts implementing and bringing back the old traditional knowledge as a medical recourse, the currently overburdened healthcare system will be able to function appropriately, the old medicines will be preserved, new businesses will grow and on a optimistic note the Indian medical field will be revamped. More importantly if we start using our traditional knowledge it would act as blow to baseless claims against Indian knowledge. The traditional knowledge protected under intellectual property rights will flourish as we begin using them for medicinal purposes. 

The origin of the most unknown traditional knowledge is the tribal people. This can protect their rights to produce such medicines as well as create employment opportunities in their tribal locality itself. This will prove to be a source of income for the tribal community and source of medicines for the general use. The pharma companies can make use of the knowledge to develop medicines speedily.

Challenges in achieving widespread use : 

In order to revive the traditional knowledge, we need scholars who will be the torch bearer for the future development. We need government support to achieve. For any policy or initiative to be successful it must be backed by political will. In order to gather public support, it is at initial level important to spread awareness and importance of the traditional knowledge. To make this initiative successful, it is of utmost importance that the implementation should be appropriate at the grassroot level, as discussed above it is crucial for poverty ridden people to access this alternative affordable medical recourse. 


The discussion above has revealed the immense potential of traditional medicinal knowledge holds and it has expressed the gravity for its protection. The use of our ancient knowledge for the betterment of the society can be proved beneficial to India as well as worldwide. Proper strategy must be adapted to avail the benefits of the traditional knowledge. On a positive note, there have been efforts to preserve the traditional knowledge but more efforts are needed to imbibe this knowledge in the daily course of life. 

Author: Aarya Belsare , a student at Shankarrao Chavan Law College, Pune

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