Ayuphenomics: Is It Already a Part of Ayurveda Epistemology? : Ancient Science of Life

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Is It Already a Part of Ayurveda Epistemology?

Eranezhath, Sujith Subash

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Ancient Science of Life 38(2):p 35-36, Oct–Dec 2018. | DOI: 10.4103/asl.asl_36_23
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In 2003, Nelson Freimer and Chiara Sabatti proposed the need for a database of human phenotypes citing the lack of methods to assay phenotypes.[1] This was exactly when the “big data” on genotypes had started evolving after the Human Genome Project. Phenomics, the systematic study of phenome, which studies various phenotypic traits with specific genotypic origins, is considered to be the solution for all the promises made by the Human Genome Project, where it failed.

Phenomics involves the phenotypic assessment of morphological, physiological, and biochemical characteristics of an organism. It also considers its association with genetics, epigenetics, and environmental factors. These variations are the result of the genome of the organism and its environment.[2] The concept of phenomics and phenotyping has triggered research on precision medicine, and the value of this has increasingly been used to ensure efficacy through personalizing the prescription.[3]

Ayurveda seems to have already understood the scope of using phenotypic characteristics as a tool to personalize prescriptions;[4] however, it is important to note that these concepts are described in a different epistemological framework when compared to modern phenomics. The concept of “prakrti” in Ayurveda is attributed to the possibility of predicting susceptibility to diseases and response to drugs. Although the “type of prakrti” is personalized, there is a scope of generalization and it is broadly divided into seven types, namely vāta prakrti, pitta prakrti, kapha prakrti, vāta pitta prakrti, pitta kapha prakrti, kapha vāta prakrti, and tridoṣa prakrti. These general classifications of prakrti types are identified by an Ayurveda physician during the diagnosis or treatment of the patient based on factors inclusive of the patient’s physical and mental characteristics, as well as their lifestyle habits and preferences. This also includes the patient’s body type, skin color, hair texture, and eye color. They will also listen to the patient’s voice and observe their breathing patterns. Factors like body frame, body weight, skin type, examining the tongue all become means for the physician to “diagnose” or determine the prakrti. Although there are numerous methods for the identification of prakrti, the “phenotypic” expression of certain traits has remained one of the profound methods for it. Once the prakrti of the patient is identified, the next step of diagnosis is the variations from the prakrti of the individual which is called as vikrti and this is the key to the treatment.

Ayurveda also recognizes the influence of environmental factors on human health. Its emphasis on the factors such as geographical location, climate, seasons, and lifestyle practices significantly influences the well-being of the individual. Factors including diet, exercise, sleep, and stress can impact your health, according to Ayurveda. These aspects closely align with the understanding of epigenetic influences. Even during the treatment, the identification of patterns, variations, and changes in the body over time are all essential during an Ayurveda treatment for the physician to promptly deliver the result. These are all essential aspects of phenomics.

The concept of Ayugenomics had recently gained popularity, and this had motivated many researchers to initiate research on these aspects. The concept of Ayugenomics was correlated to be the ancient method of pharmacogenomics.[5] In this context, the concept of Ayuphenomics seems to be closer to the methods used in Ayurveda to personalize the medication. Even though Ayurveda predates the formal development of phenomics as a branch of study, it incorporates several principles and practices that resonate with the broader concepts of phenomics, highlighting its holistic and personalized approach to health care. Further study of this, and possibilities of innovation in diagnosis and treatment designs as means of tools integrated with other evolving fields such as data science and artificial intelligence, could pave the way for Ayuphenomics.

1. Freimer N, Sabatti C. The human phenome project. Nat Genet 2003;34:15–21.
2. Tolani P, Gupta S, Yadav K, Aggarwal S, Yadav AK. Big data, integrative omics and network biology. Adv Protein Chem Struct Biol 2021;127:127–60.
3. Paracha RZ, Obaid A, Ali A. Phenotyping in precision medicine. Progress and Challenges in Precision Medicine. London: Elsevier; 2017;55–77 Available from: https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/B9780128094112000039. [Last accessed on 2023 May 23].
4. Dey S, Pahwa P. Prakriti and its associations with metabolism, chronic diseases, and genotypes:Possibilities of new born screening and a lifetime of personalized prevention. J Ayurveda Integr Med 2014;5:15–24.
5. Patwardhan B. Ayugenomics:Integration for customized medicine. Indian J Nat Prod 2003;19:16–23.
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