Medicine Nobel for “molecular mechanisms controlling circadian rhythms” . Didn’t Ayurveda already mention it a few thousand years ago?

Ayurveda and “Circadian Rhythm And Well-being

“This 2017 Nobel Prize winning research work is based on the circadian rhythm, which refers to biochemical oscillators that respond to solar cycles. Laureates Jeffrey Hall and Michael Rosbash discovered that PER, the protein encoded by period, accumulated during the night and was degraded during the day. Thus, PER protein levels oscillate over a 24-hour cycle, in synchrony with the circadian rhythm.

It is striking to note how Ayurveda establishes the link between the revolution-rotation of the earth and human health. According to Ayurveda, the different tridoshas (the three humors: Vata, Pitta and Kapha, in the body that need to be balanced for perfect health), are predominant during different times of the day. For instance, Pitta Dosha which controls digestion, metabolism and energy production is high between 10am and 2pm. Pitta ensures the availability of energy to perform various activities. This very well correlates with the high alertness, best co-ordination and fastest reaction times shown in the illustration below. Research works on circadian rhythm from the perspective of Ayurveda correlate the time of the day and hormonal activity, very similar to the degeneration of protein with the day as discovered by the laureates. For example, Kapha dosha is predominant in early phase of the day. Most of the hormones are at the peak level in the morning and they decline with the time and are lowest at the evening time.”

From Nobel Prize summary:

“Keeping time on our human physiology

The biological clock is involved in many aspects of our complex physiology. We now know that all multicellular organisms, including humans, utilize a similar mechanism to control circadian rhythms. A large proportion of our genes are regulated by the biological clock and, consequently, a carefully calibrated circadian rhythm adapts our physiology to the different phases of the day (below). Since the seminal discoveries by the three laureates, circadian biology has developed into a vast and highly dynamic research field, with implications for our health and wellbeing.

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 The circadian clock anticipates and adapts our physiology to the different phases of the day. Our biological clock helps to regulate sleep patterns, feeding behavior, hormone release, blood pressure, and body temperature.”

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 A simplified illustration of the feedback regulation of the periodgene. The figure shows the sequence of events during a 24h oscillation. When the period gene is active, period mRNA is made. The mRNA is transported to the cell’s cytoplasm and serves as template for the production of PER protein. The PER protein accumulates in the cell’s nucleus, where the period gene activity is blocked. This gives rise to the inhibitory feedback mechanism that underlies a circadian rhythm.”



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Use of supervised and unsupervised machine learning to make Prakritic evaluations

In Ayurveda disease is the result of a “Vikritti” or disturbance in the steady state “Prakritic”  constitution of an individual.  This study focusses on an algorithmic classification of  “Doshas” in an attempt to evaluate the “Prakriti”.

“In Ayurveda system of medicine individuals are classified into seven constitution types, “Prakriti”, for assessing disease susceptibility and drug responsiveness. Prakriti evaluation involves clinical examination including questions about physiological and behavioural traits.

A need was felt to develop models for accurately predicting Prakriti classes that have been shown to exhibit molecular differences. The present study was carried out on data of pheno- typic attributes in 147 healthy individuals of three extreme Prakriti types, from a genetically homogeneous population of Western India. Unsupervised and supervised machine learning approaches were used to infer inherent structure of the data, and for feature selection and building classification models for Prakriti respectively. These models were validated in a North Indian population.

Unsupervised clustering led to emergence of three natural clusters corresponding to three extreme Prakriti classes. The supervised modelling approaches could classify individuals, with distinct Prakriti types, in the training and validation sets.

This study is the first to demonstrate that Prakriti types are distinct verifiable clusters within a mul- tidimensional space of multiple interrelated phenotypic traits. It also provides a computa- tional framework for predicting Prakriti classes from phenotypic attributes. This approach may be useful in precision medicine for stratification of endophenotypes in healthy and diseased populations.”

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Study: Recapitulation of Ayurveda constitution types by machine learning of phenotypic traits by Pradeep Tiwari and others.


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Wonder why Ayurveda likes Sesame Oil?

Here’s some recent work on it:

  • “Sesame oil(SO) research shows promise in decreasing high levels of cholesterol and inflammation, lowering risks of atherosclerosis, and delaying the onset of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Since SO is very inexpensive and natural, progressing research on SO to someday implement SO as a good pharmaceutical treatment would be an investment, especially when SO has yet to show adverse effects. However, SO has not had many clinical trials, and the benefits relative to other oils and medications still need to be investigated. This literature review found that the benefits of SO vary between studies due to the methodology of SO product, dose dependence, and examination of different variables.
  • Many of these studies are limited because they do not isolate the benefit of SO in humans alone and because there are different concentrations of SO used in each study. Future studies should examine the different concentrations of SO and its effects on humans with hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus in a dose-dependent manner relative to the patient’s body habitus.
  • Future studies can also look at synergism by comparing patients treated with differing combinations of medication, such as nifedipine, statins, metformin, with different concentrations of SO relative to the individual’s saturated fat diet.”

Source: NCBI :”Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Effects of Sesame Oil on Atherosclerosis: A Descriptive Literature Review” Editors:Alexander Muacevic and John R Adler.

Another study:

  • “Sesame ingestion significantly decreased concentrations of plasma TC by 5% and LDL-C by 10%
  • Sesame lignans were found to have a γ-tocopherol sparing effect by inhibiting CYP activity. Our study showed increased serum levels of γ-tocopherol, similar to 2 other trials in humans.
  • The estrogenic effects of flaxseed lignans in postmenopausal women include decreasing plasma levels of estrone sulfate and estradiol (39) and switching estrogen metabolism from 16α-hydroxylation to a less carcinogenic pathway (2-hydroxylation).”

Source: The Journal of Nutrition: “Sesame Ingestion Affects Sex Hormones, Antioxidant Status, and Blood Lipids in Postmenopausal Women” by Wen-Huey Wu Yu-Ping Kang Nai-Hung Wang Hei-Jen Jou Tzong-An Wang


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Investigations into genetic basis of Ayurvedic dosha classifications

Extracts from a recent study published in Nature magazine investigating this topic:

“Concept of Prakriti in Ayurveda and its relationship with genomics was hypothesized over a decade ago. Subsequent studies have attempted to correlate Prakriti classification with genetic information and association of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in HLA-DRB1, CYP2C19, EGLN1, inflammatory and oxidative stress related genes, CD markers for various blood cells, DNA methylation alterations and risk factors of cardiovascular or inflammatory diseases have been reported. While these studies have shown the association of specific genes with the phenotype of a particular Prakriti, the association of genomic variations with Prakriti classification was lacking. This is the first attempt to classify the Prakritis using genome-wide SNP markers and to provide a scientific basis for Prakriti classification……..

We found that PGM1 correlates with phenotype of Pitta as described in the ancient text of Charaka Samhita, suggesting that the phenotypic classification of India’s traditional medicine has a genetic basis; and its Prakriti-based practice in vogue for many centuries resonates with personalized medicine………..

In Ayurveda, characteristics of Pitta include digestion, metabolism and energy production. Interestingly, we found PGM1 gene is in the center of many metabolic pathways i.e. glycolysis or gluconeogenesis (hsa00010); pentose phosphate pathway (hsa00030); galactose metabolism (hsa00052); purine metabolism (hsa00230) and; starch and sucrose metabolism (hsa00500). Our finding suggests that the function of the gene directly correlates with the role of Pitta in metabolism as described in Ayurvedic literature………

In conclusion, our preliminary study suggests that the Prakriti classification, as a foundation for the practice of Ayurveda, has a genetic basis and does provide clues for further studies.”


Study: Genome-wide analysis correlates Ayurveda Prakriti by Periyasamy Govindraj and others.

Single nucleotide polymorphism explained


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Meditation: what do we see, if anything?

There’s ample literature out there describing the zone of meditation in which one sees different kinds of lights.  Certainly what one sees is subjective, and as per Ayurveda it may even be linked to karmic influences. However, let’s keep it simple and try to look for recorded study of these light experiences. This one is  from a small sample size of meditators observed at the Brown university:

  • More than forty categories of experience were aggregated into six higher-order clusters: cognitive, perceptual, sense of self, affective/emotional, somatic/physiological, and social/occupational. “perceptual” is defined as pertaining to the senses, i.e. the visual, auditory, gustatory, olfactory, and tactile systems. “Light experiences” emerged as a sub-category of perceptual experiences in the visual domain. Inclusion criteria for light-related visual experiences included use of the word “light” or description of an experience either directly linked to visual perception with the phenomenal quality of luminosity or brightness. “
  • Scientific studies of light-related experiences tend to classify such phenomena as visual hallucinations. This section presents findings from sensory deprivation, perceptual isolation, and disorders of the visual system.
  • The possibility of viewing meditation practice as a form of sensory deprivation has potentially profound implications. Current medical technologies are combining non-invasive brain stimulation techniques that alter neuronal excitability and enhance cortical plasticity with training protocols to enhance outcomes in neuropsychiatric patients, including dementia, pain, addiction, anxiety, and depression
  • The arising of lights may signal a period of enhanced neuroplasticity and potential for important and enduring shifts. Further research should investigate whether it is the unique configuration of sensory deprivation, attentional training, and investigative processes that accounts for why meditative practices tend to lead to enduring perceptual and affective changes and cognitive insights.

Source: NCBI


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The power of visualization ..think meditation!

Visualization is something commonly found in yogic and Ayurvedic techniques of breathing and meditation.  Here’s what science has to say on a physiological level:

  • “…visualizing movement changes how our brain networks are organized, creating more connections among different regions. It stimulates brain regions involved in rehearsal of movement, such as the putamen located in the forebrain, priming the brain and body for action so that we move more effectively”
  • ….studies show that imagining in the first person may activate muscles more powerfully than when we picture ourselves in the third person.
  • this ability to trigger the motor cortex by imagining an action offers great promise in therapies for patients recovering from stroke and for athletes or dancers working to develop expertise in their craft. But as we get older, the motor cortex has to work harder to imagine actions, so exercising our visualization skills remains important throughout our lives. Mirror neurons, located in different regions of the brain but especially the brain’s motor system, may also play a role in generating movement.”
  • Even though we treat our mind and bodies as two separate entities (brain vs. brawn; mind vs. matter), they are ultimately and intimately connected.
  • the volunteers that performed imaginary exercise had stronger neuromuscular pathways and hence, stronger muscles.  The mentally-lazy volunteers had weaker neuromuscular pathways that were beginning to degrade.


Source: Scientific American


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Longevity extension in Drosophila… using Triphala

“Aging and chronic disease development are multifactorial processes involving the cumulative effects of metabolic distress, inflammation, oxidative stress and mitochondrial dynamics. Recently, variations in the gut microbiota have been associated with age-related phenotypes and probiotics have shown promise in managing chronic disease progression. In this study, novel probiotic and synbiotic formulations are shown to combinatorially extend longevity in male Drosophila melanogaster through mechanisms of gut-brain-axis communication with implications in chronic disease management. Both the probiotic and synbiotic formulations rescued markers of metabolic stress by managing insulin resistance and energy regulatory pathways. Both formulations also ameliorated elevations in inflammation, oxidative stress and the loss of mitochondrial complex integrity. In almost all the measured pathways, the synbiotic formulation has a more robust impact than its individual components insinuating its combinatorial effect. The concomitant action of the gut microbiota on each of the key risk factors of aging and makes it a powerful therapeutic tool against neurodegeneration, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and other age-related chronic diseases…… optimized probiotic formulation containing three bioactive probiotics was combined with a novel polyphenol-rich prebiotic Triphala to create a novel synbiotic formulation that promotes longevity.”



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Circa 2014:Effect of Tri – Doshas in our day to day life in context of circadian rhythm

From research in Ayurveda:

“Circadian rhythm is the cyclical 24-hour period of human biological activity. Within the circadian (24-hour) cycle, a person usually sleeps approximately 8 hours and stays awake for 16 hours. During the wakeful hours, mental and physical functions are most active and tissue cell growth increases. During sleep, voluntary muscle activities nearly disappear and there is a decrease in metabolic rate, respiration, heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure. InAyurveda, this concept is based on three Doshas- Vata, Pitta, Kapha – which predominantly govern our daily routine life. These Doshas maintain the integrity of our body by creating, assimilating & diffusing strength. In this article, efforts will be made to correlate the Doshic influence which affects the human body.”

Source: Research paper by  Poonam Choudhary, Reetu Sharma, Ranjana Pande and Sushila Sharma


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