Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Melinda Goldner




medicine, ayurvedic, patients, ayurveda, india


Many people seek some form of complementary or alternative medicine to add to or replace their current medical therapy. Ayurvedic medicine is one such type of therapy, practiced traditionally in India. This type of medicine has been practiced in India for thousands of years and the knowledge that substantiates it is different from that of Western Medicine. My study hopes to understand ayurvedic medicine, its cultural significance in South Indian society, and the reason it is preferred, in some cases, over Western Medicine through interviews of ayurvedic practitioners and patients. The importance of religion, Keralite tradition (one state in India), the importance of plants, as well as the influence of family within Keralite culture and how these concepts play a role in seeking ayurvedic or allopathic medical care were analyzed. Different characteristics of ayurvedic and allopathic medicine, such as side effects, were also analyzed. Results showed religion had no role, while familial influence and the usage of efficacious plants were determined to be important to patients in choosing ayurveda. It was also found that practitioners and patients believed and chose Ayurveda as a treatment option, which lacks side effects, primarily in chronic situations and that the lack of scientific evidence in Ayurveda did not deter patients or practitioners from using it. Policy implications and areas in which further research into this field is needed were also explored at the end of the paper.