Research and Clinical Practice Highlight

with Clayton Bell M.D.

My name is Clayton Bell, and I am an Integrative Medicine physician and Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.  My current clinical practice as an Integrative Medicine physician combines cutting-edge, evidence-based Orthomolecular-Functional Medicine with the subtle yet powerful healing insights of Ayurveda. 

Personalized wellness plans are created for each patient based on their prakruti, vikruti, and current medical conditions.  Heavy emphasis is placed upon Lifestyle Medicine treatments and “miracles” often abound in the healing response.  Patients and fellow healthcare providers are often amazed to discover what happens when one brings the various aspects of their life (physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual) into balance.  To help expand this clinical knowledge, I am actively teaching Ayurvedic techniques to rotating medical students, residents, and providing Grand Rounds to various medical departments throughout the hospital as well. Combining the science of Western medicine and the wisdom of Eastern medicine creates the highest level of patient care possible.

Ayurveda began capturing my passion and professional curiosity three years ago during my Integrative Medicine Fellowship at the University of Kansas Medical Center. For my fellowship thesis, I wanted to scientifically validate if the various Ayurvedic prakruti (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) were truly biostatistically correlated with Integrative and Western Medicine diagnosis.  Through researching both national and international peer-reviewed journals, many articles began to emerge linking specific prakruti to various biomarkers and genomic patterns.  However, nowhere could I find where any researchers had ever biostatistically validated these most foundational theorems regarding prakruti and various disease states.  

Our research study participants were patients of the KU Integrative Medicine Clinic. Eligibility criteria included adult patients ages 21 and older with no language barriers and the ability to give consent. Approximately 150 participants were screened, 129 were enrolled with 119 successfully completing both the Mind-Body Survey and the Medical History Form. The Mind-Body Survey consisted of 10 self-assessment questions pertaining to specific physical and psychological characteristics. This survey was adapted from The Chopra Center’s Prakruti Patient Intake Form and provided quantitative subscores for each Ayurvedic dosha (Vata, Pitta, Kapha). Participants were also given a Medical History Form to determine active, past, or lack of history for 47 common integrative medicine diagnoses. Biostatistical analysis was analyzed to determine positive and inverse correlations between prakruti and specific disease diagnosis.

Based on our findings, we have discovered multiple statistically significant positive and inverse correlations between prakruti and self-reported medical diagnosis. Vata was associated with anxiety (r = .22, p = .02) and sleep disorders (r = .25, p = .01), whereas Kapha appeared to be protective from anxiety (r = –.31, p = .001) and sleep disorders (r = –.19, p = .04) as well as osteoporosis (r = –.22, p = .02), hyperthyroidism (r = –.24, p = .01) and environmental allergies (r = –.19, p = .04). However, Kapha was statistically associated with obesity (r = .32, p = .001) and overweight (r = .32, p = .001), whereas Vata was protective from obesity (r = –.19, p = .05) and overweight (r = –.39, p < .001). Vata was also statistically correlated with constipation (r = .19, p = .04), depression (r = .22, p = .02), irritable bowel syndrome (r = .26, p = .01), and panic attacks (r = .29, p = .002). Vata was inversely correlated with hypertension (r = –.22, p = .02) and solid organ cancers (r = –.25, p = .01). No statistical associations were found for Pitta.

We were very excited to discover the positive and inverse correlations, which verified the ancient Ayurvedic teachings and our research was published in the Ayurveda Journal of Health—an incredible experience! I learned so much through the entire research and publication process and highly recommend others to do the same.  Our research and many other current publications are validating Ayurveda as an incredibly useful and pragmatic medical system.  To learn more, see the Ayurveda Journal of Health 2017 Summer edition and read our article: Ancient Wisdom: Can Ayurvedic Prakruti Provide Invaluable Insights into Integrative Medicine?

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About the Author
Clayton Bell, M.D.

Dr. Clayton Bell is an Integrative Medicine physician and Assistant Clinical at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.  He utilizes evidence-based Orthomolecular Functional Medicine and the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda to create personalized wellness plans for each patient.