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THE FOETUS AND RELEVANCE OF “PUMSAVANA”
Sexual differentiation of foetus is still a phenomenon which is not yet clearly understood. Though, we know that the sex chromosomes play an important role in sexual differentiation, various steps involved in this complex mechanism is still unknown. Ayurveda gives us information about wonderful procedures like pumsavana where by administering the prescribed drugs in the suitable form in the proper dose through oral or nasal route in a female of reproductive age, it is possible even to get a male child or a child C desired sex. The exact mechanism of action of drugs used in pumsavana is not yet ascertained and hence an attempt is made here to understand the mode of action and relevance of the procedure by reasoning.
Sexual differentiation of the embryo/fetus Chromosomal Sex:
Genetic sex xx or xy is established at the time of fertilization of ovum. For the first 6 weeks there after however the development of male and female embryos is morphologically indistinguishable. The differation of the promordial gonad into testis or ovary heralds the establishment of gonadal sex.
In the process of gonadal differentiation genes on the Y. Chromosomes are of paramount importance in determining gonadal differentiation into testis. Presently is reasonably clear that testis determining genes are located on the Y-chromo-some. One such gene is referred to as the SRY gene (sex determining region of Y chromosome). It is reasonably clear that the SRY gene encodes a transcription factor that acts to modulate the rate of transcription of a number of genes involved in gonadal differentiation. None the less, it is still not clear how this gene or the Y-chromosome directs the bimolecular events involved in the differentiation of the indifferent gonad into testis. The SRY gene however is specific to the Y-chromosome of all mammals studied, and SRY is expressed in the human single celled zygote ic, immediately after fertilization of ovum. It is not expressed in spermatozoa.
Phenotypic sex: The development of uro-genital tracts in the two sexes of human embryos is indistinguishable before the 8th weep of gestation. There after, development (differentiation) of the internal and external genitalia to the male phenotype is dependent upon testicular function. The fundamental experiments to determine the role of the testis in male sexual differentiation were conducted by a french anatomist, Alfred Jost. Ultimately he establishment that the induced phenoty Pe is male and that secretion from gonads are not necessary for female differentiation. Specifically, fetal ovary is not required for female sexual differentiation. The fetal testis secretes a proteinaceous substance called Mullerian-inhibiting substance. It acts locally, not as a hormone but as a paracarmine factor, to cause regression of Mullerian duct In other words it prevents the development of uterus, fallopain tube and upper vagina. Fetal testis secretes testosterone, which acts to cause virilization of the external and internal genital anlagen.
By describing these modern findings, one can accept the relevance of pumsavana, the proceeds use mainly performed to get a male child. It is told that pumsavana is done for three purpose.
i) to achieve conception
ii) to protect the concepters
iii) to get male child/the child c desired sex.
The drugs used in the procedure may be acting either upon the SRY gene or the factors which influence the SRY gene. The drugs may possible union of ovum c spermatozoa having XY genetic configuration They may even influence the secretion of substances from the testis.
Genetic sex is established at the time of fertilizatino of ovum. Gonadal sex determined primary by factors encoded by genes on the Y-chromosome such as the SRY gene In a manner not yet completely understood, differentiation of the primitive gonad into testis is accomplished. The principles and remedies of Ayurveda are the outcome of extraordinary intelligence, reasoning and practical utility of the knowledge that our great sages had and are not in any way more speculations. Further study c intense research will lead us towards the reality and the relevance of time tested Ayurvedic principles and remedieswill regain universal acceptance.