Beware of Ayurveda Medicines!

AyurRecently my friend was admitted to a hospital due to kidney problem. By sheer luck he was able to recover with the intensive care and treatments given by nephrologists. I asked him: “Mahmoud, have you been taking Ayurveda medicines for long?”

“Yes – some tonics for health and vitality…How did you know?”

“The reason for kidney failure could be attributed to Ayurveda medicine, say some doctors….”

“You, Uday, are a great proponent of Ayurveda, telling me it has bad side-effects?”

“Yes, contrary to popular misconceptions, Ayurveda medicines DO have side-effects. And beware – most of the medicines currently available in the market can kill your internal organs…” I told him.

He appeared shocked. But that’s true. 90% Ayurveda medicines, especially over the counter medicines, are really dangerous. Those medicines have nothing to do with authentic Ayurveda.

One of my aunts once told me: “We use only Ayurveda soaps…”

“Which Ayurveda texts (like Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita, Ashtanga Hridayam, Sharngadhara Samhita or Sahasrayogam) mention about such soaps, aunty?” I asked.

“Can’t somebody develop a new medicinal soap based on Ayurveda?” she asked.

“Good question. Still I am skeptical about it. Haven’t you learned about hydrophilic-lipophilic balance in college? If you apply an ointment in your body it will take some time before it acts. You will have to keep the soap applied in the body for quite some time. You are just washing it off with water…”

A progressive balding friend of mine said he is using an Ayurveda oil to grow hair. I told him, till date nobody has found any medicine for baldness. If you have hair-loss due to some diseases (like thyroid issue), your hair will grow back when you take medicine for it. There are Ayurveda medicines for health of hair and stimulate its growth. But no medicine will help you with baldness.

Most of the companies in India (especially in North India) use ‘white oil’ (liquid paraffin) for the preparation of so-called Ayurveda medicines. It’s a petroleum product! There are Ayurveda fairness creams that would seriously damage human skin.

A walk mate of mine told me that he is using an Ayurveda hair-dye! On enquiry it is been found that the company adds some henna powder for the name-sake, but for black colour they use carbonate compounds.

Long ago I did a special feature on Ayurveda industry in Kerala. To my shock, I found that the total production of gooseberry in the state is not enough to even produce half of the “Chyavanaprasam” (in which major component is gooseberry) produced by a single company. And mind you, there were more than 10 companies that produce Chyavanaprasam then!

Ayurveda medicines, especially in the form of bhasma (ash) or churan (choornam = powder), that people swallow in with great faith, could contain steroid and toxic metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic. Patients undergoing Ayurveda treatment are probably in danger of steroid toxicity. Long term exposure to some medicines that contain heavy mercury vapour can result in brain damage and even death.

Synthetic chemicals are used to enhance natural character of the exhausted drug. Example: citral is added to citrus oils like lemon and orange oils. The drugs which are in the form of powders are frequently adulterated. In cost-effective preparations, they use brick powder instead of red sandalwood powder. Synthetic camphor (C10H16O) is used in place of edible camphor obtained from the tree ‘Cinnamomum camphora’…Beware of mal-practices…

Ayurveda, a sub-branch of Atharva Veda, is not a “Sastra”(Science is not exact word, still I am using it). It’s a vijñāna (realized knowledge). Science can change, Vijnana cannot.

Ayurveda is the knowledge of life and longevity. It is the oldest existing knowledge on the healing process. It is not a mere medical knowledge system. It is a way of life which deals with not only the body and mind, but also the jeevatma and consciousness. It teaches us how to live healthy and balanced so that you won’t get any diseases. Our ancestors believed that prevention is better than cure. The treatments of various diseases are secondary only.

“Mahmoud. There are some unknown worms (virus or bacteria) that you can’t see even with ordinary microscopes. They are being produced in the atmosphere when you use certain sounds which mutate the structure of amino acids…”

“Sounds like science fiction. Till this day the modern science has not found such germs…” he said.

“It might take few more hundreds of years to the science to find it. But our ancestors researched and found the existence of such ‘krimi’ (worm) 3-5 thousand years ago. This is just a sample of depth of integrated study and research that Ayurveda masters undertook. They said there are worms that exist in a woman’s uterus that feed upon men’s sperm. The female who has these worms in uterus cannot conceive. Some worms can enter into your body through cow’s milk. Apart from the description of worms, they have mentioned about the medicines too…”

Ayurveda is arogya (health) vijnanam and not roga (sickness) vijnanam. According to authentic scriptures there are three major causes for the diseases: 1. Annarasaja, 2.Krimijanya and 3.Dosham.

The majority of diseases come from food hence known as Annarasaja. It’s very simple and scientific. The food should be according to time, season and place (Kala-desa) and Varna-Ashrama-Dharma. For instance, if you are living in Rajasthan, food item from Assam won’t be suitable for you. A person living in Kerala eating Arabian food will definitely invite some disease. The mis-match of food can affect you, depending upon other factors too.

A householder (Grihasthashrama) is not supposed to eat like a person in Ascetic (Sanyasi). A person belong to Vysya community shouldn’t eat like a Kshatriya. So, first and foremost factor for healthy living is food and water, says Ayurveda.

The genuine Ayurveda doctor focus on your food habits first. He/she wouldn’t prescribe any medicines. He would advise you about incompatible foods (Viruddha Ahara) and dietary and behavioral regime (Pathya), based on the nature of your body. If you adjust it, you can live without medicine. Majority of sickness falls under this category.

The second segment is Krimijanya – diseases born out of worms. There are two types of worms – drishtah and adristah – that you can see with eyes and you can’t see even with a microscope – could be virtual ones. Classical Ayurveda discusses about these worms and how to prevent it.

The third one is Tridoshas (three energies) – Vatha, pitha and kapha (these words cannot be translated into English) – the concept is totally based on Vedic knowledge. All the three doshas are formed by the a combination of two, out of the five universal elements- earth, water, wind, fire, earth and space. A human being need to have unique balance of tridosha for all the bodily systems, psychological and conscious level. Medicines are given to the patient to adjust these doshas, not for the diseases.

A doctor in Ayurveda is known as Vaidya or Bhishagwara. He has to learn about plant kingdom, climate, Vedas, Upanishads and other Sanskrit scriptures to understand the concept of Ayurveda. It takes years of careful and dedicated study under genuine acharyas to learn how to identify herbs and medicinal plants. He has to pluck the herb himself.

Many herbs are seasonal. The content of the herb may differ from time to time. Some plant roots are to be collected at mid-night only. Some are in the morning – there is a time and place for everything. There are methodologies and proceedings to collect raw materials for the medicines. How many of today’s ‘doctors’ can identify a medicinal plant?

Please ask the Ayurveda doctor near to you if he knows the names of the roots used for the most popular Dashmoolarishta (a liquid Ayurveda medicine).

Today, 70 % of the medicinal plants have disappeared. There are commercial cultivation of medicinal plants using pesticides and fertilizers.

And the method of preparation of medicine also is very important. The content and mix should be perfect. You should use only prescribed type of vessels – mostly made up of specific types of mud. The firewood used must be from different trees for different preparations. In olden days it took one week or so to prepare a lehya or arishta (medicines).

Today, the medicine preparation is mechanized and automated. They use aluminum, hindalium and other metal alloy vessels.
Till 1950s, most of the doctors won’t give you ready-made medicines – they give you a list of the names of the herbs and you have to prepare the medicines (kashaya or bhasma). But today’s doctors’ prescribe Ayurveda medicines like allopath and you buy it over the counter in plastic bottles – that never should be used. The entire industry is now dominated by corporates. The traditional Vaidyas are extinct now. So is Ayurveda.

Now the market players are just using the name “Ayurveda”. The drug manufacturing company has only one motive – profit. And 70 % of the content (constituents) is not available in the market. What would they do? They add substitute. For instance, when gold is costly, they would add rolled gold. When Kasturi is not available, they would take up calcium powder, name it as Kasturi, and add it.

Pure honey, content for lot of medicines, is not available now. Most of the companies add sugar instead of honey. (Even in honey bee farming, they keep sugar water, so that bees need not fly towards the flower to suck nectar. Incidentally, today’s bees can’t make honey, as the mobile tower radiation makes sure that bees do not come back to its nest.)

The corporate culture has nothing to do with the culture of Ayurveda. It’s normal that in a profit driven company, two herbs are often interchanged or adulterated or substituted – who will sit and check each and every piece of tons of kilograms of raw materials in bulk production? What’s more, lack of knowledge about authentic source, similarity in color, confusion in vernacular names, careless collections, lack of authentic plant, substitution of the species belonging to same family etc have spoiled the industry.

I heard that there is lot of ‘Ayurveda doctors’ who mix allopathic modern medicines for quick recover and give the credit to Ayurveda. Their medicines can be called Paracetamoladi Vadakam, Brufenasya Arishtam, Sterioidadi Lehyam, Amoxicillinahi Ghritham, Pencillinasavam etc.

Some senior ‘secular’ Ayurveda doctors want to modernize Ayurveda. They say that the ancient system should be converted to make it tailor-made for foreigners. This is not only an injustice to our tradition but insult to the sages. If at all foreigners want treatment, let them come here and follow the traditional methods in Indian way, if they really are looking for cure. Ayurveda is part of a great Sanatan Dharma tradition. It is a comprehensive system developed for the people who follow Varna-Ashrama-Dharma or Vedic Dharma.

Today, how many Ayurveda doctors can diagnose your disease just looking at you? Or feeling your pulse? I have seen only few genuine Ayurveda doctors in my life. (Luckily my family doctor is a genuine Ayurveda person who is around 80 now. For him, a patient is god’s avatar)

An Ayurveda doctor needs to dedicate his life. He may have to sacrifice many comforts and pleasures in life as it was considered as part of manav seva (service to humanity). It may take at least 20 years to learn the basics of Ayurveda – who has time for this? In olden days Kings took care of the Vaidyas who in turn offered completely free service to humanity. And a Vaidya need to have lot of divine blessings to practice it. He needs Kaipunyam (having divine hands). But today, we can see students who do not get admission to MBBS go to Ayurveda studies with great regret and inferiority complex, which is evident from their show-off later when they keep stethoscope around the neck even in the toilet.

“Let me repeat Mahmoud – the principle of Ayurveda is ‘prevention is better than cure’. Medicine forms just 30% of Ayurveda. The remaining 70 % is about preparing yourself for balanced health based on food and life-style principles according to traditional disciplines. Otherwise medicines won’t have any good effect on you. If somebody says you can recover just by medicine (the way you consume anti-biotic to recover from infection) he is taking you for a long bumpy ride.”

So please be careful when you see a doctor or going for Ayurveda treatment. Check if the doctor is genuine and follow authentic Ayurveda. Otherwise, you will be clearly digging your own grave. I wish you all ‘Ayur arogya aishwarya abhivrudhirasrthu” [ayur (longevity), arogya (health), aishwarya (wealth), abhivrudhi (great growth)]

Udaylal Pai
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4 Responses

  1. Dr. Satish says:

    Dear author I think your having half knowledge about the concepts of Ayurveda while writing articles you should have through knowledge about the concepts please dont misguide the people with your half knowledge.

  2. Sankara Menon says:

    I agree. I have slipped disk L5-S1. I saw a doc. He asked me to make kashaya and take. Not buy and take

  3. karishma c jain says:

    Dear sir, regarding your topic on ayurveda.what according to you may be used as a trusted source of ayurveda treatment. Can sources like patanjali by ramdev baba be used.? Thank u.Pls post this ayurveda topic on fb so that I can ask ppl to refer for knowledge.

  4. Vijaya Sarathy says:

    Pranaam Paimaam,

    Yes, I agree with your writings about Ayurveda and Ayurvedic medicines available in today’s commercialism., how people are taken for a bumpy ride. As for my knowledge goes, I am aware of one honest Ayurvedic Doctor, fortunately not practising, never prescribed any Ayurvedic treatment, was telling people, Ayurvedic treatment is best in the world, but, when you get fever, take PARACETOMOL.

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