AyurvedaCAM EducationCommon Cold

Ayurveda: Struggling within itself

It’s easy to be critical of ayurveda ? a “natural healing system” developed in India. The immediate problems, from a Western perspective, include lack of standardization and reported toxicity (particularly lead poisoning).

But there’s more. “The problem lies in the crisis of confidence both within and outside the ayurvedic community, and it is here that the future efforts need to be concentrated in order to effect a revitalization.”

This is the view expressed by Darshan Shamkar and Ram Manohar in the book, “Oriental Medicine: An Illustrated Guide to the Asian Arts of Healing.

It continues (page 104).

“Due to a lack of epistemological defense [ie, justification for its existence]” and proper research models for validating ayurveda, all its achievements “are reduced to a string of anecdotal accounts of its efficacy — from the common cold to the latest plague of AIDS.”


“Whereas, all its achievements can be backed up by indigenous medical theory and principles, they cannot be explained … in terms of modern medical theories… Moreover, because of the lack of correlation of disease entities in both systems, and the differences in the etiology and logic for drug action, disease management in ayurveda also appears to be unrepeatable.”

Here is the bottom line.

“The inner state of ayurveda is a picture of struggle to establish its ? identity and retain its integrity… It is a picture of unhappy compromise with modern medicine, seeking justification in terms of modern medical theory, [while] trying unsuccessfully to prove itself to be scientific.

In the process, ayurveda, a great non-Western knowledge system, is being destroyed.”

If true, that would be too bad.

But to be fair, I know at least one healthcare professional who disagrees with this conclusion. She sees ayurveda as a way of life to maintain harmony with nature, rather than a healing method for ailments. And she is a pharmacist!

Illustration: Palmland Tours, Kerala

8/6/06 14:15 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.