Quackery Exposed: Ayurvedic Medicine

 


Ayuverdic medicine is the ancient Indian medical system of healing arts. It is part of alternative medicine or integrative medicine. It is also called Ayurveda. It is based on the ancient writings that rely on natural and holistic approach to physical and mental health. Ayurvidic medicine is one of the oldest medical systems and is India's traditional health care system. Ayruvedic treatment combines products that are derived from plants but also many include animal metal and mineral. 

The treatments are diet, exercise and lifestyle change. Some treatments contain lead, mercury or arsenic. This can be very toxic. They contain metals, minerals or gems. It also includes spices, herbs, vitamins and proteins. These products are easily found on the internet and in natural food stores. They are represented as "Indian" or "South Asian."

Heavy Metals Can Be Toxic

This sounds like rhetoric that antivaxxers would say but it is true. Having too much heavy metals in our blood can be very dangerous. There was a study published on August 27, 2008. It was published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA). This study demonstrated that 1/5 of the US manufactured and Indian manufactured Ayurvedic products bought on the Internet contained detectable lead, mercury or arsenic. 

Researchers discovered 25 websites selling these products. After identifying 673 products, they randomly purchased 230 of them. 193 were selected for analysis. 21% were found to contain detectable levels of lead, mercery and arsenic. 

All of these metal containing products exceeded one or more standard for acceptable metal intake. The researchers deducted that several Indian manufuctured products could result in lead and/or mercury ingestions 100 to 100,000 times greater than acceptable limits. 

This study followed a previous study published in JAMA on December 15, 2004. This study found that one out f 5 Ayurvedic "herbal medicine products" produced in South Asia and availbe in South Asian grocery stores in the Boston area contained harmful levels of lead, mercury and/or arsenic. 

What the FDA Has to Say

The FDA warns agains the presence of metals in some Aurvedic products makes it harmful. "Consumers should know that Ayurvedic products are generally not reviewed or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)," says Mike Levy, Director of the Division of New Drugs and Labeling Compliance in the Office of Compliance. "The bottom line is that consumers need to be on guard when purchasing any product using the internet, especially medical products." This particular area is difficult to regulate. 

"This issue has been and will continue to be a priority for FDA," Levy states. There is an import alert on certain products that fall under this category since 2007. This alert allows FDA personnel to prevent these products from entering the United States. "Through this import alert, the agency is able to stop commercial import shipments of those products but individual Internet purchases are harder to monitor." 

2015 Study on Ayurvedic Medicine Use

There was a 2015 study that included people who used Ayurvedic preparation showed that 40 precent had elevated levels of lead in their blood. Some had elevated levels of mercury. About one in four supplements tested high levels of lead and half of them tested positive for high levels of mercury. It is rare but arsenic poisoning has been reported. 

Ayurvedic Medicine for Autism

Ayurvedic Beliefs about Autism

The time of conception, mind of parents, position of parents during coitus, lead to deranged mental growth (garbhopaghatkar bhava) leads to impaired development of the brain and mind as vata (response to energy and movement) and rajo guna (passion, active, confusion) leads to genetic abnormality. The mental status of the mother plays an important role for both physical and mental development of the child. For an autistic child, they believe that the brain is deranged so this leads to the "problem" of autism. 

Prevention

Before Conception
  • In Ayuveda, Consanguineous marriages have been prohibited by Charka and Sushruta. Consanguineous marriages (marriages between relatives) need to be avoided. 
  • Position of coitus is important. Bad aharvihara (positioning) leads to mental disorders. Preconception counseling are supposed to be taken. 
Prevention During Pregnancy
  • Don't consume alcohol, don't sleep too much otherwise the child will have a low IQ, poor memory or they will be hyperactive. 
  • avoid a bad diet in order to prevent mental trauma
  • During the 4th month of pregnancy the fetus's heart becomes active, it expresses its desires through the mother. If the desires are not honored, it can lead to autism. 
Prevention during delivery
  • During the second stage of labor, instruction for bearing down the pains by women many lead to psychological abnormality
Prevention during neonatal period
  • the absolute first line of care of a newborn is to facilitate respiration called Pranpratyagama (resuscitation) method in the form of cleaning physical stimuli along with oxygen with the help of a hollow tube with the aim to prevent birth asphyxia which can cause autism. 

Treatments

Yuktivyapashraya chikitsa
  • Different types of internal medication, espeically Ghrita (ghee) preparations, medhya (a type of herb) drugs and external procedures like Nasya, Dhupanas (herbal mixture), Dhoompanas (smoked herb), Shiropichu tailam (medicated powder) and oil application to head region to reduct "symptom"
Daivayapashraya chikitsa
  • This uses various psychological measures for gettin desired effect of a therapy or condition not responding to a treatment. This is made up of changing a hymn, offerings, etc. This parctice acts at the psychological level. Faith is the part of psychology. The treatment is a play on faith. Diseases in Ayurveda is said to be due to actions of a past life and this type of treatment is intended for pacification of these acts. 
Satvavajaya Chiksitsa
  • This includes behavior therapy which helps to control sense from harmful objects and controlling "temper tantrum." Providing awareness to the parents regarding nature of the "disease" and providing environmental modification for encouraging desired behavior. Medhya (medicinal mixture) and vathara (medicinal mixture) drugs aim in correction of maladaptive behavior, reducing hyperactivity and improvement of attention, improved memory, improve motor functions and cognitive functions. 


This ancient type of medicine is dangerous and no scientific basis. Do not use this at anytime. Do heed the FDA's warning. 

Sources: 

https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/ayurvedic-medicine-in-depth

https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/use-caution-ayurvedic-products

https://www.imedpub.com/articles/an-overview-and-approach-towards-autism-and-its-management-in-ayurveda.php?aid=21672

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