(Investigator 154, 2014
(This essay is
the commercial promotion
ayurveda by the
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.)
derives from the
Sanskrit Ayur meaning "life" and veda meaning "knowledge", "science" or
holistic science is
not based on conventional scientific research but is rooted in the
ancient scriptures of Hinduism — four books called the Vedas. Such
knowledge was allegedly received by clairvoyant sages through
meditation and which encompasses inter alia, herbalism, astrology,
massage, invocations, rituals, magic formulae, yoga, diet and fasting.
diseases to demons and is similar in some respects to the yin/yang
principle of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
tredoshas, the forces that supposedly govern all the functions of the
body, must be in balance to sustain it. When the doshas are out of
balance, they serve to destroy it.
to Murry Hope in
her book The Psychology of Healing, a detailed knowledge of
medical astrology is required of the practitioner as diagnosis and
treatment are partly determined by the patient's horoscope as well as
an examination of the eyes, face, lips, tongue and nails. "Pulse
diagnosis" is used to establish "doshas".
teaching, doshas are the forces that govern all the functions of the
body, mind and consciousness. When they are in balance they sustain the
body and when out of balance they serve to destroy it. Health therefore
depends on the correct "balance" of the creative and destructive forces
of the doshas. In addition to looking for "imbalances", the
practitioner also analyses dreams and other personal information.
are two methods of
Ayurvedic treatment: Constitutional and Clinical.
herbs, diet, minerals and life-style adjustments to balance the doshas.
aromas, strong herbs and purification practices, including enemas,
therapeutic vomiting, purging and bloodletting.
Ayruveda is a
spiritually based, self-healing system, and like so many philosophical
belief systems is dependent on faith to endure. Part magico-religious,
part folk wisdom, part empirical, to question any part of it is not
likely to be met with much success — rational discussion is not
possible where faith and beliefs are concerned.
Corporation of America, which promotes Ayurvedic medicine, has been the
target of many law suits, and some of the prescriptions are known to
have included goat faeces washed in urine and the testicles of
peacocks, swans and turtles.
was awarded US$138,000 damages by a federal jury in his law suit
against the World Plan Executive Council-United States and the
Maharishi International University, Fairfield, Iowa. Kropinski
contended that he suffered psychological and emotional damage after
being given false assurances that he could fly through a technique
known as levitation. The case was subsequently appealed and Kropinski
settled for less. In the U.K., two doctors were struck off the medical
register for professional misconduct arising from promoting worthless
and expensive Maharishi Ayurvedic pills for the treatment of AIDS.
player in the
promotion of Ayurvedic medicine and Transcendental Meditation was
India in 1947,
Chopra graduated from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in
1968. He moved to the United States where, after interning, he trained
at the Lahey Clinic and the University of Virginia Hospital before
becoming chief of staff at the New England Memorial Hospital. Although
he established a large private practice, in 1981 he became impelled
towards ayurveda and Transcendental Meditation.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1985, Chopra was persuaded to found the
American Association of Ayurvedic Medicine, and became the medical
director of the Maharishi Ayur-Veda Health Center for Behavioural
Medicine and Stress Management in Lancaster, Massachusetts. He also
founded and became president of Maharishi Ayur-Veda Products
International (MAPI). MAPl's sales included herbal formulas and teas,
"designer foods", books and CDs which variously promised to "balance",
"cleanse", "correct", "energise", "enliven", "improve", "invigorate",
"regulate", "stabilise" and "strengthen" the mind, the body or a body
late 1980s, many of
the herbal products were referred to as "food supplements", some of
which were claimed to be useful for cancer, epilepsy, schizophrenia,
tuberculosis and more than 80 other ailments. Chopra was the sole
stockholder until 1987, when the stock was transferred to the
tax-exempt Maharishi Ayurveda Foundation. Chopra's ties with TM were
abandoned in 1993, and after moving to San Diego, he became executive
director of the Sharp Institute for Human Potential and Mind/Body
Medicine. He opened a treatment facility called the Center for
Mind/Body Medicine, which charged $1,125 to $3,200 for its
week¬long "purification" programme. Chopra's other business
enterprises include Quantum Publications — marketing books, seminars
and herbal products, the latter using the brand name" Ageless Body,
Timeless Mind." Some of the products, when examined by an American
Journal producer, were found to contain insect fragments.
1995, a lawsuit was
filed by Californian Jonie Flint against Chopra, Brihaspati Dev Triguna
and the Sharp Institute. Flint's husband David, who was suffering from
leukemia, had been treated by Triguna who had recommended
"purification" and herbal products. Flint also consulted Chopra who
performed pulse diagnosis and provided a mantra for "quantum sound
treatment," a technique similar to meditation. Flint was declared cured
but he died four months later. A few months after the suit was filed,
Flint withdrew the suit because she did not have the resources to
pursue it and her attorney lost interest in the case.
note from India,
where 70% of the registered practitioners are trained in Indian systems
of medicine — ayurveda, homoeopathy, unani, siddha, etc.
1996, a judgement
of the Supreme Court ruled that doctors who have received their
training in a particular system of medicine cannot prescribe drugs
belonging to another system in which they are not qualified. This
simply means that ayurvedic doctors can no longer prescribe allopathic
raises the question
why, with their claims for the efficacy of holistic medicines, they
needed to prescribe allopathic drugs in the first instance?
Barrett, Stephen. 1995, A few thoughts on ayurvedic mumbo-jumbo. Priorities.
Brown. 1995. Deepak Chopra has sniffles. Esquire.
Chopra, D. 1993. Ageless Body, Timeless Mind: The Quantum
Alternative to Growing Old. Crown Pub., NY.
Chopra, Deepak, 1987, Creating Health, Thorsons.
Dash, V.B. 1989. Fundamentals of Ayurvedic Medicine. Konark
Publishers Pty. Ltd., Delhi, India.
Deccan Herald, 1997. Ayurvedic doctors worried over SC verdict.
February 11, 1997. In the Indian Skeptic, 10(1):41
Heyn, B. 1990. The Indian Art of Natural Medicine and Life Extension.
Healing Arts Press, Rochester, Vt.
Svoboda, R.E. 1992. Ayurveda: Life, Health and Longevity.
Penguin Books, New York.
Thakkur, Chandrashekhar. 1974. Ayurveda: the Indian Art and Science
of Medicine. ASI Publishers. New York. NY.
Wise, T.A. 1986. The Hindu System of Medicine. Mittal
Publications, Delhi, India.
Zimmer, Henry R. 1948. Hindu Medicine. Johns Hopkins,
H. 1999 Alternative, Complementary, Holistic & Spiritual Healing,
Australian Skeptics Inc.