What Diseases are not Cured by Ayurveda?

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Ayurveda is a holistic approach to life and health that has been in practice in India since more than 5000 years ago. Derived from the words ayur, meaning life, and ved, meaning science or knowledge, it can be roughly translated to “The Science of Life” or “The Knowledge of Life.” Like many other traditional systems of medicine that were prevalent before the common era, Ayurveda too is based on the main principle of flowing energy in our bodies.

The practitioners of ancient Chinese medicine call it ‘chi’, while in Ayurveda it is called ‘prana.’ Prana has to be balanced for a person to stay healthy, according to Ayurveda philosophy. It is only the imbalance in prana through stress from bad lifestyle and diet choices that eventually manifest as diseases. 

Rise to Popularity and its Dangers

All that said, the recent rise in popularity of Ayurveda is only aided by the support of the AYUSH Ministry of the Government of India, which has set upon the gargantuan task of regulating discipline in the country. To that effect, it has set up various ayurvedic hospitals, universities, and even ayurvedic research centres. It also handles the registration of quacks or vaidyas, which have carried on the tradition of ayurveda for so long, to help people understand which ones are fake and which ones can be trusted.

While the rise in the use of Ayurveda as an alternative branch of medicine both locally and abroad is a cause of celebration for all of us as Indians, it also should serve as a cautionary tale. Many cases have been reported of people overdosing on heavy metals and developing more complications and diseases than they already had before starting to take ayurvedic medicine. That’s not to say ayurveda is to blame, but the blame definitely lies in the hype that surrounds this ancient philosophy of well-being. Especially in these days where the prevailing hyper-nationalistic environment is causing our countrymen to grossly over-exaggerate anything that has roots in our culture – making Indians the butt of ridicule in international circles.

Treatable or Not?

Ayurveda itself has a classification system for the treatability of diseases but you will find most people singing its praises on the lines that it can cure just about any disease under the sun, given enough time. Here are the system diseases are classified on the basis of:

  1. Sadhya (treatable)
  2. Kastsadhya (treatable but may require strict regimens and intensive, long-term treatment)
  3. Asadhya (untreatable)

Ayurveda as a philosophy of medicine needs to account for everything – constitution (prevalent dosha), eating habits, relaxing habits, mental health, environment, etc. – about the patient to begin the diagnosis and then work out a treatment plan. With so many factors taken into consideration, it is not much of a stretch to claim that Ayurveda can treat a disease before it manifests. The whole point of maintaining a healthy lifestyle according to the principles of ayurveda is to prevent disease. Unlike western medicine which is based on symptomatic treatment, with a clear list of what it can and cannot do in its current form, ayurveda walks a fine line between different stages of a disease.

 While studying in an ayurvedic college in MP like Shri Sai Institute of Ayurvedic Research and Medicine will give you a fair idea of which chronic diseases can be treated in their early stages or prevented altogether, it cannot be claimed as a cure for many conditions that simply don’t have a cure. Now let us look at some of the diseases that definitely cannot be cured by ayurveda.

HIV/AIDS

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), since it was first discovered has been nothing short of a reaper of victims. This is one stubborn virus that takes control of a host and then uses its own cells to replicate and wreak havoc on the immune system. A weakened immune system attracts all kinds of other medical conditions, which ultimately drive the patient to an early grave. The final stage of HIV is called AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).

Now, while many sources online will claim to offer ayurvedic treatment that can treat HIV/AIDS, or have some miraculous story of how someone they know had been cured, don’t believe them. Any registered ayurvedic hospital in Bhopal will offer palliative care for HIV/AIDS, not a miracle cure. Even western medicine can only offer maintenance care in the form of antiretroviral therapy, which only prevents the virus from multiplying if taken on a regular basis.

Diabetes Mellitus

Also known as Type – 1 diabetes, diabetes mellitus happens when the immune system attacks the beta-cells responsible for creating insulin in the pancreas, destroying them faster than they can heal. Just like with HIV, ayurveda is acclaimed for diabetes treatment but if they came with fine print and strict regulations like with western medicine, ayurvedic treatments/ medicines would also have to advertise that they can only offer palliative care. There might be certain ayurvedic herbs that might offer some relief from some symptoms of diabetes though.

Cancers

Various types of cancers are the butt of all kinds of money-making schemes in the name of miracle cures with alternative medicine. Ayurveda is no different in that regard. Many oncologists report patients coming back after a few months with early-stage cancers having grown into late-stage ones. The reason – someone convinced them that ayurvedic medicine can treat cancers. Like with every other disease discussed so far, we reiterate that it can only offer palliative care for cancer patients, like dealing with pain. Even a fresh graduate from any private BAMS college in Bhopal can tell you with certainty that ayurveda can be used to prevent or manage cancer, not cure it entirely.

The Government of India has recognized the dire straits the country is in regarding unregulated ayurvedic treatments. Many common ayurvedic concoctions have high concentrations of poisonous heavy metals like arsenic, lead, and mercury. Even though these are very highly documented in ancient ayurvedic texts along with procedures to eliminate their toxicity, heavy metals in any amount are poisonous to the human body, and their effects are irreversible. That is why the AYUSH ministry has laid out new rules to tighten the regulation around the proliferation of these medicines. It has also come up with draft rules that ban the advertisement or sale of any ayurvedic medicine that claims to cure cancer, tuberculosis, diabetes, appendicitis, baldness or greying of hair, chikungunya and dengue, among a total of 37 conditions. SRI SAI, the best BAMS college in MP prepares future-ready Ayurvedic doctors to cure diseases through our Indian-originated Ayurveda. 

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