"Over the years, Iíve covered a lot of territory for The Washington Post, but itís a book project that brings me to India, a book on how other countries deliver health care," says veteran reporter T.R. Reid, as he begins his FRONTLINE/World report on Ayurveda, a form of medicine that has been practiced in India for three thousand years.
Full disclosure: The 60-something Reid also has a personal stake in the matter -- a bum shoulder that has been bothering him for 25 years since he injured it in an accident in the Navy.
Reid, who is also known for his humorous commentaries on National Public Radio, travels to the Arya Vaidya Pharmacy, or AVP, in Coimbatore in southern India to see if he can alleviate his aches and pains and avoid the high-tech shoulder surgery that his physician back home in Denver has recommended.
"On first impression, this place looks more like a spa than a hospital," says Reid as he strolls around the AVP garden, "but I've heard the doctors here know their stuff, especially on chronic illness -- you know, migraines, back pain, arthritis -- the kind of ailments that we in the West can't seem to fix."
"This is the failure of Western medicine," Dr. Ram Manohar, AVP research chief, tells Reid, "because it knows to cure, but it does not know how to heal."
Reidís treatment begins with a ceremony at AVPís temple, where he seeks the blessing
of Dhanwantari, the Hindu god of healing. Is this perhaps all part of a placebo effect? Reid wonders. But Dr. Manohar tells him thatís all right: "The placebo effect, I think, is very essential for our medicines to work. Ayurveda believes that healing has to be initiated from the psyche, the mind of the patient. And we use all techniques as much as we can, including religious."
Next step: Reid meets the chief healer, Medical Director K.G. Raveendran, who consults with him and takes his pulse -- at great length -- as if he were hearing all the inner disturbances of the body. At last, Dr. Raveendran pronounces his diagnosis: "Pitta, Kapha."
This pronouncement is based on the ancient Ayurvedic principle that all living things are controlled by three vital forces, or "doshas" -- Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Good health comes from keeping the doshas in balance. As Reid puts it, "When they get out of equilibrium, we get sick. In my case, I have too much Pitta and Kapha, leaving my Vata out of whack."
What follows is a two-and-a-half-week regimen of oily massages, bitter brews, mudpacks and caustic eye drops. Confiding to his "digital diary" video camera, Reid alternates between skepticism and acceptance as he submits to the treatments -- all except the leeches, that is. Those he merely observes at work on another patient.
But can Ayurvedic medicine really cure? Researcher Ram Manohar is prepared to find out. In collaboration with the UCLA Medical School, he's begun a long-term study to see which works better for rheumatoid arthritis, Ayurveda or the Western drug methotrexate.
"A person like me, I mean, we would like to ultimately understand what really is there in Ayurveda,Ē says Dr. Manohar. ďI mean, we just cannot continue to be mystical about these things. We would really like to demystify the whole process, bring in some transparency, and we feel that if it is found to be not useful, then it will also be a good service."
At times cranky and sarcastic, Reid nevertheless admits that early mornings at the clinic are magical, and by the end of his stay, he discovers that he has less pain and more movement in his shoulder. The Ayurvedic practitioners tell him to continue the treatments when he returns home to Colorado, and Reid thanks them for their efforts.
Before leaving India, he makes one last stop: Rishikesh, far to the north, the home of the sages, or rishis, and the birthplace of Ayurveda. Pilgrims in the millions come here to perform Hindu rituals in the sacred Ganges, floating candles on the water at night.
Skeptical to begin with, Reid is now convinced that Ayurveda is "on to something," though it may be hard to prove by Western standards. Perhaps Ram Manohar's UCLA study will soon provide some answers.
Back home, in a brief epilogue, Reid admits that whatever gains he made in India have faded away. His shoulder is as stiff as ever. "But that's not the fault of Ayurvedic medicine; let's be fair here,Ē says Reid. "Itís because I haven't done a darned thing about my arm since I left India." Still, he has decided to skip the surgery that would have implanted a titanium rod in his arm.
"I'm certain that if I did the kind of massage or any kind of exercise like they gave me, even if I took those awful herbal medicines regularly, that my arm would be making significant progress, because we sure did when I was in India,Ē declares Reid, "and for that I'm grateful to Ayurveda."
Dr. Marc Halpern
Grass Valley, California
As the director of the California College of Ayurveda in the United States and its accompanying clinic, I applaud T.R. Reid for bringing attention to this field of medicine. At our clinic we perform most of these treatments and see success with many patients that Western Medicine could not help. Ayurvedic clinics are now found through out the USA and one does not have to go to India for these treatments.
I'm... and just beginning my Ayurvedic studies. It's great to see some first-hand experiences at an Ayurvedic hospital. I think Reid did a great job of letting the audience in and showing what he learned. And it's very true, the treatments aren't all pleasant. But that is a good sign of positive change. Change is always uncomfortable. True healing is not a quick science. It is a knowledge that changes you at your own pace. Our western culture is a bit impatient. We are too impulse-driven and too oriented around needs for instant gratification. (And even controlled by large amounts of fear.) We are distracted, clogged, and disconnected from our own empowerment. It is very out of sync with even our own natural rhythms.
Thank you so much Mr. Reid for sharing yourself and creating this report. It is a good introduction and it will reach many. Either resonating or activating, many interests will be stirred.
Dr Amina Ather
Hi ,It wonderful to view a media documented treatment , there are many of the traditional healers who are unaware of this documentation , they fear as they may loose their family treasure, there should be a very strong line up for documentations of these treatments , which are to be used only for globalization and for commerce , I would like to share some of these kind of videos which i use for health education , like home remedies and their cure .
Hope to share this treasure world wide !!!!
I went through an experience not dissimilar to the Reid in the Frontline program. The Ayurveda center was outside of Bangalore and problem in my case was a tightness in the back side of my knee. After going through several Allopathic treatments, I had shed some skepticism and decided to try Ayurveda - this is despite my being of Indian origin. Three days into the treatment, I could literally play soccer with my left leg. I am a convert and found the experience extremely healing and at some level fascinating. Yes, the medicines are sour and bitter but it is our western conditioning that makes us believe they should be otherwise. The efficacy of the medication should be cure not the little pain that it makes you endure along the way. All lessons learned by me during my three week stay at the Ayurveda Health resort.
I am writing this from my room in the AVP Coimbatore.After 8 years of confusion,discomfort,depression,negative blood/urine test results, I was eventually diagnosed as having an E-Coli infection in the Prostate by an intelligent and intuitive allopathic doctor in Lima, Peru.He told me it would be "possible" but very difficult to cure with antibiotics.I tried a number of courses over a 3 year period resulting only in chronic stomach problems and increased depression. My doctor in London said that many men after years of antibiotic courses had to finally decide whether to live their lives on antibiotics or live with the condition.
One year ago I came here for a 5 week treatment. They said that it was no miracle cure and not guaranteed to work immediately. I felt great when I finished the course, all back home said I looked transformed. I came here 3 weeks ago for 2nd course and took the same tests used by the doctor in Lima in an allopathic hospital in Coimbatore, all results have shown Negative; No Organism Detected, and an ultrasound of my prostate shows it to be normal (Not enlarged).
After 10 years of disappointments, I rejoice with caution, but something on a "molecular" level feels different. I will take the same test again on return to Europe. Allopathic medicine saved my mother's life from cancer so personally I see no sense in an either/or approach. The treatment cost me about $1000 for a 5 wk stay all included.
If Ayurveda can actually fix a bum shoulder that's been that way for 25 years, then there's something good to be said about it. The treatments may be obscure, uncomfortable, or even disgusting, but there can be no doubt that the medicine works. A fusion between this kind of natural treatment and a modern set of medicine that allowed you to heal while also being cured would be amazing.
Let me first say that I am a highschool student, and science is definitely not my best subject. However, it seems to me that not enough is said for older methods of medicine, as it is often laughed off as "witch doctory". It is interesting how the actions prescribed by Ayurveda were able to allieviate pain for which Western doctors were so ready to prescribe surgery. I agree with Reid that it is important for Westerners to understand this kind of healing and try to consider alternatives to the scalpel. Kudos to him for being open-minded enough to try this!
I am of Indian heritage but my grandparents migrated to Malaysia where there are many Chinese and Malay traditional medical practices in addition to the Indian ones described in the program. Its fascinating to see how the people of Malaysia choose between Indian, Chinese, Malay, and Western medicine. In my own family, my aunt was cured of asthma by Chinese medicine after years of struggling with the disease using Western drugs. Others use Malay tonics for overall wellbeing. There is deep knowledge in Asian traditional medicines, which I hope will not be lost in the rush to corporatize and capitalize the field of medicine.
Mr. Reid,I'm a B777 Capt and I have found Ayurveda along with the Art Of Living Breathing Course to be a wonderful Healthy Life (considering I work shifts, eat all over the world, exposed to varying altitudes, etc).
There's no need to go all the way to India. Follow-ups can be done nearby you, in the USA.
If you send me your city name, I'll give you a contact number.
Nearby Canada http://www.srisriayurveda.ca/indexEn.html
Love to all,
PS: I haven't taken a Panadol, no suffered any major sickness in over 2.5 yrs of doing this Breathing Course.
Rosa Di Lorenzo
The video shows a way to do medicine that can be easily misunderstood by people living in the western world. When you see a leech sucking the bad blood out of a patient, most people I know would be definitely turned off. And that is a shame, as Ayurveda, as it is practiced here in the US and especially what is known as Maharishi Ayurveda, can do a lot of good to western lifestyles and diseases. No leeches used, no harsh treatments adopted.
I have been using Ayurveda for about 21 years, and "treatments" (restoration of balance in the body/mind) work every time. There is a main thing to understand about it though, and that is the basic assumption on which Ayurveda is based: Health is not just the absence of symptoms, but a feeling of bliss, balance and happiness. Ayurveda is based on prevention rather than cure, and has a holistic approach to the person, while western medicine treats the symptom, and in the meanwhile it's likely hurting something else in the person with the medications used to treat that symptom. Ayurveda's herbs, its medications, do not hurt other parts of the body, rather, they may have side "benefits" for the rest of the body/mind.
dr AJIT singh
Well, Mr Reid's experince is not new as far as having some doubts about such ancient syatem of healing but at the same time I feel such people have the abilty to awaken our society which is blind folded with western medicine approch even though western medicine has its own place which can not be ignored. But there is lot of gap left in between wellness and disease which cannot be filled by western medicine and that is where the role of Ayurvedic medicine comes as this is the only complete approch to wellbeing.
Whether we accept it or not, it is a hard fact that if we are keen to make our society a better place today at every level -- physical mental social and spritual -- we don't need any more researchers to do what we need to do which is to come to our basics and that which AYURVEDA teaches us.
I run PLANET AYURVEDA centre in New Zealand and have hundards of such cases who can share their experince of wellbeing achieved by them through their own efforts by following our advice based on this ancient system of healing .
Unfortunately, there are hundreds of such centres are coming up in west that claim to offer Ayurvedic treatments but Ayurvedic treatments can not be offered by those who are not fully qualified and have never attended an Ayurvedic college where one has to be trained for 6 years full time .
I think people like Mr REID should take moral responsibilty to uncover such malpractice in western countries and let the public experience true unadultrated Ayurvedic treatements to achieve optimum balance.
Having gone through many Ayurvedic treatments it has become increasingly clear that Ayurveda definitely works, but that it requires some lifestyle commitments: pure food, (no leftovers, fresh ingredients, minimally processed) appropriate food for one's body type and imbalances, regularity of rest and activity especially going to bed on time (preferably before 10 pm) appropriate exercise for one's body type and consistency (for the prescribed period) with the specific ayurvedic herbal preparations prescribed. The purity of those preparations is extremely important.
My favorite Ayurvedic physicians have been Dr. Manohar at the Maharishi Ayurvedic Clinic in Fairfield Iowa (he's a genius) and Dr. Rama Kant Mishra from Chandi in Southern California - they are both especially brilliant when it comes to diet and nutrition.
Namaste ~ This story reminded me of Bill Moyers' special years ago on the topic of Traditional Chinese Medicine and seeing the threads of similarity between these two healing systems (body/mind/spirit as whole, checking of pulses, herbs for internal medicince) proves to me once again of the reverence we need to have for these true healing techniques. Knowlege is power and our answers are with the ancients ones. Shanti ~
It's great to see reports like this. The western world is coming around. I've heard scientists make fun of western medicine because it thinks it's a science, but doesn't follow any of the rules. These other forms of medicine, on the other hand, were a product of a more scientific method, that has had much more time for observation and experimentation. I've heard western medicine's downfall was the autopsy. It changed the focus away from body systems to individual organs. Here in Venezuela, the Cuban doctors are amazing. They practice what I think is called integrative medicine. 27 years in the U.S. and Iīve never seen anything come close to these doctors. They avoid pharmaceuticals as much as possible and borrow from eastern medicine when possible. They believe in preventative treatment above all. Their best quality though, is their superior bedside manner. Thank you for the good reporting.
I was diagnosed with fibromialgia, psoriatic arthritis, depression, insomnia,sleep apnea,obesity. I was taking 12 to 15 pills including Vicodin 750mg 3 times a day....and then I heard about AVP in Coimbatore. I now am free of medications, no more fibromyalgia, my arthritis is under control, I lost over 50 pounds, sleep like a baby, no depression. I should be the poster child for this treatments. They are a miracle. They are simply the best...Now it's a life worth living. I got second chance!
South BEnd, In
I've been a nurse for 35 years. I am now taking a yoga teacher training. I am convinces that ayurveda, yoga and acupuncture are not only effective, but superior in some ways, as they don't have any of the side effects of our allopathic medicines. I was fascinated by this article, and would love to visit AVP at some point. Great reporting! Time to get the word out!!
After surviving my cancer thru Western treatment, I realized that there was a reason I was stricken with the disease. I was a stressed out, depressed person who had lost myself. Even before I discovered yoga, ayurveda and Traditional Chinese medicine, I intuitvely knew that I had the capability to heal myself,the whole person; soul, mind, and body.Now I am studying these modalities and know that it is NOT placebo. There is a reason why I got cancer. It is to help people (I start with family) to realize that we have a healing "pharmacy" within us. All we need to do is open our awareness and get back to nature. Thanks for the documentary!!
All treatments, scientific and traditional, benefit from placebo effects. I certainly believe that traditional medicine is better at generating healing by placebo methods especially with religious people, than the scientific method. However, I also believe that science is the only path to find out why and how these effects benefit patients. Religion and other forms of illusions do not provide us with scientific facts and truths, but they might generate both physical and psychosomatic effects that help patients.
I am planning to head to this [Ayurveda] place very soon.Your report is interesting and one of the pieces I came across while googling the AVP to get more anecdotal info. Surrender to a higher power(within oneself) and faith in the Divine (in one's ability to restore oneself to balance) are important in healing of mind/body /spirit. As a recent graduate of the California College of Ayurveda's Clinical Ayurveda Specialist Program I find that's the first requirement for myself and my clients/patients.I look forward to my experience at the AVP with open mind/heart. Thank you for your contribution on your personal experience.You may help guide many people on to the journey of deep healing through the incredible science of Ayurveda..
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
I am 43 years old and I had a stroke last year, Oct. 2006. My left part part of the body is paralyzed. After ongoing physical therapy, now I can slowly walk but my left arm is still not cured.I was planning to go to AVS and after reading this article and interview and seeing the live video, it has encouraged me a lot and I am sure going there for treatment. Thanks a lot to Mr. Reid and GOD BLESS YOU from the bottom of my heart. I wish your arm gets cured soon completely.
I think both Western and Ayurvedic way of treatment can coexist, for the benefit of the patient. Eventually Ayurvedic medicine is going to appeal to the people in the West.
The courage, initiative and integrity shown in reporting by Mr. T.R. Reid in investigating Ayurveda is commendable. Trying herbal medicine, (NOT APPROVED BY FDA)requires faith,patience and courage. I am a graduate of California College of Ayurveda and I can see that incorporating Ayurveda in the western health care is one of the viable solutions to the health care crisis faced by us here in USA. Western medicine is absolutely necessary in the society but Ayurveda shows an individual a way of living that may protect one from many illnesses and one can be his/her own doctor. Eventually this will facilitate providing better western treatment for those who really need. Ayurveda is so powerful that some in health care industry like drug companies and insurance companies are doing their best to restrict use of Ayurvedic knowledge. This is a small step by Mr. Reid in exploration of the Ayurveda, I paraphrase Ayurveda "An encyclopedia of Longevity".
Vancouver, BC Canada
I've tried both physiotherapy and acupuncture for a frozen shoulder. They both help but I found the acupuncture works better for me at relaxing the tensed muscles - a cause of much chronic pain. I notice in this story that the reporter is using a laptop for work - one of the worst things for a bad shoulder. Type "computer-related injuries" in your favorite search engine and read the articles - perhaps another interesting story for Frontline?
St. Paul, Minnesota
I was in Coimbatore at the Ayurvedic Hospital for 5 weeks this past Spring. I have Parkinson's Disease and I found the time there totally restful and helpful in dealing with the whole person, the body, the diet, through cleansing, massage and natural medicines. Sounds like Reid cheated a bit in going outside the confines for eating. The setting, meeting people from all over the world, the rest, the care was very calming and holistic.
There is no doubt that Ayurveda has been on to something for thousands of years now.
To the skeptic: When you get over your... 'western' science~ superiority complex mentality you will begin to see the positive contributions of other civilizations. Ben, Why don't you stop using the decimal number system? Did you even know that comes from India too? Have you ever wondered why the superior "western" pharmaceutical companies are scurrying to patent well-known Ayurvedic herbs like Neem and Turmeric (just to name two)? Indian government is having to fight court battles to revoke these predatory patents.
It will be a great service to humanity if patents for medicines are abolished, which will make medicines more affordable. Current medical system is simply inhuman in terms of cost.
Do you know where the idea of "preventing" diseases comes from? Go read the history of inoculation and vaccination, and also how the superior "west" (the church) banned it, resulting in thousands of unnecessary deaths.
Since evidence is growing in support of yoga, meditation and Ayurveda, (all from India) opinions like yours are irrelevant in today's global world, though it might still have appeal in your...society.
I am a General Surgeon and have a muscle disease. I go to Coimbatore once every 2 years for Detoxification and am disease free.I spent 5 weeks at Coimbatore recently.Would highly recommend for chronic diseases.
As a person who was very much part of this Filming saga and also as a part of AVP Team at that time, I should say that Tom really had it hard adjusting to the theories, as he had a mental block to accept a science which is totally new to him, and no one blames him for that.
But if WHO [the World Health organization] recognises Ayurveda as a Science and a mainstream system in India, why not accept it? Are all those who are serious hard core researchers bold enough to admit the pit falls in Allopathic medications? Each system has something good to offer to humanity, and in the interest of humanity is it not right that all should have free access to this Ayurvedic system rather than branding it as Superstition, Quackery, Poison? It is high time people understand the basics of human life style and how to adhere to the basic principles of holistic living. No compulsions though!
I am so glad that some people like Reid who came to India to experience hands on Ayurveda and got better and see it happening.There are some defamming statements given by some skeptical people which damaged the impression about Ayurveda in last two years with some negative statements published in the west.To me it clearly looked like half truth and some misleading statements given by some medical doctors who did not know the complete subject before making any negative comments about it.
Thanks to Reid and AVP, a pioneer instituion of Ayurveda, the so-called Ayurvedic "MAYO clinic" which is a perfect expression and representation of the best of Ayurveda. Congratulations AVP and Mr P.R.Krishnakumar and the team .With blessings and good wishes from:
Advisor( Ayurveda) Ministry of Health,Government of Delhi.India.
Member Advisory Board and Visiting Faculty:
California College of Ayurveda,California,U.S.A.
Dear Ramyour, your effort to blend science with ayurveda is commendable and appreciated. Ayurveda needs young doctors/researchers like you who need to have a good perception of ayurveda and science. Only then this method of healing could be publicized, patented, and marketed in the west which is needed due to globalization. Your effort needs support -- not only financial, but also moral, spirutual, social and scientific. I request that you involve scientists, economists, mathematicians, biotechnologists, engineers and modern medical researchers which will strengthen your adventure in your search for TRUTH.
Ayurveda will rightfully claim its place in medicine no doubt.... By using [Western] drugs and chemicals to micromanage an ailment we lose sight of the wholistic treatment....What is the guarantee that allopathic medicine will cure or heal one completely? Who will want to manage a disease when you can actually heal yourself in the long run without polluting your body and the environment? Look at the establishment for producing drugs and the amount of money spent on research besides the treatment costs.
I am grateful that Ayurveda is getting some publicity. Western Medicine - doctors, drug companies and insurance companies make money from people staying diseased and sick - Ayurveda and other alternative medicines are not only preventative, but focus on wellness - diet & nutrition, prayer, meditation & yoga. They teach people the GIGO principle - Garbage In Garbage Out. I am quite healthy, and I am going to AVP to help with staying healthy and doing cleansing and am working on living a healthy life. Our insurance companies don't even think of rewarding people for staying healthy, but will spend thousands of dollars if you get terminal cancer or a terminal illness. I find very little compassion demonstrated in Western Medicine - especially with the drugs that always have side effects that are worse than the disease. Thanks Frontline - you are doing a Great Service.
There is nothing mystical about Ayurveda. It is based on the elements which are known to modern science. The understanding can only come when one is willing to have an open mind, look anew (at the ancient teachings). In 1986 I got chronic fatigue. Back then, no modern western medical doctor knew what it was. In fact the Kaiser doctors told me after numerous tests "there is nothing wrong with you." They didn't have an answer, so there is no problem. Four years later, I found Dr. Lad, an Ayurvedic doctor and through strict adherance to the prinicples, we brought the elements that were out of balance into balance. After about 8 years, I was "back to normal". Others who can't be open to something "new" still suffer this very debillitating disease. It is a shame to stay ingorant when there is help available.
Having just returned from the hospital in Coimbatore, I have one comment. It works. Several of my friends and family have been there and so far all the results have been positive. My 'pain in the neck' which was the beginings of spondylosis has disappeared. The pizhichil treatment was truly a miracle. The milk and rice treatment was heavenly! The doctors dedicated and caring. I look forward to returning there next year.
london, United Kingdom
Dear Prem Kumar,
I have been a patient of yours for three decades and have benefitted everytime I have stayed with you at Vaidyasala, tendering your garden.
Mayapur, West Bengal
Placebo effect seems overrated here since Ayurveda treats also animals. A whole section in Garuda Purana is devoted to veterinary medicine.
Renu Sophat Malhotra
Ann Arbor, Michigan
I met Dr. Ram Manohar while we both were presenting papers at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies. Dr. Ra Manohar's presentation was so profound so understandable that I approached him for treatment for a chronic sinus problem that has been treated by every Western method since the age of 6 or 7. I am now 62. In January 2006, I went only for 12 days just like a Westerner and had incomplete treatment which they kindly allowed.I have had no more sinus infections so far nearly two years. Earlier, I was taking antibiotics twice a year for two or three weeks at a time.
A very good program. I too would have been skeptical had I not witnessed it first hand. My wife was diagnosed with Stills or JRA at the age of 32. The doctor in Boston advised her to start Methotrexate. However, before going that route, we researched other treatments to see if we really needed her to "poison" herself with such a strong drug. We were luckily told about the AVP, and my wife went there for treatment. When she returned to Boston, her rheumatologist, a leading figure in the world of medicine in Boston told her that if he did not know better, he would have said that she never had Stills/JRA. She has been back twice more, and is completly off any form of medication. Her rheumatologist in Boston still follows her and keeps a close tab on her status. She is now 55 but manages the day-to-day chores and walks regularly for 2 miles. Between her treatments she was also looking after our twin boys, who are now fine grown men, thanks primarily to her. Dr. Warrier who was the Ayurvedic specialist at AVP is alas no more, but I am sure that the clinic is still very effective. No chemicals ... just natural herbs and minerals.
I think I would try this alternative type of medicine, before going into surgery for say a new kidney in the US.
I found this program interesting especially since Dr. Manohar is conducting a study along with UCLA on the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, comparing Ayurveda medicine and Western medicine (the use of methotrexate). As someone who has had rheumatoid arthritis for 30 years and have had four joint replacements, I am curious about the outcome.
For the poster who claims this is quakery, I must point out that the use of massage and heat are quite beneficial in maintaining range of motion, increasing circulation and allevating stiffness and pain. As far as Western science, I was given gold injections for RA, they didn't know why or how it worked. Now, would you say that was superstitious, believing in something where there was no explanation?
There could be some possible application of some aspects of Ayurveda that along with Western medicine could help folks like me who have suffered with chronic diseases. I'm keeping an open mind, I am not that ethnocentric to believe that my culture has all the answers.
I work as a researcher in a university hospital. I am very much grounded in the Western biological sciences. However, I had a health problem for two years that three doctors could not help. Finally, one recommended acupuncture. I was skeptical because I've seen the literature on acupuncture, and while some studies have found it to be useful in limited areas, the mechanism(s) by which it works is unknown (at least through Western scientific models). I decided to try it anyway, because I had exhausted all other options. After 3 months, I feel much better than I have in 2 years. Maybe I'm experiencing the placebo effect, maybe not; all I know is that non-traditional medicine has worked for me where traditional Western medicine--something my career is based on--has not. Ayurveda and acupuncture are obviously not the same thing, but I would hope that people like Ben would not dismiss non-traditional medicine outright, simply because they/we don't understand the mechanisms.
Santa Fe, NM
Excellent report. Ayurveda, like Chinese medicine, has been around for thousands of years. If its efficacy was limited to the placebo effect, it hardly would have lasted this long. I agree with Susanna Low-Bear that trying to evaluate a holistic system like Ayurveda by Western scientific standards is truly an apples and oranges exercise. Nonetheless, it is only when "alternative" approaches to healing are measured against Western medicine to vailidate them, that skeptics like Ben will begin to consider them with an open mind.
Too bad Mr. Reid did not continue the treatments once he returned to the US. He could be pitching for the Rockies by now!
I enjoyed Mr. Reid's story on the Eastern medicine of Ayurveda. As an arthritis sufferer for some 23 years now, and after having used the "normal" (Western) course of treatment, I've realized how much my emotions and spirituality are connected to the course and intensity of the disease. Even the simple power of positive thinking can help tremendously. After watching Mr. Reid's report I'm convinced Ayurveda can and does help, and Western medicine should take note and incorporate it into our methods of treatment as it has with acupuncture. However, even though Mr. Reid ended up experiencing more mobility and pain relief I have yet to be convinced that, in the case of chronic arthritis anyway, complete absence of Western treatment will result in the best results. There is something to be said about the benefits of our technological advances in medicine, and both need to be used.
Your report was very interesting. I like to know what was the cost of your treatment? Would you recommend this treatment to any one else? If so how to contact AVP, in India?
FRONTLINE/World's editors respond:
This is the Web address for AVP in India.
"How do you expect us to believe any of your stories as factual, honest, believable reporting when you spend a half hour on this unbelievable Indian quackery and b...t?"
The proof is in the eating, as the saying goes. He experienced improvement in his condition. Because that's a challenge to your world view... well, no one's forcing you to do this. But it does work.
You respect the reporter but suddenly, what you believe overrides his professionalism and sincerity? Hmm...
Palo Alto, Ca
I was impressed with your bravery re the eye treatment. Pulse taking used to be an art in Western medicine in the Middle Ages as well. It only got lost in modern, hurried times. I found the program very interesting and it will be great to see a more indepth comparison of Ayurveda versus Western Medicine.
Caution re Western medications is well advised, because the "proven" efficacy of many of them is barely better than placebo, so why not try something different.
Although I found the confirmation in your additional online commentaries, it would have been valuable to mention in the video that the Indian government licenses practitioners and that they receive rigorous, institutionalized training (I've been told that 4 years is the norm) similar to allopathic training.
Queens, New York
The report was very interesting.
TR Reid may have a Pitta/Kapha imbalance in the shoulder but Ben the Skeptic seems to have a more serious Pitta/Kapha imbalance in the mind. His opinion is blocking his view of anything else. On top of that, he sounds angry about it. Ideally, the fire of Pitta would soften and melt the mucous plug of Kapha and he would begin to see more clearly. Instead, it seems to be toxic. Inhaling the sweet fragrances of sandalwood and rose oil might help, Ben, listen to gentle music. Be more creative. See some healthy movement and change in your life. No charge for the consultation.
Mtm. View, CA
All your programs seem to be good honest reporting until now. How do you expect us to believe any of your stories as factual, honest, believable reporting when you spend a half hour on this unbelievable Indian quackery and bullshit?
It is the use of superstition, incantations, amulets, spells, and mantras.
My balance has never been all that great. Still, I decided I'd learn how to ski cross country (Nordic). After a few lessons, I realized my balance just wasn't quite good enough. I then started a beginning Taoist Tai Chi class in an attempt to improve my balance -- and flexibility. It's been a slow process, and I've stuck with the program. My balance has improved as has my ski technique. In March, I completed a 20 mile race on a frozen river.
I think that the idea of using Western scientific testing to determine the efficacy of an ancient medical science like Ayurveda is inherently flawed. This is because an ancient system of medicine such as Ayurveda not only treats the gross physical body but it also works on a more energetic level. There are subtleties in the body that our reductionist science is not yet sophisticated enough to detect. Ayurvedic medicine addresses these energetic subtleties in diagnosis (ie pulse taking) as well as treatment (the actions of many herbal medicines are more complex than their "principle active constituent"). As a student of Chinese medicine, another ancient system of healing with many parallels to Ayurveda, I have thoroughly contemplated this issue and feel that it should be a part of the discussion.
ft. worth, tx
There is an old saying:"if you know the cause, you are half cured."Any treatment is aiming at symptoms, most techniques can reduce the symptom temporarily, few techniques, such as acupuncture,can last longer than expected, because the points are superimposed on the effected muscles. Your deltoid muscle and pect major are the true cause. One hour session will set you free. Meanwhile, move your arm to where pain is and tighten your muscle, count 8 slowly, then relax. count 10, relax, count 12,relax.
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
I was diagnosed with hypertension. After taking the prescribed medications (Novatase), I was not happy with the idea of side effects such as dizziness, nervousness, etc. I stumbled upon Ayurveda, out of California. I ordered the Cardio-B herbal tabs expecting to see some remarkable results. I believe Ayurveda will help me but with all the pharmacies around, do they all adhere to the strictest policies of Ayurveda? Meaning, am I getting the purest herbs?
Your report was very good. I might have missed it, but what was the cost of your treatment?