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Debunking Ayurveda – some of which is seriously harmful

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Any genuine benefits of ancient Indian medicines have long been included in the repository of knowledge known as modern medicine. Whatever remains is extremely questionable. Ideas such as 'doshas' are particularly baseless.

If there was ANY genuine scientific basis in ayurveda, India's longevity would have been the highest in the world before modern science was brought to India. Instead, Indians could expect to live to a max of 30 years or less even as late as in 1947.

Yes, massage is good, yoga is good, turmeric is good. But that's not ayurveda. 

In any event, there is nothing called "Western" medicine. Only medicine. I disagree that anything which is unproven and untested should be supported by government funds. Let private charities do so, but not taxpayers.

First, what is Ayurveda:

Ayurveda and Pharmaceutics – a historical perspective, by Dr P.V. Ranganayakulu (PDF)

My blog posts on this topic

Two Indian doctors rip apart the Ayurveda system as irrational, illogical, superstitious, supernatural

Modi’s sick attempt to tout Ayurveda as a scientific system

International Journal for Ayurveda Research

Is Ayurveda scientific in a meaningful way? No. It has no capacity to grow.

Let’s merge Ayurveda and Unani medicine with general medicine

Victorian health department warns about lead poisoning from <i>Rasa shastra</i>, an ayurvedic medicine

Useful links

'Ayurvedic drugs have toxic metals'

Dr Nirmal Surya, a neurologist at Bombay Hospital, said, “One patient, who was well educated, came to me with complaints of depression and memory loss. This patient had a habit of using ayurvedic medicines. We sent his blood sample to the Indian Institute of Environmental Medicine, which detected abnormal levels of lead, copper, gold, arsenic and mercury in it. The mercury present probably caused the depression and memory loss.”

Some Ayurvedic medicines have harmful metals: study

One in five Ayurvedic medicines commonly used by followers of the ancient Indian health philosophy were found to contain the metallic poisons lead, mercury or arsenic, researchers said on Tuesday.

Side Effects of Ayurvedic Supplements

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine published the findings of a study of heavy metals in Ayurvedic preparations in the "Journal of the American Medical Association" in 2004. Out of the 70 widely available Ayurvedic medicines tested, 14 contained harmful levels of lead, mercury or arsenic. These toxic ingredients can cause severe gastrointestinal side effects or even poisoning. 

Proven cases of harm caused by Ayurveda

​Use Caution With Ayurvedic Products [US FDA]

Banyan Botanicals Warning Letter [US FDA]

Bazaar Of India Warning Letter [US FDA] Warning Letter [US FDA]

Is cancer curable with Ayurveda?

Deepak Chopra and Maharishi Ayurvedic Medicine [The fraud that is Chopra]

Ayurvedic medicines: efficacy doubtful with considerable risks

A Few Thoughts on Ayurvedic Mumbo-Jumbo

Ayurvedic medicine (Skeptics dictionary)

Medical Cults of World – Part 2 (Ayurveda)

Canada bans ayurvedic drugs

United States FDA cracks down on ayurvedic, homeopathic diabetic medicines

US bans sale of 3 Indian herbal products

The State of Ayurveda: Examining the Evidence

Fake Ayurvedic treatment racket busted

Doctored Ayurveda of a Fake Expert

Ramdev’s Substandard Fake Ayurvedic Practice, Black Money [Word doc]

Ayurveda doc turned billionaire godman Kumar Swami challenged by devotee for fake mantra

The cost of complementary and alternative therapies [There is no scientific evidence that any alternative therapy works]

How Ayurveda Works (Not Really)


unscientific, bunkum, demolition of ayurveda, dangerous ayurveda

Sanjeev Sabhlok

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11 thoughts on “Debunking Ayurveda – some of which is seriously harmful
  1. Krishna Dev

    Hari Om,

    I’ve gone through some of your blog posts and one thing is common in all of them is bashing religion and Indian value system.
    Whatever claims you have made against Ayurveda are ambiguous and I found nothing relevant in your blog posts that can be taken as a strong argument.

    If you really want to make a strong and convincing argument I would like to see you point out something specific from the Vedic philosophy which you disagree with and I would be more than happy to have an argument.

    When you talk about religion and superstition, what kind of practices or beliefs are you pointing out?

    What is your understanding of religion, especially “Sanatan Dharma”?

    As far as theory of evolution is concerned, it’s just a hypothesis which is now glorified by a bunch of lunatics who call themselves scientists and self-proclaimed wise-men of the society.

    Are those scientists not superstitious when they blindly follow the theory of evolution and whatever minute discoveries they make, they call it evidence to make a name for themselves. After all this so called science community of crazy people are seeking name and recognition.

    Why is it so important for these bunch of people that everybody follow what they say and agree with?

    Krishna Dev

  2. Prakash

    Krishna Dev, You’re bringing disrepute to Sanatana Dharma by opposing evolution. One of the absolutely mind blowing aspects of Hindu Puranas is how the Dashavatara (Fish to amphibian to herbivorous mammal to half-carnivorous beast half man to dwarf to angry man to good man to Super human etc.) is an allegory for evolution, written a thousand years before Darwin and Wallace had even thought of evolution.

  3. Annonymous (I am afraid. I cant share it)

    It is excellent article. I am afraid that you will have to remove it soon as ppl don’t like to listen to truth mainly if it is harming them economically. I am so much grateful to you for your courage.

  4. Vinay R.

    Ayurveda has some uses, but not comparable to modern medicine off course, Hinduism is better than all religions no doubt, especially if you consider yoga and idea of Ahimsa etc.,
    Theory of God is definitely fake.

  5. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    ALL religions are the enemies of reason and humanity. Let’s be very clear on that.

    Please explain why there is this violent discrimination in Hinduism known as the caste system?

  6. Vijay Anand

    We cannot say whole Ayurveda is scrap or bullshit. It is extremely comprehensive and complex. It is not just about medicines, treatments, and minor surgeries; it is a way of life encompassing dietetics, exercises, yOgAsanAs, rituals, and philosophies/morals! Many or most of the beliefs of it maybe or might be false/scrap, even then you cannot say – AyurvEdha (whole) itself is scrap; this applies to all – There are few AyurvEdhic medicines that have been approved by some NGO organizations, State and Indian Governments (DAA-Drug Administration Authority or DRA-Drug Regulatory Authority)., and even F.D.A. (if the websites are not lying-search in Google)! Please be as much clear and specific as possible :-) I am a skeptic and don’t believe most of the things easily. Some AyurvEdhic medicines, hair oil, shampoos, arogyavaTi, cough syrups, sore throat lozenges, and Triphala Choorna, a bowel regulator, have worked for me :-)

  7. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    I’ve said clearly that ANY proven medicine (no matter who discovered it) is automatically absorbed into the SCIENTIFIC field of medicine. What’s left over (Ayurveda) is therefore pure garbage.

  8. Aiswarya

    You say that any scientifically proven medicine is modern medicine and what is left over is garbage, ayurveda. Let me redefine that. By definition of Ayurveda, anything that let’s a person lead a healthy life discriminating between hita, ahita, sukha, dukha is ayurveda. Its aim is to cure diseases and to lead a healthy lifestyle. By that definition modern medicine is Ayurveda.

  9. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    I’m afraid we must agree to disagree. There is ONLY ONE SCIENCE – and anything that doesn’t fit is pure superstition and speculation – at best placebo.

  10. Anon

    Very well put, Mr. Sanjeev. The Indian society and the general mentality of the people still hasn’t evolved much in the past few decades (or centuries?). We are so busy trying to cling to the past and being “proud” of it, that we refuse to see the broader picture. In trying to do so, we have also started alienating “western” beliefs, making it seem like learning from others is inherently wrong. Hindu religion isn’t any better than other religions, the strong sense of chauvinism in people makes it difficult for them to accept it. If not for Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the women in our country would still be forced to jump into a pit of fire with their husband’s corpse.
    Sometimes I wonder if thousands of years from now people would look at believing in a religion in the same perspective as they do now of those who thought the earth was flat.


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