Gary K
Lv 7
Gary K asked in HealthAlternative Medicine · 9 years ago

Ayurvedic medicine, do the risks outweigh the benefits?

Ayurvedic medicine is considered a branch of alternative medicine in the US and other countries.

Heavy metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic are traditionally added to herbs in Ayurvedic medicine, and it seems that due to a lack of appropriate quality measures these metals are often found in toxic levels within ayurvedic preparations. All three can cause symptoms such as vomiting, stomach pain and liver problems and are potentially fatal even in small doses.

A 2004 study found such toxic metals in 20% of ayurvedic preparations that were made in South Asia for sale around Boston:

A 2008 study of more than 230 products found that approximately 20% of remedies (and 40% of rasa shastra medicines) purchased over the Internet from both US and Indian suppliers contained lead, mercury or arsenic: Some had 100 to 10,000 times the recommended safety levels.

It's difficult to pin down the extent of the problem. This New York Times article highlights the difficulty in obtaining accurate statistics for such alternative medicines that are unregulated for safety:

“No one knows the exact numbers of arsenic, mercury or lead poisoning illnesses in the United States related to ayurvedic medicine. Dr. Saper estimated that there have been 80 cases since 1978, but he believes that is just the “tip of the iceberg.” In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a total of 12 cases of lead poisoning associated with ayurvedic products in Texas, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York State and California.”

Recently in Australia, the NSW State Health Dept issued a warning on lead poisoning from imported Ayurvedic medicine after a man become extremely ill after months of taking ayurvedic. He was found to have almost nine times the blood lead level of lead considered acceptable:

With regards to if the stuff actually even works, The National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) reports:

“Most clinical trials (i.e., studies in people) of Ayurvedic approaches have been small, had problems with research designs, lacked appropriate control groups, or had other issues that affected how meaningful the results were. Therefore, scientific evidence for the effectiveness of Ayurvedic practices varies, and more rigorous research is needed to determine which practices are safe and effective.”

That’s a diplomatic way of saying the existing studies are crap and Ayurvedic has not been substantiated to be safe or work for any condition.

Is it worth the risk?

7 Answers

  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Well I think my opinion is probably pretty generic amongst people who support science based medicine but I'll put it out there anyway. If it looks possible that some treatment in Ayervedic works then we need to test it carefully and correctly. That mean by scientists who don't sell it, placebo controlled, and double-blind. Preferably a very large group as well. If it works under those conditions then lets use it, if not then let it go.

    Secondly before we can even use Ayurvedic products for testing we need to get the poisons out. Careful regulation seems to be needed here because you cannot trust what's happening abroad in this case. I've even heard that the Ayurvedic practitioners intentionally add those poisons because they think they are medicinal and enhance the herbs, so if that's the case it's going to take more than simple screening to stop the problem. Like most skeptics I'm not opposed to alt med just for fun, I'm opposed to marketing medical treatments that are not proven to work, proven not to work, or dangerous.

  • 4 years ago

    The benefits of Nuclear anything are awesome. Because nuclear is associated with destruction and has been denegrated by environmentalists doesn't mean it isn't the cleanest and best form of energy available. We need to open nuclear plants in every county in this country and then this so called energy-crisis can be put to bed. Nobody died or was injured at Three Mile Island. And the amount of deaths to date associated with Chernobyl is 58. That may rise in the future but faulty Russian design was responsible, not just because it was a nuclear facitlity.

  • 9 years ago

    for me, Ayurvedic dietary and health advice and sopport got me through the worst ever winter with two disabilities which are very badly aggravated by cold weather. I didn`t go into Ayurvedic medicine but I purchased a set of CD`s by a well-known Ayurvedic Dr more to see what he had to say that`s rocked the world than from bekief. I listened to them in their entirety once, then listened to one C.D a night when I was truly very ill. He spoke sensibly about types and ayurvedic dietary and healing principles. i am very skeptical and they made sense, so much so, that after 4 days, I was eating mor sensibly and with more interest than in years and despite being almost bedridden at that time, I shopped carefully for the very ordinary foods suggested for my type and found myself maintaining myself through a terrible string of illnesses. I took my normal medications.And purchased another set of identical C.D`s for a family member. There was nothing extreme, simply the basuc principles and expertise for a healthy body and mind. I was very much more balanced than I would otherwise have been.

    Source(s): The C.D package by Dr deepak Chopra M.D., `Magical Mind, Magical Body` on 30day free trial from a Postal Supplier. 6 C.Ds inc type-recognition.
  • dave
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    Given that most sources of Ayurvedic appear to be from grubby 'back room' factories, before being dispensed by barely literate and uneducated pseudo-doctors, I would imagine the risks of consuming these (especially by someone who is already ill) are very high.

    With zero regulation on these products, people are literally juggling with their lives. This might not be so bad if there were any positive results, but with a lack of evidence for ANY benefits whatsoever, you really have to ask what possesses someone to take such a pointless risk.

    Edit: A sensible post from Lightning? Wtf?

    Edit2: ..and then you go and ruin your record of 99.999% pointless posts with an edit.

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  • 9 years ago

    They're just trying to help their fellow altmed practitioners. People go to an ayurvedic healer and get poisoned with heavy metals, then head to the naturopath for chelation. It's a win win!

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    Again, all the risks without the benefit. It's clearly not worth it.

    Good question, Gary. Lets see what our resident quacks have to say.

    Edit: lol, Dave. Well after his recent airings, I guess he's trying to claw back some self respect!

    Edit: Oh, had to go and ruin it. So near...yet so far.

    And you keep saying that I stole someones insult, yet you won't state what this insult is, so we'll just have to assume that you are making it up. How about presenting evidence instead of lying?

  • 9 years ago

    Sure, it's worth the risk.

    As long as you don't possess the Knowledge, you don't have other choices but pseudoscientific ones like mainstream medicine or most of the alternative medicines, that do not handle cause on the three levels (conceptual for those whose minds still need concept) of manifestation.

    With regards to if the something works or kills, as long as governments don't take the 'right' responsibility to take care of harmony between man and nature, it's good that people still die :).

    And how can one be attacking one pole if the pole he defends, faces the same problem? What kind of archetype is that?

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