Ayurvedic is a form of alternative medicine whose tenets were first written on palm leaves in Sanskrit in 3,000 BCE. If India’s 112th place rating in overall health is any indication, the field has grown little in the last 5,000 years.
Its most prominent champion is Deepak Chopra, who claims modern physics has validated ancient Hindu teachings. This is an unrequited love. No scientists are claiming that ancient Hindu teachings validate modern physics.
Chopra asserts a connection between quantum physics and consciousness. He asserts no connection between this claim and any science or testing. Chopra insists that patients are classified by three body types and that he can tell these types by taking their pulse. No double blind or comparison testing is done. In fact, Ayurvedic proponents consider scientific tests superfluous since they can tell the medicinal quality of any substance by looking at it.
The three body types are determined by the doshas, areas which Chopra says regulate mind-body harmony. He considers illness and disease to be the consequence of a dosha imbalance. The vata governs movement in the mind and body and must also be kept in good balance. Depending on the malady, an Ayurvedic practitioner determines if a patient has too little or too much vata, then prescribes a diet. The treatment will leave the patient saturated in New Age benefits, such as restored harmony, balance achievement, and mind-body synergy.
The field focuses primarily on diet and herbal treatments. These are unproven at best and dangerous at worst. High amounts of lead have been found in Ayurvedic treatments and a study of shops in Boston found dangerous amounts of arsenic, lead, and mercury in the medicines.
Chopra claims that perfect health is a matter of choice and that quantum healing will even overcome aging. A counterargument is the death rate of Ayurvedic patients holding steady at 100 percent.
Chopra believes that the mind heals by harmonizing the quantum mechanical body. He never defines his terms, nor provides evidence of their existence. Other claims, again backed by no studies, include that poor digestion is the cause of allergies and that aging can be halted by “directing the way our bodies metabolize time.”
Ayurvedic treatments promise a number of wonders, such as lubricating joints, moisturizing skin, improving memory, curing cancer, and making one less envious. If you cured someone’s cancer, they’d no longer envy the healthy, so you’d knock out two right there.
Ayurvedic has a number of bizarre and unsavory prescriptions. This includes treating cataracts by brushing your teeth and scraping your tongue, spitting into a cup of water, then washing your eyes with this concoction.
There is also the panchakarma treatment, which consists of essential oil ingestion, vomiting, purging, an enema, herbal inhalation, and bloodletting. After that routine, anything would be better, so in a way this does serve to make the patient feel healthier.
Then we have rasa shastra, which is consuming arsenic, lead, and mercury baked in bovine excrement. There are no double blind studies on this one, as they had trouble finding volunteers.
One enterprising person built a computer program and fed in Chopra Tweets, then generated random sentences from these Tweets. He put three of those next to an untouched one to see how many persons could guess the Chopra original. Here’s the list:
“Perception is inherent in cosmic possibilities.”
“Interdependence inspires quantum life.”
“Hidden meaning is serving your own evolution.”
“Freedom heals self-righteous knowledge”.
I’m unsure which one is real, but I’m pretty sure they all say the same thing.
James Randi offers a million dollars to anyone who can prove paranormal abilities under agreed-upon conditions. Chopra has countered with his own challenge, daring skeptics to prove how thoughts are formed. This makes no sense as a counter challenge. Randi doesn’t believe in the paranormal, so Chopra’s challenge would only be consistent if Chopra didn’t believe that thoughts were formed.
But as to the answer, Deepak: Thoughts are formed when a dosha localizes its awareness in order to harmonize with its vata and restore balance with its quantum mechanical body and toothpaste cataract water.