Debunked

Why ‘Alternative Medicine’ Is Neither Science-Based Nor Medicine

When most people hear the term ‘Alternative Medicine’ they tend to think that it is used to describe something that offers a tested, tried alternative to mainstream systems of medicine. In India we have three types of systems of treatment and diagnosis- the recognized evidence based one – the scientific system, the recognized but not evidence based ones under the acronym AYUSH- Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy, and the third has a list that is almost never complete but contains common ones like electrohomeopathy, reiki, pranic healing, aromatherapy, music therapy, gem therapy, etc. The term ‘alternative medicine’ perhaps describes best the last class. (Note: Technically all those systems of treatment and diagnosis that are not science-based are designated as ‘Alternative Medicine’, but in the Indian context there are three categories because of the government’s endorsement of AYUSH.) The third class labeled ‘Alternative Medicine’ in India seems to be the favourite hunting ground for quacks of all types.

The scientific system of medicine is popularly known as ‘allopathy’ in India, a term that was coined a long time ago by the inventor of homeopathy, a German called Hahnemann. Outside of India the term ‘allopathy’ is rarely used today. In the early 20th century Hahnemann proposed that minute doses of the very same substances that cause the symptoms of a particular disease in a healthy individual could cure that disease. This he called homeopathy. Since the other system of medicine prevalent at that time claimed otherwise, it was called as allopathy or the other. At that time this system of medicine involved treatments like purging, bleeding, leech therapy, injections with toxic substances etc. The side effects of these were so unpleasant that the patient many a time would be better off without the treatment! By contrast homeopathy involved treatment with sugar pills and tinctures whose active ingredients, if any, were milk, sugar and ethanol respectively. None of these could be harmful to normal people unless they were lactose intolerant! That explains why homeopathy became very popular! Those were times when no treatment at all was often better than drastic treatment and the mortality rate was higher after treatment with the remedies described above under allopathy! Nomenclature apart, it was this system that developed into modern medicine, as it was not based on any irrefutable dogma and is subject to self correction (the scientific method). Things that were the norm at one time got discarded when more sophisticated investigative methods showed that they were not desirable. Innumerable such examples can be given for these. For example, laxatives which were prescribed at periodic intervals to all for cleaning the alimentary tract are now no longer used unless it is needed for surgery or radiography. At one time infection with malarial parasites was therapy for syphilis etc. Once evidence to the contrary came up or less harmful methods of treatment or more efficient drugs were discovered, the older were discarded and consigned to the dustbins of history. Methods of diagnosis and treatment are not based on some individual’s idiosyncrasies but on methods of science. This system absorbed many things from other systems of medicine and knowledge grew.

On the contrary the so-called ‘alternative systems of medicine’, many of which cannot be called medicine by any stretch of the most fertile of imaginations, are based on hypotheses unsupported by any evidence. They are based on presumptions of certain individuals, pseudo scientific assumptions and unsupported claims. They also peddle unproven remedies, devices and books of dubious claims. There are arguments that these are very inexpensive, but the facts prove otherwise. In quack ‘therapies’ like aroma ‘therapy’ small phials of perfumes are sold at exorbitant prices. While one may claim that there are more expensive perfumes that are no problem if a perfume is sold as such. One can decide whether one wants to purchase them at the quoted price. But, when it is claimed as a curative, evidence is needed, which is never forthcoming. Most of the time the so-called evidence offered by these proclaimers of alternative medicine are testimonials from well known individuals, and are nothing more than anecdotal.

Alternative Medicine in India

Many countries have very effective laws to deal with these so called alternative systems. If any one claims that their concoction, device or incantation can be used as treatment for any disease, it is up to them to show scientific studies as proof. The governments in these countries also have rigorous testing standards. If one fails they are subjected to heavy penalties including imprisonment. This is why many peddlers of such nonsense are limited in their activities in these countries. Some of the Indian peddlers of such concoctions remain silent about their claims in such countries, but some of them pitch their products calling them nutritional supplements made from edible ingredients! Some of them cannot be sold as such either, because of the unacceptable levels of toxic metals and such! But, in our country these people are lucky, though there laws such as the Consumer Protection Act, the section under unfair trade practices of the MRTP act and the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) act. The peddlers of these dubious concoctions and quack remedies manage to get away through various loopholes such as claiming them to be traditional remedies, or under religious freedom etc. Sometimes the advertisements are so cleverly worded that it is very difficult to pin them down. Under many of these only the affected parties can complain or go in for litigation, which they are loath to. These are so rampant that even a Supreme court judgment has not affected them. In 2004 the Supreme court of India passed judgment on more than a dozen so-called systems of medicine, stating that they have absolutely no scientific basis and should not be allowed to be practiced as systems of medicine. These include, in addition to those already mentioned above, things like magneto therapy, gem therapy, color therapy, urine therapy, etc.

Again the term ‘therapy’ is very vague term! So, a hotel could call itself as an Institute of Nutritional Therapy. There are some calling themselves Naturopathic Hospitals and the practitioners as Naturopathic Doctors. If nature itself can heal, why are these so called therapists needed?! One can get a certificate for many of these quack therapies from degree mills offering these and then call themselves as therapists and prefix Dr. to their names! I can always say that I am under treatment for breatho therapy and every day get my therapy from the Institute of Nutritional Sciences round the corner( of course a fancy name for a restaurant!). A barber could call himself a Tonsorial Therapist (the surgeons used be those long back and that is why the surgeons have the title Mr. in England!) and so on.

How do these alternative therapies gain legitimacy? One reason is their ads and programs on TV channels. We can see many of these so called specialists on TV channels- the cancerologists, the kidneyologists, the sexologists and so on. Of course the terminologies I have used for these so called specialists is deliberate, as the respective specializations are called different names among the properly qualified practitioners. Then we have people with respectable qualifications endorsing such quacks. Once I remember a professor of medicine who was also the Dean of a Medical College inaugurating the asthma relief camp of a steroid quack. The very same person who went on to become the Vice Chancellor of a deemed university also presided over a convocation of a quack and handed over degrees to other quacks. The quack who was the leader was hounded out of Mangalore and is now pursuing his quackery at Kolhapur, I am told! Some of the qualified people treat patients referred to them by such treating them as if they are their professional colleagues. One thing that has to be admired about these alternative medicine guys is their gift of the gab! Their bedside manners and their use of pseudoscientific jargon could put any genuine specialist to shame! Their easy accessibility and their flexible terms of payment, money back guarantee and such attractive qualities are another plus point.

For those who are very fond of alternatives of our ancient civilization- want an alternative mobile phone? Breed homing pigeons and carry them in your pocket! You can send home messages in your alternative mobile. Want an alternative idiot box? Take a card board box of the size you want and go to the performance you want to see- open it hold it in front of your face and you have an alternative TV with full stereo hi-fi audio! Want an alternative car? Go to our villages where you have the all-terrain one or two ox-power models! I am sure even the most vehement supporters of so-called ‘alternative medicine’ would not choose these!

Why does this so called ‘alternative medicine’ work sometimes? As any honest general practitioner will tell you 80% of the patients have some self-limiting disorder! These patients will get cured whether any treatment is administered or not! It is the main task of the family doctor to decide whether you need specialist treatment or not. This doctor also prescribes palliatives so that the symptoms become manageable.

So, that raises the question as to how safe is it to go to these quacks? One has to remember that without proper training these people are in no position to determine which disease/condition falls in which category. Again, they refuse to admit failure and go on administering different things about which they have little knowledge and/or training. Some diseases that can be cured in the starting stages become untreatable later, like cancer for example. Some emergencies require immediate treatment- conditions such as acute abdominal pain, internal bleeding etc.

Remember, there are no alternative lives and there is no alternative to good health. Keep this in mind when you think of something like alternative medicine. Again, keep in mind that a color therapist will not go to a gem therapist when he is ill! He will go the nearest qualified specialist in scientific medicine with all the latest gadgets and drugs! To hell with the alternative treatments! As a wag remarked, let us see a music therapist treat an aroma therapist or vice versa!

Despite of all the shortcomings that can be blamed on to evidence-based, scientific medicine- it works better than pseudoscientific ‘treatments’, and it is based on sound evidence and peer reviewed scientific studies. It is not based on any one individual’s untested hypothesis or divine revelations or testimonies of individuals. It changes as new findings emerge, always subject to self-criticism and peer review. In fact, most published scientific work is comprised of reviews of past methods. More importantly science-based medicine changes and does not crow about the good old times when every thing was so good and everyone was so healthy. It does not have any unquestionable central dogma.

Professor Narendra Nayak is the President of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations (FIRA). He regularly tours the country, giving demonstrations and holding workshops to develop scientific temper.

About the author

Narendra Nayak

38 Comments

  • Excellent article sir. I think all points have been covered convincingly. This article should be sent to mainstream publications has well.

    • As already explained above, please try to refrain from using the word allopathy for evidence based medicine as it is a misnomer coined by the homeopaths.

      • Hi Prof Nayak,
        This article is fantastic!
        It is true that “allopathy” is a misnomer.

        Your suggestion to call this science as “evidence based medicine” is also incomplete, I fell. It should be rather called “EVIDENCE BASED MODERN HEALTH SCIENCE”.

        I call it ‘evidence based’ because it values statistical and clinical significance. It values reasons more than subjective feelings and experiences.

        I call it as ‘modern’ because it is NOT crude. It moderise itself with the progress of science.

        I call it as ‘health science’ rather than ‘medicine’ because this scientific health science speaks not only medicine but also life syle modifications, preventive aspects, social aspects of health and diseases. It speaks about social responsibilities of each individual to uplift health and effective health delivery system, ethical and legal aspects, law in health governance etc.. It speaks about beliefs and misconceptions about health and disease.

        Thank You.

  • IN INDIA, ONLY ALLOPATHY SHOULD SURVIVE, NO OTHER SYSTEM SHOULD GROW. ALLOPATHIC PHARMACEUTICALS ARE SPONSORING THE DOCTORS WITH FREE PLEASURE TRIPS FOR THE FAMILY, COMMISSION, INCENTIVES ETC. SO WE ALL MUST ENCOURAGE ONLY ALLOPATHY.

  • An extremely well written article,sir.
    Being a doctor of medicine, i really appreciate your using of itallics while describing alternative medicine as the very term medicine includes all modes of treatment or prevention encompassing drugs,diet,exercise,hygeine and lifestyle modifications not forgeting the important aspect of diagnosing the disease systematically based on evidence.At best one could call the other forms “alternative therapies”(ie. giving them the benifit of the doubt).
    However my question arises regarding the purpose of you sir ,writing such an article on this website which is visited by rationalists and as you can see every reply has been in your favour.
    My concern is to get the message across the public.
    For this i have a few suggestions based on certain observations.
    First of all we should initially refrain from saying that the alternative therapy in concern does not work without sufficent research disproving it .(if we do then go staight to the Supreme court)Although in ideal situations THEY SHOULD PROVIDE THE EVIDENCE FIRST before they CLAIM it works,unfortunately they are protected by the Govt. of India.
    Not only that,the govt has established CCRAS and Traditional Knowledge Library including some thousands of formulations of Ayurveda,Unani and Siddha to prevent ‘biopiracy’ thus discouraging the modern scientiest from doing research.And worst of all practitioners of AYUSH are allowed to give modern medicines subject to regulations from the state govts.This gives them a unique advantage that on one hand they can condemn ‘english medicine’ and on the other hand prescribe the same ‘english medicine’ when they do require to do so.And many of the times their patients dont even know that they are taking modern medicines!!!
    Hence i feel fighting verbally against such a powerful lobby is pointless.In fact it can be said that it might even make us look petty.We should adopt much more systematic and strategic approach.A
    few suggestions that i have pondered over.We should give them the BENEFIT OF DOUBT.We should invite professors of alternative therapies to come to Medical colleges and try to explain their concepts to medical students and answer their questions.Ask their advice to treat the patient and show how it works.To be honest i dont know much about homeopathy and ayurveda myself and it would make it much easier for doctors to persuade against alternative therapies when we know something about them.Research should be conducted aggresively so that if practitioners of modern medicine can include atleast a few traditional therapies(hopefully atleast one formula works) in their list of options the public will not be biased against “english medicine” practitioners.We should persuade those who suffered because of taking alternative therapy to go to the court and publicize those cases.Let people know that those therapies ALSO have SIDE AFFECTS.And let those ‘therapists’ know THEY ARE ALSO ACCOUNTABLE.Becuase if something works then it should work not possibly work.
    I hope you appreciate my thoughts if not agree.
    Looking forward to a response.
    Thank You

    • Dear Doctor Sushanth,
      Your comment was addressed to the author of this article and am curious to learn about Pr.Nayak’s response. But I have some things to add here.
      Yes, We should not only have systematic and strategic approach but also multidirectional approach. So, one direction is to fight verbally and it is DEFINATELY not pointless.
      Your suggestion to invite Professors of alternative medicines for discussion is valid. I remember Pr.Nayak telling me many times that he himself has gone to such institutions (forget inviting them!)and learnt that those professors to attenders couldnt expalin some basic questions like.. what is the chemical nature of the drug they use, its absorbtion, distribution in the body, mechanism of action, indications and contraindications, dose, and othe basic pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of drugs. If I am right, Many rationalists in India and abroad have offered challenges worth crores of rupees!!

      Your opinion to “Ask their advice to treat the patient and show how it works” is also very good. I am very eager to know if any “so called alternative medicine experts” are willing to come forward to take up the task. (Do you really think they will come forward?)

      Yes, I agree that lot of researchs have to be done in plant extracts. But before going to public, any drug or ‘treatment strategy’ should undergo scientific valid researches and clinical trial to get evidence. But the very principle (what they claim) of alternative therapies (like homeopathy, occupunture, reiki,pranic healing etc) upon which they work are themself uscientific and voilate basic concept of not only disease causation, it progress and complication but also physics and chemistry.
      None of these therapies go to moleclular level to get evidences. Hence to conclude:
      1. Those who claim about their “therapy” should provide evidence and not modern health science personnel(simply because we do not claim those!)
      2. Any diagnostic or treatment statergy must be approved only after its vaildity is scientifically proved.
      3. Govt must take strict actions against quacks and therapies who dont have any evidence.
      4. Govt should educate people and improve ‘scientific temper’ among public.
      5. Govt should close down all govt and private institutions which preech alternative medicines without evidence.
      6. If any institution or person wants to introduce new treatment strategy, he/she should be encouraged to conduct research to get valid evidence before he/she goes to public (jus like any scientific researchs done).

    • Please note that it has been also published in Mangalore Today where the alternative medicine lobby has been attacking me left and right. That issue was a special one supposed to be a coverage of the so called alternative and complementary medicine and any one reading mine would not opt for those!
      You may also note that what works goes into main stream medicine and hence will not be called that any more! The supreme court of India passed its judgment after ICMR submitted a report after investigating. That resulted in the judgment about 13 so called systems of medicine being labeled as unscientific and unrecognised!
      So, there is nothing wrong in trying something that works.But, it should be proved beyond placebo effect. Again, the concoctions should not have any toxic heavy metals and harmful ingredients. Many of the so called Ayurvedic concoctions have a high concentration of lead, mercury etc. They use metals like gold too.

      • Sir,
        Can you please tell me which are those 13 so called systems of medicine being labelled as unscientific and unrecognised?
        I am curious also about knowing what does ICMR tell about Ayurveda an homeopathy in specific.
        Looking forward for response.

        Thank you

        • I think they are- electrohomeopathy, acupuncture, acupressure, reflexology, yoga therapy,gem therapy, music therapy, Reiki, crystal therapy, aroma therapy,pranic healing, magnetotherapy and one more which I am not sure but probably electrophysiology.

  • Sir,
    I forgot to add that the health and progress of our nation lies in the hands of rationalists amd hence we must make concessions from our side so that we uphold the responsibilities.Hence,i hope that modern scientists do take interest in proving or disproving traditional forms of therapy so there is only one form of medicine..MODERN HEALTH SCIENCE.

  • dear Mr Nayak or Prof Nayak and the other rational thinkers here,

    my friend had got alopecia(he had a bald spot on his scalp). he went to kotakkal arya vaidya shala malleshwaram. the thailam they gave him cured his aloepecia and his hair grew back within 15 days!. i have been using dhurdhurapatraadi kerathailam for dandruff and it has proven to be much more effective than the ZPTO medicine named scalpe that i had been using for 2 years prior to that. i also get throat pain almost every fortnight and i take taalisapatraadi churnam and it has been proven to be effective.

    from personal experience i can say that benzoyl peroxide and ZPTO are good for tackling acne vulgaris and dandruff respectively, however the corresponding ayurvedic medicines are better(i have used medicines recommended by a dermatologist and the ayurvedic medicine and kerathailam has completely gotten me rid of the dandruff).

    to all the people here who will be shaking their heads in disbelief saying that its placebo i would like to ask, how is growing hair in a bald spot to cure alopecia a placebo. you can continue on with your rantings because no matter how much evidence one provides you guys will continue to be “RATIONAL THINKERS” and no amount of evidence can change it.

    thank you for reading(if you have read this post)

    • also i fail to understand why homeopathy is clubbed in with ayurveda. they are two different systems of medicine. just because one is bad does not mean that the other also is bad.
      also i’m sure most of the people here must not have tried homeopathic medicines(i haven’t tried any homeopathic medicines). so how can one pass judgments on a system of medicine one has not tried for him/herself?

      • Ayurveda is also bad because, like homeopathy, it makes absurd claims.

        By asking if anyone here has tried homeopathy you are giving anecdotal evidence primacy as opposed to the scientific evidence which weeds out the biases that anecdotal evidence suffers from. But to address your question, a family member of mine has tried homeopathic medicine and it didn’t work. So going by your standards, I am quite qualified to pass judgment on it and I say that it is pure crap.

        • you again seem to be using similar arguments. if homeopathy is crap according to you how does some other system of medicine automatically become crap? using similar arguments as you use one can say that since homeopathy is junk, ayurveda and allopathy are also junk(please don’t start of again saying that the term allopathy is a misnomer. i use it here to designate a system of medicine).

          regarding another absurd claim here “Onions and garlic are believed to promote ignorance (lol *cough*) and criminal tendencies ” you have to source it properly. the exact verse and in which text(ex charaka samhita, etc)

          onion and drumsticks are sexual stimulants. turmeric is an antiseptic. peer reviewed papers are available on the claims of turmeric being an antiseptic(you can use the power of google to check it out), however i don’t think any scientific tests on onion and drumsticks have been done. it can be done to verify the claim. so till it’s done, the claim of onions to be a sexual stimulant can be considered as a fake by rational thinkers. however the claim of onion to be an aphrodisiac is not limited to india and is known in europe also. alsoon a simialar note the vikings(berserks) used to use a wild mushroom available locally in scandinavia to literally go BERSERK before a war. however i don’t think scientific tests have been done on the those mushrooms, but that doesn’t make it untrue.

          absurd claims can be made by anyone. i can say that benzoyl peroxide along with methyl salicylate is a known cure for AIDS according to allopathy. doesn’t make it true though does it?

          again i request you to read my 1st post again. ayurvedic medicine (from kotakkal malleshwaram) helped cure my friend’s alopecia. or in other words it helped to grow hair on a bald patch. this is beyond any placebo effect. if someone claims this to be a placebo he/she is deluded. ayurvedic medicines have also helped me to tackle problems of dandruff and throat pain(which i get very regularly). the dandruff claim is verifiable only by the person using it or a doctor, and the throat pain claim can be considered to be a placebo by rational thinkers. but the curing of alopecia is not a placebo.

          however some “RATIONAL THINKERS” here may say that
          1) the person who got cured of alopecia must have gotten cured naturally of alopecia(even though he had this problem for almost a year prior to this) the day he took the medicine and it is just a coincidence/placebo that he attributes it to the medicine.
          2) or some may say that the bald patch never existed and the person along with his friends were deluded into believing that there was a bald patch on that person’s head by the ayurvedic practitioners which was cured after taking the medicine.

          some people may say that drinking/eating cow’s urine/feces is an ayurvedic medicine. it however does not mean it is an ayurvedic medicine. it may be used in small doses along with other ingredients to make some medicines.

          absurd claims must be neglected and authentic claims from authentic people/sources must be considered when attacking something. absurd claims cannot be used as a basis for attacking something.

          i am just spreading the awareness. it is upto the individuals to make up their minds. one cannot go around preaching. if some people don’t get convinced even after seeing evidence/peer reviewed reports on the benefits of ayurvedic medicine then it is of no use and a waste of time to show more evidence on the effects/benefits of different types of medicine.

          thank you

          • you again seem to be using similar arguments. if homeopathy is crap according to you how does some other system of medicine automatically become crap?

            You are being dishonest. Ayurveda is bad not because homeopathy is bad. It is bad because of the claims it makes and the lack of evidence for them. That is the rationalist position and it should be quite obvious. And yes, allopathy is a retard term coined by homeopaths.

            however i don’t think any scientific tests on onion and drumsticks have been done. it can be done to verify the claim. so till it’s done, the claim of onions to be a sexual stimulant can be considered as a fake by rational thinkers

            There are far more stupid beliefs than valid ones. So it is only reasonable to hold such a stance.

            absurd claims can be made by anyone. i can say that benzoyl peroxide along with methyl salicylate is a known cure for AIDS according to allopathy. doesn’t make it true though does it?

            Can you show me a peer reviewed study which says that? Is that study widely accepted by the scientific community? Ayurveda, however, is assumed to be true without there being any evidence at all because it is ancient and revealed knowledge and because of nationalistic reasons.

            1) the person who got cured of alopecia must have gotten cured naturally of alopecia(even though he had this problem for almost a year prior to this) the day he took the medicine and it is just a coincidence/placebo that he attributes it to the medicine.

            How well do you think the human brain can process probabilities? It is quite reasonable to ask such questions.

            And you are wrong about placebo. It is only a subjective feeling of well being. It does not cause physiological changes.

            2) or some may say that the bald patch never existed and the person along with his friends were deluded into believing that there was a bald patch on that person’s head by the ayurvedic practitioners which was cured after taking the medicine.

            This is strawman argument made to assuage your bias that rationalists will dismiss anything related to ayurveda.

            absurd claims must be neglected and authentic claims from authentic people/sources must be considered when attacking something. absurd claims cannot be used as a basis for attacking something.

            There obviously are absurd claims made by ayurveda. Are you saying that such things should not be criticized? Also, how good is the “authentic” part of ayurveda in curing deadly diseases and averting life threatening conditions?

            i am just spreading the awareness. it is upto the individuals to make up their minds. one cannot go around preaching. if some people don’t get convinced even after seeing evidence/peer reviewed reports on the benefits of ayurvedic medicine then it is of no use and a waste of time to show more evidence on the effects/benefits of different types of medicine.

            By touting ayurveda as an alternative you are not promoting awareness, but are promoting a delusion. People who might actually benefit from real medicine may go for quack remedies because people like you unconditionally defend ayurveda. For ex, a person suffering from cancer should see a real doctor, but not Baba Ramdev.

            Contrary to your faith that rationalists will dismiss any evidence, we do consider it. I will concede that a few ayurvedic treatments may work (but science can make them more effective). But you need to show some mountains of evidence to present ayurveda as an alternative to science-based-medicine. There’s an inside joke among skeptics – “What do you call alternative medicine that works? Well, medicine!” So when we criticize alt-med, we are talking about claims which have no evidence.

          • well let me add that BABA RAMDEV != ayurveda. there are many more reputed organisations. i will put out my hand and say kotakkal is one of the best ayurvedic institutions in INDIA. so the next time you want to criticize ayurveda take any of kotakkal’s medicines(not any baba’s or quack ayurvedic medicine) and try to scientifically prove that their concoctions do not work. unless the rationalist organisation of india(if it does exist) can actually come out and scientifically test the ayurvedic medicines to be ineffective, one can equate such arguments to be cooked up or can be said to be a BUNCH OF LIES. the governemnt of india and indians in general are to be blamed here because the scientific testing of ayurvedic medicines has not been taken up on a large scale. unless any authentic ayurvedic medicine has been shown to be ineffective in a scientific test one cannot make any statements on the system.

            regarding evidence there are quite a few peer reviewed papers on a few ayurvedic medicines. since the RATIONALISTS here say they will not look down on evidence, give it some time and maybe 20 years later you’ll get a lot more scientifically proven evidence(because peer review in medicine is a slow process).

            ayurveda has cures for many deadly diseases. for cancer it can help heal it in the initial stages. for HIV there is no cure since it is a new disease. so unless someone is struggling with the disease in the final stages where he has not used ayurveda at all, then ayurveda cannot come to the rescue at the final stage(since it was not used upon in the initial stages).

            allopathy and ayurveda can coexist and complement each other. but what we see today is the abuse of allopathy. people take tablets for headaches, mild fevers, cold, mild fever, etc. if antibiotics are taken on a regular basis their effectiveness comes down when needed for fighting the more dangerous diseases like the flu, typhoid, etc.

            i don’t advocate ayurveda over allopathy. i never said it either. what would be ideal is a coexistence of the two where the patient makes wise decisions on when to use ayurveda and when to use allopathy. and my statements are not based on nationalism either. ayurvedic medicines are mainly made from herbs and are thus much safer than allopathic medicines and have lesser side effects.

            i’ve said what i have to say and i’ll waste my time here no more.

          • ayurveda has cures for many deadly diseases.

            Now don’t cop out. Please enlighten us on what diseases ayurveda can cure. Cholera? Malaria? Polio? TB? Flu? Quantify “many”.

            for cancer it can help heal it in the initial stages

            Help how? As a placebo?

            but what we see today is the abuse of allopathy. people take tablets for headaches, mild fevers, cold, mild fever, etc. if antibiotics are taken on a regular basis their effectiveness comes down when needed for fighting the more dangerous diseases like the flu, typhoid, etc.

            That’s again a strawman argument. Medicine as it is practiced in India is different question altogether. It has no bearing on the claims made by science-based-medicine.

            ayurvedic medicines are mainly made from herbs and are thus much safer than allopathic medicines and have lesser side effects.

            I see that you haven’t seen the video on natural cures that I linked to.

          • http://lib.bioinfo.pl/paper:17333658
            http://www.ayushveda.com/health/tuberculosis.htm
            http://www.iss.it/binary/farm/cont/cancer%20ayurvedic.1105357764.pdf
            http://www.kottakkal.net/history4.htm
            http://www.kottakkalayurveda.com/ayurveda.htm

            https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:zeFiQce9RM0J:www.avpayurveda.com/downloads/doc_download/1266-asl-jul-aug-sep-85.html+ayurvedic+heritage+of+kerala+variar+kotakkal&hl=en&gl=in&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESh59bYm7KzCUi6JB5sS4OuJBFLFDOUR2pghoi4zYgPBDO–VDkqM45yEF5ExUXUwpXE6JX2SUmcznhEKEP9hCt50SFfgUTpsROL0N1yb4BJPUsR_i5nFj4vm8pImcatv9PMA8bZ&sig=AHIEtbSIYS14IeXjFmrqmX_KYKMGXGA9BA&pli=1

            “I see that you haven’t seen the video on natural cures that I linked to”

            haaaa. thats a joke. i will give you the compositions of 2 concoctions i currently have. i guess they must be just some randon collection of herbs since you are a RATIONALIST

            vaashakaadhyarishtam(10ml contains)
            vasamula 5.0 g
            ela .05g
            twak .05g
            nagakusuma .05g
            kankola .05g
            jatipatrika .05g
            vyosha .05g
            jatiphala .05g
            karpura .05g
            sarkara 5.0g
            madhu 1.667g

            according to your argument they should have just added similar masses of the individual constituents but have they??

            dhurdhurapatraadi keratailam(10 ml)
            dhurdhurapatra 10.0g
            durvagra 10.0g
            guduchi 10.0g
            kimsuka 10.0g
            kushta .156g
            musta .156g
            ela .156g
            yashti .156g
            kerakshiram 10 ml

            again differing masses of the constituents. note also the huge change of masses some constituents have 10g whereas others have .156g

            ok this is my last reply here. you can say again that i am coping out now coz i am as i have better work to do than argue with internet trolls and pseudo scientific fanatics.

            GB

          • i also have a feeling that all my posts will be taken down some time later, since it is against the spirit of this website 😛 😀

          • Anyone who has been visiting this website and actually reading, would know that it is very much in the ‘spirit of this website’ to let these posts stay and let readers figure out who exactly the ‘internet troll’ and ‘pseudoscientific charlatan’ in the above conversation is. Look who’s talking! Some hints to readers interested in identifying ‘trolls’ and ‘charlatans’ above: How many ‘Internet trolls’ post under their real-life names? Since when did ‘pseudo-scientific charlatans’ start insisting on objective peer-review?

      • You ask “[H]ow can one pass judgments on a system of medicine one has not tried for him/herself?”

        By following peer-reviewed scientific research.

        For example, I have not tried chemotherapy myself, but I know it works. Can you not say the same thing?

        Likewise, I have not tried Ayurvedic medicine for curing AIDS, can I not conclude that it does not work, because if it did, AIDS would be eliminated from the planet?

  • This is a reply to RATIONAL THINKER where he/she dumped a bunch of links to support the claim “ayurveda has cures for many deadly diseases. for cancer it can help heal it in the initial stages”

    http://lib.bioinfo.pl/paper:17333658

    This paper talks about mention of Cholera in Ayurveda. Nothing about how to cure it or how effective is the cure.

    http://www.ayushveda.com/health/tuberculosis.htm

    This one does talk about a cure, but no data on how effective the cure is.

    http://www.iss.it/binary/farm/cont/cancer%20ayurvedic.1105357764.pdf

    From the conclusions in the paper – “The clinical efficacy and extent of toxicity of numerous anticancer agents are unknown and uncertain. For example, research on majority of ayurvedic drugs is in the pre-clinical phase or is not being actively pursued.” Hardly evidence for your statement “for cancer it can help heal it in the initial stages”.

    http://www.kottakkal.net/history4.htm

    Talks about Cholera eradication which can be achieved by isolating cholera patients and ensuring that people use purified water. I am talking about curing cholera once a person is infected with it, on which the link says nothing.

    http://www.kottakkalayurveda.com/ayurveda.htm

    Talks about the primitive ideas of matter being made up of five elements and the tridoshas, the absurdity of which is pointed out here.

    https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:zeFiQce9RM0J:www.avpayurveda.com/downloads/doc_download/1266-asl-jul-aug-sep-85.html+ayurvedic+heritage+of+kerala+variar+kotakkal&hl=en&gl=in&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESh59bYm7KzCUi6JB5sS4OuJBFLFDOUR2pghoi4zYgPBDO–VDkqM45yEF5ExUXUwpXE6JX2SUmcznhEKEP9hCt50SFfgUTpsROL0N1yb4BJPUsR_i5nFj4vm8pImcatv9PMA8bZ&sig=AHIEtbSIYS14IeXjFmrqmX_KYKMGXGA9BA&pli=1

    Again, talks about how ayurveda can do this and that, but no data on the efficacy of the cures.

    haaaa. thats a joke. i will give you the compositions of 2 concoctions i currently have. i guess they must be just some randon collection of herbs since you are a RATIONALIST

    You completely missed the point. It is not about random collection of herbs, but about the misconception that “natural is safe, chemical is bad” when it’s chemicals in both cases, but in one case they are better tested and hence are safe.

    • a friend of mine recently told me today that his cousin’s father was suffering with cancer until recently. he was told that he had a malignant tumour around 8 months ago and since he was quite old the doctors did not recommend chemotherapy, and told him they could just give painkillers and death was inevitable.

      so as a last resort they went to baba ramdev’s vaidhyashala(whom i myself have been very critical about as one can see from my previous posts). and they consulted an ayurvedic doctor from allahbad via the ramdev vaidhyashala around 5 months back. the doctor had given them a diet plan and medicines. within a month the malignancy had stopped spreading and his condition is gradually improving. he has also lived past his inevitable “DEADLINE”

      this is just info i have gotten told to me today by a friend. just thought i will share it here. i also would like to redress a previous comment of mine where is said ayurveda can only cure cancer in its initial stages. regarding baba ramdev i don’t agree with many of the statements(like ayurveda can cure AIDS since it is a new disease) that he makes however it seems he has a good team of doctors and a good network.

      you can criticize me for making up false statements, or spreading propaganda. i am just sharing evidence of a case of my friend’s cousin’s father. the sceptic in me tells me that ayurveda can cure some types of cancers but more medical testing needs to be done to prove the effectiveness of the treatment, since it would be wrong for people to recommend ayurveda over traditional medicine without having the proven scientific evidence.

      you can criticize, vilify the above post as i myself wouldn’t recommend anyone with cancer to go for ayurveda unless there is proven scientific evidence for the same. but information is information and it would be wrong to suppress it.

      thank you

  • There is a name for “alternative medicine” that works. It is called “medicine”. If it does not work, it is either a placebo or snake oil. But since those words are not marketable (although placebo might sound attractive enough to an poor illiterate old lady, and technically it works), they call it “alternative medicine”.

      • I do not think Tim Minchin thought of it for the first time. Here is Dawkins making the same point about alternative medicine.

        **set of practices which cannot be tested, refuse to be tested, or consistently fail tests. If a healing technique is demonstrated to have curative properties in properly controlled double-blind trials, it ceases to be alternative. It simply…becomes medicine.**

        http://books.google.com/books?id=loVMMlxC1XoC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q=alternative&f=false

        • Fine… It’s just that the way you write it makes it look that it is your own, original thought. I’m not too sure if you mean that it actually is. No worries, if it is and given the avenue and nature of our exchanges, I would choose not to put in effort to challenge the veracity of such a claim. But if it is inspired by the thought of other thinkers, beginning the sentence with something like “As Dawkins and others have previously pointed out…”, perhaps, might be a better idea.
          I do not mean to be accusational or aggresive in any manner. If you are okay with it too, let’s rest the conversation. It’s not a very big deal.

          • Just to be clear, I was not the originator of the first post you responded to. I agree that crediting people for original ideas is the right thing to do.

            However I am not sure that “if alternative medicine works it would be called medicine” qualifies as an idea let alone an original idea. Example of an original idea would be a new hypothesis proposed to explain some phenomenon that does not have an accepted explanation. I don’t think this one liner on alternative medicine qualifies. Besides I have heard variations of this one liner made by some of my friends who are medical professionals while dissing alternative medicine. I do not think any of those people have heard of Minchin or even Dawkins (yes I do have some uncool friends). May be it is a joke they pick up at medical school.

            But as you say it is not a big deal. BTW, the only Minchin song I have heard before is this “I really like Christmas” which I like. This is the first time I have heard about this song “Storm”. Will check it out.

  • Thought some of you guys might find this video relevant and funny:

    Whole video was hilarious/relatable for me, but it talks about Ramdev Yoga at 2:50.

  • Hello after reading this stuff i am confused wether i had treated any patient or it was a illusion or patients lied to me about their good prognosis just to please me or allowed to earn my bread.,!!

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