Alternative medicine with roots in India / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Ayurveda (/ˌɑːjʊərˈveɪdə, -ˈviː-/) is an alternative medicine system with historical roots in the Indian subcontinent. The theory and practice of Ayurveda is pseudoscientific. Ayurveda is heavily practiced in India and Nepal, where around 80% of the population report using it.
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Ayurveda therapies have varied and evolved over more than two millennia. Therapies include herbal medicines, special diets, meditation, yoga, massage, laxatives, enemas, and medical oils. Ayurvedic preparations are typically based on complex herbal compounds, minerals, and metal substances (perhaps under the influence of early Indian alchemy or rasashastra). Ancient Ayurveda texts also taught surgical techniques, including rhinoplasty, kidney stone extractions, sutures, and the extraction of foreign objects.
The main classical Ayurveda texts begin with accounts of the transmission of medical knowledge from the gods to sages, and then to human physicians. Printed editions of the Sushruta Samhita (Sushruta's Compendium), frame the work as the teachings of Dhanvantari, Hindu god of Ayurveda, incarnated as King Divodāsa of Varanasi, to a group of physicians, including Sushruta. The oldest manuscripts of the work, however, omit this frame, ascribing the work directly to King Divodāsa. Through well-understood processes of modernization and globalization, Ayurveda has been adapted for Western consumption, notably by Baba Hari Dass in the 1970s and Maharishi Ayurveda in the 1980s. Historical evidence for Ayurvedic texts, terminology and concepts appears from the middle of the first millennium BCE onwards.
In Ayurveda texts, Dosha balance is emphasized, and suppressing natural urges is considered unhealthy and claimed to lead to illness. Ayurveda treatises describe three elemental doshas viz. vāta, pitta and kapha, and state that balance (Skt. sāmyatva) of the doshas results in health, while imbalance (viṣamatva) results in disease. Ayurveda treatises divide medicine into eight canonical components. Ayurveda practitioners had developed various medicinal preparations and surgical procedures from at least the beginning of the common era.
There is no good evidence that Ayurveda is effective to treat or cure cancer. Some Ayurvedic preparations have been found to contain lead, mercury, and arsenic, substances known to be harmful to humans. A 2008 study found the three substances in close to 21% of U.S. and Indian-manufactured patent Ayurvedic medicines sold through the Internet. The public health implications of such metallic contaminants in India are unknown.