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Medical Cults of the World - Part 1 Homeopathy, Part 2 Ayurveda

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Medical Cults of World - Part 1 (Homeopathy)

IN NO OTHER field have pseudo-scientists flourished as prominently as in the field of medicine. It is not hard to understand why. In the first place, a medical quack—if he presents an impressive facade—can usually make a great deal of money. In the second place, if he is sincere, or partly sincere, the healing successes he is almost sure to achieve will greatly bolster his delusions. In some cases, of course, the doctor is an out-and-out charlatan.

There are two great secrets of the quack's success. One is the fact that many human ills, including some of the severest, will run their course and vanish without treatment of any sort. Suppose, for example, Mrs. Mona is unable to get rid of an annoying cold. She decides to try a new doctor she has heard about, whose methods are unorthodox, but who has been strongly recommended. The doctor proves to be a distinguished-looking man who talks with great authority about his work. Diplomas from several medical schools are on the wall, and he is apt to have a number of letters after his name. (Mrs. Mona doesn't know that these degrees were given by small schools no longer in existence, some of which the doctor himself may have founded.) Mrs. Mona decides she has nothing to lose. In addition, she is lonely and enjoys talking to doctors about her troubles. So she lets the doctor puts magnet on her feet for ten minutes. It costs only Rs 50($1), but of course she has to return for two or three additional treatments. After a week or so her cold has vanished. Incredible as it may seem, Mrs. Mona is now firmly persuaded that the magnet is responsible for the cure. She becomes one of the doctor's loyal boosters. Before the year is over, he has milked several hundred rupees from her bank account.
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Medical Cults of World - Part 2 (Ayurveda)

Proponents state that ayurvedic medicine originated in ancient time, but much of it was lost until reconstituted in the early 1980s by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Its origin is traced to four Sanskrit books called the Vedas-the oldest and most important scriptures of India, shaped sometime before 200 B.C.E. These books attributed most disease and bad luck to demons, devils, and the influence of stars and planets. Ayurveda's basic theory states that the body's functions are regulated by three "irreducible physiological principles" called doshas, whose Sanskrit names are vata, pitta, and kapha. Like astrologic "signs," these terms are used to designate body types as well as the traits that typify them.

Like astrologic writings, ayurvedic writings contain long lists of supposed physical and mental characteristics of each constitutional type. Vata, for example, is said to "govern all bodily functions concerning movement" and to accumulate during cold, dry, windy weather. According to Chopra's Time/Life Video guidebook: vata individuals are "usually lightly built with excellent agility" and "love excitement and change"; balanced vata produces mental clarity and alertness; and unbalanced vata can produce anxiety, weight loss, constipation, high blood pressure, arthritis, weakness and restlessness.

Ayurvedic proponents have claimed that the symptoms of disease are always related to the balance of the doshas, which can be determined by feeling the patient's wrist pulse or completing a questionnaire. Some proponents claim (incorrectly) that the pulse can be used to detect diabetes, cancer, musculoskeletal disease, asthma, and "imbalances at early stages when there may be no other clinical signs and when mild forms of intervention may suffice." Balance is supposedly achieved through "pacifying" diets and a long list of procedures and products, many of which are said to be formulated for specific body types. Through various combinations of vata, pitta, and kapha, ten body types are possible. Somehow, however, one's doshas (and therefore one's body type) can vary from hour to hour, season to season, and questionnaire to questionnaire.
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