Dhanvantari Ayurveda Center Michael Dick, Ayurvedic Practitioner, Leesburg, Florida e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: People’s Pharmacy by Joe Graidon and Terry Graidon, PhD writing in the Palm Beach Post.
Question: “My husband and I are interested in arthritis remedies. We’ve been taking cider vinegar and honey in a cup of hot water to ease the pain in our finger joints. Even so, my husband’s thumbs hurt so much he could hardly grasp anything, and I recently developed a hard, painful lump on my right ring finger. W red in your column about a solution of 5 parts grape juice, 3 parts apple juice and 1 part cider vinegar. Then we also read about Certo and grape juice. We decided to combine these remedies and added two parts of Certo to the apple-grape-cider mixture. Within a couple of weeks the lump on my finger went away, and the finger became less painful and stiff. It must have been the Certo. What does it do?”
Answer: “We wish we could tell you. The Certo and grape juice remedy has been used for decades to relieve arthritis pain. Certo is liquid plant pectin. Home canners use it to “stiffen” jams and jellies. There’s no scientific research on this remedy...”
Question: “Have you ever heard of any remedies for psoriasis? So far nothing the doctor prescribed has worked.”
Answer: “Psoriasis is a condition in which skin cells turn over too quickly, causing flakes and redness. There are many prescription drugs for the condition, but simple approaches like sun exposure sometimes help. One reader had good results with turmeric. ‘I read about turmeric for treating psoriasis, so I tried it. Various shampoos, conditioners and topical solutions suggested by my doctor and a dermatologist didn’t work...The turmeric worked wonders for me. I first tired spoonfuls of it, but that got old fast. I switched to capsules, taking one (453mg) twice daily. After less than a month my scalp cleared up. I still take one capsule a day, and I can once again wear black.’ Turmeric has anti-inflammatory action, and preliminary studies suggest it may be helpful against psoriasis. Some people experience digestive upset form this Indian spice.”
Question: Do alcohol-gel hand cleaners disinfect hands better than soap and water hand-washing? What about antibacterial liquid soaps?
Answer: The most comprehensive study of hand-washing (Am. J. of Infectious Control, Mar. ’05) shows old-fashioned soap and water is best for ridding hands of viruses. Antimicrobial soap and water works well against bacteria. If soap and water are not available, alcohol gel will do.
The Ayurvedist has presented in a previous issue an overview of cancer in light of disease modeling. In this issue we present some different modes of therapy that may have benefit. The reader must evaluate carefully any suitability for use of any of these therapies as none carries any FDA endorsement or approval.
As mentioned in a prior issue there is good reason to regard cancer with respect to its causal entity—Dosha, ama, (viral) infection, mental, and spiritual. Treatment that aims at the cause will be able to eradicate the cancer permanently. Researchers have found a consistent connection between environmental toxins and cancer incidence. In this connection therapies that promote chelation of heavy metals, petrochemicals, and so on may have anti-cancer benefits.
PLAN A: One interesting approach that seems to work this way has been discussed by Ingrid Naiman in seminars and in her book: Cancer Salves—A Botanical Approach to Treatment. She writes about a salve / compound that has been described by numerous authorities for many centuries as useful for the treatment of cancerous tumors. A preparation is presently being marketed in somewhat probable similar content as: Compound X (a paste) and Black Salve. Their modes of action are not clearly understood but they serve as escharotics (that which is capable of producing an eschar or scab). She writes that treatment with such is typically combined with the use of a yellow, drawing salve, and perhaps other healing salves. Her direct experience with these products, in combination with testimony from her personal clients and others, leads her to conclude that toxic materials seem to be drawn out of the body by these medications. This writer discussed this option with one woman using it for her breast cancer. She told me that in her conversations with native American healers regarding Compound X she was told that this protocol was never seen to fail. It was compromised somewhat by those who were on dairy products, however. One interesting feature of this protocol is that the patient can “designate” the site where the lesion will form and the toxins will leave by simply applying the black salve to that site according to directions. Patients often report a sensation between that site and the locus of the cancer, as if a flow from the cancer to the surface had been established.
During a seminar attended by this writer, Ms. Naiman recounted her experience with the FDA and others that involved testing this protocol for effectiveness and safety. She said that while this protocol demonstrated effectiveness with safety the FDA declined to make any comments, what so ever, about the proceedings.
PLAN B: The alternative medical journal: Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients in its Feb./Mar. 2003 edition, Dr. Morton Walker reported on a less controversial drug therapy labeled: Poly-MVA (for multiple minerals, vitamins, and amino acids). It’s a lipoic acid palladium complex that appears to have no toxicity or side effects. It is useful for all cancers and yields stabilization to remission. It may be taken orally or intravenously or both. There is one finding associated with this compound that MAY have dramatic importance for Ayurvedic alchemistic preparations —the compounds of rasa Shastra. “Dr. Garnett...found the therapeutic component in the platinum-derived palladium mineral, poisonous in the hands of an allopathic dentist, but life-saving for someone suffering from cancer. Yet Pd would be poisonous to cancer patients too, if it were not bound tightly to alpha lipoic acid and ‘sequestered’ in the molecule as cobalt is sequestered in vitamin B12. Thus, Pd forms an organic metallovitamin-lipoic acid complex that joins with cobalt (Co), a part of the vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) complex.” Ayurvedic pharmacists and physicians have long held that mercury and other heavy metals prepared in a certain way attain the status of medicine (organic). This may point the way to new testing of these preparations to verify ancient claims and dispel modern charges (JAMA Jan. 2005) of toxicity.
PLAN C: Another interesting cancer therapy that has come to this writer’s attention is The Grape Cure, proposed by Johanna Brandt in the 1920’s. Its proponent writes that it’s equally good as prevention as cure for all cancers and when used with fasting, breathing, water therapy, sun and sea bathing, exercise, raw vegetable diet, and mind culture it’s more beneficial. This therapy is offered in the vain of chelation, too, as it seems to produce this effect. The Queen of Fruit seems to have a purifying effect when eaten or even applied topically as recorded in medical books through the ages. Just invoke a diet of grapes: seeds or seedless, white, black, red, juice or whole, and your cancer will heal naturally.
Authority -- Opinion
The classical literature of Ayurveda affirms there are 4 valid ways to know—types of knowledge (pramanas). They are: observation, inference, analogy, and authority. Empirical knowledge has become the realm of science and science (knowledge) was limited to experience. If one could not sense (hear, taste, touch, see, smell) then there was nothing to talk about. These objective data became the supreme objects of study. Inference connects with experience, too—if one sees smoke there must be fire. These two are sensory-based means of knowing. The area of analogy or comparison permits one to know more about things experienced or understood without direct experience. This writer studies many fields of modern scholarship just to learn more about Ayurveda. How? You ask. By studying other sciences one learns of new distinctions and ways of viewing things that are useful for understanding our own methodology. Authoritative knowledge embraces the oral and written sources and even the traditions of a cultural. The value of these sources has been much eroded over time with the increasing acceptance of the empirical method. Philosophers could speculate but scientists would know for certain, through their sensory-based investigations.
Since the Renaissance Western thought has rejected the mystical, spiritual aspects of knowledge and focused upon studying and explaining our sensory experiences. In this sense the Renaissance can be seen as a conscious effort of men towards redefining the limits of knowledge. Remember that in the Western world that immense political and religious power rested with the Roman Catholic Church and its pope; its officialdom held that geo-centricity was proof of a God and a divine order and this controverted empirical findings that helio-centricity was the nature of “the universe.”
There are schools of thought or doctrines in this regard and an important modern one that comes to mind is the logical positivist school. This is the main school of thinking in modern science throughout the world. Webster, p. 1330, defines it as “a movement holding that meaningful statements are either a priori and analytic or a posteriori and synthetic and that metaphysical theories are strictly meaningless and have strictly emotive force.” Further Webster defines positivism (p. 1770) as “a system of philosophy holding that theology and metaphysics belong to earlier or imperfect modes of knowledge whereas positive knowledge is based on natural phenomena and their spatiotemporal properties and invariant relations or upon facts as elaborated and verified by the methods of the empirical sciences.”
Why is it that the only data we can accept are those that we can experience with our senses or extensions thereof? Why is it that knowledge can not include mystical experience and intuition? It is difficult for the empiricists to accept these kinds of data since they have no palpable causal validity—no cause and effect relation can be studied. One classical text says knowing is not complete until one enters the patient with inner vision. But one implication of this “modern” definition of science is that many presenting illnesses will not have correct diagnosis and treatment. Those who deny the existence of spirit and mind and of spiritual and mental diseases will never be able to diagnose or treat them properly. If the parameters of your model are limited then its use will be limited. For this reason we can say that Ayurveda, especially, is in an unique position among medical systems—it posits the existence of spirit and mind as causal entities and offers specific therapeutics for their pathological manifestations. We accept these notions on the basis of textual authority, traditions, oral tradition, and from testimony of our elders in the spiritual traditions.
It seems to this writer that the field of science, of knowledge, should re-examine its roots and re-affirm the validity and importance of the 4 pramanas (means of knowing) of Ayurveda. The notion of authority should be cleansed and be re-elevated to its proper role. Just because the Roman Catholic Church got it wrong in the Dark Ages should not invalidate the value of its authority for all time or others in other traditions. Authority elevates the notion of knowledge to the status of wisdom. Wisdom is the ultimate practical knowledge. Authority adds a stabilizing element to a tradition and for this we can be comforted, too. Those studying Ayurveda quickly come to these conclusions and easily affirm its importance, which makes it honorable among all traditions of knowledge, not just medicine.
There is a relatively old book—1997—that details the science of mind-body connections: Molecules of Emotion, by Candace B. Pert, PhD. The book is as much her story in a career at the NIH/NIMH beginning in the early 70’s, but more importantly, for those who believe that the mind is an important causal agent in health and disease, it’s the science of the idea that the mind is a vital link in the functioning of the body. As we well know, Ayurveda asserts that mind is one of 9 (VaiÂeÃika) fundamental substances that are responsible for the structure and content of the universe, including human anatomy and physiology. Those readers familiar with the Sankhya darshana will remember, also, that the scheme of the creation shows the mind (mahat, ahankara, and manas) as causing the rest of creation.
Candace Pert describes her search for a hypothetical opiate receptor on nerve cells and ends up showing, over the course of her career, that the all body cells in general produce and receive a host of molecules (called neuropeptides) that affect cell functioning. Importantly, they are secreted by every cell in response to mental activity that has mood or emotional content. Further, these molecules are seen as interfering with health by blocking the cell’s awareness to changing conditions in its immediate environment. A cancer cell, for example, is normally attacked by the body’s immune cells, etc. but only if cells are aware of them. When we are unhappy, for example, we make neuropeptides which sit on cell receptor sites and keep the cell from knowing that a cancer cell is there. The environment for cancer proliferation is thus in place. If we are chronically unhappy then the cancer proliferation proceeds unabated until death or medical intervention intercedes.
For those wanting a detailed scientific explanation of the mind-body connection, this book is highly recommended. It is interesting and well within the mental grasp of the readers of this Newsletter.
Other Books of Interest:
Freedom from Disease by Hari Sharma; sets forth the free-radical theory of disease in an interesting and readable manner. By now most of us are aware that one explanation for declining bodily function is the idea that we are the victim of excess molecules of oxygen. We are literally rusting as we are getting older; we see our bodies affected by chronic conditions, even cancer. This situation of declining health with aging is explained by Sharma as the product of too much free oxygen in our bodies and cells. Their presence is causing a multitude of conditions we call disease. Read about the many types of oxidizing agents and a strategy for fighting them that involves diet, food supplements, lifestyle, meditation, and more.
The Second Brain by Michael D. Gershon, MD; advocates and defends the position that the digestive tract is a separate nervous/functioning entity. The work gives support to those who believe in the validity of “gut feelings” about a matter; also easy reading, despite its technical content. In one way it extends the work of Pert, et al, by establishing the relevance of nervous functioning in healthy physiology. One point of interest is the discussion of the neurotransmitters in the GI-tract (serotonin mainly) and how tobacco (nicotinic acid) affects nervous functioning of the body.
Reinventing Medicine by Larry Dossey, MD; takes medical science to the door of a mind-body-spirit model. Advocates that healing can take place through spiritual modalities. Interesting and factual reading.
Gold Coast Cure, by Andrew Larson, MD. This book has not been read by this author but carries the promise to validate the Ayurvedic notion that diet and lifestyle are the primary causes of many diseases. The author claims that his approach will cure, prevent, or reverse 12 diseases. One point made by the author is that inflammatory changes relate to Omega 3 fatty acid deficiencies. This is an increasingly popular idea in nutrition these days.
In prior issues we discussed the importance of the cause and effect theme. Knowing the links of our diet, lifestyle, thoughts, feelings, and so on to our health or ill health is fundamental to taking control of our health / happiness. The most common way to gain this knowledge is to live life with awareness and the causal linkage becomes known almost immediately. Of course, education by others—health professionals, family and friends, books, and the oral tradition are important when we don’t have personal prior experience. After all, who wants to have mumps, measles, polio, cancer, and so on, to know what caused them and how to treat them. The Vedic seers devised a way of knowing causal links associated with our karmas—Jyotisha—or Eastern astrology as it is sometimes called. This is a system for knowing, learning, reading how karma influences the present and future, in the broadest sense. One’s inclinations for wealth, fame, happiness, health are to be gleaned from this science. For this writer, however, the health implications are primary.
If one knows that an effect or fruit of a karma is coming then one might avoid the danger not yet arisen (heyam duhkham anagatam). For example, in my early days of studying jyotisha I was asked by a client (she was seeing me for Ayurvedic counseling) if I could give her some advice about her health future, according “to the stars.” I looked at her natal chart and saw that she would be entering a major period in her life about 9 months away governed by Mars. I told her that she might expect something to take her to the hospital at that time. A year later, when I saw her again, she told me that my prediction was correct—she had kidney stones and had to go to the hospital to have them removed. Unfortunately, I gave her little advice to avoid that danger, specifically. My diagnosis was correct but my medicine was weak.
Herein lies one important benefit of jyotisha above the forewarning—remedy. The expert jyotiÃ² can give counsel that has the benefit of prevention or cure. Remember, the Vedic paradigm is based on the maxim that “knowledge is organizing power.” If we have knowledge of the future that is based upon knowledge of the past we can, in principle avoid or change health outcomes. There’s an important caveat, however; Caraka (an ancient Ayurvedic authority) declared that only when the karma has been satisfied will the medicine work. This means that one may have the best doctor, medicine, foreknowledge but nothing will work until the seeds of the karma are entirely burned. Spiritual practices—meditation, yajna, gems, mantras, etc.--are known for speeding up the burning of the seeds of karma. It is often the case that a jyotiÃ² will give the inclined a mantra of some sort to help with healing and to avoid future dangers. This is the power of knowledge. Remember, there is no easy way out of suffering—the techniques require repetitions and persistence, which amount to demonstrating that there has been a lesson learned.
Light on Life by deFouw and Svoboda
Light on Relationships by deFouw and Svoboda
The Essential of Vedic Astrology by Komilla Sutton
Elements of Vedic Astrology (2 vol) by KS Charak
Subtleties of Medical Astrology by KS Charak
The Classical Standards: Brihat Samhita (theory), Brihat Parashara Hora Shastram (predictions) (2 vol), Parashara Smeiti, all by Maharshi Parashara
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