overhaul / undertow

Sunday, November 17, 2002

from the "just 'cos it's old and from east of Istanbul doesn't mean it's good for you" files...

I've read a few books on ayurveda now. I was quite interested in it.

I have come to the illuminating (and very well articulated: here goes:) conclusion that it is a crock of shit.

Acupuncture helped me with asthma attacks, and reiki helped me with my juvenile arthritis, and Chinese herbs helped me get over kidney problems, so I am not dismissing ayurveda 'cos of some antipathy towards Eastern treatments--I prefer them when possible, as I've taken enough medicines, both over-the-counter and prescription, from hardcore immunosupressants (for the arthritis, but later I found out they also were given to cancer patients as part of chemo treatments) to painkillers ranging from simple knock-you-outs to wonderful floaty rides on purple clouds--I've taken enough medicines and pills to knock a horse dead. I would like to reduce my need for 'em, and eastern medicine tends to treat the source of the problem more wholistically, so that's often quite a stretch better.

Ayurveda does point up some good ideas: the notion of the diurnal rhythms of the body, encouraging awareness of the biorhythms; an appreciation for differing body types and different physical / emotional constitutions; the beneficial effects of yoga; and it's recommendation for not drinking very cold drinks has only helped me.

But this ghee thing? They've gotta be kidding. What kinda special crack were those ancient gurus smoking back there in the Indus Valley?

Ghee is clarified butter, and I am supposed to do everything with it short of, well, you know (although maybe if I'd read an "Ayurveda for Women" type book, it would have told me to do that too). Put it in your nose, for better breathing! Your eyes, to "moisturize your eyes"! Hell, roll around in it! Swallow a tablespoon or more before breakfast (how much you are told to swallow depends on the ayurvedic diagnosis of your body type)!

Um, I'm sorry, but if you really expect me to believe that butter with all the water cooked out of it (and thus clarified) is the universal panacea, you've got another think coming.

Perhaps it's time to be intelligent. Ayurveda was invented around a time when basic nutritional needs were hardly ever met. Like, 5000 years ago. And color me cynical, but exactly how good has India's record on public health been since then? 5000 years ago maybe your eyes were dry, 'cause the last water you'd had was at a polluted well south of the Indus river two weeks ago, and so smearing butter in your eyes probably sounded pretty damn good. But now? Us Americans are dying from overeating. OVEREATING. Not malnutrition. Everything I eat at a dinner out has been sauteed, simmered, and slopped with butter. Life is different.

The one good thing I'm taking from reading up on ayurveda is that all things should be done in moderation.

Including steak dinners and...butter .



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