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The word Ayurveda is popular across the globe; some people cite ‘Ayurveda’ inappropriately over social media and internet remedies. Disappointingly, most of such claims have no reference in Ayurveda. Authentic Ayurveda is based on the three treatises — Charaka Samhita; Susruta Samhita and Ashtanga Hrudaya, which are considered sacred in Ayurveda. Several Sanskrit citations of these books are wrongly deciphered while translating in English.

Myth: Ayurveda means oil massages.

Fact: Ayurveda massages and oil therapies are only a supplemental aspect of Ayurveda. Ayurveda is a well-developed medical system having specialities such as — general medicine, paediatrics, psychology and psychiatry, ENT and ophthalmology, surgery, toxicology, science of nutrition, and reproductive medicine.

Myth: Ayurveda means strict vegetarianism.

Fact: Ayurveda permits the daily consumption of meat from arid lands (jangala mamsa; example: mutton, rabbit) as food. Several Ayurveda medicines also contain animal products.

Myth: Ayurvedic medicines do not have any side effects.

Fact: Ayurvedic medicines may be less harmful than other medicines due to the herbal ingredients; but there still may be some side effects. An experienced Ayurveda practitioner tries to prescribe medicines that might have positive side benefits than negative side effects.

Myth: Ayurvedic treatment takes longer time to work.

Fact: There is no instant cure for chronic ailments. Ayurveda can cure a simple muscular pain faster; while the treatment of knee arthritis or diabetes mellitus require long-term medicines.

Dr V L Shyam, Medical Director – Dr Shyam’s Ayurveda Centre

Myth: An Ayurveda doctor understands all our health issues through pulse diagnosis.

Fact: The classical books of Ayurveda does not give much weightage to Nadi pariksha (pulse diagnosis). A diagnosis in Ayurveda must be made through, interrogation, inspection, and palpation. An expert Ayurveda physician also use modern investigation tools for diagnosis.

Myth: Body type analysis is the diagnosis in an Ayurveda consultation.

Fact: A physician cannot assess body type (Prakruty) in a single consultation; it can be evaluated only after repeated interaction with the patient; also, after taking inputs from family members. The priority of an Ayurveda physician while treating a disease, is to assess the pathology of the disease (vikruthy of Vata-Pitta-Kapha).

Myth: While taking Ayurveda treatment, pain in arthritis or itching in an eczema or wheezing in an Asthmatic; aggravate before healing.

Fact: Aggravation of such symptoms should not happen in Ayurveda treatment. In such cases, one should, without delay, report to your Ayurveda practitioner.

Myth: All Ayurveda medicines are heat generating on body.

Fact: Ayurveda use warm potency medicines for Vata and Kapha imbalance; while cold potency medicines are used for Pitta imbalance.

Myth: Daily application of oil on the scalp and body is good for health as per Ayurveda.

Fact: Ayurveda recommends oil application in healthy individuals and in Vata diseases. Ayurveda contra-indicates oil applications in Kapha and Pitta conditions. Conditions like allergic rhinitis and seborrheic eczema worsen with oil applications.

Myth: One should avoid certain foods while taking Ayurveda medicines.

Fact: An Ayurveda doctor suggests avoiding certain foods based on the health condition. Example; Ayurveda says NO to curd in skin diseases; while Ayurveda advises curd intake in Vata sleep issue. Only very few drugs have medicine-specific dos and don’ts.

Myth: Jaggery, millets, and lotus are good foods as per Ayurveda.

Fact: Ayurveda forbids the routine use of jaggery, millets, lotus rhizomes, sweet dairy products, curds, yoghurt, paneer, alkaline foods, fermented foods, uncooked radish, dry meat, sheep-cow-buffalo meat, fish, urud dal, flat beans, powdery and starchy foods, sprouts, and dried vegetables.

Myth: Daily consumption of neem is good as per Ayurveda

Fact: Neem is neither a food nor a tonic for daily consumption. While it balances Pitta and Kapha, Neem imbalances Vata. I have witnessed several diabetic patients turn out to be diabetic neuropathy cases, due to daily consumption of neem.

Myth: Herbal Ayurveda medicines are added with heavy metals, which damages liver and kidney.

Fact: There are no added minerals and metals in any herbal and herbal-animal compounds of Ayurveda. Plants absorb certain minerals and metals from the soil, which may be discovered in a laboratory analysis. Nowadays, high levels of such metals are found in rice, wheat, potato and in carrots too.

Myth: One must repeat Ayurveda treatments in the consecutive years.

Fact: There are no such mandates in Ayurveda to repeat the treatments in consecutive years. However, chronic diseases require repeated and consistent care.