The Ithacan does not serve its readers well when it publishes totally credulous articles on alternative medicine (“Alternative Healing,” March 11). The article presents “Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine” as a “drugless” way “to stay healthy,” but only provides anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness. Ayruvedic medicine finds the pathological in imbalances among entities called “doshas” that sound an awful lot like air, earth, fire and water. The “drugless” aspect of this practitioner’s methods is also suspect.
The featured practitioner is certified by The American Association of Drugless Practitioners. Their Web page states: “It is this Association’s doctrine that ‘you cannot be drugged into good health.’” I’d wager that many a college student who’s taken antibiotics to treat the aftereffects of an ill-advised random hook-up would dispute this.
We have all seen the “drugless” ideology: herbal medicines are safe because they are natural. Unfortunately, these herbal medicines have been shown to contain heavy metals like lead, mercury and arsenic in concentrations above safe limits (Saper, R.B., et. al. “Heavy Metal content of ayurvedic herbal medicine products,” JAMA. 292(23): 2868-73, Dec. 15, 2004). This is but one source. A little Googling will take interested readers to reports of fatalities caused by herbal preparations.
Clearly these points do not provide a complete debunking of Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. They do, however, provide some balance to the totally credulous article The Ithacan ran. Such balance is supposed to be the responsibility of the journalist.
Jim Mica ’70