What I Learned
The most interesting element of the film for me was the cultural meaning of Ayurvedic medicine. It is closely tied to the history of Hinduism and has a lot of concepts that date to deep antiquity. The core eight concepts of the traditional Ayurvedic medicine were described as being attached to the ideas of general medicine, toxicology, surgical treatments, pediatrics, ENT, possessions, rejuvenation, and sexual health medicine. Ayurvedic medicine can be translated as “life-knowledge medicine.” The practice is described as holistic and is concerned with a balance of various elements of the body and spirit. This type of medicine is considered to be viable by a lot of its practitioners in India and other countries that have a significant Hindu population (Reid, 2009).
I was not especially familiar with the practice of Ayurvedic medicine before watching the film. One of the distant members of my family used it for some time to treat undiagnosed pain in her ankle a few years ago. She was very excited about her practitioner and the possibility of healing it without involving mainstream medicine, but her understanding of the culture and history of the practice was minimal. Because of this, she did not try to explain the finer points of the practice. After the treatment, she felt like her condition improved. However, the pain would return every so often. This was almost all of my experience with the Ayurvedic medicine up until today. At times I am an extremely skeptical person and whenever an alternative medicine practitioner promotes their services by saying that their methods are capable of treating chronic diseases I become especially concerned. I was worried about my relative because the pain could have been connected to more serious illness and leave it undiagnosed and untreated could have been highly problematic. However, since no negative outcomes were present after the treatment, I stopped paying attention to the practice. The film provided me with a lot of important cultural background of the practice that affected my perspective on the topic. By putting it into a historical context, I was better informed of why it has such a long-lasting appeal for the Hindu culture (Brooks, 2018).
I have two main opinions about Ayurvedic medicine. The first is still tied to my belief that treatments that do not have scientific evidence behind them should be considered with great caution. Even if there is a possibility of the treatment affecting, it is unknown how it is going to react to each person’s body. While the film showed that some of the practices seem to have a measurable effect, more research on it should be performed. Currently, it is considered pseudoscience and I believe that people should be informed about it before choosing it over mainstream medicine.
My second opinion is more positive, however. I found the cultural value of the practice to be immense. Even if the practice becomes outlawed, it would be criminal to erase the philosophy that grew out of Ayurvedic medicine. Some of its core beliefs are especially viable in everyday life such as the importance of care for the gastrointestinal tract, sexual health, and physical fitness. The movement is rich with history and should be studied from a cultural point of view.
Brooks, L. A. (2018). Epistemology and embodiment: Diagnosis and the senses in classical Ayurvedic medicine. Asian Review of World Histories, 6(1), 98–135.
Reid, T. R. (2009). Second opinion with T. R. Reid: Inside Ayurvedic medicine. Web.