Myths about Ayurveda

Myth #1. Ayurveda is an outdated and obsolete system.

Unfortunately, this tends to be the thinking among the younger generation. Ayurveda has existed for over 5,000 years and is still practiced today because of its efficacy. Had it not been proven effective, the system would have never lasted till today. In recent decades due to the rise of spirituality, holistic lifestyles and healthy eating, Ayurveda has seen a resurgence in popularity across the world.


Myth #2. Ayurvedic treatment takes a long time to heal ailments.

In reality, the time to heal any ailment depends upon various factors including time span of disease, type of disease, age of patient etc. If disease in newly formed then Ayurveda can cure such disease very quickly. But if disease is old then it takes long time to heal. Most of the people turn to Ayurveda after the disease becomes old, chronic and complex in nature. Obviously this has lead to general perception about Ayurveda being a slow medical therapy.


Myth #3. Ayurevda has no side effects.

Ayurvedic medicines, when taken in the prescribed and correct dosages, are harmless. When the treatments are taken in the wrong dosage or in wrong combinations, problem can occur. As with any medicine, Ayurvedic treatment and medicines should be taken only under the supervision of a qualified Ayurvedic doctor. Taking Ayurvedic medication without a doctor’s advice means running the risk of facing varying side effects.


Myth #4 Ayurvedic doctors are unqualified.

Ayurvedic practitioners have formal degrees in Ayurvedic Medicine before they can begin to officially practice. The Ayurveda BAMS degree is a 4.5 year-long intense and disciplined training in the eight branches of Ayurveda as :

  1. Internal Medicine (Kayachikitsa)
  2. Diseases above the shoulder (Shalakya)
  3. Surgery (Shalyachikitsa)
  4. Psychiatry (Bhutavidya)
  5. Toxicology (Agadatantram)
  6. Rejuvenation (Rasayanam)
  7. Pediatrics (Kaumarabhrutyam)
  8. Aphrodisiacs (Vajikaranam)

Post the BAMS degree, there is another 3 years degree course for becoming a MD. 


Myth #5. Ayurveda means only Herbal medicines.

As popularly believed, Ayurveda doesn’t deal only with herbal medicines. Although many of the formulations use herbal compounds and extracts, it also includes natural metals and minerals in its purest form. In addition, Ayurveda prescribes massage (abhyanga) and yoga exercises in conjunction with medicinal treatments. Moreover Ayurveda is an ancient wisdom of leading a healthy life. It includes diet, lifestyle advises, therapies and other means of cure.


Myth#6 Ayurvedic medicines can be taken over-the-counter.

Not true. Any medicine has an impact on the physical system it works. Since Ayurveda doesn’t use any chemicals, the effect on human body is harmless. But the medicines should never be taken over the counter. It requires skilled Ayurvedic practitioner to suggest appropriate medications. In some cases there are toxins present in the herbs that are used for the medicine. A proper Ayurvedic formula purifies it completely.

If the time, dosage, method of administering the medicine is overlooked it might cause undesirable effects on human body. A theory in Ayurveda insists on the co-ordination of efforts of doctor, medicine, caretaker and patient for any medicine to be effective. Negligence on the part of any of the four might cause some complications. Self medication is dangerous in Ayurveda just like in any other conventional medical system.


Myth#7. You can teach yourself Ayurveda and advise others.

Practicing Ayurveda with incomplete knowledge and advising others about it can backfire and create complications for the patient. Diagnosis by an Ayurvedic doctor is based on the person’s PRAKRITI or unique bodily constitution, the proportion/combination of their doshas and stage of their disease. So, please don’t play doctor!


Myth#8. Ayurvedic treatments are expensive.

The truth is that Ayurvedic treatment doesn’t costs a lot as most of the ingredients come from nature. Ayurvedic medicines may cost more if they have precious ingredients and rare herbs or are customized just for you, but that’s expected.


Myth#9. Ayurveda can be used as a ‘side’ therapy.

Ayurvedic treatment is more than a side therapy, and has been used as the main treatment for diseases like bronchitis, paralysis, arthritis, asthma, ulcers to name a few. It can also treat illnesses which have no satisfactory cures in modern medicine.


Myth#10. Ayurvedic medication never expire.

Ayurvedic drugs never expire is by far the one of the worst myths about Ayurveda. The shelf life of Ayurvedic medicines may vary but they last only for a specific period of time. There might be few medicines or herbs which may have a long shelf life but the fact is that old herbs and medicines may not give the desired impact and at times may cause adverse impact.


Myth#11. Onion and garlic are a strict no-no.

Ayurveda does advise against eating onions and garlic but only to those who’re following a strict spiritual path and celibacy because these root vegetables stimulate energy.

Many Ayurvedic doctors recommend eating onion and garlic for their medicinal properties. Garlic cures cold, relieves pain, purifies the blood, fights arthritis, lowers cholesterol and inflammation. Onion gives relief from  nausea, nose bleeding, sunstroke, congestion, cough and cleanse breast milk.


Myth#12. Only vegetarians can follow Ayurveda.

A widespread false notion about Ayurveda is only vegetarians can follow it. What people don’t know is that Ayurveda does prescribe meat to increase iron levels, strengthen the body, and combat tuberculosis.

Meat is considered heavy and more suitable as a winter food. So meat eaters are advised to eat small portions of goat meat cooked with garlic, onion, ginger, black pepper, turmeric. Whatever a non-veg diet can give, more nutrition and energy is available from veg diet as well. Ayurveda prefers for a vegetarian diet as diet also impacts our mood and mind.


Myth#13. Ayurveda can cure terminal illnesses like cancer.

Cancer and its many types are mentioned in Ayurvedic texts. They are categorized as curable (only a few), hard to cure and fatal. The ones that can be cured use surgical procedures.

One can use Ayurveda to help prevent breast cancer. Herbs like neem, turmeric and brahma rasayana can fight cancer. Ayurvedic drugs like tinospora cordifolia can enhance your immunity levels. There needs to be more research to find out whether Ayurveda can eliminate cancer.


Myth#14. There are no clinical tests and standardization of Ayurvedic medicines.

Ayurvedic medicines are tested in labs just like regular medicines. In India, there are laws and regulations in place requiring manufacturers to follow specific procedures, guidelines and standards.