Ayurvedic medicine was practiced for thousands of years before anyone invented the placebo controlled experiment. How has this ancient system held up to modern scientific scrutiny?
Is Ayurveda a Science?
So, back to Ayurveda: It is grounded in observation and experience: the foundational pillars of science. And some Ayurvedic herbal remedies have been evaluated in placebo-controlled trials—with mixed results. However, modern scientific method is, by design, only concerned with things that can be measured. Ayurveda, on the other hand, is far more esoteric and involves lots of things that cannot be easily measured by the instruments and methods used by modern science.
In Ayurveda, for example, your regimen is customized according to your “dosha,” or your energetic constitution, as well as any energetic imbalances that may be contributing to your symptoms. That theory is a little hard to test with modern scientific methods! But people who believe in this system of medicine are content to do it the way it’s always been done.
The Way It's Always Been Done
I’m reminded of that old story of the young newlywed who asked his mother for the recipe for her famous pot roast, which was one of his favorite dishes. She gave him the entire recipe step by step. Step one: Cut about an inch from one end of the roast. Step two: brown the roast on all sides in a little olive oil. Step three: season with salt and pepper … and so on.
“Why do you have to cut an inch off the end of the roast,” he wanted to know. “I’m not sure,” his Mom answered. “That’s what your grandmother always did when she made it. And because her pot roast was always perfect, I just always did it exactly the same way. “
Because he was curious, the young man rang up his grandmother to find out the reason for this essential step. (See, he was a scientist at heart!) “Grandma,” he said, “why is it necessary to cut an inch off the end of the roast before cooking it?” “It’s not necessary,” she said. “I just had a small roasting pan and I never could never fit the entire roast into it. So I cut a little off. “