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Yoga is no panacea: Physicians

Deccan Herald, India
Feb. 1, 2006
Abhay Kumar • Saturday February 4, 2006

This may not be music to Swami Ramdev’s ears. But top physicians of the country believe yoga cannot be a substitute to medical or surgical interventions.

This may not be music to Swami Ramdev’s ears. But top physicians of the country believe yoga cannot be a substitute to medical or surgical interventions.

“Yoga helps prevent stress-induced cardiac problem. It relaxes your mind and body muscles and acts directly on your heart, but yogic exercise cannot be the sole modality for treating the disease,” opined noted cardiologist Dr PC Maoria.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the 61st conference of the Association of Physicians of India, organised in Patna. “Yoga helps to check blood pressure and keeps lipid under control. But those who are already on drugs will have to continue with it. Quitting the prescribed medicine may prove fatal,” he cautioned.

Yet another doctor and former professor and HoD of Medicine, Medical College of Kolkata, Dr Sukumar Mukherjee echoed his sentiments: “Yoga helps regulate irregular breathing and relaxes heart muscles thereby reducing chances of cardiogenic shocks. But such exercise can only supplement medical treatment, and not be a substitute,” he pointed out.

Joining the issue, Swami Niranjananand Saraswati of Munger Yoga School lauded the role of yoga in curing many ailments. “Though yoga was an ancient practice which began from the Himalayas, the modern yoga is only 40 years’ old. But even in this short span, it has come of age,” he said, adding that over 15,000 prisoners in Bihar were being given yoga training.

But with Indians susceptible to heart disease and diabetes, doctors also dwelt at length on ‘Indian herbs and condiments in prevention of ischemic heart disease’.

“Ginger, cumin seed and coriander are good for reducing the cholesterol level and thus prevent chances of heart disease,” said Dr S K Verma of Dehra Dun. “Asafoetida (hing) was also cardio protective, while turmeric (haldi) was an intestinal antiseptic,” he said and added, “Fenugreek seed (methi) is also good for diabetes. One can have it any form, whether in the form of vegetable, or you can even have the seeds directly.”

It was B M Hegde, former vice-chancellor of MAHE, Manipal, who opposed “medicalisation of society” and stressed medical humanism. “Patients can survive without doctors, but docs won’t survive without patients,” he warned the 500-odd delegates. “Just two kind words can prove to be the best treatment,” he argued, and told the doctors present, “Unless you change your attitude, society will remember you as hurting objects.”

He also had a prescription ready for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. “Concentrate more on providing basic amenities than on expanding medicare network,” Hegde told

Nitish, and added, “Provide clean drinking water and toilet in every house, stop women from inhaling cooking smoke, remove garbage and excreta.” A visibly embarrassed Nitish nodded in affirmation.

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