Doctor introduces audience to Ayurvedic medicine

MUNCIE — The East met the West on Saturday morning as John Peterson, a family-practice physician, introduced an audience of 20 to an ancient form of alternative medicine called Ayurveda.

Sitting in a conference room at the Family Practice Center, the participants listened attentively to Peterson as he talked about this 5,000-year-old philosophy that is often called the “mother of all healing.”

“(Ayurvedic medicine) fulfills a need,” Peterson said. “People are always looking for better ways to experience bliss and happiness,” and Ayurvedic medicine is a sure pathway, according to Peterson.

Ayurveda, a Sanskrit term meaning the science of life, originated in India, and it is based on three basic types of energy that are said to be present in everyone and everything. The goal of the philosophy is to bring balance to these types, which will result in increased energy, better appetite and digestion, and enhanced mental, emotional and physical well-being.

Although Eastern medicine is looked upon as an alternate source of healing in the West, it is slowly gaining acceptance, so much that even some medical schools have incorporated parts of the philosophy into their curriculum, calling it complementary medicine.

However, unlike allopathic medicine, which relies on medical and scientific studies, not a whole lot of research is done on the ancient methods, partly because of lack of funding.

Meanwhile, some like Sister Virginia, who had traveled from Fort Wayne to attend Peterson’s class on Saturday, believe that alternative medicine “is about new ideas of treatment and simplicity, especially because of high cost of medications these days.”

Another major aspect of Ayurvedic medicine is transcendental meditation, which brings “pure awareness. You are alert but beyond content. It’s about silence,” Peterson explained. And achieving that pure awareness — something that Peterson does twice a day for an hour each time — is enlightenment, and it has a huge healing power.

In today’s society, everyone is so engrossed in the physical world, that awareness is completely overshadowed, Peterson explained.

Peterson’s wife, Vicki, who is a teacher of transcendental meditation in Muncie, introduced Peterson to Ayurvedic medicine before he started medical school.

And in 1985, eight years after he established his family practice in Muncie, Peterson completed the Maharishi Ayurveda Physician Training Program and incorporated it into his practice.

“Vedic medicine is about structuring bliss and happiness in physiology, and once you do that, health comes naturally,” he said. “And even if health isn’t perfect, it really doesn’t matter” because there is bliss.

Yogi cleared of animal parts row

A leading Indian yoga guru has been cleared of mixing human bones and animal parts in his medicines.

Uttaranchal state Health Minister Tilak Raj Behad told the BBC Swami Ramdev‘s medicines contained no objectionable ingredients and were purely herbal.

He said four samples of medicines were sent to Shriram Institute of Industrial Research in Delhi, which is recognised by the Indian government.

Swami Ramdev had described the allegations as a conspiracy.

Bone powder

The institute submitted its report last week after testing the samples.

The state government had set up an enquiry into the charges made against Swami Ramdev by Vrinda Karat, a leader of the Communist Party of India.

The BBC’s Shalini Joshi in Dehradun, the Uttaranchal state capital, says Swami Ramdev’s popular yoga classes are watched in hundreds of thousands of Indian homes every day.

Ms Karat alleged that ayurvedic medicines from his Haridwar-based pharmacy contained human bone powder and animal parts.

She also alleged that ND Tewary, the chief minister of Uttaranchal, was protecting Swami Ramdev.

Ramdev Divya Yog pharmacy at Kankhal in Haridwar manufactures more than 160 types of medicines including syrups, tablets, powders and metallic preparation.

Rejecting all the charges, Swami Ramdev had said it was an attempt to frame him because multi-national companies were losing business.

Acharya Balkrishna, the chief vaidya at Divya Yog Pharmacy, welcomed the decision and said the pharmacy was open to all sorts of testing and inquiry.

Swami Ramdev is due to hold a 12-day yoga camp in Dehradun from 10 March.