Ayurvedic Remedies

I read an article about Deepak Chopra last night.  What a smug, self-righteous, frustrating man.

 

He promotes Ayurveda, which is the ancient traditional medicine that can cure anything as long as you believe in it.

 

 

assurine

 

 

Chopra is a multimillionaire celebrity doctor that provokes oohs and ahs over his remedies and Pop Hindu lectures.  Many pay him money to hear him say that they’re god–mostly middle aged women who watch Oprah.  In addition to his best selling books, he also occasionally writes anti-american screeds on the Huffington post.

 

He’s a shrewd business man who equips the “Me Generation” with the tools for self worship, and he’s managed to convince Americans that in order to fulfill our health and wealth desires, we need to tap into the traditional folk medicine of India.  That’s right.  INDIA!

 

Seems odd, right?  Because if you want to buy magical Ayurvedic rocks and things from a stall in Bombay, you have to step over diseased, impoverished folks in the streets.  Despite India’s pervasive Ayurvedic remedies, it still struggles with poverty and health problems.   In 1999 during the peak of Chopra’s fame, the World Health Organization estimated that 700,000 Indians died of diarrhea.  That’s 1,600 deaths a day.  In addition, this year CNN reported that a gene mutation among non-smoking, vegetarian, Indians has caused a radical increase in heart disease.  That’s right, Chopra is importing the secrets to health and wealth that work so well for the folks in India.

 

Is it important for Ayurvedic medicine to actually work, or is it cool enough for it be pagan, foreign, alternative, and old?  A scientific study in the Journal of the America Medical Association (Saper et al., JAMA (2004)292:2868-2873) found:

 

“One of 5 Ayurvedic HMPs [herbal medicine products] produced in South Asia and available in Boston South Asian grocery stores contains potentially harmful levels of lead, mercury, and/or arsenic.  Users of Ayurvedic medicine may be at risk for heavy metal toxicity, and testing of Ayurvedic HMPs for toxic heavy metals should be mandatory.”

 

Thomas Wheeler, Ph.D., reported on an Ayurvedic AIDS clinic in San Francisco.  Apparently, the physicians told patients to stop taking their regular medicine and instead take the herbal remedies they sold the patients for $500 a month.  Laboratory analyses revealed that some “herbal preparations were composed of plant material, fungus, feces, and bacteria, which may have caused the gastrointestinal problems reported by the patient.  At least one patient died.

 

The claims of alternative medicine, particularly Ayurveda, are so radical that they beg to be tested.  I mean, if washing your eyes in your own saliva can cure cataracts, why not test and promote such a remedy?  Ten years ago, the government began testing herbal and alternative health remedies.  It has cost taxpayers 2.5 billion dollars.  Which remedies work?  According to an AP story last month “… the disappointing answer seems to be that almost none of them do.  Echinacea for colds, Gikgo biloba for memory.  Glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis.  Black cohosh for menopausal hot flashes.  Saw palmetto for prostate problems.  Shark cartilage for cancer.  All proved no better than dummy pills in big studies funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.  The lone exception: ginger capsules may help chemotherapy nausea.”

 

What interests me is how Deepak Chopra knows which Ayurvedic secrets to uncover to his American audiences and which to leave covered?

 

Matt Labash writes that in ancient Ayurveda “Most diseases were originally attributed to demons; often they were cured with the wearing of gems and the use of fragrances….  Poor digestion was treated with goat feces prepared by washing with urine.  Got constipation?  Drink milk — with urine.  Male potency was supposedly enhanced by 216 different kinds of enemas, including the testicles of peacocks, swans, and turtles.  If that didn’t work, one was supposed to follow up with an enema of urine.  Hemorrhaging was a nice break from the regimen, since it was treated with an enema of the fresh blood of a rabbit, dear, cock, or any one of numerous other beasts.  Epilepsy was treated with ass urine.”

 

American New Agers already believe that demons find certain fragrances and gems revolting, but what they need to understand is that demons really really hate urine.  Unfortunately, American audiences are kept from the less sexy Ayurvedic treatments.  Think of all the healing that could occur.

 

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NEW AGE DOCTOR:

What seems to be the problem?

 

HOLLYWOOD CELEBRITY:

I’m having nosebleeds.

 

NEW AGE DOCTOR:

Interesting.  How long has this occurred?

 

HOLLYWOOD CELEBRITY:

About a week.  I think it might be the change in the weather or–

 

NEW AGE DOCTOR:

Demons in your nose?

 

HOLLYWOOD CELEBRITY:

Or demons in my nose.

 

NEW AGE DOCTOR:

Normally, I would suggest that you rinse your nose with urine to repel the demons, but I think your case is more severe.

 

HOLLYWOOD CELEBRITY:

What do you suggest?

 

NEW AGE DOCTOR:

I’m … writing out a prescription for …

 

HOLLYWOOD CELEBRITY:

A chicken blood enema?

 

NEW AGE DOCTOR:

Yes, you will need to acquire a chicken, and then drain it’s blood into a bag…

 

HOLLYWOOD CELEBRITY:

Can’t I just close my eyes, and fix myself?  Go within?

 

NEW AGE DOCTOR:

Like I said, I think your case is pretty severe.  Chicken blood enemas are the product of ancient wisdom.

 

HOLLYWOOD CELEBRITY:

There’s no pagan spirit mantra?  No herbs to brew?  I thought I was god.  Can’t I just align myself with the universal consciousness and believe in myself.

NEW AGE DOCTOR:

Nope.  Chicken blood enema.

 

HOLLYWOOD CELEBRITY:

I don’t know.

 

NEW AGE DOCTOR:

Oprah swears by it.

 

HOLLYWOOD CELEBRITY:

Why didn’t you say so!

Grandpa

I just returned from my Grandmother’s funeral.  She was 87.  This is a quick drawing I did in my sketchbook of my grandpa (89) when he fell asleep in his chair.  He and my Grandmother were married for 67 years.

gpa

Photoshop Sketch

I was cleaning off the desktop of my computer, and I came across a photo.  I’m not sure what it was from or for, but the girl in it was looking over her shoulder.  I liked the girl’s pose and took an hour to do a sketch of the thing in photoshop.  I’m finding that I like working loose in photoshop with 2 layers: a background layer and a foreground layer.  It feels really liberating.

sketchblog

Going on a Trip

I’m going out of town this weekend and so I won’t be able to post until I get back on Monday.  Also, I’m sad to say that it appears yesterday’s post did not penetrate the Russian demographic as much as I would have hoped.

Picture 13

russian bear

Sketch (for the Russians)

As you may know, I am desperately trying to get Russian readers for my blog, and I possess every confidence, that despite their infamous blog caution, they will attend my blog regularly, provided I post enough Russian-friendly-posts.  Then I’ll have them.  I’ve already posted a picture of Vlad Putin holding a chess piece.  I’m sure you’re wondering, what more could they want?  Some time ago I started reading The Brothers Karamazov, but I got distracted and put it down.  I’m back at it, and I recently reread a scene that moves me deeply.  I’m doing some rough sketches trying to capture something from the book.

I read that Dostoyevsky considered human dignity a treasure worth guarding.  This whole scene, from which I’m writing only a moment, confirms Dostoyevsky’s high regard for the dignity of man.

In the book, Dimitry humiliates a poor man in front of the man’s son.  Aloysha, his brother, is entrusted with some money from Katherine, Dimitry’s fiance.  She intends Aloysha (also called Aleksy) to give it to the man, and the man responds, “Listen, sir, my dear fellow, listen, sir, I mean, if I accept it, shan’t I be a scoundrel, eh?  In your eyes, I mean, Aleksey Fyodorovich, shan’t I be a scoundrel?  No, Aleksey Fyodorovich, sir, you must hear me to the end, sir, hear me to the end,’ he said hurriedly, touching Aloysha with both hands.  ‘Look, here you are trying to make me accept it on the grounds that a “sister” has sent it, yet inwardly, privately to yourself, sir — won’t you feel contempt for me if I accept it, sir, won’t you, eh?”

Below is a sketch that I drew while listening to “Kalinka” over and over.

sketch

The composition is weak, and I’m not pleased enough with it to take it to final, but never fear Russian people, more drawings of this man (from a classic Russian novel) are yet to come!  Tell your (Russian) friends.

Reference Pic

Here’s a picture of me in my spacious studio, and when I mean spacious studio, I mean small studio, and when I mean small studio, I really in fact mean bedroom, somewhat small bedroom.  I was displeased with my initial drawing of the hand of the fella in the previous post, so I took a reference picture of myself using Photo Booth on my computer.  Behind me is the closet of bad drawings where occasionally an old bad drawing will venture out to haunt my dreams.  Though now it’s getting so packed that they haunt me during the day in shifts.

Photo 20

Happy Independence Day!

“The worst lesson that can be taught to a man is to rely upon others and to whine over his sufferings.”

 

–Theodore Roosevelt.

 

anthony merryblog

 


 

Tom Wolfe is one of my favorite writers.  Conservatives like him because he questions the legitimacy of fashion’s right to rule (From Bahaus to Our House, and The Painted Word), and Liberals like him, as near as I can tell, because he’s good at making fun of people.  At that he’s very good, especially those prone to self-importance.

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At any rate, the November 2007, 150th anniversary issue of The Atlantic Monthly asked influential writers and artists to assess the American idea.  Many people wrote things unworthy of the topic (Nancy Pelosi wrote a smattering of empty sentences and concluded that the American idea was both new when it was instituted and that it crops up when people try to solve problems. She couldn’t be bothered to suggest what the idea is or to examine its value).  Tom Wolfe however, rolled up his sleeves and got to work answering the question directly.

 

“Since you asked …,” he writes “the American idea was born at approximately 5 p.m. on Friday, December 2, 1803, the moment Thomas Jefferson sprang the so-called pell-mell on the new British ambassador, Anthony Merry, at dinner in the White House.”

 

To summarize, Jefferson held a state dinner at a round table with no assigned seating.  This horrified the European ambassadors, particularly the British, because it violated their notions of class, and a round table (as we know from King Arthur) has no head.  It is therefore impossible to rank the guests by their placement.  There is a place of honor next to the host, but this went to Dolly Madison, who frequently served as the White House hostess for the widowed president.  With no assignments, everybody else was left to “take a seat” on their own.

 

Wolfe argues that Jefferson’s tactics manifest America’s tendency to regard initiative as a virtue.  Initiative is written in the very first chapters of our own national beginning.  In 1776 after the Continental Congress declared independence, the Colonials suffered from a lack of ammunition.  Rather than admit defeat, they did what Americans have always done.  They found a solution.  They found it in a gilded lead statue of King George III.  A crowd of patriots tipped the statue from its marble base and sent it to Litchfield Connecticut where it was melted it into 42,088 bullets.  The ragged Colonials turned a symbol of oppression into ammunition, and the invading British had “His Majesty” shot at them.  Americans’ willingness to act was supported by President Calvin Coolidge (who coincidentally was born on the 4th of July) when he insisted, “The people have to bear their own responsibilities.  There is no method by which that burden can be shifted to government.”

 

I’m in a play right now, and I’ve posted about it before, but Friday’s performance was special.  Right before intermission, the power went out.  Apparently, a truck hit a transformer.  Jeff, the director, told the audience to talk amongst themselves while he investigated the situation.  On their own, without any organization, the audience began to sing patriotic songs.  Without the play to entertain them, they decided to entertain themselves.  Finally, when it became clear that the power was not guaranteed to come on very soon, flashlights were passed out and we performed under illumination from the audience.

 

Most probably because the Fourth is so near, I perceived the evening as a metaphor for what makes this country great–the preference of initiative over entitlement and the American tendency to make things work.

 

The lack of trust in government is increasingly widespread.  After passing the irresponsible Cap and Trade Legislation, proposing new taxes, and raising unemployment by the passage of two bloated stimulus packages (with a third on the way), Congress suffers from an 18% approval rating.  I have faith that deep down American’s strive not for an oligarchy led by an elitist political class, but for a meritocracy led by the initiative and innovation of the American people.  The hope is based upon the great traditions of the Founders.  Take some initiative.  Seat yourself, and have a Happy Fourth of July!