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Author Topic: Ayurvedic Herbal Medicine: Ok for Orthodox?  (Read 3121 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: February 23, 2010, 02:35:40 PM »

I've been thinking of trying Ayurvedic medicine to see if it may help with my back problems.  I understand Ayurvedic medicine is very old (5000+ years) and has its roots in India.  What I want to know is if Ayurvedic medicine (e.g. taking herbal remedies) is from a spiritual standpoint ok for Orthodox. 

I understand that some forms of eastern and oriental medicine incorporate spiritual elements into their medicinal practice (e.g. exorcisms) and I was just wondering what others thought about this. 

Thanks
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« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2010, 05:18:45 PM »

I understand Ayurvedic medicine is very old (5000+ years)
Then isn't it expired by now?
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« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2010, 06:00:32 PM »

To me it sounds like something akin to homeopathic medicine, which shouldn't be a problem.  However, if its anyway tied-in with Reiki, then that's another story.  Recently the American Catholics Bishops have stated that Reiki is incompatiable with Christianity.

"Reiki lacks scientific credibility
Catholics trusting Reiki operate in superstitious no man's land
Reiki inappropriate for Catholic health care institutions, retreat centers, chaplains


Reiki Therapy Unscientific, 'Inappropriate for Catholic Institutions,' Say Bishops' Guidelines


WASHINGTON—The U.S. bishops have issued guidelines that call Reiki therapy, an alternative medicine originating in Japan, unscientific and inappropriate for Catholic institutions.

They outlined the position in "Guidelines for Evaluating Reiki as an Alternative Therapy." The guidelines were developed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Doctrine, chaired by Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut. They were approved by the USCCB Administrative Committee, March 24, during its spring meeting in Washington. The Administrative Committee is the authoritative body of the USCCB to approve committee statements.

The document can be found at http://www.usccb.org/dpp/doctrine.htm "

For the rest of the article go to:
http://www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2009/09-067.shtml
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« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2010, 07:59:23 PM »

To me it sounds like something akin to homeopathic medicine, which shouldn't be a problem.


One of our deacons has been using homeopathic medicine for decades...
so have my wife and I... and several other members of the parish.

Also, many of the parishioners (including the priest) all go to the same naturopathic physician.
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« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2010, 08:12:33 PM »

I went to a homeopath for about a year and did not notice any benefit.  That is why I'm looking into ayurvedic medicine. 
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« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2010, 09:09:18 PM »

I went to a homeopath for about a year and did not notice any benefit.  That is why I'm looking into ayurvedic medicine. 
Ayurvedic medicine is not directly connected to Hindu spirituality. That is, it is *related* to Hindu spirituality in *some* fashion ("vedic" in Ayurvedic is from the name of the primal Hindu Scriptures, the Vedas; and your Ayurvedic physician may in fact be a practicing Hindu, e.g.), but invoking of deities is not a part of Ayurveda. Ayurveda is, in part, centered on the idea and practice of balancing one's doshas, or elemental qualities (earthy-watery, called "kapha", fiery, called "pitta", or airy, called "vata"). I'm predominantly vata, myself.
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« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2010, 10:18:30 PM »

I think ayurveda is generally fine, as is traditional Chinese medicine and other forms of non-Western medicine, so long as some heretical or pagan philosophy isn't intrinsic to the practice. Some folks tend to assume that Western medicine is philosophically neutral, which is silly of course.

Also, just because a given medical practice originates in a particular philosophy, doesn't mean it's completely bound to that philosophy. If you think about the many philosophies that arose in India, many of them shared medical concepts but interpreted them in very different ways. For example, Buddhists adopted the concept of "chakras" but understood it differently. Likewise, the early Church inherited a lot of cosmological concepts from the pagan Greeks but altered them to conform to the Christian worldview.
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« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2010, 10:19:44 PM »

Recently the American Catholics Bishops have stated that Reiki is incompatiable with Christianity.

Are their opinions really relevant to Orthodox though? From what I've read, the bishops' opposition is based in some very glib modernist scientism.
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« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2010, 10:30:56 PM »

To me it sounds like something akin to homeopathic medicine, which shouldn't be a problem.


One of our deacons has been using homeopathic medicine for decades...
so have my wife and I... and several other members of the parish.

Also, many of the parishioners (including the priest) all go to the same naturopathic physician.

My wifes best friend is a pharmacist but for her and her family she uses nothing but homeopathic medicine.  My wife and I also use homeopathic medicine but I am not as sold on the idea as she.  I would rather deal with the not with pharmaceutical medicines because it seems to me once you start then you get more meds to cover the side effects, which leads to more meds. 
« Last Edit: February 23, 2010, 10:33:10 PM by Mivac » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2010, 12:34:37 AM »

StGeorge,

Praying for your back pain to decrease.

(The following is commiseration and not medical advice.)
I had mid-thoracic spasms for approx. 8 months after a tennis injury.  PT, anti-
inflammatory meds, heating pads, ice packs, muscle relaxers at night, spinal manipulation, and other traditional therapies would not stop the painful spasms.  Finally a pain management anesthesiologist injected these muscles group with Botox. I was completely pain free in 4 days.
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« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2010, 01:31:09 AM »

Nothing wrong with natural remedies. Just stay away from Yoga, meditation, and such. Excercise and eat as naturally as possible. Remember that were created from earth, so we will benefit most from assimilating that which comes from the earth. Also, prayers and prostrations will always contribute to peace of mind and physical health.

Selam
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« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2010, 05:56:59 AM »

My advice is to ask your Spiritual Father and do whatever he says.
BUT I wouldn't try this thing for myself. This comes from someone who went through a discopathy surgery.
You should try physical therapy instead.
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« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2010, 11:46:31 AM »

Recently the American Catholics Bishops have stated that Reiki is incompatiable with Christianity.

Are their opinions really relevant to Orthodox though? From what I've read, the bishops' opposition is based in some very glib modernist scientism.

I was told that Metropolitan Joseph is opposed to it based on the thought that anything that touches the soul is his responsibility.
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« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2010, 12:27:29 PM »

Recently the American Catholics Bishops have stated that Reiki is incompatiable with Christianity.

Are their opinions really relevant to Orthodox though? From what I've read, the bishops' opposition is based in some very glib modernist scientism.

I was told that Metropolitan Joseph is opposed to it based on the thought that anything that touches the soul is his responsibility.

So, is the Chicken Soup series on his banned books list?  Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2010, 12:33:01 PM »

Nothing wrong with natural remedies. Just stay away from Yoga, meditation, and such. Excercise and eat as naturally as possible. Remember that were created from earth, so we will benefit most from assimilating that which comes from the earth. Also, prayers and prostrations will always contribute to peace of mind and physical health.

Selam

As for Yoga, it is a mixed bag.  The sanas or stretching exercises are fine to do (this is primarily what passes for 'yoga' in the good ole USA), but the mantras, visualization exercises, self-aiming meditations, etc. are strictly out.

If you approach Ayurvedic medicine the same way you would approach, let's say, any other diet (Atkin's, etc.) then you should have no problem.

Canonically speaking, the only mention of medicine and doctors was in connection with magic and talismans.  The canon against Jewish doctors generally had to do with their kabbalistic tendencies, which the Church does not want Christians to get involved with for obvious reasons.   You can apply this understanding to other treatment paths and then you will be on the right path.

If the treatment involves any degree of 'mysticism' not part of the Church, then it should absolutely be avoided as paganism.  Theories regarding the nature of the body in a material sense are fine for us to discuss, but I recommend staying away from theories that involve strange cosmologies (for example, diseases which are attributed to 'karma,' alien ghosts living in your body and making you sick, etc.).

In conclusion: no magic, no 'spiritual energies,' no turning to false gods.


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« Reply #15 on: February 25, 2010, 07:48:14 AM »

Father, my opinion based on testimonies of ex-yoga practitioners, on the book "The Gurus, the Young Man, and Elder Paisios" and other books is that one should stay away from yoga as far as possible.

And why should one do asanas when he could do stretchings, aerobics and anything similar?

The argument presented in the testimonies I have read is that with yoga, we can't separate the physical exercises from the spiritual stuff.
Maybe they are wrong, but why should we take any chance?

Forgive me if I offended anyone.
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« Reply #16 on: February 25, 2010, 09:56:30 AM »

Recently the American Catholics Bishops have stated that Reiki is incompatiable with Christianity.

Are their opinions really relevant to Orthodox though? From what I've read, the bishops' opposition is based in some very glib modernist scientism.

I was told that Metropolitan Joseph is opposed to it based on the thought that anything that touches the soul is his responsibility.

So, is the Chicken Soup series on his banned books list?  Smiley

To quote a Bulgarian bishop that visited Boston, many, many moons ago, "Why look elsewhere, Orthodoxy has everything."
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« Reply #17 on: February 25, 2010, 10:45:02 AM »

The argument presented in the testimonies I have read is that with yoga, we can't separate the physical exercises from the spiritual stuff.

Isn't that true of everything?
The question is, which spiritual stuff? There isn't a single body of philosophy or spirituality underpinning yoga. Many different people have had many different approaches. I don't see why the practical benefits can't be adapted to a Christian worldview, much as the ancient Fathers accepted aspects of pagan systems like astrology.
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« Reply #18 on: February 25, 2010, 11:25:14 AM »

Father, my opinion based on testimonies of ex-yoga practitioners, on the book "The Gurus, the Young Man, and Elder Paisios" and other books is that one should stay away from yoga as far as possible.

And why should one do asanas when he could do stretchings, aerobics and anything similar?

The argument presented in the testimonies I have read is that with yoga, we can't separate the physical exercises from the spiritual stuff.
Maybe they are wrong, but why should we take any chance?

Forgive me if I offended anyone.

I think it is possible to separate the two.

For example, I often do "Yoga for Regular Guys," a program created by former pro wrestler Diamond Dallas Page.  He royally screwed up his back in the ring from a bad fall and was told he would have trouble walking again and his career was over.  His wife did yoga in that ethereal "spiritual" California way and encouraged him to do it, as well.  Page, being the macho "down to earth" tough guy, found it really hard to even consider doing something so "sissy" but gave it a shot and, in the end, developed with his fitness doctor a purely physical program of stretching and iso-metric and iso-kinetic exercise that is entirely devoid of spiritual content which allowed him to get back into the ring and win the title (btw, I know wrestling is fake, but you have to be able to perform well in order to go anywhere in the industry, and that means being healthy and fit and able to take a fall well) Tongue

The YRG program is still very recognizably "yoga".  When I was first diagnosed with acute sciatica, I tried the regular yoga dvds sold by all sorts of Guru-types and found much of the prattling spiritual advice in them insulting to my intelligence as well as to my faith.  Yet the exercises themselves helped.  I could not, however, continue to practice along with the dvds even with the sound off because I knew what was being said at any given moment.  A chance reading of a newspaper article about a local Gulf War Vet who, like Page, was told he would have trouble walking but, through the YRG program, is now running marathons, pointed me in that direction.  It has exactly what I need from a yoga program: structure and physical guidance devoid of Hindu spiritual content.  At the end of each session, one is taught to lie still and relax one's body for five to ten minutes, which is a perfect time to pray in one's own words, thanking God for your physical health and all the material benefits He bestows on us.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any business organization which sells YRG in any way.  I'm only an avid fan. Smiley
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« Reply #19 on: February 25, 2010, 12:44:52 PM »

The argument presented in the testimonies I have read is that with yoga, we can't separate the physical exercises from the spiritual stuff.

Isn't that true of everything?
The question is, which spiritual stuff? There isn't a single body of philosophy or spirituality underpinning yoga. Many different people have had many different approaches. I don't see why the practical benefits can't be adapted to a Christian worldview, much as the ancient Fathers accepted aspects of pagan systems like astrology.



I've read the book, which I highly recommend, but he is addressing a very different audience.  The author is reacting to Greeks who are being actively recruited by gurus and ashrams practicing Hinduism.

My hope is that what I am about to say does not offend anyone, but it must be said in the context of understanding the book: most Orthodox in the 'Old Countries' are fairly sheltered when it comes to religious exposure.  Like Native Americans first exposed to European diseases, they have little in the way of natural immunity other than total avoidance (a la Russia's reaction to aggressive American missionaries in the 1990's).

The author waived off his Greek audience because he (rightly) assumes the average reader of the original edition has not been exposed to the myriad of religions the average Orthodox is exposed to in this country.  We are, by the very nature of our environment, the 'remnant.'  All our weaker brethren have long ago been plucked off by materialism and heresy.

In many other 'Orthodox cultures' the only thing that keeps some members in church is community pressure to fit in.  None of that exists here outside of very small, new-immigrant communities.  Therefore, we lose lots of people along the way to heretical and pagan philosophies such as those preached by hard-core Hindus.

The Holy Fathers encouraged Christians of past centuries to study 'pagan' arts such as literature and philosophy, not worrying that they would lose their Faith.  Why?  Because Christians at that time were far more in touch with their beliefs and could reliably sift the good from the bad.

A discerning Christian can also sift good exercises from weird meditative practices if he understandings his Faith and remains under good spiritual direction.  He will naturally understand the beauty of the asthetics of certain aspects of paganism (frankly, I not certain that anyone can look upon a Buddhist temple and not appreciate the craftsmanship, design and sheer effort in one, even though the Buddhist philosophy is profoundly misleading) just as our forefathers were able to read mythology without abandoning Christ.

We presently use many things that have their origins in pagan practices: astronomy, medicine, architecture, literature... but we know the difference between what is true and what is not.

I agree with Farasiotis that great caution should be observed when approaching Yoga.  One should not engage in, let's say, visualizing a flowering lotus on the crown of one's head.  In fact, the Fathers tell us to avoid visualization altogether (that's why icons are important, since imagination is very tricky).  But, if you don't know why something is dangerous, then don't even get near it.  Flee!  If you barely come to church, have little understanding of the Tradition, are lax in your spiritual discipline (all of these the author confesses), then do not come near Yoga or the 700 Club or even Gossip Girl for that matter.

Some may have to avoid Yoga simply because they find themselves staring too intently at the instructor.  Wink

My kids listen to Bollywood music (it's a very long story), but I am not worried about them converting to Hinduism and Sikhism because they are being taught about God's love and they are loved.  So long as they continue to sense God's love through the Church, they will remain Christian I believe.

However, I will leave you with this: the point of Farasiotis' books was not to discourage Yoga.  It was to encourage Orthodox Christians to get into their own Faith and not look for alternatives as the Greeks he is addressing are doing in increasing numbers (from what he discribes).

The Church teaches us to be strong and discerning in our Faith.  I think so long as we are, then those things that are beneficial and good can be plucked from the jaws of evil.  Even the heretic can have shreds of stolen truth.  We must acknowledge what is true and good, because such things come from God.


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« Reply #20 on: December 30, 2012, 12:05:40 AM »

Nothing wrong with natural remedies. Just stay away from Yoga, meditation, and such. Excercise and eat as naturally as possible. Remember that were created from earth, so we will benefit most from assimilating that which comes from the earth. Also, prayers and prostrations will always contribute to peace of mind and physical health.

Selam

As for Yoga, it is a mixed bag.  The sanas or stretching exercises are fine to do (this is primarily what passes for 'yoga' in the good ole USA), but the mantras, visualization exercises, self-aiming meditations, etc. are strictly out.

If you approach Ayurvedic medicine the same way you would approach, let's say, any other diet (Atkin's, etc.) then you should have no problem.

Canonically speaking, the only mention of medicine and doctors was in connection with magic and talismans.  The canon against Jewish doctors generally had to do with their kabbalistic tendencies, which the Church does not want Christians to get involved with for obvious reasons.   You can apply this understanding to other treatment paths and then you will be on the right path.

If the treatment involves any degree of 'mysticism' not part of the Church, then it should absolutely be avoided as paganism.  Theories regarding the nature of the body in a material sense are fine for us to discuss, but I recommend staying away from theories that involve strange cosmologies (for example, diseases which are attributed to 'karma,' alien ghosts living in your body and making you sick, etc.).

In conclusion: no magic, no 'spiritual energies,' no turning to false gods.






"but the mantras, visualization exercises, self-aiming meditations, etc. are strictly out." They can be replaced with prayer, any prayer, even the serenity prayer. And meditation, where you actually try to empty your head from thoughts, and let your body relax, and be truly body, mind and spirit, present at this moment.
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« Reply #21 on: December 30, 2012, 12:10:50 AM »

The argument presented in the testimonies I have read is that with yoga, we can't separate the physical exercises from the spiritual stuff.

Isn't that true of everything?
The question is, which spiritual stuff? There isn't a single body of philosophy or spirituality underpinning yoga. Many different people have had many different approaches. I don't see why the practical benefits can't be adapted to a Christian worldview, much as the ancient Fathers accepted aspects of pagan systems like astrology.



what? they accepted astrology? therefore I can accept it too.
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« Reply #22 on: December 30, 2012, 05:46:09 PM »

The argument presented in the testimonies I have read is that with yoga, we can't separate the physical exercises from the spiritual stuff.

Isn't that true of everything?
The question is, which spiritual stuff? There isn't a single body of philosophy or spirituality underpinning yoga. Many different people have had many different approaches. I don't see why the practical benefits can't be adapted to a Christian worldview, much as the ancient Fathers accepted aspects of pagan systems like astrology.



what? they accepted astrology? therefore I can accept it too.
I think the key phrase is "aspects", not the whole shebang. (For you astrology aficionados out there, my use of "aspects" -- no pun intended.)
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« Reply #23 on: December 30, 2012, 06:04:34 PM »

Ayurvedic medicine is all about determining what agrees with one's system (from food to lifestyle habits) in order to promote it, and what disagrees with it, in order to eliminate it. It's a lot like the Hippocratean 'let your food be your medicine', just with more study and detail behind it - just to determine my predominant dosha, I had to answer more than 100 questions. Sadly, that alone takes more time than the average Western doctor will allot each patient.
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