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Do Ayurvedic medicines have side-effects?

25 Apr, 2019
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Do Ayurvedic medicines have side-effects?

Ayurveda is an age-old medicinal practice that has been used widely to treat various ailments. With its rich history, comes in the very essence of Ayurveda. Ayurvedic medicines and treatments are a mix of herbs and the usage of 5 elements found in Vedas (pacha-mahabhuta)- fire, water, earth, air, and sky. Speaking largely, Ayurvedic texts believe that each of us possess different dominant energies called doshas.

These doshas give us our natural spirits, tastes, likes, dislikes, and habits. This also means that each of us need to be treated differently in case of suffering from any ailments. Ayurvedic practitioners thus will treat everyone differently even if the ailment we suffer may be the same. a lot of combinations and factors determine the kind of treatment that you will undergo. Ayurvedic medicines have always been considered quite safe. They are said to not have any side-effects at all. Is that true?

Ayurveda and Side-effects

Ayurvedic medicines and treatments generally consist of herbal products or herbs. In their treatments or massages, essential herbal oils are utilized. That is one reason why there are very few chances wherein Ayurveda can give you any major side-effects. But this is not to say that there can never be any aftereffect. Two major issues of side -effects have been discussed majorly, they are:

  1. Toxicity: Now this one has been a major worry since long. Ayurvedic medicines or supplements consist of certain metals in small quantities. According to a lot of studies, the consumption of these metals could have certain side-effects. Apart from just that certain aspects of Ayurveda also talks about internal poisoning due to certain allergens in individuals.
    “Just as there are questions about efficacy of Ayurveda, the perception is being built that Ayurveda by itself does not have adequate protocols to identify and check the toxicity of its medicines,” says a study named “Toxicity of Ayurveda medicines and safety concerns: The need to revive the branch of toxicology in Ayurveda” which was published in the journal Ancient Science of Life. A particular concern has also been regarding the ayurvedic medicines that are easily accessible online or over the counter. In a study named “Lead, Mercury, and Arsenic in US- and Indian-Manufactured Ayurvedic Medicines Sold via the Internet”, published in The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2004 it was established that the compositions made in these stores online were not up to the mark and cause side-effects.
  2. Drug interactions and complications: Another trouble with Ayurvedic medicine has been regarding drug interactions. Ayurvedic medicines when consumed alongside other allopathic or other forms of treatment, can cause major issues. A lot of studies, for example, have proven that Ayurvedic herb shankhapushpi has caused troubles if consumed with any other epileptic medicine.

All in all, Ayurvedic medicines, if consumed in proper proportion as adviced by n expert practitioner could have huge benefits and no side-effects.

References: 

Manohar P. R. (2014). Toxicity of Ayurveda medicines and safety concerns: The need to revive the branch of toxicology in Ayurveda. Ancient science of life34(1), 1–2. doi:10.4103/0257-7941.150761

Saper, R. B., Phillips, R. S., Sehgal, A., Khouri, N., Davis, R. B., Paquin, J., … Kales, S. N. (2008). Lead, mercury, and arsenic in US- and Indian-manufactured Ayurvedic medicines sold via the Internet. JAMA300(8), 915–923. doi:10.1001/jama.300.8.915

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