Posted on: by Alistair
Ayurveda dictates that the cause of disease can be distilled into three main categories:
- Prajnaparadha – failure of wisdom or intelligence
- Kala – influence of time or seasons
- Asatmya Indriyartha Samyoga – improper use of the 5 senses
The cause of disease most relevant to this article is Prajnaparadha – the failure of wisdom. This is when we go against what the know is appropriate for ourselves, when we know what is right and do the opposite anyway. It also applies to situations when our intelligence simply fails us, when we draw a conclusion that would be reasonably and logically unsound.
Take for example a recent study following the effects of Bisphenol A on kids. The study showed that kids who had higher BPA in their urine were more likely to be obese. Their conclusion? BPA is likely to play a role in making kids obese.
A doctor who worked on the study suggested that:
…ingesting extra BPA could throw off young people’s hormonal balance and disrupt their metabolism.
It is certainly the case that BPA has a significant role to play in endocrine diseases and diseases that are caused by endocrinal imbalances, however, when it comes to obesity there is a clear and more obvious conclusion.
Kids who have more BPA in their body are more likely to be eating processed, packaged, canned or otherwise adulterated food. BPA contained in the packaging materials leeches into the foods and is ingested in this manner. In short, they are more likely to be obese due to their diet rather than a belated effect of BPA. Kids who have less BPA in their system are most likely eating fresh food and food made from scratch – with less opportunity for BPA to enter their digestion.
Scientists working in the industry have fooled us into looking a the micro details of symptoms and disease rather than focussing on the macro canvas of the entire system. Whatever the cause, it simply isn’t possible to distill the complexity of the human body and the myriad of choices we make everyday into single serving advice.
Another study links restless legs and future heart disease. Although the doctor leading the study is fairly coy in the article as to the link, the conclusions of the study state:
These results suggest that RLS or RLS associated conditions may contribute to the etiology of cardiovascular disease.
In plain english this means that they believe their findings show restless legs as having a causal relationship to future heart disease. What the study shows is that those with restless legs are twice as likely – 35 in 1000 versus 17 in 1000 for settled legs – to succumb to heart disease years after their legs becoming restless.
A more likely conclusion for the findings is that restless legs are caused by poor and irregular circulation, showing a poor and irregular functioning of the heart. Restless legs are more likely a symptom of future heart disease – not a cause as suggested in the article.
In Ayurveda restless legs are usually associated with Vata, specifically vyana vayu, however, it can be caused by any of the doshas. Either way, it’s a symptom and not a cause.
Another study could not find a virus to blame for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Despite years of searching, scientists and medical professionals are simply unable to locate what they believe is the virus behind the affliction of CFS. And no doubt the search will continue.
Jack Haldane showed great wisdom when he prophesied our obsession with viruses, exclaiming:
This is a disaster for medicine because we’re going to get focused on these germs, and we’re going to forget about the system.
And that is the unfortunate failing of a vast number of studies. It is impossible to isolate the complex functioning of the human body or attempt to track a single symptom across a wide range of participants.
The focus needs to return to the individual and the functioning of the system as a whole. We need to bring back the internal wisdom that allows us to intuitively know our path to health rather than relying on studies and generalizations about what we aught to be doing.