On the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medical treatment: humoural pharmacology, positivistic science, and soteriology


  • Maarten Bode


This article concerns the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicines, the main element of Ayurvedic medical treatment. As a humoural pathology, Ayurveda uses its own rationality in determining interactions between materia medica and human biology and physiology. If positivistic pharmacology is the sole arbiter for the effectiveness of Ayurvedic single and compound medicines, then we deny the individual character of the Ayurvedic pharmacologic paradigm and we could dismiss potentially effective medicines because they cannot be proven within the positivistic paradigm of current-day pharmacology. This article also addresses the duality of medical paradigms in general. On the one hand, the focus is on 'repairing' objectified bodies. The physician is like a mechanic who has at his disposal a toolkit of instruments such as medications, physiological techniques, and dietary and healthy living recommendations with the goal of preventing, managing and, where possible, curing illness. On the other hand, medicine can be viewed as a form of soteriology, i.e. the naming of suffering and its answers.