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Book and Media Reviews
May 28, 2008

Ayurveda: A Comprehensive Guide to Traditional Indian Medicine for the West

JAMA. 2008;299(20):2450-2451. doi:10.1001/jama.299.20.2450-b

In the introduction to this book and again in the epilogue, Dr Ninivaggi states a desire to present a course book, reference guide, and self-help tool on the wisdom of Ayurveda. He places particular emphasis on the “biopsychospiritual” perspective that aligns Ayurvedic practices with those of modern psychiatry. The epistemological nature of this subject matter is thoughtfully presented, and Ninivaggi might convince the reader that Ayurveda should be taken seriously in spite of the fact that evidence-based studies are lacking for even the basic premises. This should diminish the reader's tendency to analyze these practices from a Western point of view. An implication can be drawn why such an approach may not be entirely valid. Western analysis is inevitable, so Ninivaggi, as a Western-trained physician, supplies references to several evidence-based studies currently in the literature that attempt to evaluate Ayurvedic practices. This will add to the validation of these practices as well as allow for a broader view of the origin and treatment of human illness.