Life and Death and Ayurveda

I decided to turn my article "upside down" because the urgency in India is more important than my concern for the narrative about Ayurveda.  While my concern about Ayurveda is still valid, it's not more important than India's well-being right now.

The situation on the ground in India from a doctor there:

In local news:

A long form explainer of how the oxygen ran out in India (subtitles only, click CC button):


About the farmers, I think Modi should immediately withdraw the farming laws, or defer them for a very long time like 5-10 years, to end any reason for protesting.  Since political gatherings also took place, I don't see how it can be effective to blame the farmers for the spread of the virus. And finger pointing will not produce a solution. The disaster has struck, and there is no point making it worse. And that goes for both sides.  At this point, I don't think there will be much sympathy for large gatherings.  In the face of such a huge number of Covid-19 deaths it will look lurid. I support the farmers but there has to be a limit. The lives of so many, are hanging by a thread.  Note:  A jatha is a group of Sikhs.

What "rich countries" can do to help India:

 The situation in Indian hospitals right now is beyond words.  I don't even have the courage to provide a link. If you're interested, look for the Reuters video of the 26 year old pre med student, who works 27 hour days and makes life and death decisions all day every day. On the one hand, it's beautiful.  Relatives have become nurses, taxi drivers have become ambulances.  The police have deputized transport officials and posted them at oxygen manufacturing factories to streamline the path from factory to hospital and ensure there is no graft. The resilience you can see is epic.  But it's equal to the tragedy.  As I'm writing this, the estimate is 21 million currently infected and it's considered a low estimate.  It's like the protest marches last summer. I feel I have to watch to witness the lives and respect them.  But it's eviscerating.  I reached out to an NGO, if I get a response about how to help from the US, I'll post it here as an update.  I can't just bear witness.  I won't emotionally survive if I don't do something, even if it's something small, like a donation from far away. 

Here we go... Hasan Minhaj to the rescue.  You may remember him from his funny and insightful Netflix show "Patriot Act."  Check his twitter feed for more options, including how to use cryptocurrency to give...



India Association of Greenville (South Carolina) is organizing a donation for 50 oxygen concentrators for Indian relief during  the Covid-19 Emergency.  How to contribute. and Facebook page.

 Myna Mahila Foundation - Covid relief and at-the-doorstep support for Women and Girls in India

 UK Doctors previously set up a crowdfunding campaign for Oxygen concentrators too.  Here it is. But they seem to be having trouble getting them distributed to the Red Cross. Not sure if they will reopen for donations or not.

BBC just broke this story about legal problems with NGOs receiving money from foreign donors.  It doesn't mention cryptocurrency which is a big hole in the story since more than a billion USD in crypto funds are currently being donated from that sector. It's a live test of the new currency since its status is a gray area in India.     

Another story from NYT about scammers during the pandemic, I guess it's a good sign that cryptocurrency is not mentioned and the scams are old fashioned. The scams have real consequences though.  

Dallas-FW area organizes help for India.

I Don't Want Ayurveda to be Blamed for This


One of the many memories I have of my grandmother is, every time she got sick, (we lived in Romania when I was very young), she visited a lady I was not allowed to meet or even enter the house of.  She came away with some herbs and usually an instruction for what plants we were going to gather that day.  Usually chamomile.  Then we went home, she'd make a brew, strain half of it for tea, and the other half would be used for steam.  She would sit with a towel carefully around her head and over the steaming pot of water and inhale.  

Even in the US, the Vicks Inhaler is a product you can find in any Walmart, pharmacy or online. This is not so strange or unusual.  

This was just basic folk wisdom in Eastern Europe, but in India, they're doing something very similar and it's an attempt to do Ayurveda, but they're not doing it according to instructions.  The way they're doing it, will have the opposite desired effect and when the finger pointing starts, Ayurveda may get the blame.

Indian scientists have done some double blind studies to verify that certain Ayurvedic plants do have good properties and often exactly the properties claimed.  Sometimes other properties are found as well. The US still treats herbal medicine as a scam, despite the fact that nobody would be here today if our foremothers hadn't experimented with weeds and natural remedies.  Aspirin originally came from willow bark.  Penicillin came from bread mold.  I digress, but at some point I'd like to see a team of scientists systematically test some of the claims in something like Culpepers Herbal. I feel like we're missing part of who we are if we abandon old knowledge just because it's old. 

On the other hand, what's happening today in India is a catastrophe.  Please take a moment to read this article about why several police stations are doing exactly the wrong things in the middle of a pandemic:  The problem I see there isn't Ayurveda, it's not following instructions.  

Quote: "Krishna Gopal Sharma, SHO of Sihani Gate police station and the man behind the initiative, said that several doctors have advised taking in steam as a home remedy to boost immunity. “However, due to our busy schedule, we didn’t get time to go home for over a week. I researched the benefits of steam and saw some videos on YouTube. I then decided to do an experiment at the station itself,” he said."

That's bad leadership and defeatism.  It's like saying "Oh well, we can't send you home, and we can't clean the facility between every person, and we can't maintain distancing while treating you, like you would be at home....... so here's something."  But it's really nothing.  Give people time off, push back against unreasonable demands on your staff.

Having a bunch of people standing near each other breathing heavy is exactly the opposite of what you should do.  You can't throw away proper Covid-19 protocols just because you're doing something inspired by Ayurveda.  

I have no problem with someone doing a home remedy.  That's self care and entirely in the realm of what people have a right to do in their own private life.  But this is doing the exact opposite of what will help.  Social distancing, masking, washing hands, increased cleaning of facilities in between every person using it, that's what helps, scientifically.  And that we know.  I don't want to discount the folk ways of knowing by saying "Don't do Ayurveda."  Because that's destructive and cruel.  

People feel better and feel a benefit.  That's good.  They should have time off so they can go home and do that at home. And get some sleep and peace.  In a pandemic, overworking people is not good.  Maybe some civilians can be deputized and they can go as a team with fully trained police on patrols.  The police should also refuse to provide security to political rallies because of the pandemic.  There shouldn't be any political rallies during such a disaster.  That's like making a speech while a tidal wave is rising behind you.  And I don't think it can be denied that India's current surge in Covid-19 cases can be described as a tidal wave. 

I don't mean that this is the only police station doing this or that they are the worst or that they are "bad" in fact they are strictly enforcing the mask mandate as another tweet shows:

My heart is breaking to see so many deaths and to hear from doctors what the problems are.  While stopping the deaths is the most important thing, I am also worried that after the pandemic, the narrative about Ayurveda will be that it caused harm.  But that wasn't the instructions, it's a home remedy, not a mass remedy that will cause people to congregate too close, and without masks.  People will be angry and grieving after the pandemic, and I won't blame them for being furious.  

God bless India, take care of each other, I'm praying for you. 

 πŸ™  πŸ“Ώ


  1. Welcome and thank you for your kindness! I hope we all survive this with mercy and serenity whenever possible. Best wishes.

  2. This may be a moment to remind the world that tea may not fix everything, but it's beautiful and refreshing.


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