Taken From: Exposing Spiritualistic Practices in Healing

by Edwin A. Noyes M.D., MPH


Ayurveda teaches that the body has special channels which not only carry nutrients throughout the body, but additionally conduct subtle energies which link mankind with the cosmos. Disease in Ayurveda medicine is said to be determined by knowing which of these channels is affected. Massage and yoga exercises are used to open these channels when they are blocked or are not flowing freely. The congestion of these channels is considered a source of disease.

In Ayurveda it is taught that there are one hundred and seven points on the body called trigger points [or marma points], and that by massaging these points we are able to facilitate the flow of energy that may be stagnant, blocked or in some way congested. By massaging particular marma points [locations on the body, said to be where congestion of flow of universal energy occurs] with essential oils, then there is free flow of energy [prana]. Different types of essential oils are used for different types of illnesses, and, in turn, these oils will be chosen for application to particular trigger points. The various trigger points are said to be associated with particular areas or organs of the body. None of the above comments is substantiated by science.

It is very important to understand that the “trigger points” in Ayurvedic medicine should not be confused with the expression “trigger point” as is used in today’s conventional practice of medicine. A very frequent complaint encountered in family practice is in localized point of pain on a specific muscle. Examination will reveal a firm, tender nodule in the muscle. A “twitch” of the muscle group will occur when the tender nodule is touched or pressed on. The cause of the nodule is most likely a section of muscle fibers in constant contraction. It can be very painful and can last days, weeks or even months. There are various methods of treatment. Firm pressure held on the tender nodule for ten minutes may alleviate it. Injecting the nodule with a local anesthetic may also bring relief, and use of ultrasound over the nodule works well. I have personally treated hundreds of these tender nodules. They have no relationship to the above “marma points” of Ayurvedic medicine.

Through memory of past emotional experiences, the Hindu believes we sometimes adopt postures and physical behaviors which create congestion of prana. Massage, above all else, involves the movement of energies, relieving congestion, thereby supposedly rejuvenating the mind-body.

Essential oils are extracted from plants. They are said to carry or be concentrated prana. Different marma points may require specific oils applied to them when massaged.

In Ayurveda, food also imparts universal energy [prana] to the body. The diet philosophy is complex. There is a strong bent toward vegetarianism. Another Eastern religion diet, the Zen Buddhist macrobiotic diet, consists of seven steps, with progressive restriction of diet choices. It is believed that food brings a type of energy [universal energy] apart from the energy obtained from the metabolism of food. It is also believed that foods of animal origin are stronger in raja–tama, yin–yang, and fruits and vegetables are more neutral in yin–yang and do not upset the energy balance, thus the choice of vegetarianism.

One may hear of “live enzymes,” which can refer to the enzymes of plants unaltered by heat, or to the universal energy believed to be carried by the enzymes and not a biochemical condition of the enzymes. Our bodies produce all of the appropriate enzymes we need and it is not necessary to assimilate “live enzymes” from plants for proper metabolism. The enzymes in plants are for facilitating the biochemical actions in the plant and do not function in our biochemical reactions. Previously stated in chapter 6 was the belief that eating plant food facilitated receiving energy from higher levels, or planes, which were then transferred to an individual’s higher planes of energy.