This book gives readers an unprecedented insight into the common focus of all natural health approaches – the body’s inner intelligence. It presents a comprehensive framework for understanding how the self-organizing intelligence of nature emerges and how it can be harnessed to create better and greater well-being.
Dr Sharma shows how both modern science and the ancient Vedic science of India point to wholeness as an essential quality of existence. Based on this understanding, the text provides a model for moving beyond approaches to treatment that focus primarily on the symptoms of diseases. In this new model, the seed of disease is sown at the level where individual consciousness, mind, and physiology emerge from ‘undifferentiated wholeness’. If the self-organizing intelligence of the body becomes disconnected from its source of wholeness, the disease process begins.
The book goes on to introduce a wide range of therapeutic measures offered by the Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health. This therapies provide a unique way to understand and prevent chronic diseases, and the transform healthcare as we know it. Paperback, 277 pages.
In this newsletter we interview the herbal research pioneer and author of Freedom from Disease, Hari Sharma, M.D.
Q: Today be interviewing Dr. Hari Sharma, a professor emeritus at the Ohio State University College of Medicine, a professor of pathology and former director of Cancer Prevention and Natural Products Research, who has done over ten years of groundbreaking research on herbal medicines and a prevention-oriented approach to well-being called Maharishi Ayurveda. Dr. Sharma has published more than 100 scientific articles and has authored three books. he has presented his work worldwide, including to the World health Organization, National Institutes of Health, and the Food and Drug Administration (USA). Also, Dr. Sharma is the only U.S. physician to be honored by being named Fellow of the National Academy of Ayurveda under the Ministry of Health and Family Affairs, Government of India. So, without further ado, Dr. Sharma, welcome to our program.
Dr. Sharma: Thank you.
Q: In your book, Freedom from Disease you say that we’re in the midst of a medical revolution. Could you describe for us that revolution?
Dr. Sharma: Yes. I wrote that book a few years ago, and at that time we were talking about a basic, common underlying mechanism of disease process. We talked about free radicals. We discussed free radicals as the mainhttp://softgalleries.com/nude/hustler/index3.html chain of events causing the majority of disorders.
Q: Could you explain for the listener what free radicals are, and their significance for health and disease?
Dr. Sharma: Free radicals are those elements which are produced in the body. These are either atoms or molecules which have one electron missing in the outer orbit. Usually, in the outer orbit, in the outer shell, there are two electrons. And in a free radical molecule one of these electrons is missing. You need two of them to balance each other. Free radicals are the byproducts of the metabolic process. So free radicals are produced all the time in our bodies and cells. And the body uses free radicals to defend the body against infection. However, if free radicals are produced in large numbers, then they start attacking the body and cause damage.
Q: Thank you. And what are the implications of free radicals for the medical revolution you were describing in Freedom from Disease?
Dr. Sharma: Free radicals are an underlying mechanism, because they damage the cells, they damage the mitochondria which produce the energy for the body, they damage the DNA which controls all the functions of the cells, they can damage the cell membrane, they can damage the lining in the cell. Similarly they can damage different organs, joints, the heart, the pancreas. Many scientists now believe that 80-90 percent of disorders are related to free radicals.
Q: Eighty-ninety percent of all medical disorders are related to free radicals. Can you explain this story? This is, I think to most listeners, rather astonishing.
Dr. Sharma: Free radicals are produced all the time. If they’re produced in large numbers, instead of protecting the body from damage due to outside forces, they start attacking the cells. Let’s look at it this way. If you have a large home, a large palace, and you have your own private security force, they are there to protect you. Then you go on vacation, and the security guards invite their friends and their relatives to rob you. Similarly, this is what happens with free radicals. They are essential to life, but if large numbers are produced, then they attack you and cause a lot of damage. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, ulcers, aging — the most common disorders — liver disorders, kidney disorders — these are all related to free radicals. So if we can prevent and balance the generation of free radicals, we can really wipe out the majority of disorders.
Q: As an MD and scientist, what would you suggest can be done for this excess production of free radicals so that people can truly experience freedom from disease?
Dr Sharma: There are two things. One thing is to know what causes increased production of free radicals. The second is to utilize the factors which balance the increased production of free radicals. So let’s discuss the increased production of free radicals. The most common cause, which is frequently ignored, is mental pressure. Mental pressure, tension, hostility, anger — emotional disturbances such as these — all create or generate hormones like catecholamines, epinephrine, distress hormones, etc. which act on the cell membrane and create free radicals. And their byproducts also act as free radicals. So one thing is this mental aspect. It has to be taken care of.
The other causes of increased production of free radicals include the diet. Polyunsaturated fats create free radicals. Meat and aged cheeses, create free radicals. Chemicals, radiation, environmental pollution, and drugs create free radicals. Alcohol and smoking also create free radicals. So making an adjustment in any of these areas will help to decrease the amount of free radicals we generate. Of course, there are some things we have no control over — for example, the pollution in our environment — so we need to take steps to help the body combat the free radicals this generates.
Q: As a research scientist, what attracted you to Ayurvedic medicine in your search for a solution to free radical cell damage?
Dr. Sharma: Before we discuss that, let me talk about how the body balances the increased production of free radicals, and then I’ll come back to your question. There are certain enzymes in the body and if there is increased production of free radicals, these enzymes can help take care of it. There are also certain items in our food which can balance free radicals. These we call antioxidants. Many people are now becoming aware of the antioxidant properties of vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene.
The most powerful antioxidants in nature are in the herbs. When we have the proper mixture of herbs, they can really control a large amount of free radicals. Fruits and vegetables are also a good source of antioxidants. So, if on one side, we indulge in activities which create more free radicals, and on the other side we have enzymes and antioxidants, then there’s a balance. But if there is yet more production of free radicals, you have to really balance it further, otherwise there will be increased damage. So this is what led to my investigation of Ayurveda as I became interested in the possibility of the support that traditional herbal Ayurvedic formulas could provide.
Q: I see. Perhaps you could explain what ayurveda is for our listeners
Dr. Sharma: Ayurveda is a very ancient, very comprehensive health care system. This health care system does not focus on the various organs. Ayurveda does not have a cardiac specialist and a liver specialist, etc. Ayurvedic physicians look at the body as a whole. They take care of the mind, the physiology, what you’re eating, what you’re affected by, your senses, your emotions, and also the environment you live in. So the total picture is taken into consideration when somebody is sick, in order to set it right. Ayurveda uses more than 20 different technologies, one of which is the use of herbal mixtures.
Ayurveda did not originate in present-day India, it originated in ancient India, a long, long time ago. There are written texts that the Ayurvedic physicians use as the basis for their treatment programs. And there is a tremendous amount of clinical experience which demonstrates the validity of this health care system. Also, a great deal of research has been done, mostly in the east, but in the west also, which validates these Ayurvedic technologies.
Q: Fantastic. And what’s the distinction between Ayurveda and Maharishi Ayurveda?
Dr. Sharma: Basically, overall, Ayurveda is the same. But with the passage of time, the way Ayurveda was practiced in India became fragmented. Many of the technologies were lost and the totality was not taken into account. Ayurveda was reduced to the use of herbal mixtures. What Maharishi did was to gather the scholars and scientists together and put back the totality of Ayurveda. The mind, the consciousness, the physiology, senses, environment, the total picture is taken into account. This is known as Maharishi Ayurveda, but this is the ancient, original Ayurveda.
Q: I see. And how does this consciousness based system of medicine relate to modern science?
Dr. Sharma: Modern science .. that is a very good question. If you really want to talk about modern science, we should compare it with physics. There is Newtonian physics, which is based on a cause-and-effect relationship. For everything you see outside in the relative world, there is a cause-and-effect relationship. Then there is the recently discovered quantum physics, which goes beyond the subatomic particles to a substratum known as the unified field. Everything in creation originates from this unified field, so if you work from the level of that field, you can effectively manage the outside field of the relative world. But today’s medicine is still working on the level of cause-and-effect relationships, which is Newtonian physics. It has not gone beyond that to the level of quantum physics. In the human physiology, from the outside level we see various organs and their disorders.
But what is the basis? It goes beyond all this, to the quantum level. At that level, the relevant factor is the consciousness. From consciousness, all of creation emerges. So if you are going to treat a disorder effectively, you must work at the level of the basic cause of the disease process — which is consciousness. Consciousness must be taken into consideration. That is where the mind comes into play. If you ignore the mind, you’re ignoring a big chunk of the problem, so the problem is never solved. If you only treat the symptoms of a disease, you find that the health problem keeps coming back. Symptomatic treatment is incomplete and ineffective.
Q: I’m very excited to hear your description of consciousness-based medicine because, as a physician, as a psychiatrist, I’ve been very intrigued with holistic medicine. But, clearly, Ayurveda is the fulfillment of holistic medicine. It is a body, mind, spirit, system of health care. And I’m wondering if you can tell us how Ayurvedic herbs are similar or dissimilar to prescription medications. Because most Americans now have become very disenchanted with the toxic side effects from many prescription drugs. There are more Americans going to see alternative health practitioners than they’re MD/GP for the first time in our history. But how would you compare ayurvedic herbs to prescription drugs?
Dr. Sharma: The prescription drugs, as you know, have now become the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S.
Q: That’s right.
Dr. Sharma: And so, the majority of people now don’t want to take drugs unless they really have to take them. Prescription drugs are very powerful because they are single substances that have been isolated and concentrated — the so-called active ingredient. A prescription drug which is given, for example, to treat heart disease will work on the heart, but will also affect other areas. It has an indiscriminate action. And this indiscriminate action results in toxic effects. Every drug has a toxic effect. Sometimes these toxic effects are so powerful that they can actually kill the patient.
On the other hand, in Maharishi Ayurveda the approach of totality is used. Ayurveda has all the knowledge of the various herbs and their medicinal properties. And these properties differ, whether in the root or the stem or the flower or the fruit, so you have to know which part to use. Ayurveda has this knowledge. It also has the knowledge of which chemicals are present from season to season in the herbs, so the herbs are harvested at the proper time. And now, using the latest technology, a special technique known as HPLC can identify whether those chemicals are present or not in the harvested herbs. So when you use the totality of the plant products and herbal mixtures, you effectively treat the disease which you want to cure, and at the same time, side effects are prevented by the other chemicals in the mixture. There are also chemicals in the herbs that produce synergistic effects. So, we have two advantages occurring. There are synergistic effects which increase the potency of the treatment and toxic effects are negated. People everywhere are finding this out. That’s why there is an increase in the use of Ayurvedic technologies and herbal mixtures.
Q: I’ve been fascinated to read in medical journals the research you’ve conducted on the Maharishi Amrit Kalash herbal formulas. Could you tell us about that specific research and what the implications are for what you were describing earlier in terms of free radical cell damage and looking for a more holistic solution?
Dr. Sharma: There is a very interesting story behind it. I attended a conference on Ayurveda in the late 80’s in India. Maharishi was giving the whole conference, with some very renowned vaidyas.
Q: Can you describe what they are?
Dr. Sharma: Vaidyas are Ayurvedic physicians. In India, there is a five-year course to become an Ayurvedic physician. And then, of course, there is postgraduate training and all that. At this conference there were many Ayurvedic experts — deans and professors and experienced physicians and Maharishi. Of course, they were saying that Ayurveda can do this and this and this — very high-sounding claims that it can cure anything. It was very difficult for me to swallow because I’ve been trained in Western medicine, where everything has to be tested by research and verified. So then this idea came out, that we should do research. And after a lot of discussion, Maharishi asked me to carry out this research because a lot of the people who were there were practitioners who had no research background. These practitioners were giving their ideas on how the research should be done. Finally, I spoke up and told them how it should be done. So Maharishi picked up on that. He said, “Okay. You go ahead and plan and execute the research.
At that time, I had no idea of what I was getting into or what results the research would produce, because there was no background of research at that point. One of the things which was discussed was that Amrit Kalash basically prevents the aging process. So I said it is very difficult to do research on the aging process. And even if you do, you’d be long gone before you get the results! So we considered what should be done. During the aging process, several things happen: the blood vessels become thick and you can get heart disease, the immunity decreases and you can get cancer, all these things happen.
So I suggested we conduct research on cancer, on immunity, on atherosclerosis (thickening of the blood vessels) and on platelet aggregation which is part of the blood clotting process. The blood becomes thick and there are many problems associated with that. So we planned all these experiments. When the research results started coming out, it was really very fascinating. It surprised me completely. We did not expect such profound results from one mixture. Usually, one drug gives one result. But this one mixture showed anti-cancer properties, increased immunity, prevention of atherosclerosis which causes heart disease, and prevention of the toxic effects of chemotherapy. And then we found out it’s a very powerful antioxidant. So, a large number of positive results came from this herbal mixture.
Q: And would you say that Amrit Kalash actually can solve the free radical problem that is so ubiquitous?
Dr. Sharma: I think this is one of the most powerful mixtures which, as far as I know, is available in the world today which has such powerful effects. And the Amrit Kalash mixture is not limited to antioxidant effect. It also has an anti-cancer effect. It helps prevent cancer and also dissolves the fully-formed tumors. At the same time, it also helps prevent the toxic effects of chemotherapy.
Q: It dissolves tumors?
Dr. Sharma: That’s right. There is work going on and they have found that apart from helping to prevent the toxic effects of chemotherapy, the addition of Maharishi Amrit Kalash has an anti-cancer effect that is much more than chemotherapy alone. This anti-cancer effect we had previously seen in animal experiments with Amrit.
Q: Wow. Very exciting!
Dr. Sharma: This research is now being conducted in humans. From animal and lab experiments we know that Amrit Kalash has anti-cancer effects in breast cancer and lung cancer, and in a tumor of the nervous system, called neuroblastoma. Now we are finding very fascinating clinical results in patients in these same areas.
Q: Wow. Is there other research going on, on this remarkable herbal formulas because, clearly, this ought to be trumpeted around the world.
Dr. Sharma: Oh, yes. Apart from the U.S., research is going on in India, in Russia also, in Japan, in Holland, in various places around the world. And it’s really fascinating. Some clinical work is being conducted on heart disorders also. Amrit Kalash helps prevent heart disease. It helps prevent arteriosclerosis, the hardening of blood vessels. And if somebody has angina, pain in the heart on walking or some other activity, it reduces that pain, and increases the work activity of the heart. So that’s why I think Amrit Kalash has a much more far-reaching effect than a lot of herbal mixtures I know of and any pharmaceutical I know of. Without any toxic effects.
Q: I’m fascinated because, in 1977, I went on ABC News 20/20 show to talk about the research on St. John’s Wort which was very exciting, electrifying, to Americans at that point. Last year, in 1998, I went back on ABC News 20/20 and talked about Kava-Kava which is a natural tranquilizer. But, clearly, the research you’re telling us about on Maharishi Amrit Kalash is much more exciting, is much more profound, has much larger implications than even St. John’s Wort and Kava-Kava because it really applies to staying healthy and avoiding disease. Why aren’t we seeing this on the front page of the New York Times, and where people are informed of an exciting opportunity to practice prevention-oriented medicine at its very best?
Dr Sharma: Yes. Well, I think it’s because experts like you have talked about Kava-Kava and St. John’s Wort. We have not talked about Amrit Kalash. The time has come for you to go on ABC and NBC and CBS and talk about Maharishi Amrit Kalash.
Q: Well, I’ll do that with you. Because it is time, you’re quite right. Can you tell us more about any studies that have been done on Amrit and the brain? Dr. S: Yes, there is some excellent work which we did on Amrit and the brain. We made microsomes from the brain cells and then tested whether we could prevent the oxidant damage, the free radical damage, and we found Amrit prevented that. So Amrit definitely has an effect in the prevention of ongoing damage to the brain itself.
Q: There is a mixture I’ve heard about here in America.. It can be found in Indian grocery stores, called Chavanprash. Is that the same thing as Amrit or is it different?
Dr. Sharma: Chavanprash is not the same thing as Amrit. A lot of people get confused that anything which is a paste and looks dark and brown in nature must be Amrit. That’s what Chavanprash looks like, but this does not make it the same as Amrit. Chavanprash is a nice mixture, it’s an Ayurvedic mixture. I have no problem with that. Chavanprash is usually given in India in the winter because it helps prevent colds and coughs. So it is good for that. However, I’m not aware of any kind of extensive research which has been done on Chavanprash which details the same kind of benefits that we see in the scientific research done on Amrit.
Also, the herbs which are in Amrit Kalash are not in Chavanprash. There may be one or two which are common, but basically they are different mixtures. And many of the mixtures you see marketed as Chavanprash are not actually the traditional formula for this mixture as many of the ingredients detailed in the ayurvedic texts are very hard to locate so the manufacturer’s substitute other cheaper, less effective ingredients. Basically Chavanprash and Amrit Kalash are two very different herbal mixtures and Amrit has much wider effects which have been validated scientifically.
Q: So for someone who really wants to have the scientifically researched holistic benefits, then Amrit Kalash is the way to go?
Dr. Sharma: That’s right. That would be my first choice.
Q: Can you describe to us a little bit more how an individual would take Amrit. I mean, I’m thinking about our listeners. How would the average person know that they’re getting quality Amrit? And how would you go about taking it? And how soon could you expect results?
Dr Sharma: Let me talk a little bit about some research we did, then I’ll tell you the dose and all that. At Ohio State, we had a whole division working on research on high lipids. As you know, the whole nation is talking about high blood lipids and high cholesterol. And one of the main factors involved is that cholesterol causes a great deal of damage when it gets oxidized, when the fat becomes rancid. Just like in a car, the oil becomes bad. That’s why we change the oil, because it will damage the engine. So one of the things which has to be done when somebody’s lipids are high is to prevent oxidation of that lipid, oxidation of that cholesterol. We put patients with high lipids on Amrit to see what the effect would be. Usually when you do a study like this, you get 20 percent positive results, maybe 30 percent. If you get 40 percent, you feel really excited that a lot of things are happening. In the Amrit study, in three months, every patient was showing a very significant, positive antioxidant effect.
Q: Every patient?
Dr. Sharma: Every patient. Which I’ve never seen really. You normally don’t get 100 percent results. This was 100 percent success. We published all that work. And during this work, we had a placebo group and a group which was taking Amrit. The problem which arose was that the placebo group found out that Amrit was very effective, then we couldn’t keep the placebo group. Because they will go and buy it themselves and start taking it! So, the participants acted as their own control in this study. We compared their oxidation of lipids before they started Amrit, to the results after they had been on Amrit. Now, coming to the dose of Amrit. There are two forms of Amrit. One is a tablet and one is paste. The name is the same — Amrit Kalash — but the two are not the same thing. They are mixtures of different herbs. We have used in our research the name MAK-4 for the paste (or Maharishi Amrit Kalash Nectar) and MAK-5 for the tablets (or Maharishi Amrit Kalash Ambrosia). And they are both very powerful.
Q: They’re different herbs literally?
Dr Sharma: They are different herbs. MAK5 (Ambrosia) is one mixture of herbs and MAK4 (Nectar) is a different mixture. The basic difference, apart from the herbs, the MAK4 also contains clarified butter (Ghee) and honey and whole cane sugar. And it’s a powerful mixture. The dose is one teaspoon twice a day for this paste. Some people like the taste and some people have trouble with the taste because of the herbs. But most people get used to it. To help with taking the paste, you can mix it with water or with juice or with milk or with tea or coffee or whatever. The dose of MAK-5 (Ambrosia) is one tablet twice a day.
When you’re looking for the results of taking Amrit, remember that it is not working on the level of the emotions, so you won’t feel any highs or lows or anything like that. We did a survey of 60 or 100 individuals who had been taking Amrit for more than six months. We also did blood tests to see if there were any toxic effects. We did not find any toxic effects. We did biochemical tests for the whole body — for the liver, for the pancreas, for the kidney — everything was normal. What we found very interesting was that those people who had been taking Amrit felt, in general, more healthy. And they did not get sick. Usually people get a cold, a cough, or a minor sickness here and there. They didn’t. Or if they did get something, they recovered from that illness very quickly. And they felt that, overall, their sense of well-being and health was much better.
And we know, from the research, that when you take Amrit, you help improve your immunity, you help improve your overall body functions, you help prevent cancer, and you help prevent heart disease. This we know from experiments we have conducted. Also, clinical studies on patients show that overall health is much better. So Amrit is really taken as an anti-aging agent. Amrit is not just vitamins, it’s not just minerals, it’s much more than that. So Amrit is not a kind of replacement for taking vitamins and minerals. It is something else which is needed in the highly stressful and highly polluted environment in which we live.
Q: Which is what we have in America.
Dr Sharma: That’s right.
Part Two of an Interview With Author of Freedm From Disease
Amrit, High Blood Lipids and High Cholesterol
This issue continues the interview of the herbal research pioneer and author of Freedom from Disease, Hari Sharma, M.D. (listed below as Dr. S)
Q: I’m so curious. When you discovered that Maharishi Amrit Kalash is a thousand times more powerful antioxidant than vitamins C or E, how did your colleagues at the Ohio State University College of Medicine respond to what is really a remarkable discovery?
Dr. Sharma: Well, we did this work when people were really not into free radicals or antioxidants. So we knew that we were way ahead of time and this thing is going to come out some time in the future. Now you hear about antioxidants, at that time when I was talking about antioxidants and free radicals scientists pooh-poohed it as not that important. Now you’re finding out it’s very important.
Q: You were truly ahead of your time.
Dr. Sharma: Yes. That’s what happened.
Q: You mentioned that Amrit contains ghee or clarified butter, as well as some sugar. Some Americans would find that confusing because they usually associate butter and sugar with disease, as opposed to promoting health. Can you explain that?
Dr. Sharma: Yes. That’s a very good question. Now, the ghee is clarified butter, so it is not seen as butter, because the way it is prepared — it’s a long process — but basically, you heat it and you filter it. The material which rises to the surface is discarded, so the rest of the material that is left is the ghee. Which, when you use these herbs with ghee, it facilitates the entrance of the herbs to the inside the cells. So activity is much more enhanced. And you’re not using a large amount of ghee, and we have tested that Amrit Kalash does not increase the cholesterol. It does not increase the blood lipid. So people should know, if this is one concern they have.
Q: What about the sugar in Amrit.
Dr. Sharma: The sugar is used so Amrit can remain at room temperature. You don’t have to refrigerate it. The second quality of sugar is that it acts as a carrier to help facilitate the assimilation of the herbs by the body. The sugar also acts as an antioxidant.
Dr. Sharma: The only thing is, those who have diabetes should not take the paste because it contains the sugar. And for them, I think they have this preparation which is without sugar. The same formula but with no sugar which comes in capsules.
Q: Dr. Sharma, can you explain to our listeners exactly how Amrit can strengthen the immune system, and would Amrit, therefore be valuable for people who are simply interested in preventing the common cold from other who have AIDS and are looking for some other additional benefits?
Dr. Sharma: Yes. We did these tests on animals, and they were repeated in Kansas City and also Indiana and then also in, I think, Tokyo, Japan. So several studies have been done on immunity. With the immune system, we have cells and the plasma. Plasma contains the antibodies which are dissolved. Basically, what they found was that the capacity of the cells increases. So there’s immune enhancement between two to four times. And when the cells are stimulated by some foreign antigen or attacker, then the response is much more profound as compared to those who are not taking Amrit.
Q: And when you say much more profound, on what level of magnitude are we talking about?
Dr. Sharma: At least two to four times higher. But if you just count the immune cells in a person who is taking Amrit and one who is not taking Amrit, you won’t find any difference. But if the cells are challenged, then you find the difference. So they maintain normal status, but if something comes up, the person who is taking Amrit, his body reacts in a very strong way to prevent the attack of the foreign agents.
Q: Dr. Sharma, I’m amazed, how can one formula have all of these health benefits — on the heart, in preventing cancer, the effect of chemotherapy — how is that possible?
Dr. Sharma: That’s a very good question. This comes up from time to time. Remember when we talked about free radicals being involved in more than 90 percent of disorders, either initiating or promoting disease?
Dr. Sharma: If we have something which can balance these free radicals, prevent the increased production of free radicals, then we should see beneficial effects in a large number of diseases. Now, when you test antioxidants, free radical negating effects of different herbs, most of the people, when they talk about effects, are talking about test tube results. We did the tests in the test tube, then we did the tests on animals, then we did the tests on the whole human body also. We did clinical research. We have tested the whole way through, from the very basic side all the way to the clinical side.
I think the basic underlying mechanism is preventing the increased production of free radicals. Because if you do that, you wipe out most of the problem—free radicals are involved in cancer, they’re involved with heart disease, they’re involved in chemotherapy, they’re involved in immunity. It is a very powerful common theme in all these areas, which is free radicals. But apart from that, I think it has other effects also, which have not been investigated yet.
Q: When we say that Amrit is a thousand times more powerful an antioxidant than vitamins C or E, can you clarify that? Are we talking about per unit of weight? Are we talking about compared to a standard does of vitamin C, say 1000 milligrams, or 400 units of vitamin E? In other words, what’s the comparison?
Dr. Sharma: Obviously these tests were in a test tube to test the antioxidant effect of Amrit and vitamin C, vitamin E and there were some pharmaceutical drugs also which were tested. And, finally, after testing, we dried each one of these mixtures to make a powder. And then took the weight. Then we compared weight to weight mixtures.
Q: I see. So it’s per unit of weight?
Dr. Sharma: Per unit of weight, that’s right. And per unit of weight, you take a very little amount of Amrit which will have such a powerful effect as compared to other things which are available.
Q: Fantastic. And of course, that’s a very practical measure because when people are taking, say, vitamin C or vitamin E tablets on a daily basis, they could be taking equal weight of the vitamin or an equal weight amount of Amrit Kalash and with Amrit be getting a thousand times more antioxidant power. But the question I have is, would you therefore recommend that people who are taking Amrit, that they no longer need to take any vitamins?
Dr. Sharma: No. Vitamins, in general, have some other role. So I cannot say that you should not take vitamins. But if you compare the activity of vitamin C or E as antioxidants, with Amrit — if you are taking those things as antioxidants, you don’t need to take them.
One other thing which we did not talk about is that antioxidant effects, fighting free radicals, occurs outside the cell and inside the cell. Now, inside the cell, you have to go through the cell membrane which is made of fat. But you would have to have a fat soluble mixture which can go inside. On the outside of the cell you need a water soluble mixture. So when you talk about vitamin C, it is only water soluble so it can only help with the free radicals which are outside the cell. And when you talk about vitamin E, it is only lipid soluble, fat soluble so it can only help with free radicals inside the cell. But the Amrit mixture has both antioxidants, both water soluable and lipid soluable. So it gives the total spectrum of antioxidant effect. It works outside the cell, it works inside the cell. That is why is has such wide-ranging effects.
Q: I understand that there are different classes of antioxidants, and that we can benefit from having a broad spectrum antioxidant. Is Amrit a broad spectrum antioxidant?
Dr. Sharma: Yes. It is the broadest spectrum antioxidant I know of. Because it works both on water soluable and lipid soluable. It’s very powerful because it’s a mixture of a large number of different bioflavenoids. These are the chemicals which are present in the plants.
Q: Excellent. With the kind of research that you’ve shown on Amrit Kalash — a thousand times more powerful as an antioxidant than vitamins C or E — have you been approached by the pharmaceutical companies? Because usually they’re looking for this kind of breakthrough product.
Dr. Sharma: You’re absolutely right. They are basically opposed to it. And the reason is because this kind of preparation they cannot patent, because it’s a natural preparation. They would like to really isolate the active ingredient. And there’s not a single active ingredient in Maharishi Amrit Kalash because it’s a mixture of different nutrients which are working in synergy. So you cannot really isolate one thing and use it. So basically, that’s why they really are not interested.
Initially, I tell you, about ten or fifteen years ago when people heard of Amrit at a conference, there were some specialists, some investigators from a major drug company. I’m not going to name it. And they were very excited. And I asked them, “You will be interested in research on this?” He said, “No, no, no. We are not interested in research. And as a matter of fact, if this thing becomes big, we’ll try to see that this thing is no good. Because if it really becomes a competitor, then we’ll try to fight it out. But I think times have changed.
Q: Hopefully. Hopefully, consciousness-based living is on the rise. Can you describe for us how Amrit Kalash is prepared? Because people have concerns sometimes, perhaps that India does not have state-of-the-art production methods in terms of how the herbs are cultivated and then refined and that the product is made with modern manufacturing standards.
Dr. Sharma: I think that’s a very good question. I’ve been there in the manufacturing plant where it is in India. And this area in India is an export zone. Whatever is being manufactured there goes outside the country. It is not consumed by the country. So there are very strictly monitored quality control measures there. And all these different herbs, when they’re collected, when they come into the manufacturing plant, each one is identified by a herbalist, by a botanist, to make sure this is the herb they are looking for, and it’s the proper part of the plant. If it’s not, it is discarded. The herbs are also tested for contamination by bacteria and heavy metals. Because if they find contamination, they discard it.
Then they are also tested by this HPLC chemical process to make sure the different chemicals are there in the herbs. When the herbs pass all these parameters, then they go through the process.
As far as the technology and equipment is concerned, they have state-of-the-art equipment. They imported the equipment from outside the country, and they manufacture under hygienic conditions and they have a very strict quality control. I know of different companies which are manufacturing ayurvedic mixtures, and I think the MAPI facilities are the best.
When it comes to the North American consumer, it’s tested again here in the US for heavy metals and bacterial contamination to make sure everything is proper. Otherwise it will not pass, even, through the FDA and the customs department. And then it is of course distributed here by MAPI.
Q: Magic wand for the moment. If every person in America was taking Amrit on a daily basis, what kind of changes would we see in American health care?
Dr. Sharma: I think you would see a tremendous change. However, f you really wanted to see a change in health, we would have to do more than just take Amrit.
Q: Of course.
Dr. Sharma: We would need to also change our behavior. We would need to do something for the mind also — like meditation for which I think Transcendental Meditation is very good. But Amrit alone will change a lot for the health of the people who take it. Because it has a lot of good qualities in a variety of different areas.
Q: That’s great. And what has been the history of Amrit? Were there people who lived into their hundreds practicing meditation and taking Amrit on a daily basis?
Dr. Sharma: Yes. Those who did really all these things, they lived a long life. But at the same time, people say, you go to India, people are dropping dead all the time. The thing is they are not practicing these things in every day India. So you cannot hold India up as an example of these things because unless people practice authentic, ayurveda they cannot reap the benefits.
Q: That’s really an important distinction because you’re quite right. Americans look over at India and they say, “But aren’t these people doing the ayurvedic practices that are being talked about?” And what you’re saying is that, to a very large degree, they are not?
Dr. Sharma: They’re not.
Q: Right. And that this knowledge of Ayurveda has really only recently come back into its wholeness and its purity.
Dr. Sharma: That’s right. It is very important to really give out this knowledge to as large a number of people as possible so they know what is available. If they don’t know, they’re missing the whole thing.
Q: Dr Sharma, you grew up in India and I understand that you had your training in western medicine. But as a child, did you show any interest in ayurveda? and the ayurveda that you were exposed to, is this the ayurveda that now is becoming so popular in this country?
Dr. Sharma: It’s a very interesting thing. When I was growing up, I was really taken over by the western medical system. And that was my total education. And I was introduced to ayurveda because ayurvedic physicians are all over India. My father-in-law was an ayurvedic physician. And when I was in medical school, he tried to teach me, but I sort of ignored it. So I didn’t learn anything.
And it’s only after I came in contact with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation program, that I learned a lot about ayurveda and vedic medicine. Then I did a lot of research. The effect is total transformation. Now, I’ve given up allopathic (Western) medicine completely. I was learning all those things at Ohio State and gave it up. So I took early retirement to do work full-time in ayurvedic medicine.
Q: And so you’re now continuing to explore, both personally and professionally, ayurvedic medicine.
Dr. Sharma: Yes
Q: Wonderful. Very exciting. Hopefully that will be the future of medicine in America, that more and more allopathic physicians get training in ayurvedic medicine.
Dr. Sharma: I hope so.
Q: When you give lectures are people in North America really interested in this knowledge?
Dr. Sharma: The interest in ayurveda is really rising. I mean, all the conferences I’m involved in giving, and there are more and more people coming to those conferences, more physicians and more interest.
Q: When you address physician groups across the country and let them know about the research on Amrit, how do they respond? Are they interested? Are they excited? Do they want to see their patients, whose health they are charged with, taking Amrit on a daily basis? What’s the pulse of the medical profession?
Dr. Sharma: They want to know where they can get it.
The one thing is they want to get it for their family, and then comes the patients. I think, when the knowledge is there, and they know the importance and the scientific basis, they want to have it, and they want to give it to their patients too.
Q: How many people in the United Sates, do you estimate, are currently taking Amrit Kalash on a daily basis?
Dr. Sharma: To tell you the truth, I have absolutely no idea.
Because it’d be fascinating to compare that group over time, a kind of Framingham study, to controls of the same age, and follow the morbidity and mortality.
Dr. Sharma: That would be a fascinating study. But a long term study like that is quite expensive.
Q: I’m trying to picture your days at the Ohio State College of Medicine. I know how conservative that medical schools and medical universities can be, and here you are, a professor of pathology and director of cancer prevention, and you say that you want to start researching Maharishi Amrit Kalash. That must have raised a few eyebrows. Did you get much resistance to your research proposals?
Dr. Sharma: I think, in general, there was resistance not only at Ohio State, but at every other place. But I must say that Ohio State left me alone because I was interested in investigating. And if you’re investigating something, they don’t really concern themselves with what you’re doing as far as the research. But the other researchers, they were talking behind my back that he’s gone off the deep end. He has done all this work for all of his life, he has a nice career, and now he’s working on this. They were concerned and they were sort of laughing behind my back. But when the results started coming, very good results, then they stopped talking behind my back. And when the results got published, then they wanted to join the team.
Now, the publication of this material was not easy, I can tell you that. When the results came out, I had to literally pick up the phone and fight with the editors because they were not prepared to publish it. The first thing was, “Well, it’s not allopathic medicine. It’s herbal medicine. This is not in our field, so we cannot publish it. So it took some time, after fighting, that these things got published. The same thing happened with presentations also. And now you have all these alternative medicine journals and all that. So a lot of things have changed. But it was, initially, not an easy thing to do research in herbal mixtures. And, even if you find something, it was not easy to get it published.
Q: Right. Well, on behalf of American medicine and the general public, I thank you for persisting because, really, you set the standard no only for researching ayurvedic medicine, but also, really, ushering in the herbal medicine revolution in this country. And it’s easy to forget how way out there you must have been perceived in coming up with such a radical answer to free radicals.
Dr. Sharma: Thank you.
Q: Let me have you step back for a moment and perhaps you and I can dialogue about where the future of medicine is going. You know, what we hear about is still mainly in terms of high-tech, the gene-nome project, organ transplantation, but what do you see as the future of medicine, and where we can be in the next century, in the new millennium?
Dr. Sharma: I think where medicine is really going to go forward now is in those areas it is receiving pressure from the consumers. And consumers are basically not very happy with what is going on. I know it’s high-tech medicine and there are a lot of pharmaceuticals, but the outcome is results. And the results show the diseases which were really giving a lot of trouble before, are still there. Also, many of the pharmaceuticals cause other problems. And the only way to come out of this rut, in my opinion, is to have a medicine based on consciousness. If the underlying mechanism is based on consciousness, from which everything comes out, and if we have that knowledge and then introduce that knowledge into the medical system. That is the future of medicine. And slowly but surely, I think it will get incorporated. I mean, in your field, you know psychiatry has changed, and more and more people are now interested in mind-body medicine. More people are jumping into this.
Q: You know, it’s interesting. Most of the potent medicines that we had even in the allopathic tradition are plant-derived, whether we’re talking about aspirin which comes from the bark of the white willow tree, or penicillin which is mold, a primitive plant-like structure, or digitalis, digoxins are coming from the foxglove plant, tomoxifen coming from a tree in the great northwest. Plants have always been a significant source of healing. And, certainly, 80 percent of the world still relies on herbal products for healing disease.
It seems new to most Americans because we have been sold such a bill of goods by the pharmaceutical companies who have been looking to isolate magic bullets, so to speak. But the future of medicine, I think, is going to come back to a realignment with Mother Nature once again, including our diets having less fat, highly processed foods, and more fruits and vegetables. And ayurvedic tradition pays a great deal of attention to various spices and foods that are important with the change of seasons and with optimizing health.
And the other shift I think we’re going to see in the medicine of the millennium is the medicine of optimum health. How do we recreate individuals who can live at their full human potential? And I certainly have been excited for the last 30 years about the research on the Transcendental Meditation technique, which has been researched in over 600 universities around the world in over 26 countries. And with research and science, the Scientific American, the American Journal of Physiology, showing that it produces a very unique state of restful alertness, a state of consciousness, transcendental consciousness that has profound health benefits. And we will see more and more Americans looking to practice transcendental meditation on a twice daily basis, turning to ayurvedic medicine, to help them stay in an optimal state of well-being so they will need less medical care during their lifetime.
Dr. Sharma: Very nicely put. I totally agree with you.
Q: It’s been my great pleasure to have as our guest today Dr. Hari Sharma, a professor emeritus at the Ohio State University College of Medicine, a professor of pathology and former director of the cancer prevention and natural products research, who has been one of the leading scientists and researchers of the herbal medicine revolution.