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Tea Leaves

Road testing Ayurvedic medicine

India's ancient 'science of life' demands persistence as well as faith

Ayurveda shifts the emphasis away from diseased-based treatments like surgery and drugs by prescribing exercise and massage. (Photo by Four Seasons)

Ayurvedic medicine, one of a handful of ancient medical systems that are still practiced today, serves as the first line of defense against illness for more than 1 billion people on the Indian subcontinent. But is it a "silver bullet" that could relieve the rapidly rising cost of caring for the world's aging population?

Western medical experts say "no," arguing that Ayurveda's replacement of surgery and drugs with exercise, herbal remedies, massage and dietary advice can be ineffective or even dangerous.

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