University of Rochester

Speaker Discusses Holistic Medical Practices from India

December 1, 1998

More patients are seeking help outside of what Westerners consider the medical mainstream, exploring "alternative medicine" that for hundreds of years was the medical mainstream. The Journal of the American Medical Association, for example, in an issue devoted to alternative medicine last month, reported that 42.1 percent of Americans used therapies outside of mainstream medicine in 1997.

Ayurvedic practitioner Sonam Targee will discuss what is probably the oldest recorded healing science at 7 p.m. Tuesday, December 8, in the Welles-Brown Room of Rush Rhees Library on the University of Rochester River Campus. He'll talk about Ayurvedic medicine, a 5,000-year-old tradition from India.

Ayurveda, which comes from two Sanskrit root words, "ayur" (life) and "veda" (knowledge), looks at each person as a unique individual for whom health maintenance encompasses diet, natural therapies, and herbs according to body type. Ayurvedic medicine places equal emphasis on body, mind, and spirit, and strives to restore the innate harmony of the individual.

Targee has a private practice in Rochester. This past semester he gave lectures and demonstrations as part of a new course in the Department of Religion and Classics titled "Medicine, Alchemy and Religion in India." He also has lectured at the University's School of Medicine and Dentistry and the School of Nursing and has given presentations at yoga centers and other local colleges.

In his talk Targee will discuss the basic Ayurvedic concepts of elements, doshas and dhatus. According to Ayurvedic philosophy, the entire cosmos is an interplay of the energies of five elements: space, air, fire, water, and earth. The functions of the body are governed by three "doshas," combinations of these elements that are unique to each individual. The body is further composed of seven "dhatus," (tissues). Disease is a condition of disharmony is any of these factors.

Targee will also compare Ayurvedic medicine with traditional Chinese medicine and with Western allopathic medicine, which tends to focus on symptomalogy and disease.

Targee is a graduate of the New England School of Acupuncture. He is a student of Dr. Vasant Lad, founder of the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, N.M., and has also studied Tibetan medicine with Yeshi Dhonden, the personal physician to the Dalai Lama.