Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication

People claim so many things. That they can" cure" cancer with Yoga and also all life style diseases.

If they come from 'Yoga gurus' we can think they are working to earn their living by hoodwinking people. 

But if these claims come from highly qualified people of science? I faced one such situation recently.

This is the conversation that took place between the person (GP), another professor (SR) and me:

I posted this report on a social network 

Researchers take step toward using cellular motion to help wound healing

With a technique that overcomes cells' innate social behaviours, researchers have taken an important step in directing skin cells to migrate en masse to close wounds—"literally making skin crawl".

In a new study, the researchers overcame the inertia typical of mature skin tissue by breaking the molecular connections between cells, applying an electrical field to direct their migration and then rebuilding the connections. This novel approach improves the controllability of tissues and may one day help optimize wound healing through electrical stimulation.

Research showed that cells in the body can sense and follow an electric field, a process called electrotaxis. Electric fields generated in the body promote healing by directing cells to move toward the wound and are also vital for growth and development.

Gawoon Shim et al, Overriding native cell coordination enhances external programming of collective cell migration, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2021). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2101352118

 And this was this person's (GP) reply: "All these kinds of things  happen when we indulge ourselves in some kind of physical activity everyday and the best thing would be yoga. yoga cures all kinds of disturbances  in the cells, tissues, organs, systems and ultimately in the whole body. The paper you mentioned  is one explanation of umpteen number of metabolic processes that take place in our body".

I was shocked and said , "What?!"

Then he changed the subject and said, "This is a splendid research indeed, kudos to Krishan Kumari garu".

Then another professor said (SR),  " If yoga cures all problems in the body  why should we spend billions of dollars on medical research and findings?  It is absurd . Yoga is only one method of keeping you active."

Then I said this:  

Not all yoga is bad but some extra-ordinary claims by yoga practitioners made main stream science debunk its claims

Yoga has sometimes been marketed with pseudo-scientific claims for specific benefits, when it may be no better than other forms of exercise in those cases.

Some postures such as headstandshoulderstand, and lotus position have been reported as causes of injury (1). Yoga is also used directly as therapy, especially for psychological conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, but the evidence for this remains weak. Some claims for its effects on particular organs, such as that forward bends eject toxins from the liver, are entirely unfounded. Yoga can raise carbon dioxide levels in the blood (hypercapnia) (2,3,4).

It is possible that yoga's benefits are just what any form of exercise would provide, generically.

Also read this answer that gives a good analysis: Emmanuel Yong's answer to Is Yoga a pseudoscience?

If you say something, you should also provide evidence for it. Like they say extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence.

Yoga might be beneficial like any other exercises. That ‘s it. Nothing more and nothing less. If you say there is more to it, and refuse to provide evidence but just try to argue endlessly, you will be marked as a pseudo-scientist.

I hope you understand this.


  1. Newcombe, Suzanne (2017). "The Revival of Yoga in Contemporary India" (PDF). Religion. Oxford Research Encyclopedias. 1doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199340378.013.253ISBN 9780199340378.
  2. Pascoe, Michaela C.; Bauer, Isabelle E. (1 September 2015). "A systematic review of randomised control trials on the effects of yoga on stress measures and mood". Journal of Psychiatric Research68: 270–282. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2015.07.013PMID 26228429.
  3. Jump up to:a b Cramer, Holger; Anheyer, Dennis; Lauche, Romy; Dobos, Gustav (2017). "A systematic review of yoga for major depressive disorder". Journal of Affective Disorders213: 70–77. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2017.02.006hdl:10453/79255ISSN 0165-0327PMID 28192737.
  4. Jump up to:a b Cramer, Holger; Lauche, Romy; Haller, Heidemarie; Dobos, Gustav (2013). "A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Yoga for Low Back Pain"The Clinical Journal of Pain29 (5): 450–460. doi:10.1097/AJP.0b013e31825e1492PMID 23246998.

    Then this person (GP) gave this reply to the professor (SR), not to me: Sir, don't jump at conclusions based on scanty understanding of yoga. There are many types of yoga. I will talk to you tomorrow personally. All life style diseases  along with a host of many more problems can be completely cured except genetic diseases through the practice of appropriate yoga.  in the West, medicine and pharmacy put together trillions  of dollar business. I had my post doctoral training in molecular genetics  at  the Johns  Hopkins University school of medicine. I am quite aware of what I am talking . I practice kriya yoga and have enough theoretical knowledge about yoga.  I agree many of the yoga gurus  do not understand  the medical scientific processes behind yoga  and many of them know what they know. Most probably  you have not  met any of the great gurus and that was  the reason you are having that kind of opinion I will talk to you tomorrow.

I was annoyed because I was removed from the scene. This person didn't want to deal with the uncomfortable questions I pose. So he wanted to talk to others 'privately' . Doesn't matter.

But let me analyse what this GP said.

First where you studied, what your qualifications don't matter much in science, what matters is whether you are sticking to the scientific method or not. But this person instead of giving evidence to what he said is trying to escape by flashing his qualifications and his university! But I refuse to consider them and fall into his trap. 

Moreover, some people give weightage to the qualifications and institutions instead of genuine work  and ignore evidence while dealing with such people as this person who are from highly prestigious institutions. But I am not such a person.

Second, this person never gave any evidence in support of his words! Mere words don't suffice in science.

Third, Perception is a strange thing. You might be practicing some sort of yoga but this person's  perception that yoga 'cures' all life style diseases is based on his assumption, not on evidence based facts. 

Anecdotal evidence doesn't prove anything at all because it is the least form of evidence. If somebody just says yoga can cure diseases or cured them of their health conditions, that isn't genuine evidence and I, like other scientists, refuse to accept this anecdotal evidence just based on one's perception.

Read here about kriya yoga this person mentioned:

And one Yoga guru told me this: Yoga is based on a theory that cannot be validly tested by the methods of science. Hence many rigorous scientists do not accept it as a science.

What are life style diseases? 

Lifestyle diseases can be defined as diseases linked with ones lifestyle. No diseases are non-communicable diseases. They are caused by lack of physical activity, unhealthy eatingalcoholsubstance use disorders and smoking tobacco, which can lead to heart diseasestrokeobesitytype II diabetes and some  cancers. The diseases that appear to increase in frequency as countries become more industrialized and people live longer include Alzheimer's diseasearthritisatherosclerosisasthmacancerchronic liver disease or cirrhosischronic obstructive pulmonary diseasecolitisirritable bowel syndrometype 2 diabetesheart diseasehypertensionmetabolic syndromechronic kidney failureosteoporosisPCODstrokedepressionobesity and vascular dementia.

Can yoga cure diseases? The jury is still out, say experts

Claims that yoga can cure diseases like diabetes and thyroid are not backed by robust scientific evidence.
When some Yoga gurus issued an ad in leading English daily citing the scientific benefits of Yoga saying that diseases like diabetes, thyroid, asthma and even cancer “can not only just be controlled but even be cured” by Yoga there wasn’t enough actual science backing the claim.

Addressing reporters on the eve of International Yoga Day, director of AIIMS, Randeep Guleria, unpacked the message: Yoga is good.

“To say Yoga karo is not good enough,” Dr Guleria explained. Yoga is now increasingly recognised as a way to prevent and manage diseases not cure diseases, he said.

The message spread by some of these people  has to be refined, according to experts.

Dr Rohit Bhatia who is heading the study asserted that even for the research the participants would continue to receive their regular medication and Yoga was only seen as an addition to their regime. Studying if yoga alone can help to manage the diseases is the next step.

In fact, doctors point out that relying on yoga alone can have an opposite effect than what is intended. We get several cases of people who stop their regular medication and switch to Yoga, and end up back in the hospital in a worse condition, Dr Guleria said.

What regular practice of yoga can do is help patients reach a stage where their requirement of medicines decreases. Yoga regimes also need to be customised to deal with particular diseases. “We need to develop protocols that will help in the management of specific diseases,” Dr Guleria said.

Research on the benefits of yoga started as far back as 1957 in India when doctors tested claims made by Yogis like the fact that they could stop their hearts. These turned out to be untrue There has not been as much acceptance because a robust and systematic body of medical evidence to support claims has not existed. “The challenge is to show proper evidence based on scientific data” Dr Guleria said, “and to explain the mechanism through which Yoga helps.”

And cancer specialists say this: 

Yoga cannot cure cancer or other chronic illnesses, nor should it ever be used by itself to treat any medical condition or delay treatment.

If anybody wants to counter this they can but only by using scientific methods and by providing solid evidence. I don't deal with opinions and pseudo-science. 

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