Amrit helps everything from chronic ear infections to chemotherapy fatigue
An insightful interview on Amrit with Dr. Steven Thibault
In this special newsletter, we interview Dr. Steven Thibault, who practices family medicine in Shelby Township, Michigan. Dr. Thibault has received training in Maharishi Ayurveda and has incorporated it into his practice.
Q: Can you begin by telling us a little about yourself?
Dr. Thibault: I grew up in a small suburb near Detroit, Michigan, on an acre of property right on the water. I went to high school in Anchor Bay, about 50 miles outside of Detroit, and obtained my Bachelor's degree in Science at Wayne State University. After that, I spent one semester of research in California with Dr. Ron Chevnic, who did some of the pioneering research in Transcendental Meditation® and blood lactate levels. Then I went to medical school at the American University of the Caribbean. After that, I returned to Michigan to do my family practice residency at the Bon Secours Hospital in Grosse Pointe.
Q: How and when did you first hear about Maharishi Ayurveda?
Dr. Thibault: I think I was 18 years old when Maharishi Ayurveda was presented to the public. The reason I remember is because I was living in California doing the research with Dr. Chevnic. That was before I went to medical school. And I remember saying to my uncle that someday I hoped to have my own medical practice where I could combine the knowledge of modern medicine with the ancient wisdom of ayurveda. But it actually wasn't until a few years ago that I was actually able to go through the formal training for Maharishi Ayurveda and start practicing it.
Q: How would you describe Maharishi Ayurveda?
Dr. Thibault: I'm asked that question almost every day. Patients say, "What is this ayurveda thing?" And what I tell them is this: Maharishi Ayurveda is actually a system of medicine, but it is much more than that. It is a holistic, preventative, comprehensive approach to health. We talk about medicine in the context of some form of disease or illness, and when we talk about health, we generally imply lack of disease. So in this case, as I describe it to my patients, I make sure that I tell them, "Yes, we treat your individual problems. However, much of the knowledge will allow you to prevent the problems from developing in the first place."
Q: Does your practice of ayurveda interfere with your practice of modern medicine?
Dr. Thibault: Not at all. It does not interfere; it actually gives me much more insight into modern medicine. If you lined up 100 physicians, all would agree about one thing: that once they gained the limited knowledge that Western medicine had to present, at one point, all of them were somewhat disappointed. And I've talked to many of my colleagues. They agree that we weren't actually given the magic bullet, so to speak. You think you're going to receive this infallible knowledge and that you'll actually be able to do a lot with it. Truthfully, we don't do a whole lot with it. What we do with our knowledge of Western medicine is just react — react to a situation, and that's it. Sometimes that reaction is helpful, sometimes it does nothing, and many times it makes things worse.
So to answer your question about whether ayurveda interferes with my practice of modern medicine: No. What it does is, it puts Western medicine in its own context. There's knowledge in modern medicine, and a lot of it is very useful. But it's an uncoordinated use. Also, it's very clumsy in its approach. It just doesn't take enough into account. In ayurveda, however, we fill in all those gaps. We actually look at health in a way that makes much more sense. Actually, ever since I've trained formally in Maharishi Ayurveda, it has made my knowledge and practice of Western medicine so much more appropriate. I take more into account now than I used to. When I talk to my patients now, I consider their disposition, their physiology — I take the season into account, and their daily routine. Therefore, when I make a decision about the course of treatment, it's a more informed decision.
Q: Can you think of an example?
Dr. Thibault: Absolutely. You know, this time of the year in Michigan, many patients come to me with infections of the upper respiratory tract, sinus congestion and a number of allergy symptoms. And sometimes, it just helps to know what current medication they're taking. For instance, let us imagine that I see someone who has a grossly unbalanced Vata in their physiology, or they have a strong Vata disposition. I know immediately that they'll be very sensitive to some medicines like antihistamine decongestants that contain stimulants. So, I'll either prescribe a lesser dose of that medicine, or lower its potency. Or I'll use a different medicine, knowing already that they're going to tolerate it better. So it could be something that simple. You know, people with a Vata-type physiology tend to lack appetite when they're ill. They also have problems with restless sleep — the mind tends to work overtime. So stimulants in their medicines will only aggravate that situation. This knowledge allows me to understand how people respond to various chemicals, and fine-tune my approach to their treatment.
Q: That's wonderful.
Dr. Thibault: I know it works, because I can see the results. It could be something as simple as asking patients to drink warm water throughout the day. And when they come back and I do the follow-up, they seem better and feel better. So, if both the physician and the patients get a positive, favorable response from the approach, it's working, isn't it?
Q: How do your patients respond to Maharishi Ayurveda?
Dr. Thibault: Initially, when I started, I would suggest a simple ayurvedic remedy for a problem, and my patients would look at me as if I'd said something ridiculous. But I urged them to trust me. Just try it for 4 or 5 days — try sipping warm water all day. And you know, they came back and said, "You know Doc, you were right about that." But it's not so hard to point them in that direction. Many times, when you make these suggestions, the patients have already heard about them. It's not enough to just tell them to drink fluids — in Western medicine every physician tells his patients to do it. It's almost a reflex. You have to ease them gently into it — one simple health-giving tip at a time.
Q: How do you broach the subject of Maharishi Ayurveda with your patients?
Dr. Thibault: When I was training for Maharishi Ayurveda, many fellow doctors asked the same question: "How are we going to present this to our patients? They're going to think we're crazy." And you know, our trainer replied: "Just tell them. Just tell them and you'll see." And we laughed, saying it's so simple for him. But when I started practicing it, I was surprised how knowledgeable and motivated the patients were. A patient would come in with a problem, saying he'd tried several things and nothing worked. Then I would step in gently, saying, "Although I'm a doctor of Western medicine, I've also trained in ayurvedic medicine." And he's immediately interested. In two years of practicing this blend of Western and ayurvedic medicine, only two patients have said no to it — just two. The rest signed up for an appointment to come in for an ayurvedic evaluation. So sometimes just the suggestion works. At medical school, they used to tell us that as doctors, we would have a lot of influence with patients. People will do what you ask them to do. Well, in practice, not always. You ask the patient to go exercise; they rarely do it. But they tell you they're not happy with the way they feel and the results of their treatment. They are looking for something more effective and less damaging. And they're now willing to look at ayurveda. Two years ago, I would have thought people were still not ready for ayurveda. Not anymore — patients are absolutely open to the suggestion.
Q: How do your peers feel about ayurveda?
Dr. Thibault: Well, it's very interesting. Most physicians had no idea what we're talking about until recently. The only change that has happened is that now, most doctors have heard of it, or know a colleague who's practicing some kind of complementary medicine. It's better than it used to be. It used to be they just had no idea of where this was coming from at all. To the ones that ask seriously and are willing to listen to an explanation, I give it. I don't push it on them, though.
Q: Do you think ayurveda will grow, given the conventional world of allopathy?
Dr. Thibault: Oh yes. I think it's only going to get stronger. When the door opens and the patient comes in saying, "I have the same problem every year. What else can be done to prevent it?" — there you go. There will always be room for ayurveda.
Q: Do you think allopathy gives patients any control over their health and how they will be treated?
Dr. Thibault: No. If anything, we're developing helplessness. It's because patients don't see the connection between their symptoms and their behavior; their symptoms and their physiology; their symptoms and their age; their symptoms and the food they eat — they don't get that connection. And it's a very innocent thing. They'll say, "Doc, you know, I'm doing this, this and this." And in their own hearts they feel like they're doing everything they can do. And you hate to tear them down, but you have to say, "You know, that's very wrong. This is the reason you're having problems." They come into it feeling helpless.
Q: Does ayurveda give them that control?
Dr. Thibault: In the ayurvedic approach, you can tell them how to live their life more appropriately. And then, all of a sudden, they're a part of the plan. They're deciding: I'm going to eat my lunch at the same time every day; I'm going to make it the biggest meal of my day; I'm going to de-emphasize the amount of meat in my diet; I'm going to try to get into bed by 9:30-10:00 p.m. and be up at 5:30 or 6:00 a.m.; and I'm going to walk once or twice a day. Now they're part of the whole plan — absolutely. That power to control their destiny is what I find most appealing about Maharishi Ayurveda.
Q: In the allopathic way, how do you approach a patient when he or she comes to see you for a problem?
Dr. Thibault: Very much the way a car mechanic works. They drive their car into the shop and say it's not working right. The mechanic says: "Oh!," puts it up and says "Here's your problem." He fixes it and away they go. He doesn't tell them, "Look, you need to make sure your oil is changed every 3,000 miles, etc." That is the approach. They come in with a problem, you give them something to hopefully correct that problem at the time, which may or may not work and may or may not create more problems. And then they come back because they're either not better or they're worse. As a physician, there's nothing that bothers you more than a patient who comes in the third time with exactly the same problem. And you feel bad. You sit with them and say "I'm sorry; I think the medicine I gave you made you worse. That wasn't the problem at all." And it's frustrating for them. They don't feel good. They come in suffering. That's really what it comes down to. People come in and they're saying "I don't want to feel this way anymore."
Q: When you blend the ayurvedic approach with allopathy, how then do you approach the same patient?
Dr. Thibault: This is where the added knowledge all comes in. Automatically, the mind is thinking differently. I'm thinking about the time of year — the season — and the individual person. I take his or her pulse. And I look at what may have led up to the problem. I ask them how they're living their daily lives — what's in their daily routine, what's going on in their lives that could have contributed to the problem. The amazing thing about ayurveda is that unconsciously, you've already developed a closer rapport with the patient. It is more intimate, there is more insight into what's going on in their lives. You can't help it — because by asking some of these questions, it just comes out, where otherwise you wouldn't bother to take the time. Incredibly, I've built a very busy practice. I moved my practice into this area about two-and-a-half years ago. And I see 40 to 50 people a day. I never have to worry about scheduling patients. So many times they come in and there's nothing wrong. I'm starting to see much more of this. They just like coming in. And sometimes, I actually do less and less with patients.
But again, it gives me the opportunity to screen for other problems, and then I can incorporate a lot more prevention into my approach. The other thing about ayurveda is that you make an agreement with the patient: I give you this recommendation; you agree to try it. And then we'll reassess. In Western medicine, however, it doesn't quite work that way. You basically see the patient, give whatever you think will help, and out they go. You have no idea what's going to happen once they walk out that door. In ayurveda, what comes across to the patient is that you care more. And I think that sometimes, just by participating in that experience, the patients do better. They just do better. They come away feeling better. And that's where I think, if you feel like you care more and that comes through, the patients care more about their own health.
Q: Do you read the pulse of the patient?
Dr. Thibault: Yes.
Q: What's the difference between allopathic and ayurvedic pulse reading?
Dr. Thibault: Well, there's a world of difference. You know, I don't think I ever took the pulse all that much in Western medicine. I could probably go months without ever taking a patient's pulse. There's no need. I have a medical assistant that takes it, or it's just not an important part of their reason for being there. And we're taught only its rate and rhythm. But I can tell you I can't remember the last time I took a pulse and said "Yeah! I feel the rhythm is just really off." Pulse taking happens in allopathy, but not enough to change the therapeutic decision-making. In ayurveda, however, right from the word go, you're touching the patient. In the conscious act of feeling their pulse, you automatically get a feel right away — right away. This practice of pulse reading is very sensitive. You know immediately if the physiology is in a state of excitation or it's relaxed, whether you are uncomfortable or comfortable, right away. Ayurveda tells you so much in the pulse. It tells you about individual physiology; it tells you what's going on with the patient right at the moment; where the imbalance may be, and where the more deep-seated imbalances can be. I must tell you though, that I'm not an expert — I'm still working on some of these aspects of pulse reading. But I'm amazed at how accurate and how beneficial that can be for me.
I've made astounding diagnoses that I would have never thought possible from taking a pulse. And if you tell a Western physician about it, they'll raise their eyebrows. And the patients are amazed, too. As a matter of fact, a couple of months ago a gentleman walked into my office. He said he was not here for anything. I said, "Well, why are you here, then?" He said, "You saw my wife about a month back and took her pulse. There's no way you could've known at the time that she had a rash on her neck because it was covered under her turtleneck, and you were sitting on her far side. Then I remembered. I had this lady patient and I was taking her pulse. After a while I asked her if she had any severe rashes or burning on her skin. And sure enough, she turned her head to reveal this huge fiery rash under her turtleneck. At the time she didn't seem that impressed by it. I, of course, almost fell off my chair — this was bull's eye. So, she went home and told her husband about her experience of the morning. And he came in for an appointment saying, "I figure if you can sense a rash on her neck through her pulse, then you should be able to take care of me, too." The knowledge is so sound and so in-depth that if you focus and use it, you'll become so much more accurate and effective in your approach to the patient.
Q: Ayurveda heals with herbs. Do you think herbs have an inner intelligence?
Dr. Thibault: Obviously there is some inner intelligence that exists. I think it does, in the sense that all nature has this intelligent trait. So to answer the question very directly, I think that herbs do have an inner intelligence. No question about it.
Q: Have you heard of Amrit?
Dr. Thibault: Yes. Generally I know it's made up of many herbs. My feeling is that they work not only individually, but also synergistically with the other herbs. And the knowledge, and how they're prepared, is what's significant about this formulation. All the research that's been done on it is absolutely amazing. You almost get the feeling like it's too good to be true, which is a Western way of thinking. We've been told for years that this product will have these properties, and now we're starting to see it in the research that's being done on it. It's just astounding to learn that its antioxidant properties are 1,000 times more powerful than vitamins A, C and E.
Q: What do you find most striking about Amrit?
Dr. Thibault: I'm a clinician. Research has a very important place in my world. But the striking thing is that not only does the research prove that Amrit works clinically, but that the patients subjectively feel better. You know, I give somebody a pill for blood pressure. It may or may not lower their blood pressure, and it may or may not make them sick. My best hope is that it lowers the blood pressure and they tolerate the medicine. But they don't necessarily feel any better. With Amrit they can get all these benefits that it's shown to have, but they will also tell me they feel better on it — the mind's clearer, and they have more energy. Energy is a big one. I've had patients tell me they've had much more energy because of taking Amrit.
Q: Who do you think needs Amrit — who do you recommend it to?
Dr. Thibault: It should be used by almost everybody, I think. Simply because some of the best effects from Amrit I have obtained have been on a broad range of patients. I've got some smaller children taking Amrit as well as some people with chronic illness. And both types of patients have had good results. Actually, I have a schoolteacher who is in her early 50s and has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. And she does fairly well. Her biggest complaint to me, though, was fatigue. It was so bad that I usually had to fill a "leave of absence" form for her for at least a month each year. That was for several years. We started her on Amrit two years ago and, to my knowledge, she's made it through the whole school year without needing the "leave of absence." And her level of energy has definitely improved. I can tell you that as a direct result of putting her on the Amrit, her energy level and her vitality improved.
In another instance, I have as patients a couple with two children. Several years ago, when the kids were younger, both had chronic ear infections. Chronic, chronic, chronic, throughout the winter. So I recommended that they start taking the pediatric Amrit Ambrosia. Once they started it, their infections just vanished. I can't remember the last time we had to treat them for an ear infection. I haven't treated them for much illness at all since then. That was pretty striking because, before taking Amrit, they had infections throughout the year.
I have another patient with a dramatic success story. He had high cholesterol — a 36-year-old man with no risk factors. However, his cholesterol was in the high 200s with increased LDL (low-density lipoproteins). So I put him on Amrit, and we were able to get his cholesterol down into the low 200s. And actually, there was a period when he was off Amrit and his cholesterol came up. I'm not sure how many points, but I do remember him coming in and mentioning that. So Amrit worked very well in his case, and he could see for himself how he did with, and without, Amrit.
Q: What do patients tell you after having used Amrit for some time?
Dr. Thibault: Usually they'll tell me that they've had more energy. That's been the biggest one — increased energy. The other thing is that they tend to have more regular bowel habits. It seems to regulate the bowel habits. And, of course, the most encouraging result is they don't get sick as often. You know, I take Amrit pretty regularly. But I have gone through vast periods, several months at a time, without taking it for a variety of reasons. But I can tell you categorically, the energy level when I'm taking it, compared to when I'm not, is like night and day. Most patients of mine on Amrit are sick less often. Much less often, in terms of infections.
Q: What about people undergoing chemotherapy for cancer — how do they respond to Amrit?
Dr. Thibault: Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy report backbreaking fatigue. Also, loss of mental clarity and literally no appetite — they just don't feel like themselves. And they know it, intuitively. They say, "Doc, I know it's because I'm getting all this poison." But patients who took Amrit regularly during chemotherapy didn't have as many side effects. Especially in the areas of fatigue, weight loss and loss of appetite, they fared exceptionally well.
Let me tell you about a patient who was diagnosed recently with breast cancer. Her chemotherapy gave her tremendous fatigue. So I gave the lady her first jar of Amrit. I said, "Just take this. I just want you to take it." The patient started taking Amrit. She underwent chemotherapy as well as radiation treatments. Her oncologist reported that the way she tolerated her treatments was nothing short of amazing. She had minimal fatigue, minimal hair loss, no loss of appetite, and no weight loss. She has remained symptom free for one year. In my practice, I recommend Amrit to anybody who has had cancer. I don't care which cancer it is — testicular cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, skin cancer. I just say, "Please, I think you should be taking this."
Q: Do you feel more confident talking to your patients about Amrit because you've experienced its benefits personally?
Dr. Thibault: Absolutely. I think I can talk so much more enthusiastically, because I know that in my personal experience Amrit works. This winter, we had a lot of illness in the area. Between my partner and me, we were seeing 100 patients a day. But, I think I had just one mild cold for three days, the entire season. And I'm directly exposed to the pathogen, working with the patients on a daily basis. I didn't get a flu shot, but I didn't get the flu, either. So, Amrit helps me with raised immunity so that I don't come down with an opportunistic infection as often as other people.
Q: How does Amrit help with energy and mental clarity?
Dr. Thibault: Almost universally, my patients tell me that Amrit helps with energy levels. How it works with mental clarity is interesting. To answer it properly, you probably have to take several steps back and look at how the body assimilates any product. As it goes through the steps of digestion, it gets absorbed through the cellular level, then into the tissue and then ultimately, into the organ. I think Amrit can somehow improve the body's ability to transport nutrients into the minutest channels of the system — especially all the pathways in the brain. That's what probably makes it so helpful in terms of mental clarity. My patients who benefit most from it are people who perform mental tasks. I have a patient who teaches real estate courses, and he does a lot of public speaking. All day, his success depends on how quickly and accurately he can access and process information in his mind. He is at once talking, answering questions and communicating with his class. A few years ago, I recommended Amrit to him. Now, he tells me repeatedly, "Doc, I don't know how I did it before, without Amrit."
Q: What do you mean when you talk about a person not having that mental clarity?
Dr. Thibault: I think the easiest way to answer your question is that the patient will exhibit symptoms. He will have difficulty understanding what you're trying to explain. And he'll tell you, "I just feel out of sorts. I just don't feel sharp. I don't feel like I'm remembering what I need to remember. I don't seem to be able to find the words quickly enough. The thought doesn't come quickly." But that's so closely tied to fatigue. Many times when patients are fatigued, that's the way they describe it. They just don't feel clear, mentally.
Q: And what difference does Amrit make in such situations?
Dr. Thibault: For the person taking Amrit regularly, the thoughts come easier. The answers come easier, with less effort — that's the big thing. And it's less frustrating for them to do their mental work. It seems like it's a very strong brain food. It feeds the brain.
Q: How does one formulation work on so many different problems at the same time?
Dr. Thibault: It is indeed amazing that it works on all those levels. Amrit actually works at a deeper level than even the tissue level or organ level. When we get down to the cellular level, it works on the intelligence of the cells. And most patients are comfortable with that. Amrit nourishes the physiology deep inside. Every cell in the body is suffused with the potent energy of the herbs that make up Amrit. So, instead of identifying a symptom and trying to handle it, Amrit strengthens the entire system. And that's why it can work on the digestive system, immunity, the brain, etc. You must be aware of the damage that free radicals of oxygen cause to our bodies. Since every cell uses oxygen to make energy, free radicals are in every cell in the body — weakening and aging us by the second.
As a potent antioxidant, Amrit mops up and neutralizes these destructive free radicals, giving the body time to do what it's meant to do: work perfectly. When you eliminate the problem that every cell in the body is facing, you have restored the body completely. This is what Amrit achieves by keeping every cell free from the corrosive attack of free radicals. So, whether it is the arteries that are thickening from plaque or skin that's sagging under the eyes, it is protection from within that'll eventually count. Take the case of heart disease, for instance. Nine years ago, my father had a bypass surgery when he was in his mid 50s. A few years later, he started taking Amrit. He's also a diabetic, you see. So he takes the sugar-free pills. His most recent stress test was normal. And if you know bypass surgery, most patients start deteriorating around this time. Not him.
Q: Thank you, Dr. Thibault, for your insights into ayurveda and Amrit.
Dr. Thibault: It was my pleasure.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.