Snake water

By James Keller

A poster outlining a questionable miracle cure went up on poster boards around campus, advocating the use of water instead of traditional medicine.

Entitled “Stay Fit Sans Medicine,” the poster described the use of water, apparently as found in Hindu religious texts, to cure diseases like diabetes, tuberculosis and even cancer. Kamlesh Panchal, whose phone number was listed on the poster, defended the treatment.

“It is from India and includes meditation and going to lectures on our religion,” said Panchal about the method, attributed on the poster to International Yoga Vedanta Seva Samiti, Calgary. “We can do that [cure these diseases], that’s for sure.”

The poster pointed to “Water–The elixir of life,” and read: “[medication] when taken in large amounts, cause a lot of side effects [sic] as act as a deterrent to the normal metabolic activities, thereby act as poisons!!!” It claimed that by drinking four glasses of water in the morning, and not eating or exercising for a specified period afterward, one can cure diabetes in one month, tuberculosis in three months, and cancer in just six months. However, some of the diseases listed on the poster cannot be treated as easily, much less cured, by western medicine.

“More water is good for most of us, [as] dehydration is common, but the claims are probably a bit overstated and unproven,” said Dr. Ted Lo, an expert on alternative and complementary medicine in the department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.

Despite the doubt that can be raised about the posters’ claims, Panchal insisted on its legitimacy.

“It has been proven in India and it is written in one of the books,” he said, calling the text a “reliable source.”

Also, Panchal said he doesn’t think he would be responsible if someone stopped their traditional treatment in order to try the method on the poster, even if their conditioned worsened.

“If [a person who attempts the treatment] doesn’t get cured, how can I be responsible for that? It’s not me who has written it,” he said. “I cannot claim any responsibility if someone else has written it.”

U of C graduate student Naresh Bajaj, whose phone number also appeared on the poster, distributed the posters. According to Bajaj, he only distributed three or four posters on campus, and did so by mistake.

“These people gave me the pamphlet and I thought it will be useful for everybody,” Bajaj said, adding that Panchal spoke to him after being questioned by the Gauntlet. “They scolded me very much, and I should not have put it up because it is not scientifically proven.”

However, a week earlier, Panchal did not indicate that the posters were not to be viewed by the public or U of C students.

“It is cut out from [Indian] literature and we print it out and give it out to people who are interested,” said Pachal.

Since they were posted, all the posters have been removed from campus poster boards, said Bajaj.

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