In what may be the worst bait-and-switch in the history of bait-and-switches, sports fans tuned in to The Pat McAfee Show on Tuesday in anticipation that one of his regular guests, NFL MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, might deliver significant news on the future of his career. But there was no such news. Instead, Rodgers gave a hearty endorsement for a horrifying 12-day cleanse that can sometimes involve oily enemas, bloodletting, and forced vomiting.
“There will be no news today,” Rodgers said to McAfee on the show. “No decision on my future. As I was texting with you yesterday, I just got out of a 12-day panchakarma. Look that up. I know you did after we talked. It’s a cleanse that originated in India. It’s been going on for thousands of years, and it’s something I’ve done in the offseason. So I’m just getting my hand above the sand now and seeing what’s going on there.”
Panchakarma is described as a cleansing and purification technique in Ayurvedic medicine, which is a longstanding, pseudoscientific Indian medicine system. The system is not based on science and has little scientific evidence backing it, according to the National Institutes of Health. The most that can be said for it is that scant data suggests Ayurvedic herbal mixtures may help people relieve osteoarthritis pain and manage type II diabetes. But, more data is needed to solidify those benefits, and evidence is lacking for benefits of any other conditions.
Ironically, while Ayurvedic medicine promotes unproven cleanses and “detoxes,” numerous scientific reports have found Ayurvedic preparations rife with toxic components. Specifically, analyses have frequently found Ayurvedic treatments containing lead, arsenic, and mercury. As such, the formulations have often been linked to poisonings.
Of course, Rodgers didn’t mention any of that on the show Tuesday. He also didn’t offer any specifics of what his 12-day cleanse entailed. He only pointed listeners to the vastness of the Internet, where they can presumably glean the details of the cleanse from whichever digital rabbit hole they descend into.
The most Rodgers offered was that his cleanse involved a specific diet and daily treatments for the duration. But, details aside, he extolled the cleanse. “It’s kind of a recentering[sic],” Rodgers said. “It not only heals you physically, but I think it takes away mental stress. And then the spiritual part, I think it allows you to kind of enjoy the meditations a little bit more. So when I come out, my first thought is just intense gratitude for the people in my life.”
Altogether, Rodgers’ revelation Tuesday is about what you might expect from a guy who announced he had been “immunized” against COVID-19 by taking homeopathic nostrum.
So what is panchakarma and what might Rodgers’ cleanse have included? A simple search of the term ‘Panchakarma’ will likely bring up an introduction to the practice from The Ayurvedic Institute, an Albuquerque, New Mexico-based organization founded in 1984 by Vasant Lad.
Lad is among a small group of high-profile Ayurvedic practitioners in the US and an early leader. He was trained in traditional Ayurveda in India before coming to the US in 1979. Early in his career here, he was influenced by and collaborated with Baba Hari Dass, a silent monk and yoga master who was also seen as an early proponent of Ayurveda in the US. In the 1970s, Baba Hari Dass spurred the creation of the Mount Madonna Center in California and invited Lad to speak about Ayurveda, which Babi Hari Dass referred to as a “sister science” to yoga. The monk later influenced the creation of the Mount Madonna Institute, which includes a College of Ayurveda.