An Introduction to Ayurvedic Medicine

Ayurveda also known as Ayurvedic medicine is referred to as the "Science of Life". The word ‘Ayurveda’ is derived from two words - ayu (meaning life) and veda (meaning knowledge). It is one of the world's oldest holistic healing systems developed thousands of years ago in India. In the U.S., Ayurveda is considered as a form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

Ayurveda

The National Center for Health Statistics and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCAAM) in a study found that more people are using Ayurveda for treating common health problems. The main reason behind this popularity is that this form of medicine give more emphasizes on re-establishing a balance in the body via diet, lifestyle, exercise and body cleansing, and on the health of the mind, body and spirit. Today, Ayurvedic medicine consists of different disciplines like aromatherapy, herbal medicine, diet, acupuncture, yoga, body massage, meditation and many more. 

The Three Doshas

According to Ayurvedic theory, everything in the universe (both living and non-living things) is connected and everything is composed of five elements: fire, air, earth, water and space. These five elements make the three doshas known as pitta, vata and kapha. These doshas are used in Ayurveda to describe body type and to determine treatment options.

Vata Dosha:

This dosha is a combination of space and air and is the most powerful of all three doshas. The body areas like the pelvis, large intestine, bones, ears and thighs are part of this dosha. It controls movement and is responsible for basic body processes such as breathing, cell division and circulation. People having this dosha are often thin and fast and more prone to suffer from problems like anxiety, dry skin, asthma, heart disease, nervous system disorders, arthritis, skin problems and constipation. Eating too much of dry fruit, eating frequently, fear, grief and staying up too late can affect this dosha.

Pitta Dosha:

This dosha is a combination of fire and water. The body areas like the stomach, small intestines, sweat glands, blood, and eyes belong to this dosha. This dosha controls appetite, metabolism and digestive system. People having this dosha more likely to have anger and negative emotions, oily skin, heart disease, inflammation, heartburn, high blood pressure and different types of infections. Some of the things that can disrupt this dosha are eating sour or spicy foods, fatigue, and spending too much time in the sun.

Kapha Dosha:

This dosha is a combination of water and earth. The body areas like the chest, lungs, and spinal fluid are part of this dosha. This dosha is believed to control muscle growth, body strength and stability, weight and immune system. People with kapha as their main dosha are thought to be calm, have a solid body frame, and have a high chance of suffering from health problems like asthma, diabetes, obesity, cancer, sinus congestion, and gall bladder problems. Some of the things that can disrupt this particular dosha are daytime sleeping, eating after your stomach is full, eating or drinking items that have too much salt, eating too many sweet foods and greed.

How Ayurvedic treatments are carried out?

According to Ayurveda, good health is achieved when your mind, body, and spirit are in harmony with the universe. A disruption of this harmony can lead to poor health and sickness.

The primary focus of Ayurvedic medicine is to promote good health, rather than fight disease. This is why during your first visit, the practitioner will examine you and try to determine your primary dosha and the balance among the others. The dosha can be determined by checking your body weight, examining your urine and stool, feeling your pulse, listening to your speech and voice quality and also by  looking at your eyes, teeth, tongue, and skin.

Often a practitioner will ask questions about your ability to recover from an illness, common and unusual behaviors, diet plan, lifestyle and medical history, including recent illnesses.  Once the dosha is determined, a thorough treatment will be planning.

Usually, an Ayurvedic treatment plan may involve:

  • A change in the diet plan in order to create a balance between each dosha.
  • Cleansing and detoxification of the body through fasting, diet and body treatments.
  • Use of herbal medicines which are made natural ingredients.
  • Yoga and meditation.
  • Some form of exercise in association with the lifestyle of the person.
  • Use of different types of massage therapies.

Well, the concept as well the treatment plan in Ayurveda is very unique. Here the symptoms of a disease are not treated, but emphasis is given more on to find the main cause behind the symptom. This helps to promote good health in general.

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