Anti Aging Today

Ayurveda: Ayurvedic Medicine

Ayurvedic Medicine Facts

Fundamentals of Ayurvedic Medicine

To understand Ayurvedic treatment, it is essential to have an idea of how the Ayurvedic system regards the human body. The basic life force in the body is prana, which is also found in the elements and is analogous to the Chinese notion of chi. As Swami Vishnudevananda, a yogi and expert, put it, “Prana is in the air, but is not the oxygen, nor any of its chemical constituents. It is in food, water, and in the sunlight, yet it is not vitamin, heat, or light-rays. Food, water, air, etc., are only the media through which the prana flows.”

In Ayurveda, there are 5 basic elements that contain prana: earth, water, fire, air, and ether. These elements interact and are further organized in the human body as 3 primary categories or basic physiological principles in the body that govern all bodily processes known as the doshas. The 3 doshas are vata, pitta, and kapha. Each individual has a unique blend of the 3 doshas, known as the person’s prakriti, which is the reason why Ayurvedic treatment is always personalized. In Ayurveda, illness is regarded as a state of imbalance in one or more of a person’s doshas, and an Ayurvedic physician works to adjust and balance them, via a variety of methods.

The vata dosha is associated with air and ether, and in the body, promotes movement and agility. Vata people are typically thin and light physically, dry-skinned, very energetic and mentally restless. When vata is out of balance, there are often nervous problems, hyperactivity, sleeplessness, lower back pains, and headaches. Pitta is associated with fire and water. In the body, it is responsible for metabolic processes and digestion. Pitta characteristics are medium-built bodies, fair skin, strong digestion, and good mental concentration. Pitta imbalances show up as anger and aggression and stress-related conditions like gastritis, ulcers, liver problems, and hypertension.

The kapha dosha is associated with water and earth. People characterized as kapha are generally large or heavy with more oily complexions. They tend to be slow, calm, and peaceful. Kapha disorders manifest emotionally as greed and possessiveness, and physically as obesity, fatigue, bronchitis, and sinus problems.

Ayurvedic Diagnosis of Disease

In Ayurvedic medicine, disease is always understood as an imbalance in the dosha system, so the diagnostic process tries to determine which doshas are underactive or overactive in a body. Diagnosis is oftentimes conducted over a period of days in order for the Ayurvedic physician to most precisely identify which parts of the body are being affected. To diagnose problems, Ayurvedic physicians often use comprehensive surveys and interviews to determine a person’s dosha patterns and physical and psychological histories. Ayurvedic physicians also intricately take note of the pulse, tongue, face, lips, eyes, and fingernails for abnormalities or patterns that they believe can signal deeper problems in the internal systems. Some Ayurvedic physicians also use laboratory tests to help in diagnosis.

Ayurvedic Treatment of Disease

Ayurvedic therapy seeks to reinstate equilibrium and harmony in the body’s systems. Typically the first method of treatment involves some sort of detoxification and cleansing of the body, in the belief that accumulated toxins must be removed before any other methods of treatment will be effective. Methods of detoxification include therapeutic vomiting, laxatives, medicated enemas, fasting, and cleansing of the sinuses. Numerous Ayurvedic clinics combine all of these cleansing methods into intensive sessions known as panchakarma. Panchakarma can take a few days or even weeks and they are more than elimination therapies. They also include herbalized oil massage and herbalized heat treatments. After purification, Ayurvedic practitioners use herbal and mineral remedies to balance the body as well. Ayurvedic medicine contains a vast knowledge of the use of herbs for specific health issues.

Ayurvedic medicine also emphasizes how people live their lives from day to day, believing that proper lifestyles and routines accentuate balance, rest, diet, and prevention. Ayurveda advocates yoga as a form of exercise to build strength and health, and also suggests massage therapy and self-massage as ways of increasing circulation and reducing stress. Yogic breathing techniques and meditation are also part of a healthy Ayurvedic regimen, to reduce stress and improve mental energy.

Of all treatments, diet is one of the most basic and widely used therapies in the Ayurvedic system. An Ayurvedic diet can be a very well planned and personalized regimen. According to Ayurveda, there are 6 basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. Certain tastes and foods can either calm or exacerbate a particular dosha. For instance, sweet, sour, and salty decrease vata problems and increase kapha. Sour, salty, and pungent can increase pitta. After an Ayurvedic physician determines a person’s dosha profile, he or she will advocate a specific diet to correct imbalances and increase health. The Ayurvedic diet emphasizes mainly vegetarian foods of high quality and freshness, tailored to the season and time of day. Cooling foods are eaten in the summer and heating ones in the winter, always within a person’s dosha requirements. In daily routine, the heaviest meal of the day should be lunch, and dinner should be eaten well before bedtime, to allow for complete digestion. Also, eating meals in a calm manner with proper chewing and state of mind is important, as is combining foods properly and avoiding overeating.

Cost of Ayurvedic Treatments

Costs of Ayurvedic treatments can vary, with initial consultations running anywhere from $40 to over $100, with follow-up visits costing less. Herbal treatments may cost from $10 to $50 per month, and are often available from health food or bulk herb stores. Some clinics offer panchakarma, the intensive Ayurvedic detoxification treatment, which can include overnight stays for up to several weeks. The prices for these programs can vary significantly, depending on the services and length of stay. Insurance reimbursement may depend on whether the primary physician is a licensed M.D.

Ayurvedic Preparations

Ayurveda is a mind/body system of health that contains some ideas foreign to the Western scientific model. People considering Ayurveda should approach it with an open mind and willingness to experiment. Also, because Ayurveda is a whole-body system of healing and health, patience and discipline are helpful, as some conditions and diseases are believed to be brought on by years of bad health habits, thus requiring time and effort to correct. Finally, the Ayurvedic philosophy believes that each person has the ability to heal themselves, so those considering Ayurveda should be prepared to bring responsibility and participation into the treatment.

Ayurvedic Medicine Facts Index


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