Ayurveda is not a medical system that addresses only diseases. The first and foremost aim is to preserve the health of the healthy.
Thousands of years before modern medicine provided scientific evidence for the mind-body connection, the sages of India developed Ayurveda, which continues to be one of the world’s most sophisticated and powerful mind-body health systems. More than a mere system of treating illness, Ayurveda is a science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vibrant and healthy while realizing their full human potential.
The three humours function as pillars supporting the body. The derangement in the humours causes illness. The natural constitution (Prakrithi) of an individual and deranged state of the body in an illness (Vikrithi) are expressed with respect to Vatha, Pitha and Kapha. Medicines and herbs are grouped based on its effects on the humours.
Ayurvedic doctors regard physical existence, mental existence, and personality as a unit, with each element being able to influence the others.This is a holistic approach used during diagnosis and therapy, and is a fundamental aspect of Ayurveda. Another part of Ayurvedic treatment says that there are channels (srotas) which transport fluids, and that the channels can be opened up by massage treatment using oils and Swedana (fomentation). Unhealthy channels are thought to cause disease.
Ayurveda has eight ways to diagnose illness, called Nadi (pulse), Mootra (urine), Mala (stool), Jihva (tongue), Shabda (speech), Sparsha (touch), Druk (vision), and Aakruti (appearance). Ayurvedic practitioners approach diagnosis by using the five senses. For example, hearing is used to observe the condition of breathing and speech. The study of the lethal points or marman marma is of special importance.
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The earliest classical Sanskrit works on Ayurveda describe medical science as being divided into eight components. This characterization of the physicians’ art as the teaching found in “the medicine that has eight components”. The components are:
- Kayachikitsa: general medicine, medicine of the body
- Kaumara-bhrtya: the treatment of children, paediatrics
- Salyatantra: surgical techniques and the extraction of foreign objects
- Salakyatantra: treatment of ailments affecting ears, eyes, nose, mouth, etc. (“ENT”)
- Bhutavidya: pacification of possessing spirits, and the people whose minds are affected by such possession
- Agadatantra: toxicology
- Rasayanatantra: rejuvenation and tonics for increasing lifespan, intellect and strength
- Vajikaranatantra: aphrodisiacs and treatments for increasing the volume and viability of semen and sexual pleasure.
Ayurvedic medicine can help treat inflammatory, hormonal, digestive and autoimmune conditions, including:
• Alzheimer’s disease
• Dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation)
• Anxiety or depression
• High blood pressure or cholesterol
• Parkinson’s disease
• Perimenopausal problems
• Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and cramps
Ayurvedic herbs, practices and recommendations, including yoga and/or meditation, have also been shown to treat acne, relieve chronic constipation or IBS, fight chronic fatigue syndrome, reduce pain and lower obesity risk.
The 3 Doshas of Ayurvedic Medicine
Vata — Vata energy is often said to be like the wind. It’s primarily in charge of mobility, motion, circulation, breathing and other essential body functions. Vata types are known to be creative and energetic when they’re in balance but fearful, stressed and “scatter-brained” when they’re not. Physically, vata types are usually on the thin side, have smaller bones and tend not to put on weight easily. They also might be cold a lot of the time, have a delicate digestive system and have dry, sensitive skin.
Pitta — Pitta is the energy force that governs most metabolic activity, including digestion, absorption of nutrients, body temperature and energy expenditure. Pitta types tend to be smart, hard-working and driven (even competitive) when in balance but can be overly angry and aggressive when they’re not. They tend to have a medium build, be athletic and are versatile in terms of putting on weight or muscle.
Kapha — Kapha controls growth in the body and is considered the nourishing dosha. It supplies moisturize to the cells and organs and helps keep a strong immune system. Kaphas are known for being grounded, supportive, loving and forgiving when in balance — almost like a motherly type. However, they can also be lazy, insecure, envious and sad when they’re not in balance.
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