What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a holistic system of medicine that uses a constitutional model. Its aim is to provide guidance regarding food and lifestyle so that healthy people continue to stay healthy and folks with health challenges improve their health. This form of alternative medicine is practiced in India, Sri Lanka and Nepal but has widespread presence throughout the world today.
There are several aspects to Ayurveda that are quite unique:
- Its recommendations will often be different for each person regarding which foods and which lifestyle they should follow in order to be completely healthy. This is due to its use of a constitutional model.
- Everything in Ayurveda is validated by observation, inquiry, direct examination and knowledge derived from ancient texts.
- It understands that there are energetic forces that influence nature and human beings.
- Ayurveda sees a strong connection between the mind and the body and a huge amount of information is available regarding this relationship.
Where did Ayurveda come from?
The word Ayurveda comes from two Sanskrit words: “Ayu” meaning “life” and “Veda” meaning “the knowledge of.” Both put together culminate to Ayurveda – the science of life. Ayurveda’s mythological origins though, are attributed to the Indo-European Nasatya or Aswins (twin physicians of the gods of the ancient Indo-European pantheon), four thousand-year old references to the Nasatya are found in the now extinct Hurrian and Hittite languages in Turkey and in the Sanskrit language in India.
Ayurveda is considered the upaveda or accessory veda to the Atharva Veda. The four Vedas are the world’s oldest literary documents in an Indo-European language.
With increasing urbanization and changing lifestyles of people, there are a soaring number of chronic disorders in the society and simultaneously a rising demand for safe and effective products. Unlike mainstream medicine, 12 different pulse points are assessed in Ayurveda before an Ayurvedic practitioner recommends a therapy for you. The medicinal and therapeutic products involved will be a well-balanced combination of plants and other agents in a synergistic formula. Ayurvedic medicine is known to cure diseases such as diabetes, psoriasis, ulcers and many others.
Ayurvedic Remedies and Treatment
Ayurveda emphasizes re-establishing balance in the body through diet, lifestyle, exercise and body cleansing; and on the health of the mind, body and spirit. Generally speaking Ayurveda is comparatively much safer, but it does not mean one should take it without consulting an Ayurveda Expert. The important point to remember is that self medication is always harmful. Ayurveda even considers food as a medicine and has been in use since thousands of years. Some Ayurvedic ingredients are classified as poisonous under the Drug & Cosmetics Act. These are to be taken under strict supervision of an Ayurveda Expert. Only non-judicious use of these medicines causes harm. The same is also true for Ayurveda therapies like Panchakarma, Kshar Sutra etc. if not taken under supervision. Massage is an important part of Ayurvedic therapy. It works on the “Marma points”, opening up ‘energy’ channels in your body which are believed to cause an imbalance or blockage. It also uses herbal remedies to combat ailments, which are traditionally treated with prescription medicine.
Ayurveda Foods and Diet
The first step towards eating for your Ayurvedic constitution is to find out what your constitutional type or dosha is. Ayurveda works on the belief that all life forms have a “dosha” – a unique mix of energies known as “vata”, “pitta” and “kapha”. This is similar to the Western idea of elements – water, fire, earth and so on. The basic point you need to remember is that food is medicine. If you’re not eating the food that’s right for you, no amount of medicine will make you feel better. Our bodies are not meant to be toxic dumps. Yet improper digestion, high levels of stress, and pollutants such as chemicals in the air we breathe, the water we drink or wash with and the foods we eat, continuously create toxins in the body.
If not flushed out on a regular basis, Ayurveda contends that this toxic buildup can eventually manifest as disorders. And as we grow older, the body’s inbuilt mechanisms for eliminating impurities tend to be less efficient, thus stressing the need for periodic internal cleansing and detoxification therapy.