Ayurveda is an alternative medicine with historical roots in the Indian subcontinent. In the western world alternative medicine has been introduced into some medical cases and is believed to help with general wellness.
Legend has it that this medical knowledge was passed down from the Gods. Dhanvantari, the god of Ayurveda was the first divine incarnation to teach medicine and impart his wisdom to a group of wise physicians.
Ayurveda therapies have evolved over two millennia. Therapies are based on herbal blends with mineral and metal substances introduced by early Indian alchemy. Originating in prehistoric times, it significantly developed during the Vedic Period (1750-500 BCE.). Buddhism and Jainism also developed medical practices that appear in the ancient Ayurveda.
Ayurveda names three elemental matters the Doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These are derived from the five elements – Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether. It is said that health is defined when there is a balance of the Doshas. To achieve a balance it is encouraged to stay within reasonable limits of balance and measure when following natural urges – food intake, sleep and sexual intercourse. Suppressing these natural urges would be likely to lead to illness.
It is believed that the Doshas are balanced when equal to each other, that each human possesses a unique combination of the Doshas which make up personality and traits of a person. It is said that to modulate our behaviour or/and environment is to increase/decrease the Doshas. This is how you maintain a natural state.
Ayurveda practitioners approach diagnosis by using the five senses and there are eight ways to diagnose illness:
- Nadi (Pulse)
- Mootra (Urine)
- Mala (Stool)
- Jih Va (Tongue)
- Shabda (Speech)
- Sparsha (Touch)
- Drik (Vision)
- Aakriti ( Appearance)
A holistic approach is taken during diagnosis therapy. A practitioner will take into account physical, mental and emotional states as these elements have the ability to influence each other.
Treatments are derived from roots, leaves, fruit, bark, seeds and animal products. Sulphur, copper sulphate and gold can be an addition of minerals to the herbal medicine. This is called Rasa Shastra.
Part of the treatment involves building a healthy metabolic system, maintaining good digestion and excretion. Following natural cycles (waking, sleeping and working) and practicing good hygiene (bathing regularly, cleaning teeth and skin care) is classed as controlled practice and sends a positive message to the brain. Treatment also focuses on exercise, meditation and Yoga. A healthy body is a healthy mind and vice versa. It is said that this is the Science of Life.
Ayurveda names seven basic tissues that provide nourishment and growth for the body:
- Plasma (rasa)
- Blood (rakta)
- Muscles (mamsa)
- Fat (meda)
- Bone (asthi)
- Marrow (majja)
- Semen (shukra)
By building a healthy metabolic system, maintaining digestion and excretion this will help to ensure excellent tissue renewal. Any imbalance in any of these tissues will affect all tissues and lead to illness.
Ayurveda benefits many communities and is increasingly used within developed countries. Traditional medicines have been used in health maintenance and disease prevention/ treatment for many, many years. Up to 80% of people in India use Ayurveda or some other form of traditional medicine. In Nepal, 75%-80% use Ayurveda as a form of medicine.
Ayurveda is not a quick fix but a lifestyle change. It’s a holistic approach and kindles an awareness of the body and mind.