Ayurveda is a natural healing system that was created more than 5000 years ago and has survived until our time. The origin of the Vedic culture is located in India; for many it is considered the oldest healing science of which we have records. It is certainly surprising that it is still used and continues to prove its effectiveness.
The main objective of Ayurvedic medicine is quite clear:
To allow people to live a long, healthy and balanced life, without the need for medicines, complicated surgeries or suffering due to ailments. In fact the word Ayurveda has its etymology in Sanskrit and its meaning could be translated as science of life .
Ayurveda Over Western Medicines | Dr. B.M HEGDE | TEDxMITE
According to a 2015 report published by the University of Maryland Medical Center, Ayurvedic medicine can treat inflammatory, hormonal, digestive and immune problems, including:
- Alzheimer disease.
- Anxiety or depression
- Menstrual cramps.
- Hypertension and cholesterol.
- Problems caused by menopause.
- Parkinson’s disease
Ayurvedic herbs, practices and recommendations – including yoga and meditation – have also proven to be an excellent remedy for acne, constipation, chronic fatigue and muscle aches.
How does Ayurveda work?
Ayurvedic practitioners use healthy diets, changes in lifestyle, stress relief and different herbs as a remedy to cure a wide range of conditions and re-establish balance in the body. Belief in this tradition tells us that illness and suffering are the result of an imbalance between the three doshas, which are ways of categorizing three types of energy in the body that are known as Vata , Pitta and Kapha .
According to Ayurvedic medicine, each person is unique in terms of the balance between the different doshas. Each individual has a little vata, pitta and kapha in their personality, but generally one or two doshas are the ones that predominate; this will ultimately determine the body type, appetites, energy levels, moods and tendencies of the individual. Each dosha is assigned physical and emotional characteristics, so that Ayurvedic practitioners use the three doshas to describe common features of both body and personality.
Unlike western medicine, which uses the same treatment to treat the same condition in different people, ayurveda first studies the traits of the individual before prescribing a treatment.
The institution Center for Rheumatic Diseases in India, describe it in the following way:
|All creation -even the human being- is itself a model of the universe.
In this model, matter and the dynamic forces (doshas) of nature determine health and disease, and the medicinal value of any substance (vegetable or mineral). Ayurvedic practices aim to maintain the balance of the doshas, through personalized therapies for each individual according to their constitution (Prakruti).
The 3 Doshas of Ayurvedic medicine:
- Vata Vata energy is often associated with the wind. It is considered responsible for mobility, blood circulation, breathing and other essential functions of our body. The individuals in whom this dosha predominates are known to be creative and energetic when their energy is balanced, but fearful, tense and stressed when not. Vata type people are usually thin, have smaller bones and tend not to gain weight easily. They also tend to be cold or distant, have a delicate digestive system and dry and sensitive skin.
- Pitta Pitta energy is the force that governs all metabolic activity, including digestion, nutrient absorption, body temperature and energy expenditure. Pitta individuals tend to be intelligent, hardworking and disciplined when they are on balance, but aggressive and with little temperament when not. They usually have a medium physical constitution, somewhat athletic and can gain muscle with some ease.
- Kapha The kapha energy is responsible for controlling the growth of the body and is considered the dosha of food. It is the source of hydration of the cells, the organs and also is responsible for keeping the immune system strong. People with predominance of kapha energy are associated with the earth element, they are very capable of loving, supporting and forgiving when they are in balance, just like a mother. However, when they are not, they can be lazy, insecure, envious and sad.
By helping to balance the three doshas – not allowing one energy to become too dominant and another to be displaced – Ayurvedic medicine pretends to free us from stress, learn to cope with changes and keep the body healthy.
Two of the most important aspects in restoring balance through Ayurveda is to tune in to the natural rhythms of your body and that of nature. That includes aligning the level of your physical activity, food, sleep periods and so on with the time of day, the seasons of the year, and even in the case of women with the menstrual cycle. Ayurveda promises to relieve stress and restore an adequate heart rate, which will benefit you completely, from the correct production of hormones to your appetite.
In order to balance the doshas and prescribe a certain diet, herbs and rest practices, an Ayurvedic practitioner will take your medical history into account, check your vital signs (pulse, reflexes, etc), examine your skin, look inside your mouth to check your gums and tongue, and even talk with you about your dreams and personal relationships.
All these factors help in principle to the Ayurvedic practitioner to determine what is his primary dosha and the level of imbalance between each.
5 Benefits of using Ayurvedic medicine.
1. Reduce stress and anxiety:
Since stress has a widespread impact on health, the practitioner of Ayurvedic medicine uses different natural techniques to treat the symptoms of anxiety and depression, decrease cortisol and rebalance the “energy”.
This includes techniques such as yoga, breathing exercises, hibera treatments, visualization and repetition of mantras.
Several studies have shown that transcendental meditation, a key component of a branch of Ayurvedic medicine known as Maharishi, helps reduce anxiety symptoms if practiced regularly. Paranayama, which is a series of specific breathing exercises, also helps to calm the nerves and increase energy, facilitate restful sleep and improve the production of hormones. And although yoga is not always included in the treatment prescribed by some Ayurvedic practitioner, its benefits have been scientifically proven on multiple occasions.
2. Decrease blood pressure and cholesterol:
Ayurvedic diets and different relaxation techniques can reduce inflammation and decrease plaque buildup or even reverse the thickening of arterial walls ( atherosclerosis ) in both healthy adults and those at risk of heart disease.
Atherosclerosis is a slow and complex disease in which cholesterol, fats and other substances accumulate inside the arteries. This buildup, known as plaque, can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Fortunately, Ayurvedic techniques help to naturally lower cholesterol by lowering blood pressure.
3. Help the recovery of injuries and illnesses:
Recent research supports Ayurvedic ideas about the immune system and its role in healing. Pointing directly to inflammation, which is the root of many diseases, Ayurvedic medicine helps reduce pain and inflammation, improve blood flow and fight as well as medications against conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia.
A 2011 study published in The Journal of Clinical Theumatology found that when comparing Ayurvedic treatments, prescription drug treatments containing methotrexate and tests combining both treatments, all groups of patients in the study had experienced the same level of healing completed the 36 weeks of the investigation. However, the adverse effects were lower in the group treated with Ayurvedic medicine, compared to those who took prescription drugs.
4. Diminishes inflammation:
Ayurvedic medicine bases its premises on the fact that oxidation and inflammation are caused by the combination of a poor diet, poor digestion, little rest and little air inhaled (it makes sense if we consider the purifying functions of our lungs).
All this translates into imbalances in the metabolism, or in the terms of Ayurveda, in the doshas.
To counteract this, Ayurveda again resorts to different methods that will attack the problems from different fronts, among others with yoga, exercises that accelerate the metabolism and improve the circulation and consumption of natural herbs.
5. Promote a diet rich in nutrients and antioxidants:
The Ayurvedic diet is based mainly on the consumption of a large variety of plants and nutrient-dense foods . These include fresh herbs, spices, vegetables, healthy fats, foods with a high load of antioxidants, proteins and teas.
The general guidelines of Ayurveda emphasize the consumption of fresh, hot and easy to digest food, always taking into account different variables such as the customs, traditions and origin of the individual. Even geographic and climatic variables are taken into account during the prescription of the diet.