What is Ayurvedic Medicine?: An Introduction to Ayurvetic Therapy and Remedies
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Ayurvedic Medicine or Ayurveda is a practice that remained useful and valued over time. As western society learns to embrace this old healing system, many have discovered its gifts and began to use them as a complementary form of treatment.
The term “Ayurveda” combines the Sanskrit words Ayur (life) and Veda (science or knowledge). It is thought as a system of living harmoniously and maintaining the body so that illness could be prevented. It utilizes massage, meditation, yoga, detoxification or purification therapies, diet, herbal and mineral remedies and breathing exercises as holistic healing methods.
Refined through years of practical application and experience, Ayurveda has evolved from the ancient wisdom of healers that lived deep in the Himalayas. Their wisdom was passed down orally from teacher to student, and eventually written down only in the last 5,000 years in Sanskrit and named the Vedas.
Medical historians believe that Ayurvedic ideas were transported from ancient India to China and were instrumental in the development of Chinese medicine. The spread of Buddhism into Tibet was also accompanied by the increase of Ayurveda because Buddha (born 550 BC) was one of its followers. The knowledge of Ayurvedic herbal practices broadened to other ancient civilizations through the spice routes. Traders obtaining knowledge of the healing plants (herbal medicine) of India passed this on to be studied by Arab physicians. This knowledge was further passed on to the ancient Greeks and Romans, and eventually became the common practice and basis of European medicine.
Ayurvedic Practitioners believe that everything in the universe – dead or alive – is connected. If your mind, body, and spirit are in harmony with the universe, you have good health. When something disrupts this balance you get sick.
Perfect health in Ayurveda is defined as “a balance between body, mind, spirit, and social well being.” It is founded upon the belief that all areas of life impact health. Ayurveda utilizes one’s senses properly and living a healthy lifestyle. We achieve good health through a radiant state of vigor and energy, by balance, or moderation, in food intake, sleep and other activities of daily life.
How do we cure with Ayurveda medicine?
Ayurveda defines physiology in terms of three forces called doshas. The three doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha:
Vata governs the physiology of motion in the body.
Pitta governs the physiology of metabolism.
Kapha governs the physiology of structure.
Each person has all three of these doshas with them. The balance of these three doshas at the moment of conception defines what Ayurveda calls one’s constitution or “prakruti”.
These doshas also fluctuate in accordance with how we live our lives and as they increase or decrease they cause different conditions in the body and mind. This is called “vikruti”. An excess or deficit of one leads to an imbalance in the body, thus leading to disease.
For instance, feeling too hot or angry signals a Pitta imbalance; having insomnia or excessive sexuality shows a Vata imbalance; and being too sluggish, having indigestion and sleeping during the day indicates a Kapha imbalance.
Ayurvedic practitioners prescribe treatments to bring the doshas back into balance. They combine yoga, meditation with certain Ayurvedic herbal remedies to restore harmony in the body. When normal physiology is restored, healing takes place.
According to a 2015 report published by University of Maryland Medical Center, Ayurvedic medicine can help treat inflammatory, hormonal, digestive and autoimmune conditions, including:
Anxiety or depression
Dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation)
High blood pressure or cholesterol
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and cramps
Ayurveda understands that each person is unique and as a result, each person’s path toward optimal health is unique. Ayurveda is a path of understanding what is right for you and consciously making decisions to maintain harmony within oneself.
Basic principles of Ayurvedic Medicine that are worth remembering
- We are one with the universe. All things in the universe, both living and nonliving, are joined together. We are all made of the same five gross natural elements: space, air, fire, water, and earth.
- There is a deep connection between the self and the environment (nature).
- We remain healthy if we retain balance, interacting with our environment in an effective and wholesome way.
- Our balance is often disrupted by our lifestyles. Choices about diet, exercise, profession, and relationships all have the potential to create physical, emotional, or spiritual imbalances. This imbalance causes a lack of harmony and makes us more susceptible to disease.
- We are responsible for their choices and actions. We can attain and maintain good health if we make balanced choices that promote connectivity and harmony.
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