Ayurveda: The Introduction You Missed!

Holistic Medicine: Ayurveda

Holistic medicinal practices have been creeping into mainstream Western society for some time, with juggernauts like yoga and acupuncture being some of the more recognizable forms. While Americans have been reaping the benefits of these practices for decades, other lesser known areas of holistic medicine have yet to be explored. The practice of Ayurveda is one of the lesser known holistic approaches to medicine; taking its roots in the ancient Indian texts, the Suśruta Saṃhitā and the Charaka Saṃhitā (say those five times fast!).

What is it?

The practice and execution of Ayurveda relies heavily on the concept of balance and the unity of the three intrinsic energies, or doshas, common in Buddhism and Hinduism. These are vata, kapha and pitta. The basis of well-being from an Ayurvedatic standpoint comes from possessing equal levels of these three components. Disease and adverse health effects begin to take place when these elements are out of sync with one another.

Well-being in Ayurveda is mainly achieved through preventative measures. These include having and maintaining a sound metabolic system, possessing a consistent digestive flow and consequently regular excretion. In addition to regulating these areas of your life, Ayurveda also stresses the importance of not curtailing your natural urges. This of course does not call for a life of decadence but instead one of moderation and of course, balance.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Seeking out the services of a physician trained in Ayurveda is much different than going to see a traditional Western doctor. From the outset, Ayurveda will evaluate not one pulse point, but 12, in all areas of the body in order to ensure a better-rounded and complete assessment. Once the pulses of the body have been noted, traditionally, the practitioner will do an inspection of the tongue to note any abnormalities or oddities that could indicate another area of the body being out of sync. From here a general inspection of the body will occur. The practitioner will analyze the appearance of the skin, lips eyes and even teeth to give an even larger insight into the health of the individual.

After this assessment, the practitioner will create a unique treatment plan that focuses on restoring  these doshas into a proper balance with each other. This re-balancing is achieved through a strict regimen of food intake, exercise, herbs, yoga techniques and massage therapy.

Doshas Effect on Your Health

Each dosha is comprised of two of the five elements, space, air, water, earth and fire. Within the practice of Ayurveda, these elements can shape and contour the differences that exist throughout the spectrum of the human experience.

Vata

The Vata dosha is all about movement and flow. The elements associated with Vata are space and air. Breathing, cell creation and circulation are all processes that are governed by the Vata dosha. Individuals who are primarily Vata-centered tend to be thin and in shape, witty, capable of making strong correlations/connections and fast. The main ailments that beset the Vata dosha are drying of the skin, constipation and possibly, arthritis.

Kapha

The Kapha dosha can be thought of as the energy that sits within your core and is tied to the water and earth elements. Primarily associated with the chest, the lungs and the spine, an individual who is Kapha oriented is most often calm and limber. Problems that can beset someone who is too Kapha oriented include obesity, sinus problems and diabetes.

Pitta

Pitta dominated individuals are all about passion and fiery personalities. Pitta is composed of the conflicting elements of fire and water and it is through this combination or turmoil where the passion arises. Pitta essence controls the regulation of hormones and the digestive tract, blood and eye-sight. When Pitta is left unchecked, problems such as heart disease, stomach ulcers and heartburn can arise.

Current Popularity

Ayurveda has enjoyed an increase of usage ever since its quasi-endorsement from the Indian born writer and physician, Deepak Chopra. Its practice came slightly under fire when studies showed that when metals, gems and minerals were added to treatments an individual had high chances of developing complications due to toxicity.

Despite its critics, scientists have conducted a few studies involving commonly prescribed herbs in the Ayurveda world and their effects on Alzheimer’s. One study showed that individuals who regularly took sage as a supplement saw an increase in brain activity related to memory.

While Ayurveda does not have the research and study poured into it as more traditional, Western practices of medicine it does offer a unique and spiritually satisfying approach to health. Ayurveda’s core philosophy, that we are all different, is sometimes the best medicine there is.

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