Alternative Medicine Ayurvedic

Ayurvedic medicine (also called Ayurveda) is the traditional medicine system of India, which is still used by more than 90 percent of the country’s population, according to the University of Minnesota (n.d.). Ayurvedic treatment emphasizes disease prevention and health maintenance through daily and seasonal routines to balance body, mind and spirit.

Basic Ayurveda Medicine Principles

According to Ayurveda, there are five basic elements that contain “prana” or life force energy: earth, water, fire, air and ether. These elements interact with and are contained within the body, giving each individual a characteristic “prakriti”—a unique combination of physical, physiological and psychological characteristics that affect how she functions.

Although a prakriti remains the same throughout life, many internal, external and environmental factors affect it, including light, the seasons, diet, exercise and lifestyle choices.

A prakriti consists of three basic energy or body types—called “doshas”—that affect specific bodily functions:

  • Kapha energy, associated with water and earth, controls growth in the body.
  • Pitta energy, associated with fire and water, controls the body’s metabolic systems, including digestion, absorption, nutrition and temperature.
  • Vata energy, associated with air and ether, controls bodily functions related to movement, including blood circulation, breathing and heartbeat.

Each person has an individual balance of these three doshas. When out of balance, they can cause sub-optimal health and, eventually, illness.

Only a trained Ayurvedic practitioner can correctly determine a person’s prakriti and balance of doshas. Doing so requires a complete examination, including observing a person’s facial features, body build, way of walking, speech patterns, pulse and much more.

Ayurvedic Remedies

Ayurvedic remedies focus on balancing out the doshas. Ayurvedic treatment is tailored to each individual, but may include:

  • Ayurvedic massage by trained practitioners using oils prepared based on the diagnosis of a person’s condition
  • Breathing exercises called “pranayama”
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Herbs and herbal formulas (usually based on Indian herbs)
  • Meditation, which may include the use of mantras (rasayana)
  • Yoga.

Ayurvedic remedies also include a detoxification technique called “panchakarma.” This multi-step program—designed to cleanse the body—requires the supervision of a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner.

Using Ayurveda Medicine

Not much clinical research is available on Ayurveda, and the individualized Ayurvedic treatment approach makes research difficult. If you’d like to receive Ayurvedic treatment, check the practitioner’s credentials, training and experience. You may do this by contacting the International Society for Ayurveda and Health (ISAH).

Tell both your Ayurvedic practitioner and any other medical practitioner about all your medical conditions and all the drugs (both prescription and over-the-counter), herbs and supplements you’re taking to avoid potentially dangerous interactions. If your condition doesn’t improve, seek other medical advice.

Resources

International Society for Ayurveda and Health. (n.d.) ISAH. Retrieved August 27, 2010, from http://www.ayurvedahealth.org/http://www.Ayurvedahealth.org/

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (2009). Ayurvedic medicine: An introduction. Retrieved August 27, 2010, from http://nccam.nih.gov/health/Ayurveda/introduction.htmhttp://nccam.nih.gov/health/Ayurveda/introduction.htm

University of Maryland. (2009). Ayurveda. Retrieved August 27, 2010, from http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/ayurveda-000348.htmhttp://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/ayurveda-000348.htm

University of Minnesota. (n.d.). Ayurvedic medicine. Retrieved August 27, 2010, from http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/Ayurvedic-medicinehttp://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/Ayurvedic-medicine