Ayurveda is a part of the Indian system of Yoga. This ancient science deals with the healing of the human body and mind to achieve optimum balance between the body, mind and consciousness. It has been developed and refined by ancient Indian seers and practitioners.
For millennia, Hindus in India have used Ayurvedic medicine as a philosophy that brings health to body, mind, and soul. “Ayurveda” translates, in Sanskrit, as “knowledge of life,” and it is this view that informs a system of disease and cure as related to the overall health of a person. Ironically, this holistic school of thought doesn’t use “medicine” at all, but relies on balancing diet, exercise, herbs, and spiritual fulfillment .
The system tries to fix various imbalances in the body and uses herbs and natural products to treat the body. The concept and system was developed to aid a human being towards spiritual progress and rejuvenation. Now a days , it is used primarily as a way to heal the body and reduce stress. This system is used in conjunction with the ancient Indian system of Yoga Asanas and breathing exercises to gain optimum results.
Treatment of common ailments under Ayurvedic medicine differs strongly from a Western doctor’s. Ayurveda does not differentiate between symptoms, causes, or cures. It treats the entire body and spirit as one. Therefore, if you suffered both from a sore back and panic attacks, they would be addressed together, because they are interrelated. A trained Ayurvedic practitioner might rebalance your doshas by recommending acupressure, acupuncture, exercise such as yoga, meditation and breathing regimens, aromatherapy, massage, or dietary adjustments. Many believe Ayurvedic medicine is most successful as treating chronic conditions, such as depression, anxiety, pain, insomnia, skin or food allergies, and digestive irregularities that even Western doctors treat with a combination of lifestyle changes and medicine.
This is not a conventional system; therefore Ayurvedic medicine borrows from herbology, psychology, religion, nutrition, and faith to encourage our bodies to heal themselves using our inner strength. Ayurvedic practitioners believe that selective treatments of specific symptoms can ignore underlying problems and only provide temporary relief. Of course, Western doctors and scientists can create studies to test some of the tenets of Ayurvedic medicine.
There is no evidence that purging techniques, including sweat baths, bloodletting with leeches, self-induced vomiting, nasal washes, laxatives, and enemas, will cleanse you of any toxins — and they may be harmful. Avoid these therapies if you’re pregnant, nursing, elderly, or suffering from heart disease; if you are in normal health and wish to try ayurveda, consult your doctor.
Basic Principals & Philosphy of Ayurveda
Human body is made up of five principles Viz. Air ( Akasa), Vital Force ( Vayu), Minerals, Acids, Alkalies etc ( Tejas), Water ( Jala) and Organic substances and Earthy matter not specified elsewhere( Prithvi). Any part of the body, howsoever minute is a combination of all of these principles.
In Ayurveda, combination of these principles are classified into three: Vayu – Vata- Mayu or Pitta- Valasa – Kapha.
The First is a combination of Air and Vital Force, The second is Minerals, acids and alkalies and the third is a combination of Water and Organic matter. These three Mega Divisions ( Tridhatus) build and sustain all parts of the body. One Dhatu (Mega Division) may be more active in one part of the body compared to the other. Ayurveda recognizes this difference and balance which keeps the body healthy.
When these Mega divisions ( Dhatus ) are displaced or in imbalance due to factors like food, age, various daily activities, time and place, they cause disease. In Ayurvedic terms they cause Impurities ( Malas).
There are three kinds of impurities in Ayurveda :
VATA- Excessively vitiated gasses
PITTA- Fluids of gall bladder and accumulated wastes.
SLESMA – Phlegm or mucus in the mouth, throat and a few other impurities like albumen in the urine.
Disease in the initial stages is treated by alleviation. The imbalances are treated by pacifying them without eliminating them from the body. When the disease is very pronounced, there is no recourse except to eliminate the same from the body . In this case the Ayurveda doctor will try to find the source of the problem (imbalance) and eliminate this source to get a balance in the human body.
The Pacification of the imbalance can be undertaken by the Ayurveda doctor after studying the pulse of the patient. He looks for intensity, pattern, kind of throbbing and other complex variations to understand where the possible cause of the problem can be . The treatment is with a combination of natural herbs and minerals ingested or inhaled and Yoga Asanas ( body postures ) . The herbs and minerals are normally not processed as per modern medicine but comparatively raw. These heavy minerals and herbs can be effective in fixing some common ailments but should be taken under supervision or can cause damage to internal organs.
The Elimination of the imbalance (versus pacification) to get to the root of the problem causing the disease is a complex process. The ‘PANCHKARMA’ treatment is a specialized tool in Ayurveda employed for the purpose of ‘Elimination’. As the name suggests it comprises of five basic steps:
VASTI – Enema
NASYA- Enrhine therapy,
RAKTA MOKSHA- Bloodletting
This treatment works on the principle of removing deep seated toxins from the body causing imbalance and is recommended 3 times a year – at the turn of spring , autumn and winter. A healthy person is recommended this treatment once a year to rejuvenate and revitalize the body by bringing into balance various constituents.
The process is threefold:
PREPARATORY PROCEDURES: Internal Oleation and Lubrication with various herbal oils and Clarified butter taken orally. External lubrication with massages, oil gargles, Oiling of the ear canal etc. Therapeutic heat to induce perspiration and removing impurities through sweat glands.
MAIN TREATMENT: The popular treatments under Panchkarma include:
VIRECHANAM: Purging and purification. Removal of waste accumulated in intestines.
SNANAM: Special medicated herbal bath.
SNEHANAM: Application of oil internally ( orally ).
AVAGAHASWEDAM: Controlled sweating through medicated water.
OOSHMASSWEDAM: Steam bath. Steam from water, sand, dust and more.
TAPASWEDAM: Dry sweating by rubbing body with heated stone etc. And various other kinds of specialized sweating procedures.
DHARA: Pouring of medicated oils continuously on the forehead. It relaxes the body and fixes neurological imbalances.
KAYA SEKA: Full body massage with herbal medicated oils.
PATRA PINDA SWEDA: The whole body is made to perspire by the application of herbal medicated packs.
UDVARTHANA: A herbal powder massage for obesity and skin ailments.
KATI BASTI: Fixes back pains and spinal problems.
SHIROBASTI/ SIROVASTI: Treatment with herbal medicated oil kept on the forehead. This is an effective treatment for disorders connected with the brain.
TARPANA: Specialized eye care to relax and rejuvenate the eyes.
A set of post-treatment diets and exercises are recommended to keep the body fit and rejuvenated. The doctor recommends certain foods and herbs to keep the body fit throughout the year.