Ayurveda: Natural System of Medicine
Ayurveda and Health
Ayurveda is a natural system of medicine that originated in India more than 3,000 years ago. It is considered as a form of medical care considered equal to western medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, naturopathic and homeopathic medicine. The term Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘ayur’ which means life and ‘veda’ which means science of knowledge, and therefore, Ayurveda means the ‘knowledge of life’. According to Ayurveda, life is a union of body, senses, mind, and soul and the lifestyle interventions and therapies used in this practice are aimed at obtaining a balance between these components of life.
Ayurveda states that health is a state of balance between the body’s constitution (Prakriti) and the life forces (Doshas). Both intrinsic and extrinsic factors can influence the body’s natural equilibrium and can result in the occurrence of diseases. Restoring the body’s balance can be done by following a proper diet, correcting life-routine and behavior, administration of drugs and resorting to preventive Panchakarma and Rasayana therapies.
Diagnosis of Diseases using Ayurveda
Ayurveda uses individualistic approach to diagnose and treat diseases unlike the general approach used by modern medicine. Ayurvedic physicians take efforts to carefully analyse the patient in terms of their physiological and mental dispositions. A close analysis of the patient’s daily routine, dietary habits, clinical conditions, social, economic, and environmental situations is performed to understand the condition and plan a suitable treatment for the patient. Other specific diagnosis includes:
- General physician examination.
- Pulse examination.
- Urine and feces examination.
- Examination of tongue and eyes.
- Examination of skin and ear.
Benefits of Ayurveda
Balance is essential for the body to be healthy and well which can be achieved with the help of Ayurveda. Some benefits that the Ayurveda practice offers are listed below:
- Staying well – By practicing the Ayurvedic preventive care techniques, you can maintain health and stay away from diseases.
- Beautiful skin – Ayurveda helps you understand your skin type better so that you can choose the appropriate natural skincare treatments to achieve healthy and beautiful skin.
- Improved concentration – Ayurvedic practices promote both mental and physical balance which helps soothe our mind and improve concentration.
- De-stressing – The diet and lifestyle recommended in Ayurveda helps alleviate stress.
- Revitalizing energy – Understanding your body’s natural constitution through Ayurveda will help you determine ways of bringing your body to balance and help revitalize your energy.
- Relaxation – To feel content in the mind and body it is necessary to relax. Relaxation can be achieved by therapeutic body massages to get rid of stress.
- Anti-aging – By balancing and maintaining a healthy relationship with the body’s constitution, you can achieve internal harmony and enjoy a healthy, youthful body even as you age.
The Ayurveda system is holistic and individualized. Its objective is to maintain and promote health, prevent diseases, and cure illnesses. The treatment approach involves avoiding the causative factors that are responsible for the imbalance in the body’s constituents by using Panchakarma techniques, medicines, suitable diet, activity and regimen for restoring balance and strengthening the body mechanism to prevent or minimize recurrence of the disease.
First, the physicians use their knowledge and wisdom to analyse the individual and their sufferings using their technical skills with humility. Based on the condition and the symptoms, a diet and medication plan is administered to the individual to treat the cause of the condition in a manner that there be no recurrence. Then, skilled, intelligent, and sympathetic nursing personnel treat the patient with utmost care and professionalism. During the entire course of treatment, it is essential for the patient to be cooperative, obedient, and follow the instructions of the physician.
Types of Ayurvedic Treatment
Treatment of the disease can be classified into 6 types according to Ayurveda:
- Purification treatment (Shodhana therapy) – Involves internal and external purification. It aims at removing causative factors leading to physiological and psychological diseases. It is helpful for neurological disorders, Musculo-skeletal disease conditions, respiratory diseases, degenerative diseases, etc.
- Palliative treatment (Shamana therapy) – It involves restoration of the vitiated life forces (Doshas). This treatment uses palliatives and sedatives to achieve balance of one humor without creating imbalance in the other humors. It also encourages exercising, sun exposure, and fresh air for maximal benefits.
- Prescription of Diet and Activity (Pathya Vyavastha) – This treatment helps enhance the effects of therapeutic measures and impedes pathogenic processes. The aim is to stimulate the digestive fire (agni) and optimize digestion and assimilation of food in order to ensure strength of the tissues.
- Avoidance of Disease-causing and Aggravating factors (Nidan Parivarjan) – The aim of this treatment is to avoid the known disease-causing factors in the diet and lifestyle of the patient. It also encompasses the idea to refrain from further aggravating the disease.
- Psychotherapy (Satvavajaya) – It is concerned with treating mental disturbances. It includes restraining the mind from desires for unwholesome objects and cultivation of courage, memory, and concentration.
- Using Immunomodulators and Rejuvenating medicines (Rasayana therapy) – Deals with promotion of strength and vitality. It prevents premature wear and tear of body tissues and promotes overall health.
Side Effects of Ayurveda
The Ayurvedic medical practice can be confusing and difficult to follow. Based on your body’s constitution, you will be advised to consume and avoid certain foods to maintain balance in your body. However, this Ayurvedic diet can be overly restrictive and less flexible which makes it difficult to be followed. As the diet is based on the body constitution, choosing an incorrect constitution and suggesting the wrong diet can negatively impact your body and affect the result you want to achieve.
Ayurveda is an effective and safe method for treating various health ailments like life style disorders, degenerative conditions, neuromuscular disorders, allergies, etc. it can generally be taken with allopathic medicine unless recommended otherwise, hence, consultation and advice of a professional is required before starting Ayurvedic medicines for health conditions.