WHAT IS AYURVEDA

September 13, 2012 by  
Filed under An Introduction to Ayurveda



Ayurveda is a science of life based on Vedas, the Hindu books of knowledge and wisdom. In Sanskrit , Ayurveda means “ Knowledge of life” . Ayurveda is a healthy-lifestyle system that people in India have used for more than 5,000 years. Ayurveda is perhaps the most complete system of living, embracing not only medicine, but also philosophy, psychology, lifestyle and health.

Ayurvedic medicine is holistic, which means viewing the body and mind as a whole.

According to Ayurveda, the five elements of nature (space, air, fire, water, earth) , also known as Panchabhutas combine in the body as three components (doshas) known as Vatta, Pitta and Kapha. These doshas ( life forces) relate closely to the basic elements of nature and to specific functions of the body. A balance of these doshas is thought to be required for optimal health.

 Vatta is represented by Air and Space. It is considered the most powerful dosha because it controls very basic body processes such as cell division, the heart, breathing, muscle and joint movement ,discharge of waste and the mind . Vatta also controls anxiety, fear, pain and other functions of the nervous system.

 Pitta is represented by Fire and Water. Pitta, which is thought to control such bodily functions as digestion, hormones, metabolism, intelligence and skin color. Pitta controls the emotions of anger, hate and jealousy.

Kapha is represented by Earth and Water . The physical structure of the body, growth of the body and the immune system are governed by Kapha. Emotional responses thought to be controlled by Kapha include calmness, forgiveness, love and greed.

The doshas, which are determined at the time of conception, also is reflected in an individual’s physical makeup and personality. A person with a Vatta makeup tends to have a small, thin build. The Pitta body style is more of a medium, muscular build. The Kapha appearance is usually bigger and well-developed. Most people are considered to have a combination of doshas, with one type of dosha usually being predominant.

The natural constitution is called the prakriti. The prakriti is a person’s unique combination of physical and psychological characteristics and the way the body functions to maintain health. It is influenced by such factors as digestion and how the body deals with waste products. The prakriti is believed to be unchanged over a person’s lifetime.

The most basic idea of Ayurveda is the concept of balance. We are healthy and happy when our doshas and our gunas are properly balanced. Most disease results from an imbalance of our doshas. To heal the disease, the Ayurvedic practitioner attempts through various treatments , dietary changes and exercise to restore the balance.

According to the ayurvedic philosophy, you can also use yoga, meditation or counseling to treat disease.The balanced body then heals itself.

 How is Ayurveda used ?

People use ayurvedic practices to maintain health, reduce stress and improve flexibility, strength, and stamina. Researchers have found that yoga and meditation can be effective ways to treat diseases such as asthma, high blood pressure and arthritis.

Ayurveda stresses proper diet for maintaining good health and treating disease. Ayurvedic medicines are prescribed based on the person’s dosha type.

Researchers are studying the effects of ayurvedic herbal medicines on various long-term (chronic) illnesses.

Is it safe to use Ayurveda and follow its practices?

Ayurvedic practices such as yoga and meditation can be safe ways to promote health. If you have a long-term illness, you may be able to combine ayurveda with conventional medical treatment including counseling.

Ayurvedic herbal medicines, like conventional medicines, may cause side effects, trigger allergic reactions, or interact with other medicines or herbs you are taking. Some ayurvedic medicines may contain high levels of heavy metals.

A study in the recent times has indicated the presence of potentially harmful levels of lead and other heavy metals.

Always tell your doctor all your ailments and also the medicines you have been taking during that duration. Mention about all herbs and natural supplements. If you have already been on the course of ayurvedic medicine products, ask your doctor about screening for heavy metals.

To summarize, Ayurveda is a system that uses the body’s own defenses to restore and maintain health and happiness

 

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