Ayurvedic Medicine: What? How? When?

Ayurveda is an ancient medical science practised mostly in the Indian subcontinent. It is as old as 5000 years. The birthplace is India. The origin of Ayurveda comes from the combination of two words from Sanskrit. Ayur means life while Veda means scientific knowledge. Though the practice is very old and in Indian households knowingly or unknowingly we are using Ayurveda in some form. Science has started to gain popularity in the past century due to concern about the safety of modern allopathic medicine. It has spread its roots in western countries as well and many well-known celebrities have tried it to their success. Christy Turlington, Ricky Williams, Halle Berry are a few names that pop into my mind who have endorsed Ayurvedic medicine.

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Modern allopathy targets the specific part of your body while Ayurveda concentrates on the whole body. It relies on the principle of cleaning and purifying the energy systems of the body. In the desi language, we can call the Prakriti defines the type of Ayurvedic treatment. The Prakriti or Prakruti of our body is determined by three different types of energy and we call them doshas. People may have either one or mostly two of these energy types. Very rarely they will have tridoshas.The doshas are namely Pitta, Kapha and Vata.

To tell you in brief, Pitta energy is a combination of fire and water. This will handle your digestive and the endocrine system. When this Pitta is out of balance, people may suffer from GIT infections like stomach ulcers, inflammation. Furthermore, they suffer from autoimmune conditions like arthritis and other endocrine issues.

People with Vata energy are linked to air and space. They control the Respiratory and circulatory system. If your Vata is weak then a person is likely to suffer from anxiety, skin disease, asthma and other respiratory infection.

People having Kapha energy are a mix of water and earth. They control the development of overall morphology but mostly the upper torso. They are the one who generally likes to eat heavy food and often suffer from obesity, diabetes, urological infections.

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These three doshas have a particular set of diet to be followed. This is further influenced by your body built, season and pre-medical history. Any imbalance will impact your body adversely.

There are many types of research that show that it benefits the body in the long run. It will cleanse your system and rejuvenate your body energy. You can also predict the risk of certain diseases by studying the state of the dosha. For e.g. in a study published in 2013, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Manyam could identify the risk factor of Parkinson’s disease in a certain group of people. By using the principles of Ayurveda, it was concluded that people with Vata dosha have higher chances of contracting this disease.

Regarding the effectiveness of the treatment, there are few published studies. One notable mention is that of the 1970s, the WHO conducted a study through Ayurveda Trust in India regarding the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, a type of autoimmune disease. It showed there was effectiveness and patients found relief with no side effect.

Unlike conventional modern medicine, the number of researches done on Ayurvedic medicine is still less.

The heart of the ayurvedic treatment is a diagnosis of the doshas and its treatment either by dietary restrictions, herbal treatment, yoga and meditation. Let us know about these treatments in detail.

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When we talk about Ayurveda, how can we miss herbs and spices? They have natural immunity boosters and help to cleanse your system and correct your dosha. Here is a list of a few of the herbs and spices widely used for treatment.

  1. Ashwagandha– Country of origin is the Indian subcontinent and North Africa. It is widely used for reducing stress, blood sugar and improves sleep by reducing levels of cortisol (Stress inducing hormone).
  2. Boswellia- It has earned the name of Indian frankincense and has a woody aroma. This is used to reduce inflammation in the body and given to patients of osteoarthritis as Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory Drugs.
  3. Triphala– It is a combination of three fruits, the amla, haritaki and bibhitaki. It is used as an anti-inflammatory agent. Triphal is widely used to improve digestion.
  4. Brahmi- It is all-rounder of ayurvedic medicine. It is used to improve concentration, learning and reduce symptoms of ADHD.
  5. Turmeric- turmeric has many anticancer and antibacterial properties which we use in a daily household.

Apart from that, there are many other players in this herbal medicinal box like cumin, gotu kola, cardamom, bitter melon, tulsi and so on. The list is endless.

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It falls under the category of alternative treatment. There are different medicines for different ailments. List of generic herbs and spices given below for your reference.

  1. Ayurvedic medicine for High Blood Pressure: Amla, Ashwagandha, Garlic, Honey
  2. Ayurvedic medicine for Fever: Garlic, Ginger, Cinnamon
  3. Ayurvedic medicine for Depression: Ashwagandha, Haristha
  4. Ayurvedic medicine for Gas and Acidity: Ginger juice, Fennel, Jeera
  5. ayurvedic medicine for Hair Growth: Brahmi, Amla, Shikakai
  6. Ayurvedic medicine for Liver Disease: Neem, Kutki, Aloe Vera, Amla, Turmeric
  7. Ayurvedic medicine for Sinus: Nag guti, Sitopaladi churna, Mahasudarshan churna.
  8. Ayurvedic medicine for Kidney stone: Manjistha, Shilajit, sahadevi
  9. Ayurvedic medicine for UTI: Sheelajit, camphor, Vacha
  10. Ayurvedic medicine for Premature Ejaculation: Kaunch seeds, kamini vidrawan ras, shilajit

These were the natural medicinal sources of a few of the diseases. For details, you must contact an expert Ayurvedic practitioner and take his advice.

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When we think of herbs, we think it is natural and safe. Most of the time it’s safe. But your commercial ayurvedic medicine may contain a high amount of heavy metals like lead, arsenic and this can lead to systemic poisoning. Check an example mentioned below.

In 2012, a CDC report on Morbidity and Mortality noted sis cases of lead poisoning in pregnant women who were using Ayurvedic medicines containing lead. Lead hampers the neurological development in the fetus and the child born can have severe malfunctions. It is always advised to consult your doctor if you are having any contradictory conditions like pregnancy, cancer etc.

Some Ayurvedic preparation contains metals, minerals and even gems. The US FDA has warned of the presence of such poisonous metals in commercially available ayurvedic medicine. In one of the studies in 2015, it was found that people who use ayurvedic medicine have 40% elevated levels of lead and mercury. Stating that always chose your medicine maker carefully with caution.

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Diet helps to maintain the balance of energy and circulatory systems in your body. Any imbalance can have a negative effect and may lead to certain diseases. According to your dosha, you need to follow certain dietary practices and avoid the rest of them. So which good to avoid according to your dosha? There are details in our Ayurveda. Few examples are given below for your reference. Red meat has to be avoided for all three doshas. People with Pitta dosha need to avoid sour cream, buttermilk. The science behind avoiding a particular diet is a very detailed one. That is another topic of discussion.

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Yoga and meditation need no description. It is an exercise of body and soul. It strengthens your immunity system and increases the tenacity of your body physically. Practicing yoga and meditation increases your concentration, learning power and it keeps you free of generic disease.

Yoga and Ayurveda are two sisters. Both complement each other for the greater good of our body and with the help of Vedic science helps to keep the balance. Both are based upon the principles of how the body works and reacts to different conditions and diet. A perfect combination of Ayurveda and yoga not only enhances your body but also your life. Eat like a sage and practice like a warrior.

Now that you have learnt a little about Ayurvedic medicine and the mode of treatment, you are sure to give it a try. However, it is very important to follow the correct treatment and correct diet. Here’s wishing you a healthy and happy lifestyle!

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