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Ayurveda - A Layperson's Guide

Posted May 20 2009 2:50am

Ayurveda (which literally means the science of life ) is believed to be the oldest medical science. Ayurveda in a layperson terminology is the science with holistic approach to health that makes the mankind to live long and healthy by achieving homeostasis. Ayurveda roots its foundation approximately 5000 years back by the Indian Health Gurus. However, the science now enjoys skyrocketing popularity across the globe. Layperson Guide to Ayurveda includes the basic principle of Ayurveda that is preventing and treating the health ailments by strengthening the body's immunity and restoring the balance between mind, body and soul.


Ayurveda believes that every person has a distinct pattern of nature called prakriti (pronounced –pra kri tee). The prakriti is a special combination of physical, mental and emotional characters. Just as everybody has a unique fingerprint, Ayurveda says, every person has unique prakriti. Based on the prakriti the intensity of disease, signs and symptoms of health ailment vary and its treatment is fixed by looking at physical and mental tolerance of the sufferer.


According to Ayurveda, the human body has three basic humors or states namely; vata (pronounced –vaa taa), pitta (pronounced –pee tt aa) and kapha (pronounced –ka faa). Modern scientists believe vata as the humor governing all the neurological functions (including the bodily movements), pitta as governing all the digestive functioning (including absorption, assimilation, metabolism) and kapha as governing all bodily structure and strength (immunity, physical and mental endurance). Any disease would occur due to imbalance between these three humors.


Every science has limitations and so Ayurveda. Ayurveda is found not so useful in treating the acute illnesses (such as sudden cardiac arrest). Nevertheless, stubborn diseases such as diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis, skin problems, infertility and indigestion can be successfully healed or controlled by practicing Ayurvedic therapies.


There is much hype about Ayurvedic Panchakarma that includes five purification therapies of the body. The Panchakarma therapies include special body massage, medicine induced emesis and purgation and the enema. However, depending upon the disease and diseased, the Panchakarma can be altered or modified. In my practice and observation, I have seen plenty of cases being miraculously treated using Kerala Ayurvedic Panchakarma Therapies. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, indigestion, SLE, OCD, depression, bronchial asthma etc -are few of the diseases that Ayurveda really masters on. However, again, as said in Ayurveda, it solely depends upon the patient's body response to the herbs used in treatment.


I have also observed that Ayurveda works wonderfully when the health ailment is approached internally as well as externally. Any one, if left, ends up in compromised results and that is why, I always prefer my patient to undergo internal and external treatment. However, there are some diseases that can be treated using internal medications. Likewise, the disease in its primitive stage can also be treated by just taking internal Ayurvedic medicines.


Ayurveda has promising results in acne (pimples), musculo-skeletal disorders, digestion problems and other neurological problems. Just like in modern medicinal science, Ayurveda has wonderful classification of the herbs and therapies that give the result exactly the way contemporary medicines give. It is not a secret anymore that your depression tablets may have plenty of side effects (including infertility), your painkillers may ruin up your gastric mucosa (can produce hyper acidity and severe gut pain) and so on. I do not state that they are the worst; indeed, modern medicines save the life but then, just for the symptomatic relief, one should not opt for synthetic derivatives.


Why take painkillers when you have herbs such as Sallaki and Guggulu (works on prostaglandin as modern analgesics); why take diuretics when we have herbs such as Punarnava (draws extra cellular fluids through the lymphatic drainage system); why take anti-depressants when you have potent herbs such as Ashwagandha (restores disturbed neurotransmitters and calms down the aggressive brain chemicals). Likewise, Gokshura works as natural kidney cleanser, Triphala as natural colon cleanser, Brahmi as natural memory booster and Shilajit as libido enhancer.  


There is a big misunderstanding that herbal medicines do not have any side effects. They DO! And that is why, I always prefer patients to consult qualified Ayurvedic Physician before undergoing any Ayurvedic therapy or treatment.

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