Ayurveda – An Ancient Indian Medical Science

AyurvedaBy Jacquie Eubanks BSN, RN

“Within each of us lies the power of our consent to health and to sickness.  It is we who control these things and not another.” ~ Richard Bach

In the United States, Ayurveda is considered a complementary and alternative medicine.  In India, it is estimated that more than 90% of Indian people use some form of Ayurvedic treatment.  Ayurvedic medicine, one of the world’s oldest continually practiced medical systems, is an intricate system of healing that evolved in India thousands of years ago.  Translated as the “science of life,” Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health that is designed to help people live longer, healthier and more balanced lives. 

The first aim of Ayurveda is to protect and maintain health throughout a person’s entire lifespan by maintaining balance in the body, mind, and consciousness through diet, the use of herbal remedies and the inclusion of lifestyle practices such as meditation, massage and yoga.  A chief aim of Ayurveda is to cleanse the body of substances that can cause disease, thereby establishing harmony and balance within the body. 

Ayurveda, based on the principle that all humans, plants and animals live in harmony with nature, uses the Laws of Nature to create health and balance.  It is believed that when we choose to ignore these laws, disharmony and disease result.  The Ayurvedic approach focuses on the unique individual and aims to teach people to attain optimal health through a deeper understanding of themselves and the intelligent  world around them.  Ayurvedic principle holds that:

  • All living and nonliving things in the universe are connected. 
  • Every human being contains elements that are found in the universe. 
  • Health depends on the harmony of mind and body and a natural and wholesome interaction with the universe.
  • Disease happens when a person is out of harmony with the universe whether that is physical, emotional, spiritual or a combination of these. 

Ayurvedic medicine holds specific beliefs about the body’s constitution (prakriti), which refers to the general state of health, the likelihood of becoming unbalanced and the ability to resist and recover from disease.  Prakriti is influenced by such factors as digestion and elimination, believed to be unchanged over a person’s lifetime.  Ayurveda considers that prakriti is formed at the inception of human life and does not usually alter during the later phases.  However, Ayurvedic principals hold that prakriti is not entirely rigid and undergoes minor adjustments to keep you comfortable with changing situations. 

According to Ayurvedic concepts, each person’s prikriti has a distinct pattern of energy which is responsible for mental, physical and emotional makeup.  There are three life forces or energies (doshas) that control the activities of the body.  These doshas are known by their Sanskrit names: vata, pitta and kapha.  Each dosha is made up of five basic elements: air, fire, water, earth and ether (the upper regions of space), and each has a particular relationship to bodily functions.  Each person has a unique combination of the three doshas although one dosha is usually prominent:

  • Vata (ether and air) is considered the most powerful dosha as it controls very basic bodily processes such as breathing, heartbeat, cell division, and elimination, and governs all movement of thoughts across the mind.  When in balance, people with vata energy tend to be creative, highly imaginative, slender, and full of joy and enthusiasm.  When out of balance, fear and anxiety loom.  Susceptibilities to illness include skin and neurological conditions, heart disease, anxiety, insomnia, digestive problems and rheumatoid arthritis.  
  • Pitta (fire and water) controls hormones, metabolism, body temperature, and the digestive system.  People with pitta energy tend to be assertive, orderly and focused with sharp minds and a strong physique.  When balanced, pitta energy brings calm and happiness.  When out of balance, aggression, impatience, and insecurity ensue.  Typical physical problems include hypertension, infectious diseases, anemia, vision problems and ulcers. 
  • Kapha (water and earth) helps to maintain strength, fluid balance and immunity. People with kapha energy are easy going and affectionate, have strong, constant energy and tend to have sturdier builds and strong resistance to disease. When balanced, kapha energy is tolerant, forgiving and loving.  When out of balance, greed, envy and possessiveness results.  Vulnerabilities include diabetes, obesity, respiratory problems and atherosclerosis

Energy imbalances may be caused by unhealthy lifestyle and diet, not enough exercise, changes in the seasons, or inadequate protection from chemicals or germs.  Ayurvedic treatment goals include eliminating impurities, reducing symptoms, increasing resistance to disease, reducing stress and worry, and increasing harmony.  Treatments, tailored to each individual’s constitution, rely heavily on herbs and other plants, oils, and spices.  Ayurvedic medicine concentrates on prevention and interventions to teach people how to attain optimal health through a deeper understanding of their own particular nature in relation to the world around them.  It is a system that allows the body’s own natural healing mechanisms to work to its fullest potential.

Ashwagandha by Ayush Herbs –  Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng, is indicated in Ayurveda as a daily rasayana or anti-aging aid. It is one of the most highly regarded and widely used Ayurvedic herbs and is believed to increase energy and overall health and longevity. 

Blood Cleanse by Banyan Botanicals Blood Cleanse is a blend of five powerful blood purifiers that remove natural toxins from the blood, lymph and liver, supporting vibrant, healthy skin.

I Sleep Soundly by Banyan Botanicals –  Containing natural sleep promoters like chamomile and skullcap,  ‘I Sleep Soundly’ works to support the body’s natural sleep process to help you wake feeling rested, refreshed and full of vitality.  Balancing for all doshas. 

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