Ayurveda deals with healthy living, along with therapeutic measures that relate to physical, mental, social, and spiritual harmony and is among the few traditional systems of medicine that involve surgery.
Ayurveda is a branch of the Vedas. Originating in ancient India, ‘Vedas’ means knowledge. There were Vedas written for every aspect of life. Ayurveda provides an integrated approach to the prevention and treatment of illness through lifestyle interventions and a wide range of natural therapies. Ayurvedic theory states that all imbalance and disease in the body begin with imbalance or stress in the awareness, or consciousness, of the individual. This mental stress leads to unhealthy lifestyles, which further promote ill health. Therefore, mental techniques such as meditation are considered essential to the promotion of healing and to prevention.
The Universe, according to ancient Indian thinking is composed of five basic elements, namely: Prithivi (earth), Apya(water), Teja (fire), Vayu (air) and Akash(ether).
As the human body is similarly constituted, there is a fundamental harmony between the universe and man, a healthy balance between the microcosm and macrocosm. Ayurveda describes all physical manifestations of disease as due to the imbalance of these basic physiological principles in the body.
True medicine, according to Ayurveda is one, which cures the disease without causing any side effect. It is in this aspect that Ayurveda enjoys an advantage over the modern system of medicine. Health, according to Ayurveda, is the natural state of all three aspects of human being i.e. body, mind and the soul (Indriyas, Manas and atma). In addition, effects of yogic postures and breathing on blood flow showed consistent changes with various breathing practices, changes that were more pronounced in trained yogic practitioners. Changes in endocrine hormone measurements also have been associated with certain Ayurvedic practices.
Measurement of metabolic rate, oxygen exchange, lung capacity, and red and white blood cell counts have been found to be associated with general yogic training and in some cases with specific asanas (posture). When the natural state comes in contact with unhappiness (Dukhasamayoga) disease result.
Ayurveda has eight distinct- branches :
1. General medicine
3. Ear, nose, throat, eye and mouth diseases
5. Midwifery and pediatrics
7. Rejuvenation and tonics and
It is because of these eight branches that Ayurveda is known as the Astanga-ayurveda.
Ayurveda describes all physical manifestations of disease as due to the imbalance of three basic physiological principles in the body, called doshas, which are believed to govern all bodily functions. Evaluation of these three doshas–vata, pitta, and kapha–is accomplished primarily by feeling the patient’s pulse at the radial artery, which is a detailed and systematic technique called nadi vigyan.
This evaluation determines the types of herbs prescribed, and it guides the physician in the application of all other ayurvedic therapies. Doshas:
Vata - is likened to the wind, which is constantly moving and hence represents the central nervous system.
Pitta – the sun, which is a source of energy. It represents the digestive system and biochemical processes.
Kapha - governs the balance of tissue fluid and controls the cell growth and the firmness of the body.
Specific lifestyle interventions are a major preventive and therapeutic approach in Ayurveda as well. Each patient is prescribed an individualized dietary, eating, sleeping, and exercise program depending on his or her constitutional type and the nature of the underlying dosha imbalance at the source of the illness.
The Ayurvedic practitioner uses a variety of precise body postures, all derived from the age-old discipline of yoga; breathing exercises; and meditative techniques.
These postures are used to create an individualized self-care program to improve both physical health and personal consciousness. In addition, herbal preparations are added to the patient’s diet for preventive and rejuvenative purposes as well as for the treatment of specific disorders.In addition to mental factors, lifestyle, and dosha imbalance, Ayurveda identifies a fourth major factor in disease: the accumulation of metabolic byproducts and toxins in the body tissues.
Ayurvedic physical therapy, called panchakarma, consists of physical applications, including herbalized oil massage, herbalized heat treatments, and elimination therapies (e.g., therapies to improve bowel movements), which promote internal cleansing and removal of such toxic metabolic wastes. Certain of the agents used in panchakarma therapy are proposed to have free-radical scavenging, or antioxidant, effects.
Free radicals are naturally occurring atoms or molecules that are highly reactive with anything they come into contact with. A recently developed theory suggests that free radicals play important roles in causing a wide range of degenerative and chronic disorders, including cancer and aging. Thus, substances with antioxidant properties may be effective in preventing, or even treating, myriad conditions.
Ayurveda emphasizes the interdependence of the health of the individual and the quality of societal life.
Therefore, measures to ensure the collective health of society, such as pollution control, community hygiene, the collective practice of meditation programs, and appropriate living conditions, are supported.
Ayurveda has been known to treat people with various chronic diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, chronic bronchitis, eczema, psoriasis, hypertension, constipation, headaches, chronic sinusitis, and non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
In addition, published studies have documented reductions in cardiovascular disease risk factors, including blood pressure, cholesterol, and reaction to stress, in individuals practicing Ayurvedic methods and have shown improvement in overall health care utilization measures among meditators.
The “technology” of meditative practices has been subjected to studies showing physiological changes of heart rate, blood pressure, brain cortex activity, metabolism, respiration, muscle tension, lactate level, skin resistance, salivation, and pain and stress responses (improvement), and both negative and positive behavioral effects.
Not Medical Care:
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To learn more about Ayurveda and You read the short article “Understanding Your Constitution”
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