Ayurveda

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurvedic medicine -- also known as Ayurveda -- is one of the world's oldest holistic (whole-body) healing systems. It was developed thousands of years ago in India.

It is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. The primary focus of Ayurvedic medicine is to promote good health, rather than fight disease. But treatments may be recommended for specific health problems.

Ayurveda Concepts

According to Ayurvedic theory, everything in the universe -- living or not -- is connected. Good health is achieved when your mind, body, and spirit are in harmony with the universe. A disruption of this harmony can lead to poor health and sickness.

For followers of Ayurveda, anything that affects your physical, spiritual, or emotional well-being can cause you to be out of balance with the universe. Some things that can cause a disruption include:

 - Genetic or birth defects

 - Injuries

 - Climate and seasonal changes

 - Age

 - Emotions

How your body works to keep you healthy and your unique physical and psychological characteristics combine to form your body's constitution, or prakriti. Your prakriti is believed to stay the same for your entire life. However, how you digest food and eliminate waste can influence it.

Every person is made of a combination of five basic elements found in the universe:

 - Space

 - Air

 - Fire

 - Water

 - Earth

These elements combine in the human body to form three life forces or energies, called doshas. They control how your body works. The three doshas are:

 - Vata dosha (space and air)

 - Pitta dosha (fire and water)

 - Kapha dosha (water and earth)

Everyone inherits a unique mix of the three doshas. One dosha is usually more dominant. Each dosha controls a different body function. It is believed that your chances of getting sick are linked to the balance of your doshas.

Vata Dosha

Vata dosha (space and air) is thought to be the most powerful of all three doshas. It controls very basic body functions, such as how cells divide. It also controls your:

 - Mind

 - Breathing

 - Blood flow

 - Heart function

 - Ability to get rid of body waste through the intestines

Things that can disrupt this dosha are:

 - Eating dry fruit

 - Eating too soon after a previous meal

 - Fear

 - Grief

 - Staying up too late

If vata dosha is your main life force, you are more likely to develop:

 - Anxiety

 - Asthma

 - Heart disease

 - Nervous system disorders

 - Rheumatoid arthritis

 - Skin problems

Pitta Dosha

The pitta dosha (fire and water) controls:

 - Digestion

 - Ability to break down foods (metabolism)

 - Certain hormones linked to appetite

Things that can disrupt this dosha are:

 - Eating sour foods

 - Eating spicy foods

 - Fatigue

 - Spending too much time in the sun

If pitta dosha is your main life force, you are more likely to develop:

 - Anger and negative emotions

 - Crohn's disease

 - Heart disease

 - Heartburn a few hours after eating

 - High blood pressure

 - Infections

Kapha Dosha

The kapha dosha (water and earth) controls:

 - Muscle growth

 - Body strength and stability

 - Weight

 - Immune system

Things that can disrupt this dosha are:

 - Daytime sleeping

 - Eating after your stomach is full

 - Eating or drinking items that have too much salt or water

 - Eating too many sweet foods

 - Greed

If kapha dosha is your main life force, you are more likely to develop:

 - Asthma and other breathing disorders

 - Cancer

 - Diabetes

 - Nausea after eating

 - Obesity

Ayurvedic Treatment

Treatment depends on your unique prakriti, your primary dosha, and the balance between all three of them.

A main goal of Ayurvedic medicine is to cleanse your body of undigested food called ama, which can stick to the inside of your body and make you sick. This cleansing process is called panchakarma. It is used to reduce any symptoms and reestablish harmony and balance.

 - Panchakarma may include:

 - Blood purification (either by removing blood from the body or with special teas)

 - Massage

 - Medical oils given through the nose

 - Methods to make you vomit

 - Use of enemas, laxatives, or purgatives to cleanse your intestines

Other treatments may also be recommended to:

 - Restore balance

 - Improve spiritual healing

 - Boost your immunity

 - Reduce symptoms

The treatments may include:

 - Aromatherapy

 - Breathing exercises

 - Diet changes

 - Herbs, vitamins, minerals, and metals

 - Plant-based oils and spices

 - Lifestyle changes

 - Meditation

 - Stretching

 - Yoga

 

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