Ayurvedic medicine (“Ayurveda” for short) is one of the world’s oldest holistic (“whole-body”) healing systems. It was developed more than 3,000 years ago in India.
It’s based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. Its main goal is to promote good health, not fight disease. But treatments may be geared toward specific health problems.
Some of the products used in Ayurvedic medicine contain herbs, metals, minerals, or other materials that may be harmful if used improperly or without the direction of a trained practitioner. Ayurvedic medicines are regulated as dietary supplements rather than as drugs in the United States, so they are not required to meet the safety and efficacy standards for conventional medicines. These medicines can interact, or work against, the effects of Western medicines. Investigate the training and background of Ayurvedic practitioners whom you intend to use.
Ayurveda and Your Life Energy
If your mind, body, and spirit are in harmony with the universe, you have good health. When something disrupts this balance, you get sick. Among the things that can upset this balance are genetic or birth defects, injuries, climate and seasonal change, age, and your emotions. Those who practice Ayurveda believe every person is made of five basic elements found in the universe: space, air, fire, water, and earth.
These combine in the human body to form three life forces or energies, called doshas. They control how your body works. They are Vata dosha (space and air); Pitta dosha (fire and water); and Kapha dosha (water and earth).
Everyone inherits a unique mix of the three doshas. But one is usually stronger than the others. Each one controls a different body function. It’s believed that your chances of getting sick — and the health issues you develop — are linked to the balance of your doshas.
An Ayurvedic practitioner will create a treatment plan specifically designed for you. They’ll take into account your unique physical and emotional makeup, your primary life force, and the balance between all three of these elements.
The goal of treatment is to cleanse your body of undigested food, which can stay in your body and lead to illness. The cleansing process—called “panchakarma”— is designed to reduce your symptoms and restore harmony and balance. To achieve this, an Ayurvedic practitioner might rely on blood purification, massage, medical oils, herbs, and enemas or laxatives.