Ayurveda is a 5000-year-old system of healing and medicine which is almost as old as mankind itself. It originated as “Mainstream Medicine” in India but is ironically called “Alternative Medicine” in the West now. However, Ayurveda was and still is the original system of healing and is gaining increasing popularity in the world as we are migrating more towards holistic health solutions.
Ayurveda comes across as a new term to many people in the West because it is relatively unheard of in this part of the globe. Through this post, we aim to clarify those initial questions of FAQs that you may have about Ayurvedic treatments.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayus: Life, Veda: Knowledge/Science. Ayurveda literally means “The Science or Knowledge of Life”.
A system of healing as old and as individual as ourselves, Ayurveda is a non-invasive, holistic system of healthcare based in ancient wisdom. It is a lifestyle medicine that encourages us to backtrack our life and trace the steps we have been taking that may be contributors to our diseases.
What is the treatment principle in Ayurveda?
The basis of Ayurvedic treatment lies in root cause analysis: The cumulative effect of regular habits and lifestyle which are non-conducive to our health is the cause of our disease.
Ayurvedic treatment involves finding those habits and lifestyle practices (called Nidanas) and modifying them, so that you may find your optimal balance and fight off disease at its root. The treatment principle is: Introducing qualities which are Opposite to your imbalance brings you back to Balance.
What Tools are used in Ayurvedic Treatment?
Food as Medicine: Diet modifications
What are the basic concepts of Ayurveda?
Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These 3 concepts (called Doshas) are based on the 5 elements of nature (air, ether, fire, water, and earth).
Vata is more air and ether
Pitta is more fire and water
Kapha is more water and earth
We all are comprised of the 5 elements of nature. As per Ayurveda, an excess of any of these elements or their qualities in the body can set the system off balance and cause disease. Balancing these 5 elements in the body is the way Ayurveda imparts healing.
For example Dry skin is caused by an excess of Vata Dosha (mainly the air element). We treat it by introducing internal and external oleation to help remove systemic dryness and bring the body back to balance. We do not patch it up like a band-aid using moisturizers but begin internally oleating the body to remove the dryness from the root.
Why is food so important in Ayurveda?
Ayurveda bases its treatment on building a health-conducive lifestyle. Food is a major part of our life and one of our biggest constants. We eat 2 to 3 meals every day throughout our lives. It directly affects the body and mind as it is fuel for the body.
To a very large extent, we are what we eat. Hence, food habits are highly important in Ayurveda.
What is Panchakarma?
Panchakarma is literally translated to 5 actions (Pancha- five karma: action).
The 5 purification actions performed to cleanse the body deeply, remove toxins (Ama), and reset the digestive and other deeper systems is Panchakarma. It involves several days of strict disciplined approach involving food, herbs, body therapies, and post-procedure reintroduction of normalcy.
How is Ayurveda different from allopathic medicine?
Ayurveda follows an individualized and customized treatment approach. No 2 people are the same. Hence, medicine should be practiced on every individual uniquely and not as a blanket rule.
Ayurvedic protocols for you will look very different from those for your relatives or friends. Ayurveda is not like a band-aid approach to mask and cover the symptoms. It is a dissection approach to eliminate the root cause.
Is Panchakarma for everyone?
Nothing is for everyone. The same goes for panchakarma. It is intense detoxification and requires a person to be in a condition where they can handle such intensity.
Panchakarma is not suitable in many situations. At times, we prepare you for months with lifestyle and dietary modifications to bring you to a stage where you may undergo Panchakarma.
How long do Ayurvedic Treatments take to work?
It depends on a lot of factors. How long the condition has been going on, how regular you are with following treatments, how severe the discomfort is, etc.
It can range from anywhere between a couple of months to a whole year to reach optimal balance.
What are diagnostic tools in Ayurveda?
Darshan (Observation), Sparshan (Touch), and Prashna (Questioning) are the tools used. That includes:
- Tongue Diagnosis
- Pulse Diagnosis
- Abdominal exam
- Complete Health History
- Complete Lifestyle History.