Information on Ayurveda
The main types of Ayurveda are traditional and Maharishi. Maharishi Ayurveda is an adaptation of traditional Ayurveda based on translations from the classical texts by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Both types of Ayurvedic practice consider disease as a result of an imbalance in the doshas and use mostly the same remedies for treating illness. Besides this Maharishi Ayurveda, stresses the role of supreme consciousness in maintaining good health, and therefore encourages Transcendental Meditation (TM). In addition Maharishi Ayurveda emphasizes the need of positive emotions and to adjust your life to the natural rhythms of the body.
Condition it treats
Ayurveda is a holistic, curative and preventative system of health. It can treat almost any disease. Ayurveda considers that most diseases and conditions results from disturbance of digestive function, hence diet has an important role in Ayurvedic healing.
Some common illness that can be cured by Ayurveda and herbal treatment are
- Acidity, Acne, AIDS, Allergy, Alzheimer disease, Anemia, Angina, Arthritis, Asthma
- Backache, baldness and hair loss, bronchitis
- Cancer, cervical spondylosis, cold, cough, constipation
- Depression, diabetes, diarrhea
- Erectile dysfunction
- Fever, fibromyalgia
- Gas, gout
- Heart Disease, high Blood Pressure, headache
- Impotency, infertility, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome
- Kidney stone
- Low blood pressure
- Menopause, migraine headache, mouth ulcer
- Obesity, Osteoarthritis,
- Parkinson's disease,
- Rheumatoid Arthritis and other arthritis
- Sinusitis, skin diseases, stress
There are several other conditions that can be treated with Ayurveda. Consult a doctor to know whether your illness can be treated with ayurvedic remedies.
Conditions it cannot Treat
As ayurveda has a holistic approach to treatment and uses herbal remedies, diet modification, massage, and meditation for treatment there are certain ailments that cannot be treated by ayurveda.
Treatment principles of ayurveda become a limitation when treating diseases and illnesses such as cancer, tumors, AIDS, paralysis, and large-scale physical injury such as after accident. If you have a condition that needs surgery you may probably need conventional treatment. Ayurveda can be used as a complementary therapy along with conventional treatment.
Limitations of Ayurveda
Ayurveda can prevent and cure most diseases. It is widely popular in India however it has limitations in treatment like all other system of medicine. Ayurveda cannot be used as primary treatment for treatment of life threatening conditions like heart attack, paralytic stroke, diabetic coma, major physical injury etc. In these conditions it can be used as a complementary therapy along with conventional treatment.
Ayurveda is a holistic system of medicine and hence relies on observation, experimentation, and philosophical emphasis for individualizing treatment. Treatments are different for different people for the same disease which creates inconsistency and unreliable data on the effectiveness of the treatments. However aggressive research on Ayurveda from a scientific perspective is being done in India since 1969.
Ayurvedic medicines generally contain several herbs, metals, minerals, or other materials. The major concerns with these medications are related to toxicity, formulations, interactions, and scientific evidence.
Toxicity: Like other systems of medicine Ayurvedic medications also have the possibility of being toxic. Several ingredients used in these medications have not been meticulously studied in research. Some of these medications contain lead, mercury, and/or arsenic at levels that could be harmful.
Formulations: Ayurvedic medications are usually a combination of herbs and other medicines. The exact function and effect of each component is not entirely known.
Interactions: Like in conventional medicine, if two or more ayurvedic medications are used by a person a possibility of interaction is present. Consult your ayurveda physician to know about the possible interaction of medications.
Doshas and Treatment
Ayurveda considers that each person has a distinct pattern of energy -- a specific combination of physical, mental, and emotional characteristics-- just like everyone has a unique thumbprint.
According to ayurveda there are three basic energy types called doshas, which is present in every person
Vata: This energy controls bodily functions related with motion, as well as blood circulation, breathing, blinking, and the beating of the heart. Vata energy in proper balance promotes creativity and vitality and with imbalance produces fear and anxiety.
Pitta: This energy controls body's metabolic systems, as well as digestion, absorption, nutrition, and body temperature. Pita energy in proper balance leads to contentment and intelligence and with imbalance causes ulcers and arouses anger.
Kapha: This energy controls growth of the body. It provides water to all body parts, moisturizes the skin, and sustains the immune system of the body. Kapha energy in proper balance promotes love and forgiveness and with imbalance leads to insecurity and envy.
According to Ayurveda every person has all the three doshas, however only 1or 2 are dominant in a given individual. The dosha balance can be disturbed by various reasons like stress, an unhealthy diet, the weather, and strained family relationships. The disturbance of doshas is expressed in the body as disease. Ayurvedic treatment aims to restore the doshas back into balance.
Relief of stress is one of the ways that Ayurveda works to help fight illness according to conventional medical outlook. Studies have shown that Ayurveda reduces anxiety, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, slows the aging process, and speeds recovery from illness.
Herbs are often used in Ayurvedic treatment. These herbs have antioxidant effects, due to which they may help to protect against the damage from free radicals (by-products of normal metabolism in the body). The free radiclas are associated with long-term illnesses such as heart disease and arthritis. Vegetarian diet is often advised by Ayurvedic practitioners as it is believed to be better for your heart than diets containing meat.
Treatment in Ayurveda is usually tailored to each person's constitution. Active participation of the patients is needed as many Ayurvedic treatments require change in diet, lifestyle, and habits. Before treatment is started ayurvedic practitioners endeavor to find out the patient's primary dosha and the balance among the three doshas by
- Analyzing diet, behaviour, lifestyle practices, recent illnesses, and history of aptitude to convalesce from illness
- Noting physical appearance like teeth, tongue, skin, eyes, weight, built, and overall appearance
- Inspecting the patient's urine, stool, speech and voice, and pulse. According to ayurveda each dosha is associated with a particular kind of pulse.
Herbs and Benefits
Herbs, oils and common spices are often used in ayurveda for treatment. Ayurvedic treatment uses about 600 herbal formulas and 250 single plant drugs. The herbs and other products from plant may be mixed with metals or other naturally occurring substances to make formulas prepared in accordance with specific Ayurvedic text procedures. The plant compounds are divided in categories according to their effects (such as healing, promoting vitality, or relieving pain). Some of the herbs used for treatment are given below. These herbs can be used as home remedies, taken as healthcare supplements or to relax your mind and body after a hard day's work.
Aloe Vera: This herb has numerous healing properties. It has moisturizing and anti-aging effect and hence is often used in skin lotions. When taken orally it is good for the circulatory system, liver and spleen, and is effective in for several stomach and digestive disorders.
Amalaki: This potent herb is used in many standard Ayurvedic preparations for it’s rejuvenative powers. It can help to cure diseases like anemia, hyperacidity and peptic ulcer to anorexia, hemorrhage, and urinary disorders. It is an exceptional cardiac tonic, diuretic general tonic and an aphrodisiac.
Arjuna: Arjuna or Terminalia arjuna is helpful to maintain a healthy heart and reduces the effects of stress and nervousness. It supports good cardiac functioning, regulates blood pressure and is considered as a herb of choice in Ayurveda for cardiovascular health. Arjuna can restrain the absorption of lipids, this shows that it has cholesterol-regulating properties as well.
Ashwagandha: This popular and widely-used herb is a natural stressbuster. It has power to rejuvenate, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antistress and antioxidant properties. It is considered as herbal aphrodisiac for both men and women.
Basil: Basil is often used in various minor diseases, such as cough and cold. It is a natural air freshener, insect repellant and is used in several Mediterranean and Indian cuisines.
Brahmi: It is a broad-spectrum herbal nerve and brain tonic which improves memory and cognitive processes. It is often used to improve memory, treat senility, strokes, ADD (attention deficit disorder), insanity and epilepsy.
Cinnamon: Cinnamon a flavoring spice used in cakes, breads, desserts, drinks and confectionary, can assist in lactation for nursing mothers when taken once daily mixed with warm water, milk or eaten directly
Clove: It is a commonly used flavoring agent in cooking, and is often used as breath fresheners and digestive aids. Pure clove oil has anesthetic and antiseptic property and is commonly used in dentistry as an oral anesthetic and disinfectant.
Coriander: It is widely used in cooking as leaves or powdered form. Coriander chutney is often along with meals as an appetizer.
Cumin: Cumin is common flavoring agent for breads, pastries, cheese, pickles, and chutneys is good for digestive disorders, lactation and after delivery care of mothers.
Garlic: The healing powers all of garlic are well recognized. It has antiseptic and antifungal properties. The antioxidant property of garlic helps to lower blood pressure, clears fatty deposits in blood vessels, reduces cholesterol and blood clotting and much more.
Ginger: The favorable effects of ginger for digestive disorders are well known. It is used widely as antiseptic to prevent respiratory disorders. It is often used to treat nausea, stomach cramps, menstrual pains, chills, colds and rheumatic conditions.
Guduchi: This herb is used as a tonic, vitalizer, remedy for diabetes and metabolic disorders, treatment of problems that are chronic and cause fatigue, and to facilitate digestion. It improves the immune system, body’s resistance to infections and is effective in various liver diseases such as jaundice, drug induced hepatic toxicity.
Gugglu: Gugglu or Indian Bedellium a yellow resin (or gum) has strong purifying and rejuvenating properties. It is useful for treating problems like obesity.
Manduk Parni: Manduk parni which rows at a height of 2000 feet above sea level near rivers and canals in India and Sri Lanka is useful to decrease the effect of kapha and vata. It is known to enhance blood circulation, improve memory and improve digestion.
Manjishta: This herb grows mostly in the northwest Himalayas. The root of the Manjishta plant is used for treating pimples, reducing wrinkles, improving complexion, treating burns, healing injuries, and reducing inflammation and swelling. It also helps to treat urinary tract infections and menstrual disorders.
Mint: This flavoring and garnishing agent used in cooking is good or digestive disorders such as indigestion, flatulence, nausea and diarrhea.
Neem: Neem is widely used for removing contamination of blood and pacifying pitta dosha. The fresh leaves and its fruits are eaten to prevent pitta and kapha disorders. This systemic cleanser is useful in diabetes and several skin diseases.
Prisniparni: This herb is believed to balance all three doshas. It is useful for the treatment of cough and asthma, and is considered to strengthen the nervous system.
Rasna: This herb is hot in nature and is used to treat kapha and vata disorders. In patients with swelling it is used as a lepa or part wrap. It effectively relives pain and is often used as a rasayana or a rejuvenator.
Sandpushpa: Sandpushpa is helpful for treating imbalances in kapha and vata. It is effective in diabetes, dysentery and blood cancer.
Sarpagandha: This plant grows at height of 4000 feet above sea level in shady areas all over India, Burma, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The root has an astringent like taste, is hot in nature and decreases the effect of kapha and vata disorders. It soothes the mind and promotes sound sleep. It is helpful in menstrual disturbances.
Shankhapushpi: It is used therapeutically in Ayurveda for mental stimulation and rejuvenation. The herb is useful in patients with nervous debility and loss of memory. It reduces total serum cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids and non-sterified fatty acids.
Swarnashri: Herbs from this thorny shrub are used to alleviate kapha and pitta disorders. The herb is useful in several diseases like joint pain, leprosy.
Turmeric: Turmeric has effective antiseptic properties and is widely used as a part of Indian cuisine. It’s healing properties are useful for treatment of anemia, asthma, cuts and burns, conjunctivitis, complexion, dental problems, diabetes, diarrhea and pain.
Yashtimadhu: Yastimadhu has anti-inflammatory, rejuvenating liver-strengthening, and anti-hepatotoxic properties. It improves hair growth, is useful for treatment of vomiting, excessive thirst, and constipation.
Source: Onlymyhealth editorial team Feb 24, 2011
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