What is Ayurvedic Medicine?

by in Kitchen Sink February 5, 2008

Ayurveda, which literally means “the science of life”, is the natural healing system of India. This traditional medicine was practiced as early as 4,000 BC. It was established by holy people and visionaries of this culture as a method to enhance spiritual evolution and promote physical well-being and vitality.
Practitioners of Aurveda refer to a life force “Prana” that runs through everything and is manifested in many different forms. Additionally, Ayurveda states that there are 5 primary elements of which all things are made: Water, Air, Earth, Fire, and Ether. Ayurvedic medicine also observes that there are three basic constitutions that are combinations of these 5 basic elements. Most people fit into one of these constitutional categories or are a combination of one or more of these basic constitutional types, they are:

Vata, which is made up of Air and Ether
Pitta, which is made up of Fire and Water
Kapha, which is made up of Earth and Water

By their balance or imbalance they determine the life processes of growth or decay. When a person’s constitution is out of balance, they may be prone to disease processes characteristic of that constitutional type. The goal of Ayurveda is to provide people with an understanding of their individual nature. With this awareness, people can make lifestyle choices that maintain balance within their constitution and improve their over-all health.

Because Ayurveda is a holistic medicine, practitioners will ask many questions about general health and constitution before addressing the symptoms of a particular patient.

Examples of these questions include:

  • Do you more often feel hot or cold?
  • Does your skin and hair tend to be dry or oily?
  • Do you stay focused easily or do you tend to drift from task to task / thought to thought?
  • Is your general pace sharp and quick or slow and steady?
  • Are your bowel movements easy or difficult? Dry, hard or soft?
  • How is your appetite?
  • What are your favorite foods or flavors?

In addition to questions, the Ayurvedic practitioner will look at the overall form of your body, hair, nails, skin tone, and will probably feel your pulse as well. All these factors go together to help with the assessment of your constitution, and the source of imbalance that is causing disease symptoms.

Methods to ensure or reestablish health focus on restoring and maintaining balance and include:

  • Proper diet
  • Herbs
  • Daily routine
  • Seasonal routine
  • Therapies that rejuvenate

Ayurvedic Recipes!

1. Maya Tiwari. Ayurveda: A Life of Balance. Healing Arts Press. 1995.
2. Dr. Vasant Lad. Ayurveda: The Science of Self-Healing. Lotus Press.1984.
3. Robert E. Svoboda. Ayurveda: Life, Health, and Longevity. Penguin press. 1992.

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