In India, traditional systems of medicines have been integral to the health and well being of the people. From their beginnings centuries ago, it has played a significant role till now and continue to do so not only in the Indian subcontinent but in Europe and America as well. In our country, we have six recognized systems of medicines; these are Homeopathy, Naturopathy, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, and Ayurveda.
Ayurveda deserves a special mention here. It is a system that emphasizes health and living. Today, it is meeting global health care needs. For over 5000 years, this straightforward and practical system has contributed to the health of the people.
What is Ayurveda?
The origin of the word ‘Ayurveda’ is from two Sanskrit words – Ayur (life) and Veda (knowledge). This medicinal system even founds a mention in the Vedas, the sacred Hindu texts that were written centuries ago.
In today’s world, integrating it with yoga, one can enjoy the virtues of good health both physically and mentally.
The guiding principle of Ayurveda is the balance of mind, body, and spirit. By maintaining the right balance, one remains healthy and disease-free. According to Ayurveda, everything in the Universe is connected, and when we maintain harmony with the Universe, it leads to good health and well being.
Ayurveda says that we are made up of five elements, namely: air, water, earth, fire, and space. The combination of these elements in our body forms energies called doshas. There are three doshas – Vata Dosha (air and space), Pitta dosha (water and fire), and Kapha dosha (water and earth). These three doshas control the functioning of our bodies.
Treatments in Ayurveda
The treatment measures in Ayurveda involve a prescribed routine and diet supported by medicines. It restores the balance in our bodies and strengthens all our body mechanisms. Not only does it treat the disease, but it also ensures that in person does not suffer again from the same condition in the future.
Types of Ayurvedic Treatments
Purification Treatment (Shodhana Therapy)
Dealing with the purification of the body both externally and internally, it aims to remove the disease-causing determinants from the body. This treatment improves metabolic management and purifies the body. Right from respiratory diseases to neurological disorders, degenerative disorders, and several other conditions are cured effectively with this therapy.
Prescription of Diet and Activity (Pathya Vyavastha)
This therapy aims to stimulate the Agni dosha of our body. Entailing diet, activity, emotional status, and habits, the treatment lays down the diet regimen for the patient. It improves digestion and strengthens the tissues.
Palliative Treatment (Shamana Therapy)
In this therapy, the Ayurveda practitioner ensures that the imbalance of the doshas gets mitigated. It brings it back to balance and ensures that the treatment causes no other dosha related imbalance. The use of exercise, exposure to sun and fresh air, appetizers, and palliatives helps in attaining the balance.
This therapy deals with the mind related disturbances that are the cause of several ailments. Through this therapy, Ayurveda boosts memory, courage, and attention span by diverting the mind from unwanted subjects. Involving principles of psychology and psychiatry, Satvavajaya is effective in treating mental disorders.
Therapy with rejuvenation medicines (Rasayana)
Rasayana therapy deals with the prevention of wear and tear of the body tissues and offers holistic health benefits to the individual. Promoting vitality and strength it provides numerous health benefits. From increasing intelligence and memory to strengthening the immune system, improving complexion, and maintaining the optimum advantage of the body, this treatment has gained immense popularity.
Therapy to mitigate disease-causing factors (Nidan Parivarjan)
Here in this therapy, the focus is on preventive healthcare. It involves changes in our lifestyle and diet to eliminate disease-causing factors. Once we keep ourselves away from these factors, we are less likely to suffer from ailments.
Ayurvedic Treatments through Massage
Massage therapy in Ayurveda has proved to be immensely beneficial in several health conditions. It entails the use of different oils, vibration, and pressure to provide relief to the affected area or the entire body. The massages are different from the regular massages and are holistic in approach. Here are the prominent types of massages of Ayurveda.
The objective of this massage therapy is to increase the sweat in our body. A standard massage in Kerala, it works wonders for the skin, relieves us from any stress, and rejuvenates our mind and body. In this, the aromatic oil is applied, a systematic motion and pressure of hand are used along with small cotton cloths. These called are filled with cooked rice, commonly known as Njavara. These cotton cloths are soaked in cow’s milk and are used to produce sweat.
It is a head massage that leads to the rejuvenating of the nerves in our head. It is done by herbal oils that are massaged on our bodies. Here a constant stream of oil, also called Dhara, is poured on the head. For the ones suffering from mental fatigue, constant headaches, and lack of focus in everyday mundane work, this massage therapy is beneficial.
Ubtaan and Elakijhi
These massages offer beauty solutions. Here a variety of herbal and animal-based oils are used that enrich our skin from within and enhances the beauty. For the ones looking for body nourishment, improving the skin condition and texture, and an overall improvement in external beauty, this therapy works the best.
The purpose of this massage is to remove the imbalance in our body related to Vata Dosha. It involves the pursing of medicated oil from a unique vessel on the patient’s body. The heat of this warm oil leads to perspiration that brings about the balance. For those of us suffering from a fracture, paralysis, stiffness in the body, and other similar ailments, this massage is of great help.
To release harmful agents from our body and increase blood circulation, this massage is helpful. In the case of Kapha Dosha, to manage high levels of cholesterol and improve skin complexion, this massage is highly recommended.
In this massage, no oils or herbal powders are used. The massage involves soothing movements that lead to the release of toxins from our body. Only raw silk gloves are used in this massage. The massage is vigorous and makes the fat cells of the body to break down. Once the dry massage is over, the oil is applied.
Making the health condition of the patient as the basis, this massage is conducted. The warm room temperature is vital here. Different ways are there to apply pressure that releases the toxins from the body. For joints and muscles, this massage therapy is revitalizing.
The Ayurveda system of traditional medicine lays a lot of importance on a diet. The eating pattern in this system involves balancing the different doshas of our body through various food items. It leads to improvement in health and strengthens our immune system. Not only does it improves our body but heals our mental energies as well.
Ayurvedic Diet as per the Doshas
As already discussed earlier in the article, our body is made up of three energies, also called doshas. The composition of these three doshas, namely Vata, Kapha, and pitta, is called Prakriti.
Our mental and physical well being is governed by these three. As per Ayurvedic principles, our doshas can be brought back in the right balance through our diet.
Let us know a little more about the diet as per the three doshas.
Vata: Those amongst us with Vata dosha is dominant in our system will be fearful and restless when in a state of imbalance of this dosha. Bringing the Vata back in equilibrium will make the individual positive and spiritual. Dry skin, stomach ailments, and frequent cold are the symptoms of this dosha’s imbalance. Foods that are eaten warm and are in liquid form works the best. Soups, oils, and herbal teas work well in this case.
Kapha: People with dominant Kapha dosha are kind and patient in terms of temperament. When this dosha goes into imbalance, the individual suffers from depression and adopts unnecessary secrecy in daily life. When this dosha attains balance, the same individual turns into provider and nurturer. In simple terms, this dosha can be associated with stability. The diet recommendation here consists of salads, citrus fruits, beans, whole grains, and similar food items. Such individuals should avoid excess eating, excess salt, and sugar.
Pitta: When in perfect balance, the people with Pitta dosha emerge as leaders. However, when it goes out of balance, the same individuals turn out to be arrogant and demanding. These individuals are sharp and confident. Such people with an imbalance in pitta dosha should avoid alcohol, caffeine, and spicy food items. Food that has a cooling effect, sweets, salads, raw seeds, and similar herbs prove beneficial here.
To conclude, the principles of Ayurveda lay strong emphasis on a holistic approach towards health that includes diet, massage, and overall a balanced lifestyle.
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