A Brief Guide to Ayurvedic Medicine

some herbs used in Ayurvedic medicineAyurveda is a healing practice developed in India thousands of years ago. Even today, it’s a powerful medicinal system that takes a deeper look at the mind and body connection. Because of this principle, Ayurvedic practitioners believe that the mind is the most powerful tool when it comes to overcoming any ailment.

The History of Ayurveda

According to the history and mythology of Ayurveda, the knowledge that it’s based on has been passed from the gods to the sages and eventually to healers. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of the existence of Ayurveda from around 5,000 BC. This means Ayurveda is one of the very few medicinal practices developed in ancient times that is still being used today.

The healing practice became incredibly widespread during the Middle Ages. In time, some of the most prominent Ayurvedic texts were translated into Chinese and Arabic. Persian physicians began adopting the practice, as well.

Eventually, ayurvedic practices were observed by British physicians travelling to India. Some of the instruments and treatments were taken to Europe and modified to correspond to the methods that the Western physicians relied upon.

Today, up to 80 percent of people in India rely on at least some kind of ayurvedic treatment. Ayurveda is also very popular in Nepal and Sri Lanka. This is primarily due to Ayurvedic medicine emerging from India, and much of its practice is also immersed in the traditions and culture of the area. The practice of Ayurvedic medicine has also spread to other continents where it is also taught and practised in Europe and the United States.

How Ayurveda Works

According to ayurvedic practitioners, the mind is the origin of all diseases. Thus, it offers a personalised approach for the treatment of a medical condition by the patient’s particular history and the manner in which the disease manifests itself.

Very often, ayurvedic treatments involve dietary changes, the practice of mindfulness through yoga and meditation, supplementation and the use of herbal extracts to address the root cause of the problem. Because of this combination, Ayurvedic medicine is a holistic approach to a persons health.

Ayurvedic Elements and Doshas

Ayurvedic practitioners also believe that the body is composed of five elements air, fire, space, earth and water. These combine to form the three primary life forces or doshas. The doshas determine the mind-body connection, and they have an impact on how the body works. As such, the Ayurvedic tradition categorises people into one of the three doshas depending on you body type.

Vata dosha is considered to be the most powerful one. It controls all of the essential physiological functions, including cellular division. People who have Vata dosha as their primary life force are likely to suffer from conditions like heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma according to the Ayurvedic traditions, although there is no scientific evidence for this.

Pitta dosha is the life energy that impacts the body’s metabolic rate, digestion and hormonal levels. The final one is Kapha dosha the energy that controls weight, muscle strength and the immune response.

Here is a good video by Jeffrey Armstrong explaining the different body types of the three doshas.

Assessing these life forces, an ayurvedic practitioner will put together a custom treatment that’s highly specific to the individual. The goal of the treatment would be to cleanse the body, balance the elements and strengthen the mind.