Ayurveda means the science of life. Followers and practitioners alike believe in this ancient form of medicine as well as its philosophy of treating the whole person.
Ayurvedic medicine consists of many different elements. In India, there are eight distinct branches of Ayurvedic medicine:
• Internal Medicine
• Treatment of head and neck disease
• Gynecology, obstetrics and pediatrics
• Care of the elderly and rejuvenation
• Sexual vitality
Nearly 80 percent of the population of India use some form of Ayurvedic medicine for healing, with or without a combination of conventional medicine. In the United States, over 200,000 adults will use Ayurveda medicine in any given year.
The underlying basis of Ayurveda medicine is that the foundation of health has to do with our connection to the universe, namely the body’s constitution or prakriti and life forces or doshas.
The prakriti refers to a person’s general health, the likelihood of them coming out of balance, and their ability to resist disease or recover from it. The prakriti is unique to each person, and describes the way their body functions to maintain health. Key elements are the way the body digests and disposes of waste. The prakriti generally stays the same over one’s lifetime.
The doshas are the three life forces or energies found in us all, with some combination of all three found in everyone. The likelihood of a person contracting a disease are based on the balance of the doshas as well as the state of the body, and mental and lifestyle factors.
The three doshas are:
Vata – this dosha represents ether and air. It is the most powerful of the three as it controls vital body processes like breathing, the heart, cell division, the mind and waste disposal. This dosha can be upset by fear, grief, and lack of sleep, among other forces. Those with vata as their main dosha are susceptible to skin and neurological conditions, heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis as well as other afflictions.
Pitta – this dosha represents fire and water, and controls both the hormones and digestive system. Pitta can be upset by spicy or sour food, fatigue and too much time in the sun. Those with pitta as their main dosha are susceptible to hypertension, heart disease, and others.
Kapha – this dosha represents water and earth, and controls strength and immunity. Kapha is upset by greed, sleeping during the day, and too much salt and sugar in the diet. Those with kapha as their main dosah are susceptible to diabetes, cancer, obesity and respiratory illnesses.
Ayurveda medicine has been around for centuries, and is here to stay. It is an alternative, holistic, and complete medicine and its list of patients grows each day.