Ayurvedic Healthcare System: Medicine, Techniques, and Therapies
Ayurveda, etymologically, translates to knowledge of life, a natural system of medicine that originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. Based on the theory that stress or an imbalance in a person's consciousness causes disease, Ayurveda recommends specific lifestyle changes and natural remedies to restore harmony between the body, mind, spirit, and environment.
Ayurvedic medicine is predicated primarily on universal connection, body constitution (Prakriti), and life forces (doshas). An internal cleansing procedure is the first step in an Ayurvedic treatment regimen, followed by a particular diet, herbal treatments, massage therapy, yoga, and meditation.
Ayurvedic medicine uses oils, spices, and other plants, including herbs. Treatment's objectives help the patient by getting rid of toxins, lessening symptoms, boosting immunity, relieving anxiety, and fostering more harmony in their lives.
Like traditional Chinese medicine, conventional Western medicine, naturopathic medicine, and homeopathic medicine, Ayurveda is considered a form of medical care. When combined with regular medical care as a supplemental therapy, Ayurveda can be beneficial.
Ayurvedic Modalities Or Methodologies:
Ayurveda employs a variety of approaches to determine the proper alignment and balance between the body and mind.
Meditation & Yoga:
Intuition and awareness are the foundation of Ayurveda. Ayurvedic lifestyle is based on meditation, a fundamental component of traditional yoga practice. In Ayurveda, meditation practices (including yoga) are encouraged to foster integrated holistic nervous system functioning since, in Ayurveda, consciousness is essential in maintaining optimal health. Meditation is one of the techniques employed by Ayurveda to achieve this harmony, which tries to achieve a state of homeostasis in the body.
According to Ayurveda, losing one's connection to pure awareness, the essence of their being, is the ultimate cause of sickness. Reinstating one's relationship to this pure consciousness is the fundamental component of prevention and treatment. Both meditation and yoga are centered on breathing, discovering inner calm, and internally regulating yourself. These two methods have deep roots in Ayurveda's traditional holistic lifestyle practice.
As per Ayurveda, Diet is one of the fundamental pillars of health; Ayurveda includes the Ayurvedic diet, which has been used for thousands of years. It focuses on determining which Ayurvedic dosha dominates you and consuming particular foods to encourage balance among the three doshas. According to Ayurveda, the body can achieve mental and emotional equilibrium by eating foods complementary to its Ayurvedic dosha type.
How does it work?
Based on your Ayurvedic dosha, or body type, an Ayurvedic diet is a form of eating regimen that specifies when, how, and what foods you should eat. To assist you in choosing the Ayurvedic dosha that most closely resembles you, the following are some of its primary characteristics:
- Pitta (fire + water): Intelligent, diligent, and tenacious. This Ayurvedic dosha typically has a medium physical build, a quick temper, and may be afflicted with diseases like heartburn, heart disease, or high blood pressure.
- Vata (air + space): Vibrant, active, and creative. When out of balance, this Ayurvedic dosha, typically associated with thin, light-framed people, may cause problems with digestion, weariness, or anxiety.
- Kapha (earth + water): Naturally composed, solid, and devoted. A Kapha, Ayurvedic dosha, person typically has a more robust constitution and may struggle with diabetes, asthma, depression, or weight gain.
This Ayurvedic diet states that the things you should eat to encourage inner harmony depend on your Ayurvedic Dosha. For instance, the Pitta Ayurvedic Dosha restricts spices, nuts, and seeds and prioritizes cooling, energizing foods. While avoiding dried fruits, savory herbs, and raw vegetables, the Vata Ayurvedic dosha prefers warm, moist, and grounding foods. Last but not least, the Kapha Ayurvedic dosha discourages the consumption of heavy foods like nuts, seeds, and oils in favor of fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
Ayurvedic Lifestyle: Recommendations To Optimize Health:
According to Ayurveda, the three pillars of health are sleep, elimination, and diet & digestion. In these areas, one's daily habits can have a significant impact. The recommendations for daily routine consider that different Ayurvedic doshas are prevalent at various times of the day and night.
- Khapa (06 am (sunrise) to 10 am & 06 pm to 10 pm):
- Dinner should be a light meal. Also, hunger will set in, and consuming more food at this time will overload the system and cause the production of more toxic waste.
- Since Kapha is predominating from 6 to 10 pm, it is advisable to get to bed by that time. Since this Ayurvedic dosha is linked to qualities of heaviness, it makes sense that this is a period when falling asleep and becoming drowsy will be easier.
- From 6 to 10 am, Kapha is strong; waking up during this time will make you feel heavy and lazy.
- Pitta (10 am to 02 pm & 10 pm to 02 am):
- Since Pitta is most prevalent at this time of day and digestion will be at its best, the most substantial meal should be consumed about midday.
- Vata (02 am to 06 am (sunrise) & 02 pm to 06 pm):
- It is advised to rise early in the morning, before sunrise, when Vata is most active. Being up at this time can help you feel energized and rejuvenated because this Ayurvedic dosha is related to movement and lightness.
Ayurvedic Purification Therapy (Panchakarma):
To get rid of toxins and stop the development of sickness, Ayurveda suggests purifying therapy with the change of seasons. "Panchakarma" or " Ayurvedic purification therapy" refers to this treatment.
Panchakarma (Ayurvedic Purification Therapy) often entails;
- Snehana and Swedana are two practices that serve as the first step in eliminating toxins from the body. Snehana entails body internal and external oleation, while Swedana uses heat therapy.
- Five practical approaches for eliminating toxins from the body.
- Follow-up practices for rejuvenation and maintenance of the benefits Panchakarma (Ayurvedic Purification Therapy) provides.
The five main techniques are;
- Therapeutic Emesis (Vamana): Enables the respiratory system and stomach to be cleansed of extra mucus and toxins.
- Purgation (Virechana): Expels toxins from the small intestine, liver, and gallbladder.
- Herbal and oil enemas (Basti): Nourishment and cleansing for the big intestine.
- Nasal administration of medicated oils and powders (Nasya): Serves to strengthen the cranial area.
- Therapeutic bloodletting (Raktamokshana): Encourages the creation of fresh, healthy blood while cleaning the bloodstream.
Depending on the patient's specific needs, other Ayurvedic therapies are also available. Herbal remedies and advice for daily routines are included in the follow-up procedures. The practice of panchakarma is beneficial for maintaining and promoting health and preventing disease.
Ayurvedic Rejuvenation Therapy (Rasayanas):
Ayurveda's Rasayana (Ayurvedic rejuvenation therapy) branch focuses on promoting longevity and delaying or stopping aging. Rasayanas typically contain herbs or herbal combinations.
Rasayanas are thought to improve overall health by strengthening the body's defenses against disease, triggering the body's natural tissue repair processes, and delaying or reversing the decline that comes with aging. They encourage vigor and endurance as well as general health. Rasayanas provide these results by keeping the three doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha—adequately balanced. Rasayanas, according to Ayurveda, can prevent hereditary predispositions to several diseases if taken early in life.
Ayurvedic Use of Spices for Healing:
Spices have powerful healing properties! Because they are so potent, consider how much spice is used in cooking relative to the amount of food we consume. Typical spices like cinnamon, ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, and turmeric have great medicinal value. Turmeric (Curcuma longa Linn.), according to scientific research, has anticancer effects. Both coriander (Coriandrum sativum Linn.) and garlic (Allium sativum Linn.) are heart disease preventatives. Diabetes can be effectively treated with cinnamon. These are simple, affordable methods of preventing disease and, in some cases, curing it.
According to Ayurveda, each dosha (Vata, pitta, and Kapha) benefit from different spices. So which spices are best for each dosha?
The best Ayurvedic spices;
- For Vata; Black Pepper, Saffron, Basil, Fresh Ginger, Cumin, and Fennel.
- For Pitta: Fresh Cilantro, Turmeric, Cinnamon, Mint, Coriander, Fennel, and Cardamom.
- For Kapha: Mustard Seeds, Clove, Turmeric, Black Pepper, Chili Peppers, and Fenugreek Seeds (Best to soak Fenugreek Seeds overnight so that it slightly sprouts) are best.
You can always utilize spices beneficial to all Ayurvedic doshas if you are unsure which Ayurvedic dosha you fall under or if multiple Ayurvedic doshas make up your family. These include cumin, fenugreek, fresh ginger, coriander, black and white mustard seeds, turmeric (use these in everyday meals), and asafoetida (also called hing); use a tiny teaspoon of this spice when cooking, especially when cooking beans, to relieve gas and bloating. These can be used every day to make wholesome meals.
Ayurvedic Use of Herbal Medicines:
Herbal medicines have been used since the prehistoric era and have a significant history of being documented. The Native Americans and the Africans use herbs in their healing rituals as a part of their culture. However, they were used in ancient Chinese, Greek, Egyptian, and Indian medicine for therapeutic purposes. Herbs are one of the most potent medicinal components in the Indian Ayurvedic healthcare system.
As a result of the development of chemical analysis techniques in the early 19th century, researchers began to isolate and alter the active components of herbs, transforming them from unprocessed raw materials into synthetic medications. At this point, the usage of herbal remedies began to decline. Despite their potent pharmacological efficacy, synthetic medications are discovered to be considerably more expensive and cause a wide range of unfavorable side effects.
Ayurveda does not advise isolating the active ingredient due to the possibility of harmful side effects and the loss of synergistic benefits. It is thought that a single isolated constituent may only have particular features to pose; a whole herb may even have more phytochemical ingredients, which operate with each other in such harmony that they neutralize undesirable effects and solely provide intended pharmacological action. As a result, many are returning to herbal medicines because they promise to be safer and are derived from nature.
Ayurvedic Herbal Drugs:
Herbs are recognized in Ayurveda as having the power to nourish and cleanse the body while regulating physical systems. Ayurvedic medications are categorized into three groups based on the source of origin: herbal, mineral, and animal. Among these, the herbal formulation has recently grown significantly and received increasing global attention. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 80% of the world's population still primarily relies on traditional medicines for medical care.
In the developed world, where market expansion took place in European countries and the USA, a significant increase in herbal formulations has been noted over the previous several years. Throughout human healthcare history, significance of herbals has been influenced by the richness of its flora. About 15,000 medicinal plants have been identified in India, of which 7,000–7,500 were used by the local populations to treat various ailments. About 700 different plant species are recognized in Ayurveda's medical systems.
With knowledge of the isolation, purification, characterization, and type of preparation methods, the discovery of herbals is further enhanced. The word "herbal drug" designates the part(s) of a plant (leaves, flowers, seeds, roots, barks, stems, etc.) used for making medications. Each part of the herbs is fully utilized for the diverse pharmacological effects they might create and turned into a variety of herbal remedies. Today's scientific advancements have led to the identification of an increasing number of pharmacologically active components in ayurvedic medicines and their significance in medication therapy. In essence, the phytochemical constituents of herbal remedies, such as alkaloids, saponins, tannins, alkenyl phenols, terpenoids, flavonoids, phorbol esters, and sesquiterpene lactones, are what cause the desired healing effect. Even more, than one of the aforementioned phytochemical components may be present in a single herb, and they all interact to produce a pharmacological effect.
Single- and Poly-Herbal Formulations
Ayurvedic medication formulation is based on two principles: using one herb as a single drug and using more than one herb; the latter is known as Polyherbal Formulation or PHF. This critical traditional herbal therapy approach, known as polyherbalism, makes use of the blending of various therapeutic herbs to produce increased therapeutic effectiveness.
Rather than choosing individual plant extracts, the traditional Ayurvedic medicine system prefers plant formulations and mixed extracts. Even though the active phytochemical components of specific plants have a well-established history, they are typically only found in trace amounts and are seldom enough to produce the desired therapeutic effects. Given this, research has shown that combining these varyingly potent herbs might result in a better outcome.
Synergism is the term for this favorable herb-herb interaction phenomenon. Specific pharmacological effects of herbal products' active ingredients are notable only when amplified by those of other plants; they are not noticeable when used alone. Polyherbalism gives various benefits not present in a single herbal preparation due to synergism. Compared to a single herbal formulation, PHF is more popular on the market due to these added benefits. Synergism functions in two ways, depending on the nature of the interaction (i.e., pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics). The ability of a herb to aid in the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination of other herbs is the focus of pharmacokinetic synergism. On the other hand, pharmacodynamic synergism examines the synergistic effect when active substances with comparable therapeutic effectiveness are directed at an analogous receptor or physiological system.
It is crucial to keep in mind that some herbs are thought to be incompatible with one another and should not be consumed together while creating polyherbal mixtures. These incompatibilities could be caused by functional, energy, or quantitative incompatibilities. For example, laxatives and astringents have an antagonistic effect where they counteract one another's actions. Before sale, well-designed clinical trials are required to verify the compatibility of various herbs in the formulation of PHF.
Any Ayurvedic remedies you employ should be discussed with your doctor. People considering using Ayurvedic therapy to treat a kid or who is pregnant or nursing should speak with their doctor first. It is crucial to confirm that any disease or health diagnosis has been made by a healthcare professional with extensive traditional medical training and experience treating that disease or condition.