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Ayurveda

What Is It?
How Does It Work?
What Happens During Treatment?
What Is It Used For?
Side Effects/Cautions
Recommended Books


What Is It?
Ayurveda, practised in India for the past 5,000 years, is a system of holistic medicine that focuses on the union of body, mind, and spirit. The term Ayurveda is literally translated as the “Science of Life.” This system focuses on the individual and how a particular illness uniquely manifests in that individual. It uses a wide variety of treatments and lifestyle measures, including diet, medicinal herbs, meditation and yoga.

At the root of this medicine is the concept of prakruti, an individual’s unique constitution determined at the moment of conception. An individual’s prakruti is the specific combination of the three life forces or elements (doshas), which control all physical and mental processes; vata, pitta and kapha.

Vata is responsible for all movement; the physical movement of body parts, mental movement of the mind in the form of thoughts, feelings and emotions, and the process of respiration.

Pitta is responsible for digestion, absorption and assimilation of nutrients. It also digests thoughts and feelings and transforms them into understanding, comprehension and perception.

Kapha functions to provide the body with structure, stability, support and strength. It aids in the retention of memory, lubrication of joints, and repair of body parts. 

All three doshas are present in varying degrees in everyone, but one or two usually predominate. When doshas are in balance, good health is maintained. If imbalance occurs, health problems can arise.

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How Does It Work?
The aim of Ayurvedic treatment is to balance the individual’s constitution or prakruti, so the doshas are in harmony. Five factors that cause aggravation are: diet, lifestyle, emotions, exercise (including too much, too little, or the wrong kind), and external influences of the seasons, weather, or trauma. However, diet is the principal cause of disease, and therefore, one of the primary methods of treatment.

Ayurvedic treatment entails a comprehensive personalised approach to balancing the doshas through diet and lifestyle that is tailored to each individual. Instead of emphasising treatment of acute conditions, Ayurveda focuses on chronic illnesses. By teaching the individual how to manage diet and lifestyle, it takes a preventative approach instead of waiting to deal with illness after it has already manifested. This may involve exercise, yoga, pranayama, meditation, dietary changes, fasting, oleation through massage, sweat baths, nasal medications, purgative therapies, medicated enemas and herbal tonics. 

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What Happens During Treatment?
Ayurvedic practitioners generally begin by asking about your medical history, lifestyle, and diet to determine your constitutional type. All treatments are based on this constitution. The practitioner may also examine your tongue, skin, eyes, and three pulses on the wrist which convey information about the three doshas.

A range of treatments may be prescribed, including changes in diet or lifestyle, herbal remedies, massage, meditation, breathing exercises, yoga postures and cleansing and detoxifying practices such as enemas, herbal saunas and nasal douching.

The frequency and duration of visits to an Ayurvedic practitioner varies widely. Many Ayurvedic practices, such as dietary choice, meditation and yoga can be self-administered at home.

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What Is It Used For?
Ayurvedic therapy may benefit anybody as a preventative measure which enhances general wellbeing. Ayurvedic practices such as yoga and meditation can relieve stress, anxiety and depression, and lower high blood pressure and cholesterol. Yoga also helps to improve strength and muscle tone and may help with arthritis. Ayurvedic herbal remedies may be useful for ailments such as asthma, eczema, digestive disorders, arthritis and allergies.

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Side Effects/Cautions
Take care when using Ayurvedic herbal medicines - some are very potent and can have unpleasant effects if overused.

Be wary of the cleansing and detoxifying treatments sometimes recommended by practitioners. Overuse of laxatives and enemas can lead to serious chemical imbalances in the body.

If you have a condition which requires a special diet, such as diabetes, consult your doctor before adopting an Ayurvedic diet.

References

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Recommended Books

Prices are in US Dollars

 

Textbook of Ayurveda
Vasant Lad

Bringing forth the mysteries of Ayurveda from the classical Sanskrit texts, Dr. Lad presents this ages-old science in a framework that is clearly accessible to the modern student while remaining true to its ancient roots. In these pages, you will open the doors to this timeless, profound wisdom of the human body, mind, and consciousness. Dr. Lad describes the historical philosophies of Ayurveda and their application to human existence. He explains the basic structures and functions of the body, mind, and spirit, how they are formed and integrated, and their ultimate role in nourishing consciousness. Filled with illustrations, tables, charts, and practical examples, this book will lead the reader to a full understanding of the fundamental principles of Ayurveda.

Learn more...


 

The Ageless Woman: Natural Health and Beauty After Forty with Maharishi Ayurveda
Nancy, M.D. Lonsdorf

Inspiring, informative, and empowering, The Ageless Woman* weaves timeless wisdom and the latest medical discoveries into a unique, highly-effective anti-aging guide for women. Natural medicine expert, Dr. Nancy Lonsdorf, presents a highly-individualized, practical handbook, rich in health tips, weight-control strategies, and treasured beauty secrets from Maharishi Ayurveda, the complete system of natural medicine from the Vedic tradition of ancient India. With the insightful guidance of The Ageless Woman, every woman can grow in health, beauty, and fulfillment after forty.

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Essential Ayurveda: What It Is and What It Can Do for You
Shubhra Krishan

Outlining the basic elements of the ancient system of Ayurveda, Shubhra Krishan teaches readers how to recognize their energy and body type, and to use Ayurvedic principles to create a balanced diet and lifestyle for their optimum health. She offers tips and suggestions for finding the best products or for creating your own with her recipes for food, beauty care, and other healthcare items. Illustrations are included.

Learn more...  

 

More Ayurveda Books

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