The Vedic system of healing, Ayurveda or Ayurvedic medicine, aims to integrate and balance the body, mind, and spirit to form a holistic view of one’s health. Ayurvedic medicine treats specific physical and mental health problems. A chief aim of Ayurvedic practices is to cleanse the body of substances that can cause disease, thus helping to reestablish harmony and balance.
The word Ayurveda is sanskrit for “The Science Of Life or Knowledge of Life”, and is often referred to as the mother of all healing system, since it originated from India more than 5000 years ago. Ayurveda is a natural, holistic, and integrative medical health system that views disease as a natural occurrence when one is living out of harmony from one’s own true nature. The symptoms of diseases are the body’s wisdom letting us know that we are living out of balance. The ancient science of Ayurveda will guide you back to being perfectly healthy by understanding you as an unique individual and by applying the healing care that is as unique as you are.
Practiced in US
In the United States, Ayurvedic medicine is considered an integrated medical system. According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey more than 200,000 U.S. adults had used Ayurvedic medicine in the previous year, and this has been growing every since.
Practiced in India
Ayurvedic medicine, as practiced in India, is one of the oldest systems of medicine in the world. Many Ayurvedic practices predate written records and were handed down by word of mouth. Two ancient books, written in Sanskrit more than 2,000 years ago, are considered the main texts on Ayurvedic medicine—Caraka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita. The texts describe eight branches of Ayurvedic medicine:
- Internal medicine
- Treatment of head and neck disease
- Gynecology, obstetrics, and pediatrics
- Care of the elderly and rejuvenation
- Sexual vitality
Ayurvedic medicine continues to be practiced in India, where nearly 80 percent of the population uses it exclusively or combined with conventional (Western) medicine. It is also practiced in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Pakistan.
Most major cities in India have an Ayurvedic college and hospital. The Indian government began systematic research on Ayurvedic practices in 1969, and that work continues.
Concepts of Ayurveda
In Ayurveda we see all forms in nature as being composed of Fire, Water, Air, Earth, and Ether. Ayurveda refers to them as The Five Elements with the qualities that relate to them metaphorically.
Fire: light, transformable , illuminating
Water: moistness, flowing, heavy
Air: mobile, motions, cold, dry
Earth: solidity, heavy, moistness
Ether: space in between things, connectedness in things
The Five Elements basic qualities are also represented in the Doshas. The word Doshas is equivalent to what we call biological blueprint, or DNA. Doshas represent Vata, Pitta, Kapha, The Three Physiological Qualities in Ayurveda. Ayurveda approaches everyone as an individual with unique combinations of Doshas, as unique as the permutation of our fingerprints. Furthermore at our conception, we are inherently constituted with Doshas, and Ayurveda calls this Prakruti (biological blueprints), and we carry them throughout our whole life. Vikruti refers to an imbalance state when we experience disease symptoms.
General description of Vata, Pitta, Kapha physical types and the personality types.
Vata’s main elements (Air and Ether) – Vata governs all the movements in the body (all body fluids), and the large intestines
Generally Vata people have thin and tall physique with long thin arms, thin bones, thinning hair, and minimal muscular structure. Throughout their life, they may experience gas and constipation, coldness, and dry skin.
-when out of balance: impulsive, impractical, overly reactive, difficulty making decisions, lacking in follow through and commitment, social-phobia, elusive, ungrounded, nervous, fragile, highly sensitive, mood swings, hot/cold with friends, speaks very fast and rambles, jump into action
– when in balance: bubbly, lighthearted, enthusiastic, inspired, expansive, philosophical, speaks quickly, detail oriented, changing interests, creative, artistic, intuitive
Pitta’s main elements (Fire and Water) – Pitta governs the blood, liver, spleen, gall-bladder, eyes, and the small intestine.
Generally Pitta people have well built physical structure, oily skin, deep set and piercing eyes, and an angular facial shape. Throughout their life, they may experience burning red eyes, burning indigestion, and loose stools due to heat in their digestive system.
– when out of balance: abrasive, intense, judgmental, aggressive, angry, envious, jealous, critical, speaks sharply, fierce to their enemies, prone to burnout
– when in balance: focused and directed, productive and goal oriented, passionate, mission driven, linear planner, logical, perceptive, speaks clearly and succinctly, makes decisions easily, to the point, warm to their friends, excellent teachers and leaders, confront anger, make a big decision easier.
Kapha’s main elements (Earth and Water) – Kapha governs the lungs and the upper stomach
Generally Kapha people have a thick, stocky body, short neck, big bones, and thick skin. Throughout their life, they may experience sluggish digestion, get sleepy after eating, and experience dull mind – especially first thing in the morning.
– when out of balance: sluggish, slow to react, slow to understand, slow to make decisions, overly attached, uninspired, lethargic, melancholic, stubborn and immobile, overly emotional, speaks extra slowly, overly controlling to prevent change
– when in balance: calm, sweet, gentle, relaxed, compassionate, empathetic, non confrontational, quiet, stable, reliable, dependable, conservative, shy, obedient, move slow and steady, maintains long term relationships