Ayurvedic Medicine For Mind and Body – Knowing Your Prakriti
It means “science of life” and it has been practiced in India for more than 5,000 years. Ayurvedic medicine is one of the oldest and most revered forms of holistic healing, and people respond to it because it involves only natural therapies, its approach is a highly individualized one, and it combines work on both mind and body. What’s not to like?
Behind the Science
The reason many people lean toward Ayurvedic medicine is because it’s highly personalized. Unlike many other forms of traditional or conventional medicine, it practices on the assumption that everyone is different, and that we all respond differently to specific treatments.
Each session is geared towards an individual’s prakritii, or Ayurvedic constitution. That means that a myriad of things are taken into account, including exercise habits, nutrition, body type, and even – wait for it – personal hygiene (so take a shower before you go).
During a consultation with an Ayurvedic practitioner, each individual will be given his or her daily routines to follow, called dincharya, as well as specially formulated seasonal routines, called ritucharya. The trained practitioner assesses all aspects of your mental, emotional and physical well-being during a visit to him or her. He or she will concentrate on three things, including:
1. Darshan (observation): Looking at all aspects of the real you, including how you look, the condition in which your skin, hair and nails are in, the contour and shape of your body, your eyes.
2. Sparsha (touch): Touching you, including pressing down on specific parts of your body to ascertain specific noises your body makes (so avoid eating baked beans beforehand). They will also look at your tongue and nails, take your pulse and listen to you talk.
3. Prashna (questions): Asking about your mental, emotional and physiological health.
A diagnosis is made after the practitioner discovers all he or she can about an individual. They then will prescribe a treatment which relies on the body healing itself, by strengthening the healthy elements in the body and healing harness the body’s energy to heal.
Types of Treatments
Ayurvedic medicine uses a wide base to draw on in prescribing treatments. They range from massage to diet modification, and the five main types include:
1. Shirodhara (medicated oil). This makes use of the traditional third eye in the middle of the forehead. A special medicated oil is poured over the area in an attempt to cure diseases such as sinusitis, memory loss and insomnia. Is also used a way to induce natural, deep relaxation.
2. Nutrition. Goes back to the idea that poor nutrition is the cause of illness, so uses food as a way to make us better. It has succeeded where others have failed because the approach is highly individualistic, but depends on the full participation of the individual for positive effect. It is claimed that by following it to the letter that people can embrace longevity without resorting to using any medication whatsoever in their lives.
3. Panchakarma (detox). A five-action cleansing program that seeks to purify the body and bring the body back to its natural healthy state. Many practitioners prescribe a series of treatments designed to rid the tissues in the body of all unhealthy toxins. Programs vary, but they can include consultation, massage, herbal sweat therapy, special diet and nutrition advice, herbal teas and rejuvenatives, exercise and lifestyle advice.
4. Massage. Aims to provide relaxation, improve circulation and get rid of toxins at the same time. Uses specific pressure points which are a bit like those used in reflexology. Sometimes special purification treatments are used as well. Interestingly, babies are often massaged using a specially baked dough ball dipped in massage oil that is right for them.
5. Herbs. Different herbs are used to treat different conditions.
Is Ayurvedic Medicine Safe?
Ayurvedic medicine is usually considered safe if used in tandem with conventional medicine, not when is used instead of conventional medicine. While it has become more and more popular in the West, it is interesting to note that more and more Indians are turning their backs on it and turning to traditional forms of medicine instead.
However, there have been concerns over the safety of some herbs which are used in Ayurvedic medicine, as they have been found to have been adulterated with toxic metals. The Indian government has said they must contain a written warning on the label, but they often don’t.
That aside, there is obviously a huge question mark over whether or not Ayurvedic medicine really works. While some of the herbs used, such as cumin, have been found to have beneficial properties, others have none at all. Still, there is no doubt that massage, good nutrition, mediation and the occasional detox can all help our health.
So, the verdict is yours. And what Ayurveda does to you would depend solely on how aware you are about all the issues involved and take care so that you know what you’re doing.