Ayurveda encompasses all types of healing. Almost every health problem in the world can be removed from the body and the body brought back to health with the help of Ayurvedic treatments. In this fast paced world, the pace of Ayurveda seems quite slow. However, for all the abuse we give our body over the years, a few weeks in a year may not be much if we can return our body to its balanced condition.
"Prana" is the term for "life energy" that courses through our veins. It is believed that most of the fuel we take in releases prana at various stages of digestion. Those foods that release energy in the upper body are beneficial to some people while the foods that release energy in the stomach or the colon may be beneficial to other types. Again, it is through experience and practice that an Ayurveda practitioner determines the type of doshas we have in our body and the corresponding food that is beneficial.
In Ayurveda different people with the same disease sometimes receive different diet and herb plans. The constitution, the imbalance, and the various nuances of the development of the disease in each individual must be studied to determine the nature of the imbalance whether Vata, Pitta, or Kapha for that disease. Also two people receiving the same advice may have two very different and diverse health problems.
By allowing the body to heal itself, we set the stage for a stronger immune system so that when/if we get another, more serious infection, the body will be prepared for it. However, if we take commercial cough suppressant syrups and anti-biotics, it may just weaken the natural defenses leaving the immune system weakened for the future onslaught of disease.
Ayurveda also delineates food depending on whether it cools or warms up the body. Sweet, bitter and astringent foods are considered to be cooling. Hot, pungent and salty foods are believed to be warming. These two types of foods affect the body’s pre-digestion and post digestion state in different ways. By studying the effects of all herbs and spices as well as all foods, Ayurvedic doctors can implicitly point out the ones that cause problems as well as the ones that are beneficial to each and every one of us.
Our genes, our temperament, philosophy of life, spirituality, experiences, emotions, injuries, lessons from life, teachers, spouses, children, our friends and family, all combine to make us the people we are today. A mother with two children will never treat both of them the same way. She always considers their history, their likes and dislikes, their age and their moods before attempting to advise them on anything. Both of them may have the same symptoms, but she may watch the one who is more lethargic and not eating well compared to the other child who may be outside happily playing with friends.
Likewise, when a person is having problems with health, the best option is to take a survey of the way s/he thinks feels and emotes. In practice, Ayurveda gets a good deal of the information from the person even before the practitioners consult a medical book or come up with a diagnosis for the person.
Remember that Ayurvedic practitioners discourage the habit of snacking. They believe that the stomach and the digestive organs need time to digest the food well and send it out through the intestines. Eating while the food is being digested is a big NO-NO in Ayurveda. If you are really hungry in between meals, some fruit juice may be okay. Also, while taking Ayurvedic medicines (or any herbal remedy) it is wise to keep stimulants such as coffee, tea, chocolate, cola, etc to a minimum. These are believed to reduce the effectiveness of herbal medicines.
In addition to herbs and caplets available online, there are Ayurvedic centers where people can avail of multitude of treatments.
Types of treatments available for customers are:
This includes a synchronized oil massage, sweat therapy using herbs, a personal assessment and evaluation, and other therapies to eliminate latent doshas and toxins
This is the treatment using warmed up herbs and oils tied into cloth bundles. These bundles are pressed and pounded on the patient’s body to enable the body to release the pent-up stresses and latent issues which may be holding back the immune system. This massage may be performed using the heel of the hand, the fingers or by using the palms of the therapists/assistants.
This treatment is used for rheumatic disorders, general weakness, sexual problems, etc. Again, warm medicated oil is squeezed all over the body to enable maximum relaxation. The whole body feels energized and alive after this therapy
Medicated milk (or oil) is poured on the forehead continuously using specialized equipment which sways rhythmically providing a gentle, soothing atmosphere. This therapy works on enhancing your mind so that you can relax and get rid of anxiety, depression, tiredness, etc.
5. Sirovasthy ( or Shirobasthy)
This procedure starts with the therapists tying a belt around the head covering to make a deep well into which medicated oil is poured. The deep and slightly heavy feeling of the warm oil on the head triggers changes in your thought process and heals any head injuries as well.
This treatment removes impurities including fat from the body. Many skin disorders disappear with this process which passes medicinal vapors over the body.
Medicated oil poured through the nostrils to give strength to the head, nose and neck. This treatment is believed to improve the endocrine system, reduce stress on the head, neck and jaw as well as tooth ache and other disorders.
There are many more procedures that are available at various clinics all over the world. The prices may be steep for the therapies that use rare herbs or oils. Some of these therapies require multiple attendants and many specialized preparations and apparatus. The prices for these treatments vary widely.
Many of these procedures are performed for more than one condition. Most of the massages are meant to calm the mind, energize the body, trigger circulation and remove stress to induce healing. The medicated oils do their part in hastening the healing as well.
It is believed that for each year of self-abuse or ill-health, we need at least one month of Ayurvedic treatment. Many people stay at these treatment centers (called "Aushadashala" or medical facility) while experiencing the treatment.
Ayurvedic shops usually stock various herbs and spices for individual use. If you are familiar with an herb and know that it is helping you, by all means get the herb and use it. However, it is preferable not to self-medicate. As we have mentioned before, these herbs are designed to specifically meet the demands of certain types of personalities. Unless you are an Ayurvedic practitioner, it is best to leave the diagnosis and treatment to the experts.
Some of the popular herbs and their uses are:
Ashwaganda - Soothes the mind and reduces stress and anxiety. It also helps us sleep better.
Arjuna - Helps the heart function better. It rejuvenates and helps boost the immune system.
Guggul - This magical herb reduces triglyceride levels fast! It is also believed to reduce cholesterol numbers as well.
Haritaki - As a mild laxative and anti viral remedy, it helps with hemorrhoids and bleeding gums.
Kava - Reduces anxiety and sleeplessness
Passionflower - Reduces blood pressure and helps during menopause.
Sage - This herb is known all over the world as a digestive aid, diuretic, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory support.
Basil - This is a wonderful plant that has unsurpassed medicinal qualities. One article mentions fifteen different uses of this plant. It helps with fever, colds, respiratory ailments, heart problems, kidney problems, mouth infections, insect bites, teeth disorders, headaches and many others!
As for the above list of herbs, we have not touched even 1/100th of the number of natural resources that we can use for our health. In addition to each of the magical plants, there are combinations of two or three of them (ex. Triphala - three fruits) that has even more enhancing properties in healing.
Ayurveda has been studied for thousands of years. And we are still finding new plants in the rain forests every year. As we can see, the science of healing is not bounded by time or distance. The Universe is always here to help those in need of a cure.
By Zachary Lingh Dgree
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