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What Is Ayurvedic Medicine?

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May 20, 2020

Ayurvedic medicine is considered by scholars to be the oldest healing system in the world, with origins dating back nearly 5,000 years to the Vedic culture of ancient India. The word Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit root words “ayuh,” meaning “life,” and “veda,” meaning “sacred knowledge.” Thus, Ayurveda translates to “sacred knowledge of life.” 

Ayurveda is a holistic (whole body) healing system that falls under the broad category of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). This umbrella term also encompasses practices such as acupuncture, massage, yoga, tai chi, herbal medicine, and meditation.

Unlike Western medicine, Ayurveda focuses on maintaining good health rather than on treating disease. Lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, hydration, meditation, and herbal supplements are among the tools used in Ayurvedic healing.

The Foundation of Ayurvedic Medicine

Ayurvedic practitioners believe that the balance between the body, mind, spirit, and external environment is the key to wellness. Both internal and external factors can disrupt a person’s balance of energies—factors such as poor nutrition, seasonal weather changes, and stress.

According to ancient Ayurvedic texts, there are three principal life forces, called doshas, which are linked to various body systems and organs. The names of these three doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Each dosha represents a unique combination of the five natural elements: earth, water, air, fire, and ether (also referred to as space or emptiness). 

The Three Doshas

Every individual inherits qualities of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, but one dosha tends to be the dominant force. This creates a natural imbalance in the body, which may lead to physical, mental, or emotional sickness. The goal of Ayurvedic medicine is to effectively balance Vata, Pitta, and Kapha energies through a holistic approach to wellness and health.

1. Vata Dosha

Vata dosha is composed of the elements ether and air. Is it considered to be the energy of movement, and is linked to basic bodily functions such as breathing, blood flow, cell division, and blinking. The attributes of Vata are dry, cold, light, subtle, and mobile.

When properly balanced, an individual with a predominant Vata dosha will be creative, alert, and mentally sharp. When not properly balanced, they may feel anxious and ungrounded. Unbalanced Vata energy is linked to asthma, dry skin and hair, and rheumatoid arthritis.

According to Ayurvedic healers, Vata energy can be brought into balance by taking warm baths, developing relaxing routines, eating cooked foods, and getting enough sleep.* Oils, nuts, dairy, spices, and ashwagandha tea are recommended for Vata types.*

2. Pitta Dosha

Pitta dosha is composed of the elements fire and water. Is it considered to be the energy of metabolism, and is linked to digestion, appetite, and body temperature. The attributes of Pitta are liquid, oily, hot, light, and mobile.

When properly balanced, an individual with a predominant Pitta dosha will be intelligent, ambitious, and understanding. When not properly balanced, Pitta may arouse feelings of jealousy and agitation. Unbalanced Pitta energy is linked to digestive disorders and inflammatory diseases.

According to Ayurvedic healers, Pitta energy can be brought into balance by avoiding excessive heat, exercising during the coolest part of the day, and eating bitter or cooling foods.* Grains, raw vegetables, legumes, and mint tea are recommended for Pitta types.*

3. Kapha Dosha

Kapha dosha is composed of the elements water and earth. Is it considered to be the energy of lubrication, and is linked to immunity, muscle growth, and joint function. The attributes of Kapha are moist, cold, heavy, smooth, and static.

When properly balanced, an individual with a predominant Kapha dosha will be loving, grounded, and strong. Out of balance, Kapha can trigger feelings of attachment and greed. Unbalanced Kapha energy is linked to obesity, lethargy, and headaches.

According to Ayurvedic healers, Kapha energy can be brought into balance by staying active, keeping a varied daily routine, and avoiding both frozen and oily foods.* Leafy greens, roasted foods, astringent fruits, spices, and dandelion tea are recommended for Kapha types.*

Incorporating Ayurvedic Healing Into Your Life

Ayurveda is the practice of achieving and maintaining wellness of the body, mind, and spirit through healthful life choices. However, it is important to note that Ayurvedic medicine is not a substitute for Western medicine. Rather, it should be thought of as a complementary healing practice that can be used in conjunction with modern medicine. 

Ayurveda centers around promoting balance and harmony in the body through a nutritious diet, regular exercise, good sleep, healthful herbs, and stress management. Many of these teachings align with contemporary medical advice, and can be easily incorporated into your daily routine at any time.

We encourage every Citizen to celebrate the spirit of Ayurveda by striving to create balance in their own lives. Developing a morning yoga routine, getting eight hours of sleep each night, eating fresh vegetables at every meal, or sipping a tea with Ayurvedic herbs are all ways you can begin incorporating the ancient wisdom of Ayurvedic into your wellness practice.

*Note: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.