The origins of Ayurvedic medicine
Ayurvedic medicine is an unconventional medicine born in India around the fifth century b.c. Ayurveda originates from the tradition of the Vedas, the sacred wisdom texts of India and the first traces of organized medical knowledge can be found in particular in the Atharva Veda.
In the Vedic period it was thought that the origin and healing of diseases were caused by malevolent and benevolent deities, therefore medicine was mainly based on rituals by which it was possible to placate and remove divinities.
In the post-Vedic period, thanks to the influence of Buddhism, we pass from what was a magical medical system to a real medical system in which we try to explain the emergence of diseases in a more logical way.
Over the years, universities and medical centers began to spread in India and beyond, where it was possible to learn the art of natural healing on which Ayurvedic medicine is based.
Even today, it is a widespread practice in many countries, especially in the east, where it is used even more than traditional medicine.
What is ayurvedic medicine
The purpose of Ayurvedic medicine is to help sick people to heal themselves and healthy people to stay healthy and prevent disease.
According to Ayurveda, the body is pervaded by the “doshas” or three vital energies called pitta, vata and kapha. These vital energies when in balance determine the individual’s state of well-being while an imbalance situation can be responsible for the disease.
- The vital energy called “vata” is in turn made up of five other components that have different body locations: prana (head), udana (chest), vyana (heart), apana (pelvis). samana (abdomen). The imbalance of each of these components is responsible for specific ailments. For example, an imbalance of the vata apana manifests itself with intestinal or urogenital problems.
- The vital energy “pitta” consists of five other components: pachaaka (stomach), ranjaka (liver), sadhaka (heart), alochaka (eyes) and bhrajaka (skin). For example, the imbalance of pitta pachaaka can lead to ailments such as poor digestion.
- Finally, the vital energy “kapha” is divided into kledaka (stomach), avalmbaka (thorax), bodhaka (tongue), tarpaka (head), sleshaka (joints). Also in this case the imbalance of one of these components can cause specific disturbances depending on the location; for example, the imbalance of the kapha tarpaka causes headache, insomnia, nausea.
Ayurvedic treatment does not try to eliminate the symptoms of the disease, but tries to understand the causes that led to the imbalance of the doshas. Through the use of various methods and remedies, therefore, Ayurvedic medicine goes to rebalance the altered doshas and to strengthen them in order to restore the person’s state of health and well-being.
The remedies provided by ayurvedic medicine are:
- Aesthetic treatments with oils, spices and medicinal herbs
- Taking herbal products in the form of pills or herbal teas
- Food advice
- Physical exercise (yoga, massage, relaxation techniques and deep breathing)
Ayurvedic medicine has a very particular vision of nutrition which is based on the fact that each person has a different physical characteristic so there is no suitable food style for everyone. Nutrition must be specific according to the body’s constitution. According to Ayurveda, in fact, individuals can have a vata, pitta or kapha constitution. Depending on your constitution, you must keep away those foods that can cause harm and instead prefer the consumption of foods that have a beneficial effect for the body. Individuals with a vata constitution benefit from foods with a salty, sour and sweet taste while they are aggravated by a bitter, pungent and astringent taste. Individuals with pitta constitution, instead, benefit from foods with a bitter, astringent and sweet taste while they are aggravated by the taste, sour, pungent and salty. Finally, people with kapha constitution should prefer foods with a pungent, bitter and astringent taste and keep away foods with a sour, sweet and salty taste.
Furthermore, anyone, regardless of their physical constitution, should pay attention to the “prana” of food, that is, the energy it has. Fresh and naturally grown foods are very rich in energy, while frozen foods, grown and stored with chemical additives are poor.
Another very important practice closely related to nutrition is the use of herbs, spices and medicinal plants for both topical and systemic use. Ayurveda has about 9,000 plants known for their ability to prevent disturbances or stimulate the body’s natural defenses. Among the herbs, those most used in Ayurvedic medicine are turmeric, black pepper, ginger, aloe, hibiscus, centella.
In general, scientific studies conducted on this ancient Indian medicine have shown that there are no significant therapeutic effects on diseases; however, it appears that these treatments and remedies can still bring benefits to the patient’s general health.
Safety and side effects
This type of unconventional medicine is, in most cases, safe and free of side effects.
Obviously, it is necessary to contact only expert personnel who are familiar with the science of nutrition, phytotherapy, the use of essential oils, otherwise the consequence is the development of adverse reactions or interference with some traditional medical therapies.