As a medical system that dates back over three thousand years originating in India, Ayurveda is continuing to make waves in modern health. In the United States Ayurveda is a complementary medical approach. The basis of this medical approach is focused on promoting health not fighting sickness. It is proactive rather than reactive. Ayurvedic medicine believes that when a balance is found between mind, body and spirit good health results. Ayurveda takes a holistic approach to health by incorporating a variety of products such as plants, exercise, diet, and lifestyle.
Practitioners of Ayurveda emphasize their agreement that it is not and should not be a substitute for Western medicine but a complement to such. The intended application of Ayurveda is to treat imbalances in the body to achieve optimal health. This is generally done for those who seek input from a physician of Western Medicine when they are not feeling well to be told that there is nothing wrong after tests and procedures. This type of ill feeling is commonly associated with an imbalance within the body and is where Ayurveda can make a difference.
The imbalances come from the three energy areas of the body according to Ayurveda. Practitioners refer to these areas, or energies, as; Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Vata is associated with movement, Pitta with the metabolic system, and Kapha all that encompasses the body’s structure as in bones, muscles, etc. When evaluating the patient the practitioner will look and listen for specific signs and symptoms. The assessment involves questioning, observing, physical examination, pulse rate, tongue and eye observation, and listening to the patient’s tone of voice.
After the assessment if the practitioner believes the patient can withstand the necessary interventions they will be explained to them. Interventions include diet changes, lifestyle changes, herbal remedies, panchakarma (a toxin cleansing program). Along with these interventions there exists a large number of therapeutic practices that can be performed such as masks, oils, baths, and wraps all of which contain specific herbal mixtures. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) has funded research in Ayurvedic Medicine to continue discovering how this ancient practice can be of benefit in modern medicine along with safety precautions.