Ayurveda: bringing balance

Learn more about this holistic technique helping to prevent, relieve and treat common ailments and diseases.  

About ayurvedic medicine

Considered by many scholars to be the oldest healing science, ayurvedic medicine has been practiced for more than 5,000 years. It focuses on good health, prevention and treatment of illness by maintaining balance in the body and mind. This balance comes through lifestyle practices including massage, dietary changes, exercise, meditation and the use of herbal remedies.

According to ayurveda, the five elements of nature (space, air, fire, water and earth) combine in the body as three basic energies or doshas. The doshas — vatta, pitta and kapha — relate closely to specific functions of the body. It is believed that disease results from an imbalance in the doshas.

The benefits of ayurveda

The Ayurvedic Institute states, "Sometimes we go to the doctor only to be told there is nothing wrong. What is actually occurring is that this imbalance has not yet become recognisable as a disease. Yet it is serious enough to make us notice our discomfort."

The goal of ayurvedic medicine is to prevent disease. It's been shown to be effective for reducing the risk of heart disease. It may also reduce stress and cholesterol, as well as pain and loss of function in people with arthritis and osteoporosis.

A change in lifestyle

Ayurveda practitioners prescribe various treatments aimed at rebalancing the doshas. As part of your examination, they will ask about your medical history, check your pulse, feel your abdomen, examine your tongue, eyes, nails and skin and listen to the tone of your voice.

Ayurveda practitioners will almost always require you to pay attention to your lifestyle, diet, habits and surroundings. This is because it's believed that imbalances occur due to stress, unhealthy diet, weather and strained relationships. 

Is ayurveda safe for me?

As herbal remedies can have side effects and interact with medications, it's always best to tell your doctor if you're using an alternative therapy or if you're thinking about combining an alternative therapy with your conventional medical treatment.

It is also important to consult with your doctor as high levels of heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, have been identified in some ayurvedic medicines.

A balance of three doshas is thought to be required for optimal health:

Vatta — this dosha controls muscle and joint movement, blood circulation, breathing and heartbeat. When in balance, vatta promotes creativity and vitality. Out of balance it creates anxiety, fear and pain.

Pitta — believed to control digestion, metabolism, nutrition and temperature, the pitta dosha, when in balance, leads to contentment and intelligence. Out of balance it can cause ulcers and arouse anger, hate and jealousy. 

Kapha — the growth of the body is controlled by kapha. It maintains the immune system, provides moisture to the body parts and the skin. The emotions thought to be controlled by kapha are forgiveness and love. Out of balance it leads to insecurity and envy.

It's also believed that each individual has a unique pattern of energy - a specific combination of physical, mental and emotional characteristics - and that one or two doshas are dominant in a particular person.

For more Information on Ayurveda go to: ayurveda.com ; umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/treatment/ayurveda

Australian Unity accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions, advice, representations or information contained in this article. Readers should rely on their own advice and enquiries in making decisions affecting their own health, wellbeing or interest.