Have you tried Ayurveda in addressing health issues and improving wellness? This practice has already been used in India for over 5,000 years and is now gaining popularity in the Western regions. What is Ayurveda and how beneficial is it compared to Conventional Medicine?
What is Ayurveda?
According to scholars, it's the oldest science of healing, with a holistic approach to longevity, health and life balance. It is derived from the Sanskrit Words “ayus” and “veda”, which together means “knowledge of life”. This traditional Indian Medicine is run by a set of basic principles in treating illnesses and balancing the mind, body and consciousness.
Ayurvedic Medicine differs in some way from conventional medicine. The following doctrines of Ayurveda sets it apart from the modern medical set up:
- There is no universal formula for healing. Every person and his needs are unique.
- Prevention is better than cure. Ayurvedic Medicine advises to balance physical and emotional health.
- Food and lifestyle practices are the key treatments. Instead of taking pills to feel better, eat the right kinds of food and exercise.
Ayurveda practitioners use more than 20 kinds of Ayurvedic treatments and the most common of them include Yoga, Herbal Medicine, Pranayama breathing exercises and more.
The Ayurvedic Practice
According to Dr. Indu Arora, an international Ayurveda-Yoga therapist and master teacher, Ayurveda is not something that one has to go to when it is needed. Rather, it is the wisdom of our everyday life. As an introduction to Ayurveda, watch the video with Dr. Indu talking about the practice of Ayurveda. (11.06 minutes)
Dr. Indu has used specific Ayurvedic tools in the video. You can find these items HERE.
There are 5 elements that build the foundation of Ayurveda. The Earth, Fire, Air, Water and Ether are the basic structures of every thing in the universe, including the food that we eat and we humans ourselves. These elements intertwine and work together.
In the Ayurvedic practice, there are 3 types of Doshas or energy sources that every person has to balance.
Vata – a combination of Air and Ether elements. It means to move, channel or mobilize. It should be balanced for creativity and vitality. Otherwise, it will result to fear and anxiety.
Pitta – a combination of the elements water and fire. Pitta means to cook or to metabolize. It is the passion, concentration, sharpness, fire, contentment and intelligence. It causes anger and ulcers when imbalanced.
Kapha – the combination of earth and water elements. Kapha means nourishment and growth. It expresses love and forgiveness when balanced, but could lead to insecurity and envy when imbalanced.
If you don't know your dosha type yet, you can take quizzes to help you identify them. Dr. Nancy Lonsdorf, an expert in Ayurveda and Integral Medicine, has got Radiant You™ program which contains a dosha quiz that you can take. You may need to sign up for free to get the result of your dosha test and some recommendations and tips from her about your specific dosha. Check on it HERE.
If you have already identified your Dosha, it's now time you know what it means to be one. Watch the video below and listen as Geeta Arora explains more about the attributes of each Dosha type in an individual. (5.59 minutes)
Every person has vata, pitta, and kapha and one or two doshas could be dominant in one person. Sometimes, the energy or dosha balance can be disturbed because of stress, an unhealthy diet, the weather and even strained family relationships. If this happens, the disturbance shows up as disease.
Ayurveda and Menopause
Ayurveda is about balance and menopause is considered as a “balance deficiency”. The symptoms the women feel during menopause depend on their dosha type. Here are the common problems that women feel and some simple ayurvedic suggestions to manage these issues.
Vata Type Women – These women tend to experience anxiety, panic attacks, mood swings and insomnia. They may also be inclined to feeling cold, having palpitations, hot flashes, constipation, bloating, and joint pain.
- Take warm food and drinks; eat regularly. Add spices like fennel and cumin in your diet.
- Decrease consumption of caffeinated products, refined sugar, cold drinks and salads.
- Follow an early bedtime pattern
- Practice meditation, yoga and have an oil massage
Pitta Type Women – These women are commonly hot-tempered. They easily get angry and irritable. They often experience hot flashes, night sweats, skin rashes, acne and urinary tract infection.
- Increase cooling food like sweet juicy fruits, including plums, mango, melons, apples and grapes.
- Good to eat zucchini, yellow squash and cucumber. Make sure that they are organically grown.
- Increase water intake as well
- Decrease consumption of spicy foods, hot drinks and alcohol.
- Decrease excessive sun exposure and overheating.
- Advised to go to bed early. if possible, try to wind down as early as you can, or before 10PM.
Kapha Type Women – These women are mostly prone to gaining weight. They may experience lethargy, lack of motivation, slow digestion, depression and unreasonable weight gain. They may also have fluid retention and yeast infections.
- Consume, fruits, whole grains, vegetables and legumes.
- Also good to consume black pepper, turmeric and ginger.
- decrease consumption of meat, cheese and sugar. Cut down on cold foods and drinks too.
- Advised to get up early at around 6 AM.
Here are some more Ayurvedic remedies for common menopause problems.
One easy trick is to chew a single peppermint leaf after every meal to help get rid of bloating. The menthol in peppermint that freshens your breath can also help with soothing the digestive muscles. As a result it decreases bloating, abdominal pain and flatulence.
Another treatment is to cut a few ginger to slices and soak them in lemon juice for an hour. You can chew a few slices of the soaked ginger after every meal. You may also get more Ayurvedic solutions for bloating here.
Weight gain is a common problem of women in menopause, but Ayurveda has an natural remedy for it. In a pan, boil a liter of water then add 1/4 teaspoon of coriander seeds, 1/4 teaspoon of cumin seeds and 1/4 teaspoon of fennel seeds. Mix it well and let it boil for 5 minutes. Allow it to cool and strain the liquid into a clean flask. You can take sips of the solution through out the day. It is good to make the solution fresh every morning for its full benefits. But, of course, it also good to follow healthy eating tricks and do exercises with this regimen for effective weight loss.
You may also want to check out more natural remedies for weight loss through this video.
When treating hot flashes the Ayurvedic way, you can use herbs including Sarsaparilla, Shatavari, Licorice, Cumin Seed, Khus Khus and more. However, if you want to use a simple recipe for easy relief, you can start your day by eating stewed apple! You can also munch on some sweet, juicy fruits or some rose petal preserves!
Stress and Anxiety
When treating stress and anxiety, one of the goals should be to keep yourself calm. In the Ayurvedic practice, you can practice meditation, yoga and proper breathing techniques. You may also use simple home remedies for it. Chamomile tea is one effective remedy. You may also take a glass or orange juice with one teaspoon of nutmeg powder. Mix it well and take it daily.
Ayurveda uses the healing power of nature. Every living thing around the world is driven by doshas, so it is possible to keep the body in good shape and heal from imbalances through natural remedies. Eating clean and healthy with proper exercise is a key to effective Ayurvedic treatment.
Here are some things you need to remember when following Ayurveda:
- Consider the 6 tastes (Sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent) when eating the Ayurveda way.
- Each of the 6 tastes should be present in every meal, to ensure optimal nutrition and satisfaction.
- As much as possible, prepare your food just before you are going to consume them. it is important to eat or drink items in their freshest state.
- Only use organic ingredients
You may ask, are there risks involved with Ayurvedic treatment? Some herbs used in Ayurveda may interact with conventional medications. If you are taking medications, it is best to consult with your doctor before finally going with Ayurvedic treatment. You can also read what science says about the safety and side effects of Ayurvedic Medicine in the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.