While Western medicine continues to be the predominant form of treatment and medication all over the world, there is a growing tribe of followers for alternative medicines and wellness therapies. Of all these types of treatment, the benefits of Ayurvedic medicine are undeniable and have contributed to its popularity over the last two decades.
The general benefits of Ayurvedic medicine are commonly known: it is sustainable and eco-friendly, it has little to no side effects, and it takes a unique holistic approach to mental and physical wellbeing. As lifestyles malaises become more common, Ayurvedic medicine offers a low-impact way to treat and prevent common conditions.
In this post, we’re going to discuss the origins and benefits of Ayurvedic medicine so that you can decide if it is a good option for you.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a traditional wellness system that originated in ancient India over 5000 years ago. It believes in a holistic approach with customized treatments that focus on prevention of illness. The core principle is of balance, with any health conditions being ascribed to an imbalance.
Ayurvedic medicine is so highly regarded in Australia that it is treated as a bonafide system of medicine, regulated by official bodies and even covered by some private health funds.
What is the difference between Ayurveda and Ayurvedic medicine?
Ayurveda is a life science that allows people to live healthy lives by optimizing mind, body and spirit. Apart from medicine, it includes a number of other practices that are aimed at balancing and harmonizing the body:
- Panchakarma or detoxing the body
- Balancing energies through meditation
- Massage and relaxation techniques
- Physical and muscular health through yoga
- Customized diet plans
- Herbal remedies
- Changes in routine and lifestyles
All these treatments aim at achieving balance and removing toxins, both physically and emotionally. Over time and with the correct treatment, you can expect to feel reduced stress and more focus, a better connection between the mind and body, and a free flow of energy.
Ayurvedic medicine is a subset of Ayurveda. It offers a range of highly customized treatments that are especially effective for chronic complaints. In Australia, the benefits of Ayurvedic medicine make it an increasingly sought-after form of treatment.
Is Ayurvedic medicine different from Western medicine?
Western medicine focuses on suppressing the symptoms of the disease. To achieve results as fast as possible, it treats the disease as a whole. It is effective for quick relief from pain, to stop the spread of an illness, or to prevent the illness from becoming critical.
One of the greatest benefits of Ayurveda is that it focuses on the individual and the impact of the disease on the overall health of the individual. This ensures that the treatment is carefully calibrated to cause least side effects and to strengthen the body so that it can heal.
What are the benefits of Ayurvedic medicine?
Ayurvedic medicine is not limited to herbal concoctions, supplements or teas. It is becoming more popular for people to turn from Western medicine to Ayurvedic medicine for the following reasons:
- The supplements are usually derived from natural ingredients, with minimal to no side effects
- The concept of taking supplements rather than medicines means that your body becomes healthier while you treat the condition
- It attacks the underlying cause rather than suppressing the symptoms, offering a solution that is sustainable in the long run
Within the country, traditional medications such as Ayurvedic and Chinese are now referred to as ‘complementary medicines’ requiring them to match the standards of quality and safety as all other medicines. The TGA conducts a monitoring program to ascertain the safety of all complementary medications so you can be assured of their quality.
Is Ayurvedic medicine right for me?
Ayurvedic medicine takes its cues from the principles of Ayurveda and treats illness at the root. By removing or reducing the cause of illness, the symptoms will dissipate of their own accord. With a customized treatment plan, one can achieve optimal fitness of body, mind and spirit.
Ayurvedic medicine is a slow but long-lasting solution that is especially effective for chronic conditions that are not severe. This includes digestive problems such as acid reflux or heartburn, skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema, and allergies.
In cases where symptoms are debilitating or have a heavy impact on the quality of your life, it may be hard to be patient with the long duration of treatment. Depending on the complaint and the course of treatment, you may see results immediately but this is not always possible.
Can I use Ayurvedic herbs in my daily life without a prescription?
Yes, you certainly can! There are a few herbs and ingredients that are recommended by Ayurveda that will help you achieve improved health and a better quality of life. These can be taken without side effects and without medical advice.
With Ayurvedic herbs benefits include boosted immunity, a stronger digestive system, and easy treatment of mild health complaints.
Here are some suggestions:
The benefits of Ayurvedic medicine for common complaints
Ayurvedic medicine aims at restoring balance in the body and believes that most conditions are caused by imbalances in the digestive system, the hormonal function, and dysfunctions in the body’s ability to regulate itself and eliminate toxins. Many of the common health complaints we face in our daily lives is based on issues of these very systems, so the benefits of ayurvedic medicine may offer relief.
One of the more important benefits of ayurvedic medicine is that it aims at the long-term treatment of the illness. By treating the cause and not just the symptoms, it can be safely used over months or years and will only help to boost the function of your body.
In addition, many of the chronic conditions mentioned below are triggered or heightened by stress. While ayurvedic medicine may offer treatments, it also recommends meditation or yoga to help manage stress better. This can have a healing effect on the conditions in the long term.
Some of the conditions most commonly treated with Ayurveda are:
Skin conditions: Skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema are suitable for ayurvedic treatment, especially in milder cases. The approach for skin conditions is two-pronged: treat the internal causes by purification of the blood and elimination systems, and treat skin with topical application of soothing, antiseptic substances like aloe vera gel or neem.
Digestive conditions: Many of us struggle with the occasional digestive disorder like hyperacidity and constipation. These occasional problems can be treated with ayurvedic medicine but Ayurveda can also have a significant impact on reducing chronic digestive conditions.
Most ayurvedic medicine practitioners offer natural or herbal medicines for such cases, working towards cleansing the system and improving the digestive processes. They may also recommend lifestyle changes like regular walks, specific yoga poses that help with bowel movement and digestion, or dietary changes like avoiding deep-fried or spicy food.
Common colds: For those of us who suffer from frequent colds and coughs, there are many benefits of ayurvedic medicine for treatment. It uses soothing natural herbs like ginger, lemon, or holy basil for treatment, giving you the chance to avoid the side effects of taking over-the-counter medicines on a regular basis.
If you catch colds often, you should consider talking to an ayurvedic doctor about strengthening your immune system. This may include lifestyle changes or dietary recommendations, but it can have a positive effect on your general health.
Joint and bone pain: Practitioners of ayurvedic medicine will usually recommend yoga and exercise to treat joint pain caused by sedentary lifestyles or inadequate muscle strength.
However, in cases where joint pain is age-related or caused by degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis, there are many benefits of ayurvedic medicine. It can be used in conjunction with other allopathic medicines (please discuss this with your doctor for individual recommendations) and also prescribes practices like ayurvedic massage therapy, hot fomentation, and more.
Serious conditions: When it comes to conditions like diabetes or heart disease, it is imperative that you regulate and monitor your health and continue with your prescribed medicines. However ayurvedic medicine can help with complementary treatments.
For diabetes, ayurvedic medicine aims at helping the body metabolize sugar and cleanse the system. This may require adding specific ingredients like cinnamon to your diet or beginning a yoga practice.
When it comes to heart conditions, you can use ayurvedic medicine to lower stress levels and improve circulation. This usually involves calming meditation practices, walking and exercise.
Panchakarma use in ayurvedic medicine
All of us get lost in our routines and daily worries, to the extent that our health suffers. We may neglect our bodies and niggling conditions until we end up with multiple health complaints. When this happens, you may notice low energy or lethargy, feelings of depression or isolation, increased frequency of allergies or coughs and colds, headaches, and digestive trouble.
At a time like this, the body requires significant ‘resetting’ to achieve better health. The Panchakarma form of treatment involves five different styles of therapy to achieve this resetting. It works on multiple issues and aims at restoring balance and unblocking stagnant energy so that your body and mind can function at full capacity again.
Panchakarma involves the following treatment:
- Oil massage or hot bolus massage to loosen muscles and relieve joint pain
- Induced vomiting (emetics) to loosen congestion in the chest and remove extra mucus
- Enemas to boost the elimination system and cleanse the bowels
- Controlled administration of laxatives to remove toxins from the intestines
- Nasyam or oil treatments for the nostrils to cleanse the nose, throat, sinus and head to regulate and improve breathing and remove blockages
This process usually takes a few sessions because it can be quite intense. All treatments are administered by professionals and with specific dosages, but they also require support in terms of diet and rest.
If you have any pre-existing health conditions, do check with your medical practitioner before signing up for this treatment.
The benefits of ayurvedic medicine for dosha health
In the absence of specific health conditions, Ayurvedic medicine works on the principles of balancing the dosha system. The doshas are a set of three life energies of your body – kapha, pitta, vata. When they are in balance, we are healthy, energetic and calm. But all of us tend to have an imbalance and lean more towards one or two types of dosha.
Too much of one dosha can lead to health problems and a restless, unproductive mind. Ayurvedic medicine helps to balance these doshas and ensures better mental and physical health.
Here is a short summary of the doshas and their characteristics:
People with a dominant kapha dosha may be prone to weight gain, sluggish circulation, low energy, and bloating. On the positive side, they have relatively stable placid personalities, are tolerant and patient, and can be quite strong.
Kapha doshas should avoid cold dairy products, fried food, and red meat. They thrive on a diet of light food and food that is grilled, roasted, or steamed. Beneficial spices for kaphas include cumin, ginger, garlic, and sesame.
Vata types have higher anxiety levels and may be prone to insomnia, constipation, and frequent coughs. They have high energy but low stamina and tend to burn bright and burn out fast. They can be very creative and charming, but may also be jumpy and nervous.
Vata doshas should avoid cold or raw foods, and will do best on dense, warm foods. They can tolerate dairy, meat, and natural sugars in fruits, but it is recommended they avoid caffeine, sugar, and bitter herbs like parsley or coriander. Beneficial spices for vatas include cumin, saffron, ginger and garlic.
Those with a dominant pitta dosha may be impatient, bright, and charismatic, but they are likely to be irritable and reckless more often. They may be prone to nausea or rashes, and therefore should avoid excesses of sour or salty foods. They can eat most vegetables but will do best on a largely vegetarian diet. Pittas may be drawn to bitter foods and can eat these ingredients without doing harm: coriander, cinnamon, mint, turmeric, plums, etc.
Practitioners of ayurvedic medicine will provide diet recommendations based on the dominant dosha, to help you arrive at a balance that suits your temperament. They may also suggest exercises for energy, massage practices for detoxing the body and calming the mind, and specific yoga poses or routines for trouble areas.
Please keep in mind that all of the above suggestions are Ayurvedic practices that should be recommended and prepared under the supervision of experts and prescribed by certified practitioners. To get the desired results, always ensure you take the medicines as prescribed and adhere to the diet and lifestyle changes suggested to you.
If you have existing medical conditions or are taking prescription medicine, do consult your GP or medical practitioner about adding Ayurvedic herbs or medicines into your routine.
If you would like to find an ayurvedic wellness centre, Avaana can help you find one near you.