What Is Ayurvedic Medicine?
There are many different beneficial health philosophies the raw foodist might benefit from, including Ayurveda. This medicinal system, based on ancient Hindi philosophy, is one native to most people living in India. Individuals living in Sri Lanka and Nepal also use Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurvedic medicine is based on the philosophy of long life, meaning the principles of Ayurvedic medicine are to encourage a healthy and long life.
Healthy Living With Ayurveda
Ayurveda approaches the body from the principles of physical, mental, social and spiritual concepts, suggesting that all must be balanced to promote good health. To prevent decay, one must sustain their body with time by protecting these four aspects of one's body.
There are eight different branches of Ayurvedic medicine which include traditional branches like internal medicine and pediatrics. Here is a brief summary of how Ayurveda works:
More On Vata, Pitta And Kapha & Raw Food Composition
- To prevent illness one must balance the body, mind and spirit.
- People, the environment and universe are interrelated.
- Herbs, massage and techniques can assist in cleansing the body and restoring or maintaining health.
- Ever humans balance is disrupted during life because of life processes. This can cause disharmony in any aspect of life which can lead to disease.
- Each person has a unique constitution called prakriti, influenced by digestion and a person's excretion of waste. This remains unchanging during life.
- Each person has qualities or basic characteristics within their personal constitution that control the body known as doshas. These are vata, pitta and kapha. These are made of one or two of the four elements or space.
- Most people have three doshas but one dominates the rest. Each of these results in a specific body type and personality. Some are more prone to specific health disorders than others (like diabetes for example).
Could raw foodists be attracted to the diet because they are a specific dosha, personality type and body type more drawn to eating raw foods? Possibly. Let's look more closely at the doshas to find out if any fit more specifically.
- Vata – This includes the elements air and space, and many consider this one of the strongest and most dominant doshas in part because it controls most autonomic functions in the body. These are automatic functions of the central nervous system including our heart rate and respiration and even our thoughts and mind. If you don't get enough sleep or you eat before you digest what you've eaten previous you can disrupt this dosha. You may be more susceptible to illnesses including those affecting the mind or the way you think, the central nervous system or skin.
- Pitta – This represents fire and water; this dosha is more likely to control digestion and many hormones, so someone that is out of balance may feel heartburn or may experience pms-like symptoms or feel angry or confused. Some triggers for these behaviors may include eating food that is too spicy or spending too much time outdoors without rest. Some diseases often associated with this dosha include arthritis and sometimes heart attack or chronic heart disease.
- Kapha combines water and earth elements, and many believe this dosha is responsible to keep individuals strong and help boost their immune system. Someone that has kapha out of balance may feel nauseous and may have difficulty eating because of it. There are activities that can worsen this condition including eating too much salt and eating too many sweets. Some problems associated with this condition include diabetes, stomach problems including ulcers and asthma.
Once a practitioner determines your primary dosha and which is most out of balance, he or she will then work to help restore balance. This may involve making changes to your dietary and sleep schedule to help cure mental and physical ailments.
A cleansing may also be suggested which may involve the use of enemas and fasting. Some practitioners also suggest using herbs to help with symptoms. Still others are advised to meditate as well and perform yoga, tai chi or related activities to help quite the mind and relieve the patient of excess stress or tension. This can also help relieve pain and discomfort. Some patients even receive massage therapy in various forms which can help restore weak life energy, reduce chronic pain and help an individual feel energized if needed.
Finding An Ayurvedic Practitioner
A doctor well-versed in natural health, naturopathic medicine or CAM might have some experience working with this type of medicine. However, if you want someone to really help you based on the principles of Ayurveda, you are better off finding someone that has actually studied in India, because there are hundreds of schools that teach there and many practitioners committed to the art go there to study at least part of the time or for an internship.
Students often have a high-level degree. The U.S. does not actually have a standard for certifying or accrediting the schools that offer programs in Ayurvedic schools, so you may want to work with an organization that networks with other health organizations to verify its credentials and professionalism. Find out who else has graduated from there, and make sure the organization has some references and testimony.
Keep in mind that not everyone is going to have experience or any true ability in this field. You should always confirm someone's knowledge of the art before asking them for health-related advice!
By TTS Cofounder Botanical Chef Omid Jaffari