15:57 21 April 2005
Ayurveda is a holistic healthcare system developed in India. It is one of the oldest medical sciences known to man with written texts dating back 3500 years and with origins at least 5000 years old.
The word ayurveda comes from two Sanskrit words - 'Ayura' meaning life and 'Veda' meaning wisdom or knowledge. The Ayurvedic system aims to bring into balance the universal elements of fire, water, air, earth and ether.
These elements, also recognised by Chinese medicine, are present in all aspects of our world and play a vital role in the body. Ayurveda also works with three vital energies of the body called 'doshas'.
These doshas - Vata, Pitta and Kapha must also be balanced to maintain the overall health of an individual. Each individual is governed by these doshas in varying degrees and the practitioner will determine which dosha is more dominant in you.
The ancient ayurvedic texts describe the types of illness that arise when imbalances occur and how they can be remedied. Ayurveda is a complete healthcare system. Ayurvedic practitioners aim to prevent disease by working with the physical, mental and energetic aspects of the body.
It involves a range of therapies including detoxification, diet, exercise, meditation, massage and herbal remedies. These are used to flush out harmful toxins,'ama', which cause illness and can be produced by elemental and energetic imbalances or excesses.
The Ayurvedic practitioner will guide you in maintaining a healthier lifestyle for your individual body condition. What conditions are treated? Ayurveda can be useful in treating most illnesses or diseases and emphasises preventative medicine.
The Ayurvedic practitioner can treat:
Ayurveda will benefit all age groups and can be used in conjunction with Western medicine. What Treatment methods are used? The Ayurvedic practitioner may prescribe a variety of treatment methods according to the individuals needs.
Treatments for the same illness may vary from person to person depending on their individual dosha. Therapies used by ayurveda include Meditation, Yoga, Dietary advice, Aromatherapy, lifestyle changes and Herbal Remedies.
No chemicals are used in ayurvedic medications. They are prepared through processes set out in the ancient texts and can take a very long time to produce.
They may be in the form of tablets, powders, liquid, paste or raw herbs that the patient usually drinks as a tea. Deep cleansing techniques called 'Panchakarma' may also be used.
This includes herbal sweat baths, massage, enemas and herbal infusions. Ayurvedic healing practices are recognised by the World Health Organisation.
Practitioners should be members of a Ayurvedic Medical Association and have completed at least 5 years of study in an accredited college.
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