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 Post subject: Understanding Ayurvedic Medicine
 Post Posted: Mon Jul 18, 2005 2:46 am 
Understanding Ayurvedic Medicine

Over the last few years we have been overwhelmed with information on alternative health from wonder herbs and vitamins to the latest yoga styles. No longer are we happy just to pop a pill for any minor ailment and as a nation we are taking a more holistic approach to health.

“Ayurveda is a very precise, medical science that has been practised for thousands of years in the Indian subcontinent,” explains Dr Godagama, president of the Ayurvedic Medical Association. “In fact, in Sri Lanka today it very much the main medical system and Western practices are likely to be seen as alternative.”

Many of us will have some experience of Ayurvedic home remedies. I, personally was brought up to believe that a spoonful of turmeric was a miracle cure whether it was used on cuts, bumps and bruises, in aloo gobi or as part of a very unflattering face pack. However, the wider medical and spiritual philosophy of Ayurveda may not be quite so familiar to us.

“One of the fundamental differences between Western and Ayurvedic medicine is that it is a system which is based around the maintenance of our health rather than treating disease,” Dr. Godagama continues. So although Aryuveda can treat a range of conditions from asthma to IBS, the idea is that you correct imbalances before the body actually reaches a state of illness. This means, of course, that you can visit an Ayurvedic doctor when you feel perfectly well – which is exactly what I did.

The first part of my consultation began in a manner very similar to a visit to a GP. My pulse and blood pressure were taken but the condition of my hair and skin were also noted and my tongue was examined. This was followed by a detailed discussion of my family’s medical history. But the prescription that followed was not just an illegible scribble on a notepad. In fact it actually took up a large part of the consultation. Dr Godagama explained that everyone has three Dosha or constitutional types, which relate to different systems of our body. The three Doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha and an imbalance in them can lead to disease.

The main concern in my case was fluctuation of the Kapha Dosha. One of the methods of redressing this balance is through food. I was given a diet sheet with specific guidelines, including a reduction in some dairy products, nuts and fruits and raw foods. I was also advised to have sessions of Marma Puncture (Ayurvedic Acupuncture) and follow a regular detoxification programme involving techniques such as herbal enemas and steam inhalation. In Ayurvedic medicine, regular internal cleansing or Panchakarma is considered fundamental in restoring vitality and preventing disease. Not such an unfamiliar concept in this country where colonic irrigation and detox diets are fairly mainstream practices. My final piece of advice was to practice yoga on a regular basis, something, I proudly announced, that was already part of my daily routine.

The only thing my Ayurvedic consultation did not seem to offer me was a ‘quick health fix’ of any kind. Ayurveda may simply be associated with massage, herbs or diets but is actually more of a way of living your life. So, should we all be adopting an Ayurvedic lifestyle? Western medical systems are certainly now recognising the merits of yoga, acupuncture and herbal medication and there are enormous amounts of scientific research into the healing powers of foods. The ancient teachings of Ayurveda obviously have a great deal to offer modern medicine and yet at the same time there are Western medical practices and surgical procedures that remain unrivalled. So perhaps we shouldn’t be thinking of Aryuveda as an alternative medicine at all but as a complementary one, that offers us a practical, natural pathway not only towards the prevention of illness but also to reaching a better state of health.

Surinder Phull
ITEC Nutrition Adviser

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