Practiced in India for the past 5,000 years, Ayurvedic medicine (meaning ”science of life”) is a comprehensive system of medicine that combines natural therapy with a highly personalized approach to maintaining health and to the treatment of disease. Ayurvedic medicine places equal emphasis on body, mind, and spirit, and strives to restore the innate harmony of the individual.
THE FIRST QUESTION an Ayurvedic physician asks is not ”What disease does my patient have?” but “Who is my patient?” . “the physician does not mean your name, but how you are constituted.
“Constitution” is the keystone of Ayurvedic medicine and refers to the overall health profile of the individual, including strengths and susceptibilities. The subtle and often intricate identification of person’s constitution is the first critical step in the process. Once established, it becomes foundation for all clinics.
To determine an individual’s constitution, Ayurvedic doctors first identify the patients metabolic body type. A specific treatment plan is then designed to guide the individual back into harmony with his or her environment, which may include dietary changes, exercises, yoga, meditation, massage, herbal tonics, herbal sweet baths, medicated enemas, and medicated inhalations.
Rather than focusing on treatment specific disease conditions, Ayurveda’s main goal is the help maintain balance in person’s body, mind and spirit.
Metabolic Body Types
Underlying Ayurveda is the view that everything is composed of five basic elements: ether/space, air, fire, water, and earth. The elements combine to form the metabolic body types, or doshas. The three metabolic body types are vata (ether/space and air), pitta (fire and water), and kapha (water and earth). they include distinctions of physique similar to the Western view of body types as thin, muscular, an fat, but ayurvedic medicines also includes mental and spiritual aspects and considers the body types to have far greater influence on a person’s health and well-being then do physical attributes alone.
The ayurvedic body type as a blueprint that outlines all of the innate tendencies built into a person’s system. One’s dosha and the characteristics that reveal it clarifies why one person, for example, will have no reaction to milk, chili, loud noise, while another not be able to tolerate them. Most people are a mixture of dosha characteristics (such as vata-pitta), with one usually more predominant than another Each of the body types flourishes under a specific diet, exercise plan, and lifestyle.
The Vata Body Type
The primary characteristic of the vata metabolic type is changeability, Unpredictability and variability -in size, shape, mood, and action — is the vata trademark. vatas tend to be slender with prominent features, joints and veins, along with cool, dry skins. Moody, enthusiastic, imaginative, and impulsive, the vata type is quick to grasp ideas and is good at initiating things but poor at finishing them. vata energy fluctuates, with jagged peaks and valleys. vatas eat and sleep erratically and are prone to anxiety, insomnia, premenstrual syndrome, and constipation.
The Pitta Body Type
The pitta metabolic type is relatively predictable. The pitta person is of medium build, strength, and endurance, well-proportioned, and easily maintains a stable weight. often fair, the pitta type will frequently have red or blond hair, freckles, and ruddy complexion. Pittas have a quick, articulate, biting intelligence, and can be critical or passionate with a short, explosive temper. Efficient and moderate in daily habits, the pitta type eats and sleeps regularly — eating three meals a day and sleeping eight hours at night. pitta type tend to perspire heavily and are warm and often thirsty. They suffer from acne, ulcers, hemorrhoids, and stomach ailments.
The Kapha Body Type
”The basic theme of the kapha metabolic type is relaxed”, The kapha person is solid, heavy, and strong. with a tendency to be overweight, kaphas have slow digestion and somewhere oily hairs, and cool, damp, pale skin. Everything kapha is slow — kapha types are slow to anger, slow to eat, slow to act. They sleep long and heavily. Kaphas tends to procastinate and be obstinate. A kapha body types will be prone to high cholesterol, obesity, allergies, and sinus problems.
The Three Doshas and Health
Although each person’s metabolic type is determined by a predominant dosha, all three doshas are present in varying degrees in every cell, tissue, and organ of the body. the doshas are located in and govern specific areas/tissues (dhatus) of the body.
- Vata is motion that activates the physical systems, physical activity, and nerve force, and allows the body to breathe and circulate blood. The seats of vata are the large intestine, pelvic cavity, bones, skin, ears, and thighs.
- Pitta, the metabolism, processes food, air, and water and is responsible for charging the hundreds of endocrine and enzymatic activities throughout the body. The seats of pitta are the small intestine, stomach, sweat glands, blood, skin, and eyes.
- Kapha, the structure of bones, tendons, muscle and fat that holds the body together, offers nourishment and protection. The chest, the lungs, and the fluid surrounding the spinal cord are the seats of kapha in body.
When the doshas are balanced in accordance with an individual’s constitution, the results is vibrant health and energy, But when the delicate balance is disturbed, the body becomes susceptible to outside stressors, which may range from viruses and bacteria to poor nutrition and overwork. Imbalance in the doshas is the first sign that the mind and body are not perfectly coordinated,
Ayurveda defines health as soundness and balance among body, mind, and soul and equilibrium among the doshas. According to Ayurvedic medicine, there are seven major factors that can disrupt physiological harmony –genetic, congenital, internal , seasonal, and magnetic/electrical influences; external trauma; and natural habits. “Disease is the result of a disruption of the spontaneous flow of nature’s intelligence within our physiology”, —- “When we violate nature’s law and cannot adequately rid ourselves of the results of this disruption, then we have a disease”. Ayurvedic medicine sees poor digestion and poor elimination of wastes from the body as key factors in most diseases.
Ayurveda also takes into account how the seasons and time of day influence health. Dietary and other therapeutic suggestions are often prescribed with this in mind. To say that summer is a pitta season means that pitta qualities are at their height during this time. Summer’s bright light and heat can induce inflammatory conditions such as hives, rash, acne, biliary disorders, diarrhea in pitta individuals. The vata season is autumn and, because autumn reflects windy, dry, and cold qualities, vata people tend to develop neurological, muscular, and rheumatic problems such as constipation, sciatica, arthritis, and rheumatism. Winter’s deep cold and biting winds bring out more kapha characteristics and stress the kapha individuals respiratory system with colds, hay fever, cough, congestion, sneezing, and sinus disorders. Spring is both pitta and kapha: the coolness, budding leaves, and beautiful flowers of early spring enhances the kapha constitution, while late spring promotes pitta