Ayurveda health system - Ayurvedic medicine
For nearly 5,000 years Ayurvedic medicine has been practiced in India and relies on the three doshas to keep the body (the universe in microcosmic form) in tune with the world around us. The Ayurveda system relies on multiple regimes to attain health and includes diet, lifestyle, yoga, life-affirming mental attitude, therapies as well as Ayurvedic medicine.
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The doshas refer to specific elements of nature and every person is made up of various combinations of such doshas. Although the universal elements are divided into five - that being air, earth, fire, water and ether - the Ayurveda system only uses the tridosha to make up the individual, although the doshas incorporate all five elements in varying degrees within the doshas.
It is interesting to note that the British Government banned Ayurvedic medical schools in 1800 and that this ancient health system was then given the status of "folk medicine" until India's independence in 1947 when the new democratic government of India once again legalized Ayurvedic medical schools.
Vata is a combination or air and ether but with air being the dominant one it is contained within the body. Vata governs and controls our physical and emotional development, movements, circulation, as well as the actions of our nervous system.
People that are predominantly Vata resemble the elements of air and ether and tends to be thin, quick, light, changeable, unpredictable, talkative and enthusiastic. Creative people normally have a strong Vata component. When such people are out of balance they tend to be restless and have problems intestinal gas, constipation, insomnia, anxiety and dry flaky skin.
Vata is the controller of the life force within us, and by this leads the two other doshas.
Pitta is a combination of fire and water, with fire being the dominant one. Pitta governs the metabolism and all other body processes involving heat such as digestion, hormones and reactions to create energy, and this dosha is also sometimes referred to as bile.
People that are predominantly Pitta are fiery, intense with a sharp mind, a penetrating look, reddish or flushed complexion, competitive and hot tempered and are normally bothered with problems such as inflammation, heartburn, ulcers, high blood pressure, skin rashes, anger, frustration and irritation.
Kapha is a combination of earth and water, with water being the dominant one. Kapha governs the body's structure, tissues and maintains stability, cohesion, fluid balance as well as biological strength. Kapha is also sometimes referred to as phlegm.
People that are predominantly Kapha are solid, steady, have great endurance, even-tempered and calm with a predisposition to gain weight on their normally large body frame, as well as having problems with their sinuses, obesity, mental and physical lethargy and a tendency to procrastinate.
The unique combination of the doshas that make up 'you' in your most true and essential nature, is referred to as prakriti or prakruti. Although your prakruti is made up of all doshas, there will be one dosha that predominates, but all of them will interact with the outside world and be influenced by it and by the personal choices we make - overeating, under-nutrition, sleep cycles, stress etc and keeping these influences in mind you get to your state of vikruti - which is your current condition, and this should be in harmony with your prakruti.
When there is an imbalance between the vikruti (your current status quo) and your prakruti, it would lead to mental and physical illness and disharmony, and here the Ayurvedic practitioner will then employ his array of treatments to remedy the situation.
Purification and detoxification is an integral part of the Ayurvedic system and would include sweat baths, enemas, nasal washes, blood letting and oil massages, but will then be followed through with specialized diets, meditation, yoga and herbal remedies (Ayurvedic medicine).
Should you be interested to read more about Ayurvedic medicine, we could recommend the following books from Amazon.com:
An Elementary Textbook of Ayurveda : Medicine with a six thousand year old Tradition by Frank John & M Ninivaggi
The Book of Ayurveda : A holistic approach to Health and Longevity by Judith H Morrison and Robert E Svoboda.