Ayurvedic or Ayurveda Medicine is one of the oldest natural healing systems in the world. Originating in India 5,000 years ago, it is now becoming more widely practiced in the West. Ayurvedia stresses a proper diet and focuses on the power of food for healing and maintaining good health. Each food is carefully selected according to what is needed by the body. Many spices and herbs are also incorporated into daily meals for their medicinal value. Nothing is unintentional in its use.

Practitioners diagnose by observing, asking questions, touching and taking the pulse. According to Ayurveda, the five elements of nature (Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth) manifest in the body as three forces (humors or doshas) known as Vatta, Pitta and Kapha. These doshas relate closely to the basic elements of nature and to specific functions of the body. Ether and Air elements constitute Vata. Fire and Water comprise the fire principle called pitta and the Earth and Water elements support the bodily fluid humor known as Kapha. A balance of these doshas is thought to be required for optimal health and when out of balance, illness or disease can set in.

The doshas relate to a person's individual physical makeup and personality. Vatta people tend to have a small, thin build. The Pitta body style tends to be more on the medium, muscular side. The Kapha appearance is usually bigger and well developed. Most people are a combination of doshas, with one type usually being more predominant. Ayurvedic medicine has been described as holistic, treating the body, mind and spirit. The whole person is taken into account in every aspect. Ayurvedic is actually a life style not just a medical practice.

If there is an imbalance in the doshas and illness occurs, treatment could include diet changes, herbal remedies and exercise, yoga, meditation, counseling, gem stones and color therapy, massage, fasting and astrology. Surgery may also be used to treat disease under this philosophy. Ayurvedic practices are used to maintain health, reduce stress and improve flexibility, strength and stamina.

This is a general overview of Ayurvedia. I believe the only way to truly understand it is by becoming a student and learning its principles. There are many facets to this philosophy and truly many could be incorporated to your own to create another dimension.
Some excellent recommended reading material to get you started on your journey to well being are:

Ayurvedic Healing A Comprehensive Guide
By Dr. David Frawley, O.M.D

Ayurveda The Science of Self-Healing
By Dr. Vasant Lad

The Healing Cuisine India's Art of Ayurvedic Cooking
By Harish Johari

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© Melt Magazine 2001