is an ancient Indian medical science which originated
around 3000 BC. Early Ayurveda was alchemy of mythology
and science, steeped in as much mysticism as it had
scientific basis. Originally passed on from teacher to
student by word of mouth, Ayurveda was scripted into
ancient Indian texts known as the Vedas. The name
Ayurveda is derived from 'Ayus' and 'Veda'. The English
translation of ayus is “life”, while Veda is a
Sanskrit word which means “knowledge” or
detailed Ayurvedic texts were written in Sanskrit, the
ancient language of India. Over centuries Ayurveda
flourished and was used by rich and poor alike in the
Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
this ancient medical science finds new relevance in the
modern world - increasingly hostile to its inhabitants.
Our modern existence often ignores the principles of
natural living and is saturated with pollution, stress
and unhealthy lifestyles. In comparison Ayurveda is
quite literally an instruction manual for man's natural
& harmonious existence with the environment.
Comprehending this natural philosophy of living enables
one to become a "self-healer".
medical science relies on system and organ specialties
and often ignores the environment as a holistic whole.
Vedic principles, however, seek natural balance within
the body and it's harmony with the environment - humans
are considered integral with their habitat and not as
separate from the natural world.
a balance within the body and mind, and with the
external environment, is one of the objectives of
Ayurveda. Living in harmony with nature and according to
natural principles promotes both physical health and
peace of mind. Tuning in to your body's signals of
distress in time helps to maintain health, increasing
your productivity and contentment. Ayurveda does away
with sophisticated equipment or expensive consultants.
Maintaining one's health is based on a simple
understanding of your body and the quality of food you
Ayurveda's primary objective is to maintain one's health
while curing of diseases is a secondary objective.
Ayurveda seeks to maintain a positive state of health at
the outset, achieved on a daily basis through attention
to diet and lifestyle. In this manner diseases do not
find root for attack or growth.
Ayurvedic patient is considered a 'purusa', not merely a
body. Purusa encompasses the total combination of body,
mind, senses and soul. An Ayurvedic doctor must achieve
complete health for a patient, not merely suppress or
alleviate physical symptoms. From a physician's
perspective the basis of Ayurvedic healing is a personal
relationship with, and compassion for, the patient.
Healing may not be achieved without this personal
connection between the patient and physician.
uses the Five Element Theory - Pancha Mahabhutas - to
describe Earth, and everything within it, as different
combinations of the five basic elements: earth, water,
fire, air, and space. The Pancha Mahabhutas theory
classifies not only all earthly objects but also natural
cycles like the seasons. It is a powerful system to
understand how man interacts with his environment.
five elements (mahabhutas) have attributes that impact
the body and mind. All matter is a mixture of the five
elements, but has one dominant element that defines it.
The balance and nature of elements is never static -
temperature (agni), dryness (vayu), humidity (jala) etc.
are in a natural state of flux. Severe weather can occur
when this combination becomes volatile or extreme -
thunderstorms, hurricanes, floods or drought.
Composition: Humans are one of the many living organisms
on Earth and are essentially made up of the same
elements that form all of the other entities on Earth.
Death returns our bodies to the earth, water, fire, air
and space. A person maintains the combination of
elements already present in the body by respiration and
nutrition - absorbing those elements found in the
natural world. The “five element” theory explains
the connection between humans and the rest of the
natural world. Thus foods and herbs can help to heal the
human body. Flora can repair and regenerate humans
because they share an elemental basis.
creates two distinct classifications of a person, one
relating to the body and the second to the mind. One's
nature, or Prakriti, is determined by this combination
of body and mind classifications.
Sanskrit, dosha is defined as “that which
contaminates”. Doshas are pathogens or disease-causing
vectors. An imbalance of vata, pitta and kapha doshas
cause disease in the body. Dosha specifically refers to
three biological energies - vata, pitta and kapha. The
Sanskrit definition of a Guna is a characteristic, an
influence or impulse.
your Dosha and Guna gives an understanding of your basic
physical and psychological nature. Knowing your prakriti
helps you to tailor a personalised diet and lifestyle
that can help prevent disease and physical disorders,
and obtain peace of mind. This knowledge helps maintain
balance with your surroundings and is the key to health.
One's elemental nature or dosha is unchangeable. However
the mind can play a role in re-shaping your nature
through acquiring positive qualities, and minimizing
negative mental characteristics.
qualities - the Gunas : Guna may be defined as a
characteristic or quality. A guna may also be an
influence or impulse. All cosmic matter is said to be
made up of three gunas. Just as our bodies contain all
of the elements, our minds have each of the gunas. The
three basic gunas/qualities are: Sattva (knowledge,
purity) , Rajas (action, passion), and Tamas (inertia,
the human context, guna refers to the mental nature and
personal character. Whether a person is sattvic: gentle,
calm, tolerant and patient, or rajasic : greedy,
passionate, impulsive, exploitative, materialistic and
focused on sensual gratification, or tamasic : slothful,
ignorant, deceitful and insensitive - is governed by the
the mind is intimately connected with the body,
increasing contact or consumption of rajasic or tamasic
things creates an imbalance in the mind and distresses
the body. This manifests as disease and illness in many
forms. If one's dosha is imbalanced it disrupts the mind
status: Ayurvedic physicians coalesced into professional
associations in the 20th century. Ayurveda is now a
statutory, recognised medical system of health care in
India. CCIM - The Central Council of Indian Medicine -
governs the system. Ayurvedia practitioners In India
undergo 5 1/2 years of studies and one year of
internship in Ayurveda Medical Schools upon which they
qualify for a professional doctorate degree called
Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery [B.A.M.S.].
Hemisphere Practice: Due to medical practice rules
& regulations in the West, Ayurvedic treatments are
commonly practiced as massage therapy and as dietary /
herbal nutrition. The National Institute of Ayurvedic
Medicine in the US is an institute that carries out
regards intellectual property rights - some western (US
& European) Pharmaceutical companies and Academic
Institutions have conflicted with their Indian
counterparts and traditional practitioners of Ayurveda
over the IPR's of certain natural products newly
researched in the West. Indian practitioners have known
about the pharmacology of these products for centuries
and thus claim precedence on their patent rights.
- Scientific studies / standards : Primary critcisms
relate to the lack of rigorous scientific studies or
clinical trials of many ayurvedic products. The National
Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine states
that "most clinical trials of Ayurvedic approaches
have been small, had problems with research designs,
lacked appropriate control groups, or had other issues
that affected how meaningful the results were."
issues : There is laboratory evidence that the use of
certain ayurvedic medicines involving herbs, metals,
minerals, and other materials results in serious
toxicological and metabolic risks.
- the Journal of the American Medical Association -
published a research study where it was found that
significant levels of toxic heavy metals such as lead,
mercury and arsenic exist in over 20% of Ayurvedic
medicines made in South Asia for sale in the US. JAMA
concluded that, if consumed according to the
manufacturers' prescriptions, these substances
"could result in heavy metal intakes above
published regulatory standards". Similar studies
conducted in India have confirmed this.
Cures”: critics also debate the safety of those
Ayurvedic medicines that claim to be "Miracle
Cures". This is because "miracles" are
subject to theological rather than scientific inquiry.
wisdom originated within the Vedas as a way of life - an
intimate connection with nature and spirit. It then
evolved into medical aspects which took priority over
the spiritual forms of healing. As Ayurveda becomes
globally commercial - it's spiritual aspects may recede.
However there is an increasing body of physicians who
weave Ayurveda's spiritual therapies most effectively
into the medical realm - with spectacular results.
science and medicine is ancient, but continues to endure
with a relevance and wisdom for human beings across the
ages. It has offered curative hope to people and
civilizations over centuries. It's gentle wisdom
embraces an intimate knowledge of the spirit and it's
temple, the body. Today, scientific advances have
finally begun to keep pace with this ancient healer of