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Some of the primary ayurvedic treatments are:
|Diet: Prescribed according to dosha and season. The taste of the food (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, or astringent), its heat- or cold- producing abilities, and whether the food is light or heavy, solid or liquid, or oily or dry are primary considerations. Certain foods should also not be eaten together.|
Exercise: Vigorous exercise and yoga stretching are encouraged in Ayurveda to kindle the internal fire, improve circulation, stimulate metabolism, and sharpen the mind. Exercises are prescribed according to an individual's constitution.
Meditation: Considered a form of mental cleansing, meditation enhances both self-awareness and awareness of one's environment, family, friends, and business.
Herbs: ayurvedic physicians use an extensive number of herbs in treating conditions. Depending on their innate qualities, herbs are used to rebuild and rejuvenate the body and its various systems.
Massage: Massage that uses herbal oils is an important part of ayurvedic treatment. Upon absorption through the skin, the medicated oils help to remove toxins from the system.
Sun: ayurvedic philosophy states that the sun is not only a source of heat and light, but also of higher consciousness. It improves circulation, aids absorption of Vitamin D, and strengthens the bones. Each of the three dosha constitutions benefit from different lengths of time spent in the sun, however, proper sun block and care is a must. Because of the risk of developing skin cancer, no one who has multiple moles should lie in the sun for extended periods of time.
Breathing: Breathing exercises, or pranayama can be learned from an experienced teacher. Depending on the dosha type, pranayama can bring a sense of tranquility and peace, and alleviate the stress of a hectic day.
Characteristics and Tendencies of ayurvedic Metabolic Body Types
- Prominent features, joints
- Cool, dry skin
- Eats and sleeps at all hours
- Nervous disorders
- Enthusiastic, infectious energy
- Medium build
- Fair, thin hair
- Warm, ruddy, perspiring skin
- Orderly, efficient
- Short temper
- Doesn't miss a meal
- Lives by the clock
- Ulcers, heartburn
- Warm, loving
- Thick, wavy hair
- Cool, thick, pale, oily skin
- Slow, graceful
- Slow to anger
- Eats slowly
- Sleeps long, heavily
- Allergies, sinus
- Forgiving and tolerant
- High cholesterol
The next step in ayurvedic disease management is palliation. or shaman, used to balance and pacify the bodily doshas. Shaman focuses more on the spiritual dimension of healing, and uses a combination of herbs, fasting, chanting, yoga stretches, breathing exercises, meditation, and lying in the sun for a limited time. These techniques are useful for people with dysfunctional immune systems, or for those who are too ill or emotionally weak to undergo the more strenuous forms of physical cleansing noted in pancha karma. Because of its curative and preventative aspects, shaman can also be utilized by the healthy person. Like all enlightened healing methods, ayurvedic emphasizes prevention above curing disease.
One method of shaman, called "kindling the fire," is absolutely necessary in kapha and vata disorders with patients who have low gastric fire. The patient consumes honey with certain herbs like pippili (long pepper), ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper. (This should be done cautiously with pitta people, however.)
After the cleansing regimen, a program of tonification called rasayana (ra-sigh'-ana) begins. Tonification means enhancing the body's inherent ability to function, and rasayana is similar to a physiological tune-up. It is used to restore virility and vitality to the reproductive systems, countering sterility and infertility, bringing forth healthier progeny and improving sexual performance. In addition, it is said that rasayana extends Longevity by slowing down the biological clock and retarding the aging process.
Ayurvedic Medicine uses three subcategories of rasayana treatments to rejuvenate and restore the body's tissues and organs: special herbs prepared as pills, powders, jellies, and tablets; mineral preparations specific to a person's condition and dosha; and exercises, specifically, yoga positions and breathing exercises.
Mental Hygiene and Spiritual Healing (Satvajaya)Satvajaya (sat-va-j-eye'-a), is a method of improving the mind to reach a higher level of spiritual/mental functioning, and is accomplished through the release of psychological stress, emotional distress, and unconscious negative beliefs.
The categories of satvajaya include mantra or sound therapy to change the vibratory patterns of the mind; yantra, or concentrating on geometric figures to take the mind out of ordinary modes of thinking; trantra, to direct energies through the body; meditation, to alter states of consciousness; and gems, metals, and crystals for their subtle vibratory healing powers.
"Satvajaya can decondition the mind so we can see things fresh, like with the eyes of a child,: says David Frawley, O.M.D., Director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies in Santa Fe, New Mexico. "Satvajaya techniques rid us of negative emotions, thought patterns, and prejudices that may weigh us down like undigested food."
The Future of Ayurvedic MedicineAlthough the advent of Western medical practices temporarily loosened the roots of Ayurvedic Medicine in India, Ayurveda has since that time made a comeback in its country of origin and has spread around the world to Europe, Japan, and North and South America. There are 108 ayurvedic colleges in India that grant degrees after a five-year program, and three hundred thousand ayurvedic physicians are represented by the All India Ayur-Veda Congress. ayurvedic conferences, sponsored by governments and/or medical associations, have taken place in Brazil, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary. In the Soviety Union, the Soviet Research Center for Preventive Medicine oversees the Institute of Maharishi Ayurveda. Furthermore, in the United States, the National Institutes of Health is researching Ayurveda and its integration with other healing practices, such as naturopathic, chiropractic, and allopathic medicines.
Groups outside of the ayurvedic community have also taken steps to recognize this established healing tradition. The World Health Organization recognizes Ayurvedic Medicine, and supports research and the integration of the ayurvedic system of health care into modern medicine.
Cleansing and Detoxifying (Shodan)Cleansing in Ayurvedic Medicine takes on a far more encompassing role than in Western medicine, where a physician rarely has a patient release material from the stomach, nasal sinuses, or bowels. In contrast, the purifying techniques of vomiting, bowel purging, enemas, blood cleansing, and nasal douching, collectively called pancha karma, are commonly used by ayurvedic physicians to remove toxins from different areas of the body. In Ayurvedic Medicine, toxins are considered the root of disease, and are often the result of undigested, unabsorbed, and unassimilated food.
In preparation for cleansing, notes Dr. Sodhi, an herbal-oil massage may be performed. The oil is a liquid form of fat that is well absorbed through the skin. Once in the system, it can pick up various toxins such as pesticides, as well as viruses and bacteria. These toxins are eventually disposed of through normal channels of elimination. To further elimination, a herbal steam sauna often follows the massage treatment.
Once cleansing begins, purgative therapy eliminates vata, pitta, and kapha impurities from the body.
Blood cleansing is accomplished by removing blood or donating blood to the blood bank, and by using certain cleansing and blood thinning herbs. "It's a known scientific fact," says Dr. Sodhi, "that whenever you give blood the bone marrow gets stimulated. They have found that the blood volume is restored in thirty to forty-five minutes."
Ghee (clarified butter) and yogurt buttermilk are used to re-establish intestinal flora, especially if it has been washed away during the cleansing process.
Inserting herbs through various routes other than the mouth (such as the nose, anus, and skin), ensures that the medicinal qualities are not broken down by stomach enzymes. Certain herbal concoctions, medicated oils, and ghee are often administered into the nose to increase mental clarity.
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