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Ayurveda is a holistic system of healing that emerged in India nearly 5000 years ago. Since then it has received a worldwide recognition. The word ‘Ayurveda’ has originated from Sanskrit words ‘Ayus’ (life) and ‘ved’ (knowledge), comprehensively meaning ‘knowledge of life’. The basis of Ayurveda remains ‘Vedas’ especially “Atharvaveda” that seem to contain the description of diseases (including all the organs from heart, lungs to bone marrow) and the cure for all of them. Even the most famous editions of Ayurveda (‘Charaka’ and ‘Sushruta Samhita’) have described internal medicine and surgery intensively.
Ayurveda is not just a health care system; it is a form of lifestyle choice, which is used to maintain perfect harmony of mind, body and spirit. It works on the principle of managing three vital physical energies (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) making up the specific body type. Generally, ayurvedic therapy uses plant based treatments (diet modifications/ therapeutic massages) to make gentle shifts in the lifestyle to restore body balance.
Science behind the therapy
The Ayurvedic therapy includes the use of medicinal plants. The plant extracts has biologically active compounds in them, which helps in removing the illnesses from the body. For example, herbal extracts from aloe vera contains around 70 compounds in them such as vitamins, minerals, beneficial proteins etc. All these show their beneficial effect after being absorbed into the body. Research suggests that the herbs, minerals and sometimes metals in the dry/ ‘bhasma’ preparations are fast acting when compared to other preparations. Nano technological applications in ayurvedic drugs in terms of their particle size and shape are responsible for its fast and targeted action. Also, over-heating of potions help in reducing the particle size leading to rapid action of these herbal potions.
Benefits and illnesses cured
Ayurvedic therapies have been successfully applied in a wide range of diseases. It is found to be a common alternative in diseases such as common cold, cough, bronchitis, asthma, bleeding gums and constipation. Ayurveda therapies are also used for the treatment of major chronic diseases such as immunity disorders, liver disorder, jaundice/ hepatitis, urinary disease, cardiovascular diseases and even cancer.
Ayurvedic approaches in a wide variety of diseases have been remarkable. Ayurveda is considered to be on par with the conventional drug commonly used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in a 3-month random study. A study with aloe vera extract combinations done on 35 adults with chronic constipation showed that there was significant improvement within only two weeks of treatment. It has also gained popularity in preventing other chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and lung diseases. The powerful effect of ayurvedic cure has been demonstrated successfully in curing Parkinson’s disease within 1-4 years of its inception in patients. In addition, the ayurvedic formulation of anticancerous herbs such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves have shown significantly higher possibilities in the treatment of the disease. Ayurvedic medicines are being used by more than 80% of people in the Indian continent and is believed to reach a wider population across the world soon.
Analogy from Everyday life
The physical energies that make up our body can be best explained by observing the burning of a candle. The air movements around the flame, the fire and the wax can be compared with the vata, pitta and kapha respectively that make up the very basis of our body. The imbalances in the air movements around the flame can either increase the intensity of the flame or it can blow it completely. An extremely thick wax can also make the flame dull. Similarly, when our bodily energies swing out of balance, it can slow down our bodily processes and can invite diseases. Thus, ayurvedic therapy targets to create a balance by lifestyle modifications (diet/ therapeutic massages) to bring about overall harmony and a body devoid of any diseases.
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