Ayurveda is the most holistic medicine system existing
Ayurveda is the most holistic medicine system existing
Dhanvantari—Hindu God of Ayurvedic Medicine
Ayurveda is a leading alternative medicine and probably the most holistic medicine system existing. It translates to “Science of Life” and with its 5 000 years of history Ayurveda is also the oldest known healing science — preserved until today in India, where it stems from. It was established by the same great Vedic seers and sages that invented Yoga and Meditation.
So 3 000 years ago Europe was still in Bronze age, healing diseases by trying to get bad spirits out of the body with excruciating methods like trepanation because diseases where thought to be sent from gods or similar so there wasn’t much men could do about them. At the same time Indian medical students were taught psychiatry and paediatrics, toxicology and surgery as well as pure knowledge and got their teeth into broad ﬁelds from logic, causality and atomic theory to moral behaviour and evolution. Even today Western Medicine hardly demands such comprehensive general knowledge from their students.
Depiction of ancient Sages learning ayurvedic wisdom from Lord Atreya (top) and Susruta, the father of plastic surgery (bottom). Image by colros [CC-BY-SA-2.0].
Originally there were four main ancient books serving as the fundament for Ayurveda: the so called Vedas which used to be secret knowledge of the Brahmans and were to be known by heart and passed on verbally. The Vedas are covering topics from health over surgery to ethical living. And while all of those books still form the basis of today’s ayurvedic knowledge, it is said that Ayurveda itself eventually evolved from the fourth book, the Atharva-Veda, which discusses spirituality as healing aspect.
Based on a combination of experience and philosophy Ayurvedic Medicine certainly has evolved over the thousands of years and has developed a consistent, separate philosophy while research and testing have helped to scientiﬁcally prove its conventions. Clearly, it has nothing to do with “primitive” rituals despite its age.
According to the Ashtānga Hridayam Ayurveda consists of eight disciplines:
- Kaya cikitsa: general medicine; research into symptoms and healing methods
- Bala cikitsa: pediatrics; treatment of children and infants
- Graha cikitsa: psychiatry; treatment of psychological disturbances
- Urdhvannga cikitsa: treatment of eyes, ears, nose and throat
- Salya cikitsa: surgery; treatment of pathological disturbances
- Damstra cikitsa: toxicology; treatment of animal inﬂicted wounds and poisoning
- Jara cikitsa: geriatrics; treatment of ageing
- Vrsa cikitsa: sexology; treatment of impotence
Ayurveda links mind, body and soul
Disease and health are both the result of the interaction of all three aspects: Body, Mind and Spirit. And whatever we can do for our health ourselves is better than what others can.
Like other traditional healing methods Ayurveda follows a uniﬁed body-mind-spirit orientation to prevent illness and preserve life. It encompasses all aspects of mind and body that are relevant for the human health; physically and mentally as well as spiritually and deals with the subtle relationships and links between body, mind and environment. This approach differs signiﬁcantly from the Western Medicine which doesn’t seem to connect them. But it is not enough to make changes on the physical level only because everything is linked in one way or another. So constant good health and well being can’t be achieved by ignoring any of the parts but by achieving harmony between all of them. In Ayurveda the mind-body link is the key to good health because it allows to attack the root causes of a disease.
“Many people ﬁnd when they adopt an ayurvedic lifestyle, health problems disappear, energy levels rise, sleep improves and weight usually balances itself out without the need for [strict dietary regimes]”. (www.dailymail.co.uk)
Ayurveda treats people individually and naturally
Rather than indifferently prescribing the same treatments and chemicals to all people Ayurveda treats people individually according to their constitution and personality which can’t be the same for any two persons. Every person is dominated by a unique combination of inﬂuencing energies (Tridosha Theory) which affect everyone slightly differently causing individual vulnerabilities and resistances.
So instead of chemically putting the ﬁre out once it occurs Ayurveda focuses on preserving health by gently and naturally balancing energies and their inﬂuences to help people using their own self healing powers.
The ayurvedic key method to preventing illness is a balanced and healthy diet attuned to your personal constitution. “Ayurvedic Diet” doesn’t mean strict rules and restraints as Westerners often understand diets. Ayurvedic diet is about methods for healthy and individually advantageous cooking; what might be perfectly good for one person could be less healthy for the next according to their constitutions. Ayurveda teaches that nearly all health problems can be tracked down to a subpar diet that deteriorates the body’s natural ressources in the long term and manifests in in one form or another. Therefore solving resistant health problems that the Western Medicine is unable to clearly locate is often as easy as a change in diet. In addition to dietary balance as a means of a healthy lifestyle Ayurveda has a comprehensive supportive system of natural treatments ranging from massages, Yoga and meditation, aroma- and sound therapy to herbal treatments and detoxifying therapies (“Panchakarma”). In fact, Ayurveda regards everything natural as potential medicine; so if anything acts as medicine or toxin only depends on the quantities taken.
Ayurveda is not bound to religious beliefs
Today, Ayurveda is becoming increasingly popular, not only in India but in the whole world. Contrary to common belief ayurvedic principles are not bound to a certain faith or dietary regimes, but have been relevant for all people throughout the world since the very ﬁrst texts. Some call Ayurveda the “the mother of healing”, as it’s inﬂuences can be found in all major world healing systems.