Neena is a 37 year old gainfully employed mom with a multinational company. She is a busy hands-on mom at home and works 8-10 hours on her computer in office .With all the hard work she is slowly but steadily scaling the heights of success. She has her hands full and what this essentially means is that there is very little time with her for any physical activity. This further leads to irregular unhealthy eating habits, irregular sleeping hours and a very sedentary lifestyle.
Of late she has been experiencing discomfort – she was experiencing digestive distress during the day and a feeling of bloating whenever she ate anything. Nights would be spent lying awake and therefore her mind just kept racing in the dark. Through her past visits to an allopathic doctor she knew the tablet to be taken when the condition was bad, but the constant discomfort had become a way of life for Neena.
I am sure many of us will be able to relate with this way of life. Popping a pill only provides symptomatic temporary relief without addressing the core problem. But fortunately for our friend Neena – she came across Ayurveda.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a holistic Indian system of medicine that uses a constitutional model. It works to provide a flexible guidance to attain a state of positive health. Ayurveda is derived from two Sanskrit root words: Ayu, which means Life, and Veda, which means the Knowledge. Thus Ayurveda refers to the Science of life and it refers to a constitutional model of health used in India for more than 5,000 years.. Ayurveda is a fine blend of Science, Religion & Philosophy as well. Through its scientific approach to human life, Ayurveda works to harness the intricate abilities of human body and mind.
How Ayurveda works?
The physiological and pharmacological concepts of Ayurveda are structured in “whole- someness”. Therefore, the Ayurvedic description of “human body” and the “drugs” are dealt from a holistic plane. Its guiding principle is that our constitutions (or prakuti) usually fall into one of three categories, called doshas, which correspond to combinations of the elements air, fire, water, ether (space) and earth. And this forms the basic premise for Ayurveda treatment – that all human body is made of the same elements as all of nature, and that most individuals’ bodies express a predominance of one element. This results in a particular physical build, appetite and set of personality qualities that constitute one’s dosha.
The three doshas are Vata (air), Pitta (fire) and Kapha (earth).
Vata consists of the elements air and ether, which give us movement and activity. Pitta includes the elements fire and water, which are responsible for heat, appetite and digestion, and Kapha is characterized by the elements earth and water, which are responsible for water and other bodily fluids. Most of us have one or two primary doshas, but everyone contains all three in some measure. When the three body states are in perfect harmony, the individual enjoys good health, whereas an imbalance in the states causes disease. Ayurveda seeks to address this state of imbalance through a process of holistic healing.
Herbs are at the heart of Ayurvedic medication. Whole flowers, roots, stems and leaves are manually processed in various ways to discover their optimal potential. Over 15,000 herbs are mentioned in the scriptures of which only around 850 are commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine today. This ancient Indian medicine – is generally accepted to be the forerunner of all the great healing systems of the world.
Ayurvedic text, mentions nine branches in Ayurveda-general medicine, surgery, ear, nose and throat (ENT) and eye disease, toxicology, psychiatry, pediatrics, gynecology, sexology and virility. Some texts also reveal that ancient natural healers delved into plastic surgery. The physicians also study six systems of philosophy: logic, evolution and causality, yoga, moral behavior, pure knowledge and even the theory of the atom. Thus they gain a thorough grounding in such a broad spectrum of disciplines.
Each of the doshas mentioned above have unique characteristics and can be balanced with a few measures adopted in our lives. While we will delve about this in more detail in our subsequent issues, I am sure you would be keen to hear – what happened to Neena?
Evidence that it works
For Neena, taking an Ayurvedic view provided immediate relief from her most chronic symptoms and helped her form a healthier, customized set of habits. She avoided cold and raw foods (which had always made her feel ill) and began eating warm, cooked meals at regular times: hot oats and fruit in the morning; a hearty meal of cooked greens, grains at noon; and roasted root vegetables like beets and squash for evening meals. Her physician advised long walks and simple exercises to soothe her racing thoughts. Changing these aspects of her daily routine soon allowed her to fall asleep with ease, and her gas and bloating disappeared.
To conclude – Ayurveda essentially provides us a tool box which we can use to get out of our own body imbalances. The ingredients of this box are all around us and we just need to be conscious to absorb them into our lives and systems. In the next section let’s take a closer look at one such herb –so commonly found in our kitchens.