Below are frequently asked questions, you may find the answer for yourself about Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is considered to be the oldest form of medicine is also called the Mother of medical sciences. However; it has been struggling to gain the trust of all patients because of various myths and misconceptions about Ayurveda.
What is the basic principle behind Ayurveda?
As per Ayurveda, a good health is a state of equilibrium of a person’s body, mind and soul. This equilibrium is reached and maintained through a functional balance between the Doshas, Dhatus, Malas and Agni present within each individual.
Generally an erratic lifestyle and an uneven schedule is the primary reason for the failure of mechanism that maintains equilibrium. A treatment for the same is therefore through application of specific diet charts, activity patterns and schedules depending upon personal needs of each individual to get the best of results and reach back at the state of balance.
Are there strict diet charts and extensive fasting schedules to be followed in Ayurveda?
Absolutely not! The diet charts prepared in Ayurveda are made by experts keeping in mind each person’s environments, availabilities, interests, body type etc. Therefore, they keep all these factors in mind before prescribing a certain chart or schedule to any person.
Absolute fasting with no consumption of food is never advocated under Ayurveda. Fasting patterns recommended are often simple and short and always involve consumption of easily digestible natural foods such as fruits, raw vegetables, juices, soups, etc., that allow the digestive system to rest and detoxify from time to time.
It is true that diet is a huge part of regime that one should follow during ayurvedic treatments. Ayurveda treatments only advice you to avoid certain foods that is derogatory to one’s health and certain kinds of food can aggravate the illness or react adversely with the treatment.
What is Astanga Ayurveda?
Astanga literally means something with 8 branches or divisions. Like science is divided into different fields, Ayurveda Therapy is also primarily divided into eight divisions. These 8 divisions are as follows:
- Kayachikitsa (Internal Medicine)
- Shalya (Surgery)
- Shalakya (Ophthalmology and Otorhinolaryngology)
- Kaumar Bhritya (Paediatrics, Gynaecology and Obstetrics)
- Agad Tantra (Toxicology)
- Rasayana (Gerotology)
- Vajikaran (Aphrodisiacs)
- Bhoot Vidya (Psychiatry)
The description of Ashtanga Ayurveda shows that there existed knowledge of science in olden times as well. It also depicts the specialisations already present in the Indian society right from the beginning. Each of these are now PhD specialisations in the current times.
What are the various diseases that can be treated through Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is one of the most sought after treatment methods for a variety of medical problems. These include a vast majority of diseases such as skin ailments, hormonal issues, ailments such as diabetes and arthritis, paralysis, epilepsy, etc. It can also be a helpful method for treatments of persistent and recurring ailments that have no definitive treatments in other system of medicines. Since it is one of the oldest known fields of healing and therapy; the practitioners of Ayurveda mostly have treatments for all sorts of ailments occurring in the human body.
Is it true that Ayurvedic Medicines take long durations to act on ailments?
That’s not entirely true. The duration of each treatment is generally dependent on how chronic the disease is and the time for which the patient has been suffering from it. The reason for long treatments in such cases is to insure that there are no relapses. Ayurvedic methods can be equally fast acting in case the ailment is detected at early stages and treated right at the inception.
Many a times the treatment durations may also differ due to the difference in reactions of human body to various natural remedies. Ayurvedic treatments can be both short as well as lengthy depending on the nature of the disease along with the patient’s immunity. Moreover Ayurveda aims to remove the disease from the roots rather than just eliminating symptoms.
Do Ayurvedic medicines react with other allopathic and homeopathic medicines? Can I take them together?
No, Ayurvedic medicines do not react or cut down the effects of other medicines. Since they are made from natural ingredients completely, they do not have any negative repercussions on the human body. It is a very common practice these days for people to be depending more upon nature based therapies than on drug based medicines. One can therefore easily take Ayurvedic treatment with other forms of therapy as well.
This notion couldn’t have been more wrong as Ayurveda remedies are more permanent than any other form of medicine for a variety of diseases. Moreover it also has cure for certain diseases for which modern medicine has no satisfactory cure. The science is so ancient that the tools of documentation weren’t used that prevalently therefore due to the lack of origin it’s often mistaken as a chance treatment.
How do I access Ayurvedic Medicines?
There are primarily two ways you can buy Ayurvedic Medicines. First is through a practicing Ayurveda doctors and secondly through retail counters. Retail counters can further be either completely dealing in Ayurvedic medicines or from common drug stores selling allopathic and homeopathic medicines.
Generally medicines with classical combinations which are used for common ailments are available easily everywhere and don’t even need a Doctor’s prescription. But medicines that are specifically made for chronic ailments that are made from rare ingredients found in nature are specific to the classical Ayurvedic Counters and stores.
Due to their harmless nature, they can easily be ordered online as well. Unlike most of the Allopathic medicines which cannot be sold online, Ayurvedic medicines do not face this restriction and are easily available.
Are Ayurvedic Medicine bought over the counter safe?
Medicines are safe to be bought over the counter as long as they are manufactured by licenced manufacturer. Further, it is important to see details like ingredients, manufacturing date, expiry, dosage, necessary precautions, etc. on the label before purchasing the said medicine. Even though ayurvedic medicines are inherently harmless, these factors can play a lot on hoe the medicines affect an individual.
Are Ayurvedic treatments not scientific and lack clinical testing?
One of the biggest misconceptions about Ayurveda treatments is that it is old, out-dated and unreliable. It is actually the first documented medical system known to humans. It displays an intricately rich knowledge of not just human body, anatomy, diseases and cures but also surgery, herbs, minerals and healing foods. Moreover all the ayurvedic treatments and medicines have been very carefully tried and tested over the years. Like any other medicine ayurvedic medicines are clinically tested and then certified.
Do Ayurvedic medicines have toxic heavy metals?
Ayurvedic medical are formulations of either herbal or mineral or a combination of both. Some of the mineral formulations are often prepared with gold, silver, mercury, lead, copper (metal), and sulphur and arsenic (non-metals). Before being used they undergo detoxification and purification to eliminate their harmful effects.
Do Ayurvedic medicines have a shelf Life? If yes, what is the average for most of the medicines?
Like all other medicines, Ayurvedic medicines also have a shelf life; although this may be comparatively longer than others types of medicines due to its natural capabilities. The general principles about shelf life of Ayurvedic medicines are already given in classic texts.
Accordingly, most pills can be stored for up to 1 year without any loss in its potency, if stored properly. Tailas and Ghritas generally have a lesser shelf life and are to be used within 2-4 months of manufacturing. Certain Asavas which are made of alcoholic extracts have comparatively longer shelf lives and tend to have an increased potential over a period of time.
Most of these already have the duration of shelf lives and proper usage mentioned on the label of the medicine and can be inferred easily at the time of purchase. Though the time period for which any medicine is to be consumed has to be specifically recommended by an Ayurvedic doctor for best results.
What are the main Rasayana (immunity) medicines in Ayurveda?
- Amla (Emblica officinalis), Ashavgandha (Withania somnifera), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), Shilajeet (Black bitumen or Mineral pitch), Suvarn Bhasm (incinerated Gold with herbal excipients) are common Rasayana medicines which are generally prescribed in somatic degenerative diseases for immunity.
- Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia) and Mandookparni (Bacopa Monieri), Mulethi (Glycirrhiza glabra), Shankhapushpi (Convolvulus Plenricaulis) are Psychomodular in nature and are mostly used in treatment for mental disorders and improving other higher mental functions like retention and concentration.
- Vijaysara (Pterocaspus marsupium) for Diabetes Mellitus;
- Katuka (Picrosshiza kurco) for liver disorders;
- Vidang (Abies Webiana) for Hoelminthic induced Gasto intestinal problem;
- Bakuchi (Psorylia Corylifolia) for Leucoderma;
- Bhallatak (Semecarpur anacardium) for piles and autoimmune disorders;
- Shirees (Albizzia Lebek) for common allergic conditions;
- Vacha (Acorus clamus) for speech disorders;
- Haldi (Curcuma Longa) for urinary, allergic and septic problems;
- Neem (Melia Azadiracta) and Khadir (Acacia Catechu) for skin problems, and
- Chirayata (swertia chirayata) for febrile disorders are some of the other Rasayana Medicines for disease-wise use.
Can Ayurveda treat poisoning?
Agadatantra (toxicology) is one of the main eight branches of Ayurveda. Further Charaka Samihita is one of the main texts in Ayurveda which describes treatments for poisons found in bites as well as in natural plants, fruits and vegetables.
Can Ayurvedic medicines cause psychological or physical Dependence?
No, Ayurvedic medicines do not have any such trait to cause psychological or physical dependence. Neither do they have any side effects that may hamper the normal functioning of the brain. This is the reason it is also known as Shuddhachikitsa- “a pure and genuine treatment”.
Vagbhata, the author of Ashtanga Hrudaya, a famous classical Ayurvedic text, has very rightly pointed out:
Naason vishudha: shudhastu
Is Ayurveda just oil massages and spa?
In various spas in India as well as abroad they use words like herbal and Ayurveda to attract customers. They only tend to use aromatic oils which often aim at relaxation of body and is not equivalent to an actual ayurvedic massage. Ayurveda also includes some massage therapies but only for specific ailments and includes use of ayurvedic methods and special herbs.
Is Ayurvedic treatment a very expensive affair?
The increased awareness about Ayurveda worldwide has led to its commercialization. Various centres have introduced treatments and massages with no expense spared. However ayurvedic treatments are only expensive when there are precious ingredients and rare herbs used or when treatments are specifically customized for a patient because that involves a lot of experimentation and careful consideration.
Is it true that Ayurveda propagates strict vegetarianism?
No, this is a common misconception that one has to follow strict vegetarianism while on an Ayurvedic treatment. The classical texts in Ayurveda, mention three major types of diet routines. These are saatvik, rajasik and tamasik. The Saatvik diet consists of fruits, vegaetables, milk, curd, honey and so on. The Rajavik diet has eggs, meat, beans, etc. finally, the Tamasik diet includes fermented and spiced foods. Each diet pattern maybe recommend by an expert depending upon the personal need of an individual’s body.
Generally, a Saatvik pattern of diet and moderate exercise through regular practice of Yoga is the most recommended ritual to help maintain a balance of good health.
Why should I try Ayurveda over any other method of treatment?
Ayuveda is one of the oldest forms of treatments. It dates back to 5,000 years and is therefore one of the most tried and tested methods of treating most of the ailments that may occur in human body. Due to its authentic and dependable nature, more and more experts from various medicinal fields are studying and adapting Ayurveda to treat their patients effectively. Since Ayurveda not only focuses on treating a sick person, but also preventing any further manifestations of the illness, it is but natural to give Ayurvedic treatment a fair chance.
Is Ayurveda is all about home remedies?
If this was true then there wouldn’t have been any need of doctors at all. You can contain ailments like sore throat with items at home but for other things you should always consult a doctor.
Are Ayurvedic medicines are free from any kind of side effects?
Anything that has an effect on the body if not taken properly can have an adverse effect on the body. It is therefore important that you consult a certified ayurvedic doctor and not self-treat from what you read on the internet.
Can you teach yourself Ayurveda and advice others?
No. Ayurveda is a complex study of various types of Ayurvedic medicines and their effects on various types of bodies. Treatment in Ayurveda is based on the unique bodily constitution of a person also called Dosha and various stages of disease and their effects on the doshas. Without proper understanding of this a treatment can backfire.