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Ayurveda, or ayurvedic
medicine, is a healthy-lifestyle system that people in India have used for more
than 5,000 years. Ayurveda emphasizes good health and prevention and treatment
of illness through lifestyle practices (such as massage, meditation, yoga, and
dietary changes) and the use of herbal remedies.
medicine is holistic, which means viewing the body and mind as a whole.
Ayurveda not only treats a person's physical complaints, but it also changes
lifestyle practices to help maintain or improve health.
to ayurveda, the five elements of nature (space, air, fire, water, earth)
combine in the body as three components (doshas) known as Vatta, Pitta, and
Kapha. These doshas relate closely to the basic elements of nature and to
specific functions of the body. A balance of these doshas is thought to be
required for optimal health.
The doshas, which are determined at the time of
conception, also relate to an individual's physical makeup and personality. A
person with a Vatta makeup tends to have a small, thin build. The Pitta body
style is more of a medium, muscular build. The Kapha appearance is usually
bigger and well-developed. Most people are considered to have a combination of
doshas, with one type usually being predominant.
medicine, it is thought that if an imbalance occurs in any of the three doshas,
illness results. Ayurvedic medicine treats illness in many ways, including
dietary changes, herbal remedies, and exercise. According to the ayurvedic
philosophy, you can also use yoga, meditation, or counseling to treat
Some people use ayurvedic
practices to maintain health, reduce stress, and improve flexibility, strength,
and stamina. Practices like yoga and meditation can be helpful for people with diseases such as
high blood pressure, and
Ayurveda stresses proper diet
for maintaining good health and treating disease. Herbal medicines are
prescribed based on the person's dosha type.
Ayurvedic practices such as yoga
and meditation can be safe ways to promote health. If you have a long-term
illness, you may be able to combine ayurveda with conventional medical
Ayurvedic herbal medicines, like conventional
medicines, may cause side effects, trigger allergic reactions, or interact with
other medicines or herbs you are taking. Some ayurvedic medicines may contain
high levels of heavy metals, which may be harmful to your body.
Talk with your doctor about any complementary health practice that you would like to try or are already using. Your doctor can help you manage your health better if he or she knows about all of your health practices.
Other Works Consulted
Sodhi V (2013). Ayurveda: The science of life and mother of the healing arts. In JE Pizzorno, MT Murray, eds., Textbook of Natural Medicine, 4th ed., pp. 248–254. St. Louis: Mosby.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerKathleen M. Fairfield, MD, MPH, DrPH - Internal Medicine
Current as ofMarch 3, 2017
Current as of:
March 3, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Kathleen M. Fairfield, MD, MPH, DrPH - Internal Medicine
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