Ayurveda is a Sanskrit term combing the
words for life (ayur) and science or knowledge
(veda). Ayurveda means “the science of life.”[1]
Ayurveda is the oldest healing system in the
Ayurveda has influenced many of the older
traditional methods of healing used by various
cultures, and is considered the “mother of
Ayurveda places great emphasis on prevention and
encourages the maintenance of health through close
attention to balance in ones life, right thinking, diet, lifestyle,
and the use of herbs. [2]
The aim of Ayurvedic medicine is to integrate and balance
the body, mind, and spirit. It is holistic system used to
prevent illness and promote wellness.[1]
Ayurvedic practices help to cleanse the body of substances
that can cause disease, thus helping to reestablish harmony
and balance.[1]
Ayurveda uses a variety of healing techniques including
herbs, massage, and specialized diets.[1]
In the United States today, Ayurvedic medicine is
considered complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM)
and is used in conjunction with modern western
Ayurveda originated in India more than 5,000 years ago and
was originally passed down from master to student through
an oral tradition.[2]
Ayurveda was first placed in its written form by Srila
Vyasadeva as part of the Vedas. [4]
Around 1500 B.C. Ayurveda grew into a respected and
widely used system of healing and was divided into eight
specific branches of medicine.[4]
Ayurveda went through a short period of decline in India
during the period of British rule till 1947 when India gained
it’s independence and many new schools began to emerge.[4]
Ayurvedic healing continues to evolve to this day and has
adapted to cope with modern need and scientific
It is believed that Dhanvanatri ,the God of healing, taught
the science of medicine to the sages.[4]
According to another legend, the knowledge of healing
originated from Brahma who taught it to Daksha, who
further taught Indra.[4]
During a gathering of all the great sages Bharadvaja came
forward to learn this art of healing from Indra . He then
taught this science to Atreya, who further transmitted this
knowledge throughout world. [4]
Later Agnivesh who was foremost among the disciples of
Atreya wrote Agnivesha Samhita, the most comprehensive
form of Ayurveda. [4]
The oldest compilations of Atreya and Agnivesha were lost,
but the systems were re-organized by Charaka and Sushruta
and compiled into the two main texts on Ayurvedic
medicine; Caraka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita. [4]
The school of physicians. [4]
Represented by Charaka Samhita which is the only work that covers
Ayurveda comprehensively. [4]
Shows discussions on physiology, anatomy, etiology, pathogenesis and
symptoms of diseases. [4]
Includes the internal and external cause of illness. [4]
According to Charaka, the first and the main cause of illness is the loss of
faith in the divine. [4]
The school of surgeons. [4]
Represented by Sushruta Samhita. [4]
Contains details and discussions of various surgeries, burns, fractures,
wounds and amputation. [4]
Includes the complete discussion of the human anatomy. [4]
The first science of massage of vital body points originated from Sushruta
Samhita. [4]
The practical tenets of Ayurveda are divided into
eight sections or branches. [3]
1.Internal Medicine
2. Surgery
3. Organic Medicine
4. Pediatrics
5. Toxicology
6. Rejuvenating Remedy
7. Aphrodisiac remedies
8. Spiritual Healing
According to Ayurvedic philosophy the entire cosmos is an interplay of the
energies of the five great elements. [2]
 Space
 Air
 Fire
 Water
 Earth
Vata, pitta, and kapha are combinations and permutations of the five elements that
manifest as patterns present in all creation. [2]
Each person has a unique combination of the three doshas. Doshas are constantly
being formed and reformed by food, activity, and bodily processes. [1]
A person's chances of developing certain types of diseases are thought to be related
to the way life force energies are balanced, the state of the physical body, and
mental or lifestyle factors. [1]
Each dosha has a particular relationship to bodily functions and can be upset for
different reasons. [1]
Each dosha has its own physical and psychological characteristics. An imbalance of
a dosha will produce symptoms that are unique to that dosha. [1]
The subtle energy associate with movement. [2]
Combines the elements ether and air. [1]
Considered the most powerful dosha because it controls
very basic body processes such as cell division, the heart,
breathing, discharge of waste, and the mind.[1]
Vata can be aggravated by fear, grief, staying up late at
night, eating dry fruit, or eating before the previous meal is
digested. [1]
People with vata as their main dosha are thought to be
especially susceptible to skin and neurological conditions,
rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, anxiety, and insomnia. [1]
In balance vata promotes creativity and flexibility. Out of
balance vata produces fear and anxiety. [2]
Expresses as the bodies metabolic system. [2]
Combines the elements fire and water.[1]
Controls hormones and the digestive system. [1]
A person with a pitta imbalance may experience negative
emotions such as anger and may have physical symptoms
such as heartburn within 2 or 3 hours of eating. [1]
Pitta is upset by eating spicy or sour food, fatigue, or
spending too much time in the sun. [1]
People with a predominantly pitta constitution are thought
to be susceptible to hypertension, heart disease, infectious
diseases, and digestive conditions such as Crohn's disease.[1]
In balance, pitta promotes understanding and intelligence.
Out of balance, pitta arouses anger, hatred and jealousy. [2]
The energy that forms the bodies structure. [2]
Combines the elements water and earth. [1]
Helps to maintain strength and immunity and to control growth.[1]
An imbalance of the kapha dosha may cause nausea immediately
after eating. [1]
Kapha is aggravated by, greed, sleeping during the daytime,
eating too many sweet foods, eating after one is full, and eating
and drinking foods and beverages with too much salt and water
(especially in the springtime). [1]
Those with a predominant kapha dosha are thought to be
vulnerable to diabetes, cancer, obesity, and respiratory illnesses
such as asthma. [1]
In balance kapha is expressed as love, calmness, and forgiveness.
Out of balance, kapha is expressed as attachment, greed, and
envy. [2]
Each person has an unique combination of physical and
psychological characteristics which comprise their
constitution. [1]
When we are healthy, our physical, mental, and emotional
characteristics are in balance. Imbalance is disorder. [2]
Many factors both internal and external act upon us to
disturb the balance of our constitution. [2]
Emotional state
Diet and food choices
Seasons and weather
Physical trauma
Work and family relationships
When one understands the nature and structure of disorder,
one can re-establish order. [2]
Quick mind, flexible, and creative; alert, restless and very
active. [2]
Vata types have a hard time becoming and staying grounded.[2]
Constitution is balanced by warm, cooked foods and sweet,
sour, and salty tastes. [2]
Routine is difficult but essential if vata is to be lowered and
controlled. [2]
Best for vata types to go to bed by 10 pm as they need more
rest than other types. [2]
People with excessive vata respond to warm, moist, slightly
oily, heavy foods. Steam baths, humidifiers, and moisture in
general. Daily oil massage before bath or shower is also
recommended. [2]
Warm, well-cooked oily foods, should have three or four small meals a
day and may snack as needed while maintaining a two-hour gap between
each meal. [2]
Regular meal times are important for vata. [2]
Vatas can use more oil in cooking their food and should limit intake of
raw foods. [2]
Cooked oats and rice and cooked vegetables are good for vata. [2]
Sweet ripe juicy fruits are good for vata. The astringent and drying fruits,
such as cranberries, pomegranates, and raw apples should be avoided. [2]
Dairy products, eggs, chicken, turkey, fresh fish, and venison are good
sources of protein, limit quantities of legumes and cook well. [2]
All nuts and seeds, oils, spices, and dairy products are good for vata with
hard cheese being eaten sparingly. [2]
Since vata people tend to be prone to addiction, they should avoid sugar,
caffeine, and tobacco. [2]
One should seek relaxation and meditation to reduce vata. [2]
Have many of the qualities of fire, warm bodies,
penetrating ideas, sharp intelligence. [2]
Body type is medium height and build, with ruddy or
coppery skin, may have moles and freckles, silky hair,
medium sized eyes. Sharp nose with a reddish tip. [2]
Easily agitated and aggressive and tend toward hate,
anger, and jealousy when imbalanced. [2]
Constitution is balanced by sweet, bitter, and
astringent tastes. [2]
Diet and lifestyle changes emphasize coolness – cool
foods, avoidance of chilies and spices, and cool
climates. Need to exercise at the coolest part of the
Avoid sour, salty, and pungent foods. Vegetarianism is best, refrain from
eating meat, eggs, alcohol, and salt. [2]
It is beneficial to incorporate sweet, cooling, and bitter foods and tastes
into the pitta diet. [2]
Barley, rice, oats, and wheat are good grains, vegetables should form a
substantial part of the diet. Any vegetable that is too sour or hot will
aggravate pitta. [2]
Salads and raw vegetables are good, as well as sweet fruits. Avoid sour
fruits with the exception of limes to be used sparingly. [2]
Most nuts and seeds have too much oil, however coconut and sunflower
and pumpkin seeds are alright occasionally. Small amounts of olive or
sunflower oils are good. [2]
Sweet dairy products are good. They should avoid hot spices, using
cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, fennel, and turmeric predominantly
with small amounts of cumin and black pepper. [2]
Coffee, alcohol, and tobacco should be completely avoided, although the
occasional beer or black tea with milk and cardamom may be relaxing. [2]
Possess strength, endurance, and stamina, have sweet,
loving dispositions, and are stable and grounded. [2]
May gain weight easily and have a slow metabolism, have
thick skin and bodies and muscles are well developed. Eyes
are large and attractive with thick lashes. [2]
Constitutions are most balanced by bitter, astringent, and
pungent tastes. [2]
May become lethargic, when out of balance tend to
experience greed, envy, attachment, and possessiveness. [2]
Winter is the time of greatest Kapha accumulation and
following the kapha balancing dietary and lifestyle changes
are most important during that season. [2]
Bitter, astringent, and pungent tastes. Foods that will invigorate the mind. Avoid
dairy products and fats of any kind, especially fried or greasy foods. [2]
Need less grain with buckwheat and millet being optimal grains, followed by
barley, rice, and corn. Roasted or dry cooked are best. [2]
All vegetables are good, but leafy greens grown above ground should be
emphasized over root vegetables. Avoid very sweet, sour, or juicy vegetables. Raw,
steamed, or stir-fried vegetables are good. [2]
Very sweet or sour fruits should be avoided. More astringent fruits such as apples,
apricots, cranberries, mangos, peaches, and pears being preferable. [2]
Only rarely do they need animal food which should be baked, roasted, or broiled.
Legumes are better than meat because of lack of fat, but should not be over
consumed. Black beans, mung beans, pinto beans, and red lentils are best. [2]
Occasional sunflower and pumpkin seeds are alright. Almond, corn, safflower, or
sunflower oils can be used in small amounts as with dairy products. Ghee and
goat’s milk are good. [2]
Avoid sweets, only use raw honey, can use all spices except salt, ginger and garlic
being the best. [2]
Can benefit from occasional use of coffee and tea, also not as harmed by tobacco
and hard liquor. [2]
Ayurvedic practitioners first determine the patient's primary
dosha and the balance among the three doshas. [1]
Panchakarma – a process intended to cleanse the body by
eliminating ama through the digestive tract and the respiratory
system. Enemas, massage, medical oils administered in a nasal
spray, and other methods may be used. [1]
Ama - an undigested food that sticks to tissues, interferes with
normal functioning of the body, and leads to disease. [1]
Practitioners help reduce symptoms with methods such as
exercise, meditation, massage, and changing the diet. [1]
Practitioners seek to reduce worry and increase harmony. [1]
Ayurvedic treatments rely heavily on plants and herbs, including
oils and common spices. Sometimes, botanicals are mixed with
metals or other naturally occurring substances to make formulas
prepared according to specific Ayurvedic text procedures; such
preparations involve several herbs and herbal extracts and precise
heat treatment. [1]
Modern Ayurveda includes: [4]
 Principles of preventive healthcare for the entire family (kulam svastyam
 Treatment of addictions (sangakara chikitsa).
 Purification and rejuvenation treatments (panchakarma chikitsa).
 The Ayurvedic approach to diet and weight loss (sthaulya chikitsa)
 Musculoskeletal system treatments (vatavyadhi chikitsa).
 Promotion of self-healing and resistance to disease (svabhaavoparamavaada).
 Male and female infertility (vajikarana).
 Beauty and cosmetic treatments for men and women (saundarya sadhana).
According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, which included a
comprehensive survey of CAM use by Americans, more than 200,000 U.S. adults had
used Ayurvedic medicine in the previous year. [1]
Ayurvedic medicine continues to be practiced in India, where nearly 80 percent of the
population uses it exclusively or combined with conventional (Western) medicine. It is
also practiced in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Pakistan.[1]
Most major cities in India have an Ayurvedic college and hospital. The Indian
government began systematic research on Ayurvedic practices in 1969, and that work
Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices
you use, including Ayurvedic medicine. [1]
Whenever two or more medications are used, there is the potential for them to
interact with each other. As a result, the effectiveness of at least one may increase
or decrease in the body. [1]
Ayurvedic practice involves the use of medications that typically contain herbs,
metals, minerals, or other materials. [1]
Ayurvedic medications have the potential to be toxic. Many materials used in them
have not been thoroughly studied in either Western or Indian research. [1]
An NCCAM-funded study published in 2004 found that of 70 Ayurvedic remedies
purchased over-the-counter (all manufactured in South Asia), 14 contained lead,
mercury, and/or arsenic at levels that could be harmful. [1]
Also in 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 12 cases
of lead poisoning occurring over a recent 3-year period were linked to the use of
Ayurvedic medications. [1]
Scientific evidence for the effectiveness of Ayurvedic practices varies, and more
rigorous research is needed to determine which practices are safe and effective. [1]
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