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15 FAQs of Ayurveda

1. What is Ayurveda Practice?

Ayurveda is a composite word formed by two Sanskrit terms “Ayus” meaning life and “Veda” meaning knowledge. So in a literal sense Ayurveda Practice simply implies ‘knowledge of life’. It is an ancient medical practice with its roots based in the Vedic civilization of Indian sub-continent. Ayurveda teaches beneficial ways to live a cheerful life by maintaining the balance amongst the body, mind, soul and environment.

2. What is the history of Ayurveda Practice?

The history of Ayurveda practice can be traced back to 5000 years. Ayurveda has been influenced by vedic texts mainly Atharvaveda and vedic philosophies mainly Sankhya philosophy. The major classical texts of Ayurveda include Charak Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Ashtanga Sangraha.

The Charak Samhita is believed to be compiled as in its present form around 200AD. This book is mainly devoted to internal medicine. The other text Sushruta Samhita is believed to have been completed in 400AD. This text primarily focuses on surgery and in fact Sushruta is considered as ‘Father of Surgery’. Ashtanga Sangraha is basically a compendium of teachings of Charak and Sushruta.

3.What are the basics of Ayurveda?

Ayurveda  Practice considers that body is made up of five fundamental elements namely – Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. The combination of these five fundamental elements manifest themselves as three dosha viz Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

The state of these dosha are responsible for both the normal physiology and abnormal pathology that occurs inside the body. Ayurveda is basically all about reinstating the tormented balance between dosha and sustaining it in harmony.

4. What are the concepts of health and disease in Ayurveda?

Ayurveda defines health as the state of balanced dosha along with proper digestion of food, normal functioning of tissues, proper excretion of wastes and pleasant state of mind and soul. While disease is just contrary to this definition of health. Health has been considered as Sukha (joy) while disease has been considered as dukkha (suffering).

5. How is diagnosis made in Ayurveda?

The development of disease is seen with prime importance in Ayurveda Practice. An Ayurveda practitioner aims to find the primary etiological factor and then map the series of development of the present context of the patient’s state.

For this the physician will determine the patient’s body type, the probable pathologies on the basis of clinical features, interrogates the daily habits, digestive and physical strength, correlates with age and time of the year, and only then reaches the final conclusion. Ayurveda practitioners also utilize laboratory and radiographic findings to assure their diagnosis.

6. How is treatment plan made in Ayurveda?

The beauty of Ayurveda lies in the treatment plan. There are many different things to do in Ayurveda. The treatment modes are mainly divided into Ahar (diet), Vihar (lifestyle) and Aushadh (drugs and therapies). These combined modes of treatment all aim to reinstate the balance of disturbed doshas. The body is a complex system and a defect in the system can be managed properly only by a holistic approach. This is what Ayurveda practice believes.

7. What is the concept of body types in Ayurveda?

Ayurveda assumes that during the conception, the body type of the individual is developed on the basis of unique proportion of doshas present in the fusing gamete cells. Classical texts of Ayurveda have described the characteristics of mainly three types of body types viz Vataj, Pittaj and Kaphaj in detail.

Although based on the dominance of two doshas they are further categorize ito a total of 7 body types – Vataj, Pittaj, Kaphaj, Vata-Pittaj, Pittaj-Kaphaj, Vata-Kaphaj, Vata-Pitta-Kaphaj

8. How is the body type of an individual determined?

The body type of an individual is generally assessed on the basis of questionnaire derived from the classical text reference regarding the characteristic features of body types. You may even find experienced Ayurveda physicians who would determine the body type based on the individual’s pulse reading.

9. What is the importance of knowing one’s body type?

Knowledge of body type helps the physician in making healthy plans for the patient. Drugs for any illness is chosen with respect to the body type of the patient. The dietary plan is also made on the basis of body type. Ayurveda practice assumes that individual of particular body type are more prone to disease associated with same dosha type.

So even to prevent the future illnesses and cure the present disease body type is necessary.

10. What is Ayurveda kind of lifestyle?

Ayurveda gives the concept of Dincharya (daily regimen) and Ritucharya (seasonal regimen). According to Ayurveda the state of dosha vary according to time of the day and time of the year. Ayurveda recommends to follow dietary and lifestyle instruction that would help to counter the changes thus brought.

11. What is Panchakarma therapy in Ayurveda Practice?

Panchakarma in literal sense means five therapies. This includes Vaman (emesis), Virechan (purgation), Vasti (enema), Nasya (nasal insufflation) and Raktamokshan (blood-letting). These therapies are aimed to eliminate the aggravated dosha out of the body. Ayurveda practice regards that these therapies help to prevent recurrence of the disease, so they are considered as the most effective way of treatment.

12. What is the relation between Ayurveda and Yoga?

Both have same origins – the Veda. Yoga is one of the six vedic philosophies and has its influence over Ayurveda too. The texts of Ayurveda echo the teachings of yoga philosophy while talking about the spiritual aspect of life and mental diseases treatment. The six cleansing therapies propounded by Hatha Yoga shows similarity with Panchakarma of Ayurveda practice. Both domain of knowledge aim to free human from all kind of suffering.

13. What are the types of drugs used in Ayurveda?

Most of the drugs used in Ayurveda are of herbo-mineral origin. There are recommendations of animal based products in classical texts but only few are in usage nowadays.

14. Are Ayurveda drugs harmful?

There are fair number of Ayurvedic formulations that are prepared from poisonous plants and heavy metals. Such drugs have very low amount of dosage. If you are going to take it without consulting authorized Ayurveda clinician, it may be fatal too.

For example, castor oil which is frequently used for oleation purpose and also for purgation purpose. If purgation therapy is to be given a fixed dose of castor oil should be mixed in fixed volume of milk and given to the patient. If used alone, castor oil may cause severe vomiting symptoms to intestinal hemorrhage

15. Where can you find authentic scientific studies done in the field of Ayurveda?

There are several studies available in PubMed related with Ayurveda. Other than this you can check out the official website of Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha(CCRAS) which is a renowned research institute located in India.