Ayurveda: what it is, what it is for and benefits

Ayurveda: what it is, what it is for and benefits

Ayurveda is the oldest traditional medicine, according to which health and longevity depend on a balance between mind, body and spirit

Index

  • What is it and what is it for
  • How it works and benefits

What is it and what is it for

Ayurvedic medicine is traditional Indian medicine, one of the oldest medicines, now also recognized by the World Health Organization. In Ayurvedic medicine, the meaning of which is "knowledge of life", the human being is considered as a set of energies that must be balanced with each other for the person to maintain a state of health. The manifestation of a disease is in fact for Ayurvedic medicine a response to an imbalance between body, mind and spirit and health and well-being depend on the harmony between physical, mental and emotional factors.

When the body's energies are not in balance with each other, discomfort occurs that can lead to illness. Ayurvedic medicine therefore aims to restore lost harmony and, consequently, to restore the state of well-being and prevent – or treat – any pathologies and ensure health and longevity.

The practices of Ayurvedic treatments are modulated according to the doshas, ​​that is, the type of energy that prevails over the others and that Ayurveda distinguishes vata, pitta and kapha. Vata people are long-limbed and thin, characterized by a particularly tall or very short stature. Vata tend to have a dark complexion, thick, dark eyes and hair, which is usually dry, as well as skin. Temperamentally they are active, creative and fickle. Kaphas, on the other hand, are the opposite: they have massive bones, tend to gain weight easily, have well-hydrated and fair skin, have a stable mood and are reliable. Pittas are placed in the middle between vata and kapha, with a medium build and bone, a fair complexion and normal or combination skin, an energetic but balanced character. The constitution and nature of the three profiles, according to Ayurveda, predispose to certain problems: for example, vata can have sleep and digestive disorders, pittas can easily lose control and kaphas tend to be overweight.

How it works and benefits

To restore the balance between body and mind, Ayurvedic medicine uses various practices and natural remedies. Ayurvedic treatment is divided into four basic phases, the shodan, the shaman, the rasayana and the satvajana.

Before intervening to harmonize the energies, Ayurveda provides a period of detoxification and purification, called shodan. In this phase, herbs with a purgative action are used to cleanse the intestine, emetics to purify the stomach and tonics to detoxify the blood. Shodan also includes nasal and tongue washes, showers, enemas and can also include Ayurvedic massage with vegetable oils and essences.

After the purification phase follows the shaman or mitigation, a treatment in which fasting, physical exercises and meditation practices are prescribed. During the shaman are also used herbs and spices in powder or in the form of jellies, jams or tablets, with various properties. Some are also used in other traditional medicines and in herbal medicine (often with similar but also different indications), while others are little or not at all widespread outside Ayurveda. In Ayurveda, the plants are called with different names from those we know: licorice is for example Jethimach, while turmeric is known as Haldi.

Ayurvedic medicine, for example, uses natural remedies such as sesame, fennel and nigella for problems affecting the gastrointestinal system, to improve digestion, counteract flatulence and bloating, intestinal spasms, constipation or diarrhea. Crataeva nurvala, Bacopa monnieri and parsley are used to treat urinary disorders, while aromatic calamus, long pepper and galangal are used for respiratory diseases. There is no shortage of remedies to fight heart disease, inflammatory states and pain, treat infections, reduce cholesterol, counteract stress, anxiety and agitation, treat skin diseases, intestinal worms, epilepsy and to improve cognitive functions and memory. as well as immunostimulating herbs, used mainly in the next phase.

In fact, rasayana, the penultimate phase of treatment, involves the use of remedies active on the immune system such as Shatavari (Asparagum racemosus) and Kutaki (Picrorhiza kurroa) and aims to restore the normal physiology of the person. The last step is satvajana, an essential phase for Ayurveda because it aims to awaken the conscience so as to restore that lost harmony that has caused an imbalance and, consequently, a disorder or disease. For this purpose, satvajana mainly resorts to transcendental meditation with the aim of achieving mental well-being which then also affects the body. Thanks to this meditation technique, in fact, it is possible to reduce blood pressure, alter metabolism (for example by reducing cholesterol), reduce stress and anxiety levels. The result is the prevention of major diseases, from cardiovascular to neurological ones, from inflammatory states to tumors and the main benefit of Ayurvedic medicine is to ensure long-lasting health and increase life expectancy.

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