Ayurveda

Ayurveda was developed in India over 5000 years ago and is considered to be the “mother of medicine” in many cultures. The philosophies of Chinese, Arabic, Tibetan and Greek medicines are based on this highly structured system which uses natural care for healing and preventing disease.

Diagnostic procedures, such as identifying an individual’s mind-body type and taking a patient’s pulse, aid in defining a suggested lifestyle of dietary habits, herbal supplements and physical and meditative practices.

History and Philosophy

History: 

  • The most ancient form of healing, dating back over 5000 years and originating in India.
  • Derived from two Sanskrit words; Ayus meaning “life” and veda meaning “wisdom” or “science.”
  • Considered to be the “mother of medicine” in many cultures including Greece, China, Tibet and Arabia.

Philosophy: 

  • Nature’s or an individual’s biological intelligence is the concept that the mind and the body are connected at a deep level.
  • All cells, tissues and organs are connected and communicate to each other through channels, or srotas.
  • Each human’s unique mind and body type or dosha, is determined at birth.
  • Wellness is defined as the harmonious balance of one’s mind and body state.
  • All healing of the body is activated by stimulating the individual’s innate biological intelligence.

Treatment

Four main areas of treatment:

  • Shodan cleanses and detoxifies the body, removing Vata, Pitta and Kapha impurities. Vomiting, enemas and other various purging methods rid the body of toxins. Herbs and medicinal oils can also be used. Cleansing the blood is accomplished by using blood-thinning herbs or giving blood to a blood bank.
  • Shaman – or palliation – is used to balance the doshas. This is a combination of fasting, yoga, breathing exercises, meditation and laying in the sun, which proivides a source of light, contributing to a higher consciousness and providing Vitamin D improving circulation and strengthening the bones.
  • Rasayana – or tonification – follows the cleansing program. This involves special herbs, minerals and exercises (physical and breathing) to rejuvenate the body. Rasayana is said to extend longevity and slow the aging process.
  • Satvajaya is the spiritual and mental healing involving meditation, particularly Transcendental Meditation™, to relieve stress and create a strong state of consciousness. Satvajaya uses gems crystals, sounds, aromas and massage.

Diagnosis

Diagnostic Procedures:

  • Determine Body Type: Gives the proportional level of activity of the three organizing principles of Vata, Pitta and Kapha;
  • Determine Imbalances: Defines which subdivisions of biological intelligence are imbalanced or blocked which is accomplished through pulse diagnosis;
  • Observe appearance, body sounds, eyes, tongue, urine and stool; examine by touch, including pulse at the neck, rhythm of the heart, body temperature, condition of the skin, joints, muscles and reflexes;
  • Comprehensive medical history.

Definitions of Types

Kapha literally means “to keep together and to embrace,” and therefore cements and gives structure to the body. It imparts stability to the mind and body, including heaviness, firmness, strength, resilience and coolness. Kapha’s primary sites are the stomach and the chest.

Functions/Qualities:

  • Heavy, oily, slow, cold, steady, sweet, sticky and soft

Characteristics:

  • Solid, heavy build
  • Greater strength and endurance
  • Activity becomes slow and methodical
  • Oily, smooth skin
  • Mild hunger and slow digestion
  • Tranquil and steady personality
  • Slow to grasp new information, yet slow to forget
  • Slow to become excited or irritated
  • Sleep is heavy and long

Effects of balanced Kapha:

  • Excellent nutritional status, firm muscle tone and strong bones
  • Adequate moisture and lubrication throughout the body
  • Stability of mind
  • Dignity and courage
  • Affectionate, understanding and forgiving
  • Well-knit joints
  • Compact, strong and stable physique
  • Sexual Potency
  • Strong digestion
  • Physiological moisture to the respiratory tissues

Effects of unbalanced Kapha:

  • Poor nutritional status, leading to thin and flabby body
  • Dry, decreased mucus and saliva
  • Loose joints
  • soft and weakened physique

Kapha illnesses:

  • Excess weight
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weak digestive system
  • Insufficient circulation
  • Vomiting and flue
  • Colds
  • Bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Kidney Stones
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Benign tumors
  • Lung and breast cancer
  • Fungal infections

Pitta is often referred to as “the fire within the body,” and is the energy stored within the body that causes the release of heat and energy. This dosha controls digestion, heat production, metabolism and provides color to the blood, vision and skin. It is primarily concentrated in the small intestines.

Functions/Qualities:

  • Hot, sharp, light, acidic and slightly oily

Characterstics:

  • Medium frame and height
  • Performs activities with medium speed
  • Aversion to hot weather
  • Causes sharp hunger and digestive pains (cannot skip meals)
  • Medium memory and time to grasp new information
  • Tendency towards irritability and anger
  • Enterprising and sharp in chracter

Effects of balanced Pitta:

  • Sharp intellect
  • Normal heat and thirst
  • Excellent vision
  • Strong and complete digestion
  • Lustrous complexion
  • Steadfast concentration on the truth
  • Contentment
  • Courageous and cheerful

Effects of unbalanced Pitta:

  • Poor digestion
  • Inefficient discrimination between nutrients and wastes
  • Irregular body temperatures
  • Impaired vision
  • Variable, inflames and unhealthy skin color
  • Premature graying or hair loss
  • Drive, anxiety and irritability
  • Temper flare-ups
  • Dullness of reasoning ability
  • Spiritually impoverished

Pitta Illnesses:

  • High blood pressure
  • Coronary disease/thrombosis
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Tumors
  • Intestinal and skin cance
  • Psoriasis
  • Inflammation of the lymph system
  • Infectious disease
  • Inflammation of the spleen
  • Hepatitis
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Heartburn
  • Herpes
  • Very heavy menstruation

Vata means “that which moves things.” This dosha controls activities of the nervous system and the processes of elimination and respiration. It lends motion to the other two doshas – Pitta and Kapha – is therefore considered to be the most essential. The classical seat of Vata is in the colon.

Functions/Qualities:

  • Moves quickly, fights cold, is rough and dry, adds vitality and breath

Characteristics:

  • Low body weight and light bone structure
  • Very enthusiastic
  • Acts fast
  • Irregular hunger and digestion
  • Quick to grasp new information, yet quick to forget
  • Tendency towards light and interrupted sleep

Effect of balanced Vata:

  • Mental alertness
  • Proper formation of body tissues
  • Normal elimination
  • Sound sleep
  • Strong immunity
  • Sense of exhilaration

Effects of unbalanced Vata: 

  • Impairs bodily functions
  • Interrupts movements for eating, digestion and elimination
  • Impairs memory including mental inactivity and confusion
  • Disturbs perception and actions
  • Reduces digestive juices
  • Loss of energy and joy for life
  • Persistent bodily discharges
  • Roughness of skin
  • Weight loss
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Non-specific fatigue
  • Weakening of the life force

Vata illnesses:

  • Arthritis
  • Rheumatism
  • Nervous disorders
  • Sciatica
  • Insomnia
  • Dry skin
  • Constipation
  • Poor circulation
  • Tension headaches
  • Anxiety and worry
  • Hypertension

Application and Effectiveness

The Kapha diet is a Spring diet. In order for it to be successful, decreased quantities of food should be eaten no earlier than 10:00 a.m. and no later than 6:00 p.m. Heavy meals in the evening are discouraged. The Kapha diet favors pungent (spicy foods, peppers, ginger, cumin), bitter (spinach, other green leafy vegetables, eggplant, turmeric), and astringent (beans, lentils, pomegranate, persimmons) tastes.

Kapha foods to favor:

  • Light, dry, warm food
  • Barley, corn and rye grains
  • Low-ft milk
  • Honey
  • Apples and pears
  • Beans (except soybeans)
  • Chicken and turkey

Kapha foods to avoid:

  • Oily, cold foods
  • Wheat and rice
  • Cheese, yogurt and butter
  • Sweet fruits
  • Salt
  • Nuts
  • Tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini
  • Beef and pork
  • Seafood

Spices to aid digestion:

  • All except salt

Massage oils to use:

  • Corn
  • Mustard
  • Safflower
  • Sesame

The Pitta diet is a summer diet and its foods should be mostly warm-to-cool rather than steaming hot. Favor the sweet (sugar, milk, butter, rice, breads, pasta), bitter (spinach, other green, leafy vegetables, eggplant, turmeric) and astringent (beans, lentils, pomegranate, persimmons) flavors. Starting and ending meals with sweet-tasting foods is recommended.

Pitta foods to favor:

  • Cool foods with sweet and bitter tastes
  • Rice and wheat
  • Milk and butter
  • Olive and sunflower oils
  • Sweet fruits
  • Green vegetables (asparagus, lettuce, zucchini, broccoli, green beans)
  • Chicken and turkey
  • Egg whites

Pitta foods to avoid:

  • Hot, sour and salty foods
  • Yogurt, cheese and sour cream
  • Corn and sesame oil
  • Honey and molasses
  • Sour foods (aged cheese, yogurt)
  • Acidic vegetables (hot peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic)
  • Sesame seeds and peanuts
  • Beef
  • Seafood
  • Egg yolks
  • Spicy foods

Spices to aid digestion:

  • Basil
  • Cardamom
  • Cilantro
  • Cinnamon
  • Coriander
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Nutmeg

Massage oils to use:

  • Almond
  • Coconut
  • Pumpkin seed
  • Sandalwood
  • Sunflower

The Vata diet is an Autumn/Winter diet and increased amounts of food should be consumed, particularly warm foods and beverages, and oily foods. Food containing more sweet (sugar, milk, butter, rice, breads, pasta), sour (yogurt, lemon, cheese, vinegar) and salty (salt) tastes should be eaten. Cold foods and beverages should be avoided.

Vata foods to favor:

  • Warm, oily foods with sweet, sour and salty tastes
  • Wheat, oats and white rice
  • Dairy products
  • Sweet fruits (melons, berries)
  • Well-cooked vegetables
  • Nuts, chicken, turkey, seafood

Vata foods to avoid:

  • Dry, cold foods with strong and bitter tastes
  • Dried fruits
  • Raw vegetables
  • Beans (except split, mung, green beans, and soybeans)
  • Beef, rabbit, pheasant

Spices to aid digestion:

  • Basil
  • Black pepper
  • Cardamom
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Coriander
  • Cumin
  • Fennel
  • Fenugreek
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Horseradish
  • Nutmeg
  • Sea salt
  • Turmeric

Massage oils to use:

  • Almond
  • Amla
  • Bala
  • Castor
  • Olive
  • Sesame
  • Wheatgerm