by The Fit Girl Reporter on
March 21, 2016

Ayurveda 101: Benefits of an Ancient Science

Although it’s less common in Western societies, Ayurveda (or Ayurvedic medicine) has been popular in India for over three thousand years. Recently, healthcare professionals have begun to examine its effects on the human body to see whether it can help improve one’s health and mindfulness. Here’s an explanation of what Ayurveda is, and how it works.

 

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is a traditional system of medicine that originated in India. Its origins were discovered as early as 3000 BCE, or around the Indus Valley Civilization. The first record of Ayurveda is in ancient texts such as the Charaka Samhita, the Sushruta Samhita and the Bhela Samhitathe, The idea of healing disease has been long-rooted in Indian society, eventually spreading throughout the subcontinent and outside to other areas like Nepal, Sri Lanka, and even China. Although not widely regarded, Ayurveda has also spread overseas to the Americas, including the United States.

 

 

How does it work?

Ayurveda uses the holistic approach to help patients who are suffering from illnesses such as fever, cough, and seizures. It starts by diagnosing patients through the five senses; next, various treatment is recommended. Some Ayurvedic doctors focus on the physical and mental, including exercise, yoga, and meditation. Others, on the other hand, suggest taking herbal or mineral supplements, even opium. Another form of treatment is to give oil massages, in which oil is thought to help eliminate toxins from the body. In many cases, treatments are varied; there is no single way of healing illness by using Ayurveda.

 

 

Has it been proven to be successful?

Even though it’s highly regarded in India and even standardized by its government, Ayurveda continues to be debated for its health benefits. Because of its inconclusive results from both Indian and Western research, the practice has been considered a type of alternative medicine that, while not scientifically proven, might open doors to developing other treatments that could potentially become effective.

 

Ayurveda has been criticized for using toxic metals like lead, mercury, and arsenic in its medicinal products. When taken in high doses, these metals can lead to poisoning. Currently, the United States regards these items as supplements, and so does not pass through as much of a vigorous screening under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

 

Is Ayurveda recommended?

Considering that the jury’s still out on the effects of practicing this treatment, it’s helpful to learn more about it before jumping into the process. Get multiple opinions from all fields of study, and be aware that, with any medical practice—research-supported or not—it’s important to always exercise caution.

 

References:

  1. Issues in Pharmaceuticals by Disease, Disorder, or Organ System: 2011 Edition. eBook. (2011).
  2. Ayurvedic Medicine: An Introduction. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/ayurveda/introduction.htm (2015).
  3. Quasi-medical Use of Opium in India and Its Effects. https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/data-and-analysis/bulletin/bulletin_1955-01-01_3_page002.html (1955).
  4. Abhyanga – Holistic Healing & Detox Massage by Ayurvedic Herbal Oils. http://www.ayurvedainpittsburgh.com/abhyanga-massage. (2014).
  5. The effectiveness of Ayurveda has not been proven in scientific studies, but early research suggests that certain herbs may offer potential therapeutic value. American Cancer Society. (2011).
  6. Ayurvedic Medicine: An Introduction. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/ayurveda/introduction.htm (2015).

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