AYURVEDA FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Though Ayurveda has existed for more than 5,000 years, there are still some common myths and misconceptions about this traditional and holistic science of healing.

Below, you will find answers to some frequently asked questions that you may have regarding Ayurvedic treatment. We believe this will help you make an informed decision, whether you are undergoing Ayurvedic treatment or plan to go for one in the near future.

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is one of the great gifts of the sages of ancient India to mankind. It is one of the oldest scientific medical systems in the world, with a long record of clinical experience. The word “Ayu” means all aspects of life from birth to death. The word “Veda” means knowledge or learning. Hence Ayurveda indicates the science by which life in its totality is understood.

Ayurveda is said to be eternal. Why?

Ayurveda is the collection of principles of healthy living that evolved from the time of the appearance of man on earth. It is not liable to change at any time or at any point of the world. This healing system has been practiced in daily living in India for more than 5000 years. Ayurveda, first recorded in the Vedas, the world’s oldest collection of knowledge, is still the most favoured healthcare practice of millions of Indians. A system older than Greek and Egyptian medicine, it is now known to the wider world as a New Age medicine, proving its eternal significance.

How is it different from modern medicine ?

Modern medicine tries to treat and remove symptoms rather than treating the patient suffering from it. This stems from the view that all people are more or less the same. Ayurveda makes special contributions by addressing the uniqueness of each patient and by helping each body to heal itself.

Where is the root of Ayurveda ?

The roots of Ayurveda can be traced to the beginning of cosmic creation. Indian philosophers state that Ayurveda originated from Brahma, the creator of the universe. Brahma is not a mere individual but the unmanifest from the Divine Lord, from whom the whole manifest world comes into being. The desire to maintain fitness, health and longevity is one of the basic instincts of all creatures. Ayurveda in this respect sets the pattern for other system of medicine. It is a tradition with an antiquity comparable to that of life itself.

Why Ayurveda is unique then other system of medicine?

It is one of the oldest scientific medical systems in the world, with a long record of clinical experience. However, it is not only a system of medicine in the conventional sense of curing disease. It is also a way of life that teaches us how to maintain and protect health. It shows us both how to cure disease and how to promote longevity. Ayurveda treats man as a “whole” – which is a combination of body, mind and soul. Therefore it is a truly holistic and integral medical system.

Which are the base texts of Ayurveda ?

The material scattered in the Vedas was collected, subjected to rigid tests of efficacy and systematically arranged. Such compilations were called ”Samhitas.” Many of these compilations no longer exist. Only three authentic works have stood the test of time and are available today – the Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Ashtanga Hridya Samhita. This great trio – the Brihatrayi as it called – has enjoyed much popularity and respect for the last two thousand years. Although these texts have undergone some modification by various authors in subsequent periods, their present form is at least 1200 years old. They are all in the Sanskrit language.

What is the aim of Ayurveda ?

Ayurveda is the science of positive health and fulfillment in life. The aim of Ayurveda is threefold: * To achieve positive health for the individual * Protection of the masses * Ultimate liberation The last goal can be achieved by following regulations of daily conduct and by following strict seasonal regimens, so that one can be constantly healthy. Being continuously healthy is comparable to achieving ultimate liberation, as it involves the eradication of the factors that bring about suffering.

What about Panchamahabhuta?

Ancient Indian philosophy is of opinion that all materials, living or non-living are made of five fundamental elements called Panchamahabhutas, representing five fundamental categories of matter. These are: * Akasha (ether) * Vayu (air) * Teja (fire/energy) * Jala (water), and * Prithvi (earth) All material on this earth contains Panchamahabhutas in different proportion.

What about Tri-Doshas (biological humors)?

Biological application of Panchamahabhutas reflects in the form of Tridosha. Here ‘Tri’ means three and Dosha’ represents to humor (bio-entity). Thus the word ‘Tridosha’ denotes to three humors i.e. Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These are said ‘Dosha’ because these have tendency to get vitiated and also to vitiate others. This bilateral tendency of Dosha is cause of health and diseases. State of balance of Dosha represents health while imbalance to the disease. Every Dosha has definite place/location and functions in our body. All have their five types respectively.

What about Dhatus (tissues)?

Our body is supported and sustained by seven Dhatus (basic tissues). Beside this, Dhatus have property to vitiate. Dosha and Dhatus have relation with each other in health and disease. In pathogenesis of disease these both play key role. Following are the seven Dhatus: i. Rasa (Plasma) ii. Rakta (Blood) iii. Mamsa (Muscle) iv. Meda (Adipose) v. Asthi (Bone) vi. Majja (Marrow) vii.Shukra (Reproductive tissues)

What mean of Mala in Ayurveda?

The word ‘Mala’ means excretal products. Ayurveda has a unique concept of Malas. Sustenance of Mala in appropriate limits, sustain the life. To understand it in a better way, take the example of common excreta – urine. Excess urination may cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

What is the concept of Agni in Ayurveda?

Agni is considered as biological fire. In our body entire range of digestive and metabolic activities are performed by it. Ayurveda considers about thirteen types of ‘Agnis’. 1. Jatharagni – It performs digestion of food and considered to govern other ‘Agnis’. 2. Dhatvagni – Every Dhatu has a particular type of Agni, which is responsible for that for that particular tissue metabolism. These are seven in number. 3. Bhutagni – Each of the five Mahabhuta (elements) has a specific Agni, which is responsible for molecular metabolism.

What is trigunas?

The word literally means three qualities or three properties. These are the three specific properties of the Mind. They are Satwa, Rajas and Tamas.

What is Prakriti or Ayurvedic Body type?

The concept of Prakriti is unique and has explanation for this. Every person is born with a definite genetic constitution, depending upon Doshas, there are three major types of Prakriti, and these reflect predominance of that particular Dosha. Our body behaves according to the status of Dosha Prakriti.

How many types of Prakriti or body type?

There are seven possible Prakriti (constitution) types:
a) Vata Prakriti
b) Pitta Prakriti
c) Kapha Prakriti
d) Vata – Pitta Prakriti
e) Vata – Kapha Prakriti
f) Pitta – Kapha Prakriti
g) Tridosha Prakriti

What are the symptoms of Vata prakriti (body type) person?

These persons are either short or long but are most often with a thin body frame. Mostly towards lower side of weight range, sometimes under weight. Skin is dark, dry with cracks. Nails are hard and brittle, Appetite is variable, mostly suffer from constipation. Sleep is light but varies from night to night. They remember easily and forget easily. Find great difficulty in developing a routine, but are very active.

Can I take Ayurvedic medicines along with my regular allopathic medicines?

We generally don’t advise to immediately discontinue allopathic medicines if you are under treatment for conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, neurological disorders, arthritis, mental disorders and heart diseases. Besides, there is no harm in taking both types of medicines as long as you keep your Ayurvedic doctor informed. However, it is important to maintain at least an hour’s gap between the two types of medications. In due course of time, depending on your progress, the Ayurvedic doctor may reduce the dose of the allopathic medicines. Make sure that you follow any advice or recommendation given by your Ayurvedic doctor regarding this process.

What are the symptoms of Pitta prakriti (body type) person?

They are of medium body frame. Skin is usually delicate, light in color and more prone to sunburn. Sweating is excessive. Nails are soft, strong and well formed. Endowed with good appetite and rarely constipated. Have capacity to perform vigorous exercise. Go to sleep easily but is light. These persons are more practical in life. Memory is good. More organized in work.

What are the symptoms of Kapha prakriti (body type) person?

Body frame is mostly medium to broad. Weight gain is varying easy. Skin of these people is smooth, thick and slightly oily. Sweating is moderate. Nails are strong, large and symmetrical. Appetite is moderate and bowel habit is regular. They enjoy sleep, which is usually heavy. Appear calm and quiet. They are of stable nature. From them it takes time to memorise but once happen, it is forever. Most of the time they are relaxed.

What is the cause of health & diseases according Ayurveda?

The harmony and the balance of the Doshas, Dhatus, Malas and Agni in the body is the primary condition of the health. The equilibrium is maintained through a life in conformity with the laws of nature. A wrong behaviour and food habit disturbs the harmony and lead to diseases.

What are the methods of diagnosis in Ayurveda?

There are three main methods mentioned in Ayurveda for diagnosing the Dosha imbalance and disease process in a person. They are:
1. Darsana Pareeksha – By observing the patient’s physical signs and symptoms, Example – colour of skin, hair, eyes, behaviour, body condition etc.
2. Prasna Preeksha – By asking minute questions regarding the imbalance of each Doshas.
3. Sparsana Pareeksha – By touching the patient. The pulse diagnosis, palpation, percussion and auscultation are included in this method.

What is Pulse diagnosis in Ayurveda?

Nadi Pareeksha (Pulse diagnosis) is a very important tool for diagnosis. The physician feels the radial artery pulsations on the wrist of the patient and through his experience he can get a clear picture of the milieu interior.

What are the treatment methods in Ayurveda?

The treatment in Ayurveda can be classified broadly into two methods- 1. Shamana Chikitsa (Alleviating Therapy) 2. Sodhana Chikitsa (Purification Therapy)

What is Shamana Chikitsa (Alleviating Therapy)?

This is specially done after the sodhana therapy and in less vitiation. Herbal medicines are used internally and externally to correct the derangement of functions of Doshas, Dhatus, Malas and Agni and also to increase the Immunity. The restoration of normality is brought about without any elimination.

What is Sodhana Chikitsa (Purification Therapy)?

The main aim of this treatment is to eliminate the internal causative factors of the disease. Large quantities of toxic bi-products are formed in the body as a result of continuous metabolic process. All though most of these toxins are eliminated naturally by the body’s excretory system, some may get deposited in the various tissues of the body, which ensures the vitiation of Doshas, Dhatus etc. and then the normal functioning of the system is impaired. Similarly disease causing toxins accumulate in the body as a result of various factors like wrong body habits, wrong food habits, incompatible combination of food items, suppression of the body urges, emotional imbalance etc. Panchakarma therapeutic procedures are used to facilitate the elimination of such harmful factors.

What is Panchakarma?

Panchakarma is a Sanskrit word that means “five actions” or “five treatments”. This science of purifying the body is an ancient branch of Ayurveda. Panchakarma is the cornerstone to Ayurvedic management of disease. Pancha Karma is the process, which gets to the root cause of the problem and re-establishes the essential balance of ‘Tridosha’ (three doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha) in body. Pancha Karma is not only good for alleviating disease but is also a useful tool in maintaining excellent health. Ayurveda advises undergoing Pancha Karma at the seasonal changes in order to clean the body and improve the digestion and metabolic processes.

Are Ayurvedic medicines free of side effects?

YES. Ayurvedic medicines are natural and safe, they have no side effects. Since they are prepared form herbs & minerals after proper processing according to classical ayurvedic methods of manufacturing.

What is Yoga ?

Yoga originated thousand of years ago in India as a technique to help people achieve spiritual enlightenment. Today, people practice yoga to improve their physical, mental and spiritual well – being. Most forms of yoga involve physical postures, breathing exercises and meditation.

How safe it is?

Practicing yoga is generally safe, but take it easy in your first few classes, there’s no reason to push beyond your limits. Also, if you have back, knee, or other physical problems, gets the go-ahead from your doctor first, since some poses can aggravate injuries. And tell your teacher beforehand about any limitation or concerns you have, so he or she can help you with alternate or modified poses.

What are the benefits of yoga?

Yoga strengthens and tones muscle, improves balance and flexibility and increases blood flow and vitality. It’s also a great way to reduce stress. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found yoga lowers chemicals in the blood stream associated with anxiety and triggers other physiological relaxation responses, such as reducing muscle tension and lowering heart rate.

Does it matter that I'm not very flexible?

Not at all, a good instructor can adapt the poses to fit any level of student. Over time, your flexibility will improve.

How often do I need to practice yoga?

Practicing two to three times a week for 45 minutes to an hour is good goal to work towards. Another alternative is to practice 15 minutes every day. The more you practice, and then you feel more benefit.

What is Abhyanga (Ayurvedic Massage)?

Abhyanga is a specialized whole body massages including head & face, performed by therapist using specific herbal oil selected according to the body type. The treatment brings about improved physical consistency, induces deep relaxation and is very beneficial for vigor and vitality. Massage is the most ancient technique for reliving pain, still a valid and thriving art in most region of India. Abhyanga is used to manipulate and correct dosha disorders, especially of the Vata kind; to cure orthopedic injuries; to relieve swollen tissues; and to promote regeneration of the tissues and organs, as well as the internal functioning of the body.

What are the benefits of massage?

These are the benefits of Massage:
1. Massage relieves stress and relaxes the mind, body and soul.
2. Massage releases trapped energy, pain, frustration and problems.
3. Massage helps relieve pain.
4. Massage increases blood flow.
5. Massage loosens muscle fibers, scars, and adhesions, increasing flexibility and strength.
6. Massage stimulates the release of brain chemicals that lift the mood and strengthens the immune system
7. Massage increases lymphatic circulation aiding in the elimination of toxins.
8. Massage speeds the delivery of nutrients to damaged tissue.
9. Massage strengthens the muscular contractions of the digestive system, which aids in the elimination of toxins.
10. Massage stimulates the body processes in a 100% non-invasive way to help prevent future health problems.

What is Shirodhara?

Shirodhara is a titillating form of snehana treatment, whereby the oil or therapeutic substance methodically drips along a coarse thread onto the forehead. A metal or clay vessel, the dhara patra, is suspended directly above the forehead. The oil or other fluid is poured into the pot, and then seeps through a hole in the bottom of the pot and slides down a 4 –inch long thread, half of which hangs through the hole. The drops of oil from the thread drip directly onto the subject’s third eye, or center of the forehead.

What is Kavalgraha & Gandusha (gargling treatments)?

There are two main Ayurvedic gargling procedures; Kavalgraha, in which a comfortable amount of fluid is retained in the mouth for gargling purposes, and gandusha, in which the mouth is completely filled with fluid thereby rendering gargling impossible.

What is Netra tarpana?

Netratarpana or Akshitarpana  is the process of keeping medicated ghee in the eye orbit cavity. This therapy improves the eyesight, heals stiffness, pain and roughness around the eyes. It strengthens the eyes and protects them against the sun’s sharp rays, as well as for IT professionals, which works more in front of computer screen. Akshitarpana is also very helpful for serious eye disorders, such as glaucoma, ulcerated cornea, or inflamed lesions surrounding the eyes.

What is karna purana (oiling the ears)?

Karna purana is the process in which warm oil or medicated liquid are poured in to the ears. This treatment is usually performed annually during either the autumn or the late spring season. Specific problems for which karna purana is administered include excess earwax, earache, headache, neck pain, and jaw pain. This treatment is also used for most Vata disorders relating to bodily aches and pains.

What is Udavartana?

Udavartana is a dry massage starts with deep manipulation of the muscles to reduce obesity and improve mobility of the joints. This is followed by a scrub massage with ayurvedic herbs to remove dead cells and leave the skin glowing. Rhythmic strokes towards the heart promote blood circulation. The therapy ends with 15 minutes of herbal steam.

Will Ayurveda take a long time to improve or cure my problem?

One of the fundamental principles of Ayurveda is to treat a patient on a holistic level. Instead of just providing relief from symptoms, it identifies the root cause of the disease and aims to give you a permanent cure, wherever possible. Instead of a short-term cure and instant relief, Ayurveda focuses on giving you long-term health and well-being, which is bound to take some time.

Similar to any type of treatment, the time taken for improvement or cure of your disease in Ayurveda depends upon the severity and type of your disease. The stage at which you go for Ayurvedic treatment makes a huge difference. If you have been living it for the last 5-10 years, you can’t expect to see improvements in a few weeks. The longer you wait to go for Ayurvedic treatment, the longer it will take to get relief and treat the condition. However, if you sincerely follow the diet and lifestyle advice given to you by your Ayurvedic doctor, and take your medicines regularly on time, Ayurvedic treatment is sure to show improvements in a relatively shorter period of time.

Do I have to follow many food restrictions while undergoing Ayurvedic treatment?

An Ayurvedic doctor will advise food restrictions depending upon the state, severity and the type(s) of disease you are suffering from. There are some food restrictions in Ayurveda because while a particular food can be beneficial for a specific disease or problem, the same food can worsen another disease or aggravate the symptoms. As such, diet plans are carefully designed by your Ayurvedic doctor so that the food you take works as medicine provided you take them as per instructions.

The doctor may ask you to avoid certain foods because they have the capacity to aggravate symptoms, while others are recommended because they have the capacity to not only alleviate symptoms, but aid in making the treatment more effective. If you follow dietary restrictions and a proper diet plan, you can avoid further deterioration of the disease and take a step closer to healing. This is regardless of whether you are taking Ayurvedic or some other types of treatment.

Do Ayurvedic medicines contain toxic metals?

Most Ayurvedic preparations contain only herbal ingredients while a few of them contain minerals. Preparations with minerals are fast-acting and the ingredients are thoroughly purified before being added to the medicine. The herbo-minerals that we use in making medicines at Thanyapura have never been found to be harmful, our supplier manufacture medicines and products at HACCP and GMP certified manufacturing facility where they follow stringent quality control and hygiene to ensure that you get the medicine in the purest and safest form.

Do Ayurvedic medicines have side effects?

Ayurvedic medicines are made from natural ingredients such as herbs and minerals. Often, herbal juices are mixed to make them more potent. The manufacturing process, which is supervised by expert doctors, is designed to clean, purify and enhance the potency of the formula. Secondly, both the dosage of the medicine as well as the time it is consumed is very important. If taken according to the instructions of your Ayurvedic doctor, these medicines are safe and do not have side effects.

Thirdly, Ayurvedic medicines work primarily on the root cause of the disease. Hence, just having the medicines is not enough. You need to follow a proper diet and lifestyle to control the condition and work towards healing the problem. For example, if you complain of burning and itching sensation on your skin, you will be given Ayurvedic medicines to reduce these symptoms. At the same time you will be advised to stay away from food and drinks that are heating in nature.

If you do not follow the diet prescribed by the doctor, you may develop some problems. You may think these as side effects of the medicine, but in reality, it will be because of your faulty diet and lifestyle. Make sure that you inform the doctor if you are allergic to any particular food or herb to avoid any complications during the treatment.

Are Ayurvedic medicines heating in nature?

Not all Ayurvedic medicines are heating in nature. The potency of the medicine can vary greatly depending on the herbs being used – some increase heat, while others have a cooling effect on the body. These medicines are prescribed based on the prakriti (constitution) of the patient and the condition of the disease. Thus, it would be wrong to assume that all Ayurvedic medicines are heating in nature.

People tell me that Ayurvedic medicines have a bitter or pungent taste. What do I do about that?

Not all Ayurvedic medicines taste or smell bad. There are plenty of formulations that are not bitter but have a specific herbal taste, like sweet, pungent, tangy, and sour. The final taste of the medicine will depend upon the ingredients used to make it.

For instance, we prescribe blood purifiers for skin diseases, which tend to be bitter. But that is only because the body and skin need a bitter/pungent tasting herb to effectively facilitate the cleansing process. In such cases, the doctor will suggest a medium like honey or mishri (rock candy) to make the medicine more palatable.

It is important to remember that these medicines are formulated to get rid of your chronic disorders. While taking the medicines, you should be thinking about the relief you will get from the disease, and how it is bringing you closer to good health rather than being worried about its taste. After all, medicines are not manufactured for delighting your taste buds, they are meant to be effective in curing a disease or disorder.

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