Ayurvedic medicine is a system of diagnosis and treatments that has has been practiced in India for more than 2500 years.
The term "ayurveda" comes from Sanskrit. It means "knowledge of life".
Ayurvedic theory holds that the human body represents the entire universe in microcosmic form, and that we come to know how we function as organisms only by observing and understanding the world around us.
Ayurveda is considered to be a science that redefines life as a combination of all senses of human body, lays special emphasis on prevention of diseases, disorders and takes scientific consideration of every aspect of daily routine.
The key to health is maintaining a balance between the microscopic body and macroscopic world. To live a happy healthy life one should have a comprehensive knowledge about her/his spiritual, mental and social health.
According to Ayurvedic theory, all disease originates in the gastrointestinal tract, and is ultimately caused by decreased enzyme activity and poor digestion. Improperly digested foods are said to form a sludge like substance called ama that blocks the body's digestive and energy channels.
Important is the balance between proper eating habits, nutritional food intake and regular exercises.
Practitioners use therapeutic treatments (called anamaya to fight disease by ridding the body of amma and reestablishing a balanced prakriti (the unique balance of the three doshas - vata- wind, pitta - fire and kapha -phlegm).
Doshas control the basic activities of the body, and they formulate important individual characteristics. Each dosha is composed of a combination of basic elements: space (ether), air, fire, water and earth.
The treatments using foods are based on the six tastes - sweet, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent. Each taste has its specific therapeutic actions. Everyone needs a certain amount of each of the six tastes, and relative proportions differ according to the type of particular individual. Too much of any taste is harmful.
The sweet taste gives strength to the tissue elements, is good for nourishment, and harmonizes the mind. Sweet tasting products are not only those which taste sugary, but include rice, and fruits. Sweet is heavy on digestion.
The sour taste stimulates the digestive fire and enzymes and sour tasting food, for example lime and tamarind, are easy on digestion and food for the heart. (vitamin C is good for the heart, and vitamin C is found in all sour foods) (By sour Ayurveda means naturally, not man-made sour items such as vinegar)
The salty taste stimulates digestion, but tends to deplete reproductive secretions. AN excess of salt causes graying and wrinkling.
Pungent tastes, as in onion, pepper and garlic help digestion, improve metabolism and dilate channels in body. Foods with bitter taste eliminate bacterial elements, purify the blood and are light on digestion. Examples include bitter gourd, fenugreek seeds and lemon rind. Substances which have a predominance of astringent taste, such as apples, potatoes, most green vegetables and foods containing tannin like tea, possess the properties to heal ulcers and wounds. They dry up moisture and fat in the body and act as water - absorbents.
These treatments might include medicinal remedies (selected from herbal, mineral, fruit and vegetable preparations used in Ayurvedic practice, cleansing procedures and bloodletting. Dietary change is by far the most common form of the treatment. Certain foods are credited with the ability to strengthen or weaken the doshas and practitioners often suggest specific diets to improve a health and well-being.
For example daily consumption of Ayurvedic health supplements improves digestive mechanisms, absorption and assimilation of food, enhancement of immunity system against common cold and respiratory infections, increase in memory retention, purification of blood, elimination of toxins, improvements in complexion and enhancement of protein synthesis in the body.
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