Ayurveda

Ayurveda

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How can Ayurveda nourish you?

Ayurveda is a holistic system of medicine developed in ancient India, generally agreed to be one of the oldest forms of organised healthcare[1] in the world. There are varying views among authorities regarding when the system was developed, as Ayurveda is believed to have been practised prior to the existence of written records. The earliest documentation of Ayurvedic medicine is estimated to have been written between about 1200 - 900BCE[2]. The word ‘ayur’ is usually translated as ‘life span’, while ‘veda’ means ‘knowledge’ or ‘science’, so Ayurveda can be interpreted as ‘the science of life, vitality and longevity’[3]

A major focus of Ayurvedic medicine is to promote harmony and wholeness by restoring balance and connection between the body, mind and spirit[4]. Ayurveda recognises five elements: earth, air, fire, water and space (or ether). These elements combine in different ways to form three types of life energy[5], or bodily intelligence, called ‘doshas’. In Ayurvedic tradition, it is believed that one (or sometimes two) of the doshas may be more dominant[6] in a person, influencing all aspects of their health and personality. 

The primary goal of Ayurveda is to support optimal health and take a preventative approach[7] to correct any imbalances before they manifest as illnesses requiring treatment. Many practitioners emphasise that this requires the adoption of daily habits and long-term lifestyle changes[8], including meditation and yoga, a diet specific to your individual constitution, massage and possibly herbal remedies.

Benefits of Ayurveda

As a key component of Ayurvedic tradition, yoga has been extensively studied and may offer a range of health benefits, ranging from reducing stress[9] and controlling blood pressure[10], to supporting reproductive health[11]. Research suggests Ayurvedic massage may provide short-term relief from chronic lower-back pain[12]. The results of one study also indicate that Ayurvedic massage may beneficially support the recovery of people who have suffered a stroke[13].

The results of a systematic review suggest some Ayurvedic herbal preparations may be beneficial[14] in the treatment of osteoarthritis. There is evidence to indicate an extract from medicinal plant used in Ayurvedic remedies (Withania somnifera) may slow the development of breast cancer[15]. An extract of another Ayurvedic medicinal herb, Commiphora mukul, may be an effective treatment for prostate cancer[16]

Ayurvedic medicines have been studied for their potential anti-inflammatory effects and their possible benefits in preventing chronic diseases[17]. The results of a case series suggest Ayurvedic oil-dripping treatment (Shirodhara) may be an effective treatment for insomnia[18], but further research is recommended. There is also evidence to suggest that Shirodhara in combination with yoga nidra (a type of Ayurvedic guided relaxation) may reduce blood pressure[19] in people suffering from hypertension.

Ayurveda may assist in relieving symptoms related to:

Acne and spots
Alcohol and drug addiction
Allergies
Anxiety
Arthritis, rheumatism and osteoarthritis
Back pain
Blood pressure
Breast cancer
Cholesterol imbalance
Circulation and cardiovascular conditions
Colds and flu
Constipation
Depression
Detoxing and cleansing
Digestive and gastrointestinal issues
Eczema and psoriasis
Fatigue, burnout and exhaustion
Fertility and reproductive issues
Gout
Haemorrhoids/piles
Hair loss and alopecia
Headaches and migraines
Heart conditions and heart attack
Hepatitis
Hypertension
Immunity issues
Insomnia and sleep disorders
Joint issues
Kidney and renal issues
Memory and cognitive function
Menopause and hot flushes
Mood imbalances
Osteoporosis and bone density
PMT/PMS and menstrual issues
Prostate and erectile dysfunction
Prostate cancer
Respiratory and breathing issues
Sciatica
Sinusitis and sinus issues
Skin, hair and nail issues
Stress and tension
Stroke
UTI and urinary conditions
Weight control and obesity
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What to expect from an Ayurveda session

During your first Ayurvedic consultation, you will be asked about your medical history, habits and lifestyle, and any health concerns you might have. Next, your Ayurvedic practitioner will identify your individual constitution, or ‘prakriti’, by analysing your pulse, as well as examining your tongue and skin[20]. These diagnostic methods will allow your practitioner to make detailed recommendations about what you should eat and what daily habits you should practise in order to ensure optimal health and resistance to disease. Your practitioner will often advise breathing exercises, meditation and yoga[21], and possibly also prescribe herbal medication.

You may also be offered services such as Ayurvedic massage, as well as Shirodhara[22], a technique that involves having oil or other liquids gently poured over your forehead. One aspect of traditional Ayurvedic treatment is a collection of cleansing and detoxifying practices called ‘panchakarma’. 

Always buy Ayurvedic remedies from reputable Australian suppliers, whose products are required to meet the standards of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)[23]. Purchasing herbal remedies online may be dangerous as there is no guarantee of their quality, and hazardous levels of impurities[24] have been found in some imported products. Medications of the ‘rasa shastra’ variety may be particularly risky, due to the deliberate inclusion of metals in their formulations, sometimes at toxic levels[25].

As with any exercise or wellness program, please consult your medical professional before commencing Ayurvedic treatment. Always ask your medical practitioner about any traditional remedies you might have been prescribed, particularly if you are already taking conventional medication, due to the potential risk of harmful interactions. If you have an injury or other health issue, or any concerns at all, speak to your Ayurveda practitioner, who will be happy to address these and personalise the session to your individual requirements.

References

  1. Ayurveda | Australian Traditional-Medicine Society
  2. What is Ayurveda? | Australiasian Association of Ayurveda
  3. What is Ayurveda? | ayurveda.org.au
  4. Ayurvedic medicine | cancercouncil.com.au
  5. What is Ayurveda? | webmd.com
  6. What Dosha (Body Type) Are You? | ayurvedicwellnesscentre.com.au
  7. What is Ayurveda? | vibrantayurveda.com.au
  8. What is Ayurveda? | anandawellness.com.au
  9. How does yoga reduce stress? A systematic review of mechanisms of change and guide to future inquiry | PubMed
  10. Yoga and Hypertension: A Systematic Review | Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine
  11. Reproductive Health | yogaalliance.org
  12. Effectiveness of Ayurvedic Massage (Sahacharadi Taila) in Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain | The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
  13. A prospective study on the effects of Ayurvedic massage in post-stroke patients | Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine
  14. Ayurvedic interventions for osteoarthritis | Rheumatology International
  15. Ayurvedic Medicine Constituent [Causes] Cell Cycle Arrest in Human Breast Cancer Cells | Nutrition and Cancer
  16. Gugulipid Extract of Ayurvedic Medicine Plant Commiphora mukul in Human Prostate Cancer Cells | Molecular Pharmacology
  17. Identification of Novel Anti-inflammatory Agents from Ayurvedic Medicine for Prevention of Chronic Diseases | Current Drug Targets
  18. Ayurvedic therapy (Shirodhara) for Insomnia | Global Advances in Health and Medicine
  19. Role of Yoga-nidra and Shirodhara on Hypertensive Patients | International Journal of Yoga and Allied Sciences
  20. Ayurvedic Consultations | lakshmiayurveda.com.au
  21. Consultations | livingayurveda.com.au
  22. What To Expect During Your First Ayurvedic Massage | ayurherbs.com.au
  23. Ayurvedic medicines | tga.gov.au
  24. Special considerations – herbs and rasa shastra medicines | betterhealth.vic.gov.au
  25. Ayurvedic Medicines Contaminated | medica-tradefair.com

 


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