Ayurvedic medicine is one of the oldest forms of medicine in the world. It incorporates tools such as diet, exercise, breathing exercises, meditation (yoga), mental visualization, therapeutic massage, and herbs to treat illness and maintain health. This ancient healing method also uses color therapy, sound therapy, and aromatherapy to help create balance within the body.
In Ayurveda, the fundamental healing philosophy is the concept of the three doshas, or basic types of energy or functional principles. These are vata (from ether and air), pitta (from fire and water), and kapha (from water and earth), and according to the principles of Ayurveda, they are present in everyone and everything. Vata is the energy of movement. Pitta is the energy of digestion or metabolism. Kapha is the energy of lubrication and structure. All three doshas are present in everyone, but one is usually predominant in any given individual. Ayurvedic medicine sees disease as a result of an excess or deficiency in vata, pitta, or kapha, and also the presence of toxins. Good health indicates a balance of these three energies in a body that is relatively toxin-free. Ayurvedic herbs are used to treat illness by restoring this balance. Herbs that deal with energy or movement are used to increase vata. Herbs that treat digestion, assimilation, absorption, and metabolism are pitta, and those involved with structure and the musculoskeletal system the “glue” that holds the body together are kapha.
Ayurvedic medicine regards the human body as a manifestation of cosmic energy that is transferred to all levels, both mental and physical. This can be difficult for people from Western cultures to grasp, but practitioners believe the two systems of energy are closer than we can conceive. At Ayurveda’s core is the belief that we are a totality of body and soul within the universe, and if we can live in harmony with nature and our inner beings, we will stay healthy.