AYURVEDIC MEDICINE

Because Ayurvedic medicine is a fully-developed system of treatment it has many details which would require an entire website dedicated to it if I were to give the full picture. Therefore, this page is intended to be a simple overview.

THE BASICS

Ayurvedic medicine, a.k.a. “Ayurveda,” comes from the Sanskrit words “ayur” meaning “life”, and “veda”, meaning “science”; it is an ancient healing system which originated more than 3,000 years ago in India. Its foundation is built on the concepts of an unbreakable connection between all things and the universe, the constitution of the human body, and three basic energies – called doshas – which Ayurveda believes to exist in all people. Using this foundation an Ayurvedic practitioner creates individualized treatment plans for each patient depending upon the patient's unique physical, emotional, and primary dosha composition. Although some Ayurvedic treatments may focus on specific health issues, the main idea of Ayurveda is preventative medicine, in other words, to promote good health in order to prevent disease in the first place. The idea behind Ayurveda is that good health is dependent upon having the correct balance of body, mind, and spirit, and if any of these are out of balance then illness will result. A disruption of balance can occur in many ways: Injury, stress, emotional troubles, life changes, aging, etc. can all contribute to the imbalance.

Practitioners of Ayurveda believe that each person is composed of five basic elements: Earth, water, fire, air, and space. These five elements are thought to combine in the body to create the doshas which determine your basic constitution; these three doshas are known individually as as Pitta, Kapha, and Vata (collectively known as the tridosha). Although each person has all three doshas it is taught that most people have a dominant dosha which manifests prominently in the individual. Imbalance of these doshas is thought to result in illness depending upon which dosha is dominant in the patient. Here is a brief description of these doshas:

THE EIGHT COMPONENTS

Ayurveda is also categorized into eight “arms” or “limbs”also known as Ashtanga Ayurveda. These arms are general categories of illness that may be addressed depending upon the patient's needs. A brief description of these arms are as follows:

DIAGNOSTIC TECHNIQUE

Ayurvedic practitioners diagnose illness according to eight guidelines in patient health: Physical appearance, pulse, speech, stool, touch, tongue, urine, and vision. The practitioner relies on his or her five senses to make a diagnosis instead of using modern diagnostic machinery. For example, one may use one's sense of hearing to observe a patient's speech and breathing; use the sense of sight to visualize the condition of the patient's tongue and physical coloring, and use the sense of touch to feel the patient's pulse rate and temperature. In examining a patient a practitioner will also take note of seven basic body tissues (blood, bone, fat, muscle, nerve, plasma, and semen) and several pairs of characteristics (cool/hot, dull/sharp, fixed/mobile, heavy/light, pliable/rigid, slippery/non-slippery, small/large, smooth/rough, and sticky/watery). It is all of these factors combined which the practitioner takes into consideration when creating a treatment plan for the patient. Therefore, when a patient visits an Ayurvedic practitioner a typical visit goes as follows: (1) The practitioner uses his or her powers of observation to look at a patient's physical appearance, contours, coloring, and condition of the skin, hair, lips and nails. (2) The practitioner will use his or her powers of touch to assess the pulse, temperature, skin condition, and to feel for any unusual lumps, bumps, or textures. (3) The practitioner will use his or her powers of hearing to listen for breathing, heartbeat, and bowel/digestive sounds. (4) The practitioner will also ask questions regarding a patient's diet, lifestyle, stress factors, life changes, illnesses, and more depending upon what he or she finds in the physical examination.

METHODS OF TREATMENTS

Because of the level of detail regarding a patient's tridosha, tissues, characteristics and illness ayurvedic treatment can be delivered in numerous forms, which may include: Massage, panchakarma (detoxification), herbal remedies, medicinal oils, diet/nutrition, chants, exercise, steam treatments, meditation, and heat therapy. These idividual treatments can come in several forms, for example: Detoxification treatments may include bloodletting, induction of vomiting, herbal formulas, enemas, or laxatives. If performed without proper training such treatments can become dangerous, therefore it is especially important that a patient never tries to treat him or herself outside of the practitioner's oversight.

TOXICITY OF SOME TREATMENTS

Although Ayurveda focuses on preventative medicine some of its medicinal formulas have been proven to have great risk of being toxic. In 2008 the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health found that at least 20% of tested products contained toxic substances such as arsenic, lead, and mercury in levels far above those considered to be safe. It is also noteworthy that some of the herbs used in Ayurveda are known to be highly toxic such as kupilu (Strychnos nux vomica), guggula (Commiphora mukul) and vaca (Acorus calamus), among others. The problem is that many Ayurvedic practitioners consider these substances to be active elements in their remedies, referring to ancient Ayurvedic texts which claim certain purification processes detoxify the substances. In spite of this, accidental poisonings have happened with these substances on a regular basis.

SPIRITUALITY

Although some of the methods used in Ayurvedic medicine are scientifically proven to work for certain conditions – such as certain forms of massage or specific herbs – most Westerners are unaware of how deeply Ayurvedic medicine is rooted in Asian Indian spiritualism and is heavily connected with Hindu spiritual philosophy. Let me explain:

Ayurveda is said to have been passed down to humankind from the Lord Brahma, the Hindu creator god. Brahma is considered the chief god in the Hindu trinity of prominent gods (Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva.)1 Oftentimes detoxification treatments begin when the practitioner holds the medicine in their hands above the patient's head and offer a silent prayer to the Hindu gods. The Hindu god of Ayurvedic medicine is known as Lord Dhanvantari, who is simply an avatar, i.e. manifestation, of Lord Vishnu. As such, this prayer is directed to the Hindu trinity. This is just the tip of the ice berg.

As stated near the beginning of this page, Ayurveda believes that all things are connected with the universe; by this it is meant that all things are “one.” The vast majority of Ayurvedic practitioners believe that the intelligence of the universe and the intelligence of the self are the same, promoting mankind as having its own divinity. According to the Ayurveda Encyclopedia, p.8 “According to the Vedic philosophy, life is Divine and the goal of life is to realize our inner Divine nature...it is the responsibility of the Ayurvedic doctor to inspire or help awaken the patient to their own inner Divine nature. When patients are taught they have this Divinity within themselves, they feel a connection to life and God.” This philosophy reminds us of Satan's lie in the Garden of Eden, when he convinced Eve that she could become like God (Genesis 3:5). This is in direct contradiction to the Bible, which states:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways,” says Yahweh. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9, WEB).2

....Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24, WEB)

ASTROLOGY

Astrology is not the same thing as astronomy. Astronomy is the scientific study of the stars, planets, and celestial bodies to study movement and understand the physical universe better. Astrology, on the other hand, is a pseudo-science (a.k.a. false science) which teaches that the movements of those same celestial bodies have direct influence on humankind and world events. Because Ayurveda believes that all is one with the universe it is no surprise that it is also heavily associated with astrology in connection with the three doshas of Ayurveda. The basic breakdown is as follows:

The tight integration of astrology with Ayurvedic medicine is inseparable; a practitioner cannot perform a proper ayurvedic treatment without the celestial divination of of astrology. Therefore, any health analysis, diagnosis, and treatment will be rooted in this element of Ayurveda. Not only is astrology been proven as a “false” science when tested for evidence, this is also another piece of Ayurveda which is in direct contradiction with the Bible, which states the celestial bodies are only for the purposes of giving light to see with and as a clock to measure time and seasons:

God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of sky to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs to mark seasons, days, and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of sky to give light on the earth”; and it was so. God made the two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of sky to give light to the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:14-18, WEB)

Along with this, the Bible also belittles astrology as an ineffective method of divination....

You are wearied in the multitude of your counsels. Now let the astrologers, the stargazers, and the monthly prognosticators, stand up and save you from the things that will come on you. Behold, they are like stubble. The fire will burn them. They won’t deliver themselves from the power of the flame. It won’t be a coal to warm at or a fire to sit by. (Isaiah 47: 13-14 WEB)

Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king. (Daniel 2:27, KJV)4


HERBAL OUTPOST'S VIEW ON AYURVEDIC MEDICINE

Because Ayurveda is heavily founded on Hindu mythology, pseudo-science, and the use of dangerous toxic substances, Herbal Outpost does not support the general use of Ayurveda as a holistic treatment method. However, it is recognized that some of the plant-based treatments used in Ayurveda do have scientifically-proven effects; Herbal Outpost continues to support those which are evidence-based.


1The Hindu trinity according to rank: Brahma is the creator of the universe, Vishnu is the preserver of the universe , and Shiva is the destroyer. Although considered as three, many Hindus consider this to be three aspects of the same god.
2WEB = World English Bible, this is a public domain Bible version.
3The celestial “bodies” of Rahu and Ketu are considered to be very important because the Sun represents the body and the Moon represents the mind; thus the intersection of the two of them is thought to strongly affect the energies associated with them.
4KJV = King James Version, this is a public domain Bible version.