What is it?
Ayurvedic medicine is a system practiced in India for over 5000 years. Ayurveda means "science of life" and combines natural therapies with a unique system that involves the care giver matching the treatment to the person's body type.
An Ayurvedic care giver is trained to look for certain physical and emotional traits in a person to determine their body type, known as doshas. The patient's dosha helps the care giver predict what diseases a person may likely get. Each body type will also thrive on a different diet, exercise, and lifestyle.
The three body types are vata, pitta, and kapha. Most people cannot be classified as just one of these doshas, but are a mixture of doshas, with one dosha usually more important. These three classes help the Ayurvedic care giver understand the patient's strengths and weaknesses.
The vata body type is slender with large joints and veins and cool dry skin. Vatas may have sleep problems, premenstrual syndrome, and constipation. The vata type has a quick mind, a strong imagination, and easily starts projects but has a hard time finishing them. They can be unpredictable, moody, and are often anxious.
The pitta body type is more predictable than the vata. Pittas usually have an average build and more constant energy. Pitta types need regular meals and adequate sleep each night. They are quick, smart, and very active. Pittas are more likely to have stomach problems and acne.
The kapha body type is relaxed. Kaphas are solid, heavy, and strong and sleep long and deep. They may have slow digestion and are slow to act, eat, and anger. A kapha type may be stubborn and likes to put off jobs until the last minute. Kaphas have high cholesterol, allergies, and sinus and weight control problems.
After the care giver has decided a person's body type, proper treatment will be chosen. The Ayurvedic care giver may suggest diet, exercise, meditation, herbs, massage, and breathing exercises.
Ayurveda medicine is effective for the prevention of disease and is used in many chronic health problems, such as poor immune function, arthritis, ulcers, high blood pressure, and digestive problems.
For more information:
1. Burton Goldberg Group: Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide. Future Medicine Publishing, Puyallup, WA; 1994.
2. Cassileth BR: The Alternative Medicine Handbook, 1st ed. WW Norton & Company, NY, NY; 1998.
3. Kastner MA: Alternative Healing: The Complete A to Z Guide to Over 160 Different Alternative Therapies. Halcyon Publishing, La Mesa, CA; 1993.
4. Sifton DW: The PDR Family Guide to Natural Medicines and Healing Therapies. Three Rivers Press, NY, NY; 1999.
5. Woodham A & Peters D: Encyclopedia of Healing Therapies, 1st ed. Dorling Kindersley, NY, NY; 1997.
Last Updated: 1/4/2011