Do you know that mangoes can increase semen quality ? Have you ever tried ginger for your motion sickness ? In any case, you can't pretend not to know that red peppers cure sleepiness quite quickly. How well do you know your Pakriti ? Are your Doshas in harmony ? Welcome to Ayurveda - The Science of Life.
Ayurveda is a form of alternative medicine in use primarily in the Indian
subcontinent. Ayurveda like many other local traditional medicines all over
the world, believes that various materials of vegetable, animal, and mineral
origin have some medicinal value. The medicinal properties of these materials
have been used for centuries in ayurvedic medicines to cure illness and/or
help maintain health. Ayurvedic medicaments are also made from herbs or
mixtures of herbs, either alone or in combination with minerals, metals and
other ingredients of animal origin.
Today, Ayurveda is gaining lots of interest in the western world. The most commonly practiced Ayurvedic treatments in the west are massage, and dietary and herbal advice. Treatment is aimed at restoring harmony or balance to the mind-body system. Ayurveda teaches two main principles:
§ Preservation of health - how to maintain health and what to do to keep the human body healthy and fit to avoid sickeness .
§ Methods, medicine, and tactics for management of diseases and ailments to cure and procure a return to normal health.
Ayurvedic medicine are administered in several forms, most of which lend their use to the basic concept of food as medicine. The forms of Ayurvedic medicaments are:
Fresh juice of herbs
Quath : Crushed herbs, used as decoction or tea
Churna : Fine powdered herbs, used as medicine with water or in food
Tail : Herbs cooked in edible oil
Ghrat/Ghrit : Herbs cooked in special butter
Asav/sura : A kind of light wine obtained after fermentation of herbs
Arka : A distillation of herbs
Rasausadhi : Herbs mixed with metals, minerals and animal kingdom ingredients (also called Kharliya Rasayan)
Bhasma : Ashes
Parpaty : combinations of Metals , Minerals, Animal Kingdom ingredients and Herbs
Kshar/Salt : these are specially prepared medicaments (also called Lavan/ Drava)
Avaleha/Prash : Herbs cooked in Jaggery or sugar (also called Modak/Paak)
Bati/Gutika : Mixtures of medicines shaped in pills, pillules or tablets ( also called Goli)
Pralep/Anjan : Liniments, drops, paint, paste etc.( also called Varti /Dhoop )
However administering Ayurveda is not that straightforward. Ayurveda sees everything in the universe, including human beings, as composed of five basic elements: space, air, fire, water and earth. These five elements in turn combine with each other to give rise to three bio-physical forces (or Doshas) - Vata (air & space), Pitta (fire & water) and Kapha (water & earth). Every individual has within them all three bio-physical forces, but it is the dominance of any one or two or all three that makes up a person's individual constitution.
The efficacy of each medicine depends on the body type or prakriti, which are determined by proportions of the three doshas . Contrary to scientific understanding of germs, viruses and genetic faults, Illness and disease are considered to be a matter of imbalance in the doshas. A questionnaire obtainable at the web site of Health Junction ( http://tinyurl.com/nmu0q ) shows how anyone can determine their pakriti. Ayurveda does not advise anyone to eat any food/ medicine which does not agree with the pakriti.
Nevertheless, the following are basic food herbs commonly used in Ayurveda for common ailments. Many you will also recognise in some other traditional medicinal products and in your greengrocer or garden shop.
Acacia - Useful Jaundice, malaria fever, flatulence, mild Laxative
Indian Gum Arabic Tree- Astringent, gonorrhoea, diarrhoea, dysentery, diabetes,
Malabar Nut- For relief of bronchitis, whooping cough & bronchial asthma. To support lung functions. Have immune system-boosting properties.
Bael Tree- For intestinal problems such as amoebic dysentery & diarrhoea. Is digestive, anthelmintic, & anti-inflammatory, useful in Irritable Bowel syndromes and Inflammatory condition of Bowels
Garlic- To control excess conversion of lipids & cholesterol
Indian Aloe- Useful in Ophthalmic disorders, mild laxative, tonic, increases semen quality, spleen and liver disorders, cysts formation, blood disorders. Skin disorders.
Indian Dill- Useful in improving appetite, digestive, abdominal colic, intestinal colic, Ophthalmic disorders, pelvic inflammatory disease conditions, analgesic, body pain
Asparagus- To nourish the female reproductive system, promote lactation
Neem- For skin disorders. Has blood purifying & immune-boosting properties. As an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal agent.
Bacopa- For improving alertness. As an anti-anxiety agent.
Indian Bdellium Tree- Anti-spasmodic, stimulant, tonic, useful in rheumatism, nervous diseases, blood purifier, useful in skin ulcers
White Pumpkin- Purifies blood, appetiser, cures constipation, normalise bowel movements / as a remedy useful in Mental disorders, Epilepsy, Mania,
Himalayan Birch- In ear disorders, bile disorders, anti-obesity, anti-toxin.
Boerhaavia- For efficient kidney & urinary functions. In urinary tract infections.
Red Pepper- Relieves indigestion, helps to heal ulcers, relieves hoarseness, sleepiness.
Golden Shower Tree- FRUIT-BODY: Mild laxative, Anti-fever, useful in cardiac problems, ROOTS: Very strong purgative, should not be used alone
Deodar Cedar- BARK and STEM is used: promotes sweating, promotes urination, relieves skin disorders, Anti-oedema, Anti-arthritis, relieves joints pain, joints swelling.
Camphor- Useful in relief of throat problems, intestinal worms, also mouth freshener, analgesics, antipyretic. Treats low blood pressure and asthma,
Pomelo- Mild laxative, digestive, appetiser, loss of appetite, abdominal colic, worms, vomiting, nausea
Lemon- Appetite stimulant, promotes digestion.
Ginger- In digestive disorders like low appetite, indigestion, nausea, vomiting & motion sickness.
Alum- INTERNAL: Dysentery, worms, EXTERNAL: Piles, wound, traumatic wounds and conditions, stings, itching, eczema, conjunctivitis, gonorrhoea, tonsillitis, throat problems
Conch Shell- Loss of appetite, indigestion, peptic ulcers, duodenal ulcers, hyperacidity, bronchitis, Asthma, cough, respiratory disorders
Sodium carbonate- INTERNAL: useful in constipation, Diuretic, Colic, pain abdominal, worms intestinal, flatulence, abdominal winds, Irritable bowel syndromes EXTERNAL: promotes suppuration of boils, burns, pimples, leucoderma, white patches of skin
Sodium Bicarbonate- Antitoxic, cough, bronchitis, asthma, pulmonary respiratory disorders, antipyretic, loss of appetite, EXTERNAL: eczema, ringworm, itching of skin, vaginal infection.
Cowrie Shell- Diarrhoea, loss of appetite, iritable bowel syndromes, improves digestion, asthma, bronchitis, dry cough, tuberculosis.
Timi Ogunjobi is a freelance writer and author and maintains a Health blog
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