3 main characteristics of Ayurveda medicine

May 4, 2016

Ayurvedic medicine draws on dietetics, prescription of medicinal plants, but also meditation and yoga. Let's examine three key features of this medical tradition.

3 main characteristics of Ayurveda medicine

1. Fundamentals of Ayurveda

There are many similarities between Ayurveda - an ancient Indian medical tradition - and traditional Chinese medicine. They share with Western medicine a common goal: restore balance to the body.

  • In Sanskrit, the word ayurveda means "science of life", a phrase evoking the principle that health is the responsibility of each individual; the doctor's role is only to guide the patients.
  • Another point in common with traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda is based on a philosophy of moods, which has three fundamental forces, the doshas. Everyone is born with a specific balance between these three doshas.
  • The proportions in which they are present depend on the temperament of the individual, and may vary depending on the food, climate and other factors influencing lifestyle.
  • The doshas determine your personality, the kind of conditions that you are susceptible of contracting and the type of food, plants and physical exercises that are best for you.

2. Preferred plants

As in traditional Chinese medicine, each dosha can be influenced by the flavours of food and medicinal plants consumed.

  1. Fenugreek ( Trigonella foenum-graecum )
  2. Gymnema ( Gymnema sylvestre )
  3. Black cumin ( Nigella sativa )
  4. Ashwagandga ( Withania somnifera )
  5. Ginger ( Zingiber officinale )
  6. Brahmi ( Bacopa monnieri )
  7. Gotu kola ( Centella asiatica )
  8. Tamarin ( Tamarindus indica )
  9. Black pepper ( Piper nigrum )

3. Types of doshas

  • Vata : Regulates the movement of the body and mind, and the functioning of the circulatory system, nervous system, muscles and bones. It is associated with drought, cold and wind. In case of vata deficiency, we can stimulate it with bitter, astringent and pungent foods; acidic, sweet and savoury foods help to re-balance it.
  • Pitta : Controls the transformation processes, such as converting food into energy. It is associated with moisture and heat, and the ability to concentrate. Salty, sour and spicy flavours can stimulate it; sweet, bitter and astringent flavours reduce excess.
  • Kapha : Governs body structure and lubrication, promoting healthy joint function, for example. It is associated with the earth, water and cold. Kapha is stimulated by sweet, salty and acidic flavours, and contained by pungent, bitter and astringent flavours.

If you're seeking an alternative medicine and have an interest in diet, medicinal plants or yoga, Ayurvedic medicine could be for you.

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