Ayurveda is a form of medical practice that originated in India and focuses on maintaining a balance of all the forces at play within the body. When the body is balanced, it is healthy. Remarkably similar to modern medical practices, Ayurveda physicians focus on specific areas of the body. They educate patients on ways to maintain the balance of those areas, and work to rebuild the balance when illness occurs.
The basic concept behind Ayurveda is the balance of the five elements, Akasha (space), Vayu (Air), Tejas (Fire), Apa (Water) and Prithvi (Earth). These 5 elements make up a whole of everything, including the world and living creatures.
Each of the 5 elements is present within the human body. Earth, or Prithvi, represents the red blood cells, spleen, moral integrity and persistence. Water, or Apa, refers to anything within the body that has a liquid form. Fire, or Tejas, includes all of the operations of the body that remove impurities, that cause substances to change form, and that produce heat. Air, or Vayu, is present in the form of oxygen in the blood and also is the force that moves things through the body and mind.
Space, or Akasha, does not form a physical presence in the body, but it is very much there. Space is the part of the mind and heart that accept love, emotion and impressions. Keeping each of these elements in balance is the key to Ayurveda medicine.
Ayurveda principles of health are basic and simple. Many of them even seem common sense. These include the idea that proper nutrition aides in the balance of the elements within the body and thus promotes a healthy body that is able to heal itself. Add to this the inclusion of proper exercise, healthy relationships, adequate rest and mental health. The combination of all of these ensures a properly functioning body.
The body has a tendency towards healing. This is a well-known fact, and is shown by the operation of even a poorly functioning immune system. Ayurveda medicine builds upon this concept, and looks at not only the disease itself, but the human that has the disease.
Ayurveda practitioners understand that even in a person with a terrible disease and intense illness, there are aspects of health. Identifying what has gone wrong within the person’s balance, or the doshic disturbance, is the key to curing the disease.
Ayurveda medicine is an ancient practice that blends well with modern medical practices. Although only a few western physicians practice Ayurveda, its principles seem to be a growing element of the modern health field.