Ayurvedic medicine (“Ayurveda” for short) is one of the world’s oldest holistic (“whole-body”) healing systems. It was developed more than 3,000 years ago in India.
It’s based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. Its main goal is to promote good health, not fight disease. But treatments may be geared toward specific health problems.
In the United States, it’s considered a form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
Ayurvedic treatment is used by approximately 80% of people in India. Recently the western countries have also started accepting the alternative or natural therapies such as Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Yoga and Meditation. Although the clinical evidence for efficacy of Ayurvedic treatments is lesser as compared to the conventional or modern medicine, many people prefer Ayurveda due to its holistic approach.
- 1 What is the basic principle of Ayurvedic Therapies?
- 1.1 What is the initial examination?
- 1.2 Panchakarma Treatments
- 1.3 Kerala Traditional Ayurveda Treatments
- 1.4 Course of Panchakrma Treatments
- 1.5 ElaKizhi (PatraPotaliSwedan) / Medicinal leaves/ herbs bundles
- 1.6 Njavara Kizhi (Pinda swedam )
- 1.7 Pizhichil
- 1.8 Sirovasti
- 1.9 Sirodhara
- 1.10 Nasya
- 1.11 Abyanga
- 1.12 Karnapooranam
- 1.13 Greeva vasti/Kati vasti/Uro vasti
- 1.14 Netra Sekam
- 1.15 Thalam
- 1.16 Lepam
What is the basic principle of Ayurvedic Therapies?
Ayurvedic treatments are holistic in nature. This means Ayurveda considers human as a part of environment and believes that true health can be achieved through a holistic approach that targets physical, mental, and social well-being.
The success and acceptance of Ayurvedic treatments a lies in its basic principles,
- The five elements: All living and non‑living things, in this universe are made up of five basic elements and therefore every substance in nature has the potential to be a medicine.
- The Tridosha: The ayurveda works by concept of tridosha (Vata, Pitta, apha) which are actually the physiobiological properties. Any imbalance caused in tridoshas can lead to disease and thus a balanced state has been considered as a basic target for therapeutics in ayurveda.
What is the initial examination?
Ayurvedic examinations generally consist of three parts:
- Observation (Darshan): The practitioner first evaluates general physical health by looking at the patient and observing his/her movements, body contour, color of the skin and eyes, facial lines and ridges, shape of the nose, and qualities of the lips, hair, and nails.
- Touch (Sparsha): The practitioner then employs touch, including palpation (pressing down on parts of the body, called sparshanam in Ayurveda), auscultation, which is listening for sounds made by the internal organs (shrvanaa), and percussion or tapping (akotana). There is special focus on the patient’s pulse, tongue, nails, and speech. Laboratory testing is also included under this category.
- Questions (Prashna): The practitioner asks the patient about complaints and symptoms, as well as the duration of discomfort and disease progression. The practitioner also inquires about mental and psychological conditions.
Panchakarma Treatments are the primary therapeutic, purification, detoxification and rejuvenation treatments in Ayurveda. ‘Panchakarma’ means five essential therapeutic treatments which include vamana(Induced vomiting through the oral administration of medicines), virechana(Induced purgation through the oral administration of medicines), snehavasti (ano-rectal administration of medicated oils), kashayavasti (ano-rectal administration of medicinal herbal extracts)and nasya (nasal administration of medicated oils/ medicinal herbal extracts). All of these are not commonly practiced together in all cases. Ayurveda recommends panchakarma treatments equally for prevention of diseases, restoration and rejuvenation of health and therapeutic management of diseases. On a wellness perspective, Panchakarma Treatments are done at anytime as an aid to keep the body immunity and metabolism strong and to prevent toxins accumulating in the body. It enhances and restores the essential balance of body and mind.
The panchakarma treatments are provided with specific pre therapeutic measures through which the body can be prepared to undergo panchakarma therapies which predominantly include simultaneous oelation and sudation therapies. Likewise post therapeutic therapies, health and dietary supplements and life style prescriptions are to be followed after the panchakarma treatments for the complete therapeutic efficacy of the panchakarma treatments. The wide varieties of the pre and post therapeutic measures using purely herbal based medicines, medicinal combinations and medicated oils along with specific health and dietary supplements and lifestyle prescriptions have been developed and practiced in Kerala, predominantly used for the treatment of various diseases and equally for the purification, detoxification and rejuvenation of the body systems along with panchakarma treatments. These pre therapeutic procedures are specific therapies (massage therapies with medicated oil, medicinal leaves etc;) by which the effect of oleation and sudation can be applied simultaneously. This authenticated practice of Panchakarma treatments along with specific pre and post therapeutic procedures have been popularized as Kerala Ayurveda Panhakarma and this makes Kerala as the prioritized destination for experiencing the healing and wellness of authentic Ayurveda. Places with moderately cold climate and natural diversities of nature with beauty and calmness are preferred for the Ayurvedic treatments, because all pre therapeutic procedures are basically thermogenic (simultaneous oleation and sudation therapies which increases the body heat and if the environmental temperature is high, it will result in total body exhaustion) and the natural diversity will boost the psychosomatic relaxation and there by therapeutic efficacy.
Internal medication can be prescribed along with Panhakarma treatments for the total management of diseases and other wellness prescriptions. The internal medication can be in seven dosage forms; namely, Gulika(Tablets),Choorna(Powder),Kashaya (Herbal extract),Arista and Asava (Fermented products),Thaila(Medicated oil),Grita(Medicated ghee) and Leha (Chewing). Elaborate numbers of herbal combinations are in practice which are claimed to be classical and proprietary. More than 250 different medicinal herbs are used for manufacturing the ayurvedic formulations in the seven dosage forms.
Kerala Traditional Ayurveda Treatments
Kerala Traditional Ayurvedic Treatments are most popular across the globe by virtue of its authenticity and the 100% herbal based medicinal formulations. Various therapies like Traditional Ayurvedic massage, Sirodhara, Ela Kizhi, Njavara Kizhi etc: were developed in kerala.Thease treatments are the unique, authentic and scientific pre therapeutic procedures to perform simultaneous oleation and sudation effects. The medicated oils and other rational medicinal formulations used in these therapies were also been developed traditionally.
Course of Panchakrma Treatments
Ayurveda always prescribe a course of Panchakrma Treatments with a minimum of 7 days duration and a maximum of 28 days for the wellness and for the treatment of diseases, it may vary in accordance with the chronic nature of the diseases. The duration of 7 days and its multiplies – 7, 14, 21 and 28 are truly the divisions of time in line with the lunar cycle. The influence of the lunar cycle in the bio-rhythm of the human body has also been taken in to consideration while fixing the duration of the course of Ayurveda Panchkarma Treatments. Similarly the time of administration of the therapeutic treatments in a day is also very important.
ElaKizhi (PatraPotaliSwedan) /
Medicinal leaves/ herbs bundles
It is a type of swedana (sudation )treatment in which the whole body or any specific part by the application of medicinal leaves puddings (medicinal leaves are cut into small pieces and processed in the medicated oils) externally in the form of boluses tied up in muslin bag, dipping it in warm medicated oils. This is done for 45 minutes daily for a period of 07 to 14 days. Fine powder of medicinal herbs is also used. This treatment is effective in chronic back pain and rheumatic complaints, Arthritis, paralysis, pain and swelling in the joints and emaciation of limbs. It stimulates and strengthens the nervous and muscular systems, increases the circulation and metabolic rate, reduces stiffness and pain, improves the skin tone.
Njavara Kizhi (Pinda swedam )
After applying the medicated oil over the whole body or any specific part, the medicinal rice (Njavarayari) and the root of Sida retusa extract are processed with milk and to be made in the form of paste and apply over the whole body or any specific part along with massage. This is done for 60 to 90 minutes daily for 07 to 14 days. This treatment renders strengths to nerves and muscles and purifies blood and is beneficial for all types of rheumatism, joint pain, emaciation of limbs, high blood pressure, cholesterol, paralysis, sciatica, and certain kinds of skin diseases and it improves general body weakness, the skin colour and complexion.
This is a therapeutic process in which lukewarm medicated oil is poured all over the body in a uniform rhythmic way continuously in specific direction along with simultaneous gentle massages for 60 to 90 minutes daily for 07 to 21 days. This treatment is effective for rheumatic diseases like arthritis, paralysis, weakness of muscular and nervous systems and sexual weakness.
Medicated lukewarm oil is allowed to retain over the head for about an hour within a leather cap fitted around the head. This treatment is very effective in facial paralysis, cataract, deafness, earache, chronic headache, insomnia, psychosomatic stress and other diseases that afflict the cranial nerves. It stimulates the nervous system and promotes mental concentration.
“Sirodhara” literally means continuous flow (dhara) on the head (sira). Just as the root forms the base of a plant so also in Ayurveda the head is considered the root of the body. Therefore, Sirodhara is of utmost importance in ayurvedic treatment. Medicated oil, medicated butter milk ,herbal extract etc; is allowed to flow as a continuous stream over the upper part of the forehead along with gentle massage over the scalp thus stimulating the pineal gland in the brain which produces serotonin and melatonin. These hormones play an important role in each person’s emotional balance. The treatment may last for 30-45 minutes daily for a period of 07 to 21 days. It is highly effective for diseases of the nervous system and for emotional problems such as chronic depression, insomnia, loss of memory and anxiety (panic) attacks. It is also recommended for chronic headaches, as well as ear, nose and throat problems, and is especially useful for mental relaxation.
Administration of medicated oil, herbal juice or other medicated formulations to the nostrils after the proper application of medicated oil and fomentation of the face keeping the eyes protected from the heat applying during fomentation .Nasyam helps to evacuate accumulated elements in the nasal sinuses .It stimulates neruro hormonal centres, enhances the function of eyes, nose, ears, induces sound sleep and strengthens the neck and shoulder. It is very effective in the treatment of Sinusitis, Nasal congestion, Dental Problem, Ear and Eye Disease, Facial paralysis, Migraine and cervical degeneration.
Abyanga is the general body massage in Ayurveda using medicated oils on a daily basis as a part of lifestyle to ease pain and reduce fluid accumulation, aiding the removal of toxic accumulation. This treatment is done normally for 45 to 60 minutes daily for 07 to 21 days. It is a very effective rejuvenation therapy which improves circulation, cellular regeneration, immuno-modulation and sound sleep. It is a very effective treatment in rheumatic complaints, stiffness of joints, spondylosis, spondylitis, back pain, sports injuries, frozen shoulders, etc.
Application of medicated oil in the ear cannel is effective in the infective pathologies of the ear. It improves the sound perception with clarity.
Greeva vasti/Kati vasti/Uro vasti
Retention of lukewarm medicated oils in a leak proof boundary made up of green gram powder paste over the upper back-cervical (Greeva vasti),in the lower back – lumber(Kati vasti) and in the upper middle of the chest – thorax (Uro vasti) is beneficial in localized and radiating pain of different origin.
Cleaning the eyes with medicinal herbal extract or medicated milk is beneficial in all infective conditions of the eyes. It promotes the cleansing and curative effects and reduces the dryness.
It is a therapeutic procedure done with herbal paste in almost all ayurvedic treatments. The herbal power mixed with water/fresh juice of medicinal leaves/medicated oil and apply over the middle of bregma and lamda on the head. It has direct positive effects on the brain and it protects the brain from over heat and pressure variations. It promotes sound sleep and cooling effects.
Local application of medicinal herbal paste particularly in joints is effective in inflammatory pathologies. It reduces pain, swelling, redness and local temperature.