Ayurveda is a funny looking word, I am not certain I know how to pronounce it correctly. In fact, that’s one reason I decided to research it.

What is it?

Ayurveda, the oldest medical system in the world, originated in India some six thousand years ago. Translated it means the knowledge (veda) of life (ayur). Today it remains a major form of healthcare in India, often used in conjunction with modern Western medicine.

It is a holistic science that promotes health through an appropriate diet and lifestyle with a focus on exercise and personal hygiene. Mental discipline and control as well along with strict moral and spiritual values are considered prerequisites for good health. The success of the therapy
depends on the person’s willingness and ability to commit to the lifestyle.
In Ayurveda a person is viewed as a unique individual made up of 3 forces: vata, the force symbolized by air, pitta, the force symbolized by fire, and kapha, the force symbolized by water. An imbalance of these forces causes disease.

The Ayurvedic treatment is highly individualized, because the ancients believed that no two individuals are alike even when they suffer from similar disease. It is aimed at a cure, by balancing the forces, but does accept limitations.

Treatment involves strict diet changes, herbs, supplements, and exercises such as yoga. Meditation will allow the wisdom of the body to be heard. Fasting, laxatives, vomiting, blood letting and other methods of removing toxins from the body may be recommended.

Does it work?

One informal patient study showed that Ayurvedic treatments for rheumatoid arthritis were some what effective and very slow to work. Remissions are rare.
Some parts of the treatment plan, exercise, meditation and relaxation are proven to help in the treatment of chronic pain. Certainly more studies are needed.

Is it safe?

It depends. Obviously, not much harm can come of living a life with strict spiritual and moral values, or of eating a good diet. However some of the herbs used can interact with other medications and the methods of removing toxins may well be dangerous.

Finding a Practitioner

There are very few qualified Ayurvedic practitioners in the US and there are currently no standards for certification. Most practitioners were trained in India.

The Arthritis Foundation’s Guide to Alternative Medicine
Ayurvedic medicine and arthritis, Rheumatic Diseases Clinics of North
Volume 26, Number 1, February 2000 Copyright � 2000 W. B. Saunders Company
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