Sunday, October 5, 2008

FAQ's on Ayurveda

1.What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is an Indian traditional system of medicine which aims at maintaining health by following proper dietary and lifestyle related guidelines. It concentrates equally on prevention as well as cure of a disease. With the increasing awareness about the safety and efficacy of natural medicine, Ayurveda is gaining worldwide acceptance.

2. What are the diseases where Ayurveda can help?
Ayurveda is effective in treating all disease conditions and the physician will be able to tell you the probability of relief or cure of a disease based on the stage of the disease. I always emphasize that Ayurveda provides good relief when the patient approaches the practitioner in the early stages of the disease itself instead of trying it as a last resort. For e.g Ayurveda provides good relief to patients suffering from knee joint pain due to degenerative changes in Osteoarthritis. The patients who opt for treating the pain during the early stage itself through Ayurvedi get excellent results whereas those who come at later stages when there is excessive damage done to the Joint take time.Sometimes I have to tell them that the condition of the disease is beyond my treatment and the chance of positive response to the treatment is less. At the end of this document you will find a table giving an idea about the ailments successfully being treated by Ayurveda.This table is intended for information only and not exhaustive. The best person to tell you is your Physician.

3. How Ayurveda can help in health maintenance?
Ayurveda places great stress upon health maintenance and health preservation principles. It advocates specific routines such as daily regimen(dinacharya) and seasonal regimen(ruthucharya) and several do’s and don’ts related to diet, sleep etc. Ayurveda advocates shodhana or purificatory panchakarma procedures such as Vamana(Emesis or medicinally induced vomiting), Virechana(Medicinally induced purgation) for cleansing the body. Ideally in every treatment the administration of medicine should follow the purification procedures i.e. panchakarma. The particular treatment process to be adopted is decided based on the dosha aggravation and the stage of the disease.There are excellent medicines to boost immunity in Ayurveda.

4.What are the evidences to show that Ayurveda is effective?
Everyone of us would like to be reassured that the system of medicine we have chosen for the treatment of our problem has enough evidence to prove its efficacy.Ayurveda is a time tested system of medicine and the diagnosis and treatment guidelines have been elobarately described in it. Clinical studies of the different treatment procedures such as panchakarma and the medicines indicated in particular diseases are being regularly carried out by doctors in colleges and universities during the master’s and Phd work. Apart from these documented studies, several physicians have demonstrated the efficacy of Ayurveda treatment in the different fields of medicine. For e.g. in the field of Ophthalmology there is a separate institution called Sreedhareeyam functioning in Kerala and they are treating several eye diseases which have failed to be treated by mainstream systems of medicine.The number of clinical trials to study the efficacy of Ayurveda treatment for diseases such as Sciatica, backache,paralysis,facial palsy, osteparthritis, rhuematoid arthritis,eczema,Psoriasis,leucoderma,bronchial asthma have been conducted by Govt funded Institutions and they have published the results in reputed journals.With my 13 years of experience in the field of Ayurveda I can say with certainty and confidence that this traditional system of medicine can provide safe and sound relief from Acute to chronic conditions.

5. What are the usual modes of therapy in Ayurveda?
The basic concept of Ayurveda is the theory that health exists when there is a balance between three fundamental body components/doshas which are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. When there is any imbalance in these three doshas it results in disease. The cause of imbalance can be food, environment, injury etc. The physician tries to heal the illness by restoring the balance in the doshas.
Shodhana(comes from the word shuddhi or cleansing) and shamana are the two major approaches of Ayurveda in treating any illness.Shodhana involves usage of Panchakarma for elimination of the disease causing factors and shamana involves using herbs and purified minerals to restore normalcy of the doshas and bringing them back to their normal physiological state.
Along with the use of Panchakarma and medicines prepared out of selected herbs and purified minerals,Ayurveda lays a lot of emphasis on diet and lifestyle changes for complete recovery from diseased state and also to prevent the recurrence of the illness. For e.g. in the condition of gastritis the treating physician will guide you to avoid or reduce sour and spicy food along with the intake of medicines. This will help in quick recovery from the problem.

6. Are Ayurvedic medicines costly?
Few of the medicines used in Ayurveda are prepared using minerals such as Gold and Silver. But these are not regularly prescribed. The cost of treatment is higher only in cases where Panchakarma has to be done. Since pathological investigations are rarely requested for and most of the diagnosis is done by the physician the patient saves good amount of money. This part of the savings can be used to invest in the medicines by the patient.
If you are very particular about the cost of treatment and your affordability is low, do frankly express the same to the doctor so that he can prescribe an affordable medicine.

7. Are Ayurveda medicines are slow in their action?
Generally all diseases can be classified into Acute and Chronic. Chronic diseases are those which have not been treated successfully and have been troubling the patient since a long period of time. Since the illness is more deep rooted in these conditions it will take a longer duration for the problem to be eliminated completely. Problems which are of Acute or of recent origin definitely respond quickly and easily to Ayurvedic medicines. For e.g.Diarrhoea,Urticaria etc respond quickly to Ayurveda medicines.

8. Do Ayurveda medicines cause heat and should they be avoided in summer ?
This is a frequent query raised by people who opt for Ayurveda and some people even avoid taking resort to Ayurveda citing this reason.Ayurveda uses both cold potency (Sheetha) and hot potency (Ushna) medicines to treat diseases. It uses cold potency medicines to treat diseases arising due to excess of heat in the body and hot potency medicines to treat diseases arising due to excess of cold in the body. There will not be any problem when the medicines are administered by a well learned and experienced Ayurveda physician who has the ability to diagnose a disease based on the basic principles of Ayurveda. Most of the problems arises when people take Ayurveda medicines from quacks who are ignorant about the basic principles of Ayurveda.They cheat gullible people looking for relief from chronic illnesses by promising quick cure or permanent relief.I always emphasize to my patients that there are no shortcuts to recovery and that they have to persevere to get good results from the treatment.

9. Do all Ayurveda medicines taste bitter and are they unpalatable?
There are more than 10,000 Ayurvedic formulations and these are in different forms such as tablet, pill, liquids, ghee, oil, powder etc. Not all are bitter in taste and some of them are very palatable. For e.g. Draksharishta, chyavanaprash, Kooshmanda rasayana etc. With the adoption of modern pharmaceutical methods in Ayurveda industry the dosage forms are available in capsules and syrups too. If the disease condition demands the usage of a bitter or unpalatable medicine the doctor may advice the use of the medicine along with honey for easy palatability. If you strongly feel that you will be unable to take unpalatable medicines do frankly express the same to the doctor so that he can prescribe you some alternative if any exist.

Some examples of Diseases successfully treated:
Arthritis,Acne,Asthma, Anemia, Alopecia
Osteoarthritis,Osteoporosis,Obesity, Oral Ulcers
Bronchitis, Backache, Baldness
Headache, Hyperacidity
Paralysis, Benign Prostate Hypertrophy, Psoriasis, Piles
Premature greying of hair
Cervical spondylitis, Chikungunya, Chronic cold.
Insomnia, Impotency, Irritable bowel syndrome
Rheumatoid arthritis, Recurrent Tonsillitis, Respiratory infections and allergies
Chronic diarrhea, chronic dysentery, Depression, Dandruff
Sinusitis, Spondylitis, Sciatica, Stomatitis, Chronic Skin diseases
Eczema,Epilepsy,Erectile dysfunction
Leucoderma, Loss of libido
Urticaria,Chronic ulcers
Frozen shoulder syndrome
Migraine, musculoskeletal pains
Varicose ulcers
Obesity, Oral Ulcers

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