Interview with Ayurvedic Expert at Ananda in the Himalayas
Ananda in the Himalayas is one of the top Ayurvedic spa in the world. Here their Ayurvedic Physician Dr. Adarsh Shetty talks about the benefits of Ayurveda in its most authentic form.
How does Ayurveda differ from Western Medicine and scientific authority?
The major difference between Ayurveda and conventional medicine lies in the treatment method - while most modern medical treatments operate at the symptomatic level, Ayurvedic treatments work at much deeper causative levels. By balancing the doshas (primary life-forces within the body), the root cause of the problem is solved. The principles of Ayurveda state that nothing exists in isolation, so that everything you interact with, your diet, family, work or relationships, has an effect on your health and well being. One guiding principle of Ayurveda is that mind, body and soul are connected, and that the mind has a profound influence over our health and well-being. While conventional Western medicine is still grounded in the paradigm of mind-body separation, Ayurveda holds that health is more than the absence of disease; it is a dynamic state of balance and integration of body, mind, and spirit.
What are the benefits of Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a science which speaks of both preventive and curative aspects of health care at the same time. Preventive care should be the foundation for any ideal health care system. Following regimes linked to daily and seasonal patterns you are able to both prevent and cure illness through diet, life-style and natural medicines. There are very few side-effect with Ayurveda and it’s aim extends beyond just creating a healthy body in the individual, but in creating a healthy society.
Can you explain a little more about the three ‘doshas’ and how they combine to make up the constitution of the individual?
The human body is made up of the five principles of Akasa ( air), Vayu (vital force), tejas (some minerals, acidity, alkalinity etc) jala (water) and prithvi (organic substances and earthly matter not included in others). Any part of the body, howsoever minute, is an inseparable combination of these principles. In Ayurveda, the combinations of these principles are classified into Vata, Pitta & Kapha. Of these Vata is combination of Space and Air, Pitta is Fire and Kapha is combination of water & Earth.
Vata, in its balanced state, maintains energy of will, proper breathing (both inhalation & exhalation), movement, the discharge of impulses, equilibrium of the tissues, acuity of senses. When imbalanced, it causes drymess, dark discolouration, desire for warmth, tremors, abdominal distension, constipation, loss of strength, insomnia, loss of sensory acuity, incoherency of speech and fatigue.
Pitta, in its balanced state, is responsible for digestion, heat, visual perception, thirst, lustre of skin, intelligence, determination, courage and softness of the body. When imbalanced, it causes yellow discoloration of urine, faeces, eyes, skin, emotional hunger, thirst and burning sensation.
Kapha, in its balanced state, is responsible for firmness and stability, maintenance of bodily fluids, lubrication of joints, and such positive emotions as peace, love and forgiveness. When imbalanced it produces loss of digestive power, accumulation of phlegm and mucus, exhaustion, feeling of heaviness, pallor, cold sensation, looseness of limbs, difficulty of breathing, coughing and excessive desire for sleeping.
How do you assess a patients’s condition?
Ayurvedic assessment is personal and is all about ‘knowing and understanding the patient.’ The disease is not treated as separate to the person, but the person is considered as a single entity. Two individuals showing with same disease may not be subjected to same treatment owing to physical and emotional differences in the body. The doctor will examine the patients checking their physical attributes, like build, strength, weight and height, and also check their constitution, emotional wellbeing and general lifestyle.
Once you’ve assessed an individual’s dosha, how do you begin to treat a patient?
Firstly one has to arrive at a conclusion about the line of treatment according to the diagnosis. Then one has to decide the treatments that can be administered to the diseased individual. Measures to purify the body with herbal treatments will be prescribed along with a palliative approach that helps emotional wellbeing. Different yoga poses, food and activities are also suggested to prevent the recurrence of the disease by building up the patient’s immunity and resistance.
Can Ayurveda be dangerous when in the wrong hands?
Though it is popularly perceived that Ayurveda is devoid of adverse effects, it is not completely true. The rule of nature is anything that yields a desired result when used in the right way may produce an adverse effect when used in the wrong way. Therefore Ayurvedic advice and treatments should always be taken under the guidance of experienced registered practitioners.
How can we bring a little piece of Ayurveda into our hectic modern lives?
Often Ayurveda is viewed as a system of medicine that only applies to the physical dimension of health, which however is not true. There is plenty that Ayurveda delivers to improve psychological, social and spiritual wellbeing. Ayurvedic approaches to lifestyle and social conduct can be easily incorporated in living, for a more holistic daily life.