What Is Ayurvedic Medicine, What Are The Benefits/Risks Of Ayurvedic Medicine And Is It Truly Effective?

Nisha Manek, M.D., Mayo

Question: What is Ayurvedic medicine, what are the benefits/risks of Ayurvedic medicine and is it truly effective?

Answer: Ayurveda is based on the Indian medical system of healing. 'Ayur' means life. 'Veda' is a science of study. So Ayurveda, in a nutshell, is the study of life.

Ayurveda is very interesting; it has a very deep history in the Indian system of healing. It has two basic premises.

First, one is that every person has a constituency. What do we mean by that? Each person has a tendency towards harmony or a tendency towards illness, and that can be corrected.

The other principle of Ayurveda draws on the principle of doshas. And doshas are based on elements of earth, fire, water and ethers. Every person has three main doshas, and an imbalance of the dosha can also be corrected. One of the principles of Ayurveda draws on not only on the constituents and the doshas, but also an elimination. So Ayurveda does emphasize cleansing practices and also suppression of symptoms through massage, breathing practices such as pranayama, and also dietary practices.

Ayurveda does feature quite heavily on certain herbals and diets, such as turmeric and ginger. Be well informed about the Ayurvedic remedies and your practitioner.

There has been some worry about Ayurveda in the literature because certain of their herbs can contain minerals such as iron and other toxins. So please, be sure to check in to your practitioner.

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