Ayurveda is one of the oldest healing sciences. Essentially, it is a holistic approach to health. The goal of Ayurveda is to function as a guiding light in assisting people in making choices that will increase the quality of their lives. The goal is to live a long, healthy, balanced life.
The term Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit words ayus, meaning life or lifespan, and veda, meaning knowledge. Ayurveda has been a tradition in India for at least 5,000 years, and has recently become popular in Western cultures.
Both Ayurvedic Medicine and Functional Medicine seek to maintain balance in the body, mind, and sense of well being through it’s attunement to one’s nutrition, habitual patterns of eating and drinking, lifestyle, exercise, sleep hygiene, and stress management practices. Functional Medicine and Ayurvedic Practice seek to identify to the underlying cause of disease, rather than prescribe a cure for the symptom alone. Functional Medicine and Ayurvedic philosophy both look at the human body as a system, with symptoms viewed as offshoots of deeper systemic issues. Ayurveda is particularly attuned to the quality and quantity of foods consumed, the habitual patterns of eating and eliminating, one’s core beliefs about themselves and one’s sense of meaning in the world, including the quality of one’s most important relationships, and lastly the basic metabolic mechanisms that drive one’s energy level.
In addition to pertinent vitamin, mineral, herbal, and necessary traditional or “allopathic” prescriptions, food grade spices can be recommended to help increase the taste of food, and to assist in the digestion and metabolism of essential nutrients from the diet.
Just as Functional Medicine purports that energy drives function, Ayurveda purports that disease results from an imbalance in energy management. Ayurveda asserts that each individual utilizes energy uniquely. A person falls into one of three categories of energetic patterning based on their constitution. These three energetic patterning types are called Doshas. Doshas encompass a specific combination of physical, mental, and emotional characteristics. Ayurvedic practitioners believe there are three basic energy types called doshas, which characterize each person’s metabolic constitution.
Vata. Energy that controls bodily functions associated with motion, including blood circulation, breathing, blinking, and heartbeat. When vata energy is balanced, there is creativity and vitality. Out of balance, vata produces fear, anxiety, constriction, and can predispose to cramping, headaches, a feeling of being cold, and dry hair and skin, among other symptomology.
Pitta. Energy that controls the body’s metabolic systems, including digestion, absorption, nutrition, and temperature. In balance, pitta leads to contentment and intelligence. Out of balance, pitta can cause anger, inflammation, heat, acne, aggression, and ulcers, among other symptomology.
Kapha. Energy that controls growth in the body. It supplies water to all body parts, moisturizes the skin, and maintains the immune system. In balance, kapha is expressed as love and forgiveness. Out of balance, kapha leads to depression, insecurity, slowed metabolism, water retention and swelling, among other symptomology.
Everyone has vata, pitta, and kapha. But usually 1 or 2 are dominant in an individual. Factors that disturb the energy balance include stress, an unhealthy diet, weather, and strained relationships. The energy disturbance shows up as disease. Ayurvedic remedies seek to bring the doshas back into balance by correcting the underlying causes of disease, much like Functional Medicine.
Some Ayurvedic treatment modalities include:
Pranayama. Breathing exercises. Practicing pranayama helps bring a sense of calm
Abhyanga. Massaging the skin with herbal oil to increase blood circulation and help draw toxins out of the body through the skin. This is a ritual of self nurture.
Rasayana. Using mantras (repeated words or phrases, like an affirmation) during meditation to help transform negative thoughts into positive ones.
Yoga. Combining pranayama, movement, and meditation. Yoga has been shown to improve circulation and digestion, and to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol levels, anxiety, and chronic pain.
The goal of Ayurvedic medicine and Functional medicine is to prevent diseases and help ease symptoms of chronic disease. Studies have suggested that both Ayurvedic Medicine and Functional Medicine are effective at reducing the risk of heart disease, chronic inflammatory disorders, IBS, depression and anxiety, and various metabolic and chronic pain syndromes. At Patriot Medicinal, we infuse both disciples of healing into a traditional medical setting.
While utilizing Functional Medicine as the treatment backbone, Ayurveda is invaluable in augmenting any treatment course, and helping to ensure maximum quality of life.
Ayurvedic Medicine augments a traditional Functional Medical plan by enhancing and guiding one’s practices to maintain inner peace, lend a deeper understanding of one’s relationship with food, explore one’s sense of meaning in life, help bring awareness to the health of one’s personal relationships, assist in highlighting the expression of positive emotions and lastly illuminate the need to attune one’s life to the natural rhythms of one’s body.