Ayurveda, the ancient healing system of India, is one of the great healing traditions of the world. Like traditional Chinese medicine, with which it has many historical connections, Ayurveda is a holistic medical system grounded in a comprehensive philosophical/spiritual view of life.
Ayurvedic treatment is highly individualized and incorporates a wide range of methods, including dietary changes, herbal therapy, exercise, massage, meditation, and numerous special procedures such as cleansing of the nasal passages. Although the scientific base for Ayurveda is not yet strong, some of its methods have undergone meaningful scientific evaluation, and worldwide interest continues to increase.
In Ayurvedic theory, the body is said to contain three primal forces (tridosha) that work in tandem: vata, pitta, and kapha. These dosha, in turn, are formed from combinations of five elements that control the universe: space, air, fire, water, and earth. The dosha vata includes space and air; it controls movement. Pitta is made of fire and water; it controls digestion and metabolism. Kapha is composed of earth and water; it forms the body’s structures. Each person can be said to be dominated by one or two of these dosha, and may therefore be called a vata, pitta, kapha, vata-pitta, vata-kapha, or pitta-kapha type.
There are many other aspects of the body considered in Ayurveda as well. These include 20 attributes, 5 sub-doshas, 7 tissues, 4 states of agni, and 14 bodily systems. Health exists when all aspects of the body are in proper balance; disease occurs when that balance is disturbed. Excess vata, for example, might lead to arthritis, anxiety, and fatigue. Excess kapha, on the other hand, is said to cause obesity and diabetes.
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