What Is Ayurvedic Medicine?
Ayurveda is a traditional system of medicine that began in India over 5000 years ago. It is considered by many to be the oldest system of natural medicine still in use.
Some scholars have written that even Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) was initially based on Ayurveda principals. Recent surveys found over 80% of Indian people utilize Ayurvedic medicine.
It is also an increasingly popular modality practiced by alternative and integrative clinicians in the United States, Canada and Europe.
In Ayurvedic medicine prana is the vital energy of all life forms and also the primary source of healing. Similar to the theories of Chinese medicine, the vital energy is governed by five elements: earth, air, fire, water and ether.
Good health requires a balance and harmony among all of the elements. The five elements combine with each other to form doshas.
Discovering Your Dosha
The three doshas are kapha (earth and water), vata (ether and air) and pitta (fire and water).
Ayurvedic philosophy says that people are born with a tendency towards a predominate dosha, this energetic constitution is called prakriti.
A person can have a single dosha for their prakriti or a combination of doshas. The seven prakritis are vata, pitta, kapha, vata-pitta, pitta-kapha, vata-kapha or all three, vata-pitta-kapha.
Read the following descriptions to see which dosha or combination of doshas best describes your constitution.
- Thin, gangly people
- Mentally and physically active
- Energy, mood and appetite fluctuate considerably
- Feel cold and dry, they like warm, humid weather
- If unbalanced they can become anxious and flighty, not following through on commitments
- Enjoy creative endeavors and have vivacious imaginations
- Prone to low immunity and insomnia, they also experience low back pain, anxiety, constipation and joint problems
- Active, like traveling and meeting new people
- Have a hard time sticking to a routine and completing projects
- Dominated by air
- Average build but powerful muscles
- Dominated by fire
- Often have freckled skin that blushes or reddens with exercise, sun exposure or embarrassment
- Leaders and quick learners
- Strong willed, ethical people who want to do what they think is right
- Big appetite and powerful digestion
- Irritable if they miss a meal
- Can be judgmental or inpatient of others
- Frequently suffer from rashes, acne, loose stool and inflammation when not in balance
- Strong frame
- Gain weight easily with a slow metabolism, need to exercise regularly
- Stubborn and unmotivated when out of balance
- Feel better with new experiences, environments and people
- Natural athletes
- Compassionate and loyal
- Benefit from fasting
- Methodical, function best with routine and doing things step by step
- Prone to respiratory conditions and sinus problems. They can also susceptible to inflammation.
- Dominated by earth and water
Your prakriti is something that you are born with but it can fluctuate with age, climate, season, surroundings and diet. For example, if you are a Kapha-Vata, you may feel colder in winter, and need to reduce Kapha to avoid imbalance and illness.
A Pitta-Vata may be more self-critical when surrounded by a competitive work environment, bringing out the Pitta personality and corresponding imbalance.
Eczema Ayurvedic Treatments: Understanding The Underlying Philosophy
Eczema is considered a vikriti in Ayurveda, which is an illness or imbalance that occurs when the doshas are out of balance.
Similar to most other system of natural medicine, Ayurveda puts a large emphasis on wellness and prevention rather than disease management. The goal is to stay healthy by keeping the mind, body and spirit harmonized so that the body is strongly resistant to disease.
A person’s prakriti (constitution) dictates their susceptibilities and what lifestyle they need to follow to stay healthy.
Western, allopathic medicine focuses on suppressing eczema and the body’s immune reaction. In contrast, Ayurveda uses diet, fasting, herbs, massage and exercise to retune the prana and purify the entire mind, body and spirit—called anchakarma.
Herb and dietary treatments focus on their energetic properties rather than chemical or physical qualities.
Eczema Apperance By Dosha:
▸ Pitta eczema is oozing and burning.
▸ Kapha eczema is oozing, but thicker and very itchy (pruritic).
▸ Vatta eczema is dry and painful with severe itching.
Ayurvedic Remedies For Eczema: Topical Treatments
1) Karanja oil is sourced from the seeds of the Millettia pinnata tree and is common in both temperate and tropical Asia. When taken orally, karanja oil is toxic and emetic, causing nausea and vomiting.
Applied to the skin, this yellowish orange oil inhibits infection and promotes healing. A recent study showed topical applications decreased pain and reduced inflammation of the skin.
2) Banyan tree peel poultices are made from the popular Indian fig tree. Banyan leaves are large, glossy and green.
A paper published in 2011 in the Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology showed that both alcohol and water preparation of banyan leaf more quickly healed skin wounds that placebo (a preparation without the banyan).
Heat the leaves and apply them to the skin make banyan tree peel poultices. Some Ayurvedic practitioners recommend using the whole leaf while others suggest macerating the leaves and mixing with a small amount of water to make a more pasty poultice.
3) Sesame oil is a tasty cooking oil used to make Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern dishes such as tahini, stir fry, and dressing. Rich in Vitamin E, sesame oil is an anti-oxidant, which decreases damage caused by free radicals.
A study in humans showed sesame oil mixed with the herb berberine improved healing in skin that had suffered burns. Ayurveda recommends using sesame oil on dry constitutions such as those with a Vata constitution.
4) Turmeric paste is made from the root of curcuma longa, the herb used widely in Indian cooking, putting the golden yellow color in curry.
Turmeric is one of nature’s most potent inhibitors of inflammation and it is also strongly anti-neoplastic, restricting the growth and development of cancer.
Boil 1 tablespoon turmeric powder in 1 cup of water. Allow to cool and form a thick paste. Apply directly to affected skin. You can store it refrigerated in a glass jar but beware not to spill, as it will stain everything a deep yellow orange!
5) Ghee is an Indian butter that has been rendered to remove any extra moisture or solids particles. Ghee is clarified butter, which is clearer and less solid at room temperature as compared to its European and American counterparts.
Ayurvedic practitioners recommend applying ghee to eczema lesions for its healing and moisturizing properties.
Healing Through Chronobiology: Hours Of The Day By Dosha
Pitta Period: from 10a.m.-2 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Largest meal of the day should be consumed during midday Pitta, as this is when the strongest digestion occurs.
According to Ayurveda, food should never be consumed during night Pitta, a time reserved for organ healing and restoration.
The Pitta period is also the active time of greatest productivity. Get your work done and exercise during 10 am and 2 pm.
Vata Period: from 2-6 a.m and p.m. is when people feel most alert and creative. From 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. is is a good time for tackling problems, designing or constructing projects.
Ayurveda considers the nighttime Vata from 2-6 a.m. to be an important time of active dreaming when the brain can express its creativity.
Kapha period: from 6-10 a.m. and p.m. Ayurveda recommends waking in the first two hours of Kapha, from 6 to 8 am to slowly ease into the day, calmly and slowly. Similarly, get to bed before 10pm so that you can take advantage of peacefully falling to sleep.
If you wait until after 10pm you will go into Pitta period and risk feeling more active, keeping you awake.
Ayurvedic Treatment For Eczema: Dietary Restrictions
Ayurveda has a greater list of what not to eat when a person has eczema, rather than what foods to seek out. The following are foods that should be restricted or eliminated according to Ayurvedic principles.
☒ No mustard or oily foods
☒ No radishes or cucumbers
☒ Restrict oranges, papaya and watermelon
☒ Cold food and drinks should be eliminated, such as ice cream or iced tea
☒ Avoid overly spicy foods
☒ Limit nuts, particularly cashews
☒ Strong tasting herbs and flavorings should be subdued, not too much ginger, onion or garlic at one time