Aryurveda (pronounced “eye-your-vay-da”) means the “knowledge or science of life” and is the ancient, nature based medical system from India that considers the mind, body, senses, and soul in the healing process. Ayurveda emphasizes prevention of imbalances and illnesses, offers natural, individualized therapies, and empowers everyone to take responsibility for their own health and well-being. Ayurveda’s guiding principles are as relevant today as they were 5,000 years ago.
Ayurveda teaches that each of us has a unique mind-body-spirit constitution. When our constitution is in balance we are healthy and well. When out of balance, we may experience a number of conditions which can eventually lead to disease. Ayurveda looks for the root causes of our conditions and offers natural ways to help restore or maintain balance through the use of diet, herbs, and spices, daily routines, biorhythms, exercise, yoga, and other natural therapies all designed around the unique needs of the individual.
Ayurvedic Medicine Practitioner(s):
Plants have been used as medicine for thousands of years. Botanical medicine (also known as herbal medicine or herbalism), when used properly, is a safe and effective approach to correcting imbalances and treating disease. Many modern pharmaceuticals are derived from plant constituents; however, increasing evidence shows that whole-plant or crude extractions may provide some of the same health benefits with fewer side effects and risk of toxicity. Herbs can be prepared and administered in several forms, including:
- Tinctures – alcohol or glycerin extractions of herbs
- Teas – dried herbs to be infused in hot water
- Decoctions – boiled preparations of herbs. Decoctions are used for plants that require more time and heat for extraction of a medicinal dose such as mushrooms, roots, seeds and bark
- Capsules – some herbal preparations may be powdered, dried and encapsulated
- Powders – ground herbs that are not encapsulated
- Tablets or Pearls – pressed herbs that are taken orally
- Salves – thick ointments used topically to treat conditions such as rashes, burns and cuts to decrease healing time and scarring
There are several other ways in which herbal medicines may be administered, however the above preparations are some of the most commonly prescribed. Naturopathic doctors and herbalists are trained to select safe and effective combinations of herbs that come from high quality sources.
Botanical Medicine Practitioner(s):
Detoxification includes any number of modalities designed to help support the body’s elimination pathways, including chelation therapy, colon hydrotherapy, detoxification diets, herbal detoxification, massage, sauna, and more. The major organs of elimination in the body include the intestinal tract, the liver and gallbladder, the kidneys, and the skin. Detoxification is not always physical but may include supporting the release of “toxic” thoughts and feelings through counseling and other modalities.
Meditation is the practice of quieting the mind and looking within, acquiring a state of consciousness unlike that of the normal waking state, with the goal to experience our essential nature of peace, bliss, and harmony. Meditation can be practiced in groups or alone, sitting or lying. It is a systematic approach to learning how to calm the mind and not be distracted by it, enabling a deepened awareness of self. Originally from the Hindu tradition, meditation practices developed in Taoist China and Buddhist India around the 6th and 5th Centuries B.C.E.
Nutritional and Dietary Therapies
Nutritional deficiencies can not only reduce one’s capacity for optimal health, but also cause disease. For example, a deficiency of Vitamin D can cause osteomalacia, a disease of the bones, whereas Vitamin C deficiency can cause scurvy, a disease predominately of the skin. But vitamins and nutrients affect more than just one part of the body, and even mild deficiencies can cause suboptimal function in multiple areas of the body. Sometimes nutrient deficiencies arise from poor dietary habits, but more often there are other predisposing factors, for example, the use of some medications can cause certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and natural processes like childbirth and menstruation can promote temporary nutritional deficiencies. When situations such as this occur, nutritional supplements and dietary recommendations can be advised to correct such imbalances.
Many traditional cultures used diet as medicine, and in fact it was Hippocrates, a father of modern medicine who said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”. Special dietary recommendations are often made for patients with cancer as well as those with heart disease, diabetes, allergies, pain, and other conditions. Dietary protocols alone can also be a part of achieving optimum health when there is not yet disease. As an example, someone with a family history of heart disease, but no current signs of heart disease, may be encouraged to adopt a diet shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. In contrast, with Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, certain foods or spices may be prescribed in order to balance a particular “nature” of the patient, or to support the health of a specific organ as opposed to targeting a particular disease or disease risk factor.
When dietary recommendations are not enough, nutritional supplements can provide additional support. When used to treat medical conditions, nutritional supplements should be used under the guidance of doctors or healthcare providers trained in nutritional medicine. Nutritional supplements may be in the form of single nutrients or combination formulas targeting a particular body function. They can be given as tablets, capsules, powders, or liquids and by oral, sublingual, transdermal or other routes. They may be given just until the deficiency or condition is resolved, or for longer depending on the circumstances that triggered the deficiency.
Nutritional and Dietary Therapies Practitioner(s):
The word “yoga” means “connection”. Yoga allows those practicing it to enter a state of connection while performing body techniques. When we are consciously connected to something, we are allowed to fully experience that person, thing, or experience. There are many different kinds of yoga, including tantra, mantra, laya, kundalani, bhakti, jnana, karma, etc, with each form using its own movements and methods to help the practicer reach greater awareness and connection to life and self.