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Ayurvedic medicine (also called Ayurveda) is one of the world’s oldest medical systems. It originated in India and has evolved there over thousands of years. Ayurvedic medicine comes under the complementary therapy in Australia. Complementary therapies are used alongside conventional medical treatments to help improve a person’s health and wellbeing. Examples include acupuncture, aromatherapy, traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, herbal medicine, yoga, meditation and massage. These treatments are sometimes known collectively as ‘complementary and alternative medicine’ (CAM). Regulation of complementary medicines in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is a federal government department that regulates all medicines in Australia, including complementary medicines. Under Australian law, every complementary medicine is assessed for the safety and quality of its ingredients, but not always for its efficacy (how well it works). Only complementary medicines that are deemed ‘high risk’ are assessed for efficacy. The TGA does this by looking at data from clinical trials supplied by the manufacturer.

The TGA considers as complementary medicines:

  • Medicinal products that contain herbs, vitamins or minerals
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Certain aromatherapy products
  • Traditional medicines such as traditional Chinese medicines, Ayurvedic medicines and Australian Indigenous medicines.
  • Homoeopathic medicines

In the United States, Ayurvedic medicine is considered complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)—more specifically, a CAM whole medical system. Many therapies used in Ayurvedic medicine are also used on their own as CAM—for example, herbs, massage, and specialized diets. This fact sheet provides a general overview of Ayurvedic medicine and suggests sources for additional information. 

Key Points about Ayurvedic Medicine:

  • The aim of Ayurvedic medicine is to integrate and balance the body, mind, and spirit. This is believed to help prevent illness and promote wellness.
  • Ayurvedic medicine uses a variety of products and techniques to cleanse the body and restore balance. Some of these products may be harmful if used improperly or without the direction of a trained practitioner. For example, some herbs can cause side effects or interact with conventional medicines. Before using Ayurvedic treatment, seek qualified Ayurvedic practitioner.
  • Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

Ayurvedic medicine, also called Ayurveda, originated in India several thousand years ago. The term “Ayurveda” combines the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (science or knowledge). Thus, Ayurveda means “the science of life.”

In the United States, Ayurvedic medicine is considered a type of CAM and a whole medical system. As with other such systems, it is based on theories of health and illness and on ways to prevent, manage, or treat health problems. In Australia Ayurvedic medicine comes under the complementary therapy.

Ayurvedic medicine aims to integrate and balance the body, mind, and spirit, thus, some view it as “holistic.” This balance is believed to lead to happiness and health, and to help prevent illness. Ayurvedic medicine also treats specific physical and mental health problems. A main aim of Ayurvedic practices is to cleanse the body of substances that can cause disease, thus helping to reestablish harmony and balance through using the Ayurvedic herbs, Ayurvedic Life style, Ayurvedic Detox treatment(Panchkarma Treatment),Yoga and Meditation.

Ayurvedic Medicine in India

Ayurvedic medicine, as practiced in India, is one of the oldest systems of medicine in the world. Many Ayurvedic practices predate written records and were handed down by word of mouth. Two ancient books, written in Sanskrit more than 2,000 years ago, are considered the main texts on Ayurvedic medicine—Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita. The texts describe eight branches of Ayurvedic medicine.

  • Kaya Chikitsa (Medicine)
  • Shalya Tantra (Surgery)
  • Shalakya Tantra (Ophthalmology& ENT)
  • Prasooti Tantra & Stri rog (Gynaecology & Obstetric)
  • Bal Roga(Paediatrics)
  • Agad Tantra & Vyavahar Ayurved (Jurisprudence & Toxicology)
  • Bhoot Vidya Or Grah (Science of Demonic Seizures Psychology)
  • Rasyana & Wajikaran Tantra (science of Rejuvenation & Aphrodisiacs)

Ayurvedic medicine continues to be practiced in India, where nearly 80 percent of the population uses it exclusively or combined with conventional (Western) medicine. It is also practiced in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Pakistan.

Underlying Concepts of Ayurveda:

Ayurvedic medicine has several key foundations that pertain to health and disease. These concepts have to do with universal interconnectedness, the body’s constitution (prakriti), and life forces (doshas) interconnectedness. Ideas about the relationships among people, their health, and the universe form the basis for how Ayurvedic practitioners think about problems that affect health. Ayurvedic medicine holds that:

  • All things in the universe (both living and nonliving) are joined together.
  • Every human being contains elements that can be found in the universe.
  • Health will be good if one’s mind and body are in harmony, and one’s interaction with the universe is natural and wholesome.
  • Disease arises when a person is out of harmony with the universe. Disruptions can be physical, emotional, spiritual, or a combination of these.

Ayurvedic Treatment:

  • Ayurvedic treatment is tailored to each person’s Constitution (prakriti). Ayurvedic medicine also has specific beliefs about the body’s constitution. Constitution refers to a person’s general health, the likelihood of becoming out of balance, and the ability to resist and recover from disease or other health problems.The constitution is called the prakriti. The prakriti is a person’s unique combination of physical and psychological characteristics and the way the body functions to maintain health. It is influenced by such factors as digestion and how the body deals with waste products. The prakriti is believed to be unchanged over a person’s lifetime.
  • Practitioners expect patients to be active participants because many Ayurvedic treatments require changes in diet, lifestyle, and habits.
  • The patient’s dosha balance: Ayurvedic practitioners first determine the patient’s primary dosha and the balance among the three doshas by:
  • Asking about diet, behavior, lifestyle practices, recent illnesses (including reasons and symptoms), and resilience (ability to recover quickly from illness or setbacks)
  • Observing such physical characteristics as teeth and tongue, skin, eyes, weight, and overall appearance

Treatment practices:

Ayurvedic treatment goals include eliminating impurities, reducing symptoms, increasing resistance to disease, and reducing worry and increasing harmony in the patient’s life. The practitioner uses a variety of methods to achieve these goals:

  • Eliminating impurities. A process called panchakarma is intended to cleanse the body by eliminating ama. Ama is described as an undigested food that sticks to tissues, interferes with normal functioning of the body, and leads to disease. Panchakarma focuses on eliminating ama through the digestive tract and the respiratory system. Enemas, massage, medical oils administered in a nasal spray, and other methods may be used.
  • Reducing symptoms: The practitioner may suggest various options, including physical exercises, stretching, breathing exercises, meditation, massage, lying in the sun, and changing the diet. The patient may take certain herbs—often with honey, to make them easier to digest. Sometimes diets are restricted to certain foods. Very small amounts of metal and mineral preparations, such as gold or iron, also may be given.
  • Increasing resistance to disease: The practitioner may combine several herbs, proteins, minerals, and vitamins in tonics to improve digestion and increase appetite and immunity. These tonics are based on formulas from ancient texts.
  • Reducing worry and increasing harmony: Ayurvedic medicine emphasizes mental nurturing and spiritual healing. Practitioners may recommend avoiding situations that cause worry and using techniques that promote release of negative emotions.
  • Use of plants: Ayurvedic treatments rely heavily on herbs and other plants—including oils and common spices. Currently, more than 600 herbal formulas and 250 single plant drugs are included in the “pharmacy” of Ayurvedic treatments. Historically, Ayurvedic medicine has grouped plant compounds into categories according to their effects (for example, healing, promoting vitality, or relieving pain). The compounds are described in texts issued by national medical agencies in India. Sometimes, botanicals are mixed with metals or other naturally occurring substances to make formulas prepared according to specific Ayurvedic text procedures; such preparations involve several herbs and herbal extracts and precise heat treatment.

Ayurvedic Medicine Use in the United States and Australia:

According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, which included a comprehensive survey of CAM use by Americans, more than 200,000 U.S. adults had used Ayurvedic medicine in the previous year. In Australia there is not any specific survey about the Ayurvedic medicine how many Australian using Ayurvedic Medicine but now the Australian show the more interest in the Ayurvedic Medicine since 2006 and Day By day Ayurvedic medicine are going more popular among the Australian. That is also true 2 in 3 Australian using complementary medicines each year.

Some Research on Global Level

Examples of NCCAM (National Center for the Complementary and Alternative Medicine) supported research on therapies used in Ayurvedic medicine includes studies of:

  • Herbal therapies, including curcuminoids (substances found in turmeric), used for cardiovascular conditions
  • A compound from the cowhage plant (Mucuna pruriens), used to prevent or lessen side effects from Parkinson’s disease.
  • Three botanicals (ginger, turmeric, and boswellia) used to treat inflammatory disorders such as arthritis and asthma
  • Gotu kola (Centella asiatica), an herb used to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

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