Ayurvedic medicine as a holistic health system

Ayurveda is much more than wellness massage - this should have got around among experts by now. For good reason, there is now a course of study at the European Academy of Ayurveda for a Master of Science in Ayurvedic Medicine. But it is also much more than medicine, which often only intervenes when damage has already occurred. Therefore, in the following we want to illuminate the health resources from an Ayurvedic point of view.

Ayurvedic medicine Tribhuvanakirti ginger

At the heart of Ayurvedic health education is conscious perception, sensitivity to the many influences that promote or disturb the balance of life forces. No general rules can be established for this, as there are always new combinations of influences. The basis of conscious perception is the development of self-knowledge and openness to external and internal processes. A variety of methods have been developed for this purpose, which can be used in daily life. All activities of life should have the right measure, which again is not defined in general by the Ayurvedic doctors, but always with regard to the individual person and his current situation. Thus, in eating, the right amount is that which one can consume without feeling heavy and burdened. This can change in an individual person within a few hours, e.g. the digestive capacity can be drastically reduced due to stress and tension or emotional strain.

Salutogenetic resources and measures from the perspective of Ayurveda

Ayurveda also sees itself as a health system that wants to help people avoid getting sick in the first place. The Sanskrit term for health is svasthya, literally translated this means "resting in the self". Health in this sense is a functioning self-reference, a situation in which the person knows himself to be in harmony with himself. This includes a knowledge of one's own constitution with its strengths and weaknesses and the affirmation of this individual being. Important dimensions of Ayurvedic health education are:

  1. Lebensrhythmus

    Man does not live in isolation, but is embedded in the rhythms of nature, especially day and night and the seasons. Today we know that many organ functions are controlled circadian, which should actually be considered in the lifestyle.

  2. Bejahung des eigenen Körpers

    Ayurveda recommends daily self-massage, which refreshes and invigorates the body and leads to a positive relationship with one's own body.

  3. Bejahnung der Körperfunktionen

    From the Ayurvedic point of view, it is very detrimental to health if natural bodily functions are suppressed, these include in particular excretion (faeces, urine, semen, vomiting), yawning, belching, hunger and thirst, crying, sleeping and the need to breathe intensely. The basic principle here is to let nature take its course.

  4. Entwicklung eines positiven Lebensgefühls und Förderung des Gleichgewichts

    A variety of measures belong to this sphere: Use of collyrium for the eyes, inhaling fragrant incense, cleansing the body, including especially the tongue, gargling with oil, massaging the scalp and ears with oil, oil massage of the whole body (including the feet), bathing, wearing clean clothes and garlands of flowers, wearing gems and jewelry, caring for the hair, beard, and nails, using appropriate footwear, and sunscreen.

  5. Ernährung

    A healthy diet is always a type-appropriate diet that is varied, fresh and tasty. Since it accommodates the inclinations of the individual, it requires basically no overcoming and effort to implement it in everyday life. "The tongue is the best Ayurvedic doctor," ancient texts say in this regard. In addition, there is the development of a culture of eating, which includes the conscious tasting and enjoying of food in pleasant surroundings.

  6. Körperliche Aktivität

    Here, the specific view of Ayurveda, which is concerned with the right measure in all areas of life, becomes particularly clear. Physical activity is basically seen positively and recommended, it serves to develop endurance and strength. The effects of regular exercise are: "ease, ability to perform one's duties, perseverance, ability to respond appropriately to difficult situations, reduction of imbalances in the vital forces, and a boost to the digestive fire." (Caraka Samhita 1.7.32) At the same time, the classical texts warn intensely against over-exertion, as this can lead to unpleasant symptoms such as exhaustion, fatigue, circulatory problems or fever.

  7. Entspannung

    Many activities of daily life lead to tension and cramping, which are the precursors of manifest diseases. Besides the already mentioned self-massage, Ayurveda recommends the breathing and physical exercises of yoga.

  8. Entgiftung und Entschlackung

    From the Ayurvedic point of view, many health disorders are caused by deposits of metabolic products that have not been fully processed or excreted. Therefore, it is recommended to make use of spa treatments on a regular basis. The aim of these treatments is to regenerate and cleanse the body. The so-called "Pancakarma treatment" includes massages, heat applications, taking herbal extracts, diet and other measures and is used both preventively and curatively.

  9. Vitalisierung

    Ayurveda knows special formulations and pharmaceutical preparations which are primarily not used for therapy, but for strengthening and keeping young.

  10. Meditation

    The human image of Ayurveda assumes that the personality core of each person is free from disease. This self is the source of all life energy. Meditative processes open the access to the inner source of power, promote conscious perception, develop relaxation, serenity and inner stability and also physiologically lead to the activation of regeneration mechanisms. Therefore meditation should be a natural part of daily life. The lively inner reference to oneself serves at the same time as a catalyst for many other health-promoting behaviours and promotes self-motivation.

Professional articles on Ayurvedic medicine

Our Ayurveda experts share their knowledge

Development and regional adaptation of the Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia

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Evaluation of Ayurvedic treatments based on multiple formulations

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Value and benefits of Ayurveda in geriatrics

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Ayurvedic strategies for skin inflammation

Does Ayurvedic medicine offer treatment alternatives to cortisone therapy for skin eczema? Review of two studies at Gujarat Ayurved University by Marco Lebbing, Ayurvedic and general practitioner.

Ayurvedic treatment of hay fever

Marco Lebbing, specialist for general medicine and medical Ayurveda specialist, has critically examined two scientific studies from India on behalf of the REAA. The subject was the effectiveness of Ayurvedic therapies for allergic rhinitis.

Ayurveda for mother and child

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Possibilities and limits of Ayurvedic oncology

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Native plants according to Ayurvedic criteria

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Reflections on the ayurvedic rasayana concept

rasayana therapies in Ayurveda are supposed to keep people healthy and fit until old age. Can this work? What are the prerequisites for this? Observations by alternative practitioner Oliver Becker on the dream of eternal youth.

Understanding the Doshas

Elmar Stapelfeldt describes the three doshas vata, pitta and kapha and what they mean.