Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the word Ayurveda has been echoing in the wind. People are aware that such a science exists, but at the same time there is a cloud of doubt that surrounds it. What is the basis of this science? Is there any evidence to show that it works? With the unknown, come a lot of myths. Let us address the elephant in the room to understand the background of this science better.
These are a few common myths related to Ayurveda:
This myth is the first one that needs to be addressed. Anything that has an effect can and will have a side effect too, in case the prescribed medicines or therapies are not followed in an appropriate manner.
Even amruta (nectar) in excess can become a visha (poison), and a visha (poison) appropriately used can become amruta (nectar).
Ayurveda is basically ‘naatu vaidyam’ or has no recorded knowledge. There are two streams of Ayurveda that can be identified, one is the knowledge that has been passed down by word of mouth through generations in the form of familial traditions such as using simple ingredients available in the kitchen for common health problems.
The second branch is the codified knowledge that is documented in the Samhitas (manuscripts). This knowledge explained in the form of basic principles is very much relevant in the present day, and boasts 5000 years of history. Both these streams augment and support each other.
Ayurveda, in essence, means the science of life or longevity. The principles that have been explained in it are practices that most of us follow on a daily basis without realizing why. For example, the simplest principle such as ‘Brahme muhurta uttishta’. It means a person should try to get up at the same time early in the morning. We know the relevance that this helps in setting the circadian rhythm. Similarly, danta dhavana or brushing your teeth or snana or having a bath.
The trayupasthambha or three pillars that support the body are described to be ahara (food), nidra (sleep), and brahmacharya (activities that are beneficial to health). When we think about it, one-third of our life is spent sleeping, and the rest of the two-thirds between eating and performing various activities.
There are eight branches of Ayurveda that deal with specific ailments of different age groups as well as specialties.
Most people think that Ayurveda can only treat chronic disorders related to orthopedic or skin-related ailments. The fact is Ayurveda has eight branches that deal with specific ailments. Just to mention a few, kaya chikitsa (general medicine), shalya (Surgery) that deals with conditions of fractures, hemorrhoids, wound management, kaumarabhritya (pediatrics, obstetrics, and gynecology) that deals with special children with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, learning disorders, care of newborn, common disorders such as constipation, diarrhea, allergic rhinitis in young children as well as regimens are described for the pregnant woman, disorders such as infertility, PCOS, etc, agada tantra (toxicology), shalakya (ENT, eye, teeth disorders) and so on.
When a person is healthy, there is no restriction on the food they can consume. In fact, it is advisable for a person to have different food groups based on their prakruti that contains all the six tastes. When there is an imbalance in the body resulting in diseases certain foods would have to be restricted based on the imbalance, as diet plays a major role in the context of health as well as disease.
There are no shortcuts to any treatments. One needs to have the virtue of patience while following any treatment. There are no instant results for any ailments be it mild or severe. Though in terms of treatment, Ayurveda might take longer but unlike other treatments, it works on the root cause of the ailment rather than the symptoms.
Nowadays any product that is said to contain Ayurveda herbs holds a lot of value. But care needs to be taken to see that these suit a particular person before utilising them. As the famous saying goes, ‘Old Is Gold’, Ayurveda has always stood strong even during troubled times, and has improved the quality of life of many who had lost hope.
It has helped many rejuvenate themselves and find answers to many unanswered questions.