Ayurveda and Western Medicine: Friend or Foe?

Thought to be the foundation of all the great healing systems throughout the world, Ayurveda is known as the ‘mother of all medicine’. This ancient health care system has stood the test of time since its development over 7,000 years ago in India.

The word ‘Ayurveda’ is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘science of life and longevity’. It is

  • A natural approach to creating balance and strengthening the body’s own healing abilities;
  • A lifestyle as well as a philosophy; and
  • Different to western medicine in that it’s a completely holistic health care system; simultaneously working on body, mind, and soul.

Ayurveda: The Way to Restore Harmony

The goal of Ayurveda is to eliminate all diseases by restoring harmony to the body. The treatments used are natural, to create balance and strengthen the body’s natural healing abilities. Ayurveda can cure sick people; prevent illness and assist the average person to enjoy a better quality of life.

Ayurveda and Modern Medicine

Western medicine and Ayurveda are not in competition with each other. Often Ayurvedic medicine is the key to perfect health and at other times western medicine is totally appropriate, such as in acute or emergency situations. When treating chronic conditions, Ayurvedic herbal medicine has demonstrated greater effectiveness than western medicine.  Ayurveda works well when combined with western medicine to strengthen an individual so they are less affected by sickness, and to rebalance the body after receiving long term treatment of drugs or surgery.

What Is the Difference Between Ayurvedic and Conventional Medicine?

Ayurveda is a complete medicine system which includes a healing system, a philosophy, and a way of life. Ayurveda focuses on the cause and not just the symptoms, unlike conventional medicine. Ayurvedic treatments do not produce the damaging side effects as experienced due to western pharmaceuticals. For example, most people are aware of the dangers of antibiotics – one single course of treatment can destroy the body’s tissues and weaken their natural function. Conventional medicines produce harmful effects and toxins while attempting to treat the symptoms of an illness. Alternatively, Ayurvedic medicine goes deeper to the cause of the illness, while also rejuvenating and nourishing the body.

The Ayurvedic Philosophy

The main tenet of Ayurveda is the concept of the three Doshas. In Ayurveda, all life is created from five elements contained within the three primary energies, or doshas: Kapha (water and earth), Pitta (fire), and Vata (space and air). This is an Ayurvedic law known as ‘The PanchaMahabuthas’.

The three doshas have the following roles:

  1. KaphaWater and Earth. Kapha controls and regulates all constructive activities within our body.
  2. PittaFire. Pitta takes care of all bio-chemical activities within our human body and manages the effective force of digestion
  3. VataSpace and Air. Vata is responsible for movement and sensory related activities; in addition to working as the communicative driving force.

All people, according to Ayurveda, are divided into three main constitutional groups – KaphaPitta, and Vata. Each individual contains all three of these doshas, however one will become more dominant than the other two, resulting in the individual being placed in that constitutional group.

The doshas are always interacting and changing, but symptoms start arising when the doshas become unbalanced with each other.  If we don’t take action to restore this balance then the symptoms will increase, ultimately developing into the stages of illness. This is why Ayurveda is involved in prevention just as much as it is with cure – our aim is to assist people in treating their diseases and to maintain their good health.