Four ways Ayurvedic Medicine is different to Western Medicine
While Ayurvedic medicine as a health system is over 5000 years old, Ayurveda as part of the health landscape in Australia and the rest of the western world is still a relatively new concept, though gaining in popularity and understanding all the time. If you had mentioned that you were visiting an Ayurvedic doctor back in the year 2000, chances are good you would have been met with a blank look. Fast forward to 2016 and Ayurvedic medicine is now firm fixture in the complementary therapies field.
In 2015, the National Institute of Complementary Medicine estimated that two in three Australians use complementary medicines each year and spend almost four times as much on out-of-pocket expenses for these medicines as on pharmaceuticals. It’s a huge increase in interest and investment for the average Aussie. Why the huge increase in individuals seeking a different approach to health? Here at the Ayurvedic Wellness Centre Bondi Junction we believe that interest is sparked when effective treatment through Western medicine has not been forthcoming. We often see clients who have tried everything that western medicine has to offer to find relief for their health conditions but have been left frustrated and still not in optimum health. Ayurvedic medicine offers an alternative and perhaps most exciting, hope that true wellness can be attained.
So how does Ayurveda differ to western medicine and how can it help you to attain optimum health and wellness? We’ve identified 4 key areas where the two health systems take different paths.
- The definition of true health and wellness – The belief in true and lasting wellness is one of the core differences between Ayurvedic medicine and its western counterpart. Ayurveda quite literally means ‘the science of life’ and has evolved into a holistic system of healing that seeks to return balance, wholeness and harmony to the body and mind. The primary objective of Ayurveda is the preservation of health and prevention of disease whereas western medicine addresses and seeks to eradicate the symptoms of disease after it has already occurred.
- The cause of disease – One of the most predominant differences in the two health systems in the concept of the ‘dosha’ or bioenergy and its role in disease. In Ayurvedic medicine, your dosha and keeping it in balance is of critical importance to long-term health. According to Ayurvedic beliefs, your dosha is as individual as your fingerprint. Each person has a distinct pattern of energy which involves the three doshas; vata, pitta and kapha. Everyone has a combination of vata, pitta and kapha but one or two are generally dominant. When our doshas are in perfect balance, we are healthy. When the energy balance is disturbed, disease and illness appears. Ayurvedic medicine prescribes treatments to bring the doshas back into balance. This is a very different approach to western medicine, which views disease as a breakdown of the bodily systems and devises treatment based on that perspective.
- The treatment protocol – The majority of us have visited a GP or specialist to seek health and advice for treating a medical condition. The usual procedure involves a consult with the doctor where you outline your symptoms and they perform a number of checks/tests, all based upon what you are telling them about your illness. For example if you present with a fever, the doctor will take your temperature, check your ears and discuss your symptoms with you. You will then leave with a prescription to treat the fever. That prescription may involve analgesics or antibiotics and may be exactly the same as the one given to the next person in the queue who presents with similar symptoms. An Ayurvedic medicine consult is a very different experience. The Ayurvedic doctor will take a detailed medical history, check your pulse and abdomen, examine your tongue, eyes, nails and skin and discuss your diet, sleeping habits and stress levels to identify the root cause of the fever. A customised treatment plan is then designed specifically for you to restore balance and alleviate your symptoms by going to the root cause of the problem.
- A lifestyle overhaul – Although awareness is growing in western medicine as to the role of diet and lifestyle in health and disease management, it’s not always an important consideration when treating illness. What you eat and how you live are often considered ‘second tier’ considerations that can be addressed once the illness or disease is under control. Ayurvedic medicine takes the opposite approach and considers diet and lifestyle as critical to disease prevention and illness management. It is not unusual to leave a consult with an Ayurvedic doctor armed not only with a prescription for specifically prepared herbal remedies but also with a list of lifestyle modifications to implement. These may include an adjustment in daily routine, diet modifications and recommendations for massage and other treatments to restore balance to your doshas and in turn, health to your system.