What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a whole-body (holistic)
system of medicine. It began in India more than 3,000 years ago. It takes a natural
approach to physical and mental health.
Ayurveda is based on the idea that
each person has certain life forces (doshas), and that everything in the universe is
connected. Any imbalance leads to disease. This approach uses lifestyle interventions
and natural treatments. These help to balance the body, mind, spirit, and environment.
Ayurveda is very focused on overall health. But treatments can be directed at certain
Treatment aims to get rid of
impurities, reduce symptoms, increase disease resistance, reduce stress, and create more
harmony in life. Herbs and other plants are often used. These include oils and common
Ayurvedic treatment starts with an internal cleansing (purification).
This is followed by a special diet, herbal medicines, massage therapy, yoga, and
In India, Ayurveda is considered
a medical system. It is equal to conventional Western medicine, traditional Chinese
medicine, naturopathic medicine, and homeopathic medicine. Ayurveda providers in
India go through state-recognized educational training.
Before working with any
Ayurvedic providers, check their training and background. Currently, Ayurvedic
providers are not licensed in the U.S. And there is no national standard for
Ayurvedic training or certification. But a few states have approved Ayurvedic
Is it safe?
Many Ayurvedic materials have
not been fully studied. Ayurvedic medicines are regulated as dietary supplements in
the U.S. They are not regulated as medicines. So they are not required to meet the
same safety standards as conventional medicines. Some Ayurvedic medicines contain
herbs, metals, minerals, or other materials. These can be harmful if not used
correctly. Some Ayurvedic medicines may also contain toxic materials. These include
lead, arsenic, and mercury. In addition, any herb, mineral, or metal used in this
type of treatment may work against Western medicines.
Talk with your healthcare
provider before using any Ayurvedic treatment. This is even more important if you:
Are pregnant or breastfeeding
Are thinking of using Ayurvedic therapy to treat a
Have ongoing health conditions
Are an older adult
Take prescription medicines
Any diagnosis of a disease or condition should be made by a healthcare provider
with conventional medical training. The provider should also have a lot of experience
managing that disease or condition.
Some studies show that Ayurveda
can have positive effects for certain conditions when used with standard,
conventional medical care. But it should not replace standard medical care. This is
even more important if you have a serious health condition. Or if you are from a
high-risk group such as those listed above.
Tell all of your healthcare providers (conventional or
complementary) about the health approaches, supplements, and medicines you use. This
will give them a full picture of your health. It will help ensure safe, effective,
and coordinated care.