Ayurveda which literally means Knowledge of life is probably the oldest (originated 5000 years ago) and definitely the most holistic medical system in today's world. This ageless science provides both curative and preventive measures towards physical, mental and spiritual well-being. More than being just a medical care, Ayurveda is a philosophy which helps one lead a long and healthy life. Over the years, Ayurveda which is considered to be a branch of the Atharva Veda has gained global popularity and has also been recognized by the World Health Organisation.
Kerala is considered to be the land of origin of Ayurveda and is perhaps the only place in India where this science still follows the traditional ways. Kerala's unparalleled wealth of herbs and natural vegetation and unique climatic proposition helps Kerala practitioners make their Ayurvedic formulations to superior effect. In short Ayurveda is Kerala is 'Gods own cure'.
Principles of Ayurveda
Basically, Ayurveda considers all living and non-living things in the universe as a combination of 5 elements called the Pancha Bhootas (Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space). These elements are present in the bodies of everything in different proportions but it is the spirit or soul that separates the living from the non-living. This spirit manifests in the human body as 3 subtle energies and it is the balance of these 3 energies that keeps the body healthy and in full vitality. It is the imbalance of these 3 energies due to internal and external causes that causes diseases. Ayurvedic treatment is aimed at regaining the balance and thereby rejuvenating the body and achieving the trinity of life- harmony of the body, mind and soul.
Ayurvedic systems function on the relationship of the body with the natural environment and the cosmos. Naturally, Ayurveda does not treat a disease; it treats the body as a whole to restore proper functioning. So the first step of treatment in Ayurveda is determining the constitution of the person being treated. Treatment systems may be both internal and external.
The best time for Ayurvedic treatment is said to be the monsoon time in Kerala i.e. during the months June to November. The idea is that the atmosphere will be dust free during this time thereby keeping the body pores open helping to properly absorb the herbal oils pasted in the body. The popular treatment is massage for both rejuvenation and healing purposes.
Ingredients in Ayurvedic Treatment
The desired effect of an Ayurvedic therapy depends heavily on the quality and purity of the herbs and other specific ingredients used for treatment. It is this quality of material that makes Kerala Ayurveda the most desirable. Combining the ingredients to balance out the aspects of body and mind without adversely affecting anything else is the challenge of Ayurvedic Doctors.
A few of the common ingredients in Ayurvedic therapy are - Thulasi (improves body defense mechanism), Aloe Vera (enhances mind power), Amla (Vitamin rich), Shrub called Ashwaganda (Stress buster), Triphala (for digestion), Asphaltum (Mineral rich), Pippali (longevity enhancer) and Neem (Detoxifier).
Treatment programmes in Ayurveda
Revitalization / Rejuvenation:
Ayurveda is popularly used for revitalization. Revitalizing treatments include medicated steam baths, herbal massages, correction of breathing techniques and the intake of Ayurvedic powders and juices. Anti-ageing remedies, slimming packages, Body Sudation and beauty treatments, along with meditation and yoga are among the favorite packages of exhausted visitors flowing into Kerala from all over the world. Panchakarma, A five fold treatment for mental and physical well-being which tunes body, organs, mind and breath and purifies blood is also very popular over here.
Therapeutic Ayurveda treats a vast spectrum of ailments, from gynecological problems to rheumatic diseases and nervous disorder to haemophilia. Ayurveda treatment centres on treating the entire body, both externally and internally.