Ayurvedic Medicine in Kerala

Everything You Need to Know About Ayurvedic Medicine

Ayurveda is an ancient holistic medical science that originated about 3000 years ago and still prevails worldwide. 

But do you know the basic principles of Ayurveda and Ayurvedic medicines?

You might be in a world of myths about the side effects, presence of heavy metals, slow action etc., Right?

After reading this blog, you will get the right answers to all your questions about Ayurvedic Medicine.

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    What is ayurvedic medicine?

    The word “Ayurveda” is derived from the Sanskrit word, which means “science of life.” 

    The objective of Ayurveda is to cure the diseases of a patient and to maintain and promote the health of a healthy person by:

    • Curative healthcare- cure for specific diseases &
    • Preventive healthcare –wellness

    Ayurveda aims to find the root cause of a disease and then uproot it completely from the patient.

    When a person is stressed out, they’re likely to develop the disease. 

    Ayurveda focuses on incorporating lifestyle changes and natural treatments, therapies and remedies to provide balance to your physical body, mind, and spirit with the world around you.

    Ayurveda is based upon 3 basic fundamental principles, namely, the Panchabhuta Siddhanta (stating the human body as a miniature of the universe), the bodily constitution (Prakriti), and life forces (doshas).

    Ayurveda describes the three Doshas as the driving forces. 

    Doshas represent groups of physiological activities going on continuously in the body. 

    The Doshic status of each person differs according to the Prakriti or the body constitution.

    Successful treatment helps eliminate impurities, reduce symptoms, increase disease resistance, reduce worry, and increase harmony in life.

    Herbs and other plants, including oils, are used extensively in Ayurvedic treatment. 

    How do Ayurveda medicines work in our body?

    Ayurveda is based on “Tridosha Siddhanta”, tridoshas being the Vata, Pitta and Kapha and works in normalizing these doshas as an imbalance in doshas is the primary cause of diseases. 

    Ayurveda believes in the natural healing method and works to eradicate diseases from the root cause itself.

    Ayurvedic medicines provide symptomatic relief and help the person’s whole body align with good health.

     It also nourishes the sapta dhatus (7 tissues that form the body’s structural unit, namely Rasa, rakta, Mansa,medas, asthi, majja, and sukra), thereby maintaining health. 

    These natural herbal formulations help sustain the body’s metabolism, prevent toxin formation, and help keep the Dosha levels under control. 

    So, all health problems are addressed by examining the aggravated Doshas, which helps bring them back to their normalcy. To maintain good health, Ayurvedic medicines are not sufficient. 

    One should also incorporate lifestyle changes and realign the diet to prevent Dosha aggravation. 

    According to Ayurveda, an active body, a stress-free mind, good sleep, regular meals, and fresh and wholesome food are integral to health. 

    What are the different types of ayurvedic medicines?

    Of all the medical systems prevalent today, Ayurvedic medicine arguably has the widest array of formulations for introducing medicine into a patient’s body. 

    Common forms of Ayurveda Medicine are:

    1.Svarasa (juice extracts)

    The plant parts such as leaf, stem, fruit or whole plant are cut into pieces and crushed to form a bolus which is mechanically squeezed to extract as much juice as possible. As it is freshly prepared, these are not available over the counter.

    2.Kashaya or kwatha (decoctions)

    Kashaya or Kwatha is the most widely used category of Ayurveda medicines. They are mostly used for internal administration. 

    It is prepared by boiling 1 part of herbs in 16 parts of water, which is reduced to 1/8th of the liquid. 

    This process extracts the water-soluble active ingredients. 

    Most of the herbs contain water-soluble active principles. 

    Hence Kashayam is one of the best formulations to receive the maximum benefits of these herbs. 

    3. Arishtam and Asavam (fermented liquids)

    Arishtam and Asavams are other popular pharmaceutical forms in use.

    They contain self-generated alcohol from the flowers of Dhataki (Woodfordia fruticosa), which acts as a medium for all alcohol soluble components in herbs to get extracted into the formulation. 

    Most fermented liquid preparations contain around 5-10% alcohol, which is a safe value. 

    4.Churnam (powders)

    Churṇaṃs are fine powder forms of drugs. The ingredients are well cleaned, dried and mechanically powdered. 

    The finer the powder, the therapeutic value will be better.

    5.Gutika or Vati (tablets)

    They are specialized medicinal preparations in the form of tablets or pills. A powder formulation is often added with a natural binding agent like Guggul (Commiphora Mukul) exudate.

    6. Avaleham (herbal jam)

    Avaleham or lehyam is a semi-solid preparation of Herbal confectionery. 

    These are prepared with jaggery, sugar or sugar candy as the base and boiled with prescribed drug juices or decoction till it becomes thick like a confectionery. 

    Honey, if required, is added at the end when the preparation is cool enough. Avalehas is often rejuvenating and comparatively more palatable.

    7. Ghritam (ghee)

    A unique and versatile preparation where ghee, preferably cows ghee, is processed with Herbs.

    Internally when consumed, it enters into the systemic circulation and has the potential to cross the blood-brain barrier and thereby stimulate the Central Nervous System. 

    It diffuses locally into the body’s soft tissues and produces the desired therapeutic action on external application.

    8.Tailam (medicated oils)

    Medicated oils are prepared by processing them with prescribed decoctions and pastes of drugs in oils like sesame oil, castor oil, coconut oil etc.,

    9. Arka (distilled liquids)

    It is a unique liquid preparation obtained by distillation of certain liquids or drugs soaked in water using a steam distillation apparatus in Ayurveda called Arka yantra.

    These are the main Ayurvedic medicines.

    All the above medicines are effectively incorporated into the Ayurvedic treatments in Kerala

    What are the ingredients used for Ayurvedic medicines?

    Ayurveda is not purely herbal. Ayurveda uses both herbal and mineral preparations.

    Mineral preparations are most effective and are used after thorough purification procedures.

    So they are completely safe but strictly under the prescribed dosage.

    What are the ingredients used for Herbal oils?

    Herbal oils are prepared with coconut oil, sesame oil, castor oil and other medicinal seed oils. It is added with herbs according to the desired therapeutic effect.

    What are the benefits of ayurvedic medicines?

    Ayurvedic remedies and treatments are based on ancient knowledge and contain natural ingredients, which can easily incorporate into our daily routine (Dincharya). 

    Since ancient times, Ayurvedic treatments and herbal remedies have been used by people in different forms, like herbs, oils, pills, powders (churna), balms, eye drops, and many more. 

    These herbal remedies are easy to access, hassle-free, and thus can be adapted by any individual, making them the ultimate form of self-care to cope with our stressful modern lifestyles.

     Moreover, Ayurvedic medicines offer lesser side effects when compared to allopathic systems of medicine.

    Are there any side effects of ayurvedic medicines?

    Ayurveda has lesser side effects. 

    However, one can consume to the prescribed dosage and form. 

    Some may experience side effects depending upon their body constitution. 

    If so, Contact your Ayurvedic doctor immediately and discard the medicine.

    Always try to buy authentic medicines for the best results.

    Does ayurvedic medicine contain heavy metals?

    Ayurvedic mineral preparations contain heavy metals, which are used only after many purification procedures. 

    Mineral preparations are prescribed in low dosages, so they will not cause any harm to you. 

    Heavy metals, including mercury, are very effective in curing diseases and possess faster action than herbal formulations.

    Does Ayurvedic medicine Contain Steroids?

    Plants contain naturally occurring phytosterols that are not harmful to the body. 

    They possess a lot of therapeutic values. Ayurvedic formulations, too, contain those phytosterols. 

    But usually, it does not contain any potentially harmful added steroids.

    As adulteration is common in every field, Always buy medicines from a GMP-certified company.

    Does Ayurvedic medicine Contain alcohol?

    Not all preparations contain alcohol.

    Asanas and arishta contain self-generated alcohol from the flowers of Dhataki (Woodfordia fruticosa), which possess therapeutic values.

    Both can be consumed accordingly as prescribed by an ayurvedic physician.

    Do ayurvedic medicines cause fatty liver, or does it damage the liver?

    There are a lot of debates and research going on regarding this topic.

    Some allopathic physicians claim that liver damage has been caused due to the consumption of ayurvedic medicines. 

    But this cannot be completely true as they have not considered other factors of the subjects like diet, lifestyle, other pre-existing diseases etc., in the study. 

    These factors, too, matter in developing liver disorders. 

    People should also be responsible for caring for their health, not merely the physicians. 

    Some people may ignore the previous diseases and fail to disclose them to the physician, leading to wrong interpretations, medications, and other diseases. Ultimately it ends with blaming Ayurveda.

    Does ayurvedic medicine damage the kidney?

    Blaming of Ayurvedic medicines continues as long as it exists as a threat to the allopathic systems. 

    Heavy metals, when used in medicines, are completely purified and have undergone several clinical trials before introducing to patients. 

    The only way is to avoid adulterated products, buy medicines from a GMP-certified company, and consume them strictly under medical supervision.

    What are the dos and don’ts while taking ayurvedic medicine?

    It depends on the disease condition and varies from person to person. The general do’s and don’ts while taking Ayurvedic medicines include the following –

    Do’s while taking Ayurvedic medicines:

    • One should take food timely and properly.
    • One should respect our elders, teachers and older people.
    • One should bathe two times a day.
    • One should cut hairs and nails at least three times a fortnight ( 15 days).
    • Keep your feet and all bodily openings clean.
    • Wear neat and clean clothes.

    Don’ts while taking Ayurvedic medicines:

    • One should never suppress natural urges such as urination, defecation, sneezing, coughing, hiccough, flatulence, yawning, hunger, thirst and sleep.
    • One should never apply a face pack at night.
    • One should not go over exercise.
    • One should not excessively indulge in sexual intercourse.
    • One should incorporate all tastes (sweet, salt, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent) in food every day.
    • One should not live in the company of aggressive people, make fun of others, be greedy, shameless, etc.
    • Don’t make excessive or improper use of sense organs (excessive use of the eye while playing on the computer, not seeing from a proper distance).
    • Not sleeping till late at night.
    • Don’t speak very loudly.

    Why is a regimen important while taking ayurvedic medicines?

    Pathya vyavastha in treatment mainly emphasizes diet, activity, habits, and the mind’s and body’s emotional status. 

    Ayurveda considers food as the most important pillar (food, sleep, brahmacharya) of life. 

    Hence, a proper diet should be followed, which is essential for good health and healthy body functions. 

    Pathya vyavastha is mainly based on different diseases. 

    It is done to enhance the therapeutic effect of diet, which stimulates the digestive capacity, and helps digestion and assimilation of food.

    Can we have ayurvedic medicine without consulting an ayurvedic physician?

    Are you one among the group of self-medicators? 

    Do you consider ayurvedic medicines to be simplistic? 

    Many think that herbs available in the backyard can treat diseases. 

    It would help if you stayed away from this as it can harm you, whether the medical system is Ayurveda, homoeopathy, or allopathy.

     In Ayurveda, there is no generalized treatment protocol. 

    Everything is based upon the individual. 

    Doctors prescribe medicine considering certain factors. So without considering those factors, you cannot choose the right medicine for your disease.

    Is it compulsory to avoid non-vegetarian food during ayurvedic medication?

    One common myth about Ayurveda is that it is a vegetarian system. 

    So here is your mythbuster

    .Non-vegetarian foods are recommended in Ayurveda according to the patient’s digestive capacity and other conditions. 

    Certain Ayurvedic formulations contain meat as the key ingredient. 

    If your condition is unsuitable for a non-vegetarian diet, you must avoid it to achieve the desired effect.

    Can we stop ayurvedic medicine without completing a course and then restart after a break?

    You are not supposed to stop the medicines blindly. 

    As Ayurveda is much more personalized, you have to consult your physician so that he can assess your condition and advise accordingly. 

    Also, you should not continue the medicines for longer without consulting the doctor at prescribed intervals, as this can cause side effects.

    Can we determine the dose of ayurvedic medicine Ourselves?

    No, Don’t be a quack.. consult your physician and consume as prescribed. Overdose and lower doses are equally harmful to you. 

    When an overdose causes side effects, lower doses will not bring you the desired effect.

    What are the problems of overdoses of Ayurvedic medicines?

    Well, Overdose, be it Ayurveda or any other system of medicine, is harmful.

    Does Ayurveda consider food as medicine?

    Food is considered one of the three pillars of life according to Ayurveda. 

    Hence, a proper diet is essential for good health and healthy body activities. Several Acharyas have quoted the importance of food and the rules for consuming it, which helps us to stay disease free. 

    Most health problems arise due to bad eating habits and improper cooking. One must consume the diet appropriate to him in all aspects, and any deviation from this may cause diseases. 

    In addition, wrong cooking procedures, irregular timing, consuming imbalanced and non-congenial food and not following the prescribed rules of preparing, preserving and eating food may also be the reason for an imbalance in health. 

    Therefore, consider all aspects of diet- planning during treating diseases and maintaining health, according to Ayurveda.

    Can We make ayurvedic medicines and oils at home?

    Yes, but you should know the amount of ingredients to be added and the most important part being the consistency of that formulation.

     Most often, people prepare hair oil in their homes. 

    But some may experience an increase in hair fall, headache, sinusitis, body pain and other problems due to the wrong consistency of the prepared oil. 

    So before preparing, make sure you have enough knowledge about it.

    How to keep Ayurvedic medicines at home?

    Store in a moist free, dark and dry place, away from direct sunlight. As natural sunlight can evaporate preparations like Arka(distilled form), also it can destroy the active principles in kashaya or kwatha. 

    Churns are hygroscopic (absorb moisture) in nature. So please keep it away from cool places. 

    Also, please keep it away from the reach of children.

    Is it safe to keep ayurvedic medicine in the refrigerator?

    No, Ayurveda strictly disregards the use of cold, dry and reheated foods. 

    Intake of such foods can harm the body as it can accumulate metabolic toxins (ama). 

    These toxins can further lead to diseases. 

    Moreover, It can destroy that formulation’s active principles and medicinal value.

    Can ayurvedic medicines be used along with allopathic medicines?

    Yes, Ayurvedic medicines usually do not react with allopathic medicines. Consult your doctor for further specifications. 

    Is Ayurvedic medicine safe for infants?

    Bala Chikitsa (Kaumarbhritya), a specialized branch of Ayurveda for children, mentions the use of Ayurvedic medicines to treat and prevent ailments in children while they are still in the uterus. 

    However, the unguided use of ayurvedic medicines can cause several side effects. Thus, consult a certified Ayurvedic expert to ensure safe and effective treatment of your child.

    How to give ayurvedic medicine to kids under one year old?

    A variety of factors are considered before determining the dosage. 

    Your physician determines the dosage that suits your disease condition and other bodily factors. 

    Among all the Ayurvedic preparations, Arka is the most palatable form and is easily consumed by kids.

    Dosage of some commonly used formulations among infants

    • Arishta and asava – 7.5 ml
    • Churna – 2.5 gm
    • Ghrita – 2.5 ml
    • Arka – 5 drops

    Is ayurvedic medicine safe during pregnancy?

    Pregnancy is a time that requires utmost care.

    Women are recommended to follow certain herbal remedies. 

    But is it safe to consume those medicines?

    Well, not all ayurvedic medicines are safe during pregnancy. Certain medicines you are prescribed, especially for maintaining pregnancy and a healthy baby. 

    Always contact an ayurvedic gynaecologist before consuming any medicines.

    Does Ayurvedic medicine Cause Acidity?

    Are you troubled with Acidity? 

    But not due to the ayurvedic medicines prescribed by your doctor. Ayurvedic medicines may cause Acidity if consumed in excess doses or due to self medications. 

    Your ayurvedic physician always prescribes the medicines after considering several physical factors. 

    So there will not be any chance of Acidity or other side effects.

    Does Ayurvedic medicine Cause Weight gain?

    Many of us have come to hate ghee.

    They have come to believe that ghee is fattening, kills the appetite and causes cholesterol. Seriously?! 

    Well, here is an attempt to mend your relationship with ghee. 

    Like all other fats, ghee is also found to raise cholesterol levels. 

    But contrary to the existing popular beliefs, ghee is a lot safer when compared to refined oils. Pure ghee is the lightest lipid. It is lighter when compared to any other fat or oil. Small amounts help to kindle the digestive fire and enhance digestion. 

    A Small amount of ghee should be consumed daily as a source of saturated fat. Studies have shown that ghee is good for lowering bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol.

    Can Ayurvedic medicines be taken during chemotherapy?

    Cancer treatment ultimately makes a person suffer from its side effects.

     Let’s reduce the side effects by following Ayurvedic therapies, especially rejuvenating ones, as chemotherapy drugs and radiotherapy are highly toxic and can damage nearby healthy cells and tissues. 

    Side effects may be acute (occurring within a few weeks after therapy), intermediate or late (occurring months or years after the therapy).

    Some major side effects of chemotherapy are 

    • nausea, 
    • vomiting,
    • diarrhoea, 
    • mucositis,
    •  alopecia, 
    • constipation etc

    Integrated treatment with herbo-mineral and metallic Ayurvedic drugs appears to significantly decrease the toxic side effects of chemotherapy drugs among cancer patients. 

    Ayurvedic treatment should be commenced simultaneously from the beginning of chemotherapy to experience the desired effect. 

    Ayurvedic medicines that have Rasayana (rejuvenating) are particularly used in this treatment. It helps in replenishing and regenerating the cells and tissues.

    Facts and myths about ayurvedic medicines

    Do you think Ayurveda works in Slow-Motion’? Really!?

    In Ayurveda, you are an integral part of healing. 

    You are not a ‘subject’. You have to contribute to your health and wellness actively. 

    Very often, people seek the help of Ayurveda when everything else has failed, and by that time, the condition may have become extremely complex to manage. 

    Yet, the results that Ayurveda delivers even at those stages are astonishing. 

    So imagine how fast it will be when you make the Ayurvedic system of medicine your primary healthcare system. 

    Ayurveda has a clear-cut projection of how quickly and effectively a disease can get cured. 

    Conclusion

    Basically, in Ayurveda, the promotion of health and prevention of diseases is given more importance than the treatment of the diseases. 

    Food (Ahara) is considered the most important in maintaining health. 

    Following the dietary rules can give you satisfactory results.

    The ayurvedic system of medicine is comparatively safe and can be used to reduce morbidity and mortality considerably. 

    Most often, the myths are driving people away from Ayurveda.

     Much research is conducted in these fields to enlighten the people and clarify these myths. Ayurveda can bring out wonderful results if it is followed in the right way and under medical supervision.

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