Ayurveda: The Key to a Vital Life
A new wave of natural, health-oriented trends have surfaced and taken over the world of medicine. From cancer-curing diets to keto lattes to homeopathy, there is an ever-growing interest in alternative and natural medicine, and why is this?
The National Cancer Institute defines western medicine as being "a system in which medical doctors and other healthcare professionals...treat symptoms and diseases using drugs, radiation, or surgery." In other words, if you need an arm amputated or a quick fix for a stomach bug, western medicine is where it's at. However, if you want to reduce inflammation in the body to heal your arthritis, or if you want to take preventative methods against thyroid disease which runs in your family, or if your anxiety is affecting you digestive health, western medicine ain't got you.
In the (often religious-like) devotion to western medicine and pharmaceutical cure-alls, we have neglected what it really means to be healthy and thriving. A magical pill made in a lab somewhere won't cut it. We have forgotten two things:
1. Human beings are complex, holistic beings. One ailment does not appear without other parts of the body being affected. Acne is a perfect example of this. If you go to a conventional doctor to get rid of your acne, they may put you on antibiotics, birth control, or topical solutions to manage the blemishes. While this approach may temporarily eliminate the symptom of acne (don't even get me started on the negative side effects of these "easy fixes"), it neglects to recognize acne as a warning sign for a larger issue. Hormonal imbalances, nutrient deficiencies, toxicity, or food allergies can all continue wreaking havoc within the body if acne is treated alone. Treating the body as a holistic, complex organism would not just get rid of the acne but also the underlying issues within the various bodily systems before they can cause other, more serious ailments.
2. The mind and body are deeply intertwined. This is something many ancient medicinal systems understood, and anyone who has had a panic attack will also attest to. During a panic attack, your mind may be racing through anxious thoughts, but a lot of other biological things are happening in the body. Your heart races, your breathing becomes more rapid, and your body releases stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. If you were to slow down your breath, your mind would also slow down a bit. If you were to slow down your thoughts, your breathing would slow. (There are countless examples of the mind affecting the body's state of wellness. Remember the placebo effect? Or how about stress-induced heart attacks?) The body and mind are undoubtedly deeply intertwined, so we must reconsider the mind-body connection as a missing key to wellness and healing.
WHY AYURVEDA IS BECOMING A LEADING ALTERNATIVE to medicine for health and wellness:
1. Ayurveda is a holistic medicine. Ayurveda approaches illness as a deep-seated imbalance within the human being. This means the imbalance not only manifests in the physical body but also in the mind. Treatment then looks at a person's constitution, diet, lifestyle, psychological state, environment, and even the changes in season, and how this all affects your health. You know how sometimes conventional doctor's offices feel a bit cold, and you feel like just a number? You are not just a number, and your treatment should be as unique as you. Ayurvedic treatment then becomes this whole experience of warmth and consideration for all aspects of you. It utilizes the power of nature through herbalism and diet, but also encourages patients to practice mindful healing techniques such as meditation, yoga, and massage. In essence, Ayurveda considers the totality of a person's being, their relationship with their environment, and treats you according to YOU.
2. Ayurveda is preventative. Ayurveda not only provides us with amazing curative treatments for already existing illnesses but also encourages individuals to live their life in a way that facilitates health, preventing illness to begin with. Treatment for an already existing illness is about bringing the individual back into a state of harmony, but it also outlines for us how to live a harmonious life before illness arises. This looks like eating well, living in harmony with nature, utilizing nature's medicine, and caring for yourself on a spiritual, psychological level. In essence, Ayurveda (which literally translates to "the science of life") is the guide for anyone seeking a happy and healthy life.
MY EXPERIENCE with ayurveda:
In the wake of my struggles with mental health and anxiety, acne, hormonal imbalance, and thyroid issues (some of which was brought on by the birth control pill--but that's for another blog), I realized that the health of my mind and body were so deeply interconnected that they are often times synonymous. Many frustrating doctor appointments and hospital visits left me with no answers pertaining to my health, so I set out to educate myself. This led me to Ayurveda. The benefits from Ayurveda in my life have been abundant so far, and not just physically but mentally and spiritually also. Let's be real, sometimes there is no quick fix for your problems. I still struggle with acne, and I still get anxious at times. Ayurveda, like yoga, is a practice. True healing requires you to prioritize your well-being and redirect your life in the direction of healing. However, I have experienced healing in so many ways and plan on continuing my healing journey. My goal now is to spread the word, and my hope is that you may discover true wellness and vitality through Ayurveda as I have.
Much love and namaste,