What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a whole-body (holistic) system of medicine that began in India more than
3,000 years ago. Ayurveda means the study of life. It takes a natural approach to
all aspects of health and well-being.
Ayurveda is based on the idea that each person has certain life forces (doshas) and
everything in the universe is connected. An imbalance in 1 area can affect another.
When the imbalance is not fixed, disease and illness can occur. Ayurveda mostly uses
nutrition, lifestyle changes, and natural treatments. These are used to support balance
and a return to health. Ayurveda is very focused on overall health. But it may use
specific treatments for some diseases.
The focus of Ayurveda treatment is to:
Support the body in removing toxins and impurities
Increase disease resistance
Create more harmony and balance in life
Herbs and other plants are often used. These include oils and common spices.
Ayurvedic treatment is unique for each person. It includes 1 or more of these:
Internal cleansing (purification)
A special diet, including a wide variety of spices
Herbal and plant medicines
Massage therapy with different types of oils
In India, Ayurveda is a regular medical system. It's practiced in the same way that
standard medicine is used in the U.S.
Ayurveda providers in India must go through detailed, state-approved education and
training before they can practice medicine.
Before you choose an Ayurvedic provider, be sure to check the provider's training
and background. At this time, Ayurvedic providers are not licensed in the U.S. The
U.S. does not have a national standard for Ayurvedic training or certification. But
a few states have approved Ayurvedic schools.
Is it safe?
Ayurveda has not been fully studied from a U.S. view. Ayurvedic medicines are regulated
as dietary supplements in the U.S. They are not regulated as medicines. This means
they don't need to meet the safety standards as medicines.
Some Ayurvedic medicines have herbs, metals, minerals, and other materials. Some of
these may be harmful if not used safely. Some Ayurvedic medicines may have toxic materials.
These can include lead, arsenic, and mercury. Any herb, mineral, or metal used in
this type of treatment may work against standard medicines or other supplements you
have been prescribed.
It's important to talk with your healthcare provider before using any Ayurvedic treatment.
This is even more important if you:
Are pregnant or breastfeeding
Want to use Ayurvedic therapy to treat a child
Have ongoing health conditions
Are an older adult
Take prescription medicines
Use any herbs or supplements
Working with your healthcare providers
Any diagnosis of a disease or condition in the U.S. should be made by a healthcare
provider with standard medical training. The provider should have training in managing
that disease or condition.
Some studies show that certain Ayurveda approaches can have positive effects for some
conditions when used with standard medical care but should not replace standard medical
care. This is even more important if you have a serious health condition, take prescription
medicine, or are in a high-risk group. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist
before using any Ayurveda treatments.
Tell all of your healthcare providers about the alternative or complimentary health
methods, supplements, and medicines you use. This will give them a full view of your
health. It will help you get safe, effective, and coordinated care.