Questions and Answers on Ayurveda
by Kumuda Reddy, M.D.
Q. What is Ayurveda and how does it work?
A. Ayurveda is a holistic and natural medicine that causes no side-effects and has many side-benefits. It is a system of prevention oriented natural health care that focuses on restoring balance at the deepest level of the mind and body. It treats everyone as an individual and treats the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health of the individual. The goal of Ayurveda is to become healthy, happy, and live a life of full potential.
Q. Dr. Reddy how did you become interested in Ayurveda?
A. In modern medicine there are many chronic diseases with many complaints. Usually a patient will have many problems at the same time. Perhaps the patients will be cured but then a new disease comes along. As a medical doctor I asked myself, what is it that is really causing all of these problems? Why cant we get people healthy and prevent disease? The search for the answers lead me to the holistic medicine of Ayurveda.
Q. How is Ayurveda medicine different from modern medicine?
A. Ayurveda is an age-old medicine that originated in India. It is timeless but was first written down about 5,000 or 6,000 years ago. No one can really put a time on it. It is a holistic medicine because it deals with the mind, body, environment, behavior, and consciousness of the individual.
Q. How is it different from other holistic practices?
A. In a lot of other holistic practices consciousness may not be a part of it. In Ayurveda it is the totality. Ayurveda treats the patient as a whole. Every person is unique. Everyone has a psychological, physical, and emotional makeup which requires different treatments as pertains to the individual because each individual is unique and prone to different diseases. Disease has an origin or source from where all symptoms manifest. Ayurveda recognizes that there is a source and treats the disease at the level of the source. If the disease is not treated at the source then another disease will come on again and again. This is how Ayurveda differs from other types of medicine. In conventional medicine we are focused on organs or symptoms and we forget the wholesome nature of the body. If we just focus on symptoms we have lost the cause.
Q. Does Ayurveda treat all problems in the same way?
A. If we just treat each patient in the same way then it is not effective. Two people can have the same root problem but it can manifest in different ways. One person may have problems with digestion while another may have tension headaches or migraines. Modern medicine has a bandaid approach to the problem. Ayurveda, however, recognizes that each person is unique and each person needs a customized treatment.
Q. In what way does Ayurveda work in helping people with different problems?
A. Usually nobody comes to see me with one simple problem such as fatigue. People have two, three, or four symptoms happening all at once. In conventional medicine we cannot understand the common source for these problems. The patient then goes to several specialists who treat each problem separately. They go from one specialist to the next. Once you have a chronic disease modern medicine starts calling the patient by the name of the disease such as an asthmatic or a diabetic. After a while the patients start losing their names.
In Ayurveda we dont have to really be so specialized because we treat the problem at its source. We dont compromise the patient. Conventional medicine is definitely crisis management medicine. In an emergency and crisis you definitely need conventional medicine. Ayurveda specializes in preventing disease. Its knowledge is so vast that it helps with spiritual and emotional problems as well.
Q. How are people different from each other and how does Ayurveda view people?
A. In Ayurveda there are three main organizing principles of nature that are found in every person, in nature, and in all other beings. These principles operate throughout nature and can be seen in the changes of the time of day and the change of seasons. These three governing principles are called Vata, Pitta, and Kapha doshas.
Vata is movement. Vata governs respiratory organs, circulation, movement in the digestive tract, and impulses traveling through the nerves. Pitta is energy. It governs the digestive process, metabolism, heat, and energy production. Kapha gives solidity and structure, and balances the fluids.
Each individual is made up of the three doshas yet in varying degrees. A person with more Vata, or movement, in the physiology will be thin, lively, vibrant, cheerful, and have regular habits. However, if the Vata is out of balance that person will be anxious, worried, easily fatigued, have dry skin, and high blood pressure.
A person with a predominance of Pitta in the physiology will be warm, loving, and contented and will like to eat on time. A Pitta-type is a very precise person with a sharp intellect. Out of balance a Pitta person can be irritable, angry, demanding, and impatient, prone to skin rashes, premature graying, and thinning of hair.
A Kapha-type person will have a bigger frame and will be solid with large muscles. This type is generous, kind, and forgiving and has a good memory. Out of balance Kaphas are dull and lethargic, have oily skin, they gain weight, and have a slow digestion. They can become emotionally attached, and suffer from allergies, congestive problems, and heart disease.
Obviously, each type is prone to a different disease. Everybody doesnt need prevention for heart disease or hypertension. In Ayurveda we know how to treat each person according to the imbalance of their doshas.
Q. In what form does one take Ayurvedic medicine?
A. Ayurveda is very comprehensive and uses diet, lifestyle changes, herbs, massage, aromas and other therapies.
Q. Does the medicine come in shots?
A. The herbs are taken as powders, pills, paste, or liquids. We dont use injections or forms like that. No hormones or blood transfusions, chemicals or additives are used. The herbs are organic and side-effect free. Ayurveda has a long traditional way of making herbs and of using the whole plant. In conventional medicine they started using just part of the plant which can cause unwanted side-effects. Ayurveda has the knowledge of how to collect herbs, dry them, and store them. Some herbs are used for directly treating the problem; some are used for digestion, some are used for elimination. There are no side-effects and only side-benefits. For example even if you are having an acne problem being treated, there is a side-benefit, your digestion and elimination are improved. If you take Motrin you can have hundreds of side-effects. These side-effects create new diseases.
Q. Is Ayurveda only for prevention or can you use it for treating an existing disease?
A. Ayurveda is big on prevention. It is so vast that it tells you how to prevent disease. Who wants to suffer when life can be lived in perfection and in full potential? Unfortunately people are getting these problems. So in Ayurveda we go in for the causes of disease. Therefore, Ayurveda is very good at treating these diseases. It will help with treating the disease and then preventing further disease. It is the goal of Ayurveda that new diseases are not created for the individual.
Q. How do you get more information on Ayurveda?
A. There is the website of www.allhealthfamily.com where you can order Forever Healthy an introduction to Ayurveda or For a Blissful Baby a book on how to raise a healthy baby. Or phone 800 758-3756.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Reddy call 866.REDDY MD or 1-301-474-2184. To schedule a telephone consultation with Dr. Reddy call 866.REDDY MD.
Dr. Reddy speaks on the internet at www.streamaudio.com every Sunday from 5:30 to 6 p.m. Eastern Time.