Friday, April 1, 2016

A for Ayurveda

Welcome to the "Believe it or Not- That's Incredible India!" series. India is home to some of the most astonishing wonders in the world. The rich culture, heritage, food, scriptures, architectural marvels and scores of known and unknown facts come together to create this multicolored melange that is India. Throughout this month, read about the various believe it or not facts about India and know what goes into the making of this incredible country!


India is one of the world’s oldest civilizations and Ayurveda, the oldest Indian indigenous medicine system. Did you know that the earliest description of Ayurveda is in the Vedas- the Rigveda and the Atharvaveda - which are believed to have been written somewhere between 1200-4000 BC ! The knowledge of Ayurveda has therefore been to known to us for about 3000-6000 years! 

Ayurveda literally translates to ‘the knowledge of long life’- Ayu meaning a long life. Ayurveda combines the knowledge of the natural elements and energies centered in our bodies and the aspect of spirituality with the food that we eat in order to promote a long and healthy life! That is to say, the ancient Indians knew that different kinds of food have the ability to produce different effects on our health. They had a knowledge of a vast number of herbs and roots and had the know-how to prepare drugs based on individual needs.

What's unique to Ayurveda is that it understands that every human body functions differently, and thus each person is treated as per the requirements of their body. The mind and the body are seen as being closely related to each other and the treatment is devised such as to bring about a cure in both these spheres. The body, according to Ayurveda is made up of three elements or energies called- 'vata' (air), 'pitta' (fire and water) and 'kapha' (density –like oil, phlegm). It is believed that foods can increase or decrease the level of these elements in our body and therefore, diet plans are made accordingly. The drugs used for treatment are also concocted from natural sources and thus, side effects are lesser with Ayurveda.

Thus, if a person complained of heartburn, their 'pitta' level was said to be high and the person would not just be prescribed medicines made from natural herbs but also put on a diet of raw vegetables, liquids and cooling herbs like mint to bring down the levels and asked to give up on caffeine and spicy foods. They would be guided to perform certain yoga asanas and make changes in their lifestyle thereby bringing about a holistic cure for their problems.

Modern science would be inclined to agree with that today! 

Isn’t it amazing that the philosophy of mindful eating and using food and natural extracts as a means to cure diseases was known to them so long ago? 

Believe it or not- That’s Incredible India!

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