Frequently Asked Questions

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Can you briefly describe to me the concept of Treatment according to Ayurveda?

Ayurveda primarily describes Treatments to be of two types - namely Samana or pacification treatment and Sodhana or purification treatment. The former type looks at gently pacifying the aggravated Doshas (and disease) by intake of relevant medicines and mild external Treatments including oil application. Here the increased Doshas are either subsided or naturally expelled through the excretory channels. In Sodhana Treatment, the aggravated or vitiated Doshas are deliberately brought into the alimentary canal and then forcibly expelled by either emesis (vomiting), purgation or enema based on the nature of the Dosha that is aggravated. The preferred method of Treatment according to the Ayurveda texts is Sodhana- because the complete elimination of the accumulated toxins would mean that the root cause of the disease is being treated, and that would ensure that the problem does not recur if the patient takes sufficient care. Both these Treatments should be done with utmost care and are generally very elaborate. This is especially true of the purification Treatments. It is partly due to the intensity of the purification Treatments that the pacification Treatments are greatly preferred today, where the risks are far less and the restrictions are more relaxed

Can the effect of these treatments be measured by modern scientific methods ?

It is not easy to explain the effects of these in scientific parlance. This is mainly because the indigenous thought process looks at the same individual from two entirely different standpoints. As yet, the two systems stand on the opposite sides of a river and are yet to find a common meeting point wherein the foundational principles, categories, classifications of the two systems are given due and equal respect. However there have been efforts by some scientists to study the effects of some of these Treatments on the human body.

One such study looked at the Improvement in cardiovascular risk factors through the Panchakarma purification procedures" - and was done by Hari M.Sharma, Sanford I. Nidich, David Sands, De and D. Edwards Smith with the support of the Maharishi Ayurveda Foundation of America and the Department of Pathology Academic Enrichment Fund, The Ohio State University, Ohio, USA. They studied the effect of Ayurveda Treatments as Snehapanam (internal oleation), Virechana (purgation), Abhyanga (medicated herbal oil application on whole body), Sirodhara (flow of medicated oil on the forehead). Swedana (medicated fomentation), Nasya (nasal administration of herbs) and Basti (medicated enema) - done in sequence over a period for 31 patients. The biochemical and physiological tests were done at periodic intervals and it was found that after 2.9 months after this course of Treatment, the Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide (VIP), a coronary vassal dilator, rose to a significant 80%. Total cholesterol fell acutely in all the patients. The lipid peroxide (a measure of free radical damage), pulse and diastolic blood pressure were also reduced after the Treatment. State anxiety measures improved significantly. Thus the study concluded that these Treatments are useful in improving cardiovascular risk factors.

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