By Anna Hunt
Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of natural healing that originated in the Indian Vedic culture. It is one of the oldest healing modalities that is still practised today. Ayurvedic home remedies are very practical for people looking to address anxiety and stress. Moreover, Ayurvedic practises can improve mental clarity, sleep, pain, stiffness, hair, skin, and more.
Ayurvedic medicine is based on the premise of the existence of the three energies, called doshas, that circulate through the body. Furthermore, the system proposes that illness originates from an imbalance of these three energies.
These three energies are named Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The main goal of Ayurvedic remedies is to create balance in these energies and as a result, the individual can expect their body to function better.
As with all holistic treatments, seeing a licensed practitioner is the best way to get the full benefit of Ayurvedic medicine. A practitioner will be able to assess your individual constitution and identify your dominant dosha. By identifying how you are out of balance, a practitioner can then prescribe an Ayurvedic remedy that will benefit your individual needs.
Identifying Your Dominant Dosha
Although seeing a practitioner is ideal, you can do some self-assessment at home to identify your dominant dosha. Banyan Botanicals defines the doshas as follows:
• VATA: The primary qualities of vata are dry, light, cool, rough, subtle and mobile.
• PITTA: The primary qualities of pitta are oily, sharp, hot, light, fleshy-smelling, spreading and liquid.
• KAPHA: The main qualities of kapha are oily, cool, heavy, slow, smooth, soft and static.
Understanding your dominant dosha may help you decide which Ayurvedic home remedy you may want to try or practice.
Ayurvedic Mind-Body Practices
Nothing can take the place of a highly-skilled Ayurvedic practitioner. Nevertheless, there are several very common Ayurvedic home remedies used by thousands, if not millions, throughout the world.
The primary Ayurvedic practice that’s become widely popular in the Western world is yoga. The second is meditation.
Both yoga and meditation prompt changes in the human body that benefit both physical and mental health. Specifically, research has shown that both yoga and meditation help lessen stress and anxiety and support immune system function. For example, research from Coventry University’s Centre for Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement shows that meditation and yoga affect us on a molecular level. Lead investigator in this study, Ivana Buric, states:
Millions of people around the world already enjoy the health benefits of mind-body interventions (MBIs) like yoga or meditation, but what they perhaps don’t realise is that these benefits begin at a molecular level and can change the way our genetic code goes about its business.
These activities are leaving what we call a molecular signature in our cells, which reverses the effect that stress or anxiety would have on the body by changing how our genes are expressed. Put simply, MBIs cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our wellbeing.
Other Ayurvedic Home Remedies
Other Ayurvedic home remedies typically employ herbs. If you are weary of taking supplements, you can still benefit from Ayurvedic herbal treatments. For example, Abhyanga is the practice of rubbing the skin, feet, scalp or hair with warm oil or clarified butter infused with herbs. Here’s the philosophy behind it:
Massaging oil into the human organism imparts a tone and vigour to the tissues, in the same manner that water furnishes the roots of a tree or a plant with the necessary nutritive elements, and fosters its growth, when poured into the soil where it grows. The use of oil at a bath causes the oil to penetrate into the system … and thus soothes and invigorates the body with its own essence.
~ Sushruta Samhita, Chikitsa Sthanam: XXIV: 29-32 ~
Warm oil is especially beneficial to pacify vata. If your vata is high, doing abhyanga daily can be highly beneficial. Through this practice, vata can be restored to its normal condition.
If you do not have specially-formulated pitta or vatta pacifying herbal oils, you can use sunflower oil or coconut oil for your abhyanga.
The preferred choice for oil for vata pacifying is sesame oil because it is inherently warming. The best type of sesame oil for this treatment is organic untoasted oil. Another option is almond oil, as it is also warming.
For Kapha pacifying, it is best to use less oil and look for a specially formulated Kapha herbal oil.
Ayurveda is also especially helpful in detoxing the body using various herbal teas, healthy foods and plenty of rest. Oftentimes, these types of Ayurvedic treatments focus on improving circulation and liver function.
Documented Benefits of Ayurvedic Medicine
Although most clinical trials for Ayurvedic approaches have been small, researchers have shown that Ayurvedic medicine can help treat rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory conditions, digestive disorders and autoimmune reactions.
In addition, herbs commonly used in Ayurvedic home remedies can alleviate some symptoms of anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, and stress.
It is worth noting that scientific and clinical research on Ayurvedic medicine is still sparse. This is particularly applicable to the use of Ayurvedic herbs and supplements. As such, most researchers recommend that the scientific community conduct additional studies to fully understand the value that Ayurvedic remedies offer. If you decide to supplement with an Ayurvedic treatment, it is highly recommended that you consult with a licensed professional or your family’s medical provider.
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