by Tara Green
(NaturalNews) Re-boot your health in 2012 by letting go of the allopathic medical model of waiting until illness occurs and then treating it. Instead, learn to enhance and encourage health with Ayurveda.
A different health paradigm
Most people from western industrial societies first approach holistic health by trying to apply the illness model of allopathic medicine. We think in terms of taking this herb for that ailment, another herb for another condition. Traditional health systems view disease as a set of symptoms to be eradicated. It is better to instead see health as a state of balance which can be cultivated through wise lifestyle choices.
Ayurveda means “the science of life.” This ancient system of healing, developed on the Indian subcontinent over the course of five thousand years, promotes “all methods that bring us into greater harmony with life” (Frawley and Lad, “The Yoga of Herbs”). Both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Tibetan Medicine developed using ayurvedic concepts. Physicians in ancient Greece also drew on classical ayurvedic medical texts in their writings which formed the early foundations of western healing.
Three doshas, six tastes
Ayurveda identifies three constitional types, known as doshas: vata, pitta and kapha. Like many other systems of traditional healing, Ayurveda relates health to elements, identifying vata with air/ether, pitta with fire/water and kapha with water/earth. Each individual has a unique blend of these three doshas. Somebody who is primarily kapha tend to have sturdy frames and a calm approach to life. A person in whom vata dosha predominates tends to have a slender form and frequently shifting moods. An individual who has a lot of pitta energy have a more muscular appearance than vata types along with an assertive and competitive personality. Many people may have a combination dosha such as vata-pitta. One quiz to help you determine your dosha is here: http://doshaquiz.chopra.com/
None of the three types is better than the other; each can exist in a state of balance or imbalance. An excess of pitta may manifest through inflammatory conditions. An overemphasis on vata may reveal itself through tension, dry skin, chronic headaches or insomnia. Weight gain and sinus congestion often relate to kapha imbalance. Some health concerns also relate to a deficiency of one of the doshas.
Ayurveda sees healthy consumption of food as rooted in a balance of six tastes: sweet, sour, pungent, salty bitter and astringent. Sweet, bitter and astringent tastes have a cooling quality, while sour, salty and pungent provide heat. Sweet, sour and salty tend to add moisture; pungent, bitter and astringent tastes are more drying.
An individual chooses among these tastes both according to her own need to balance tendencies to heat or cold, dryness or wetness, as well as the season of the year. In cold weather, Ayurveda advises us to eat foods with more heat — so meals featuring pungent, salty or sour tastes should predominate in winter. On the other hand, summer is the time to consume more foods with astringent, sweet or bitter tastes.
Contrast this with the current western diet which tends to offer foods which are either very salty or very sweet. Many people raised on a western diet have lost their ability to appreciate the other four tastes, meaning they lose the health benefits of foods such as more bitter tasting greens. Some people avoid herbs and spices which impart pungency to food like garlic and ginger.
Someone whose dietary tastes are shaped by Walmart and McDonald’s may also find it difficult to appreciate the astringency of many raw fruits and vegetables or the sourness of unsweetened yogurt. In the mainstream western culture, when people try to take charge of their health through diets, they often follow one-size-fits-all plans which fail to take into account their individual type, the season of the year, and the climate where they live.
Ayurveda seeks to identify an individual’s ideal state of balance, pinpoint any imbalances, and provide suggestions for restoring balance. Those suggestions may include specific foods and herbs as well as massage, aromatherapy, music, and meditation designed to restore that person’s perfect balance. If you want to investigate this system of health, you may want to start with one of the sources cited within or below this article, or find an ayurvedic practitioner in your area to guide you on your quest to balanced health.