What is Ayurveda

Ayurveda is a word you’ve probably seen pop-up a few times around health and beauty products. It’s more likely to be used as a marketing tactic luring you into something mystical but what on earth is it? Is it an ingredient? Is it a religious cult?

I wanted to find what exactly “Ayurveda” is so I spoke to Rebecca Powne, B.A., Ayurvedic Studies and founder of AWE Cosmeceuticals – a skincare brand based on extensive Ayurvedic studies fused with the western scientific findings. 

1. Oldest complete medical system

Ayurveda dates back more than 5,000 years and is the oldest complete medical system. Ayurveda is not limited to only diet & lifestyle, it encompasses eight main branches of holistic medicine including; Kaya chikitsa (internal medicine), Bala chikitsa (paediatrics), Graha chikitsa (psychiatry), Shalya chikitsa (surgical), Urdhvanga chikitsa (Treatment of ailments above the neck, eye, nose, throat, ears & head), Jara chikitsa – Rasayana (rejuvenation), Damstra chikitsa (toxicology), and Vrishya chikitsa (aphrodisiacs, relates to infertility and reproduction).

2. Individual constitutions

Ayurveda believes the universe comprises of the five elements, water, earth, fire, air & ether. An individual’s constitution (prakriti) is therefore based on these elements and is fundamental in creating balance & health within a person. The three doshas are Vata (air & ether), Pitta (fire) & Kapha (earth & water). Once you know your Prakriti it is easy to start to employ lifestyle & diet advice based on this. Your constitution also warns you about what diseases you may be more susceptible to. Below is a brief description of the balanced and unbalanced states of each dosha. Keep in mind you may be a combination of doshas.

Balanced Unbalanced
Vata Adaptable, cheerful, natural healing tendencies, thin framed, very tall or very short Anxious, worried, talk very fast, tire easily, very thin, dry skin, gas, constipation, bone problems or arthritis, grasp concepts easily, but quickly forget
Pitta Warm, clear, penetrating thoughts, passionate, intelligent, athletic, moderate, muscular build Hot tempered, impatient, too critical. Physically may develop health issues such as, ulcers, infections, rashes, acne, eye problems, high blood pressure
Kapha Loyal, calm, big boned, strong, deep clear voice. Lethargic, sentimental, overweight, water retention, bronchitis

3. Ayurvedic diagnosis

When making a diagnosis, an Ayurvedic physician will take a comprehensive history of past illnesses, family medical history & current symptoms. Also very important are the physical attributes of the patient such as body size, speech, tone and pace, skin colour and temperature, eyes, tongue, urine and stool characteristics and pulse. Keep in mind that all doshas are present in your body and it is the dominance or lack of balance which will cause symptoms. By addressing these, a physician can find the root cause and implement the appropriate Ayurvedic treatment.

4. Ayurvedic treatment

Ayurvedic treatment is based on a wide range of remedies which vary from traditional herbs, diet, and lifestyle advice. An Ayurvedic physician may also recommend a detoxification program, known as panchakarma (pancha meaning five and karma meaning actions).This involves the following therapies; Vamana (emetics), Virechana (laxative), Basti (enema), Nasya (nasal oils), Rakta mokshana (blood letting). All of these treatments are implemented with a mixture of traditional recipes, which are suited to the ailment. It should be noted that panchakarma is only ever to be performed by an Ayurvedic doctor who has experience in these therapies.

Other modalities include Abhyanga (massage), Swedana (sweat therapy) & Shirodhara (pouring warm oil over the forehead).

5. Ayurveda is a lifestyle

Medicine is all around us… Ayurveda considers food a drug as it can heal if used correctly. When we incorporate Ayurvedic teachings into all facets of our life, then we become truly healthy and happy. Ayurveda also looks at ethics and the way in which we choose to treat others. Ayurveda believes in prevention, therefore why not put into practice some diet & lifestyle tips based on your dosha and watch your health improve!

Here are a few easy tips to incorporate into your day:

Diet Beauty/Lifestyle Exercise
Vata Eat warm nourishing foods, avoid cold and raw foods. Sip on hot water with ginger or cardamom, fennel and coriander seeds.
Avoid pungent, bitter and astringent foods. Sweet, sour and salty tastes pacify vats.
Apply oil daily after a bath or shower to hydrate skin. Avoid rushing.
Floral & warming Scents are suited to vata, such as rose, jasmine, cardamom & patchouli.
Mild to moderate exercise, eg. yoga, pilates, swimming.
Pitta Cooling foods are best for pitta. Try herbs such as turmeric. Avoid sour, salty and pungent foods, eat foods with sweet, bitter and astringent tastes predominantly. Use a light, cooling oil such as Coconut Oil for pitta skin. Don’t let yourself get aggravated.
Sandalwood, chamomile & lavender are suited to Pitta.
Moderate to strong exercise, but avoid overheating and do not exercise in the sun.
Kapha Warm foods, but not too heavy. Avoid too many fats and oils. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables.Sip warm ginger water.
Avoid sweet foods, stick to foods with pungent, bitter and astringent qualities.
Cleanse well and exfoliate weekly. Kapha needs to get out and do new things. Oils suited to Kapha include cardamom, grapefruit and rosemary. Kapha should exercise regularly and intensively.
Rebecca Powne AWE Cosmeceuticals

Rebecca Powne

About Rebecca Powne

AWE Cosmeceuticals is the culmination of nearly two decades of dedication to the natural health and beauty industry by skincare professional Rebecca Powne, B.A., Ayurvedic studies (Indian medicine) London, UK, B.H.Sc. Clinical dermal therapies, Melbourne, Australia.

BIAR pps – 5As the vice president of the Australian society of Dermal Clinicians (ASDC), 2009-2010, and having worked seventeen years in specialised clinics, Rebecca has first hand knowledge of common skin concerns and the optimum way to treat these conditions.

In consultation with some of Australia’s most experienced formulating chemists the AWE Cosmeceuticals skin care range encompasses pharmacology from Eastern medicine with current scientific findings. Our skincare range is a testament to Rebecca’s passion for effective skin delivery systems via natural ingredients and a desire that AWE Cosmeceuticals contributes to a sustainable future. AWE Cosmeceuticals is proudly Australian owned and made.

Which dosha do you think you belong to? What do you think of Ayurveda now? Let me know by commenting below!

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