In today’s bustling world of high speed rail, light-speed communication and round the clock world-wide trading there is little time for dabbling with anything ineffective. When our world is progressing at an exponential rate it is no wonder that we don’t want to waste time with something that hasn’t been proven, and less surprising that our measure of truth is efficacy. This is the world which modern allopathic medicine aims to serve. They are born of the same principles which require that methods be proven effective and that they work in time, and in a time which is growing smaller by the day. Although the advances of modern medicine have no doubt proved very effective, having eliminated a number of horrible diseases that once unrelentingly plagued mankind and pioneered new and innovative surgeries and treatments, one is likely to ask, “is it bringing complete health to the individual?”
The successes of modern medicine are extensive, whether you consider the numerous diseases conquered, or on the way to being conquered, ailments greatly relieved, potent pain-relieving or performance enhancing drugs that push us beyond our hitherto perceived limitations, and for the most part all provided with the easy administration of an IV shot or a pill. The effectiveness of these methods is indubitable, but perhaps we should ask a more basic question, are they providing the effects what we truly want? The answer seems to be both yes and no. Yes, they treat the ailments, kill infections, destroy disease, relieve pain, provide energy etc., but no, they each have a list of side effects which is often too long to recount and more than slightly disturbing. Taking into consideration these counter-effects inherent in the treatments of allopathic medicine, the rise of immune deficient and cancerous conditions might not seem surprising. This method of treatment coupled with the high-paced and arguably unnatural, or at the very least unconventional, modern life style is perhaps a recipe for death which we are just beginning to taste. However, even if this method of medical treatment isn’t ideal, is there really a viable alternative?
In medicine, as with anything, form follows function. If quick and indubitable, albeit dangerous, effectiveness is desired, there are few real competitors to the products of the modern pharmaceutical industry. However, if health, i.e. having proper functioning of the body and its processes and the free use of its faculties, is what is desired, then the purpose of medicine is not simply to conquer a single disease or ailment but to restore balance to the whole person and to recover the freedom which is natural to a human being. Such a medicine will take form according to this function, and it is in this way that Ayurveda, the science of life, differs from allopathic medicine of the modern age.
Ayurvedic Medicineis a holistic and natural medicine which utilizes the bounty of the earth and our inter-personal relationships to treat the individual as a whole, and not simply as a collection of organs and parts. Much as modern medicine draws from the amazing photo-chemical factories of plants, Ayurveda draws from the plants of the world. However, unlike modern pharmacology, ayurvedic medicine does not seek to re-synthesize or isolate particular constituents, but to utilize the plants in their rich diversity and effectiveness. Where the two-dimensionality and myopia of synthetic treatment fails, with its long list of often alarmingly dangerous side-effects, ayurveda’s holistic treatments pervade the body treating it in subtle and powerful manners.
Ayurvedic Medicinehas its roots deep in ancient history, reaching back nearly four millennia. It has taken as long to continually establish and develop itself not only as a science of life, but as a living science. It has not only developed cannons of diagnoses and decoctions for all types of ailments affecting every part of the human person, but also a holistic methodology and perspective which views the person as a whole being, and not simply a co-ordination of chemical reactions. Catalogues of formulations and prescriptions are not enough, however extensive they may be. Ayurvedic medicine holds this as a central principle and views the person as the individual which they are, not simply as a manifestation of a particular disease. It treats the person as a whole, addressing all aspects of their life as potential or actual causes of disease and imbalance. Ayurveda is a living tradition for the betterment of our tradition of living.
Being a living tradition functioning to treat living and dynamic human beings, Ayurveda takes all aspects of human existence into account. Ayurvedic Treatment are specially adapted to treat each particular situation, and no two are the same. However, treatments fall into two general categories, there are the cleansing actions of panchakarma which aim to open up the blocked and constricted passageways and allow the body to expel toxins which harbor and complicate disease. Second there are balancing treatments, which aim to restore balance an individual’s constitution. These treatments are administered in this order depending upon the necessity of the individual. Taking the simple analogy of a bicycle as an example, one can see it is necessary to first clean the gears and the bearings before tuning and balancing the bicycle. A wise man once said, “life is like riding a bicycle, in order to keep your balance, you’ve got to keep moving.”, but it’s also true that you can’t go too fast or you’ll lose your balance all the same. Ayurvedic Medicine does not administer morphine or penicillin, but there is wisdom in this. Life takes time, and one cannot expect to find true health immediately. Health is not cheap or easy, and patience is a virtue. These are some of the many things which Ayurveda has to teach us.