What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is a whole-body (holistic) system of medicine that began in India more than 3,000 years ago. Ayurveda means the study of life. It takes a natural approach to all aspects of health and well-being.

Ayurveda is based on the idea that each person has certain life forces (doshas) and everything in the universe is connected. An imbalance in 1 area can affect another. When the imbalance is not fixed, disease and illness can occur. Ayurveda mostly uses nutrition, lifestyle changes, and natural treatments. These are used to support balance and a return to health. Ayurveda is very focused on overall health. But it may use specific treatments for some diseases.

The focus of Ayurveda treatment is to:

  • Support the body in removing toxins and impurities

  • Reduce symptoms

  • Increase disease resistance

  • Reduce stress

  • Create more harmony and balance in life

Herbs and other plants are often used. These include oils and common spices.

Ayurvedic treatment is unique for each person. It includes 1 or more of these:

  • Internal cleansing (purification)

  • A special diet, including a wide variety of spices

  • Herbal and plant medicines

  • Massage therapy with different types of oils

  • Yoga

  • Meditation

Ayurvedic providers

In India, Ayurveda is a regular medical system. It's practiced in the same way that standard medicine is used in the U.S.

Ayurveda providers in India must go through detailed, state-approved education and training before they can practice medicine.

Before you choose an Ayurvedic provider, be sure to check the provider's training and background. At this time, Ayurvedic providers are not licensed in the U.S. The U.S. does not have a national standard for Ayurvedic training or certification. But a few states have approved Ayurvedic schools.

Is it safe?

Ayurveda has not been fully studied from a U.S. view. Ayurvedic medicines are regulated as dietary supplements in the U.S. They are not regulated as medicines. This means they don't need to meet the safety standards as medicines.

Some Ayurvedic medicines have herbs, metals, minerals, and other materials. Some of these may be harmful if not used safely. Some Ayurvedic medicines may have toxic materials. These can include lead, arsenic, and mercury. Any herb, mineral, or metal used in this type of treatment may work against standard medicines or other supplements you have been prescribed.

It's important to talk with your healthcare provider before using any Ayurvedic treatment. This is even more important if you:

  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding

  • Want to use Ayurvedic therapy to treat a child

  • Have ongoing health conditions

  • Are an older adult

  • Take prescription medicines

  • Use any herbs or supplements

Working with your healthcare providers

Any diagnosis of a disease or condition in the U.S. should be made by a healthcare provider with standard medical training. The provider should have training in managing that disease or condition.

Some studies show that certain Ayurveda approaches can have positive effects for some conditions when used with standard medical care but should not replace standard medical care. This is even more important if you have a serious health condition, take prescription medicine, or are in a high-risk group. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist before using any Ayurveda treatments.

Tell all of your healthcare providers about the alternative or complimentary health methods, supplements, and medicines you use. This will give them a full view of your health. It will help you get safe, effective, and coordinated care.

Online Medical Reviewer: Bianca Garilli MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Heather M Trevino BSN RNC
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2023
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