Philosophy of Ayurveda

Ayurveda (Sanskrit for "knowledge of life") is a comprehensive system of traditional health care that emphasizes the relationship among body, mind, and spirit. Originating in India roughly 3,000 years ago, Ayurveda seeks to restore an individual’s innate harmony. Primary Ayurvedic treatments include diet, exercise, meditation, herbs, massage, exposure to sunlight, and controlled breathing. It is a functional system of health care, more akin to traditional Chinese medicine than to conventional Western medicine.

According to the principles of Ayurveda, the five basic elements (ether, air, fire, water, and earth) combine with each other and manifest themselves in the human body as three humors or doshas, the essential energetic essence of a person, known as vata, pitta, and kapha. The doshas govern all biological, psychological, and pathophysiological functions in the body, mind, and consciousness. It is an imbalance of these doshas that leads to illness, and Ayurveda seeks to bring the doshas back into harmony.

Humans are endowed at birth with one of seven different body types, depending on which dosha, or combination of the three basic doshas, dominates. A person’s dosha or personal body type (or energetic essence) is expressed both physically and emotionally; for example, a person with a vata-dominant body type will have a thin frame and an insecure temperament. The Ayurvedic physician takes body type and imbalances among the doshas into consideration when treating a patient, requiring individualized prescriptions. Classical formulas have been described for certain conditions and may contain as many as seven herbs as well as minerals or even metals.

The Ayurvedic diagnosis of madhu meha is the result of a multi-factorial disease process. The cause may be inherited at birth or result as the outcome of a series of environmental and behavioral influences. Finally, the imbalance which results in this urinary disorder may be in any of the three vatas, but an excess of kapha is most often implicated and usually carries the best prognosis. A traditional Ayurvedic formula for this condition would contain herbs and/or minerals, which would resolve the underlying disorder and restore balance to the doshas. Therefore, gymnema would rarely be given as a single herb, but rather as part of a formula.