What is an Ayurvedic Doctor?

Trent Burkholder

An Ayurvedic doctor is a healer who uses an ancient traditional form of medicine that originated on the Indian sub-continent. Ayurveda has been around for thousands of years, and uses a variety of methods that aim to cleanse the body and establish a balance between the mind, body, and spirit. Ayurvedic doctors are trained to observe a person’s body type, discover which systems within them are out of balance, and design a remedy to bring the entire being into harmony and health. Although the practice of Ayurveda is well established in Asia, it is still considered alternative medicine in most Western societies.

Ayurveda uses diet, meditation and other practices to help regulate and guide the flow of prana within the body.
Ayurveda uses diet, meditation and other practices to help regulate and guide the flow of prana within the body.

Ayurvedic doctors use a system of healing that is considered by many to be the most ancient existing medical system in the world, dating back at least 4,000 years. The term Ayurveda is from the language of Sanskrit and translates as the science of lifespan. It is a method that seeks healing through diet, herbal remedies, and natural therapies rather than from surgeries and pharmaceutical medicine. The emphasis is not on treating the symptoms of illness, but rather on integrating the entire mind, body, and spirit in a way that healing is achieved from within.

Four handed massage was originally practiced by Ayurvedic doctors.
Four handed massage was originally practiced by Ayurvedic doctors.

An assessment with an Ayurvedic doctor will usually be composed of observation and interview lasting an hour or more, followed by developing a personalized treatment plan. The patient may have observations done on up to 12 pulse points, the eyes, nails, tongue, lips, and skin. They will usually be asked detailed questions about their diet, lifestyle, family history, and general health. The Ayurvedic doctor tries to ascertain the person’s metabolic body type, or dosha, and restore it to balance through exercise, diet, herbal remedies, meditation, massage, and yoga.

According to the Ayurvedic system of medicine, yoga and meditation techniques can help integrate the body and the mind.
According to the Ayurvedic system of medicine, yoga and meditation techniques can help integrate the body and the mind.

The belief system of an Ayurvedic doctor is that everything is composed of the five elements of water, air, fire, earth, and space. These elements combine to form three different doshas within the body of each person. The vata dosha is responsible for the basic body processes; kapha dosha is responsible for strength, immunity, and growth; and pitta dosha controls the hormones and digestive system. When one of these doshas is out of balance it is thought that the natural flow of vital energy, or prana, within the body is disrupted. It is the detoxification of the system and restoration of balance, both individually and between these three systems, which Ayurveda seeks to influence.

Ayurvedic doctors rely on alternative therapies such as massage for a wide range of conditions, where traditional physicians might prescribe drugs or other therapies.
Ayurvedic doctors rely on alternative therapies such as massage for a wide range of conditions, where traditional physicians might prescribe drugs or other therapies.

In India, many different undergraduate and graduate programs exist for an Ayurvedic doctor to study, oftentimes for up to five years or more. In other parts of the world, medical doctors will often take Ayurveda training as an alternative addition to their medical knowledge. The increasing popularity of Ayurveda as a spa treatment has unfortunately resulted in many untrained practitioners offering something they sometimes aren’t qualified to do. The lack of standardized certification in many parts of the world for an Ayurvedic doctor demands that people interested in receiving this kind of treatment do adequate research to find out the training and qualifications of their practitioner.

Ayurvedic medicine originated in India.
Ayurvedic medicine originated in India.

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