Ayurveda, the renowned health system of India and the ancient world, has kept people well naturally for centuries. Now it has been rediscovered by Western health practitioners, and it is revolutionizing our thinking about nutrition and disease prevention.
Here at last is an easy-to-read, lavishly illustrated book that shows how it works. Rather than relying on medication to cure ailments, as Western medicine does, Ayurveda emphasizes daily nutrition habits and physical routines for maintaining health so that you don't get sick in the first place. You will find out how to tell which physical type you are (there are basically three) and then get full information on the practical regiments that are right for you.
You'll find ways to diagnose and treat many conditions yourself that might otherwise eventually require medical attention. And specific treatments are given for a variety of illnesses, with suggestions for daily living, including nutrition, relief of stress, and detoxifying environmental pollutants.
Everyone who is interested in maintaining his health the natural way will find intriguing ideas on every page.
Dr. Hans H. Rhyner is an Ayurveda Physician practicing in Switzerland and India. Born in Switzerland in 1951, he moved in 1975 to Bombay, India where he first studied Philosophy. Later, he got trained as a Yoga Teacher at the Yoga Institute, Santa Cruz, and Bombay. Then he became a student of Ayurveda in Bangalore under Professor Vasudevan Nair who was a formidable expert on Pancakarma, as well as Professor P.S. Rai. In 1988, he founded the Ayurveda Research Centre International (ARCI) in Bangalore, of which he is still the President. In 1991, he started the Ayurveda Clinic in Walzenhausen, Switzerland, where up to date more than 10,000 Europeans have been treated exclusively with Ayurveda. He has written several books on Yoga and Ayurveda. He is Head of the Ayurveda Department at the Florida Vedic College and Seva Academy, Munich and runs his own Clinic in Bangalore, India.
The development of medicine as a social science occurred over many centuries. Every culture has influenced this development, particularly the evolution of the many different methods of healing. Allopathic medicine (today, synonymous with Western medicine) has its foundations in Greek culture. Hippocrates and Galen were scientists and physicians as well as philosophers. They considered philosophy and medicine two sides of the same coin. Anyone practicing or teaching medicine also had to master philosophy, the latter playing an important role in the successful treatment of a patient.
Only in the last few centuries, with the emergence of natural sciences, such as physics, chemistry, and biology, has medicine been separated from philosophy. Modern medicine has become primarily a somatological science, resting on an experimental basis. Every healing method is subjected to clinical trials and rejected if proven ineffective. This leads to an exaggerated emphasis on somatological and physiological processes, which have become the criteria by which pathological manifestations of an illness or its symptoms are evaluated. Extensive research (particularly experimentation with animals) has produced many new healing methods and hundreds of medications for the treatment of human illnesses. The result has been the development of enormously successful treatments for acute infections and for illnesses that can be treated surgically. On the other hand, in spite of these improvements in modern medicine, the treatment of chronic and psychosomatic illnesses remains unsatisfactory. Patients with such illnesses who are treated according to modern medical methods often suffer more from the side effects of long-term medication than from the illness itself.
Ayurveda developed over centuries as a holistic medical system. From a scientific point of view, ayurveda medicine, practiced from about 1500 B.C. to 500 A.D., was remarkably advanced. The different specialties of ayurveda are comparable to those of modern medicine of the last hundred years.
In contrast to modern medicine, which primarily developed along therapeutic concepts, ayurveda addresses the basic needs of a human being on three levels. According to ayurveda, defined as "the knowledge or science of life," this concept has three components: (1) prevention, (2) awareness of the origin of life, and (3) systematic approach for establishing the diagnosis of an illness and treatment in accordance with a medical protocol.
Tridosha (the theory of the three basic individual constitutions -vata, pitta, and kapha) is a concept that has been clinically tested and proven to be effective for centuries. Even if a precise translation of tridosha according to today's scientific terminology is difficult, it is viewed as representing very basic psycho physiological processes in the human body. This division into three constitutions makes sense when we realize that in ayurveda, the human organism is first viewed as an inseparable whole before an examination of its organs and systems takes place.
One of the interesting aspects of ayurveda is that the different therapies (including herbal and mineral medications) are very deliberately and very specifically correlated to the basic components of tridosha. In other very specifically correlated to the basic components of tridosha. In other words, they are mutually dependent so that, in a given case, an antagonistic and therefore, stabilizing influence on the tridosha can be achieved. This concept is important, because medications that are correlated almost never create negative side effects in the human body, presumably because the organism does not perceive them as foreign bodies.
Hans H. Rhyner presents the ayurvedic concept in classical style, outlining first the underlying philosophy, then moving on to the path physiological aspects, and concluding with a discussion of the different therapies. The author explains the typology of the different constitutions. This is followed by an extensive discussion of nutrition, including a commentary on what constitutes a healthy day in the life of a person. The latter concept has important implications for today's society with all its different forms of stress, the many negative environmental influences and their consequences, and the dangers created by the deterioration of the social norm and order. Integrating preventive and therapeutic approaches to illnesses is particularly important today, in light of the explosion of health care costs.
Including ayurvedic medicine in the health-care system should not be viewed as competition; but as an effective addition for the treatment of chronic and psychosomatic illnesses where modern medicine is only marginally successful. This book is useful for physicians and for people who are generally interested in ayurvedic healing methods. It might also serve as an impetus for research into the basic concepts, such as tridosha, and of specific therapeutic methods, such as panchakarma. The path physiological concept of ayurveda clearly relates to the functional process of stress and the way it affects the immune system. An active cooperation between ayurveda and modern medicine and the natural sciences would benefit the healthy as well as the sick person. A first step in this direction is already in progress with the establishment of the scientifically oriented Ayurveda Clinic in Walzenhausen, Switzerland, where the diagnostic aspects of modern medicine are being correlated with the results of ayurvedic therapy.
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