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What is Ayurveda?

by Dr Ram Garg

FILED IN: Health and Food · Issue 15

The 5,000-year-old life science of Ayurveda still holds the power to mesmerize the world. International interest has led to a truly universal application of Ayurveda and its capacity to alleviate suffering worldwide. Ayurveda is not just about medicine, it is about healing energy, kindness, compassion and also music and sound. As Mahatma Gandhi’s immortal words explained; ‘A spirit filled with truth must direct its actions to the final goal’.

There are no directions, commandants or descriptions of god and religion. In our Vedic scripture it is told, how to live a healthy life, how to build a house, different types of music, dances, community life etc. There are no details of god, just BRAHMA, the creator and PRAKRITY, the creation. The West is still amazed to see Indians praying to rivers, plants, rain and hills.

Ayurveda is fast becoming a medical option worldwide. Applying sesame oil onto the body under the name of an ‘Ayurvedic massage’, or pouring oil onto the forehead, or some Indian spices in good looking packing and some vegetarian, tasteless dishes as an Ayurvedic diets, are some of the images that come to mind in many South African’s, when we mention Ayurveda.

However, very few people realize how incomplete this picture is and how specialized, institutionalized and scientific this system of medicine is. BAMS is a six year university degree after matriculation. All ayurvedic graduates are trained in ayurvedic and medical hospitals. After this, a 3 year post graduate MD courses is available for limited ayurvedic doctors.

Ayurveda is a part of Indian ancient healing system. Literally AYU means the knowledge of one’s whole life span form birth to death and VEDA means the knowledge of the real things in all aspects. Ayurveda provides an integrated approach to the prevention and treatment of illness through lifestyle interventions and a wide range of natural herbal medicines and therapies.

Ayurvedic theory states that all imbalance and disease in the body begins with an imbalance or stress in the awareness, or consciousness, of the individual. This mental stress leads to an unhealthy lifestyle, which further promote ill health. Therefore, techniques such as PANCHKARMA (detoxifications) and PRANAYAMA (breathing meditation) are considered essential to promote true healing.

Ayurveda describes all physical manifestations of disease as an imbalance of three basic physiological principles in the body, called DOSHAS, which are believed to govern all bodily functions. Evaluation of these three Doshas, VATA, PITTA, and KAPHA, is accomplished primarily by PRAKRITI (physiology) and VIKRITI (pathology) by determining and feeling the patient’s pulse at the radial artery, which is a detailed and systematic technique called NADI VIGYA. This evaluates the flow of energy in the Chakras. This evaluation determines the types of herbs prescribed, and it guides the physician in the application of all other ayurvedic therapies.


Ayurvedic treatment is like an initiation into a completely new interpretation of the self. If you are seeking other treatments, or if you are eager for a healthy life, then your natural force will reveal itself and your inner universe will change its direction to health. To achieve complete health naturally, there must be a total revolution, a complete mutation of your mind, in your way of life, in your feelings and in your daily activities.

The first step of ayurveda is consultation; it usually takes 45-60 minutes. During the consultation, the Ayurvedic doctor assesses the patient on medical and ayurvedic grounds by taking a history, GPE, and a pulse examination. A Chakra Examination and Medico-Astrological analysis is also done.


Panchkarma is a sophisticated series of procedure to flush out the toxins from our body and mind.
Only after consultation can the Ayurvedic doctor design a particular line of treatment which includes ayurvedic medicines, diet changes or detox therapies.


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