INDIA: Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) Across the World
“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru – The First Prime Minister of India
Experiencing different cultures and embarking on new activities can be liberating! It’s meant to relax, calm, and alleviate built up tension within. But, it’s not time to return to work just yet! You’re still on vacation. So, keep your mind focused, your attitude adventurous, and lets keep traveling!
This week we will explore–India
Ayurveda- came from the Vedic civilization in India 4,000 years ago. One of the earliest found manuscripts dates back to 1500 BC, written in India’s ancient language, Sanskrit. Ayurveda means “science of life.” This type of alternative medicine is focused on extending the lifespan of each individual, preventing disease, and replenishing the body. Balance between the body and its environment is vital to optimal health. The core of Ayurveda medicine lies in understanding the individual’s dosha, or genetic make-up of the body. The following three doshas with their respective characteristic of how they can manifest within the body are:
- Vata (air)–changeable and often the most dominate of the three. Vata controls the respiratory system, the mind, circulation cardiac function and your body’s ability to get rid of waste. When this principle is dominant, heart disease, skin irregularities, asthma, anxiety, and arthritis are more prone to manifest in the body.
- Pitta (water and fire)–intense. Pitta controls hormones, digestion, and metabolism. When displayed, Crohn’s disease, indigestion, negativity, heart disease, high blood pressure and infections are more likely to develop.
- Kapha (earth and water)– relaxed. Kapha is responsible for bone integrity, immunity, weight, and muscle breakdown/growth. If dominant, diabetes, respiratory issues such as asthma, obesity and cancer may be seen.
One or several doshas can be manifested at one time. When doshas are in balance health is achieved. Likewise, when they are unbalanced disease is present. Stress and poor diet are just some of the ways the body gets out of balance. This practice believes that the mind and body are one. The body can’t function without the mind and the mind without the body. In essence, physical health cannot be obtained without mental health and vise versa. Ayurveda uses lifestyle modifications and natural therapies such as nutrition, herbs, minerals, exercise, stretching, aromatherapy, mediation, and massage to balance the body.
Applications- Headaches/migraines, detoxification of the body, insomnia, pain, depression, anxiety, digestive disorders, fatigue, central nervous system problems, arthritis, inflammation, and skin allergies can all be reduced when natural supportive remedies combined with lifestyle changes are incorporated.
Travel North in India along the Indus Valley
Yoga– Yoga can be a component of Ayurveda therapy or can be practiced independently, some call it a way of life. Yoga means to “to join” or “connect.” This alternative therapy has been practiced for thousands of years. With historical roots planted in India, it combines the physical and mental aspects of exercising in order to still the mind and find peace from within. During the 19th century, Hindu monks are said to have brought yoga to the States. By the early 1980’s it became a popular form of physical exercise. There are so many philosophies and types practiced, but generally in the U.S. various forms of physical postures are used to promote flexibility and strength to achieve wholeness and unity within the body. Other benefits seen are a reduction in stress, increased endurance, and relaxation. Basic postures can be combined with breathing, mind-body centering, and spiritual exercises. Some of the most common types of yoga practiced are:
- Ashtanga- incorporates fast-paced postures with synchronized breathing, which is meant to increase heart rate and internal heat to detoxify organs and muscles. Benefits- to create a lean, strong body; increase circulation and flexibility while calming the mind.
- Bikram- preformed in a 105 degree studio to create more flexibility, prevent injuries, and detox the body. This method uses 26 postures. Benefits- created to increase muscular strength and endurance, weight loss, and promote circulation.
- Iyengar- centered on proper alignment of the body while holding specific postures for long periods of time. Benefits- endurance, coordination, flexibility, and strength.
- Kripaula- often called “gentle yoga,” brings balance into the body by focusing on relaxation. Carried out in 3 stages, this type of yoga focuses on the spiritual and emotional blockages within the body. Benefits- decreases anxiety, reduces stress, and promotes positive thinking.
Applications- Headaches, depression, anxiety, systemic effects, mental health, and musculoskeletal benefits on the body have been seen with the practice of yoga. Research is currently being tested on the use of yoga in complementary intervention for treatment of cancer, cardiac conditions, and asthma.
Yoga believes that disease is caused by an insufficient life force (nerve impulse) to the organs. Disruption or blockage of flow to any part of the body places the body at risk for infection and disease, but when the spine and body are flexible, vitality and health can be achieved.
The following link from Harvard Health Publications discusses the health benefits from yoga:
More and more people are seeking alternative health therapies for relief of symptoms, to promote healing, and bring balance to the body. These two complementary alternative therapies are embedded in history, tradition, and culture. Both focus on treating the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects, looking at the whole-body in order to promote health.
DEFINE’s senior instructor and anatomy specialist, Lori Hudson Bertrand D.C., R.N. is a doctor in chiropractic and registered nurse. Her love for helping people through education about anatomy and physiology drives her to continue to share her experiences and knowledge with others as they pursue their journey towards health and restoration!
Information about Complementary Alternative Medicine used in this post is found in Giordano, PH.D., Introduction To Complementary and Alternative Medicine, (Ann Arbor, MI: ProQuest, 2005), 20-23; Taylor, Lillis, LeMone, Lynn, Fundamentals of Nursing, (Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer, 2008), 747-763.
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