An Ayurvedic Herbal Perspective
Shantree Kacera RH., D.N., Ph.D.
Have you ever wondered why we become sick or what is the ultimate cause of disease? If we can understand the cause of disease then we can initiate a course of action in the healing process. Each system of conservative and complementary healing medicine has its own unique perception of the cause of disease. Based upon this perception, each system sets about to develop a healing program to restore health.
For instance, traditional Allopathic Medicine looks to pathogens (bacteria, viruses, fungus, etc.) as the cause of disease and based upon this model develops drugs to kill the pathogens. Chiropractors look at the cause of disease as mis-alignments or abnormal function of the bones of the spine, which creates an interference with nerve function. Thus, the cure is an adjustment or manipulation of the bones of the spine to correct the mis-alignment, opening the pathways for proper nerve function.
Every system of health care has its own model, and I have studied most along my journey. Too often I was left with a remaining question. Why? For instance, why do we become susceptible to the pathogens when we have an immune system that is supposed to keep us healthy? Why do the bones of the spine become dysfunctional? There must be answers. There must be deeper levels of cause. If so, then the pathogen causing an infection or the vertebrae causing nerve interference is only a symptom of some deeper underlying cause! I searched long and hard for that underlying cause and it was in the science of Ayurveda that I found it. Ayurveda means the knowledge of living or the art of longevity.
Ayurveda teaches us that all disease begins when we are living out of harmony with our environment and the elements of nature: air, sun, water, soil and living and workspace. When we take in inappropriate impressions from our environment through any of our five senses, we weaken the body and create an internal environment, which supports the creation of disease. In this environment, bacteria, viruses and other pathogens thrive, and muscles tense and alter the function of vertebra interfering with nerve function.
Models can be created both to prevent and to treat disease. If disharmony is the cause of disease then the re-creation of harmony is the cure. This is what the science of Ayurvedic herbalism is all about.
One realization of this model is that both the creation and the healing of disease are under our control. It is a disturbing thought that we participate in the creation of disease, but an empowering thought that we can also participate in the healing process. Ayurveda takes health into the realm of personal responsibility, and once we enter that realm we are no longer victims of the multitude of ailments that afflict humankind. We become empowered to participate in our own healing process!
Healing through Ayurvedic herbalism involves all five senses. Through taste, we utilize proper diet, herbs and spices. Through sight, we utilize the colour and beauty of the living plants. Through smell we utilize aromatherapy. Through sound, we utilize the sounds of nature. Finally, through the skin, we take in specially prepared herbal oils and receive massages. Ayurvedic herbalism also advocates the periodic elimination of accumulated impurities and food remains using specifically prepared herbs for purification procedures called Pancha Karma.
In Ayurvedic herbalism, the practitioner views each person as an individual with a different internal balance of energy - ones constitution. Understanding a persons constitution allows the herbalist, to set up a program of care specific to that individual. This program helps them to re-establish harmony with their environment thus creating an optimal internal environment for healing to take place. Understanding the internal energy of the body, the herbalist can foresee the effect a person will have and thus can recommend an herbal and dietary program specific to that individual.
We do not have to be sick. Through healthy practices, we can become physically vibrant and radiant individuals. Ayurvedic herbalism is the science of reaching our full healing potential. An individual can take back control over their health and well-being.