Modern medicine has saved millions of lives and emerged as the best option to go to in case of trauma and severe illness. But, it often comes with side effects and doesn’t take care of the root of the problem. On the other hand, Ayurveda is more focused on treating the problem and body as a whole, rather than just the symptoms. The ancient medicinal system is based on the principle that health is not the absence of disease but a positive condition or state that can be achieved by following Yamas (social restraints) and Niyamas (self-disciplines). Ayurveda teaches us to let ourselves be guided by these ethical principles in how we relate to others and take care of our bodies. Once you have upgraded your health, you may see that most of the ailments will disappear without having to be directly addressed.
Ayurveda can help us be at complete balance at all the levels of the mind, body, and soul. Although modern medicine is vital and life-saving, sometimes the solutions can be unfulfilling for the body and senses. In such cases, Ayurveda can be the solution to all these problems.
The following article speaks about nine herbal and ayurvedic replacements for modern medicine to treat various ailments.
Ayurveda describes fever comprehensively. Categorized into thirteen types, fever can be Vataja, Pittaja, Kaphaja, Vata-Pittaja, Vata-Kaphaja, Tridoshaj (intrinsic fevers), Agantuja (extrinsic fever), Krodhaja (anger induced), Kamaja (related to sex), Vishama jwar (malaria), Shokaja (anxiety induced), and Bhuta-vistha (of unknown origin). Along with the rise in body temperature, additional symptoms can surface based on other factors and doshas.
Since a variety of factors can cause fever, its management and treatment are equally diverse.
However, there are a few general rules that need to be followed for its treatment.
In the initial stage of fever, it is recommended to fast or have light food. But that shouldn’t be done if the fever is of Vata character. While fasting, the stomach draws heat from the periphery to the center and increases the digestive fire.
In all cases of fevers, excluding the fever induced by Pitta, warm water is recommended for drinking to maintain the heat balance inside the stomach. One can go for a liquid diet that includes barley, vegetable soup and sago. It is essential to avoid anything that is astringent in taste.
Antipyretic medicines must be avoided in the initial stages of fever. The use of such medicines lower the temperature inside the stomach and doesn’t help with the primary aim of restoring the digestive fire. However, antipyretic remedies that can be absorbed by the body without having to be digested can be used.
As mentioned in the classic Ayurvedic text, Bhaisajya Ratnavali, one can take Sudarsana Tablets daily to treat fever. The compound is a natural medicine for fever and works effectively to treat other types of fever as well.
Another formula that can be used for the treatment of simple fever is the mixture of Vasaka leaf (Adhatoda vasica) and 10% of Shukti Bhasma (which is oyster shell ash), taken in doses of 1-2 grams twice daily with warm water.
A significant health concern that people face as they age is declining mental ability. However, the following Ayurvedic approaches can be quite beneficial in building a good memory power and support the functions of the brain.
In Ayurveda, Medhya implies intellect or wisdom. Medhya remedies promote mental health and act as mental rejuvenators to develop a mind that is mighty, vibrant, and pure.
Medhya can be brought into play in several ways. Anything that promotes the sattva guna, one of the qualities of consciousness, will make your mind steadier.
Brahmi Pearls from Kerala Ayurveda contains a balanced mix of Tulsi, Brahmi and Mandukaparni to greatly boost memory and cognitive abilities.
Herbs and foods that are bitter are known to open up the mind and increase awareness. Since bitter herbs have a cooling and calming effect, they help fight mental dullness and enable us to reach our full potential.
Some of the mind-nourishing herbs that stand as the pillars to build mental health are mentioned below.
Ashwagandha: This herb is an excellent mental rejuvenator and is also called as 'winter cherry' or 'Withania.' Ashwagandha acts as a tonic for healthy memory and a strong nervous system. The herb has found extensive usage as it imparts general strength and support to deal with occasional fatigue and exhaustion.
Calamus: Herbalists and yogis the root of the Calamus plant in high regard. It is an excellent herb for the mind and can be used topically as a dry powder, paste, or as a part of herbal oil. Calamus has been in use since ancient times to enhance intelligence, sharpen memory, and increase communication and self-expression.
Brahmi/ Gotu Kola: This herb also goes by the name of 'Mandukaparni' and is the cornerstone of many herbal medicines in Ayurveda. Widely acclaimed as one of the best herbs for the nervous system, it is used as a support for graceful ageing and to aid in meditation. It supports healthy memory, intelligence, concentration, physical strength and complexion.
Bacopa: The Bacopa or Water Hyssop is a herb used for support of good memory, nervous system, and mental energy. Since it enhances the natural ability of an individual to solve problems effectively, Bacopa is often used in Ayurvedic formulas meant to help with stress.
Shankhapushpi: Shankhapushpi can help you clear your mind and relax. Usually prepared or taken with ghee, the herb promotes the tranquillity of mind without putting it in a dull state.
All five elements of life govern eye health. Earth controls the muscular part, water rules the white area of the eye, fire regulates the blood vessels, air controls the colour, and space oversees the tear ducts and channels.
Alochaka Pitta has a significant role to play in eye health as well. It is a sub-dosha of Pitta that tends to become less balanced with age. Therefore, you must care for your eyes throughout life.
There are many therapies listed in Ayurveda that act as a natural cure for eyes, such as Netra Tarpanam, Padabhyanga, and Nasyam. The Netra Tarpanam works best for people who have computer vision syndrome and dry eyes. Your ayurvedic practitioner might either use lukewarm ghee or oil for the treatment depending on your dosha and needs. However, this treatment is not recommended for people with cataracts or eye infections. It also provides relief from itchiness or irritation in the eyes.
The Padabhyanga treatment involves massaging the foot to stimulate vital points on feet that are believed to enable the eyes to perform better. Padabhyanga helps to reduce the tiredness and strain in eyes caused by stress.
In Nasyam, medicines are administered through the nasal cavity to act on the particular area of the brain associated with regulating vision.
Dry cough or Shushka Kasa has turned out to be a common problem among city dwellers. The everyday exposure to allergens and pollutants in the environment causes them to enter and stay in the throat, lungs, and airways. As a natural reflex action, the body tries to get rid of them by coughing. This repetitive action results in inflammation of the respiratory tract and throat. Other causes of dry cough are sinusitis, pneumonia, vomiting, and infection in the respiratory tract.
Dry coughs provoked by high levels of pollution, allergy, dust, and toxic smoke are termed as 'Vataja Kasa.' To protect yourself from this disease, you can follow the below-mentioned treatments.
Drink warm milk with turmeric and honey before bedtime.
Licorice tablets can help with inflammation.
You can use the decoction of aniseeds to make coffee or tea.
Chew a small piece of ginger to reduce the inflammation. You can also prepare a homemade cough syrup by mixing honey and ginger.
Adding a small amount of cinnamon powder to warm water or tea is a good way of reducing irritability in the throat.
Chew basil leaves or add it to a cup of tea for faster recovery.
In addition to these home remedies, there are medicinal preparations aimed at treating individuals based on their dosha composition and disease symptoms. Presently, Ayurveda has powerful medicines to cure dry cough, throat infection, and other respiratory diseases. Kerala Ayurveda's Tussnil Syrup contains naturally occurring cough-combating ingredients like Vasa, Kasamarda, Yashti and Lavanga to help in faster relief.
If you have caught a cold, try the following all-natural remedies from Ayurveda.
Flush out toxins: When you are sick with cold, Ayurveda suggests drinking warm water. That's because warm water is easier for the body to absorb compared to cold water. It flushes out ama or toxins from your body that compromise your immunity. Besides, it hydrates your mucous membranes and pacifies the dry and cold Vata Dosha. It is advisable to sip hot water in intervals of ten or fifteen minutes at the first symptom of a cold.
Take Astragalus for better immunity: Studies have shown that Astragalus extract has the potential to activate immune cells within twenty-four hours. You can find Astragalus in drops and tablets, but make sure to follow the recommended dosage. It is better to consult your doctor if you are concerned about how it may affect your existing medications.
Diet is important to fight the cold: During a cold, it's recommended to stick to a diet that is light, simple, and warm. You can go for clear broths and seasonal vegetables such as leeks, kale and bok choy. Foods that are dense, raw, and hard to digest should be avoided.
Salt water: Gargling with salt water is a natural cure for cold and cough. It is one of the best ways to loosen up the excess mucus and eliminate the bacteria that cause sore throat.
Try ginger: Kapha Dosha is active during colds. It results in excessive mucus when it’s out of balance. Ginger can be the solution.
Ayurveda suggests inhaling ginger-infused steam to get relief from sinus and lung congestion. To do that, you can boil one teaspoon of ginger in a pint of water and then hold your face at a comfortable distance from the pot. Drape a towel over your head to stop the steam from escaping and inhale it through your nose. Repeat as needed.
Menstruation is a normal part of a woman’s life. But at times, the pain and discomfort become so severe that going through a regular day becomes tough. Menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhea can bring sharp, dull, throbbing, burning, or shooting pain. The cramps may occur several days before menstruation or accompany it, and it usually tapers off after the cycle.
In Ayurvedic terms, Apana Vayu, a subtype of Vata Dosha, governs and controls menstruation. It is located in the pelvic floor, and its energy permeates through the lower abdomen region. Generally, the Apana Vayu flows downward and out, but when there is a disturbance or obstruction in the flow, it results in dysmenorrhea or Kashtartav.
The ayurvedic treatment for dysmenorrhea involves sweating, cleansing, medicated enemas, controlling the Vata, etc. Oil therapy and massage are useful to clear any obstructions, relieve any spasms, and promote the free movement of Vata in the appropriate direction.
Anuvasan Basti or Oil Enema works wonders in normalizing the flow and direction of Vata. Here, individuals are required to follow through the process of a series of oil and decoction enema to relieve themselves of the pain. Uttar Basti treatment is widely used as well, where medicines are administered inside the uterus. This removes any blockages of channels and provides more nutrition to the uterus. Other therapies, like Virechan and Pichu, are also quite beneficial.
Joint pain can affect one or multiple joints. Arthritis can also be the reason causing stiffness and pain in the joints. The condition cannot be permanently cured, but changes in the diet can help in better managing the joints. Ayurveda introduces many herbs that can be used to alleviate joint pain. Some of the natural herbs for joint pain are described below.
Nirgundi: Nirgundi is a herb commonly used in the treatment of joint pain. It is easy to find and has the potential to lessen swelling and excessive pain. It has anti-convulsing, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant properties as well that are beneficial for the joints. Nirgundi can either be used as an oil or made into a paste with its leaves to be applied to the joints. Besides, the leaves of the Nirgundi plant can also be used to prepare a leaf decoction.
Ajwain: It consists of anti-inflammatory components that act as a natural cure to stiffness and pain in joints. Ajwain is also known for its anaesthetic properties that can further relieve the pain during winter. Add a spoonful of ajwain seeds in a tub of warm water and then soak your joints in the water for about five to ten minutes. This will significantly reduce the pain and swelling. Ayurveda experts also suggest drinking ajwain water every day.
Dashmool: Dashmool is composed of a mixture of ten medicinal herbs used to cure many health ailments. Translating to 'ten roots,' Dashmool contains five roots from trees and five from shrubs. It is an effective medicine to treat inflammatory conditions or Vata related issues in the body. Dashmool has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and sedative properties and is available for use in the form of oil as well as powder.
Shallaki: The Shallaki herb which can be found in Kerala Ayurveda's KM Lepam, is an ayurvedic medicine for arthritis. It has proven benefits of keeping our joints healthy and strong. It can help in reducing any pain or swelling in the joints and further increase mobility as well. The herb is also known by the name of 'Boswellia Serrata' and is considered as the best replacement for modern pain killers by Ayurveda experts. Shallaki can be found in the form of essential oil and powder.
Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus oil has the reputation of being one of the best herbal treatments for arthritis and joint pains. The leaves of the eucalyptus plant contain tannins, which are an essential component for reducing swelling and pain. It is said that the aroma of eucalyptus oil can have a soothing effect on the brain as well.
Ginger: The commonly and readily available ginger also can reduce joint pain and swelling. Since ginger facilitates adequate blood circulation, it can bring heat and healing components to the affected areas. Consuming ginger tea or applying its paste and the essential oil is beneficial.
According to the principles of Ayurveda, the primary reason for headache is due to dosha imbalances caused by improper lifestyle and unhealthy diet choices. Headaches begin to surface when Vata is clogged, which can again intensify with pitta aggravation.
Some of the factors that trigger dosha imbalance and headaches are emotional stress, dehydration, constipation, inadequate rest, diet, and hunger. Most of the headaches occurring today are induced by stress and sleep deprivation, among other causes.
Ayurveda remedies work by targeting these underlying causes of headaches. Below mentioned are some of the efficient solutions for dealing with headaches.
Lavender: Lavender is categorised as a Medhya herb due to its relaxing and stimulating properties. Besides using it to get relief from headaches, lavender can also be used to treat stress, anger, irritability, loneliness, anxiety, and high blood pressure. It soothes the senses and may help some individuals get rid of their migraines as well.
Peppermint: Peppermint consists of several nutrients and plant compounds, such as menthol and menthone. Ayurveda describes peppermint as a sweet, pungent, and healing solution that can be used either as an essential oil or herbal tea.
Ginger: Ginger is considered a necessary cooking ingredient in many parts of the world, but long before, it was used and valued for its medicinal properties. Several ayurvedic remedies and herbal formulations contain ginger as a vital ingredient. In addition to treating a variety of respiratory and digestive conditions, it also works as a promising headache remedy.
Ashwagandha: Relieving headaches is one of the many health benefits that Ashwagandha brings. Often referred to as Indian ginseng, this herb is widely acclaimed as a rejuvenator and revitaliser for the mind and the body. Although it is not used mostly as a headache remedy, it can surely help to calm the underlying causes of headaches.
Stress and depression are a result of the wear and tear that the mind and body go through while coping with the endlessly changing environment. Ayurveda says that stress, anxiety and depression are all the disorders of Rajas. Rajas is one of the three qualities of consciousness, representing passion or undirected activity.
When Rajas builds up in your mind, they emerge as craving, attachment, and desire. As these impulses, by their nature, are tough to satisfy, they tend to create a negative psychological disposition.
To treat the conditions of a disturbed mind, Jatamansi, Ashwagandha, Sarpagandha, Vacha, Brahmi and Shankpushpi are extremely helpful. These herbs impart strength to the nervous system so that the body becomes capable enough to cope up with tension and stress.
Jatamansi: It offers stability to brain functioning.
Ashwagandha: It strengthens the brain as well as the nervous system.
Sarpagandha: It helps in controlling blood pressure. It also induces proper sleep.
Vacha: Vacha is a memory-enhancing herb. It enhances the ability of the mind to recall things.
Brahmi: Brahmi means 'God-like.' It vitalizes brain cells and has a calming effect on the nervous system.
About Dr. Natasha
Dr. Natasha is a Bachelor in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery specializing in treating geriatric ailments, auto-immune and musculoskeletal diseases over a period of 10 years in the field. Dr. Natasha has also been actively involved in the development of numerous natural and herbal treatments that help beauty enhancement.