Ayurveda – 10 basic facts everyone needs to know.

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Ayurveda is a medical practice that originated in India. Thought to be far superior than other forms of medicine, it promises treatment for various ailments that would not normally not be found in other systems of medicine. If you are looking to get treated by the Ayurveda system of medicine, here are 10 facts about the practice.

Fact 1: The principles are basic yet extremely effective

Ayurveda is based on the principle that the body is made up of 5 elements – space, air, water, fire and earth. When all these elements work in congruence they make a healthy person. While all of us have all the five elements, they are in different proportions in our body – making a person one of these three – vatakapha or pitta. An imbalance in any of these elements makes a person ill and a realignment of these humours can cure a disease.

According to Dr Ramesh, CMD of Aryavaidyasala, Kotakkal, ‘Although all these five elements flow through the body at all times, each individual has certain elements which are more dominant than the others. For instance, a person having a vata constitution has more of air and space; pitta has more of fire and water, and kapha, water and earth. At the time of conception, each person’s predominant constitution (prakriti) is created by the way in which the three doshas combine through the union of parents. Besides genetic, the prakriti is also affected by emotions, diet, lifestyle, and even environmental factors like climate and time of the day. Once a person recognises his prominent dosha, a lot can be done to take care of the diseases that one is most prone to.’

Fact 2: The three doshas make you who you are

Before you scoff at the idea, here is what Ayurvedic practitioners believe. A person who is of a particular dosha has unique characteristics. Due to the dominance of one of the doshas it affects a person’s temperament, the diseases that can affect him and even governs how he react to stress. Apart from that it also dictates the type of body structure he has and the foods he is likely to love.

Fact 3: The three doshas tell the practitioner what ailments you are most likely to suffer from:

Here are the characteristics of each dosha and what diseases people commonly suffer from:

Dosha type Physical characteristics Psychological characteristics Common ailments
Kapha Gains weight easily. Loses weight with difficulty

• Short and stocky or tall and sturdy

• Hair, neck are all ‘thick’

• Abundant strength and stamina

• Weak digestion. Feels heavy after eating

• Regular bowel movements

• Oily skin. Smooth and pale

• Sleeps easily and soundly

• Catches cold easily

• Prefers hot weather

• Large-hearted

• Calm nature

• Prefers slow, relaxed lifestyle

• Not a very quick learner but excellent long term memory

• Sentimental. Often thinks of past

• Methodical

• Protective of self and family

• Lets negative emotions build up rather than addressing them

• Lets others take the lead

• Natural listener who many people confide in.

  • Congestion,
  • Usually overweight,
  • Have fluid retention problems,
  • Experience swelling,
  • Commonly have head colds (congestion in the head),
  • Suffer from lung problems,
  • Are lethargic,
  • May experience depression and sadness
  • Medium build.
  • Gains and puts on weight easily.
  • Average height
  • Pointed features
  • Energy levels high
  • Strong appetite
  • Regular bowel movements.
  • Occasional bouts of diarrhoea
  • Oily skin.
  • Reddish tone
  • Easy perspiration
  • Prefers cool weather.
  • May become irritable in hot weather
  • Penetrating eyes
  • Goal-oriented
  • Good sense of humour
  • Strong intellect. Likes learning new things.
  • Natural ability to lead
  • Critical of self and others
  • Perfectionist
  • Tends to become angry and irritable
  • Becomes irritable if meal skipped
  • Stubborn
  • Enjoys competition


  • They commonly experience inflammation of joints, tissues and organs.
  • Excess heat can cause problems in the liver, blood, gall bladder and intestine.
  • As heat rises they may experience migraines, neck and spinal stiffness, fevers and headaches.
Vata  • Slender and does not put on weight easily

• Height is taller or shorter than average

• Hair, neck are all ‘thin’

• Energy fluctuates and comes in bursts

• Appetite is variable

• There is a tendency to become constipated

• Skin frequently becomes dry

• Cold hands and feet

• Light sleeper and may even have difficulty falling asleep

• Prefers warm, moist weather to cold weather

• Creative and imaginative

• Artistic

• Active and restless

• Quick learner but forgets quickly

• Becomes ‘spaced out’ quite easily

• Tendency to feel anxious, nervous and insecure

• Speaks quickly and uses hand gestures

• Always on the go

• Irregular routine

• Often has colourful dreams

  • They commonly experience stiffness, especially in joints, low back and spinal pain, sciatica.
  • Constipation
  • Nervousness

Fact 4: Diagnosis is based on various factors

Ayurveda uses the system of ‘Astavidha rogi pareeksha’ or eight methods to examine a patient. This includes testing the following factors – Naadi (Pulse), Mutra (Urine), Mala (stool), Shabda (voice),Jivha(tongue), Sparsha (skin), Drik (Eyes) and Aakriti (body build).  After the doctor has understood the type of body you have and the problem you might be suffering from, he/she will try to understand which humour could be imbalanced and thereby prescribe medication.

Fact 5: Ayurveda looks at your body as a whole

In Ayurveda a disease is known as a disharmony (or imbalance of energy flow) between mind, body and soul. This means that your body, its organs, your mind and your mental makeup – all play a role in diagnosis and treatment. This way it tries to treat the root of the problem rather than the organ or part of the body that is affected – factoring in how the medicines will affect the person as a whole.

Fact 6: Your environment plays an important role in your health

What you eat, where you live, even the colours you are attracted to can be explained by Ayurveda. According to the principles, a person’s dosha mitigates this and therefore being in an environment that is contrary to your dosha will elevate one particular humour in the body leading to an imbalance and disease. Ayurveda seeks to negate that effect and bring the balance back into equilibrium. 

Fact 7: Ayurveda involves more than just herbs

Ayurvedic medicines contain not only herbs but also other substances like milk, ghee, butter, honey, molasses, gingelly oil, rock salts, minerals, ashes and self-fermented alcohol. While herbs are a major component of the medicines prescribed, other compounds are used as well. In some cases the other compounds are adjuvants or carriers (help the medicine perform better) and in others they form the medicine itself. 

Fact 8: It cures the root of the problem not the symptoms alone

Ayurveda is based on the very compounds that make and run your body. During treatment, an Ayurvedic doctor finds the problem, then looks for the reason for it. Once the reason is found he/she will treat the factors that are hindering the entire recovery process. Once cleared he/she will take care of the disease itself. This way Ayurveda looks to root out the problem rather than simply treat the symptoms — hopefully eradicating the problem entirely.  

Fat 9: Ayurveda is a lifestyle

The word Ayurveda is derived from two words; ‘Ayur’ meaning life and longetivity and ‘veda’ means knowledge.  The basic scripture of Ayurveda talks about living life the Ayurveda way, where every aspect is in line with keeping your body’s humours in check. So if you have diabetes, and with Ayurveda your blood sugar levels have been brought under control, you will notice that along with the medication there are several lifestyle changes you will have to make. Therefore, if you follow those principles for as long as you live, your diabetes will stay under control. 

Fact 10: It has many specialties

Ayurveda has many more principles than just prescribing medicines. It also has specialties like surgery (Shalya-chikitsa), diseases above the shoulder (Shalakya), internal medicine (Kaayachikitsa), psychiatry (Bhutavidya), pediatrics (Kaumarabhrutyam), toxicology (Agadatantram), rejuvenation (Rasayanam) and aphrodisiacs (Vajikaranam). All these can treat every complication encountered by the human body. 

So, the next time you are looking for a comprehensive and effective treatment protocol for yourself, try using Ayurveda. It may take a little longer, but the end result is definitely worth all the effort. 

4 thoughts on “Ayurveda – 10 basic facts everyone needs to know.

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