Ayurveda is the traditional medical system of India, originating more than 4,000 years ago. It is based on the theory that illness results from the imbalance of the body’s life force or prana. The balancing of this life force is determined by the equilibrium of the three bodily qualities called doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha. Most people have a dominant dosha, and the specific balance among the three doshas is unique to each person. (See also Overview of Integrative, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine.)
Health care practitioners evaluate people by
After determining the balance of doshas, health care practitioners design a treatment specifically tailored to each person. Ayurveda uses diet, herbs, massage, meditation, yoga, and internal cleansing (therapeutic elimination). Cleansing typically involves injecting fluid into the rectum to cause a bowel movement (an enema) or washing out the nose with water (nasal lavage) to restore balance within the body and with nature.