Ayurvedic Medicine encompasses a wide range of treatments and lifestyle measures, including dietary recommendations, massage, medicinal herbs, and the meditation and breathing techniques of yoga. Some 66practitioners also recommend intestinal "cleansing" through the use of laxatives or enemas. Depending on your specific ailments and condition, you could be prescribed any or all of these various modes of therapy.
Ayurvedic practitioners generally begin by taking a comprehensive personal and medical history to determine your physical and spiritual "type," and then prescribe and treat accordingly. Expect detailed questions about your emotional temperament, skin type, food preferences, and other quirks. The practitioner is also likely to examine your tongue and spend a significant amount of time taking your pulse. (In the Ayurvedic view of medicine, the pulse is a critical diagnostic tool, revealing imbalances in the three basic principles at work in the body.)
Much like traditional Oriental medicine, the Ayurvedic system aims not just to treat diseases, but to maintain and balance the energy and health of both mind and body. It emphasizes avoidance of stress and a moderate, balanced lifestyle. The version of Ayurvedic medicine commercialized in the United States is a relatively recent "reconstruction" of ancient Indian medical practices, refined and tailored to meet Western expectations and tastes. In India itself, Western-style medicine is replacing many of the older practices.
The frequency and duration of Ayurvedic treatments vary widely. Many aspects of Ayurvedic practice, such as dietary choices and yoga, can be self-administered on a regular basis or as needed. Typical measures may include massage with warm sesame oil; avoidance of certain types of foods (based on flavor, not nutritional content) and emphasis on others; breathing exercises, such as breathing alternately through one nostril and then the other; and herbal saunas or enemas to "detoxify" the body. A comprehensive program of treatments, called panchakarma, aims at overall "purification" and rejuvenation, and may be offered at some Ayurvedic clinics, centers, or spas.
Treatment should stop
If you are using Ayurvedic techniques such as meditation and yoga to combat stress and improve your general well being, you can probably continue indefinitely. However, if a specific complaint fails to respond to Ayurvedic herbs or dietary adjustments within a matter of weeks, the wisest course is to discontinue the treatment and seek alternative therapy.
See a Conventional Doctor If...
Even if you find an Ayurvedic program to be a helpful tonic, its best to regard it as an adjunct to other forms of medicine. If you develop any serious or alarming symptoms, seek diagnosis and treatment from a mainstream physician. Remember, even in India most health-care professionals now use at least some modern medical techniques. Ayurvedic medicine is an entire system of medicine that has been practiced in India for over 5000 years.