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Western Herbalist's Use of Ayurveda in the Clinic - Page 1

Ayurveda is the ancient healing tradition of India. Literally translated it means, "wisdom of life" and was a part of the ancient Vedic culture and texts. Ayurveda is thought to have been in practice for many centuries, and includes herbal medicine, dietetics, body work, meditation, yoga, surgery, psychology and spirituality.

Currently, Ayurveda is going through a new stage of development as it re-adapts to the modern world and its unique conditions. This adaptation may take some work to accomplish due to the fast pace of the world and the various changing situations we confront. We cannot take the ancient text and try to apply it verbatim because our current existence as human beings is unprecedented.

However, certain parts of the philosophy are perennial or timeless. These are the parts that we can use and find to be very helpful. I feel that it is important that we do not try to "standardize" Ayurveda and say that there is only one way to teach it or to apply it in our lives. Here at our school of Integrative Herbology , we feel that we must take Ayurveda out of the purely academic atmosphere into the arena of practical application. We feel that we must see over time which aspects are true for us in the West and which are no longer applicable. Our emphasis in teaching Ayurveda is to find a way in which we can live more integrated lives. Many of us find ourselves out of touch with our bodies, senses and the environment. The idea of "getting back to Nature " means to find out what our own nature is and what foods, work, environment, colors, and aromas will bring greater harmony and health to us.

With this in mind we try to help each student discern what their particular constitutional proclivities are and we help them to integrate with the local environment by teaching them about the herbs and plants that grow in their yards, along the rivers and in the mountains. This to us is truly teaching wholistic living. Ayurveda and herbology cannot be successfully taught as an academic subject in the classroom. The classroom must expand and include gardens and local natural environments. We also need to engage our mind and all of our senses ( smell, touch, taste, hearing, sight and intuition) so as to bring the ideas into the deepest parts of our beings.

We feel that this "reconnecting" must be an intricate part of teaching Ayurveda as well as many other healing arts. We need to know who our plant healers are around us and acknowledge them and their existence. Wholistic living is not just knowing a theory. It is living the life as an integrated human being not as a fragmented entity.

We also feel that it is important to use the local organic herbs rather than to stick exclusively to the herbs from India. Again we must take into consideration some of our modern conditions. Many plants from other countries are sprayed with pesticides that are banned from the USA. They are also sprayed as they enter the USA for bugs. Many of the spices from the orient are irradiated as well. This type of treatment for healing herbs is unacceptable and we do not want to support that type of consciousness. Using the herbs that grow in our environment but applying an Ayurvedic paradigm to them I feel can be a very important and expanding step to take for the Western herbalist as well as the traditional Ayurvedic practitioner. Doing so makes Ayurveda not so foreign and very "immediate" for us.

One of the hallmarks of this Science of healing is that it is a system that is based on the individual. In other words there is not one diet for everyone and that each herb and healing modality must be custom made for the individual.

For example, some people are thin, dry, feel cold physically, have hyper (fast) metabolism, and may be nervous, scattered and agitated. They may have a job that has them traveling extensively. They may have various food allergies, or possibly have had some organs removed such as gallbladder or uterus. These people will need a diet and herbs that will take into account their particular constitutional proclivities as well as the unusual life situations that surround them. The foods that are warm, moistening, and calming would be recommended. These may include such things as soups, oil massage, warm and spicy teas, and herbs such as marshmallow root or dong quai which are building, moistening and calming. But we also must take into consideration the idea of the excess traveling, ( driving in a car and flying in a plane being an unknown thing for the ancients) and the body functions that may be stressed due to operations and drug therapies. Thus, the consultation may take up to two hours or more to do in order to fully get the picture as to what is occurring.

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