Ayurveda is considered to be the oldest healing science, having originated in India well over 5000 years ago with its roots in ancient Vedic culture. The language of Sanskrit is a science to itself, and from that comes the profound knowledge termed Ayurveda, meaning “The Science of life”. It is also regarded as the “Mother of all healing” and is doubtlessly the first true health care system in the world, and from it stem so many other wellknown healing modalities, including homeopathy and most recently Functional Medicine, which holds the same principle of delving to the root cause of disease.
The foundational strategy of Ayurveda is prevention by empowering maintenance of health through cultivating a deep awareness of balance in one’s life. In totality you will learn to see the importance of health in rhythm with your inner ecology and the outer world of nature, the microcosm and macrocosm of all existence. In addition, it takes into account your belief system as well as the socio-economic and environmental status surrounding your life, since these have a deep impact on your physical, mental and emotional health.
We know that every person has a unique genetic code and this is further influenced by epigenetics. In the same way each person has a particular energy pattern which builds our individual constitution – a combination of physical, biochemical, mental, emotional and spiritual characteristics. This pattern is determined at conception and from birth onwards is subject to countless factors – both internal and external that can disturb the balance, or switch traits on or off. This is reflected in a change in one’s constitution from the balanced state; balance is order (health) and imbalance is disorder (disease). Homeostasis is the way the body responds to changes and returns us to balance, and this is occurring in every body system, as well as in the mind. Once we understand our constitution and the factors that affect it, we can take appropriate actions to minimise their effects and restore our original constitution. A good practitioner will guide and examine aspects of you to determine your unique code.
The energy patterns are the basic biology of the body, and in Ayurveda are termed doshas. They are based upon the five great elements, Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth:
• Vata the subtlest and most pervasive energy associated with movement, composed of Ether and Air. It is a kinetic energy that causes movement through cells, across membranes, transport of nutrients, speed of thoughts and creative potential. Out of balance, it might cause anxiety, fear and can push the other doshas away from their balanced positions to cause disease in other parts of the body.
• Pitta the energy of metabolism and transformation made up of Fire and Water. The process of digestion, absorption, assimilation, intelligence and passion all require the fluidity of fire. When disturbed the fire burns in anger, hatred or jealousy.
• Kapha the stabilising force for structure and stability; the building blocks utilising Earth and Water, is the glue that keep our cells and bodies together. It lubricates and expresses itself through calmness, compassion and love. Out of balance it promotes attachment, greed and laziness.
The doshas allow our body systems and organs to work in harmony and understanding how each organ/body system affects the next, and how the body eliminates waste and processes toxins gives a complete picture of physical health. Sensory perception, state of mind, and our spirit have an even greater impact on our physical health – key indicators of whole health in the Ayurvedic definition of “Health” as per Charaka – the Father of Ayurveda. The doshas and our perceptions help create our reciprocal relationship with the environment and the universe, and this includes our relationship with food and medicines, as well as with nature and the people around us.
Ayurveda as a complement to Western Medicine is a powerful combination, since the latter focuses on symptomatology and disease, while Ayurveda looks to the whole of life (the individual and beyond) and aims to discover the root cause and rebalance the entire system. It’s belief is that the physical problem should never be looked at in isolation from the whole person. Bringing the two sciences together has the capacity to prevent, heal and enhance the life we have with vitality and longevity.
The concept of Cancer in Ayurveda is the chronic long-standing imbalance of all doshas. The imbalance has been masked in some way so no early signs have been visible, or our awareness has not tuned into the subtler changes occurring within us. Restoring balance and cultivating conscious behavioural patterns is an essential part of the cancer journey and can work safely and effectively alongside radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Preparing the body and mind for surgery or other treatments can bring a certain equipoise to the often difficult process. This is where Yoga, the sister science of Ayurveda comes into play as well, since together they empower you with the tools for healing, integration and transformation on all levels of your being from body and mind to the more intangible landscape of spirit. The healing power of Ayurveda and the wisdom of Yoga can be used together to discover the bliss of our deeper Self-nature, giving access to our highest potential even when it feels like one has lost all grounding.
A good practitioner will guide the behavioural modifications best suited to your individual constitution and the disease in question, by recommending dietary and lifestyle changes, movement exercises, sound therapy to invigorate or soothe, breath work, deeper awareness, and where necessary and appropriate, the right herbs and supplements.
Cancer—an ayurvedic perspective
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Ayurveda and Cancer