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Ayurveda

By

Denise Millstine

, MD, Mayo Clinic

Last full review/revision Feb 2019| Content last modified Feb 2019
Click here for the Professional Version

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 Overview of Integrative, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine Integrative medicine and health (IMH) and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) include a variety of healing approaches and therapies that historically have not been included in conventional... read more .)

Health care practitioners evaluate people by

  • Questioning them about symptoms, behavior, and lifestyle

  • Observing their overall appearance, including the eyes, tongue, and skin

  • Taking their pulse and checking their urine and stool

Medicinal uses

Ayurveda has been studied, including in allergic rhinitis, neurologic conditions, pain, and diabetes. As with other studies of whole medical systems, high-quality research is difficult to conduct.

Possible side effects

In some of the botanical combinations used in Ayurveda, heavy metals (mainly lead, mercury, and arsenic) are included because they are thought to have therapeutic effects. However, heavy metal poisoning can result from taking such combinations, even in their recommended doses.

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