We have probably used medicinal plants in our history since we existed. Humans have been preparing many plants and herbs for their food for millennia, and many of them have healing properties at the same time.
Indian herbal medicine is based on the traditional medicine system of Ayurveda, which has been practiced in the country since ancient times.
Ayurveda means "The Science of Life" because the ancient Indian health care system focused on people and their illness throughout life. For people, health meant that their organism was well balanced.
Indians use herbs not only for medicinal purposes, but also for spiritual and religious purposes. Tulsi, Turmeric, Neem, Banyan, Khejri are just a few names of such medicinal-religious plants. Herbs have always been very important in Southeast Asia, but the western world was only too late to accept their importance and also developed an herbal system as a medical alternative.
India produces the most medicinal plants worldwide. There are over 250,000 registered practitioners of the Ayurveda system, compared to around 700,000 who practice modern medicine. Around 20,000 medicinal plants are recorded in India; however, traditional healers only use about 7,000 to 7,500 of them to cure various diseases. In India, approximately 25,000 plant-based recipes are prescribed. An estimated more than 1.5 million practitioners, most of whom are not registered, use the traditional medical system for healthcare.
Nature has blessed India with an enormous wealth of medicinal plants; that is why the subcontinent was often called "the medical garden of the world". Herbal medicines have been popular with both urban and rural communities for thousands of years. One reason for this is the belief that all natural products are safe.
The majority of Indians use herbs to cure diseases. The Indians use plant cures for physical suffering as well as for stress or to improve karma. The treatment of diseases usually includes a change in diet, herbal treatments, massages, oil pads and rest.
Note: So far there is no uniform certification for Ayurveda therapists in Germany. If you are interested in Ayurveda therapy, you should therefore find out well beforehand what training a potential therapist has.
As with other forms of therapy, Ayurveda means that a responsible practitioner must not give you promises of salvation. If more serious illnesses are suspected, a good therapist should refer you to your family doctor for clarification.
The origins of herbal medicine
The use of plants as medicine wrote human history. Archaeological evidence shows that people used medicinal plants as early as the Paleolithic Age, probably 60,000 years ago. Plant samples from prehistoric graves support the assumption that Paleolithic people were familiar with herbal medicine. For example, a 60,000-year-old Neanderthal tomb, "Shanidar IV" in northern Iraq, contained pollen from eight plant species.
The first written report on herbs used as medicine dates back over 5,000 years ago and comes from the Sumerians in ancient Mesopotamia, today's Iraq. Archaeologists found Sumerian descriptions of healing with herbs such as thyme on clay plates. At the same time, and perhaps even earlier, herbal traditions developed in China and India.
The ancient Europeans, Chinese and Indians successfully used medicinal plants. We can still read the methods in ancient texts. In India, over 1,100 medicinal plants grow in the natural forests. Of these, 60 species are processed intensively in medical preparations. Contrary to today's efforts, they do not grow under human control, but indigenous tribes collect them for their livelihood in the wild.
In India, Ayurveda may have used plants like turmeric for 6,000 years. The earliest Sanskrit writings, such as the Rig Veda and the Atharva, are some of the oldest documents that record medical knowledge in detail. Many other plants and minerals used in Ayurveda were described later, for example by Charakaand Sushruta in the first millennium BC.
The traditional use of herbs as medicine differs from culture to culture. In Asia, the healing knowledge of India and China always enjoyed great respect, and plants still play an important role in Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
Traditional Indian medicine
The word Ayurveda is derived from “Ayur”, which means life, and “veda” for knowledge. Ayurveda means "the science of life". It is an old system of health and long life. Ayurveda takes a holistic view of people, their health and illness. It aims at positive health, which is described as balanced metabolism (metabolism) combined with a healthy state of being.
According to Ayurveda, illness arises from the body and mind, through both external and internal factors. Ayurvedic treatment is therefore aimed at the patient as an organic whole, and treatment consists of the use of medication, nutrition and safe techniques. This doctrine was developed when science was not developed enough to understand the human body in a biochemical sense.
Ayurveda is probably older than traditional Chinese medicine. The origin of Ayurveda has been lost in early history, but its characteristic concepts probably originated in India between 2,500 and 500 BC. The earliest references to medicines and diseases can be found in Rigveda and Atharvaveda and thus date back to 2,000 BC. The Atharvaveda, consisting of 6,599 hymns, is considered the predecessor of Ayurveda.
The "Samhitas", or the encyclopedia of medicine, dates from the postvedic period and contains the "Charak Samhita" (900 BC), the "Sushruta Samhita" (600 BC) and the "Ashtang Hridaya" (1,000 BC) . Later, many more manuals appeared, and the use of medicinal plants is described in the “Nighantu Granthas”, which was common from the 7th to the 16th centuries.
The basic concept of Ayurveda is that all living things build their substance on three essential factors, namely Vata, Pitta and Kapha, which work together. Ayurveda assumes that the human body consists of living and non-living substances, including earth, water, fire and air. Disease is a result of the imbalance between the various elements and the goal of treatment is to restore balance.
Ayurvedic drugs receive special attention for diseases for which there are no or no adequate drugs in modern medicine, for example for disorders of the metabolism. Most of these diseases have multiple causes, and there is growing awareness that a combination of drugs that fight a number of goals at the same time is more effective than drugs that focus on only one goal. Ayurvedic medications, which often consist of many components, are of particular importance for such treatments.
The market value of herbal medicine
The market for Ayurveda substances expands by 20 percent annually. The sale of medicinal plants is increasing annually in India. Traditional medicine in China uses over 5,000 plant species, India over 7,000.
The international market for medicinal plants is growing by seven percent each year, but China's share of the world market is $ 6 billion, while India's is only one percent. The annual export of medicinal plants from India is 1,200 million rupees. All major pharmaceutical companies have growth rates of around 15 percent. Traditional medicine serves as a source of alternative medicine, new pharmaceuticals and health products.
Medicinal plants are important for pharmacological research and the development of medicines, not only when the plants are used directly as medicinal products, but also for the artificial manufacture of medicines or as models for pharmacologically active substances. A significant number of modern pharmaceutical agents have been obtained from medicinal plants. These derivatives of medicinal plants are not narcotic and have little or no side effects.
The basic use of plants in medicine will continue in the future, as a source of pharmaceuticals and as a raw material for the extraction of semi-synthetic chemical components such as cosmetics, perfume and food.
The popularity of health care with plant-based products is reflected in its increasing popularity and use in the cosmetics industry as well as the increasing public costs of personal health and well-being. In their dual role as a source of health care and income, medicinal plants are an important aspect in a broader development process.
Ayurvedic plants in oral medicine
Despite advances in many areas of medicine, throat infections and tooth decay remain serious public health problems and are a major burden for health services around the world - especially in developing countries.
Ayurveda offers many methods of dental care. Ayurveda uses natural ways to prevent diseases in the throat. In rural India, dental care is usually not always available, and people cannot usually afford professional help, but there are many Ayurvedic remedies in everyday life.
In Ayurveda, dental health (danta swasthya in Sanskrit) is very individual and depends on the constitution (prakriti) of a person as well as climatic conditions, the sun, the moon and planetary influences (kala-parinama). The physical condition is based on three states of mind (doshas), namely Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Depending on which Dosha dominates, the diet, care and health measures are coordinated accordingly. This also applies to dentistry and dental care.
Ayurveda recommends chewing sticks in the morning and after every meal to prevent illness. These sticks are either katu, tikta (bitter) or kashaya in taste. One end is broken off, chewed and slowly eaten.
Neem (Azadirachta indica) is an evergreen tree that grows endemic to the Indian subcontinent. It is known for its antimicrobial, antiseptic and antifungal substances, which is why neem extracts are often used in cosmetics, soap, hair products, body creams and hand creams. Branches of the neem tree have been used as toothbrushes by people in the Middle East for centuries.
Ayurveda effectively helps against dental problems such as bad breath, yellow teeth, tooth decay, tooth loss and bleeding gums. Ayurveda provides a wide range of plants and eating habits to help alleviate dental problems, including neem, banyan, babul, and basil. Ayurveda recommends avoiding soft drinks and reducing simple carbohydrates like sugar. A lot of raw vegetables should be consumed, as well as citrus fruits and green plants.
Ayurveda recommends oil rinsing, also called oil pulling, to cure more than 30 diseases, from headaches and migraines to diabetes and asthma. Oil rinses are widely used in India to prevent tooth decay, bad breath and bleeding gums. They are also said to help against dryness of the throat and cracked lips and to strengthen the teeth and jaw. The effectiveness of oil rinsing is based on traditional experience, but has not (yet) been scientifically proven.
An oil rinse usually goes like this: A tablespoon of cold-pressed oil is moved in the mouth every morning for 20 minutes. The idea is that chewing, moving and gurgling concentrates the "toxins" from the whole body in the oil and is supposed to clean the organism. The gums should be healed, the teeth should become whiter because the oil should be able to draw "toxins" out of the tongue.
For example, coconut oil is ideal for oil rinsing. This has been used in India for oral care for many ages, to clean and whiten teeth, and to support healthy teeth and gums. It "sucks the dirt" out of the mouth, is said to create an antiseptic environment in the mouth and improve the flow of saliva secretions, which is necessary to prevent diseases.
Ayurvedic treatment for migraines
Migraines are a very common disorder characterized by recurrent headache attacks, which are usually of varying intensity.
The modern lifestyle means that people often lead hectic and overwhelmed lives. This is a reason for many illnesses, and can also be one of the causes of migraines. However, there are many different types of migraines and the triggers can vary individually. Common symptoms of migraines include increased sensitivity to light, sounds and movements of the head, and hypersensitivity to certain smells, such as perfume or cigarette smoke.
Women are three times more likely to suffer from migraines than men. The disorder can occur at any age, but usually between the thirties and fifties. Migraines burden sleep, work and everyday life. It can be triggered in affected people, for example, by changing the weather, irregular eating, stress or alcohol.
Ayurveda knows many methods to treat migraines. These therapies offer essential preventive measures. This includes yoga, a healthy lifestyle and herbal medicine.
According to Ayurveda principles, migraines are a Tridoshaya disorder, of the three Doshas, Vata and Pita are the dominant factors. A Vata imbalance leads to dysfunctional metabolism, mental and physical stress or insomnia. “Pitta” causes the blood vessels to expand, which can trigger a migraine attack.
The traditional science of Ayurveda diagnoses migraines as a result of deep-seated problems, and this includes a sensitive nervous system. Ayurveda believes in cleaning the body from the inside and thus fighting the disease at its root. Treating migraines with Ayurveda therefore focuses on soothing the pitta dosha. Ayurveda also recommends the use of some medicinal plants as well as a special diet and life planning to control migraines.
Phyallenthis emblica, known as Amla, is widespread in the tropics and subtropics and has healing potential. It is rich in vitamin C, polyphenols like tannins and flavonoids like quercetin and rutin.
Because of these valuable ingredients, Amla can help treat many diseases, including migraines. Amla and other fruits like Triphala also work in rejuvenation treatments and can help regulate normal body functions, which is essential to treat migraines.
Ayurveda against erection problems
Ayurveda also offers ways to treat erectile dysfunction and impotence. An erectile dysfunction can mean that the man does not get an erection at all, that the penis swells irregularly or that the erection lasts only briefly. Erectile dysfunction can occur once, more often or permanently.
The erection of the penis is caused by a number of factors. Erectile dysfunction occurs when one of these factors is disturbed. Nerve impulses in the brain, around the penis and the transmission to the muscles, the blood flow in the veins and arteries around the genitalia have to work for the penis to erect. Injuries to any of these parts (nerves, arteries, muscles) can cause erectile dysfunction or impotence. Psychological factors are just as often the trigger.
Ayurveda offers around 200 recipes for men who suffer from erectile dysfunction or impotence. Ayurvedic doctors treat patients who experience fear of failing during sex, as well as erectile dysfunction and impotence associated with stress and high blood pressure.
Work stress, mid-life crises and other triggers affect physical and mental health in many ways. Men who are faced with the age and loss of energy and who are looking for a new direction for their identity will find a suitable therapy in Ayurveda, which is based on their mental, emotional and physical well-being. Combined with the benefits of good nutrition, physical exercises and relaxation, Ayurveda provides optimal support for such patients.
Ayurveda names many herbal supplements to treat erectile dysfunction and impotence. It assumes that people who have a severe lack of sex and want to enjoy sex regularly again in the future must take these supplements regularly in order to build up their energy and strength. These preparations also support the substances that are necessary to produce seeds.
Ayurvedic medicine for impotence is known as "Vajikarana Aushadhis". According to Ayurveda, people who suffer from erectile dysfunction are recommended a high-protein diet. In addition, the patient must take the medication to cure his dysfunction; the drugs are said to strengthen the muscles, veins and nerves to get and maintain a strong erection. Vajikarana describes the therapeutic benefits of various aphrodisiacs and preparations to organize reproductive abilities and at the same time to increase body functions and enjoyment of life. Vajikarana therapy is said to lead to well-being, inner strength and potency and to extend the length of the erection.
In addition to the ingredients of the herbs, some simple exercises help; they reduce physical and psychological stress and thus promote the genital functions that are essential to remedy erectile dysfunction. Many yoga experts teach Kanda Asana, which has been clinically proven to strengthen the legs and abdomen. Asana also reduces numbness in the tendons and joints. It promotes sexual performance and is good for treating impotence.
Ayurveda for diabetes
Diabetes often causes long-lasting complications that affect almost every part of the body. The disease can lead to blindness, cardiovascular diseases, kidney failure, amputations and nerve damage. Uncontrolled diabetes can interfere with pregnancy; Birth defects are common in babies whose mothers have diabetes.
Ayurvedic philosophy connects people, their health and the universe. She assumes that health problems arise when this relationship is out of balance. In Ayurvedic medicine, plants, metals, massages and other substances or techniques are used to cleanse the body and to maintain or restore balance. This should help to cure diseases and promote well-being. Ayurvedic practitioners expect patients to take an active part in their treatment because many Ayurvedic practices require changes in diet, lifestyle, and the environment.
In Ayurveda terms, diabetes is a metabolic type of disease in which an impaired function of Agni (fire, digestive power, vitality) leads to an increase in blood sugar levels. Ayurveda recognizes 24 forms of diabetes, usually classified as Prameha - some of which belong to the Vata-Dosha, others to the Pitta-Dosha and still others are caused by an excess of Kapha-Dosha.
Ayurveda practitioners are designing a versatile program against diabetes. Ayurveda recommends lifestyle changes, including limiting fruits that are high in sugar and simple carbohydrates, smaller meals throughout the day, a variety of whole fruits, complex carbohydrates and vegetables every day, less fat and less salt.
Ideally, Ayurvedic food should contain 60 percent plants, 30 percent protein and 10 percent carbohydrates. This should be combined with half an hour of gentle exercise every day, for example hiking. The diet should support a Kapha soothing diet and therefore contain protein-rich foods such as soybean products and legumes such as chickpeas or mung beans, as well as vegetables such as spinach, white pumpkin or green lettuce, and additional grains such as millet.
From a Ayurveda perspective, a diabetic should avoid eating rice and should also avoid potatoes, sweet fruits, white flour, wheat, red meat and sago. It should refrain from sugar, sugar cane and juices from sweet fruits. However, citrus fruits are good from an Ayuervedian point of view.
It is also important to avoid smoking, reduce alcohol, sleep properly, control blood sugar as regularly as body weight and aim for ideal weight.
Herbal recipes, taken correctly, have a powerful effect on the body, but should only be used under the care and direction of an experienced Ayurvedic practitioner. The recipes contain jambhul (Eugenia jambolana), powder from the Jamunkern, Guggul, Amalaki, Triphala, Shilajit, Gurmar and Bel. Most of these herbs aim to balance blood sugar levels. Some plants like stevia serve as a sugar substitute.
In addition to the herbal treatment, Ayurveda recommends Panchakarma as a cleansing treatment. Panchakarma begins with an herbal massage and herbal sauna, followed by fasting to cleanse the body. This is followed by a herbal cure for the liver, and at the end a digestive cure that cleans the intestine and rebuilds the system.
Snehana and Shodhana are also basic treatments, depending on the patient's condition and body type. The shamanic treatment is prescribed according to the therapies mentioned above and uses combinations of herbal medicine.
Ayurveda for heart diseases
Heart disease is a major cause of death and the greatest threat to men's health. Heart disease includes all diseases of the heart; The many ailments under this term include diseases of the blood vessels, heart rhythm problems, heart infections and heart defects.
Ayurveda sees the heart as an origin of the rasa dhatu, which is formed by internal fire after digestion. Weak internal fire, the consumption of unsuitable food or mental stress lead to the production of "poison". According to Ayurvedic teachings, “poisons” (ama) from rasa dhatu go to the heart and block the bloodstream.
In Ayurveda, the heart is the seat of the mind and feelings, so a disturbance of this organ must be reflected as a confusion on a mental level. Poor nutrition, as well as the excessive consumption of oily dishes such as fatty meat and sugar are further factors for heart diseases in Ayurveda.
From an Ayurvedic point of view, digestion is disturbed by factors such as irregular eating, gluttony and the consumption of the wrong food, which can lead to the accumulation of “toxins”. These accumulate in the body channels such as the arteries of the heart and destabilize the healthy blood circulation, which can manifest itself in various heart diseases.
An Ayurveda treatment is supposed to clear these channels of toxins to restore healthy digestion and thus prevent further blockages in the body channels. Tonic herbs are also important to strengthen the heart and mind.
In Ayurveda there are herbs to regulate blood pressure and strengthen the heart; they are also said to help normalize heartbeat and blood pressure.
The bark of the arjuna is used in Ayurveda to manage many heart problems such as angina, coronary artery diseases, artery blockages, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. This plant is said to strengthen the heart muscles. The bark of Arjuna is rich in natural oxides, saponins and proanthocyanidan.
Cinnamon is a common spice on the Indian subcontinent. It lowers cholesterol. Its regular consumption should alleviate shortness of breath and strengthen the heart muscles, help against nausea and diarrhea. Cinnamon paste helps in Ayurveda against pimples and acne, as well as against asthma, uterine disorders and excessive menstruation. Cinnamon is also an example of how medicine and nutrition go hand in hand in Ayurveda.
Green tea is made from unfermented tea leaves that have a slightly bitter taste. Combined with black tea, it is rich in an antioxidant called epigallo catechin gallate. This antioxidant strengthens the cells in the vicinity of the blood vessels and heart. Green tea also lowers blood pressure. Three to four cups a day are said to keep the heart and blood vessels in good shape and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Ginger is known to promote digestion and relieve bloating; In addition, ginger is an important means for heart health. Studies have shown that ginger stimulates blood circulation and reduces harmful cholesterol.
Garlic is another “miracle plant” in Ayurveda: Studies have shown that eating a single toe a day lowers the production of “bad” cholesterol, boosts the production of “good” cholesterol and also keeps blood pressure at a normal level. Some researchers also found that people who eat garlic regularly have more stable blood circulation and are less likely to experience thrombosis.
Boehavia diffusa is found in the higher Himalayas and has been used for many centuries to prevent heart disease. It is said to help detoxify the kidneys and liver. It is also known as a rejuvenating plant. The plant is said to relax the heart muscles.
Bacopa Monneiri is said to prevent loss of memory as well as impaired concentration and forgetfulness. From an Ayurvedic point of view, it is very helpful for many mental illnesses. Regular use in Ayurveda includes stress, anxiety attacks and hallucinations. It is said to relax the nerves like arteries, control blood pressure and strengthen the psyche.
Indian naturopathy for obesity
Obesity is characterized by excessive fat storage in the body. When the calories that enter the body exceed the amount of calories burned, the body stores the excess calories in the form of fat. Excessive body fat poses a risk to those affected: heart disease, liver damage, diabetes, arthritis and kidney problems can be the consequences.
Little exercise, a diet with too many calories and fat, or both together, promote excessive weight. An imbalance between calories consumed and burned can also result from a number of other factors: Genetic, hormonal, through the environment, and, to a certain extent, through culture. In some traditional societies, being fat is considered "beautiful", and sometimes also a symbol of prosperity. Other factors that can cause obesity include pregnancy, tumors or internal illnesses, and medications, including some psychiatric drugs, estrogens, cortisone, and insulin.
In Ayurveda, obesity is known as Medarog, which is caused by an aggravation of the Kapha. Kapha describes in Ayurveda a temperament whose nature is heavy, dense, slow, stuffy, wet and cold. In a balanced state, Kapha provides the body with food through various microchannels. However, if Kapha dominates strongly, this leads to the production of "poisons". From an Ayurvedic point of view, these are heavy and dense; they accumulate in the weaker channels of the body and block them. In the case of an overweight person, the poisons accumulate in the Medovahi Srotas (fat channels), thereby causing an increase in the fat tissue (Meda Dhatu). When the body produces more fat, the weight increases.
To fight obesity, Ayurveda soothes the Kapha Dosha. This can be done by removing Kapha aggravating food from the menu. Next, the treatment focuses on cleaning the medovah channels with medicinal herbs.
Gymnema is an Ayurvedic type of herb known as the "sugar destroyer". Gymnema got its name about a thousand years ago. Ayurvedic practitioners found that chewing a few of these leaves effectively reduced the taste of sugar. Today the plant is widespread in India and also in other countries that practice Ayurveda. Gymnema is particularly used to lower blood sugar levels.
Many Ayurveda doctors believe that ginger helps you lose weight. Ginger suppresses fat accumulation and controls cholesterol. Tomatoes are also considered to be anti-obesity, especially the peel and seeds. Tomatoes contain ingredients that affect the hormones that control hunger. What's more, tomatoes are rich in vitamins A, C and K, as well as magnesium, manganese and choline. Sie sind außerdem voll mit Mineralien, die vor Krebs schützen sollen.
Grüner Tee soll dabei helfen können, Übergewicht abzubauen. Er ist voller Nährstoffe wie Vitamin C, Zink, Selenium und Chromium. Drei oder vier Tassen pro Tag bekämpfen das Übergewicht, laut Ayurveda, besonders in Kombination mit Ingwer und Cayennepfeffer.
Honig und Zimttee sollen den Körper reinigen und den Stoffwechsel anregen; dadurch können sie helfen, Gewicht zu verlieren; Zimt soll den Heißhunger eindämmen, weil er den Insulinspiegel konstant hält.
Frischer oder gekochter Kohl sollte laut Ayurveda ein essentieller Teil der Ernährung sein. Er enthält Säure, die die Umwandlung von Zucker und Kohlenhydraten in Fett erschwert. Außerdem ist er reich an Vitamin C und arm an Kalorien, enthält jedoch viel Wasser. Seine Phytochemikalien sollen nicht nur das Fett unter Kontrolle halten, sondern beugen aus ayurvedischer Sicht auch Brustkrebs und anderem Krebs vor. (Somayeh Ranjbar)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
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