An ayurvedic practitioner is an expert in the ancient Indian medical practice of ayurveda. This method of holistic medicine seeks to restore harmony and balance in the body, spirit, and mind. A practitioner works with a patient to prevent health problems and treat existing health issues by analyzing physical health, as well as the patient’s mental state, personal history, diet, and energy levels. To heal a patient, an ayurvedic practitioner implements what is called the four pillars of the treatment: cleansing, replacing negative energy with positive, physical rejuvenation, and then spiritual and mental cleansing.
Ayurveda is considered a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and is a holistic medicine, in the sense that it strives to achieve wellness in mind, body, and spirit. In this medical discipline, the energy and health of the body is connected to the earth’s elements of fire, water, earth, air, and space, and a combination of those elements determines the patient’s dosha, or metabolism type. An imbalance of these elements produces symptoms of disease.
When a patient first meets with an ayurvedic practitioner, the visit is typically longer than a check-up with a doctor. The practitioner will note health history, but will also ask questions about the patient’s personal histories, significant events, diet, bowel habits, and stressors. Next, the expert will check a variety of pulse points, and examine the eyes, tongue, lips, skin, and fingernails. Based on these observations, the patient’s balance of doshas, or constitution, will be identified. The practitioner can then prescribe treatment to bring the patient back to total wellness.
Ayurvedic treatment will vary depending on the patient’s issues, but changes in diet are usually suggested. The cleansing phase of treatment, in which undigested foods are eliminated from the body, may include fasting, drinking herbal medicines, or enemas. In ayurvedic medicine, certain foods are prescribed as a way to rebalance doshas. An ayurvedic practitioner may suggest yoga, exercise, and massage for the physical rejuvenation phase. Meditation, the exchange of negative thoughts for positive, and nurturing of the spirit is recommended for the final phase of spiritual and mental cleansing.
These principles of healing may be new to Westerners, but the practice of ayurveda has become more widespread in the past few decades. People are more willing to explore alternative medicines than in the past, and alternative medical methods have proven to be complementary to traditional Western medicine. In addition, high levels of professionalism among many of the trained practitioners bring respect to the field.