Ayurveda – A sustainable alternate medical practice

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Ayurveda is a holistic system of medicine that is indigenous to and widely practiced in India. The word Ayurveda is a Sanskrit term meaning ‘science of life.’ Ayu means ‘life’ or ‘daily living’ and Veda is ‘knowing.’ Ayurveda is a medical system that deals with health in all its aspects; physical health, mental balance, spiritual well-being, social welfare, environmental considerations, dietary and lifestyle habits, daily living trends, and seasonal variations in lifestyle, as well as treating and managing specific diseases The origin of Ayurveda is lost in prehistoric antiquity, but its characteristic concepts appear to have matured between 2,500 and 500 B.C. in ancient India. The earliest references to drugs and diseases can be found in the Rigveda and Atharvaveda.

Ayurveda is all about Dharana and Dharma, both Sanskrit words denoting a sustainable complex of life and living: the first within the organism itself and the second within society and the world. Ayurveda is almost – in a positive sense – preoccupied with ‘sustaining life’: as a science it focuses on preserving life down to the cellular level of each living organism, and first and foremost of human beings. One of the reasons that sustaining and preserving human life is so important in Ayurveda, is a result from the fact that it is a spiritual science which sees this life – and our bodies as temples for our souls – as a way to evolve spiritually. This evolution is not for a personal gain, but for the greater common good: Ayurveda sees life as one, and not as a fragmented event.

Ayurveda gives clear guidelines for lifestyle and nutrition, which all fit within a framework of Dharma. Dharma naturally supports something that carries responsibility for the whole of society and humanity, and thus also regarding ethical and environmental matters. Lifestyle – according to Ayurveda – should be helping to preserve a healthy environment and support of nature, in all possible aspects. This cannot but lead to supporting responsible behavior in keeping our water, our nature, our forests, our cities, our air, and in short our whole life, as clean and pure as possible. It also implies a natural care for good and sustainable food sources, and agriculture which preserves not only life in the sense of clean and pure production, but also responsible and safe nutritional methods. Good examples include active support of organic and biodynamic farming, support for natural agricultural systems such as permaculture, as well as active resistance of technical and not safe-proof production methods such as with GMO foods. It also promote the wise and respectful use of animal products.

According to the sustainability goals of Ayurveda, organic and other forms of responsible farming should be used to grow the herbs Ayurveda uses for its remedies. Use of local herbs has been advised over procuring exotic and rare herbs. Commonly availabe spices such as cumin and turmeric have profound healing properties, and are powerful additions in the arsenal of medicinal substances.  Ayurveda is the makes use of small shrubs to big trees for various purposes and to that Ayurvedics follow certain guide lines for collection and cultivation. So in order to obtain herbal medicine Ayurvedics also engage forestation and cultivation. The use of medicinal plants is oriented to take advantage of their ability to harmonize the balance between the patient and the basic influences of life, such as diet, work, and family life. With more than 2700 plants at its disposal, it is clear that Ayurveda in quite close with nature and its powers. In this way both doctors and patients easily see their connections to nature.

The Hospital wastes of Ayurveda are almost biodegradable. The medicines are of Herbal or Mineral or a mixture of both which are easy to dispose in to the earth after their expiry or their use. The pharmaceutical waste of Ayurveda is also biodegradable and some of them make good manure for cultivation. The plastic and other artificial materials not used for treatment makes Ayurveda an Eco friendly system. In Ayurvedic system each and every part of the environment is given importance which makes the optimum utilization of natural resources from Daily usage to the Drug. For example, neem- plant is used for Twigs, tooth brushing and tongue cleaning; Leaves-for medicating the bathing water; Seed oil, for external application over scalp for healthy hair etc.

This approach to nature as the source of healing and to personal care, as a source of loving health care, with emphasis on the preventive side, is a very welcome feature of Ayurveda, which could permeate and facilitate our approaches to sustainability and to the rich relationships between people (society), things (economy) and nature (ecology). Environmental sustainability is highly related to conscious mental and bodily good practice, of which Ayurveda could be considered as a very useful model, not only in the countries where it is traditionally applied, but everywhere. Ayurveda not only teaches to live healthy, but also teaches to love nature and live with nature.