MANILA, Philippines — A patient complained of fatigue, sleepless nights, dry skin and heartburn. After checking the person’s pulse, ayurvedic doctor Sunita Laddha diagnosed that the physical conditions were caused by energy imbalance.
Ladda prescribed a series of therapeutic massages to remove the toxins and moisturize the skin, the pouring of herbal oil on the head for restful sleep, and a teaspoon of ghee followed by amla (Indian gooseberry) tea for the acid reflux that caused the heartburn. Ayurveda (“the science of life” in Sanskrit) or traditional Indian medicine has been slowly attracting Filipino patients as a complement or alternative to conventional medicine, given its mind-body approach.
Its precept is that health depends on the harmony of the body and the soul, and the balance of the life forces, called dosha, which regulate the mental and physical functions. Vata dosha controls the cell renewal, circulatory, respiratory and elimination systems. Pitta dosha rules the digestion, metabolism and some hormonal activities. Kapha dosha manages the muscular and immune systems.
“When one or two of the dosha are elevated, there is weakening ofthe system which could lead to diseases. Ayurveda aims to normalize them. We create balance by reducing the excesses,” explained Dr. Laddha.
A kapha imbalance is manifested by sluggishness, complacency, stubbornness, excessive mucous and excess weight. The center of the vata is in the gastrointestinaltract. The colon maintains the vata balance in the entire body. It is also associated with the nervous system. Too much vata results in sleep disorders, anxiety, dry skin, flatulence, constipation and irregular menstruation.
When pitta rages in the body, it is manifested by irritable bowel syndrome, fever, inflammation, body odor and bad temper. On the initial consultation, the ayurvedic doctor makes a pulse reading of the patient’s condition to determine which dosha is imbalanced. The basic treatment is the panchakarma, which means “five-step therapy.”
The foundation for the ayurvedic program, abhyanga, is a two-person coordinated massage that uses medicated oil and specific herbs formulated to address the patient’s conditions. Nasya, the application of medicated oil in the nasal passage, clears the nose, sinuses and throat.
Vamana induces vomiting to clear blockages in the respiratory system. It alleviates throat and chest congestion and asthma.
Virechana or medicated purgation removes toxins from the liver and gall bladder and purifies the pitta dosha (stagnation). This therapy is recommended for constipation and skin diseases.
Geared toward the vata imbalance, basti is more than just colonic irrigation. Medicated ghee is inserted in the anus like an enema. Vata, manifested by cold and dryness, sluggish blood and nerve circulation, is said to be the cause of 50 percent of diseases.The patient retains the decoction until the body absorbs the nutrients and flushes out the toxic residues.