Ayurveda is often equated with wellness, relaxing massages and fragrant oils - but real Ayurvedic medicine has little to do with the spa offers of many wellness hotels. In India Ayurveda is a common practice in every disease. It is also being used more and more frequently in Western countries, especially in chronic diseases such as osteoarthritis or rheumatism.
Ancient healing art
The term Ayurveda comes from Sanskrit and means "knowledge of life" ("Ayus" = life, "veda" = knowledge). The roots of this form of treatment reach far back. The oldest testimonies are around 5,000 years old.
In principle, this ancient Indian healing art is more about a philosophy of life that considers man and his illnesses holistically. Nutrition plays a role as well as the general way of life, influences from the environment and the individual constitution.
Three doshas in balance
According to the Ayurvedic teachings, every influence that affects our body can be assigned to one of the three so-called doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Dosha means as much as "(the body) influencing factor". According to the Ayurvedic teachings, each person has a specific balance of the three doshas. If the doshas are in imbalance, diseases arise.
Vata represents movement, activity and communication. It is responsible for the movement of muscles and internal organs. It activates the nervous system and leads to alertness, clarity and creativity. Characteristic features of Vata are restlessness, nervousness, sensitivity and low resistance.
Pitta stands for energy. It forms the basis for the digestive system and the entire metabolism. It is also responsible for the intellect and controls the emotions. Characteristic features are intelligence, precision and quick irritability.
Kapha is the principle of stability and strength. It is responsible for stamina, strength and cohesion as well as serenity. Characteristic features are slowness, good long-term memory, loyalty and mental stability.
Pulse diagnostics is the most important diagnostic technique in Ayurveda besides the medical history. An experienced doctor uses the index, middle and ring fingers to scan the surroundings of the wrist under varying pressure. This allows him to feel the organ systems with their energies and draw conclusions about their physical condition and possible diseases.
Therapy goal is to restore the imbalance of doshas through proper nutrition, medicinal herbs, yoga, meditation and various cleansing treatments. This requires a certain amount of discipline and stamina, as the application often has to be continued for years or even for life.
Beware of heavy metals
Many Ayurvedic medicines are available in other European countries. They are available without a prescription unless they contain prescription substances in Germany. If a remedy has to be procured from India, it is prescription-only. There are now pharmacies in Germany offering a range of Ayurvedic medicines. You should refrain from using funds of unknown origin. They could contain toxic heavy metals.
Frankincense is the best studied Ayurvedic substance. The boswellic acids contained therein inhibit inflammation. Positive effects were seen in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, Chron's disease, ulcerative colitis and bronchial asthma.
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Acupuncture - when does it help?
A little spunk and already the pain is gone? Especially in pain, many people swear by acupuncture. In fact, several studies show that the old method of healing can be effective - at least in some areas. Read more here.
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What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The millennia-old Chinese healing method is based on the concept of interconnections in the body. Through them, according to the idea, the life energy circulates Qi. By placing fine acupuncture needles in the right places, disturbances and blockages in the flow of energy can be eliminated, thereby improving physical and psychological problems.
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During menopause, many women are affected by hot flashes. Hormone therapy can help but is highly controversial. Therefore, many affected people rely on alternative medicine. And indeed, a large meta-study with nearly 900 women between the ages of 40 and 60 has shown that acupuncture can help. The frequency of hot flashes fell by a third and the severity of the complaints by almost half.
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The fine needles can also help against the pains of the people. Several studies have found that both targeted and voluntary needles help with pain and have a positive effect on mobility.The best results were when the acupuncture was combined with other therapies such as physiotherapy or pain medications.
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Chronic neck pain has many causes: a wrong attitude in front of the computer, a damaged psyche or signs of wear on the spine. Acupuncture effectively relieves pain, a study shows - better than traditional treatments such as massages and pain medications. Acupuncture pain dropped 32 percent. With conventional therapies, it was only 23 percent.
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Chronic pain, such as in the neck, back of the head or knees, can severely affect the quality of life. Standard procedures such as physiotherapy, analgesics or anti-inflammatory drugs can help. Even better they work in combination with acupuncture, as a British study with 18,000 subjects showed.
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high blood pressure
Needles for high blood pressure? Yes, say John Longhurst and his team from University of California-Irvine. They asked how effective electroacupuncture is in this regard. The result: electroacupuncture had an effect in 70 percent of the subjects - both in terms of average blood pressure and peak values. On average, the upper blood pressure decreased by six to eight millimeters Hg - while the lower value averaged four millimeters Hg.
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The suffering of fibromyalgia patients is enormous. But the possibilities to help them are limited. Classic painkillers often do not strike them. Acupuncture could possibly bring relief. A study has shown that the needles can reduce the pain by about 40 percent. Also, fatigue and depressive symptoms had improved. Even one year after a nine-week treatment, patients still benefited from the treatment.
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Even with overweight needles can help. Subjects who were permanently needled at five points in the pinna for eight weeks lost an average of 6.1 percent of their body weight. Participants who only had needling in the ear lost as much as 5.7 percent of their weight.
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Babies also benefit from acupuncture. A study of just under 150 infants showed that the Far Eastern method helps the little ones with abdominal pain. "If babies cry more than three hours a day, it could be a colic behind - and acupuncture an effective treatment option," write the study authors.
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Acupuncture is also popular for typical pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or back pain. And also for birth preparation, during or after birth, this alternative and gentle healing method seems to be successful. It can even shorten the birth by two hours, as a study with 800 women showed.
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Serious side effects of acupuncture are not yet known. Very rarely are local bleeding or minor bruising, sometimes fatigue or mild dizziness. Therefore it says: Trying out can not hurt!