In Ayurveda the root cause of most conditions is called pragyaparadh or “mistake of the intellect.” Translation: You have gone against nature’s intelligence in some way. In a consultation we also seek to identify and remove or mitigate the root causes that have led to making these problematic choices. Modern medicine often predominantly treats the symptoms of these root causes. We want to go straight to the root, as best we can. In the end we want to strengthen one’s ability to heal oneself with the goal of prevention, rejuvenation, longevity, and quality of life. This is done by living in accordance with your own nature and nature all around you.
At one level, we are comprised of a unique proportion of the five elements of ether, air, fire, water, and earth. These elements combine to form three doshas (vata, pitta, kapha). Ayurveda helps you understand your own unique constitutional nature in terms of the doshas and how you may have become imbalanced over time. These doshas have qualities (see below). One of the main principles of Ayurvedic treatment is, “Like increases like.” If one has a high level of a dosha, favor the opposite qualities. For example, if you have excess heat in the body (pitta dosha), you would want to eat cooling foods like sweet fruits. If you eat very heating foods like jalapeño pepper, you will make the imbalance worse.
After an evaluation, you may receive dietary, daily routine, or herbal recommendations that will help you detoxify the body, improve digestion (all important in Ayurveda), and restore the elemental imbalances. Involved in the root cause of most diseases, following is a description of the three doshas and ama, the toxic byproduct of poor digestion. This description also occurs in the E-Book, available for download along with two questionnaires to help you find your constitutional balance and the level of ama which may be in your tissues. EBook.
Vata Dosha is comprised of the air and ether elements which have the following qualities in nature: fast moving, light, cold, small, rough, dry, unpredictable or irregular. Vata governs movement in our bodies, e.g., breath, circulation, digestion, elimination, more. It also governs the nervous system – as there is a great deal of electrical movement there. The following conditions might indicate a vata imbalance: dry or rough skin, constipation, fatigue, tension headaches, insomnia, underweight, anxiety. To balance vata dosha, one should adopt the following: a calm and regular routine, early to bed, regular meals, regular elimination, keep warm, drink hot water, avoid stimulants. Eat all six tastes but favor sweet, salty and sour foods.
Pitta Dosha is predominantly comprised of the fire element, but also includes the water element. These have the following qualities in nature: hot, sharp, penetrating, light, acidic, slightly oily and wet. Pitta governs the temperature regulation, metabolism, biochemical processes of digestion. Since we must “digest” our sensation into perceptions, pitta also governs the intellect. Imbalances of pitta may manifest as rashes or skin conditions, heartburn, diarrhea, premature graying or baldness, hostility or irritability, vision problems, excess body heat. To balance excess pitta, one might develop a practice moderation and keep cool. Also, avoid excess heat or sun, alcohol and smoking, stressful deadlines, excessive activity or overwork, and skipping meals. Eat all six tastes but favor bitter, astringent, and sweet foods.
Kapha Dosha is comprised of the water and earth elements which have the following qualities in nature: heavy, oily, slow, damp, cold, steady, solid, dull, predicable or routine. Kapha governs our physical structure and fluid balance. Imbalances of kapha may manifest as oily skin, sinus or allergy issues, overweight, slow digestion, lethargy, dullness, depression. To balance kapha dosha, one might strive to keep stimulated by avoiding excessive rest and daytime sleep, getting plenty of exercise, seeking out variety in life, reducing heavy/oily foods, keeping warm in cold/wet weather. Eat all six tastes but favor bitter, astringent, and pungent foods.
Digestion is very important in Ayurveda. If we are not digesting properly, the food arrives in the colon with large, sticky particles of incompletely digested food. Because the colon is porous, the fragments cross into the bloodstream. They circulate and often end up lodged in the body, especially in places where there is weakness (e.g., diseased or injured tissue, genetically weak). This is called ama in Sanskrit, the by-product of poor digestion in English. Ama is involved in most conditions. It can clog the channels of the body and thus is often addressed first, along with restoring proper digestion – so that nutrients, the immune system, potential herbal supplements can get where they need to go.