Ayurveda Health Consultations
WHAT IS AN AYURVEDIC COUNSELING SESSION LIKE?
When you visit an Ayurvedic counselor, be prepared to talk about yourself. Because Ayurveda emphasizes balance in all areas of your life, a trained counselor will not only examine your body, but will take an extensive personal and medical history, including questions about daily diet, profession and working conditions, exercise routines, relationships, and mental health. This thorough intake process helps the counselor identify key symptoms and potential causes of imbalance and determine suitable treatment options.
How do counselors decide upon treatments?
Most westerners are familiar with visiting a healthcare provider when we feel ill. The provider diagnoses the sickness and determines what caused it -- bacteria or a virus. The treatment is then geared toward selecting a technique to battle those pathogens. The same medicines, procedures, and doses are often used for multiple people battling the same illness. An Ayurvedic diagnosis, and subsequent treatments, differ from this Western process in that the diagnosis is made not only on the disease level, but also on the patient level. The exhaustive examination helps the Ayurvedic counselor individualize or tailor treatments for each patient.
To make a diagnosis, the Ayurvedic counselor uses a method which provides a deep examination of each individual. The counselor examining a patient considers the whole human being, believing that people have within them the required energy to bring the body back to a healthy, or balanced, state. So instead of focusing on a treatment or medicine to heal the illness, the Ayurvedic counselor concentrates on the techniques that will strengthen the healthy elements inherent in every body, which will in turn help the individual to recover. This is the Ayurvedic ideal of helping the body call upon its own energy to heal. Treatments and medicines are a vital part of this process, but act only to support the body’s self-reparation, rather than cause it. According to Ayurveda, diseases are due to a doshic imbalance.
Determining the patient’s dosha, and then identifying the root cause of a disease, requires precise training, which Jody completed through the Florida Academy of Ayurveda , located in Tampa, Florida (www.balanceandbliss.com/ayurvedic-academy/).
What is the initial examination?
Ayurvedic examinations generally consist of three parts:
- Observation (Darshan): The counselor first evaluates general physical health by looking at the patient and observing his/her movements, body contour, color of the skin and eyes, facial lines and ridges, shape of the nose, and qualities of the lips, hair, and nails.
- Touch (Sparsha): The counselor then employs touch, with special focus on the patient’s pulse, tongue, nails, and speech..
- Questions (Prashna): The practitioner asks the patient about complaints and symptoms, as well as the duration of discomfort and disease progression. The practitioner also inquires about mental and psychological conditions.
What are some Ayurvedic treatments?
The Ayurvedic counselor has a wide array of treatments and therapies at his/her disposal. Counselors may include a variety of treatments in an individual’s dincharya (daily recommended routine) and ritucharya (seasonal routine).
Does An AYURVEDIC Counselor utilize herbs?
This ancient practice is key to Ayurvedic medicine, which teaches that the action and effectiveness of each herb is determined by its ras (taste), virya (active potency), and vipak (post-digestive effect). Thus the Ayurvedic administration of herbs is considered a precise science, requiring deep knowledge of plants and their effect on human physiology, biochemistry, and psychology.
Ayurveda DOES NOT support the theory that herbs are benign and have no side effects. Thus, Ayurvedic herbs should only be prescribed by qualified counselors.
This multi-step detoxification regimen is thought to remove ama (a toxin). The regimen includes massage, steam treatment, vamana (induced vomiting), virechana (use of prescribed herbal and oil-based laxatives) and basti (medicated enema), blood letting, and nasya (a nasal treatment). These treatments are followed by a strict dietary and herbal regimen, a rejuvenating therapy, and recommendations for daily routines. Note: this invasive procedure requires the supervision of a trained Ayurvedic practitioner; contraindications and side effects should be closely monitored. Your Ayurvedic counselor can explain this process to you and connect you with a qualified practitioner.
Diet and Nutrition
Ayurvedic diet and nutrition practices are vital to healthy living, and are important components of treatment, recovery, and disease management. Dietary practices are tailored to each individual’s constitution, with six primary “tastes” forming the basis for counselors’ recommendations:
- Sweet: promotes strength and nourishes all tissues
- Sour: stimulates digestive power
- Salty: maintains water electrolyte balance
- Pungent: improves digestion and absorption
- Bitter: stimulates all other tastes
- Astringent: helps in absorption
These treatments are performed by trained therapists who work under the supervision of trained Ayurvedic counselor. Oils are selected and prepared according to the counselor's specific diagnosis. Jody works closely with local massage therapists for the proper administration of massage oils.
This special technique involves dripping medicated oil on the forehead, or “third eye region.” The type of medicated oil used, the number and length of treatments, and the duration of the overall therapy must be determined by an Ayurvedic counselor, and performed by a trained massage therapist under proper supervision.
An example of a visit to an Ayurvedic practitioner
James is a 38-year-old male of Indian origin who sought Ayurvedic medical advice for several health problems, including toe pain, asthma, skin diseases, and anxiety. His Ayurvedic counselor believed that all disease has origins in undigested or improperly digested food, which converts into toxins, or ama, which is then absorbed by bodily tissues, creating disease. Thus, she asked James detailed questions about his diet. James reported eating a variety of foods including eggs, alcohol, very spicy dishes, pizza, lentils, and fried food.
In addition to exploring James’ diet, his counselor examined his very red and inflamed toe, which James claimed was even more painful after eating pizza and fried foods. The counselor then monitored James’ colon and stomach, using a method measuring superficial pulse. The counselor also assessed his heart and liver, using a deeper pulse technique. Finally, the counselor inspected James' tongue and nails for any discoloration or unusual coating.
Based on this thorough examination, the counselor determined a doshic imbalance which had caused the painful, swollen toe. To alleviate this condition, as well as create and maintain better health, the counselor created a health regimen for James, largely based on diet and nutrition. James was encouraged to avoid spicy and fried foods, pickles, tomatoes, and fermented items. A diet including buttermilk, carrots, and bitter melon was prescribed, as was a specific herbal remedy, through the use of teas and massage oils. James was also advised to follow a daily routine of self care beginning by arising before the sunrise and practicing self care through dry brushing, tongue cleaning, exercise, a schedule to match the cycles of nature, yoga, and meditation and mantras to assist with proper thinking. The body is a whole and Ayurvedic counselors consider the full impact of that knowledge.