Dhanvantari Ayurveda Center  Michael Dick, Ayurvedic Practitioner, Leesburg, Florida 

Frequently Asked Questions


What is Ayurveda?   

Ayurveda (pronounced: ah your vayduh) is a Sanskrit word meaning: the science of  life. It is a healthcare system indigenous to the India / Pakistan region and has been practiced for over 3 millennia. It has three traditional forms: Ayurveda, Siddha System, and Tibetan Medicine.

How is Ayurveda different from Allopathy

Ayurveda is based in a similar principle--opposites cure--and can employ symptomatic treatment but there are many important differences: Ayurveda is a holistic paradigm: its definition of life includes mind, body, and spirit. Ayurveda analyzes the anatomy and physiology, ( also the emotions, and mind) of the person as the interplay of three governing principles--vata, pitta, and kapha. Imbalance and disease are characterized as being caused or governed by one or more of these entities called doshas. They regulate the bio-chemistry of the body. In light of our dictum: one sign or symptom many causes--each person is evaluated for the causative factor--vata, pitta, or kapha, as internal factors, and for external causes; such as, infection, dust, lightening, mental distress, spirit possession, toxicity, and sub-par nutrition. The whole person is evaluated and then given treatment. Treatment can be general or specific, preventive, palliative, or curative, nutritive, or cleansing and will always attempt to remove or avoid the cause. Ayurveda uses both the energetic and chemical/physical properties of substance. The most important causative factors in health and disease are one's diet and lifestyle and emotions. Food is your medicine or your poison.

Can Ayurveda cure my disease?

The answer is: It depends. Ayurveda science presents the opportunity to bring new ways of thinking about cause and effect in its broadest sense. Ayurveda generally can not cure genetic diseases nor developmental disorders. Generally, it can make improvements in the conditions of a disease, even though it may not be able to cure it.

Is Ayurveda similar to Homeopathy?

Not really. Ayurveda only sometimes uses a therapeutic strategy of likes cures likes; but it would never derive the basis for such therapy as in Homeopathy--test a dilution of some substance on healthy person and see what symptoms it brings on--these symptoms are the indications for the use of such item. Ayurveda never uses minute dilutions as medicine. Both systems use the energetic properties of substance but derive those energies in different ways.

I have cancer can I be treated by Ayurveda?

Presently, in the US Ayurveda is not a legal medical protocol. However, it is legal to practice Ayurveda in three states: Minnesota, California, and New Mexico. The distinction is that while one may practice Ayurveda one may not diagnose nor treat disease. So the role of Ayurveda in your cancer therapy program is complementary. Generally, we find that a cleansing routine--called pancakarma--promotes health. Health promotion is the basis for improved physiology.

How do I learn what dosha I am?

The question generally implies that one wants to know one's constitutional nature or body type--called prakriti. There are two problems with this question. The question assumes that the constitutional factor-is the most important determinant for treatment. In fact it is only one of nearly a dozen factors that need to be considered before advising treatment. Many people want to self-diagnose and self-treat and some writers have popularized diets for body-types. They assume that they can treat any disease by treating their body type. Usually, they find and complete on-line questionnaires that purport to identify their prakriti but more frequently their imbalance rather than their body type has been revealed. This practitioner prefers to determine both body type and imbalance by using pulse assessment.

Are Ayurvedic medicines safe?

The answer to this question is answered by one classical authority--Caraka: In the hands of the ignorant even safe medicine may act as poison. The important point is that knowledge from experts, experience, and reasoning guides the use of all treatment forms. Herbs and minerals have energetic properties that lead to bodily responses--since each patient is unique we can not know, in advance and for sure, how that person will respond to a given herb, mineral, therapy, etc. There are some medicines that have mercury in them; researchers have not tested long-term use of these compounds and the few14-day trials are inconclusive, although negative. Some herbs have phyto-chemicals that have been determined by the FDA to pose health risks to users. While Ayurveda generally does not make use of this specific kind of knowledge (phyto-chemistry) to guide its use, we must honor these proscriptions. Up to now there are only a few herbs that have been regulated in this way: bala (Sida cordifolia) and vaca (Acorus calamus) come to mind.

Does Ayurveda recommend vegetarianism?

While it's true that many Ayurvedic practitioners are strict vegetarians (no animal protein except milk and cheese) the classical literature is very clear: the recommendations depends upon the needs of the patient.

Does Ayurveda recommend standardized medicines?

No. We generally feel that the concern about "active principle" concern is fraught with pitfalls. One western herb, St. John's Wort, has had about 5 named active principles associated with it.

Does Ayurveda recommend milk?

Generally, milk is highly regarded by modern and ancient practitioners. The problem is that the milk from Bos taurus is very different from Bos indicus. The milk from the latter is more digestible. The former, available in the West, has many problems associated with pasturing, care, processing, storage, and so on.


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