Ayurvedic Medicine

The first sign of illness, as well as the dwindling after effects are, for me, always a runny nose. I’ve inherited this from my father who walks around with a constant supply of tissues and tips on nose blowing efficiency. While a runny nose is certainly not the worst ailment I can claim, it is really bloody annoying. The one and only time I was able to breath happily after before my nose started to turn raw from cheap tissue, was during my travels in India. Which brings me to today’s daily prompt from Wego Health:

Alternative Medicine
Write about alternative treatments and regimens and tell us how you feel about them. What do you support? What is crazy? Have you used any?

I had made the wise decision to head to an Ashram in the south of India at the end of March, right as the extremely hot and wet season was beginning to start. However, not only did I get heat rash for the first time (which led to much confusion and paranoia as I usually do well in the sun, much to the dismay of my pasty Irish and British friends) but I also managed to get a cold in one of the hottest places I had ever been. The tissue paper in India is more paper than tissue and I feared for the delicate skin around my nose. However, I was happy to be in a place where I could rest with no pressure to site see or go to far from my room, and I just tried to enjoy my time in the Ashram.

As you can see from my previous posts, I am a pretty big yoga and meditation groupie. While I didn’t know much about Ayurveda other than its’ relation to those two things, I had always been interested in it, and I noticed that the Ashram provided free consultation sessions with an Ayurvedic doctor. Curious to learn more, and see their take on CFS I decided to go. After saving one of the volunteers who had been trapped on the pool deck, I managed to find the place, and waited patiently on the narrow deck for my turn. I was finally beckoned by a smiling old lady who told me to sit down, asked a few preliminary questions, and took my pulse. She made a lot of notes, himmed and hawed, tapped her pen on the paper and then said wisely “You have a cold”. I nodded, yes, this was true, but what about my assessment. She then scribbled something on a prescription pad, and explained each of the four items: two for cough and throat, one for mucus, and one for runny nose. She then shooed me out of the room without saying a thing about Ayurvedic medicines, chronic fatigue, insomnia, or my dosha type.

I was not in the habit of taking medicine for a cold, but eager for the only Ayurvedic education I might get, I took it to the pharmacy and got my concoctions. It only took several hours for my nose to be mostly cleared: an Ayurvedic miracle! As I sit here now with my nose running for who knows what reason, I wish I still had some of my mystery cure for runny nose and cold.

Due to a lack of internet access in the Ashram, I resorted to going to the library to learn more about Ayurveda, and I find it fascinating. Learning about dosha types and how that can affect every aspect of your life, was really helpful for me in understanding illness. However, certain suggestions like blood-letting, stronger and possibly dangerous medications, and restrictive diets can be dangerous for many people, especially if not done properly.

I find it unfortunate that alternative medicine becomes a blanket statement for anything that is not western medicine, and not rigorously tested. Being a patient of a chronic illness teaches you that hard science can’t solve all your problems, so it makes sense to divert to alternative therapies. However, I wish that alternative therapies had higher regulations, so that it would be easier to find which treatments are safe and effective (or safe and possibly effective) and which could possibly cause more harm to yourself due to a lack of regulation in the products being created.

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9 thoughts on “Ayurvedic Medicine

  1. This sounds very interesting. I’m trying acupuncture at the moment and my acupuncturist recommended a neti pot for reducing my sinus issues. I’ve only just started trying it (rinsing morning and night) but once I’ve got some idea how it works, I’ll write a post about it.

    • I’ve used a netti pot before!! It feels… Unpleasant haha. I found it provides some temporary relief, but I had to do it too often for the uncomfortableness to be worth it. I find Pranayama breathing works just as well 🙂

  2. I love this post. Very well written. I too turned to alternative medicine because of the failure of modern medicine to offer me anything helpful. It would be great if it was better regulated and tested, but I also believe that its effectiveness has a lot to do with the practitioner. I had a wonderful acupuncturist the first time I was ill who helped me a long way on my journey to health. Since then though I haven’t found another quite so skilled and effective!

    I’m considering a trip to India to spend some time on an ashram next year. Would you recommend where you stayed? What was it called?

    • I stayed at the Amritapuri Ashram (http://www.amritapuri.org/ashram) for 2 weeks. It really depends what you are looking for! There are specific yoga and meditation Ashrams, and Ashrams that are a bit more religious (though not in the sense of western religion) where they worship one particular guru. They still practice yoga and meditation and will have various workshops- and it is certainly interesting, so it just depends what you are looking for! For any Ashram make sure you do some research into the guru/philosophy of the place, what the schedule, food and accomodation will be like, etc. Ashrams should be a fairly cheap place to stay, so be weary of anything that is charging hotel like amounts.

      The nice thing about the Amritapuri Ashram, is that there were yoga and meditation classes, an ayurvedic doctor, as well as a hospital (with both western and ayurvedic doctors) and various other resources. The Ashram is quite massive!

      Send me an email at thebetterwaycfs@gmail.com if you have any more questions!

  3. I agree, higher regulation would be great. Too many snake oil salesmen out there ready to pounce on the next person desperate for a solution! I’d like to know what was in that “prescription” as well, I can’t stand to have a runny nose and having allergies makes that a nearly daily occurrence!

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