Traditional medicine, holistic medicine, has thousands of years of proof that nature contains powerful resources to heal. We know that maintaining health can be done with proper sleep, food, exercise, daily routines and the people we choose to include in our lives. Through choice or chance, every person goes through challenging times, which affect the physiology and/or the mind and emotions. Herbal remedies, chosen properly, are paramount in swiftly returning the body and mind to its harmonious state of balance. The key is to know the proper balancing agents and how to utilize them appropriately. When used appropriately for the root cause of the problems, not for general symptoms, herbs are potent medicines that restore true health. Symptoms will vanish as a result, and better yet, other areas of health will be enhanced… Digestion will improve, thus improving your ability to assimilate the good foods you take in; sleep will improve, improving your strength, stamina, and immune system; elimination will balance, releasing toxins in your body and keeping your ojas (healthy essence) within you.
Ayurveda recognizes the power of herbs as medicine. Herbs are not intended for long term use, they are intended for specific healing, after which general guidelines are implemented for maintenance of health and enhancement of life. It’s wonderful that our culture so desires greater health that we can now walk into a grocery store and ask for natural remedies. “What do I take for insomnia? What remedy do you have for sinus congestion? What should I take to relieve my stomach aches?” Certainly there are occasions when one health food store recommendation is the answer to your problem. However, more often, it takes numerous attempts with different products to achieve results, and then you’ve taken lots of things that your body must flush out. Furthermore, Ayurveda understand that there are inherent problems with this way of treating your ailments. First and foremost, treating the symptom itself is rarely the way to resolve the actual problem. And sometimes the actual problem is made worse, giving rise to additional symptoms or side effects. There are often many different reasons why one common symptom exists. Learning the root cause of the symptom is essential, so that the actual imbalance can be corrected, which in turn will resolve the symptom. Better yet, the body will be stronger and better able to grow even healthier and stronger.
Another setback of the common herbal quick-fixes is that most often, one or two single herbs will not be as effective as a perfect blend of herbs. Ayurvedic remedies are individualized to meet the needs of unique imbalances, using one or two primary herbs (Emperors) with additional herbs to enhance assimilation and balance other aspects of the body. Ashwaganda may be strengthening, but it’s also heating and could have malefic effects certain people. Hing helps certain individuals tremendously with digestion, but would cause pain or bloating for others. Shitavari is wonderful for the reproductive system, but not if there’s already much cold or stagnant ama. These herbs may still be taken as medicine, but only when aided by other herbs to balance the heat or the cold or the unctuous nature.
Lastly, taking more supplements/vitamins/herbs than you truly need is not good practice. Anything you take in which you do not need is considered ama (toxins for your body which you must work to eliminate or store and then feel sluggish or foggy from).
Every individual has unique needs to strengthen, purify, and balance. And each individual will have different needs at different times, depending on time of life and circumstances in the life. As you get a taste of what is right for you, you begin to crave (and trust) the most appropriate substances to take in…regardless of what society is currently endorsing as the #1 cure-all.
For optimal health, take your body and mind into your own hands. Seek guidance from a trusted practitioner. We all need teachers and guides to help us, so utilize your resources to get you to an ideal state of health and happiness. Then you will be able to guide others, in whatever gifts you are here to offer. It’s a beautiful circle we have.