There are different classifications of Ayurvedic treatments and here we are going to mention only the basic ones. The main classification comprises cleansing treatments (Shodhana), including Panchakarma (five cleansing procedures) and balancing treatments (Shamana) which include intake of different medicines and procedures such as physical exercise, fasting, massage and applying curative substances to our body. Regulating diet (Ahara) and regulating lifestyle (Vihara) are also among the most important aspects of Ayurvedic treatments. There are, of course, many other treatments, such as taking tonics (Rasayna), which enhance body functions, strengthen body structures and result in vitality, and many others. To sum up, we could say that the basis of an Ayurvedic treatment consists of three main parts:
Ahara means diet and refers to regulating eating habits depending on a specific problem (Vikruti) and body constitution (Prakruti). Diet regulation is an extremely important element of any therapy and has to be compatible with the therapy prescribed. Therefore, a therapy consisting of Ayurvedic herbal and mineral medicines must have the same effect on the body as food. In addition to that, the diet has to be compatible with the individual body constitution and seasons. Ayurveda often emphasises that “one’s man meat is another man’s poison”. Therefore, in order to best fit one’s needs and to help one achieve a balanced state of one’s body, defining one’s diet should be based on individual approach to every person and their specific problems.
Vihara stands for lifestyle. The same as diet regulation, regulation of life habits is one of the key elements of Ayurvedic treatment. Generally it refers to correcting one’s daily rhythm in terms of sleep, rest, eating time, physical activity, breathing exercises or procedures such as keeping personal hygiene by means of Ayurvedic or yogi techniques.
Aushadhi refers to Ayurvedic medicines mainly of herbal and mineral origin. However, they can also refer to some medicines of animal origin such as clarified butter (ghee). Although Aushadhi is the most important element of Ayurvedic treatments, in order to function properly it has to be combined with a recommended diet and lifestyle. Ayurvedic medicines have been tested not only by time, since some of the formulas are more than hundreds and thousands of years old, but also by modern research methods. Since there are hundreds of Ayurvedic medicines that are regularly used in Ayurvedic practice, it takes a lot of knowledge and experience to be able to choose the right combination. In order to achieve best results, a medicine has to be given in regular doses, at regular times (before, during or after a meal, before going to bed, etc.) and in proper combinations. Very rarely only one medicine is being used and if it is not taken in the right dose and accompanied by adequate diet, we cannot expect any significant results. Furthermore, certain medicines have a much stronger effect if they are taken with a particular “vehicle” called Anupan in Sanskrit. Therefore, some medicines can be taken with honey, milk, clarified butter (ghee), saliva, herbal decoction, etc.
In order to achieve the desired results of an Ayurvedic treatment, clients should follow the instructions given by Ayurvedic practitioners and they should be ready to change their life habits. On the other hand, the experience and knowledge of an Ayurvedic practitioner are the key prerequisites for a precise evaluation of their client’s health and for defining the right therapy.