Pain, stress and Ayurveda
Chronic pain can often be caused by a variety of imbalances that have become deeply embedded in the physiology over years. True healing of these imbalances requires a comprehensive approach, using several healing modalities. A quick review of the chronic pain condition shows how many imbalances could contribute to the condition. Therefore, gaining true relief from pain will usually require a multifaceted, natural approach.
According to Ayurveda poor diet, digestion and elimination of toxins can lead to buildup of toxins in tissues that activate the pain response. Certain foods sensitize the nerves to increased pain response. Accumulation of stress and disruption of bodily rhythms through poor lifestyle destabilize the nervous system and predispose the individual to increased pain. Lastly, any factor that depresses the body’s natural healing ability will slow the recovery from the experience of chronic pain.
Because there are so many factors that could create a symptom, the Ayurveda assessment of balance and imbalance does not simply identify the gross physical abnormality and match drug to a symptom. This is also because people can have the same disorder for different reasons. For example, ten people could walk into a doctor’s office with a pain and have it for ten different reasons. Likewise not everyone has chronic pain for the same reasons
An Ayurveda evaluation determines the imbalances in the functioning modes of the body. These underlying imbalances are the root causes of a condition and must be removed if real healing is to occur. An Ayurveda evaluation helps by determining the causal imbalances at the basis of a disorder. Ayurveda usually addresses the fundamental source of ill health in the individual.
Since chronic pain can be influenced by many factors, such as diet, digestion, toxin accumulation, stress, exercise levels and daily routine, the Ayurveda approach to the condition is a comprehensive one that balances many physiological functions simultaneously.
The root cause of chronic pain
According to Ayurveda, the following are the general types of imbalances at the source of most chronic conditions, including chronic pain:
- Toxins accumulating in tissues and blocking circulation
- Poor nutrition
- Poor digestion
- Imbalance of the nervous system
- Accumulation of physical and mental stress
- Lowering of natural resistance and immunity
The modern medical approach that matches drugs to symptoms does not completely address many of these factors. As a result, modern medicine often cannot fully remove the disorder and the condition becomes chronic. Chronic means that the condition persists over time even with the best modern medical treatment, indicating that some new approach is needed in our health care system.
Lifestyle changes for chronic conditions provides the most comprehensive set of natural recommendations available today to address the true causes of chronic pain. These therapies are not only effective in removing the imbalances at the basis of chronic disorders but also have no significant side-effects.
The goal of this approach is to enliven the body’s natural healing and self-repair ability not only to help cure chronic pain, but also to prevent disorder and create the highest state of health and well-being.
Most chronic disorders start when toxins accumulate in tissues and begin to disrupt the delicate biochemistry there. Toxin buildup can also obstruct the channels of circulation and elimination. This blockage prevents proper nutrition from reaching the tissues and blocks the processes that cleanse them of impurities.
1) Massage with mild herbal application: These three treatments received in combination every day for 5 to 21 days create the ideal internal physical environment for healing. These treatments address the problem of toxin accumulation by systematically:
a. Loosening impurities that have become embedded in tissues and helping liquefy them for easy absorption into the circulatory system and eventual elimination.
b. Softening and opening the channels of circulation and elimination so proper nourishment can reach the tissues and impurities can be more easily eliminated from them.
c. Activating the elimination process for the most thorough cleansing of the entire physiology by herbal ayurveda oil massage. Herbal oil massage is used in our treatments to aid the cleansing process. Usually an Ayurveda expert will choose specific herbal oils that are individually prepared and more suited for the condition. The motion of massage creates heat and friction which enhance circulation and help cleanse affected tissues of chemical impurities that could be causing symptoms of chronic pain.
d. The oil helps the balancing process by allowing the herbs to penetrate more deeply into the affected tissues.
2) Proper nutrition: Ayurveda recommends detailed understanding of which foods to favor and avoid for your condition. Avoid foods that are hard-to-digest, clog the physiology and aggravate the functioning modes that are already imbalanced. Favour foods that are easy-to-digest, nourishing, cleanse the physiology, strengthen digestion and balance the body’s inner intelligence. One of the great strengths of the Ayurveda dietary approach is that it contains knowledge of how to have a light, easy-to-digest diet that still is both satisfying and nourishing.
3) Ayurveda herbs: Herbs are considered nutritional supplements in Ayurveda. Their purpose is to restore balance to the specific functioning elements whose malfunctioning is causing the stress and pain. Ayurveda herbs can also have a holistic influence of balancing and nourishing the entire physiology. Traditional Ayurveda theory says that herbs are most effective after a person completes an internal cleansing program.
4) Creating strong digestion: Ability to digest food properly is as important as the food we eat. Incompletely digested foods create toxins and impurities that are eventually absorbed, travel throughout the physiology, localize in tissues and disrupt their functioning. This process plays a major role in a wide variety of chronic conditions, including chronic pain. Ayurveda provides recommendations for strengthening digestion like proper use of spices and cooking oils, herbal preparations for improving digestion, etc
5) Balancing nervous system activity: The nervous system controls most bodily functions, and almost every chronic condition is affected in some way when the nervous system activity becomes imbalanced. According to Ayurveda, the physiological principle at the basis of nervous stability and activation is called Vata. Because nervous system imbalance contributes to chronic pain, from the Ayurveda perspective Vata imbalance is an underlying cause of the condition and needs to be reversed.
6) Stress management: Excessive mental, emotional and physical stress can worsen the symptoms of many chronic disorders, including chronic pain. This is due to hormonal changes and other biochemical responses to stress that can imbalance the nervous system and depress the healing ability of the body. Enhancing the body’s ability to recover from stress is an integral part of Ayurveda’s approach to health and well-being. Practice of yoga twice a day is a powerful mind-body healing approach to the problems of chronic pain
7) Lifestyle and daily routine: One of the most important factors for maintaining healthy functioning is to have a lifestyle that does not disturb natural bodily rhythms. When we eat, sleep and exercise in constantly fluctuating and disturbing patterns, the body loses its natural balancing cycles and cannot cleanse or heal itself as effectively. Ayurveda recommends daily routine and provides the information you need to create a daily schedule that will increase balance in your physiology and aid in healing your body.
Ultimately every treatment approach must depend on the body’s natural healing ability for a real cure of the condition.
Source: Dr K Gowthaman, Medical Director, rVita (rVita Ayurveda Centers)
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