When you visit an Ayurvedic practitioner, be prepared to talk about yourself. Because Ayurveda emphasizes balance in all areas of your life, a trained practitioner will not only examine your body, but will take an extensive personal and medical history, including questions about daily diet, profession and working conditions, exercise routines, relationships, and mental health.
This thorough intake process helps the practitioner identify key symptoms and potential causes of imbalance and determine suitable treatment options.
What is the initial examination?
Ayurvedic examinations generally consist of three parts:
￼Observation (Darshan): The practitioner first evaluates general physical health by looking at the patient and observing his/her movements, body contour, color of the skin and eyes, facial lines and ridges, shape of the nose, and qualities of the lips, hair, and nails.
Touch (Sparsha): The practitioner then employs touch, including palpation (pressing down on parts of the body, called sparshanam in Ayurveda), auscultation, which is listening for sounds made by the internal organs (shrvanaa), and percussion or tapping (akotana). There is special focus on the patient's pulse, tongue, nails, and speech. Laboratory testing is also included under this category.
Questions (Prashna): The practitioner asks the patient about complaints and symptoms, as well as the duration of discomfort and disease progression. The practitioner also inquires about mental and psychological conditions.
How do practitioners make diagnoses and decide upon treatments?
Most westerners are familiar with visiting a healthcare provider when we feel ill. The provider diagnoses the sickness and determines which pathogens, such as bacteria or virus, caused it. The treatment is then geared toward selecting a technique to battle those pathogens. The same medicines, procedures, and doses are often used for multiple people battling the same illness.
An Ayurvedic diagnosis, and subsequent treatments, differ from this Western process in that the diagnosis is made not only on the disease level (called roga), but also on the patient level (called rogi). The exhaustive examination helps the Ayurvedic practitioner not only diagnose the disorder, but individualize or tailor treatments for each patient.
To make a diagnosis, the Ayurvedic practitioner uses a method called rogi-roga pareeksha, which combines disease analysis with deep examination of each individual.
￼The Ayurvedic practitioner considers the whole human being, believing that people have within them the required energy to bring the body back to a healthy, or balanced, state.
So instead of focusing on a treatment or medicine to heal the illness, the Ayurvedic practitioner concentrates on the techniques that will strengthen the healthy elements inherent in every body, which will in turn help the individual to recover. This tenet is called svabhavoparamavada, and it refers to the Ayurvedic ideal of helping the body call upon its own energy to heal. Treatments and medicines are a vital part of this process, but act only to support the body's self-reparation, rather than cause it.
According to Ayurveda, diseases are due to a doshic imbalance. Determining the patient's dosha, and then identifying the root cause of a disease, requires precise training.
What are some Ayurvedic treatments?
The Ayurvedic practitioner has a wide array of treatments and therapies at his/her disposal. Practitioners may include a variety of treatments in an individual's dincharya (daily recommended routine) and ritucharya (seasonal routine).