Two of the most common Ayurvedic herbs in the wellness industry are turmeric and ashwagandha. Turmeric is being promoted for so many ailments and ashwagandha as this miraculous adaptogen for stress. In fact, turmeric is mainly known to be a culinary spice! But, how many of these people actually taking these in the pill form know about Ayurveda? Likely a small percentage.
The Easy Fix
As an Ayurvedic Health Consultant I have the experience of family, friends, clients asking me what they can take for specific health issues. A reason why Ayurveda is lagging behind in the wellness industry is because the commitment to change one’s diet and lifestyle and not an easy fix. We are conditioned to believe that in order to resolve a health issue we must use pills, be it pharmaceutical drugs or an alternative substitute. It is an easy fix because our modern lives demand so much of us and we are willing to give our all. Hence, the primary method to heal is to use pills and secondary is to change anything else that requires effort and time. I hear a lot of excuses and I myself am also guilty of this. For example, I know how yoga supports my mind and body. Practicing for even 20 minutes with my toddler running around me puts me in such a powerful state of being. Yet, I find myself procrastinating on some days.
Ayurveda and Yoga
Ayurveda is diet and lifestyle. It takes commitment to practice Ayurveda and it is hard for most of us to function living in tune with nature, on a seasonal and day to day basis. A hundred years ago, this was not commitment. In this day and age, it is a commitment. How is it that yoga, the sister science to Ayurveda has caught momentum in the western part of the world? An hour long class or home practice of yoga instantaneously feels better. The results are fast and we love fast results. Better circulation, tighter core, increased flexibility and more energy are some of the more obvious results. Ayurveda is not fast results, in fact, it requires patience and commitment. The modern diet and lifestyle sometimes can make this commitment much harder, than say if we were to commit to these hundreds of years ago. When Ayurveda became a science, it seamlessly weaved into the daily life in villages and small towns. Modern life makes it so much harder to commit to diet and lifestyle changes.
Delay in Commitment
Individuals eager to commit are those suffering with some kind of illness or health issue. These are the individuals that are already diagnosed or have something going on. This is big problem- why wait until faced with disease? Can it be that we are oblivious to our health? Perhaps in denial? A disease is more difficult to cure with only diet, lifestyle and herbs. Most of us in this Ayurvedic field will recommend that the individual maintain their allopathic pharmaceutical drugs and use Ayurveda complimentary to their current course of action. Why is disease prevention not emphasized in western medicine? Ayurveda was created based on first and foremost disease prevention. The intent is to use diet and lifestyle so that no has to resort to herbs, if they could avoid it.
First And Foremost
Why is diet and lifestyle emphasized before herbs? These are the foundations and without a solid structure, herbs can only do so much. Diet and lifestyle is key and also difficult for many people to give up their ways on eating and living. Personally, I believe a middle ground is achievable. Ayurveda is the mind, body and spirit. The soul and dharma (one’s life purpose) aspect is often not spoken about. It is the part of nurturing one’s spirit, or soul. For example, there is a person who works in a very high demanding industry with long hours of work and an hour commute each way. To change their job or their profession is unreasonable, but also could be against their dharma. It might be their life mission to work in that job, maybe not ultimately that job per se, but they may be on the right track for their spiritual purpose and fulfillment. Everyone is not meant to be yogis and in the holistic space.
Herbs And Drugs
Are herbs better than pharmaceutical drugs? Of course, natural wins over synthetic. For example, to help restore balance a person battling with pre diabetes, or early stages of thyroid issues might want to use herbs in tandem with modified diet and lifestyle. For the person already on pharmaceutical drugs, they might find herbs to support their conditions and lower their drug intake. It is the marketing of herbs to support a relatively okay and healthy individual that is the issue.
Marketing diet and lifestyle should be first, before herbs. It’s easy to be convinced that ashwagandha can help support adrenals and help manage stress, help feel more grounded, since it is a powerful adaptogen. What good will it do if we cannot address our source of stress and directly use our diet and lifestyles resources first to manage it? Eliminating stress may not always possible. Ashwagandha can help for a period of time, but I find a lot of individuals start taking it for indefinite periods of time. Over time, adding on more herbs to help with x, y and z. In a way, ashwagandha is another pill popping regimen. Even herbs will not permanently resolve the health issue, unless diet and lifestyle is considered and implemented.