How Ayurveda may help sufferers of anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders

Ayurveda is India’s traditional, natural system of medicine that has been practiced for more than 5,000 years. Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that literally translated means "science of life" or "practices of longevity."

It was the system of health care conceived and developed by the seers (rishis) and natural scientists through centuries of observations, experiments, discussions, and meditations.

For several thousand years their teachings were passed on orally from teacher to student; about the fifth to sixth century BC, elaborately detailed texts were written in Sanskrit, the ancient language of India.

For many years this system flourished and was used by rich and poor alike in India and Southeast Asia. This natural system of medicine emphasizes prevention of disease, rejuvenation of our body systems, and extension of life span.

The profound premise and promise of Ayurveda is that through certain practices, not only can we prevent heart disease and make our headaches go away, but we can also better understand ourselves and the world around us, live a long healthy life in balance and harmony, achieve our fullest potential, and express our true inner nature on a daily basis.

This natural system provides an integrated approach to preventing and treating illness through lifestyle interventions and natural therapies. It is based on the view that the elements, forces, and principles that comprise all of nature - and that holds it together and make it function - are also seen in human beings.

The mind (or consciousness) and the body (or physical mass) not only influence each other - they are each other. Together they form the mind-body.

For someone with anorexia, bulimia or another eating disorder, this type of therapy - that focuses on the whole person, can be very beneficial.

Anorexics and bulimics tend to see themselves as a selection of separate components. This allows them to maintain a rigid and austere lifestyle which does not cater to their needs.

The process of recovery involves the merging together of the spiritual, emotional, physical and psychological elements of the sufferer, allowing him or her to recognise the needs associated with each, and that one cannot truly be fulfilled without the needs of the others also being Ayurvedic philosophy and practices link us to every aspect of ourselves and remind us that we are in union with every aspect of nature, each other, and the entire universe.

It maintains that the universal consciousness is an intelligent, aware ocean of energy that gives rise to the physical world we perceive through our senses.

There can be no mental health without physical health, and vice versa. In Ayurveda, symptoms and diseases that could be categorized as mental thoughts or feelings are just as important as symptoms and diseases of the physical body.

Recognition of this is crucial to the recovery of the sufferer of anorexia or bulimia, as, in order to get better she must first accept that she is not only starving her body, but also her mind, and that that very starvation is perpetuating her negative image of herself.

Both are due to imbalances within a person, and both are treated by restoring the natural balance mentally and physically. In Ayurveda your whole life and lifestyle must be in harmony before you can enjoy true well being.

Lifestyle interventions are a major Ayurvedic preventive and therapeutic approach, which is why we believe that Ayurvedic therapy, especially used alongside other complementary therapies, may be useful in helping a sufferer of anorexia, bulimia or another eating disorder to gain a sense of emotional and spiritual equilibrium, essential to her recovery.

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