Fighting chronic diseases with Ayurveda - is that possible? According to the senior physician at the Immanuel Hospital in Berlin and Ayurveda expert Christian Keßler, naturopathy and conventional medicine can certainly stimulate each other in a meaningful way.
Many people with chronic conditions such as being very overweight, multiple sclerosis or skin diseases such as psoriasis swear by Ayurveda. Is the healing power of Ayurveda too underestimated by conventional medicine?
Yes, you could say that. After all, Ayurveda is state medicine in South Asian countries such as India, Sri Lanka and Nepal, for which there is a university education there. So it is not the case that this healing art occupies any exotic niche globally, but has been widely used in its countries of origin for at least 2000 years. That cannot be free from effect. But it is also true that, according to Western standards, there is too little data to clearly prove the effectiveness of Ayurvedic therapies for chronic diseases such as multiple sclerosis. However, many patients report - not only in India and Sri Lanka, but also in this country - that Ayurveda has helped them.
What influence can Ayurveda have on our western medicine?
I am of the opinion that Ayurveda with its personalized approach and individual medicine - according to the motto: the same diagnosis does not always mean the same treatment - can fertilize western medicine. But as a natural scientist, I also find it right and important to first research which therapies or treatment approaches from the Ayurvedic tradition make medical sense in this country before we include them in German and European health care.
Which influences from Ayurveda do you consider suitable for everyday use?
Above all, a lot of things that have to do with a healthy lifestyle - from regular exercise to proper sleep hygiene and regularity in eating to more mindfulness towards yourself. With us, for example, a healthy diet is often limited to containing as many vitamins and nutrients as possible. In Asian medicine, however, healthy eating also means taking time to eat and then doing it at the right time of day. And it means paying attention to which foods are good for you and which suit your digestive capacity.
How can Ayurveda heal?
Ayurveda certainly cannot cure everything, but in many places you can use the differentiated naturopathic approach of Ayurveda to make meaningful contributions to halting chronic disease processes and positively influencing the feeling of complaints. As a traditional medical system, Ayurveda does not see itself as a single tool, but rather as a whole tool box. As a holistic system, it feels responsible for health and illness as a whole. From our clinical experience we can say that Ayurvedic therapy elements can often be used as supportive - especially with chronic diseases such as those of the musculoskeletal system, with osteoarthritis and arthritis, with chronic pain, states of exhaustion, diseases that are related to stress or diet such as obesity and high blood pressure . Ayurvedic approaches are particularly helpful in preventing diseases.
How can consumers tell if an Ayurvedic treatment is charlatanism?
An important quality feature is the training of the provider: For a meaningful and safe medical application, qualified medical specialists are required - for example doctors, nutritionists or physiotherapists. One should become skeptical if the provider recommends disregarding Western medicine and, from now on, only swear by Ayurveda. Absolute therapeutic claims and exaggerated promises of salvation are irresponsible. There are many great approaches in naturopathy that can be used sensibly and effectively in medicine. But ultimately, naturopathy also only uses water. So if you are promised complete healing right from the first conversation and advised you to give up everything you have done therapeutically up to now, you better turn around and look for another therapist.
Christian Keßler was born in 1977 born in Berlin. He is a doctor of medicine (2005 University of Hanover) and Indologist (2008 University of Göttingen). since 2005 he is a medical Ayurveda specialist, trained at the European Academy for Ayurveda. since 2013 as a senior physician in the Charité university outpatient clinic for naturopathy at the Immanuel Hospital Berlin
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