Ayurveda and the Importance of Understanding the Qualities of Disease


“To know the nature of a disease (symptom) is to know its qualities. In the West, sometimes we name a disease after the person who identified it. Or, sometimes we name a disease using a Greek- or Latin-root word that relates to the part of the body affected. Arthritis, for example, comes from the Latin root arthra, which means joint, and the suffix itis, which means inflammation. However, to truly know disease requires knowing its qualities. Like the story of Rapunzel, knowing the true name of a symptom (its qualities) gives you great power over it. Only with this knowledge can you alter your lifestyle or use herbs in such a way as to counteract the disturbed quality and return the body to balance. As this occurs, the underlying cause of the condition is removed and the damaged tissue heals. 

As an example, imagine a pain in your body. Ask yourself, what are its qualities? Perhaps it is hot (inflamed) and sharp. If so, applying ice is a better treatment than applying heat, as the ice pack counteracts the qualities of the condition. Internally, avoiding excessively hot and sharp qualities are also important. Many spices, such as hot peppers, are hot and sharp and should be avoided. Foods such as milk and rice are dull and cooling. These can be increased in the diet. Practitioners of Ayurveda take this a step further and prepare poultices that use cool, dull herbs and also prescribe similar herbs for internal use that work specifically on the part of the body affected. 

Once we know the nature of our imbalances, it is not only important to restore the proper balance of qualities but also to examine our lifestyle and try to understand what led to the imbalance in the first place. There are many layers to the cause of disease. If we penetrate the cause deeply enough, when we get close to the core we discover that we participate in creating the disease. Through the process of self observation and reflection we can discover what our role is. This provides us with the opportunity to do something about it. Some aspect of our core self must change for complete healing to occur. This process of self-observation and reflection accelerates our personal growth. Each symptom is looked at in a new light. Rather than as a problem, it becomes our teacher. Each symptom is the body’s voice trying to communicate that something in our life is out of harmony. If we can solve the mystery, important lessons are learned and we have the opportunity for true healing to take place.” ~ Excerpt from “Healing Your Life, Lessons on the Path of Ayurveda,” by Dr. Marc Halpern, Founder of the California College of Ayurveda. Available at Amazon: http://amzn.to/1GP7m28 and Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1PsYDUA