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The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies

Dr. Vasant D. Lad, Educator and Ayurvedic Physician

Ayurveda is the ancient Indian system of natural health and healing. Derived from the words "ayus" (life) and "veda" (knowledge), it is a comprehensive science of living in attunement with natural law for mental, physical, and spiritual well being. This book, which I wrote in collaboration with Dr. Vasant Lad, the pre-eminent practitioner and teacher of Ayurveda in America, lays out the fundamental principles of Ayurveda in simple terms. It provides in-depth information about constitutional types - and a self-test to determine your own type. In his typically friendly style, Dr. Lad provides practical guidelines to promote your long-term good health, and draws upon nearly half a century of Ayurvedic practice to offer hundreds of remedies for dozens of conditions in an A to Z format, from Abdominal Cramps to Yeast Infections.

This book has been a consistent top seller on Amazon since 1999! 

From the Amazon site: 

Based on the ancient healing tradition from India that dates back thousands of years, The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies offers natural alternatives to conventional medicines and treatments with practical advice and easy-to-follow instructions. A leading authority in this field, Dr. Vasant Lad first explains the principles behind the science of Ayurveda, exploring the physical and psychological characteristics of each of the three doshas, or mind-body types--vata, pitta, and kapha. Once you have determined which type or combination of types you are, Dr. Lad helps you to begin your journey to the ultimate "state of balance" and well-being.

The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remediesis an invaluable guide to treating common ailments and chronic problems with strategies tailored to your personal needs based on your constitutional type. Dr. Lad explains why certain imbalances often result in illness and shows you how to restore your body to natural order. You'll learn which traditional Ayurvedic remedies--herbal teas and formulas, essential oils, meditation, yoga--offer relief from a variety of conditions, such as cold and flu symptoms, headaches, toothaches, sore throats, high cholesterol, vision problems, anxiety, and depression. Dr. Lad also shows you how to use diet and specific Ayurvedic techniques to prevent future illness and to promote body consciousness and healthy living.

The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies enables us all to experience the benefits of Ayurveda's healing properties that have been refined over thousands of years. All of the herbs, foods, and oils Dr. Lad recommends can be found in local health food stores or through mail-order catalogs. Complete with an extensive glossary and resource list, this is the definitive guide to natural, safe, and effective remedies, everyday keys to a lifetime of vitality and well-being.

from Booklist: 

Lad, director of an Ayurvedic educational institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico, refers to Ayurveda as "the art of daily living in harmony with the laws of nature." This comprehensive and easy-to-use guide can be considered the Ayurvedic counterpart to a conventional home medical handbook. Parts 1 and 2 present the philosophy, principles, and therapies of this 5,000-year-old Indian medical system. The therapies include diet, herbs, exercise and yoga, oil massage, breathing techniques, meditation, and such adjuncts as sound, color, and aromatherapy. Part 3, fully one-half of the guide, is an encyclopedia of remedies organized in an AZ format by symptom or condition; references provide adequate access to the more than 100 common ailments. Numerous sidebars throughout the text provide additional information or precautions. The guide closes with line drawings of yoga postures, a glossary, resources, and further reading.

Here are a few comments from Amazon reader reviews:

"This book is a wealth of information and easy to understand."

"This book can absolutely change your health profile and bring happiness in your life." 

"If I could keep only one book in this category it would be this one!"

"This book is the first one I've read on Ayurveda which makes immediate sense. Written in a practical straightforward way, it is obvious the author genuinely cares about his readers.
"I have tried several cures listed in the book, and they have provided better and faster relief than any drugs. There is one for sinus headache (pg 250) that worked in less than 10 min. And the best story of all, is one he lists for food allergies which has allowed me to eat dairy and wheat again. 
"This book has changed my life. I have been independently studying holistic medicine for the past 9 years, and this book is a fast leap forward in my awareness of the field of alternative treatments.
"I only hope to be able to meet Dr. Lad some day and offer my gratitude. "

"I have been buying books on Ayurveda for several years. I usually read a little and then put them on the shelf. Not so with Dr. Lad's The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies. I immediately adopted his simple morning routine, and it has helped me physically and mentally. I recommend this book to anyone interested in making a profound, positive change. It's practical and easy to follow."

"This book is incredibly useful, and full of home remedies for a very wide variety of problems. I've tried many of them myself - for sinus troubles, insect bites, ordinary fatigue, and simple stomach complaints. It also has guidance on more serious issues, to be used in concert with a physician's medical advice. As a physician, I have over 20 "home medical guides" in my house, and I usually turn to this one first. I highly recommend it for any household." 

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Need for Healing 


1. Ayurveda: Body, Mind, and Soul
The Universe and How We Are Connected
The Five Elements: Building Blocks of Nature
The Three Doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha
The Twenty Qualities: An Important Key to Healing


2. Discover Your Mental and Physiological Type
Prakruti and Vikruti
How to Determine Your Constitutional Type
Characteristics of the Vata Individual
Characteristics of the Pitta Individual
Characteristics of the Kapha Individual
How to Use This Knowledge


3. Why We Get Sick
The Definition of Health
Ten Factors in Health and Illness
How Disease Develops


4. How We Can Stay Healthy
Taking Action to Modify the Cause
Restoring Balance
Techniques for Cleansing and Purification
A Simple Home Purification
Rejuvenation and Rebuilding


5. Ayurvedic Lifestyle: The Ultimate Preventive Medicine
In Tune with Nature
Ayurvedic Daily Routine
Seasonal Routines


6. Breathing Techniques
The Secret of Pranayama
Six Breathing Techniques


7. Meditation and Mental Discipline
Empty Bowl Meditation
So-Hum Meditation
Double-Arrowed Attention


8. Ayurvedic Dietary Guidelines
Food Guidelines for the Constitutional Types
The Six Tastes
Healthy and Unhealthy Eating Habits
Incompatible Food Combinations
Food and the Three Gunas



How to Use the Encyclopedia
Components of Ayurvedic Healing
Diagnosis and Treatment


Illnesses and Remedies, A-Z


Conclusion: Taking Responsibility for Your Own Health: 
How to Integrate Ayurveda into Your Life 
Appendix 1 How to Use the Healing Properties of Metals, 
Gemstones, Colors, and Aromas 
Appendix 2 How to Prepare and Use Herbs, Ghees, and Oils 
Appendix 3 Special Ayurvedic Procedures 
Appendix 4 Yoga Asanas - Instructions and Illustrations
Reading List 


Introduction: The Need for Healing

Ayurveda is the art of daily living in harmony with the laws of nature. It is an ancient, natural wisdom of health and healing, a science of life. The aims and objectives of this science are to maintain the health of a healthy person and to heal the disease of an unhealthy person. Both prevention (maintenance of good health) and healing are carried out by entirely natural means.

According to Ayurveda, health is a perfect state of balance among the body's three fundamental energies or doshas (vata, pitta, kapha) and an equally vital balance among body, mind, and the soul or consciousness.

Ayurveda is a profound science of living that encompasses the whole of life and relates the life of the individual to the life of the universe. It is a holistic system of healing in the truest sense. Body, mind, and consciousness are in constant interaction and relationship with other people and the environment. In working to create health, Ayurveda takes into consideration these different levels of life and their interconnectedness.

As a science of self-healing, Ayurveda encompasses diet and nutrition, lifestyle, exercise, rest and relaxation, meditation, breathing exercises, and medicinal herbs, along with cleansing and rejuvenation programs for healing body, mind, and spirit . Numerous adjunct therapies such as sound, color, and aroma therapy may also be employed . The purpose of this book is to acquaint you with these natural methods, so you can make the lifestyle choices and learn the self-healing modalities that are right for you in order to create, maintain, or restore health and balance.

Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that means "the science of life and longevity." According to this science, every individual is both a creation of cosmic energies and a unique phenomenon, a unique personality. Ayurveda teaches that we all have a constitution, which is our individual psychobiological makeup. From the moment of conception, this individual constitution is created by the universal energies of Ether or Space, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth.

These five elements combine into the three fundamental energies, or doshas. Ether and air constitute vata, which is the energy of movement; fire and water constitute pitta, the principle of digestion or metabolism, the transformation of matter into energy; and water and earth make up kapha, the energy of structure and lubrication. When the male sperm and the female egg join at the time of fertilization, the vatta-pitta-kapha factors from the parents' bodies that are most active and predominant at the moment, due to the season, the time, the emotional state, and the quality of their relationship, form a new individual with a particular constellation of qualities.

In modern terms we speak of this blueprint of the individual as our inherited genetic code; from ancient times Ayurveda has called it our prakruti or individual constitution, a constant factor which does not change throughout life. It is our own unique pattern of energy, our combination of physical, mental, and emotional characteristics and predispositions.

Though the underlying structure of our prakruti remains a fixed reality, our home base or essential individuality, it is constantly bombarded by numerous forces. Changes in age and in our external environment, alternating heat and cold as the seasons pass, our endlessly shifting thoughts, feelings, and emotions, the quality and quantity of the food we eat, continuously affect us. Unhealthy diet, excess stress, insufficient rest or exercise, and repressed emotions, all disturb our doshic balance. Depending on the type of changes and the individual;s underlying constitution, various ailments may develop:

Some individuals experience an increase or aggravation of kapha, leading to conditions such as colds, congestion, sneezing, and allergic manifestations as well as attachment, greed, and possessiveness.

A pitta individual may become highly critical, angry, or perfectionistic, or may develop physical symptoms such as acid indigestion, heartburn, diarrhea, dysentery, hives, rash, or acne.

Vata imbalances may manifest as constipation, abdominal distention, sciatica, arthritis, or insomnia, along with psychological symptoms such as fear, anxiety, and insecurity.

All these illnesses and conditions, in addition to the countless others that lead to human suffering, are due to alterations in the body's inner ecology. These upset the individual's balance, creating subtle biochemical changes which ultimately lead to disease. This is why the Ayurvedic system of medicine speaks of the need for healing for every individual in every walk of life.

As the internal and external conditions of our lives change, if we are going to remain healthy we need to constantly adjust in order to maintain equilibrium. Some of this adjusting takes place automatically due to the beautiful wisdom and intelligence with which our bodies have been designed. But much depends on conscious choice.

To maintain health and balance, we have to juggle with the three doshas, taking action to increase or decrease vata, pitta, or kapha as conditions demand. This requires moment to moment awareness, moment to moment consciousness, moment to moment healing.

Thus healing - healthy, balanced, conscious living in the fullness of the present moment - is really a way of life. Ayurveda is not a passive form of therapy but rather asks each individual to take responsibility for his or her own daily living. Through our diet, our relationships, our job, our numerous responsibilities, and our daily life as a whole, we can take simple actions for prevention, self-healing, wholeness, and growth toward fulfillment.

According to Ayurveda, our life has a purpose. Simply stated, that purpose is to know or realize the Creator (Cosmic Consciousness) and to understand our relationship with That, which will entirely influence our daily living. This great purpose is to be achieved by balancing four fundamental aspects of life: dharma, which is duty or right action; artha, material success or wealth; kama, positive desire; and moksha, spiritual lberation. These are called the four purusharthas, the four great aims or achievements in the life of any individual.

The foundation of all these facets of life is health. To maintain dharma and carry out our duties and responsibilities to ourselves and others, we must be healthy. Likewise, in order to create affluence and achieve success in action, good health is indispensable. To have creative, positive desire, we need a healthy mind and consciousness, a health body, and healthy perception. (Desire - kama- is sometimes translated as sex and refers to progeny and family life, but it is really the positive energy or force of desire that generates and propels any creative work.) And moksha or spiritual liberation is nothing but perfect harmony of body, mind, and consciousness or soul. Thus the whole possibility of achievement and fulfillment in life rests on good health.

In the quarter century that I have been practicing medicine, I have worked in surgery, gynecology, obstetrics, and pediatrics, as well as in general medicine, treating thousands of individuals in all stages and walks of life. I have repeatedly observed that lifestyle choices, such as diet, exercise, and daily routine, can be a potent source of healing as well as a cause of disease. Many health problems seem intertwined with the stresses of daily life, family and relationship problems, and worries about job and money. Others are directly connected to eating the wrong kinds of food or getting too much or too little exercise.

I have also grown more and more aware that illness provides us with an invitation for self-transformation, an opportunity to change our way of thinking, feeling, eating, and in general caring for ourselves and our lives. It never ceases to amaze and delight me how quickly and powerfully life can be set on the right track and balance restored simply through a proper diet, herbal medicines, meditation, an appropriate exercise program. and other purely natural means.

The remedies in this book come from my own practical clinical experience, based on principles and practices developed over centuries. The tradition of Ayurveda extends back over more than five thousand years of continuous daily practice, from ancient times to the present day. It is not a recently developed system of alternative healing but an enduring science of life that has never lost its integrity and essential nature. You can imagine how much wisdom it contains and how much practical knowledge it has accumulated over a span of five millennia!

About three thousand years ago (around 900 B.C.), the long oral tradition of Ayurveda took new form when three great scholars - Charaka, Sushruta, and Vag Bhatta - wrote down the principles of this ancient wisdom. Their textbooks are still used by students, practitioners, and teachers in Ayurvedic medical schools and colleges throughout India.

In a profound sense, Ayurveda is the mother of all healing systems. From its eight principal branches (pediatrics, gynecology and obstetrics, ophthalmology, geriatrics, otolaryngology, toxicology, general medicine, and surgery) have come the main branches of medicine as it is practiced today, as well as many modern healing modalities, including massage, diet and nutritional counseling, herbal remedies, plastic surgery, psychiatry, polarity therapy, kinesiology, shiatsu, acupressure and acupuncture, color and gem therapy, and meditation. All these have roots in Ayurvedic philosophy and practice.

The great sage-physician Charaka, one of the founders of Ayurvedic medicine, said "A physician, though well versed in the knowledge and treatment of disease, who does not enter into the heart of the patient with the virtue of light and love, will not be able to heal the patient." To the best of my ability, I have followed this advice all my life, and I would urge you to follow it in using this knowledge to help others and to heal yourself.

Love is the essence of our life. I have written this book with love, and I offer it to you, dear reader, with the hope that the suggestions offered here will become a vital part of your self-healing and continued well-being.

Visit Dr. Lad's website at his Ayurvedic Institute