Raise your hands, who has ever had the sniffles? Ever had a sinus infection? Ever had the sniffles turn into a cold that turns into a sinus infection? Lemme see the hands. Yeah, that's a bummer because when the sniffles turn into a sinus infection, it means a trip to the doctor.
There's a time to use Ayurveda (sniffles) and there's a time to go see a Western doctor (sinus infection).
To help lift any confusion, let's highlight where each of the sciences (Ayurveda and Western medicine) excel and review how we might err in the middle.
When to Use Ayurveda
We can often fix simple imbalances with proper Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle, along with some home remedies suited for the person and the imbalance. This also supports the goal of Ayurveda, which is optimal health and prevention. We will be sick far less often and far less intensely if we use Ayurveda day to day. Consistent daily practice is how we use Ayurvedic wisdom to avoid sickness in the first place—and therein lies its awesome power!
Let's take the example of the sniffles. If we use our Ayurvedic smarts by taking extra rest, drinking enough water, having ginger tea with honey, and eating warm pungent liquid soups, the sniffles will subside in a few days. Three cheers!
Here’s Where We Err
The truth is, most people never take the time to do that! Instead, since we "just have the sniffles," we keep going. We push it because we are too busy to stop for sniffles. They are just sniffles after all! They don't matter that much...except when they turn into something more serious. When we choose not to take the time to care for ourselves until we feel like utter garbage, we strip our own empowerment to do something about it.
Ooh! Did you see that? "We choose not to take the time..." In Ayurveda, we strive to make right choices followed by right action. If we make wrong choices, it's on us.
The Tipping Point
That's the tipping point. When we choose to ignore signs from our body that something is going wrong, we advance the stages of disease. We get worse. Then, we move from being able to use Ayurveda as home care to needing the help of a doctor. When the stage of disease is too far along we can no longer treat it by ourselves.
Then We Have to See a Western Doctor
Western medicine excels in handling emergencies. If something serious happens, go to a doctor immediately and don't even consider Ayurveda (maybe in India where they have Ayurvedic physicians and hospitals, but not in the West). Raise your hands if you promise! Ok, good.
You would also want to see a Western doctor if you've done your due diligence of proper rest and down time and your illness is just not improving, or it's getting worse.
The Perfect Blend
Let's paint a picture of how we can use Ayurveda and Western medicine where they excel: We follow the Ayurvedic daily routine, choose foods according to our dosha and seasonal balance. We move our bodies to achieve a sweat every day, building strength and flexibility. We calm our stress daily with meditation. We bring in plenty of prana (our vital life source) by using the breath and choosing foods from nature. And we use herbs to offer support to our health and create subtle shifts when we need them.
With these simple practices, we will be sick far less often for far less time. We might not ever need to see a doctor except for routine checkups or when something out of the ordinary happens.
When accidents happen or serious health problems arise, go to Western medicine. While being treated by our Western doctor, we can still do all the Ayurvedic practices (routine, food, rest, natural remedies, and so forth) to promote healing and support health.
THAT is the power of being able to use both. Raise your hands if you are going to commit to a more consistent Ayurvedic routine and diet at home. Yes! Look at all those beautiful hands!
You are more powerful than you think you are. You just need to take the time to listen and act when the body is calling for a timeout.