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Alternative Treatment Methods (Part 3): Ayurveda

May 7, 2012
alternative medicine - ayurveda

This post is a continuation of our alternative treatment methods series: view articles on meditation and yoga.

Because drug and alcohol addiction usually takes the form of social, physical and physiological problems — each of these areas needs to be treated during treatment.

A comprehensive approach to drug addiction treatment often includes Ayurveda.

The wisdom of life

Ayurveda, also called “The Wisdom of Life,” is an ancient form of traditional Hindu medicine. Native to our country, Ayurveda views each individual as a unique expression of the five elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Sky—that make up the human body and the universe.

The treatment method uses simple, natural and practical ideas to help rejuvenate and heal the hurting body of an addict. Similar to yoga, Ayurveda helps in an addict’s long term recovery by changing their lifestyle rather than simply giving them a pill to swallow.

Ayurvedic therapy is generally accomplished through a careful diet, herbal medicines, exercises, massage therapy, personal counselling, and forms of meditation.

Ayurveda: De-Addiction Treatment as Nature Intended It

Ayurveda is a method of treatment using mostly what is already available in nature.


Recovering drug and alcohol addicts generally don’t have a good diet upon entering rehab. The money usually spent on food is spent on their addiction, and as a result, an addict’s diet is one of the first things that needs to change during rehab.

  • Ayurveda begins to rejuvenate the body by placing addicts on a diet that includes foods like almonds, pine nuts, ghee (clarified butter) and sesame seeds.
  • Cold and iced drinks are usually removed from the diet and replaced with herbal teas mixed with household spices.

Herbal Medicines

There are a number of herbs used in Ayurveda that treat different aspects and types of addiction.

  • The gotu kola herb is used to help cleanse hallucinogenic drugs from the liver and brain.
  • Consuming the Ashwagandha herb helps to rebuild the nervous system.
  • Shatavari, a species of asparagus common in India, helps to restore emotional sensitivity and balance to an addict.
  • Herbal substitutes to reduce the dependency and craving for drugs include turmeric, barberry and dry ginger.

Massage Therapy

Abhyanga is a specialized form of massage therapy used in Ayurveda.

  • For 15 to 30 minutes, therapists massage warm, herb-infused oils into those undergoing treatment.
  • This wonderfully relaxing and energising massage relieves stress, anxiety, and feelings of being overwhelmed with their addiction.


Yoga is often used in conjunction with Ayurveda.

Personal Counselling

Like nearly every other form of treatment, Ayurveda includes personal counselling. The counselling is based on the individual’s unique expression of the five elements.


Addiction is a brain-based illness and needs to be treated as such. Meditation helps deal with the mental aspects of addiction through relaxation, positive thinking and full-body concentration.