“In the USA we are recognised as a food supplement and as a provider of massage. Ayurvedic medicine is the medicine of comfort, leading to cure and preservation of life.”
Dr Doja Purkit, MD BSc DSc MBRCP is an Ayurvedic doctor who gained his degrees in India at Jaipur University.
Dr Purkit, you have practiced in England for 26 years, mainly at the Hale Clinic in London, and you also do research in stroke rehabilitation at Hammersmith Hospital. Can you please explain what Ayurvedic medicine is?
Ayurveda is a traditional Indian system of medicine, and it derives from the Sanskrit word ayuh which means ‘life’ and veda which means ‘knowledge’, and which basically touches all sections of life with the knowledge of wellbeing. It is 5,000 years old, and 70% of the Indian rural population still use Ayurvedic medicine as their primary health care.
What kind of medicine is it?
It is based on herbs and minerals, but when I use it in the western world I don’t use any minerals and use purely herbs. According to Ayurveda our human system is influenced by three materials, three matters, which are known as the vata (Air), then comes the pitta (Fire) and then comes the kapha (Water). When the human is born our cells get influenced by these three matters, which are vata, pitta, kapha. The Ayurvedic practitioner identifies these elements, and balances them with food, herbs, massage, exercise and meditation.
What happens in the case of illness?
Whenever illness comes one of these elements creates imbalance. For instance, if you have a lot of heat in the body then you get a fever, and then according to Ayurveda you reduce the heat and that helps reduce the fever. In another example, a person being unable to sleep is a sign of high vata (Air) in the mind, and then Ayurveda teaches to reduce the Air from the body and that helps the person to sleep.
When you use the word reduce, how do you do it?
Massage, exercise, and the food which produces Air has to reduce. One of the great producers of Air is wheat, bread.
How do you practice your medicine alongside Western medicine?
The main difference between western and Ayurvedic medicine is that Ayurvedic medicine creates a certain comfort and that helps the body to heal itself. Western medicine gives the body a chemical compound to heal, and Ayurvedic medicine gives comfort to heal. That is one of the reasons Ayurveda treats every human being from babies to adults with the same principle, whereas western medicine is often good for the adult but not for the child.
What about vaccines and antibiotics, and other western medicines that have changed the world, compared to Ayurvedic treatment?
For centuries and centuries Ayurveda has been dealing with the crises of epidemic with herbs and preserved the community. In the last 100 years modern medicine has given vaccines, antibiotics and life-saving drugs for the human to live longer, but once you compare Ayurvedic medicine and modern medicine each has their own role to play to preserve human society.
What is your practice in London about?
In my practice we have seen when modern medicine was unable to control chronic infection while Ayurvedic medicine has been successfully treating those cases. For the person with a chronic arthritic condition for instance, modern medicine can be unable to reduce the inflammation. Ayurvedic medicine helps the person to reduce inflammation and to enjoy a normal life.
What do you do?
Massage, diet, exercise, meditation.
What kind of massage?
Ayurvedic massage is known as marma massage, which stimulates the nerves and helps the body and the mind to communicate with each other. Another massage is known as pancha karma massage, and uses different herbal oils, like mustard oil, sesame oil and almond oil.
Do you practice this in London?
Yes, and also in India in Kerala because the pancha karma massage, which is oil massage, is particularly beneficial in India where the hot country allows perspiration and helps the patient to perspire the oil. This is the reason why I practice in India.
Are there many westerners who cure themselves with Ayurvedic medicine?
Yes. I have had thousands of patients who have been cured of conditions from common cold, headache, back ache, to arthritis, heart, eyes, and stroke.
Is it like acupuncture or homeopathic medicine?
It has similarities. I have also used acupuncture and homeopathy in my practice, and my diplomas in homeopathy and acupuncture have helped me to understand the human being in more detail.
In what sense?
In the sense that every culture has their best medicine to heal, and once you know the other culture that adds a great wisdom to your own practice.
Do you also know western medicine?
Yes, but I don’t practice it.
How do you assess your patients and come to a diagnosis?
I use one of the 5,000 year old tools to diagnose each individual person, which is a pulse diagnosis that has been a secret knowledge kept in maharajah’s palaces, also the tongue and eyes. That gives me enough information to treat individual patients. We are very fortunate that in the 21st century we are able to use this technique of pulse, tongue and eyes diagnosis for everyone. From 5,000 years ago to 100 years ago it was only available to kings and for the elite.
If you detect a cancer or another major incurable disease what do you do?
Cancer we don’t treat. Heart we do treat. I am a specialist in stroke rehabilitation. I don’t prevent stroke, but I have a 95% positive result in stroke rehabilitation when modern medicine has failed. Each medicine has their limitation.
When you talk about exercise and meditation as part of your treatment are you talking about yoga?
Yoga is exercises for the body, meditation is exercises for the mind. When we die we use the words rigor mortis. Yoga helps the muscles, nerves, arteries and veins to contract and relax. That helps to prevent death.
Meditation exercises the mind. The human mind is infinitive, and meditation helps the mind to centralise and focus, to concentrate. That’s why there are three kinds of meditation: 1. Concentration, 2. Detachment, and 3. Attachment. If you ask the very active mind to concentrate it is not possible, the only way the active mind can meditate is through detachment. Lord Buddha detached his mind sitting under the tree and reached nirvana – the highest level of bliss – through detachment. Whereas Ghandi concentrated, he marched, saying to people come with me and help free India from British rule. Mandela did attachment meditation. He used to lie down and attach his body and mind to the earth, and this gave him the power to free his people.
How do you prescribe Ayurvedic medicine?
A major part of the treatment is massage, food and diet, exercise and meditation. Medicine is only prescribed for individual problems to give comfort to heal the system. Ayurvedic medicine’s main job is to comfort!
Do you prevent or do you cure?
Prevent and cure. Comfort leading to cure and preservation of life. Ayurvedic medicine is the medicine of prevention and preserving life.
Why did you decide to practice your medicine in London?
Because of my research. In India the facilities were not there at that time, and no one had done Ayurvedic research in London.
How many people have you treated?
I have seen about 10,000. In a day I see 10 people. It is very intensive. A treatment is one to two hours.
How many treatments do you need?
Three treatments once or twice a week over three months for a chronic problem, sometimes every day. If there is a lot of damage then you need a lot of treatment. Some come for many years to maintain the whole system, tuning the mind and body. It is the same treatment for everyone, from a small baby up, in whatever country.
Are you recognised?
We are recognised in England. In the USA we are recognised as a food supplement and as a provider of massage.
Do you teach?
I have had pupils in the USA, UK and India, outside of the universities, and giving them practical teaching on diet and nutrition.
What type of diet do you recommend?
There are three types of diet, according to your element: the Air diet, Fire diet and Water diet. The Air diet has no wheat, the Fire no fried food and the Water no milk. All include vegetables, and people can eat meat. The ideal diet is eating a single food at each meal, for example for breakfast eat toast and nothing else, just one vegetable at lunch, one thing for dinner. Keep it simple and the body breaks down that one thing and relaxes.
Enjoy this interview? Share it with your friends.
London, August 2016.
Ayurveda Self Assessment Form to Download