The global scenario in the health field is changing drastically. Ayurveda is being recognized as a most dependable medical system and more people are turning towards Ayurveda both for preventive and curative modes of treatment. Institutions providing Ayurvedic education and treatment facilities are being established in and around India to meet the increasing demand.
That system of medicine is called Ayurveda, the Science of life, where wholesome, unwholesome, happy and unhappy life are described along with the things which cause happy or unhappy life as well as the parameters to assess these four types of life spans.
'Ayu' means life span.
'Veda' means knowledge.
'Ayurveda' means knowledge of life.
Ayurveda is a science of life and not a mere therapy. Ayu means life and veda means knowledge. It is said that the Lord Brahma himself transferred his knowledge of life to the sages many thousands years back. Ayurveda, thus is considered as a divine science and is a upaveda of Atharvaveda. The science was then taught to groups of sages, discussed in seminars, subjected to tests and experiments and transferred to knowledge seekers over the years during different periods like vedic period, puranic period, pre independence and post-independence.
"Ayurvedam upavedam atharvana"
There are 4 VEDAS : Rugvedam, Yajurvedam, Samavedam and Atharvavedam
Ayurveda was evolved and projected for the relief of the human from various miseries. Protecting the health of the healthy person and curing the disease of the sick, these two are the main two purposes of this science. Equal emphasis has been laid upon preventing the diseases as well as curing it.
All ancient original texts are in Sanskrit. The major compendia are Charaka Samhita, Susruta Samhita, Ashtangasamgraha and Astanga Hridaya. Others include Yogaratnakara, Madhavanidana, Sharangadara Samhita Bhavaprakasha.
Concept of health
Man according to Ayurveda is not a just physical body. His very existence is based on three prime factors called satvam(mind), Atma(soul) and the Sareeram( body). Health is defined as a state of balanced doshas (humours), healthy agni(digestive fire), a good state of tissues and their metabolic end products in the presence of blissful state of the senses, mind and spirit.
Human body is composed of five basic elements namely : Prithvi ( earth), Jala(water), Agni(fire), Vayu(air) and Akasha(ether). Man thus is the replica of the nature itself. What happens in the nature will happen within the body also. The panchabhoutic body is nourished and sustained by the panchabhoutic food.
Tridoshas (Three body homours-three pillars of the body)
The five elements are being represented in the body by three primary energies called Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata is the master dosha and governs all functions of the body, both physical and mental. Pitta is responsible for all stages of digestion and metabolism. Also it responsible for the intellect and analytical power. Kapha imparts stability to the body as well as to the mind.
Tridoshas thus do the functions in the body as the sun, moon and the air sustain the whole universe. Their abnormality therefore disturbs the functions of the body and leads to various diseases.
Sapta Dhatus (Seven basic tissues)
Physical body is composed of seven tissues viz. Rasa(plasma), Rakta(blood), Mamsa(muscle), Medas(fat tissue), Asthi(bone), Majja(marrow) and Shukra(semen). The excellence of all tissues is very essential for maintenance of health. The food which constitutes all nutrients helps to build up the qualities of respective dhatus. They lose their qualities when not supported by proper food or when vitiated by doshas. Dhatus then become part in diseases process.
Malas (Waste products)
Pureesha(faeces), mootra(urine) and Sweda(sweat) are the main three excretes of the body. Every tissue metabolism gives out the essence that is needed for nourishment of the next tissue, a byproduct and some excreta. Thus Kapha(phlem) is the excreta of Rasa, Snayu(ligament) is the excreta of the medas(fat tissue) and so on.
Digestion and metabolism takes place with the help of an energy called Agni(digestive fire) The food on consumption comes in contact with the Agni, first in the stomach and gets disintegrated into simpler forms. The ahara rasa (product of first part of digestion) then reaches the dhatus one by one gets digested by the each Dhatu agni( digestive fire at each tissue). The final products are then assimilated by ech and every part of respective tissues.
The movement of nutrients to various tissues takes place through several channels which are of different size and shape according to the functions they have to perform.
Ayurveda approaches the individual from a different perspective which is very unique. Each individual has got a constitution based on the dominance of tridoshas at the time of conception. Some are of vata-pitta prakriti, some have kapha vata prakriti and so on. Characters of a person in terms of physical body, appetite, tendencies, mental attitudes etc. depend upon the prakriti of the person.
Ayurveda advocates right conducts which enable the person to become more satvik which ultimately makes him more healthy and leads to the greatest happiness ie. Moksha.
One has to follow the principles of Ayurveda in order to prevent the occurrence of diseases. Swasthavritta (regmen which keep the person healthy) is one of the main section of Ayurveda wherein basic principles for maintenance of health are described. Principles of diet, daily regimen and seasonal regimen are a few important areas in swasthavritta.
Diet plays an important role both in healthy and diseased conditions. It is the fundamental factor for keeping doshas in a balanced state. Food having qualities similar to those of doshas and dhatus will enhance them and vice versa.
Ayurveda does not advocate a uniform balanced diet. It is told that a man's diet may be another's poison. Each individual is unique. His diet must be planned in relation to many factors like, his constitution, digestive capacity, bowel habits, body strength, mental status. Quality of the food and time factor like day-night, season etc. Ideally the food must constitute all the six tastes viz. madhura(sweet), amla(sour), lavana(salt), katu(pungent), tikta (bitter) and kashaya(astringent) .Also emphasis has been given to the method of cooking, selection of vessels, interval between two consumptions, method of eating etc.
Dinacharya (Daily regimen)
Daily regimen begins with waking up at Brahma muhurtam and includes various procedures like danta dhavana (brushing), abhyanga (oil massage), snana ( bathing), anjana (colyrum to eyes), nasya (nasal instillation of oils) etc. These enable the body to get rid of the waste regularly and keep the body, mind and the sense organs in optimum health condition.
Rtucharya (Seasonal regimen)
We know that the nature around us changes regularly according to various seasons. Similarly the internal environment of the body also changes. The digestive power is maximum during hemanta (winter) but is poor in greeshma(summer). Tridoshas vitiate and subside in different seasons. It is therefore very essential to adopt a proper regimen which will protect the body from the onslaught of seasonal changes.
Role of mind in health
Ayurveda gives equal importance to mental health as for physical health for man cannot be considered healthy if he is not sound mentally. Mind has got three domains: satva(enlightment), rajas(turbulent) and tamas(darkness).A person may have dominant satva or rajas or tamas and is called as satvik, rajasik and tamasik respectively. Ayurveda advocates right conducts which enable the person to become more satvik which ultimately makes him more healthy and leads to the greatest happiness ie. Moksha.
Imbalance of tridoshas is called as disease. Improper diet, inappropriate working pattern, suppressing the natural urges, not controlling the emotions, effects of seasonal changes etc are the main causative factors. Role played by the infections, injuries and genetic fators is also discussed in detail. Tridoshas vitiate due to the causes mentioned above, they move to different parts of the body through channels,vitiate the tissues and result in the manifestation of the disease.
It is worth noting that not all persons who come in contact with the cause become sick. The disturbed tridoshas may not lead to the disease process if the immune power of the person is strong. Immunity thus enables the person to resist the disease as well as to resist the effect of the diseases, if occurs. Genetic factors, constitution, food and other regimen etc. influence the immunity of the person.
A disease, for example fever, manifests in different forms in different persons. A detailed examination of both the patient and the diseases is mandatory for planning the treatment which is of three types:-
A. Yuktivyapasraya (administration of medicines and diet).
B. Daivavyapasraya (various religious rituals).
C. Satvavajaya (psychotherapy).
Ayurvedic way of managing diseases involves :
A. Avoiding the cause.
B. Breaking the pathology by-- correcting the digestive fire, purification and pacification.
C. Enhancing the immunity by--rejuvenation with proper regimen.
Branches of Ayurveda
There are 8 branches.
1. Kayachikitsa - General Medicine Salyachikitsa - Surgery.
2. Balachikitsa - Paediatrics Damshtrachikitsa - Toxicology.
3. Grahachikitsa - Demonology Jarachikitsa - Geriatrics.
4. Urdwangachikitsa - (Eye, ear, nose, throat).
5. Vrushchikitsa - Virilification therapy.
Dinacharya (Daily regimen)
Danta dhavana (brushing the teeth)
This is a part of daily regimen. Ayurveda advocates twigs made of herbs like Karanja, nimba etc. for brushing. These plants having bitter and pungent tastes work on Kapha and expel it out. This action clears the mouth and throat and enhances the appetite and taste. Also the teeth and gums become strong and healthy.
Jihwa Nirlekhana (tongue scraping)
Tonge scraping using twigs of mango leaf, neem leaf as well as metals like copper is advocated in Ayurveda. The therapeutic effects of these materials help to get rid of Kapha and other coating from the tongue. This in turn enhances the taste and appetite.
Gandoosha (retaining medicated liquid in the mouth)
This is one of the daily regimen as well as advocated in several conditions of the mouth and throat. Medicated liquids like decoction, oil etc. are retained inside the mouth for a specific period and then split out. Gandoosha is useful to prevent diseases of teeth and gum. It is adviced in conditions like tooth ache, mouth ulcers etc.
Anjana (application of medicine into the eye)
Anjana is used both as a preventive and curative treatment in the conditions of the eye. Drugs that are good for cleaning the eye and improving the eye sight are processed and made into either thin pastes or special tablet forms. This is applied beneath the eyelids once or twice daily.
One must do Vyayama regularly. It enhances digestive power, functioning of the body, prevents deposition of fat. However one must consider his strength while planning the mode and duration of exercise.