In Sanskrit, Ayurveda means “the science of life” – AYUR meaning life and VEDA meaning “related to knowledge or science“. It is a system of traditional medicine devised and practiced in India for about four thousand years based on the premise that Universe, including the human body is comprised of five basic elements: air, water, fire, space, and earth. There is a balanced condensation of these elements in different proportions to suit the needs and requirements of different structures and functions of the body matrix and its parts.
Ayurveda System of Medicine
- The body Matrix
- Health and Sickness
- Preventive Treatment & the concepts of Aetio-Pathogenesis
- Types of Treatment
- Diet and Ayurvedic Tretment
- Similarities between Siddha and Ayurveda
Life in Ayurveda is conceived as the union of body, senses, mind and soul. The living man is a conglomeration of three humours (Vata, Pitta &Kapha), seven basic tissues (Rasa, Rakta, Mamsa, Meda, Asthi, Majja and Shukra) and the waste products of the body such as faeces, urine and sweat (Mala Mutra and Ssweda). Thus the total body matrix comprises of the humours, the tissues and the waste products of the body. The growth and decay of this body matrix and its constituents revolve around food which gets processed into humours, tissues and wastes. Ingestion, digestion, absorption, assimilation and metabolism of food have an interplay in health and disease which are significantly affected by psychological mechanisms as well as by metabolic fire(Agni).
All objects in the universe including human body are composed of five basic elements (Panchamahabhutas) namely, earth, water, fire, air and ether(Prithvi, Jala, Agni, Vaayu and Akasha). There is a balanced condensation of these elements in different proportions to suit the needs and requirements of different structures and functions of the body and its parts. The growth and development of the body depends on its nutrition, i.e. on food. The food, in turn, is composed of the above five elements, which nourish the elements of the body after the action of metabolic fire (Agni). The tissues of the body are the structural entities whereas humours(Vata, Pitta and Kapha) are physiological entities, derived from different combinations and permutations of Panchamahabhutas.
Health or sickness depends on the presence or absence of a balanced state of the total body matrix including the balance between its different constituents. Both the intrinsic and extrinsic factors can cause disturbance in the natural equilibrium giving rise to disease. This loss of equilibrium can happen by dietary in-discrimination, undesirable habits and non-observance of rules of healthy living. Seasonal abnormalities, improper exercise or erratic application of sense organs and incompatible actions of the body and mind can also result in creating disturbance of the existing normal balance. Hence the treatment here, consist of restoring the balance of disturbed body-mind matrix by regulating diet, correcting life-routine and behaviour, administering of drugs and resorting to preventive Panchakarma and Rasayana therapy.
Diagnosis is always done considering the patient as a whole and not just the disease. The physician takes a careful note of the patient’s internal physiological characteristics and mental disposition. He also studies such other factors as the affected bodily tissues, humours, the site at which the disease is located, patient’s resistance and vitality, his daily routine, dietary habits, the gravity of clinical conditions, condition of digestion and details of personal, social, economic and environmental situation of the patient.
The diagnosis also involves the following examinations:
- General physical examination
- Pulse examination
- Urine examination
- Examination of the faeces
- Examination of tongue and eyes
- Examination of skin and ear including tactile and auditory functions.
The basic therapeutic approach is, “that alone is the right treatment which makes for health and he alone is the best doctor who frees one from disease”. This sums up the principal objectives of Ayurveda, i.e. maintenance and promotion of health, prevention of disease and cure of sickness.
Treatment of the disease consists in avoiding causative factors responsible for disequilibrium of the body matrix or of any of its constituent parts through the use of Panchakarma procedures, medicines, suitable diet, activity and regimen for restoring the balance and strengthening the body mechanisms to prevent or minimize future occurrence of the disease.
Normally treatment measures involve use of medicines, specific diet and prescribed activity routine. Use of these three measures is done in two ways. In one approach of treatment the three measures antagonize the disease by counteracting the etiological factors and various manifestations of the disease. In the second approach the same three measures of medicine, diet and activity are targeted to exert effects similar to the etiological factors and manifestations of the disease process. These two types of therapeutic approaches are respectively known as Vipreeta and Vipreetarthkari treatments.
For successful administration of a treatment four things are essential. These are
- The physician
- The medicaments
- The nursing personnel
- The patient
The physician comes first in order of importance. He must possess technical skill, scientific knowledge, purity and human understanding. The physician should use his knowledge with humility, wisdom and in the service of humanity. Next in importance comes food and drugs. These are supposed to be of high quality, wide application, grown and prepared following approved procedures and should be available adequately. The third component of every successful treatment is the role of nursing personnel who should have good knowledge of nursing, must know the skills of their art and be affectionate, sympathetic, intelligent, neat & clean and resourceful. The fourth component is the patient himself who should be cooperative and obedient to follow instructions of the physician, able to describe ailments and ready to provide all that may be needed for treatment.
Ayurveda has developed a very vivid analytic description of the stages and events that take place since the causative factors commence to operate till the final manifestation of disease. This gives this system an additional advantage of knowing that possible onset of disease much before the latent symptoms become apparent. This very much enhances the preventive role of this system of medicine by making it possible to take proper and effective steps in advance, to arrest further progress in pathogenesis or to take suitable therapeutic measures to curb the disease in its earliest stage of onset.
The treatment of disease can broadly be classified as
Shodhana therapy (Purification Treatment)
Shamana therapy (Palliative Treatment)
PathyaVyavastha (Prescription of diet and activity)
NidanParivarjan (Avoidance of disease causing and aggravating factors)
Rasayanatherapy(use of immunomodulators and rejuvenation medicines)
(a) Shodhana treatment aims at removal of the causative factors of somatic and psychosomatic diseases. The process involves internal and external purification. The usual practices involved are Panchkarma (medically induced Emesis, Purgation, Oil Enema, Decoction enema and Nasal administration of medicines), Pre–panchkarma procedures (external and internal oleation and induced sweating).
Panchkarma is a part of the purification therapies of Ayurveda. “Panch” means five and ‘Karma’ means actions so literally translated, it is a set of five systematic actions used for purification of the body. It is used to bring the aggravated “Doshas” imbalance in balance and to flush out the accumulated “Ama” toxins from the body using the normal modes of elimination like intestines, sweat glands and the urinary tract.
Elimination is a natural body instinct but over a period of time, and in cases of dosha imbalance these wastes are not effectively eliminated from the body. These wastes tend to stick into the minute channels of the body known as the “Srotas” and start producing disease..Panchkarma is considered to be the most radical way to cleanse the body and thereby eliminate, once and for all the disease causing doshas and the toxins.
The treatment of disease with the help of Panchkarma is made up of five steps. this consists of the following steps …readmore
• Snehan (Oleation therapy): – medicated oils and ghee (clarified butter) are used. According to Ayurveda the Ghee (Clarified Butter) can travel between Cells of body very easily. Once The Ghee reaches to fine space between cells, all the fat soluble impurities are desolved in Ghee and finally the Ghee is thrown in to rectum by the body. The Ghee containing Impurities is eliminated by Virechan (Purgation). Virechan is obtained by electro-balanced purgatives, so the balance of electrolytes is maintained in body in spite of induced diarrhea.
• Sweden (Steam Bath): -The Steam of medicated water helps opening fine pores on skin allowing the natural excretion path and heat of steam dilates the blood vessels allowing more blood to pass through muscles which supplies more nourishment.
Treatments Offered by Ayurveda are
• Abhyangam– Kerala Body Massage, a unique type of body massage for an hour with herbal oil / herbal cream that not only tones up your body but also improves blood circulation.
• Panchakarma Therapy-, which involves 5 different therapeutic measures that are used to keep a person fit, both physically and mentally.
• Shirodhara Treatment– During this process herbal oil and herbally treated water is poured on the forehead, which assists in realizing stress, insomnia, hypertension and more.
• Kati Basti– This treatment is for severe backaches.
• NadiSweda– it is pain disorder treatment.
• PindaSweda– Neurological treatment.
• UttaraBasti– this is one effective treatment for infertility.
• Udvartana– this treatment involves skin scrubbing & other skin related treatment.
• JanuBasti– Involves treatment of arthritis.
- Samsarjan karma: – On completion of Panchkarma a special diet and instructions are prescribed according to Prakruti (Constitution) and Life style. This diet helps the person to fulfill his/her calories requirement along with maintaining Doshas according to Ayurveda.
- Rasayan: – It is a special form of tonification therapy. This is best done after the panchkarma. Special herbs are used to tone up the various systems of the body. The herbs are selected according to Prakruti and Disease
Ayurveda recommends that everyone needs the Panchakarma. Ideally it should be done three times a year, at the turn of spring, fall and winter. Today’s hectic life may not permit us such a luxury Thus it is recommended that every healthy human being should undergo Panchakarma atleast once a year to stay fit and healthy throughout the year.
- Abhyangam- Kerala Body Massage, a unique type of body massage for an hour with herbal oil / herbal cream that not only tones up your body but also improves blood circulation.
- Panchakarma Therapy-, which involves 5 different therapeutic measures that are used to keep a person fit, both physically and mentally.
- Shirodhara Treatment- During this process herbal oil and herbally treated water is poured on the forehead, which assists in realizing stress, insomnia, hypertension and more.
- Kati Basti- This treatment is for servere backaches.
- Nadi Sweda- it is pain disorder treatment.
- Pinda Sweda- Neurological treatment.
- Uttara Basti- this is one effective treatment for infertility.
- Udvartana- this treatment involves skin scrubbing & other skin related treatment.
- Janu Basti- Involves treatment of arthritis.