Ayurveda, the oldest / holistic system of medicine in the world, traces its roots to the Vedic period in ancient India. The Vedas contain practical and scientific information on various subjects beneficial to the human.
Ayurveda is a science which comprises of two words, Ayu and Veda. Ayu means life and Veda means knowledge or science. So the literal meaning of the word Ayurveda is the science of life. Ayurveda is a science dealing not only with treatment of some diseases but is a complete way of life.
The two most important aims of Ayurveda are:
+ To maintain the health of healthy people
+ To cure the diseases of sick people
Ayurveda is made up of two Sanskrit words: Ayu which means life and Veda which means the knowledge of. To know about life is Ayurveda. However, to fully comprehend the vast scope of Ayurveda let us first define "Ayu" or life. According to the ancient Ayurvedic scholar Charaka, "ayu" is comprised of four essential parts. The combination of mind, body, senses and the soul.
let's look at some of the principles of Ayurveda and how they might affect us.
Ayurveda gives us a model to look at each individual as a unique makeup of the three doshas and to thereby design treatment protocols that specifically address a person’s health challenges. When any of the doshas( Vata, Pitta or Kapha ) become accumulated, Ayurveda will suggest specific lifestyle and nutritional guidelines to assist the individual in reducing the dosha that has become excessive. We may also suggest certain herbal supplements to hasten the healing process. If toxins in the body are abundant, then a cleansing process known as Pancha Karma is recommended to eliminate these unwanted toxins.
+ To maintain the health of healthy people
+ To cure the diseases of sick people
A Person is seen in Ayurveda as a unique individual made up of five primary elements. These elements are ether (space), air, fire, water, and earth Just as in nature, we too have these five elements in us. When any of these elements are imbalanced in the environment , they will in turn have an influence on us. The foods we eat and the weather are just two examples of the influence of these elements . While we are a composite of these five primary elements, certain elements are seen to have an ability to combine to create various physiological functions.
The elements combine with Ether and Air in dominance to form what is known in Ayurveda as VataDosha.Vata governs the principle of movement and therefore can be seen as the force which directs nerve impulses, circulation, respiration and elimination etc.,
The elements with Fire and Water in dominance combine to form the Pitta Dosha . The Pitta Dosha is responsible for the process of transformation or metabolism. The transformation of foods into nutrients that our bodies can assimilate is an example of a Pitta function. Pitta is also responsible for metabolism in the organ and tissue systems as well as cellular metabolism.
Finally, it is predominantly the water and earth elements which combine to form the KaphaDosha. Kapha is responsible for growth, adding structure unit by unit. It also offers protection , for example, in form of the cerebral-spinal fluid,which protects the brain and spinal column. The mucousal lining of the stomach is another example of the function of KaphaDosha protecting the tissues.
We are all made up of unique proportions of Vata,Pitta and Kapha. These ratios of the Doshas vary in each individual and because of this Ayurveda sees each person as a special mixture that accounts for our diversity. Ayurveda gives us a model to look at each individual as a unique makeup of the three doshas and to thereby design treatment protocols that specifically address a persons health challenges. When any of the doshas become accumulated, Ayurveda will suggest specific lifestyle and nutritional guidelines to assist the individual in reducing the dosha that has become excessive. Also herbal medicines will be suggested , to cure the imbalance and the disease.
When the three Doshas are in well balanced manner, it results in good nourishment and well-being of the individual . But when there is imbalance or disharmony within or between them, it will result in elemental imbalance , leading to various kinds of ailments. The Ayurvedic concept of physical health revolves round these three Doshas and its primary purpose is to help maintain them in a balanced state and thus to prevent disease. This humoral theory is not unique to the ancient Indian Medicine : The Yin and Yang theory in chinese medicine and the Hippocratic theory of four humours in Greek medicine are also very similar.
The three Doshas possess qualities and their increase or decrease in the system depends upon the similar or antagonistic qualities of everything ingested.
Vata is : dry, cold, light, mobile, clear, rough, subtle
Pitta is : slightly oily, hot, intense, light, fluid,free flowing, foul smelling.
Kapha is: oily, cold, heavy, stable, viscid, smooth, soft
Both Vataand Pitta are light and only Kapha is heavy.
Both Vata and Kaphaare cold and only Pitta is hot.
Both Pitta and Kapha are moist and oily and only Vata is dry.
According to Ayurveda the body comprises of three primary life forces or humors. In Ayurvedic terminology they are called doshas. The state of balance or equilibrium between these three doshas in the body is called health and the state of imbalance or disequilibrium is disease. The imbalance may be in one, two or all the three doshas. For example excess of vata causes arthritis and excess of pitta causes acidity, ulcer and liver disorders.
All causative factors of disease internal or external directly or indirectly create an imbalance in these doshas first and only then do the symptoms of the disease manifest.
Eating too much bitter, astringent and pungent tasted foods like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, sprouts, beans, dry fruits, mushrooms and raw foods.
• Too much traveling by any means of transportation.
• Staying awake till late night or not sleeping at all.
• Eating of junk food, frozen foods and food that has been micro-waved.
• Excessive exposure to high noise level or high sounds.
• Watching too much television and over exposure to computers or any other kind of electric gadgets
• from strong waves are emitted.
• Indulging in too much sexual activities.
• Excessive imagination, overworking or too much sports.
• Taking too much medicinal, recreatonal and stimulating drugs.
• Suppression of natural urges like urination, defecation, sneezing, cough, tears etc..
• Emotions like fear and grief.
Aggravation of vata weakens the nervous system. Other symptoms caused by excess of vata in the body are joint pains, constipation, dry skin, loss of memory, palpitation, insomnia, stiffness of muscles, weight loss, loss of strength, migraine, vertigo, tremors, grief and fear etc.,
• Drinking too much tea, coffee, alcohol.
• Exessive smoking.
• Eating salty, sour, hot and spicy food, eating too much chillis, tomatos, egg plant or onions.
• Too much exposure to heat and sun.
Some of the symptoms caused by excess of Pitta in the body are hyperacidity , skin diseases, burning sensation, fever, infections, ulcers, liver disorders, malfunction of sense organs, fatigue, loss of taste and sleep disturbances.
• Eating sweet, salty and sour tastes in excess, fats, oily and fried foods , ice creams, mears, dairy products, and nuts.
• Too much sleep, specially during day time.
• Not doing much physical activity.
Some of the symptoms caused by excess Kapha in the body are asthma, cold, congestion in the chest, anorexia and obesity.
Thus we can relate every aspect of our life with these three doshas. If we have proper knowledge, we can maintain a balance of these three doshas and avoid many serious problems and can thus stay healthy. The treatment according to Ayurveda is to balance the tridosha. While making a diagnosis the Ayurvedic physician finds out which dosha is out of balance and tries to make the balance by prescribing some natural medicines, diet and life style.
The basic principles of as per famous ayurvedic physician Charaka treatment is the removal of the cause and avoidance of causative factors. Ayurvedic treatment does not mean suppressing the main symptoms It is to remove the root cause and give permanent relief. The medicines for the treatment mainly comprises of powders, tablets, decoctions, medicated oils etc. prepared from natural herbs, plants and minerals. Because the medicines are from natural sources and not synthetic, they are accepted and assimilated in the body without creating any side effects and on the other hand, there may be some side benefits.
Ayurveda proposes three stages in the quest for good health: daily routine and seasonal activities to prevent illness, purification therapy and medications for diseases and rejuvenation of the system to enhance health and quality of life. Ayurvedic preventive medicine is called Swasthavritta' establishing oneself in good habits' , and its main principle is that one must reject excess in everything. Harmony and health are possible only when everything in life is enjoyed at the proper moment in the proper amount. Daily and seasonal routines try to ensure that the body's needs are satisfied no matter where the mind may roam , since most people are unable to develop the perception necessary to know what is happening within their bodies. Neither activity nor rest should be excessive , the body requires moderation in all things. A healthy routine establishes moderation and order in both body and mind , helping you to flow in the direction most appropriate for you.
+ Awaken before sunrise
+ Evacuate bowels and bladder after awakening
+ Bathe every day to create a sense of bodily freshness
+ Exercise (preferably Yoga) and meditate
+ Wash hands before and after eating
+ Brush teeth after meals
+ Fast one day a week to help reduce toxins from the body
+ Sleep before 10 PM
2. Diet and digestion
+ Food should be fresh, warm, tasty and easy to digest.
+ Eating should not be too rushed or too slow. Chew your food nicely.
+ Do not eat while watching TV or while reading .
+ Eat in peaceful and pleasant surroundings.
+ Do not drink water one hour before or after meals . You can have it in small quantities with meals.
+ There should be at least four hours difference between two meals .
+ Do not take too many items in one meal. The items taken should also not be contradicting one another. For example yogurt and milk or ice cream and hot coffee.
+ Fruits should not be mixed with meals. Either take a separate meal of fruits or eat between two meals.
+ If you feel tired or heaviness in the stomach after eating , this is improper eating. Eat according to your digestive power.
+ One teaspoon of grated fresh ginger with a pinch of salt is a good appetizer
+ A glass of warm milk with ginger at bedtime is nourishing and calms the mind
+ Excess intake of cold drinks reduces resistance and creates excess mucus
+ Taking a nap after lunch will increase kapha and body weight
3. Physical Hygiene
+ Oil massage promotes circulation and relieves excess vata.
+ If possible gaze at the rays of the sun at dawn for five minutes daily to improve eyesight.
+ Gazing at a steady flame , morning and evening for ten minutes , improves eyesight.
+ Do not repress the natural urges of the body , i.e. defecation, urination, coughing, sneezing, yawning, belching and passing gas
+ Bad breath may indicate constipation , poor digestion, unhygienic mouth and toxins in the colon.
+ Body odor indicates toxins in the system.
+ Rubbing the soles of the feet with sesame oil before bedtime produces a calm, deep sleep.
+ Reading in bed will injure the eyesight.
+ Application of oil to the head calms the mind and induces sound sleep.
+ Dry hair immediately after washing to prevent sinus problems.
+ Cracking the joints is injurious to the body.
+ Avoid physical exertion , such as yoga or running during menstruation.
4. Mental Hygiene
+ Fear and nervousness dissipate energy and aggravate Vata.