What is Ayurveda?
Firstly we need to learn about Ayurveda, So basically Ayurveda is a traditional system of health care that is considered to be originated in the Vedic times of India. Its main emphasis is on the prevention of disease as well as the maintenance of our health. It provides good treatment for diseases. Ayurveda can be translated as ‘Science of life’ and it shows all aspects of life where we include consciousness, mind, physiology, behavior, and environment. Ayurveda defines health as the equilibrium of three biological dashas which are (Vata, pitta and kapha), seven dhatus, Agni and a state of pleasure of the soul, mind and the senses. In Ayurveda, Pramcha is described in most of the available classics.
Ayurveda specifies that all seasons leave a profound effect on our health and each season affects people differently. Ayurveda is concerned to protect ‘ayus’ which means healthy living with therapeutic measures which relate to our physical, mental, spiritual and social harmony. Nowadays, there are less of Ayurveda practitioner ‘(vaid)’ in western countries but the popularity of more holistic approaches to health is rapidly increasing. In Ayurveda's treatment, every patient is considered unique and treated individually.
Eight Components of Ayurveda (Branches of Ayurveda)
Ayurveda can be categorized into eight branches and collectively all these are known as ‘Ashtang Ayurveda’.
The main eight branches of Ayurveda are following:
- Kaya Chikitsa (Internal medicines)
- Baala Chikitsa (Pediatrics treatment)
- Graha Chikitsa (Bhoot vidya) (Psychiatric treatment)
- Shalakya Tantra (Urdhyaanza) (treatment of eye, nose, throat)
- Shalya Tantra (Surgery)
- Agad Tantra (Toxicology)
- Rasayana (Geriatrics)
- Vajeekaran Chikitsa (Vrishya Chikitsa) (Aphrodisiac therapy)
Let's understand all the branches in detail.
Kaaya is ‘Agni’ – It is the digestive fire in the body. It is helpful in the treatment of a complete body because of its holistic approach to medicine. The word kaaya chikitsa is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘chin chayane’ that means to collect. Kaaya chikitsa helps in metabolism and food digestion. It also deals with the treatment of some other diseases as cold, fever, cough, and some others through balancing Agni in the body.
There can be internal and external treatments in kaaya chikitsa.
In this treatment, medicines are given orally. There are five procedures of Panchkarma. Vamana (Emesis), Virechana (Purgation), Basti (Enema), Narya (Nasal medications) and Raktamokshna (Bloodletting).
It includes the application of creams (lepan) ointments and lotions.
It is also known as Kaumara Britya. Baala chikitsa is related to the treatment of children. In this chikitsa Ayurveda deals with diseases of children, causes of vitiated of mother’s breast milk, diseases caused by vitiated milk and any infection found in children.
Three things to remember for treating children:
- Children can’t tell their problems
- Medicines must be palatable
- Dose regimen is different
It is a type of ayurvedic science which deals with the problems of the mind. Psychiatric diseases like ‘unmada’ and ‘apasmara’ are considered under this branch. It consists of the use of herbs, a proper diet chart, yoga, deep breathing, and mantra chikitsa.
This chikitsa is also known as Shalakaya Tantra. In this process, a special instrument Shalaka is used by the physician. It helps in dealing with the treatment of upper parts of the body like eyes, nose, throat, and ears.
Shalya means foreign and roga means disease. This chikitsa is also mentioned in Susruta Sanhita that is used for surgery. Many surgeries like cataract, piles, kidney stone and perforations of the abdomen, with the help of instruments like scissors, a scalpel was explained by sushrutacharya Sushruta is recognized as the father of Plastic surgery.
This branch of chikitsa helps in the study and treatment of poisons or toxins like pollution of air and water, toxins in minerals, vegetables, and animals.
Jara refers to old age. It is also called Rasayana which means rejuvenating property. It helps in dealing with the diseases related to the aging process. It consists of many aspects like memory, longevity, glow, complexion, glow and strength of senses.
Vaji stands for the horse. This branch deals with the contentment and pleasure of sex. It also helps in dealing with the conditions related to the problem of infertility and problems of Shukra dhatus and vital reproductive fluid in the body.
Principles of Ayurveda
The word ‘ayurveda’ means knowledge of life and longevity.
Ayurveda consists seven basic tissues (dhatu), which are Plasma (rasa), muscles (mamsa), blood (rakta), bone (asthi), marrow (majja) and semen (shukra).
Ayurveda has been divided into five classical elements (Pancha mahabhuta) i.e., earth, water, fire, air, and vacuum (ether).
There are twenty gunas which are organized in ten pairs: heavy/light, cold/hot, unctuous/dry, dull/sharp, stable/mobile, soft/hard, non-slimy/slimy, smooth/coarse, minute/gross and viscous/liquid.
‘Ama’ refers to uncocked or undigested which exists in a state of incomplete transformation. Ayurveda also includes three elemental body doshas which are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. It is clearly stated in Ayurveda that a balance of doshas results in health while an imbalance results in disease. According to the ayurvedic view, doshas are balanced if they are equal to each other.
On the other hand, every human being possesses a unique combination of doshas that define a person’s characteristics and temperament. In this way, Ayurveda employs the maintenance and restoration of health.
By understanding of everyone’s Prakruti, there can be decided everything regarding their personal diet, exercise patterns, medicinal herbs and supplements, cleansing and rebuilding therapies, which are right for them.
In Ayurveda, the doctor’s approach to disease diagnosis and patient diagnosis is used to find out the root cause of the problem and its treatment selection. An interpretation is included through an understanding of various factors like “body humor” (doshas), body tissues (dhatus), excretory products (mala-s), digestive power (Agni) and body channels (srota-s). Moreover, Ayurveda also includes into account pathogenic factors, season as well as a patient’s complete course of action of drug, diet, and regimen compatible with the constitution, for the diagnosis of disease. A clinical ayurvedic examination includes three diagnostic ways (trividha, Pariksha) which are inspection, interrogation, and palpation.
Observation of skin, hair, eyes, and tongue involved in Inspection.
Physiological and psychological characteristics, comprehensive understanding of previous medical history and symptoms are the part of Interrogation.
Palpation includes observation of pulse and palpation of body parts (abdominal palpation, skin, etc,.)
The ancient ayurvedic texts charak Samhita and sushruta Samhita simply explain how to identify dosha’s properties through symptoms that are leading to a manifestation of Prakriti and diseases.
There are seven types of Prakriti described in Ayurveda Vataja, Pittaja, Kaphaja, vatapittaja, vtakaphaja, pittakaphaja and vatapittakaphaja. The analysis of prakriti helps in prioritizing any preventive, nurturing and curative regimen specific to any individual. The visual inspection of the tongue’s color, shape and coating helps to assess the status of digestion. So, the overall assessment of pulse, tongue, and Prakriti is an integral part of an ayurvedic diagnosis.
There is a great importance of regulation of diet as therapy in Ayurveda. An ayurvedic doctor always treats a patient through a specifically designed treatment plan. For creating a balance between all three elements, he will take into account making your physical and emotional preparations.
The purpose of ayurvedic treatment is to cleanse the undigested food of your body, which can stay and cause illness. The cleansing process is known as ‘Panchakarma’ which is designed to reduce symptoms of disease restore harmony and balance.
To achieve successful results, there is the use of blood purification, medical oils, massage, herbs and enemas or laxatives.
In Ayurveda, Panchakarma is the most well-known part. It is complete five steps, mind-body rejuvenation experience which includes herbal oil massages, steam baths, a healing kitchari diet, cleansing enemas, and other purifying therapies.
Panchakarma is considered amazing as it eliminates all the toxins from the body and rebalances the doshas. It also heals various ailments and provides a new sense of clarity and inner peace.
Moreover, it is not like a normal spa with massage and juices but a mind-body experience that will ooze all toxins out of your body – butt, nose, and ears included. Panchakarma is a process of 5-21 days in which 5 therapies are included.
- Basti – Herbalised oil enemas
- Narya – Nasal
- Vamana – Therapeutic vomiting
- Virechana – Purgation
- Raktamokshana – Bloodletting
The main purpose of panchakarma is ‘sodhna’ which is purification. According to Charaka Samhita, if a disease is treated with panchakarma, it does not recur. So, in Ayurveda, Panchakarma is the only way to rebalance and heal the body.
Benefits of Panchakarma
- Balanced doshas
- Cleared toxins from the complete system
- Healed digestive system
- Enhanced immunity
- Decrease stress
- Improve skin luster
- Weight loss
- Deep relaxation
- Enhanced mindfulness
- A proper and strict, balanced diet will only increase the effects of panchakarma in your body.
- Do not drink coffee, green juice or anything besides tea.
- Do not eat salad and green uncooked vegetables as they are light for the system.
- You can not eat meat, bread, and sugar as they are too heavy for the system.
- And yes, if you continue eating pizza, burger, sandwiches and other junk food, there will be no effect of Panchakarma therapy.