Ayurveda is one of the most renowned traditional systems of medicine that has survived and flourished from ages till date. With the enormous knowledge of nature-based medicine, the relationship of human body constitution and function to nature and the elements of the universe that act in coordination and affect the living beings, this system will continue to flourish in ages still to come.
History of Ayurveda:
India has a rich history of the traditional system of medicine based upon six systems, out of which Ayurveda stands to be the most ancient, most widely accepted, practised and flourished indigenous system of medicine. The other allied systems of medicine in India are Unani, Siddha, Homeopathy, Yoga and Naturopathy. Ayurveda is the most dominant system amongst the other Indian systems of medicine and finds its prevalence globally since centuries.
Ayurveda believes that the entire universe is composed of five elements: Vayu (Air), Jala (Water), Aakash (Space or ether), Prithvi (Earth) and Teja (Fire). These five elements (referred to as Pancha Mahabhoota in Ayurveda) are believed to form the three basic senses of humour of the human body in varying combinations.
Vata dosha, Pitta dosha and Kapha dosha are collectively called as“Tridoshas” and they control the basic physiological functions of the body along with five sub-doshas for each of the principal doshas.
Ayurveda believes that the human body consists of Saptadhatus (seven tissues) Rasa (tissue fluids), Meda (fat and connective tissue),Rakta (blood), Asthi (bones), Majja (marrow), Mamsa (muscle), and Shukra (semen) and three Malas (waste products) of the body, viz. Purisha (faeces), Mutra (urine) and Sweda (sweat).
- Vata dosha maintains the cellular transport, electrolyte balance, elimination of waste products and its effect is increased by dryness.
- Pitta dosha Regulates the body temperature, optic nerve coordination and hunger and thirst management. Heat conditions of the body aggravate Pitta.
- Kapha dosha is increased due to sweet and fatty food and it provides lubrication to the joints for proper functioning. The catabolism of the body is believed to be governed by Vata, metabolism by Pitta and anabolism by Kapha.
For a healthy state of health, a balance between the three doshas and other factors should be maintained. Any imbalance between the three causes a state of illness or disease.
Sapta Dhatus in Ayurveda:
In Ayurveda, it is believed, that a perfect balance between the natural elements and the Tridoshas of the human body should be maintained for a healthy state of living by following the principles of divine wisdom. The body is believed to be composed of seven types of tissues called “Sapta Dhatus”.
These seven tissues work in coordination with each for proper physiological functioning of the human body. The Rakta Dhatu resembles the blood and regulates the circulation of blood cells and provision of blood components to the body. The Mamsa Dhatu (Muscle tissue) provides support in the form of skeletal muscles for the Meda Dhatu (adipose fat). The Asthi Dhatu comprises the bones of the body and the Majja Dhatu is made up of the bone marrow and fluids required for the operation of the bones and their functioning.
The Shukra Dhatu is responsible for functions of the reproductive organs of the body. Apart from the Doshas and the Dhatus, the other important factors considered in the doctrine of Ayurveda are the Tri Malas and following the principles of divine wisdom. The body is believed to be composed of seven types of tissues called as “Sapta Dhatus”.
These seven tissues work in coordination with each for proper physiological functioning of the human body. The Rakta Dhatu resembles the blood and regulates the circulation of blood cells and provision of blood components to the body.
The Mamsa Dhatu (Muscle tissue) provides support in the form of skeletal muscles for the Meda Dhatu (adipose fat). The Asthi Dhatu comprises the bones of the body and the Majja Dhatu is made up of the bone marrow and fluids required for the oleation of the bones and their functioning. The Shukra Dhatu is responsible for functions of the reproductive organs of the body.
Trimalas of Ayurveda:
Apart from the Doshas and the Dhatus, the other important factors considered in the doctrine of Ayurveda are the Tri Malas and Trayo Dosa Agni. Tri Malas are the three types of waste products formed in the body due to metabolic and digestive functions of the body.
They comprise of the Mutra (urine), Purisa (faeces), and Sveda (sweat). Ayurveda explains that if the balance between Tridosha is not maintained the waste products of the body are not effectively eliminated and these lead to further complications like diarrhea, constipation, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and such other complications.
If the Mutra Mala (urine) is not removed from the body, it Can lead to urinary tract infections, cystitis and gastric pain. If the Sveda Mala is not cleared from the body, it can lead to skin irritation problems, and improper fluid balance.
Agni in Ayurveda:
As per the principles of Ayurved, a biological fire of the body for all the metabolic function is called “Agni”. There are thirteen categories of Agni in a human body and the most important is the one responsible fordigestive fire, called as Jatharagni. Jatharagni has a close relation with Pitta and ultimately Vata of the body.
Panchakarma treatment in Ayurveda:
If the digestive fire of the body is increased in the body by an increase in acidity conditions, the elevation in Pitta levels and its relative symptoms are observed. Digestive fire is important in controlling the normal microflora, proper digestive functions and provision of energy to the entire body. Any disturbances in its balance, creates discomfort to the gastro-intestinal tract and results in pathological complications like ulcers, diarrhea and constipation.
Considering the bodily constitution, pathological history, the Dosha characteristics, life style and environmental conditions in an individual’s routine life style, Ayurveda has many treatment strategies for promoting well-being to individuals. Ayurveda employs the “Pancha karma” method in its therapies. Pancha karma therapy applies various processes for the rejuvenation of the body, cleansing and enhancing longevity.
The Panchakarma is composed of five karmas (actions) in Ayurveda that are used for the removal of toxins from the body tissues. They are the Virechan (purgation though use powders, pastes or decoction), Vaman (forced therapeutic emesis by use of some medicines), Basti (use of enemas prepared from medicated oils), Rakta mokshana (detoxification of blood) and Nasya (administration of medicines like decoctions, oils and fumes through nasal route).