Ayurveda and Ayurvedic Medicine
Ayurveda “THE SCIENCE OF LIFE”: The word breaks down as “AYUR” (Life) and “VEDA” (Science or Knowledge, Understanding ). Ayurveda is an ancient knowledge base originated about 5000 years back. Ayurvedic Medicine is an ancient medicine of India and is one of the world’s oldest medical systems. This science is based on observation of nature and man. Ayurveda has an integrated approach to prevent and treat illness through natural therapies and lifestyle interventions.
Aim of Ayurveda: The foremost aim of Ayurveda is to promote, prolong and preserve human health. It also aims to relieve human suffering by way of prevention and cure of various diseases and disorders.
Ayurveda is a comprehensive approach of dealing with the MIND, the BODY and the SPIRIT at the same time. Ayurveda aims at maintaining metabolic equilibrium to be achieved through a healthy lifestyle including having a wholesome natural, fresh food to detox the body in order to maintain the highest levels of immunity. And finally, Ayurveda works on the maxim “Healthy and Happy mind in a Healthy and Happy Body”.
Ayurveda requires every one of us to follow Dinacharya (Daily Routine), Rutucharya (Seasonal Routine) and Sadvritta (Ethical Routine).
Fundamentals of Ayurveda
Ayurveda emphasises that whatever is present in the universe or macrocosm is also present in the individual body or microcosm. Ayurveda is based on the principle that a human being is a miniature representation of the universe and therefore our bodies are made up of five essential elements (Panchamahabhutas): Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. These same elements make up the universe and are responsible for the biological processes of all living organisms in varying combinations.
What is Panchamahabhutas? The human body is mainly made up of five basic elements of which the universe is made and they are: –
- EARTH (PRUTHVI) : The solid part of our body, the firmness of our body, the basic structure the body attains is because of the ‘earth element’
- Water (JAL) : The body is made up of 60-70% of water and we all know it is a very important component of our life.
- Air (VAYU) : We cannot see air but we can feel its motion. The growth to ageing process as well as any movement inside or motion of our joints is because of Vayu.
- Fire (TEJA) : The digestive enzymes, hormones, that promote process of formation is because of TEJ
- Ether (AKASH) : The empty spaces, hollowness is due to Akash. It acts as a storage or passage. For example, the uterus in which a baby grows.
The doshas ‘vayu, pitta, and kapha’ constitute the tripod on which Ayurveda stands.
In AYURVEDA, the organism is not considered as a system of organs, but as a system of relationships between these organs, which defines body functions. Ayurvedic understanding of the functioning of the human body is based on tridoshas- vata, pitta, and kapha. These words in the Sanskrit Language (the language of Ayurveda), refer to the functions of movement, transformation, and support/ growth, respectively.
The second principle of Ayurveda is founded on the three DOSHAS, the three fundamental biological forces (Tridoshas). According to Ayurveda, each person is made up of a unique combination of the five elements (Pancha Mahabhutas), which are governed by these fundamental biological forces (Tridoshas). Our body is made up of five elements viz.Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether and when the five basic elements become activated they join each other to form these three fundamental forces or three biological humors in the body. These three are vital elemental substances called as:
- Vatta (Air energy from Air and Ether)
- Pitta (Fire energy From Fire and water)
- Kapha (Water energy From Water and Earth)
The theory of vatta, pitta, and kapha was also a great discovery, which, unfortunately, has been much misunderstood by Western scholars judging by the wrong mercenary translations, rendering these terms as wind, bile, and phlegm. However; the crude products of pitta and kapha have been sometimes called by these names [bile and phlegm, respectively]….2
The Tridoshas represent a set of parameters, which are physico-chemical and functional in nature. 2
Vata represents movements, dryness, coldness, weightlessness, and roughness
The word Vatta does not necessarily imply the wind in Ayurvedic literature but encompasses all the phenomena that come under the functions of the central and sympathetic nervous systems.
Pitta refers to parameters like heat producing, penetrating, slightly unctuousness, causing movement and fluidity.
The word pitta does not essentially mean bile, but signifies the functions of thermo genesis or heat production and metabolism, comprehending in its scope the process of digestion, coloration of blood [e.g., production of red blood cells] and formation of various secretions and excretions which are either the means or the ends of tissue combustion [catabolism]
Kapha indicates heaviness, sluggishness, smoothness, shine, producing coldness, firmness/static.
The word kapha does not mean phlegm but is used primarily to imply the function of thermotaxis or heat regulation and secondarily formation of the various preservative fluids, e.g., mucus, synovial fluids, etc.
The balance of these DOSHAS results in health whereas imbalance leads to illness. It is also considered that every human possesses a unique combination of DOSHAS that defines his / her characteristics of health, behavior, personality, and temperament. For example, Kapha – Pitta Prakruti. Here Prakruti means constitution of that person where Kapha is dominant and Pitta is recessive.
It governs the body movements (internal as well as external), activities of the nervous system and processes of elimination. For instance, blinking of eyes, movements of joints, excretion, the growth of the fetus etc. are all controlled by Vatta Dosha.
Pitta Dosha: (Water & Fire)
Pitta Dosha governs metabolism and transformation of mind and body. It controls production and secretion of the digestive enzymes. It governs all the fires (Agni) necessary for creating the eight Dhatus:
- Rasa (Plasma)
- Rakta (Blood)
- Mous (Muscles)
- Medda (Fat / Adipose Tissues)
- Asthi (Skeleton Structure)
- Majja (Nervous System)
- Shukra (Sperm / Ova)
- Ojas (Lustre / Aura)
All these are interlinked and formed with the help of Fire (Agni) present in these Dhatus in the form of Pitta Dosha.
Kapha Dosha: (Water & Earth)
Kapha Dosha governs body & mind. It controls weight, growth and lubricates joints and lungs. It nourishes all the Ashta Dhatus and helps in its formation. It acts as a nutritive fluid to all the cells of blood, muscles, and bones. It binds the cells together.
The functions of memory, intelligence, and application of knowledge depend on the Kapha Dosha.
It is the third important factor of Ayurveda that is necessary for the composition of human mind and its processes. Trigunas also govern virtue, merit, excellence or quality, peculiarity or property.
- Satva (Goodness, Construction, Harmony, Purity)
- Raja (Passion, Activity, Confusion)
- Tama (Darkness, Destruction, Chaos)
These Gunas define the character/qualities present in a human being or in nature. It is vital to maintaining their relative proportion. Any imbalance of these Gunas will have a negative effect on the behavior, attitude, and progression of life.
Discover the healthier you today.