The Ayurvedic system of medication is based on many centuries of experience in medical practice, handed down through generations. Ayurvedic medicine originated in the early civilizations of India some 3,000-5,000 years ago making Ayurvedic medicine the oldest surviving healing system in the world.
Ayurveda - The Indian Science of Life
The word Ayurveda is formed by the combination of two words - "Ayu" meaning life, and "Veda" meaning knowledge. Ayurveda is regarded as "The Science of Life" and the practice involves the care of physical, mental and spiritual health of human beings.
Life according to Ayurveda is a combination of senses, mind, body and soul. Ayurveda is not only limited to body or physical symptoms but also gives a comprehensive knowledge about spiritual, mental and social health. Thus Ayurveda is a qualitative, holistic science of health and longevity, a philosophy and system of healing the whole person, body and mind.
The two principle objectives of Ayurveda are :
- To prolong life and promote perfect health
- To completely eradicate the disease and dysfunction of the body.
Another goal of Ayurveda is to achieve "Nirvana" or liberation from all kinds of "Wants". This is primarily achieved through good health, which is regarded as the supreme foundation of life.
According to Ayurveda, all matter is thought to he composed of five basic elements known as the Panchamahabhuthas - Earth (Prithvi), Water (Jala), Fire (Tejas), Wind (Vayu) and Space (Akasha).These elements interact and exists in combination, in which one or more elements dominate. The human body is composed of derivatives of these five basic elements, in the form of doshas, tissues (dhatus) and waste products (malas). The Panchmahabhutas therefore serve as the foundation of all diagnosis and treatment modalities in Ayurveda.
Ayurveda advocates that the primary and essential factors of the human body that govern our entire physical structure and function, is a combination of any two of the five bhutas with the predominance of one. This is the most fundamental and characteristic principle of Ayurveda and is called "Tridosha" or the Three Humours. They are categorized into Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata governs movement, Pitta is concerned with functions of heat, metabolism, and energy production and Kapha, governs physical structure and fluid balance. Thus in Ayurveda, disease is viewed as a state of imbalance in one or more of these doshas, and the treatments aims to establish the balance in these three fundamental qualities.
|Basic Function||Governs bodily functions concerned with movement.||Governs bodily functions concerned with heat, metabolism, and energy production||Governs bodily functions concerned with physical structure , and fluid balance.|
|Qualities||Moving quick, light , cold, minutes, rough dry, leads the order doshas.||Hot, sharp, light, acidic, slightly, oily.||Heavy, oily, slow, cold, steady, solid, dull.|
|Results of Balance||Mental alertness
Proper formation of body tissues
Sense of exhilaration
|Normal heat and thirst mechanism
Affection, generosity, courage, dignity
Healthy, Normal, Joints
Vitality and stamina
Stability of mind
|Results of Imbalance||Dry or Rough Skin
Common fatigue ( non-specific cause )
Intolerance of cold
|Rashes, skin inflammations
Premature graying, baldness
Excessive body heat
Vata is the foremost of the three Ayurvedic Principles in the body. It governs all movement in the mind and body. It controls blood flow, elimination of wastes, breathing and the movement of thoughts across the mind. It's very important to keep Vata in good balance. The related elements are Air and Ether.
Common characteristics of people having predominantly Vata constitution
- Creativity, mental quickness
- Highly imaginative
- Quick to learn and grasp new knowledge, but also quick to forget
- Sexually easily excitable and satiable
- Slenderness; lightest of the three body types
- Talk and walk quickly
- Tendency toward cold hands and feet, discomfort in cold climates
- Lively, fun-loving personality
- High energy in short bursts; tendency to tire easily and to overexert
- Respond to stress with fear, worry, and anxiety, especially when out of balance
- Tendency to act on impulse
- Generally have dry skin and dry hair and don't perspire much
Typical health problems include headaches, hypertension, dry coughs, sore throats, earaches, anxiety, irregular heart rhythms, muscle spasms, lower back pain, constipation, abdominal gas, diarrhea, nervous stomach, menstrual cramps, premature ejaculation and other sexual dys-functions, arthritis. Most neurological disorders are related to Vata imbalance.
Pitta is a force created by the dynamic interplay of water and fire. These forces represent transformation. It governs digestion, absorption, assimilation, nutrition, metabolism, body temperature, skin coloration, the luster of the eyes, intelligence, and understanding. Psychologically, pitta arouses anger, hate, and jealousy. The small intestine, stomach, sweat glands, blood, fat, eyes, and skin are the seats of Pitta.
Common characteristics of people having predominantly Pitta constitution
- Medium physique, strong, well-built
- Sharp mind, good concentration powers
- Orderly, focused
- Assertive, self-confident, and entrepreneurial at their best; aggressive, demanding, pushy when out of balance
- Passionate and romantic; sexually have more vigor and endurance than Vatas, but less than Kaphas
- When under stress, Pittas become irritated and angry
- Skin fair or reddish, often with freckles; sunburns easily
- Uncomfortable in sun or hot weather; heat makes them very tired
- Perspire a lot
- Good public speakers; also capable of sharp, sarcastic, cutting speech
- Like to spend money, surround themselves with beautiful objects
- Subject to temper tantrums, impatience and anger
- Hair usually fine and straight, tending toward blond or red, typically turns gray early; tendency toward baldness or thinning hair
Typical physical problems include rashes or inflammations of the skin, acne, boils, skin cancer, ulcers, heartburn, acid stomach, hot sensations in the stomach or intestines, insomnia, bloodshot or burning eyes and other vision problems, anemia, jaundice.
Kapha is the conceptual equilibrium of water and earth. It maintains body resistance. Water is the main constituent of kapha, and this bodily water is responsible physiologically for biological strength and natural tissue resistance in the body. Kapha is present in the chest, throat, head, sinuses, nose, mouth, stomach, joints, cytoplasm, plasma, and in the liquid secretions of the body such as mucus. Psychologically, kapha is responsible for the emotions of attachment, greed, and long-standing envy. It is also expressed in tendencies toward calmness, forgiveness, and love. The chest is the seat of kapha.
Common characteristics of people having predominantly Kapha constitution
- Easygoing, relaxed, slow-paced
- Affectionate and loving
- Forgiving, compassionate, nonjudgmental nature, stable and reliable; faithful
- Physically strong and with a sturdy, heavier build
- Slow moving and graceful
- Slower to learn, but never forgets; outstanding long-term memory
- Slow speech, reflecting a deliberate thought process
- Soft hair and skin; tendency to have large eyes and a low, soft voice
- Tend toward being overweight; may also suffer from sluggish digestion
- Prone to heavy, oppressive depressions
- Sexually Kaphas are the slowest to be aroused, but they also have the most endurance
- Slow to anger; strive to maintain harmony and peace in their surroundings
- Tend to be possessive and hold on to things, people, money
Physical problems include colds and congestion, sinus headaches, respiratory problems including asthma and wheezing, hay fever, allergies, and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
Ayurveda has eight specialized branches :
- Internal medicine
- Management of diseases of Eye & ENT
- Psycho-therapy including Seizures by evil spirits
- Science of aphrodisiacs
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