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Teachings of Ayurveda



Ayurveda teaches two main principles:
  • Preservation of health - how to maintain health and what to do to keep the human body healthy and fit to avoid sickness.
  • Methods, medicine, and tactics for management of diseases and ailments to cure and procure a return to normal health.

Additional recommended knowledge

Contents

Ashtang Ayurveda: eight sections of Ayurveda

Traditional Ayurveda speaks of eight sections, known as Astanga Ayurveda:

1- Shalya Chikitsa describes surgery/surgical treatment and midwifery.

2- Shalakya (otology, rhinology, dentistry and ophthalmology) deals with the diagnosis and treatment of conditions of the eye, ear, nose, throat, nape of the neck, cervical problems, head, teeth, mouth, etc.

3- Kāyāchikitsā (internal medicine) deals with the diagnosis, treatment and management of body ailments.

4- Bhuta vidya (psychopathology/psychology/microbiology) deals with the diagnosis, treatment and management of psychological, psychogenic, somatopsychic and psychosomatic disorders.

5- Kaumāryabhritya deals with pediatrics, gynaecology & obstetrics.

6- Agad Tantra (toxicology, medical jurisprudence) describes the treatment of poisons (toxins).

7- Rasayana Tantra (science of rejuvenation) deals with maintaining longevity, intellectual behavior, rejunevating the body and general health.

8- Bajeekaran Tantra (science of aphrodisiacs/ maintenance of vigor) promotes sexual power, strengthens the body, vigor, etc.

The basic motive of Ayurveda is to keep the healthy person healthy and to cure the ill.

Qualities

It could be said that the simple essence of Ayurveda is knowledge and awareness of the qualities of nature – called gurvadi gunah. By understanding the qualities inherent in the environment, in food, in activities, etc., one gains an appreciation of their effects on the individual constitution through the principle of similarities; i.e., that similarities cause increase while dissimilarities cause decrease. Thus hot qualities in the environment or diet will increase hot qualities in the body.

The gurvadi gunah are listed in Vāgbhata's Ashtānga Hridayam as:

  1. Guru (heavy) – laghu (light)
  2. Manda (slow) – tikshna (quick, sharp)
  3. Hima (cold) – ushna (hot)
  4. Snigdha (unctuous) – ruksha (dry)
  5. Slakshna (smooth) – khara (rough)
  6. Sandra (solid) – drava (liquid)
  7. Mrdu (soft) – kathina (hard)
  8. Sthira (stable) – cala (mobile)
  9. Sukshma (subtle) – sthula (gross)
  10. Vishada (non-slimy) – picchila (slimy)

Since everything in the material world possesses combinations of the 20 qualities, Ayurveda postulates that every material process or object can either harm or heal a person by influencing that person's unique original constitution (called prakrti). An Ayurvedaic practitioner will assess the qualities of a disorder, the patient's unique prakrti, and his/her influencing factors to arrive at a treatment plan. The treatment plan will consist of using herbs, therapies, diet, etc., with opposite qualities so as to assist the patient in re-establishing their prakrti.

The five elements

According to the ancient Sankhya cosmology, on which Ayurveda is based, the "five great elements" (Panchamahabhuta); combine in different proportions to form the material world. Each element possesses different amounts of the above-mentioned gunas; thus each element has its unique qualitative nature. The elements are:

  1. Akasha – aether
  2. Vayu or Pavan – air or wind
  3. Agni or Tejas – fire
  4. Ap or Jala – water
  5. Prithvi or Bhumi – earth

Maulika siddhanta: basic principles

Every medical science has some basic principles on which the structure of the science is built and fabricated. Ayurveda has its own maulika siddhanta ("Basic / fundamental Principles"), upon which the theory of Ayurveda stands. Some of these Maulika Siddhanta or fundamental prinicples are given below:

  • Dosha: There are three dosha, or bodily elements. These have been compared with the bodily humours of medieval Western medicine. Ayurvedic medical philosophy holds that proper equilibrium of the dosha keeps the human body in health and disequilibrium causes disease, thus the dosha are also considered as aetiological factors of diseases and also predisposing factors of diseases.
  • Dosha-bheda: Each dosha is classified in five parts according to their functions, thus they are called dosha-bheda. When doshas are in normal condition, their functions are normal in the body. In other words, dosha-bheda is related to the physiological functions of the body for which they are selected. If these dosha-bheda functions become abnormal, it creates the pathophysiology of the organs concerned. The pathophysiology of doshaa-bheda is similar to the Physiological basis of diseases.
  • Dhatus: abnormal pathology: Pathological basis of diseases
  • Malas: catabolic products, Ayurvedic malas substances; helps in diagnosis of diseases
  • Agni: Digestive power or hunger: Ayurveda-agni : related to metabolism
  • Ojas: estimation of Vitality / equivalent to "vital power" or "life force"
  • Prakṛti
  • Dehabala: Constitution / bodily strength
  • Temperaments
  • Ṛtu: weather
  • Time
  • Area / place of living/ Domicile
  • Nidāna panchaka

Doshas: etiological factors of Ayurveda

Doshas are also called Tridosha, which means three dosha. Dosha is a Sanskrit word, which means "Abnormal". It is one of the main part of the Maulik Siddhant (Basic Principles) of Ayurveda. There are three primary Doshas and they are Vata, Pitta and Kaphha. Their existence in human body is considered singly, but when combined two doshas, that condition is known dwidoshaj that means combination of two dosha, which may be Vata-Pitta or Vata-Kaphha etc. When all three doshas combined each other, this situation is known as Tridoshaj or Sannipataj that means the combination of all three doshas.

The 3 main doshas (sometimes translated into English as humours) are: Vata (combination of the space and air elements), Pitta (analogous to the fire element), and Kapha (combination of water and earth elements). However there is no equivalent word to translate "Dosha" in the English language, because the concept of Humour is different to the concept of 'Ayurvedic Tridosha'.

In Ayurveda, all bodily processes are believed to be governed by a balance of the 3 doshas. Whichever dosha appears to dominate a person's behavior and physique is called his constitution type. Each constitution type has particular strengths and susceptibilities. 'Tridoshas are considered similar to Aetiological factors responsible to derange normal health condition. There is an interesting parallel with the Western concept of athletic (pitta), leptosomic (vata) and pycnic (kapha) constitutional types.

  • For more information about the Ayurvedic humours, see Humours (Ayurveda).
  • For a description of humours in traditional Greco-Roman and European medieval medicine, see the Four humours article.
  • A similar concept of Five elements exists in traditional Chinese medicine.

Vata

Vata, composed of space and air, governs all movement in the mind and body and must be kept in good balance. Too much vata leads to, "worries, insomnia, cramps and constipation. Vata controls blood flow, elimination of wastes, breathing and the movement of thoughts across the mind." Vata activates the nervous system, hearing and speech; and expresses as enthusiasm and creativity. Vata also controls the other two principles (Pitta and Kapha) and is usually the first cause of disease. Another word for Vata is Vayu - it is the more traditional Sanskrit word for air.

Those who are classified as Vata prakruthi tend to have lighter frames, and are either short or tall and thin. Their skin tends to be dry and cold with dark, thin hair. They have dark brown or grey eyes. Movements and speech are quick and sleep is light, interrupted, and fitful. Mentally, they are restless and have lots of ideas. They are vivacious, enthusiastic, creative and imaginative, but are fearful, anxious, and insecure.[1]

Vata doshas' corresponding colours are warm and gentle, such as yellow, ochre, or brown.

Pitta

Pitta is said to be composed of fire; it governs, "all heat, metabolism and transformation in the mind and body. It controls how we digest food, how we metabolize our sensory perceptions, and how we discriminate between right and wrong." Pitta must be kept in balance, too. "Too much Pitta can lead to anger, criticism, acidity, ulcers, rashes and thinning hair.". A balanced Pitta mind makes one a good leader with a warm personality.

Pitta types are generally average physically. They tend to have fine, soft, red or fair hair (though Pittas have been known to have dark hair.) Eyes tend to be blue, grey, or hazel. Their moods change slowly and they are busy people, usually achieving much in their lives. They are more intellectual and speech is clear, sharp, and precise. They are fiery, angry and judgmental.

The Pitta doshas' corresponding colours are cool, calming colours such as blue, green, or purple.

Kapha

Kapha is the watery humour, consisting of the water and earth elements. "Kapha cements the elements in the body, providing the material for physical structure. This dosha maintains body resistance....Kapha lubricates the joints; provides moisture to the skin; helps to heal wounds; fills the spaces in the body; gives biological strength, vigor and stability; supports memory retention; gives energy to the heart and lungs and maintains immunity...Kapha is responsible for emotions of attachment, greed and long-standing envy; it is also expressed in tendencies toward calmness, forgiveness and love." Too much Kapha leads to lethargy and weight gain, as well as congestion and allergies.

Kaphas' body types are sturdier and thicker than the other body types. Hair is thick and lustrous and eyes are blue or brown. They have the best strength and endurance and have a slow, steady pace. Mentally they are calm, steady, and stable. They can be greedy and possessive but are caring and not easily irritated.

Kapha governs bright, vibrant colours such as red, pink, and orange.

Tridosha existence in the human body

According to Ayurveda, the site of the existence of Tridosha has been established by keen observers. Charaka, Sushruta and others have determined the locations in the human body where tridosha mainly exist. Bhav Praksha clearly locates the part of human body where Tridoshas are presents.

  • Vata: exist below the naval and lower part of body. {Draw Horizontal line from naval to round back to naval}
  • Pitta exist in between the naval line and epigastrium line {Draw horizontal line from xephoid process of sternum -epigastrium- to round back to epigastrium}
  • Kaphha exist in the upper part of the body above from the epigastrium line, including the thoracic cavity, upper limbs and head.

Although the main site of Tridoshas are as described above, they work with each other in their respective functions to make equality and harmony in the smooth functioning of the body. In Ayurvedic tradition they play a comprehensive role for accurate diagnosis and treatment of the human body.

Tridosha Bhed: the physiological basis of diseases

Ayurveda divides each Dosha by establishing their functions or physiology in five parts/kinds/bheda. This is known physiology or pathophysiology of the main dosha into the dosha-bheda. Ayurveda have its own principles for perceiving the Physiological basis of diseases.

These three main Doshas are divided into the five each separate dosha-bhed according to their functions allotted in the human body.

  • Vata have five bhed 1.Prana Vata 2.Apana Vata 3. Samana Vata 4. Udana Vata 5. Vyana Vata
  • Pitta' have five kinds 1. Sadhaka Pitta 2. Bhrajaka Pitta 3. Pachaka Pitta 4. Alochaka Pitta 5. Ranjaka Pitta
  • Kaphha have five Bhed {kinds} 1. Kledaka Kaphha 2. Avalambaka Kaphha 3. Bodhaka Kaphha 4. Shleshaka Kaphha 5.Tarpaka Kaphha

Short details of the functions of the Vata five kinds

  1. Prana vata: this vayu exists in the oral cavity, head, throat, ear, tongue, chest and heart. It helps in the digestion of food and water, swallowing, sneezing, spitting, eructations, respiration etc. This vayu-bhed helps to properly place the vital elements like Pitta and Kaphha, Satva, Raj, Tam and Maan, and panch gyanendriya in their own work and functions. When this vayu-bhed is deranged, it causes repiratory disorders, pulmonary problems, bronchitis, asthma, coryza, hoarseness, hiccoughs, tuberculosis and lung disorders etc.
  2. Apana vata: exists in the sigmoid colon and rectum [Paquaashaya], testicles, scrotum, bladder, male and female genitals, navel, loin and groin. The function of this Vayu-Bhed is the excretion of stools, urine, semen, menstrual discharges, expulsion of the full-term baby at the proper time. When this bhed becomes abnormal, it causes urinary stones, frequent urination, polyuria, difficult, painful, obstructive, burning urination, bladder problems, haemorrhoids, prolapsus of rectum, fistula, constriction of anus, anomalies of semen, semen related problems, obstruction of flatus etc.
  3. Samana vata: exists near 'Pachak Agni' [Digestive fire], in the stomach and duodenum. Its function is to help to digest food, to maintain the vitality of digestive power and help to isolate the "Ras Dhatu", stool, urine. It helps to regulate the process of sweating, dosha excretion and water expulsion process. When this Vata-bhed becomes abnormal, it creates the loss of appetite, diminished hunger, indigestion, loose stool, tympenitis, etc. It helps to assimilate the food and food contents and finally help to supply the assimilated matter to the bloodstream and heart.
  4. Vyana vata: exists in whole body. Sapta Dhaut (All seven vital elements) are carried and transferred to the vital part of the human body, by holding its own natural action. Acts of contraction, relaxion, spasmodic effects, colic, pain, neuralgia, aches, inflammation, rigidity, paralysis etc are produced by the Vyan Vayu, when it is deranged. It also causes fever, diarrhoea, heamorrhagic conditions, in any part of the body.
  5. Udana vata: exists at the navel, thoracic cavity, chest, throat and throat-pit. The functions are the acts of speech, talking, singing, enthusiasm, mental strength and capacity support, helps to make body strong, brightens colour and texture of skin. When it is deranged, it produces diseases of eyes, mouth, nose, ear, larynx, pharynx, head, and vertex complaints.

Pitta-bhed

  1. Sadhaka pitta is situated in the cardiac region. It supports and develops individual intelligence, intellectual capacity, natural qualities of human, perception, conception, experience, concentration, mental capacity, memory, behavior etc. When it is deranged, it creates fear, anxiety, anger, uncontrolled emotions, maniacal problems, forgetfulness etc.
  2. Pachaka pitta is situated inbetween Pakashay [Pancreas] and Amashay [Stomach]. It supports to nourish all Seven Dhatus step by step in their established increasing order. Its work is to digest the food, whatever is eaten and churn and converts food in small particles. It maintains the human body temperature and warmth of body etc. When it is deranged, it creates sensation of chilliness, coldness and Dhatu Kshaya etc.
  3. Ranjaka pitta is situated in liver and spleen. Its function is to provide good quality of digestive and assimilative power.
  4. Bharajaka pitta is situated in the skin. All skin problems are covered by its action. However, its area of functions are in the whole body.
  5. Alochaka pitta is situated in the eyes and eye cavity. All ophthalmic problems are covered by this Dosha bhed. Problems related to vision, ophthalmopathy and the organs near the eyes etc.

Kaphha bhed

  1. Kledaka kaphha is situated in the stomach. It provides support to lubricate the joints, head, nourishing the Vital parts.
  2. Tarpaka kaphha is situated in the head. It nourishes the brain. It supports the Vital functions of senses, of nose, eyes, tongue, taste etc. It helps to increase the performance of the intellectual behaviour of the brain like knowledge, excuse, intelligence, memory etc.
  3. Shleshaka kaphha is situated in between two joints or layers. It provides lubrication in joints to save the vital parts from friction by forming layer in between the smaller and bigger joints.
  4. Bodhaka kaphha is situated in tongue, taste buds, salivary glands, oral and mouth cavity, taste of food is perceived.
  5. Avalambaka kaphha is situated in the Chest, Thoracic cavity, Problems of Lungs, pulmonary disorders, Heart, Nape of Neck, Thyroid, Thymus, Pituitary Glands, Neck, Cercvico-thoracic region, upper extremities both etc. Problem in these parts are covered by this Kaphha bhed.

Sapta Dhatu: the pathological basis of diseases

Ayurveda have established its own Pathological Basis of disease conditions. According to Ayurveda our body constitutes of Dhosas Dhatus and Malas, when an equilibrium is meant between 3 of them body is deprived of any disease and vice-versa. All 3 are equally important and when considering about DHATUS, as they form the visible part of body and pathological changes associated can be easily understood. They are divided into Seven parts. These Seven Dhatus are again divided according to the dominance of the Tridosha status.

The Sapta Dhatus [Seven Vital elements] are considered to be:

  1. Rasa
  2. Rakta
  3. Maamsa
  4. Meda
  5. Asthi
  6. Majja
  7. Shukra

Short descriptions of these elements:

1- Rasa Dhatu: The syndromes are found in the patient, if Ras Dhatu is in imbalance stage. The symptoms are; No desire for food, perverted taste. Diminished hunger, unable to feel the real taste of the food, insufficient saliva, nausea, loss of Appetite, heaviness feeling in body. After meal, after physical exertion, sleepiness in day time, bodyache, feels aching like pain in wholebody, sensation as if having temeparature, fever like sensation, feels as if entering in a dark place, Jaundice like syndromes, assimilative disorders, sexual weakness, impotency like symptoms, weak and lethargy feeling, weight loss with sick feeling, emaciation, white hairs, skin shrinkage, old look in young age.

Modern Ayurved experts understand that Ras [Fluid] Dhatu: Derived from the digested food and it nourishes each and every tissue and cell of the body and is analogous to the plasma.

2- Rakta Dhatu:

Skin diseases, Dermatitis, Erythema, Lichen, Ringworm, Urticaria, Allergic reactions, Spleenomegaly, Stomatitis, Boils, Dandruff, seborrhoic capatis, eczema, moles, inflammation of rectum, anus, of glans penis, bloody leucorrheal discharge, swelling, Skin discharges, Leucoderma, Leprosy, black patches and spots, scabies, Ichthyosis, Psoriasis. All Anomalies of Blood, etc.

Modern Ayurvedic experts understand that RAKTA [blood] DHATU regarded as the basis of life, analogous to the circulating blood cells. It not only nourishes the body tissues, but provides physical strength and colour to the body. Hb% TLC, DLC, ESR, infections, blood sepsis, problems related to blood serum is covered by this Dhatu.

3- Maamsa Dhatu:

Glands, Buboes, Abscess gland, tumours, cysts, ulcers, cancerous glands and cancerous ulcers, warty growth, corn, warts, lymphadenopathy, tonsillitis, hard flesy, extra fleshy growth, hardness of muscles, fibrositis, myositis, tendinitis, rigidity, shortness of muscles, tendons and ligaments. Anomlies of Flesh and muscular system etc.

Modern Ayurvedic experts understand that MAANS [the muscle tissues]: its function is to provide physical strength and support for the MEDA DHATU.

4- Meda Dhatu:

Deposition of extra fat, obesity, accumulation of Fat, early syndromes of Polyuria, Glycosuria, growth of glands, fat due to hyperglyceamia, excessive sweating, etc.

Modern experts understand, MEDA DHATU; consiste of adipose tissue providing support to Asthi Dhatu. It also lubricates the body.

5- Asthi Dhatu:

Extra Bony growth, extra formation of Teeth, tooth problems, caries of tooth, caries of Bone, Osteoporosis, Ostitis, Calcium Metabolism, weak bones, calcium deposits in joints, anomalies of calcium, formation of Renal Calculus, Gall Bladder calculus, problem related to skeletal system etc.

Modern Ayurvedic experts thinks that ASTHI DHATU: comprising of bone tissue, including cartilages. It s main function is to give support to the MAJJA DHATU and provide support to MAANS Dhatu, Serum Calcium etc.

6- Majja Dhatu:

Pain in joints, fear, unconsciousness, collapse, seeing dark in day light, problems of bone marrow and reticulo-endothelial system, extra hard root like formation in joints, anomalies of Bone marrow and reticuloendothelial system etc.

Modern Ayurvedic experts thinks MAJJA DHATU: denoting the yellow and red bone marrow tissue, its main function is to fill up the Asthi and to oleate the body.

7- Shukra Dhatu:

Anomalies of Semen, semen contents, semen quality, impotency, incomplete erection, impotency due to insufficient quantity of semen, desire for coition but fails, infertility, miscarriage, irregular menstrual cycles, painful menstruation, other menstrual problems, Pelvic Inflammatory diseases. Problem related to male and female reproductive systems, genito urinary male and female disorders etc.

Tridosha effect on the Sapta Dhatus

Sapta Dhatus are affected by the Tridosha. For example, when Rakta Dhatu is affected by the 'Pitta Dosha', the condition is known as 'Rakta-Pitta'. 'Rakta-pitta' presents syndromes equal to Haematomasis, Haemophillia, purpura conditions. When Rakta is affected by the Vata Dosha, the condition is known as Rakta-Vata, the syndromes are equal to Gout and Uric Acid diathesis. When Kaphha affects the Rakta-Dhatu, the condition isBloody Dysentery, Bloody Mucous Colitis etc.

Malas: the catabolic products

Ayurvedic Malas or bodily wastes are three in number, and aid in diagnosis i.e:

  1. 'Pureesh' [Stool]
  2. 'Mootra' [Urine]
  3. 'Swed' [Sweat]

Agni: digestive fire

Concept of Ayurveda-Agni is very important in Ayurveda. It is instructed by the practitioners of the Ayurved that Agni [digestive fire]should be maintained of sick persons.

Ojas: vital power/vital force

Sushrut writes about Oaj that the last remaining conclusive material of the Sapta Dhatu, is known Oaj. In other words Oaj is known as 'Bal' [Bodily strength]. Some says that Oaj is equivalent to 'Vital force'. When Oaj is less than the normal limit, as a consequence it creates Unknown Fear, Constant Anxiety, Anxiety Neurosis, Worries, trouble to senses and sensory organs, weakness of the joints, low enthusiasm, Low Vital Power, Weak vigour etc. When Oaj is high than the normal limit, it creates more allertiveness, aroused senses, hurryness etc.

Panchakarma

Panchakarma is a high profile process of internally cleaning and purifying the entire human body, as described in Ayurvedic Science. It aims not only to cure the disease but also to prevent the further recurrence of the particular disease. Only healthy men can take this therapy. Children and elderly people are weak. Women by nature don't require Panchakarma therapy.

There are five steps to complete the process.

  • Vaman
  • Virechan
  • Anuvasan
  • Niruhan
  • Navan/Nasya
  • (Rakta Moksha)

The process is still practiced today, after more than 3000 yrs, without changing the line of treatment. Many Panchakarma centers have opened in large and small cities all over India and Sri Lanka, where specially qualified Ayurvedic practitioners provide the panchakarma treatment. In Sri Lanka and South India, there is still big Ayurvedic Centers exists, (India)in Madhya Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and etc. Among them only Kerala is ahead in Panchakarma Therapy with world class facilities[citation needed]. High quality Centers are also located in Sri Lanka in the very south of the island in the Southern Province nearby Matara and Kottegoda.

See also

References

  1. ^ Dr. Deepak Chopra (1991). Perfect Health: The Complete Mind/Body Guide. Harmony Books. 

Partial bibliography

  • Perfect Health: The Complete Mind/Body Guide, Dr. Deepak Chopra, Harmony Books, New-York, New-York ISBN 0-517-58421-2
 
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Teachings_of_Ayurveda". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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