The concept of Ayurveda
According to Ayurveda everything in this Universe including human body is made up of five basic eternal elements or Panchamahabhutas. They are- Air, Ether(clear sky or space), Fire, Water, Earth. In human body these combine together to form three subtle energies or forces that control and govern all the biological, physiological, and physio-pathological functions of the body, mind and consciousness. They act as basic constituents and protective barriers for the body in its normal physiological conditions. They are called as “Doshas”—VATA, PITTA, KAPHA. Also there is a re-categorization of the morphological structures of the body in to seven basic called “Dhatu”. They are - Rasa(chyle), Rakta( blood), Mamsa( flesh), Meda( fat), Asti(( bone), Majja( marrow), Shukra(semen). The eliminative processes from the body takes place in the form of three waste products or Malas which are Urine, Faeces, and Sweat. The representation of solar energy in a living being which is responsible for metabolic activities is called Agni. Ayurveda explains that the harmony and balance of the Doshas, Dhatus, Mala, and Agni in the body is the primary condition of prime health.
The main aim is in establishing prime health in every living being, physically, mentally and spiritually. This is achieved by establishing an energetic equilibrium of the functions of the Doshas, Dhatus, Mala, Agni, and is maintained through the life in conformity with the laws of nature.
The health therefore according to Ayurveda can be defined as a state of sustained equilibrium of the functions of Doshas, Dhatus, Mala and Agni accompanied by a sensation of well being or tranquillity of the body and sense organs, mind and soul. Such a person is regarded as healthy.
THE EIGHT BRANCHES OF AYURVEDA
Ayurveda deals with the following eight branches of medicine, based on types of treatments. The word “Asta” means eight and “Anga” means branches. These eight branches of Ayurveda based on types of treatments are as follows:-
1) KAYACHIKISTA —(General medicine)-- the term chikista is applied to treatment of diseases. Kayachikista in general means internal medicine. These types of diseases are usually treated by oral medicines. Sanskrit scholars have described the term kaya as the source of sounds in the body such as the Heart, which produces the sound by a pumping action and is in the main part of the body, it is the central place of Chetana or Soul, the symbol of Life. The medicine which manages to maintain life, therefore, is termed as Kayachikista. Kaya is also called gastric fire (Agni). Ayurveda has described Agni, when out of balance, as a chief causative factor for disease. Diseases like fever, dysentery, colitis, coughs, bronchitis, asthma, tuberculosis, skin diseases, etc. are included in this branch. The treatment, which is effective in curing these diseases, is called Kayachikista---in other words –General medicine.
2) BALA ROGA— Paediatrics ---KOMARABHRATYA---Koumara means infants and children. All diseases related to children and their treatments are included in this branch. How to nourish and develop children, what should be the qualities of the nurse(caretaker), the qualities of milk, symptoms of contaminated milk etc. are also explained in this branch. It also explains about the care of woman during pregnancy and delivery.
3) GRAHA—BHUTAVIDYA—(Science of demonic seizures)- -Psychology ---the term Bhuta is applied to supernatural elements like rakshasa, asura, pitara, naga, graha etc and may cause disease in which there is no logical causative factor to be easily deduced. The treatment is by Shanthi karma, meditation, etc. There are some mantras and procedures of sacred fire (YAGYA—HOMA) by which the anger of these supernatural elements is subsided, called Shanthi karma. Shanthi means to subside, to pacify. Karma means the action, process. All these information is explained in this branch
4) URDWANGA—SHALAKYA—Science of diseases specific to supraclavicular region -(Eye, Ear, Nose, Throat etc.) which are usually treated with the help of Shalaka(steel instruments) are called Shalakyam and this branch is called shalakya chikista
5) SHALYA (Surgery)— Shalyam means foreign body, such as wooden stick, stone, dust, sand, iron or metals, bones nails etc. which may cause chronic or acute diseases. They require surgical interference and are treated by using instruments(shastra) and equipment(yantra), and alkalies(kshara), a term applied by Sushrutha, for local burning and healing therapy, cauterization(Agni karma), and incisions(Chedana and Bhedana)
6) DAMSTRA—AGADA TANTRA-- -- Toxicology--- Vishagaravairodhika chikista
Visha means poisons, which may cause acute, fatal disease, and Gara --means poisons, which may cause effects after some time. Vairodhikam means combination of incompatible drugs—all these toxic substances in the body. This branch also deals with toxins from vegetables, minerals, and also from animal origins. The concept of pollution of air and water in certain places and seasons has been given special consideration. Such pollution is also said to be the cause of various epidemics. The branch, which deals with them is called Agada tantra.
7) JARA—RASAYANA TANTRA— Science of Rejuvenation----
The treatment which includes the prevention of old age, improving strength, intelligence, and immunity is called Rasasyana chikitsa which is unique to Ayurveda.
8) VRASHA—VAJEEKARANA TANTRA— Science of Aphrodisiacs-----
Diseases and weakness in the seminal fluid, sperm and ovum and genital organs which may cause impotency in the sexual act and the loss of reproductive faculty or defective reproduction and its treatment are included in this branch of Ayurveda.
According to Ayurveda treatment is mainly of two types. “Shamana chikitsa” and “Shodhana chikitsa”. In “Shamana chikitsa”, the vitiated doshas are mainly suppressed inside the body itself and relief is given to the patient. But when these doshas gets favorable environment and favorable causative factors, the disease reoccurs again due to vitiation of doshas. But the reoccurrence of disease does not takes place if “Shodhana chikitsa” is adopted. “Shodhana” means purification i.e. getting rid of all the toxins or vitiated doshas from the body. By doing so the disease is eliminated from its roots and does not reoccur. This is the reason why most of the diseases are treated by Panchakarma therapy, which follows the principles of “Shodhana chikitsa”. Treatments also includes recommendations on Diet, Daily routine, Seasonal routine, Herbal preparations, to create balance in an individual. In addition to these, a few other methods such as Aroma therapy, Sound therapy, Physical and breathing exercises are also included to neutralize imbalances in the body and mind.
PANCHA KARMA PROGRAM — INTRODUCTION-
The deep cleansing process, unique to Ayurveda , that enables the body to release excess doshas and toxins from its cells and expel them is called Pancha karma, which basically denotes detoxification or elimination of toxins from the body. Although the human body is considered as a great, intelligent, natural healing system capable of rejuvenating itself, the formation of toxins reduces that natural capacity. It is then that Pancha karma plays a crucial role in that correction of natural capacity of the body. Pancha karma is holistic approach to destroy imbalances on the root level. Pancha karma means five important purification procedures to eliminate the accumulated residues (Ama) and imbalances in the physiological operators ( doshas) responsible for both aging and chronic disease. It is not only profound in its effects but also delightful and luxurious. Pancha karma occupies a very important place in Ayurveda Treatment and is an integral part of Ayurveda. Many diseases according to Ayurveda are the direct result of Srotorodha ( obstruction of channels) i.e. functional or anatomic diseases of internal organs particularly the G.I tract, Liver, Pancreas, Endocrine glands and Nervous system. For the management of above diseases and also for the purification of body, Pancha karma therapy is specifically indicated in Ayurveda texts. So the influence of Pancha karma therapy can be prophylactic and therapeutic.
The five main procedures - Pancha karma are—
• Vamana—( eliminating impurities through the mouth by inducing vomiting).
• Virechana—( elimination of impurities by giving purgation).
• Basti ( giving medicated enema).
• Nasya ( the administration of medicines through nasal route).
• Raktamokshana ( blood letting).
Thus Pancha karma programs consists of daily massages followed by appropriate procedures selected from a wide range of treatments, cleansing steam baths, programs for soothing and cleaning sinuses and respiratory passages and other internal purification programs. These purification programs traditionally practiced ywice yearly is refreshing and revitalizing. It has an energizing effect on the mind and strengthen the immune functions of the body. Pancha karma eliminates the doshas , cleansify the blockage and improves transportation by which doshas come back to their original place to perform normal function. When imbalances appear in the body, it obstructs digestion process, it decreases effectiveness of absorption and assimilation. As a result Ama is appearing. Ama means toxins, sticky in nature, with the time it appear in each cell of the body and worsen the cell function and accelerate aging. At the beginning purification procedures of Pancha karma separates toxins from cells and then removes them out through excretory organs such as intestine, urine path and sweat glands.
In each Pancha karma therapy there is a first part called Poorva Karma (preparatory procedures) which is of two types--
Snehana ( oleation) therapy.
Swedana ( fomentation) therapy.
Second part of Pancha karma is called Pradhana karma . It consists of five essential purifactory therapies, namely;
Third part of Pancha karma is called Paschat karma. -A crucial follow-up therapies that include diet, medication and life style.
After poorva karma, five main procedures are carried out which are called as Pradhana karma, such as Vamana, Virechana, Basti, Nasya and Rakta mokshana.
After main procedures, every individual is given advises as a follow up therapy which is called as Paschat karma. Advises are given regarding diet, personal hygiene, daily routine, seasonal routine, appropriate behavior, medicines etc.
In between each Pradhana karma, Snehana and swedana should be administered which enhances the effect of the Pradhana karma procedures.
The concept of Ayurveda