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About Science of Life: Ayurveda

Written by
Dr. Raman Kaushik
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Oct 24, 2016 and last reviewed on Oct 07, 2022   -  5 min read

Abstract

Ayurveda, which is the science of life or longevity, is one of the ancient systems of traditional medicine. To know more, read the article.

About Science of Life: Ayurveda

Introduction:

Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit words ayu, which means life or longevity, and veda, which means science or knowledge. It is combinedly known as Ayurveda, which is the science of life or longevity. Ayurveda is one of the ancient systems of traditional medicine. The principles of Ayurveda are to maintain the health of a healthy individual and to alleviate disease in an ill person.

What Is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is a natural system of medicine that originated in India more than 3000 years ago. Ayurveda translates to knowledge of life, and it is based on the idea that disease is caused due to stress or imbalance in a person’s consciousness. Ayurveda encourages certain natural therapies and lifestyle interventions to regain balance between the mind, body, spirit, and the environment. The ayurvedic treatments start with an internal purification process, followed by a special diet, massage therapy, herbal remedies, medication, and yoga. The primary basis of ayurvedic medicine is the concepts of universal interconnectedness, life forces (doshas), and the body’s constitution (Prakriti). Some of the specialties of Ayurveda to live a healthy life are,

  1. Dinacharya (daily regime).

  2. Ritucharya (seasonal regime).

  3. Sadvritta (conducts and behavior).

  4. Ahara vidhi niyama, which is dietary rules, compatible diets, etc.

What Is the History of Ayurveda?

Ayurveda was attributed to Dhanvantari, the physician to the gods in Hindu mythology, who received it from Brahma. It is the earliest concept found in the Vedas, known as Atharvaveda. The Vedas have mentioned magical practices for the treatment of diseases. The main conditions mentioned are cough, fever, consumption, diarrhea, abscesses, generalized edema, seizures, skin diseases, and tumors. There are numerous herbs mentioned for the treatment of these conditions.

What Are the Specialties of Ayurveda?

There are eight specialties of Ayurveda:

  1. Kayachikitsa - Internal medicine.

  2. Baalachikitsa - Pediatrics.

  3. Grahachikitsa - Demonology.

  4. Urdhvangachikitsa - Diseases of the head and neck.

  5. Vishachikitsa - Toxicology.

  6. Vrshachikitsa - Aphrodisiac therapy.

  7. Shalyachikitsa - Surgery.

  8. Jarachikitsa - Rejuvenation.

What Are the Doshas in Ayurveda?

In Ayurveda, it is believed that every person is made up of five elements found in the universe, namely, air, fire, water, space, and earth. They combine in the human body to form three energies or life forces known as doshas. Everybody inherits a unique mix of the three doshas. Each one of them controls a different body function. It is believed that the chances of developing health issues or getting sick are related to the balance of these doshas.

  1. Vata Dosha - It is believed to be the most powerful dosha of all the three. It controls the basic body functions, such as how cells divide. It also controls the breathing, mind, heart function, blood flow, and ability to get rid of waste through the intestines. Things that can affect it are fear, eating again too soon after a meal, grief, and staying up too late. If Vata dosha is the main life force, conditions like asthma, anxiety, skin problems, rheumatoid arthritis, and heart disease are more likely to develop.

  2. Pitta Dosha - This dosha controls the digestion, metabolism, and certain hormones linked to the appetite. It can be disrupted by things such as spending too much time in the sun and eating spicy or sour foods. If it is the main life force, conditions like heart disease, Crohn's disease, infections, and high blood pressure can develop.

  3. Kapha Dosha - This dosha controls body strength and stability, muscle growth, weight, and immune system. It can be disrupted by things such as eating too many sweet foods, drinking, and eating things that contain too much water or salt. If it is the main life force, conditions such as asthma and other breathing disorders, diabetes, nausea after eating, cancer, and obesity are believed to develop.

What Is the Cause of Development of Disease According to Ayurveda?

In Ayurveda, an imbalance between three doshas (humor) that is Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, is described as the main factor in the development of any disease.

There are seven dhatus (tissue or cells) in the human body. These are,

  1. Rasa (plasma).

  2. Rakta (blood cells).

  3. Mamsa (muscle).

  4. Meda (fat).

  5. Asthi (bone).

  6. Majja (bone marrow).

  7. Shukra (sperm and ovum).

Vitiation of doshas affects different dhatus in the body and causes various diseases. For example, vitiation of Vata dosha due to various factors leads to disorders of asthi dhatu like osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, etc.

What Are the Treatment Approaches in Ayurveda?

  • In Ayurveda, the approach of different medicines and other treatment modalities is individualistic. Thus ayurvedic management of diseases is according to the person and not to the disease.

  • The goal of ayurvedic treatment is to cleanse the body of undigested food that stays in the body, causing an illness. The cleansing process is called Panchakarma, which is designed to reduce the symptoms and restore balance and harmony.

  • Consideration of different factors like Prakriti (temperament or constitution or nature), Vaya (age), Bala (strength), Kala (time), etc., makes Ayurveda a very individually focused system of medicine.

  • The use of different herbs and herbo-mineral formulations indicated in different diseased conditions are described in various ayurvedic classical texts.

  • Panchakarmas are the specialized five chief treatment procedures in Ayurveda that maintain homeostasis within the body and perform detoxification and rejuvenation. Specialized Ayurveda therapies like Kati Vasti, Greeva Vasti, Patra Pinda Swedana, and Shirodhara are meant for different musculoskeletal and neurological diseases.

  • Ayurvedic specialists take both the preventive and curative approaches.

  • Preventive Approach - It seeks to maintain and create health and longevity within the individual. It focuses on defining each person’s constitution (Prakriti) and creating daily and periodic regimens to support Prakriti and keep it in balance. It includes diet and exercise, herbal therapies, meditation, massage and social behavior, and positive relationships.

  • Curative Approach - It focuses on healing an illness which can be achieved by internal measures like detoxification, external measures such as oil treatments, steam therapy and use of herbal pastes, surgical methods that include removal of organs, tissues and harmful growths, herbal measures like use of various herbal and trace metal formulations and mental and spiritual therapies.

Conclusion:

In Ayurveda, perfect health is defined as a balance between the mind, body, spirit, and social wellbeing. Ayurveda emphasizes the unshakable connection between these. It is believed that there is a deep connection between the self and the environment. However, the Ayurveda's connectedness reaches far beyond the individual, extending into the universe.

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Frequently Asked Questions


1.

What Are the Three Types of Ayurveda Bodies?

Ayurveda is one of the pure and fastest ways to achieve good health. In Ayurveda, the body is represented as a dosha, and it follows the idea of understanding these doshas to heal the body. The three types of ayurveda bodies or doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
- Vata body type is governed by air and space elements.
- Pitta body type is by the fire element.
- Kapha body type is controlled by water and earth elements.

2.

Why Is Ayurveda Popular?

Ayurveda is considered the mother of all-natural healing. Ayurveda helps in the prevention of disease and promotes wellness. It is easy to follow, has a wide range of treatments, and makes understanding the human body unique.

3.

Can Ayurveda Cure Brain Disorders?

Various popular Ayurvedic medicinal herbs help reduce brain aging and other effects like memory enhancing and reducing stress. Plants like Ashwagandha, Turmeric, Brahmi, etc. help regenerate neural tissues. Along with that, they also induce antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and nutritional effects and enhance the immune system.

4.

What Are the Different Techniques of Ayurveda?

Ayurveda works in various ways; there are lots of techniques that can be practiced in Ayurveda. But, some of the most common methods in Ayurveda are - herbal medicines, massage, meditation, breathing exercises, sound therapy using mantras, and yoga. So, Ayurveda starts with the process of internal purification followed by all the techniques like diet, herbal remedies, and so on.

5.

What Are the Branches of Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is divided into eight different branches, which include -
- Kaaya Chikitsa (internal medicine) - Responsible for body metabolism.
- Baala Chikitsa (treatment of children or pediatrics).
- Graha Chikitsa (demonology or psychology).
- Urdhvaanga Chikitsa (treatment of disease above the clavicle).
- Shalya Chikitsa (surgery).
- Damstra Chikitsa (toxicology).
- Jara Chikitsa (geriatrics).
- Varsha Chikitsa (aphrodisiac therapy).

6.

What Are the Different Methods of Diagnosing in Ayurveda?

In Ayurveda, there are five main types of diagnostic methods, which include Purvarupa (prodromal symptoms), Rupa (manifested symptoms) and Samprapti (pathogenesis), and the conduct of Upasaya (therapeutic tests), and Ashtavidha Pareeksha (physical examination).
- Purvarupa (prodromal symptoms) - It means signs and symptoms of the disease.
- Rupa (manifested symptoms) - This means the set of problems a patient brings to the vaidya (doctor), who then examines the condition of the patient.
- Samprapti (pathogenesis) - It tracks the onset of symptoms.
- Upashaya (therapeutic tests) - This includes herbal remedies and lifestyle tips that help treat the disease.
- Ashtavidha Pareeksha (physical examination) - This means a thorough examination of the patient, including Nadi (pulse), the Jihva (tongue), the Sabda (voice), the Sparsa (touch), the Drik (eyes), the Akruti (appearance), the Mutra (urine), and the Mala (feces)of the patient.

7.

What Are the Disadvantages of Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is an excellent choice for treating various conditions, but it is not always the best. Ayurvedic medicines contain heavy or toxic minerals such as lead, mercury, and arsenic which are harmful to humans. So, taking these medicines in the prescribed dosage is always advisable.

8.

Is Ayurveda Helpful in Treating All Diseases?

Ayurveda can be highly effective in treating several diseases if practiced expertly. This is because Ayurveda helps treat the root cause instead of only suppressing the symptoms. Also, chronic conditions can slow the process of disease progression and cure the disease completely.

9.

What Is the Objective of Ayurveda?

The primary objective of Ayurveda is to maintain good health and relieve any physical illness. It follows the concept of universal interconnectedness and swasthya (health). The treatment objective of Ayurveda is to aid a person by eliminating impurities, reducing symptoms and stress, and increasing harmony in life.

10.

Does Ayurveda and Allopathy Work Simultaneously?

Ayurveda and allopathy both work in their ways. Yes, they both can be taken together without causing any side effects. Although, the patient is advised to maintain a gap of 30 minutes or one hour in taking the medicines.

11.

Do Ayurvedic Medicines Contain Steroids?

Ayurveda is considered the purest form of medicine. But recently, various adulterated products have been present in the market, which contain steroids instead of natural products. This can lead to side effects and complications if taken in excess. So, it is always advised to take the original product marked by the government only in the recommended amount.

12.

What Is the Difference Between Naturopathy and Ayurveda?

Ayurveda and naturopathy both follow the holistic approach to treating the disease. However, Naturopathy mainly encourages the body’s immune system to heal the body. At the same time, Ayurveda works by balancing the body system.

Last reviewed at:
07 Oct 2022  -  5 min read

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