Ayurveda - it is a Sanskrit word derived
from two words "ayur" meaning life and "veda"
meaning knowledge combining to give the meaning as "Knowledge
of life" or in a more general sense "Knowledge
of Longevity". Ayurveda advocates a Holistic approach
to life and Nature. It is much more than a medical science.
It stresses the need to harmonise man and nature to
improve the quality of life. Over many thousands of
years Rishis, Seers and other enlightened persons through
close observation of nature and their relationship with
man formulated the basic principles of Ayurveda and
passed down their revelations to their disciples. Its
origin is buried in the ancient culture and traditions
of India and it is considered as the oldest natural
healing system extant. Much of the old texts have decayed
into oblivation but findings of Charaka to Sushruta
and others survived in complete form. Today it exists
in the form of texts and poetry and it tells why and
how man can cooperate with nature to attain a better
"quality of Life"
Roga (Disease) - Any situation which
impairs the "Quality of Life" is a Roga or
disease. It is the opposite of ease, or dis-ease. It
is a condition of the body where its vital functions
are impaired bringing about an absence of ease. The
human body contains three primary essential factors.
The entire biological process is controlled by these
humors or morbid substances. They are known as Vata,
Pitta, Kapha. They are individually called Dosha, collectively
Tridosha. When the Doshas are displaced or unbalanced
due to any cause they create impurities (Mala) in the
body. When these impurities are obstructed or move along
improper channels they cause diseases.
Tridhatu - Human body is made up of
five principles - Panchabhutas. They are Ksiti or earth,
Op or water, Teja - fire, Marut or air and Byom or space.
Any part of the body, however minuscule, is an inseparable
combination of these principles. In Ayurveda the five
principles are combined into three - Vata, Pitta and
Kapha. Vata is a combination of space and air, Pitta
is Teja and Kapha is combination of earth and water.
These three elements build, sustain and fulfil all biological
functions of the living body. These dhatus pervade through
all parts of the living body. They cannot be detected
individually in their fundamental form in any part of
the body. Hence they are identified with those parts
of the body where they predominate. Vata is the constituent
that generates power and motivity and sustains the nervous
system. Pitta is the material that digest the food and
converts it into body-constituents. Kapha structures
and sustains the body. These are Tridhatus. They collectively
maintain the integrity of the human body and govern
the entire physical structure and functions in a living
being. They govern all the biological, psychological,
and physio-pathological functions of the body and mind.
Tridosha - Some particular portions
of the Dhatus always tend to increase or decrease due
to internal and external factors like food, activity,
climate, time, age, place etc. Certain parts of the
body also undergoes changes due to factors like disease,
activities etc. The parts of the Dhatus liable for such
easy changes are called Doshas and collectively called
Tridoshas for the three Dhatus of Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Tridosha & Diseases - External
and internal stimuli of the lifestyle create situations
which aggravates certain Doshas and cause an imbalance
between them. Misplaces and unbalanced Doshas are manifested
as diseases. For example; For a river small tributaries
flow into it, water level of the river rises (Sanchay
= storage), if the inflow is more than it can handle
the water overflows the banks (Procope = severity) and
spreads over other places (Prasar = spread) and settles
there (Sthan Prapti = placement) and it effects other
places (Prakash = outcome). This outcome is the disease.
Action of drugs selectively adds to or decreases the
effect of the Doshas to bring them into balance again.
Vata, Pitta and Kapha represent the
five Bhutas. Dhatus sustain the body, Doshas degrade
the tissues of the body and Mala pollutes the body channels.
In the Dhatu state they are duly balanced and promote
health. In the Dosha state they are unbalanced and makes
the body prone to diseases. In the Mala state they are
so aggravated that cure must be initiated to return
the body to a healthy condition.
Drugs - They are substances of vegetable/herbal
or mineral origin which effect the Tridosha because
of their properties. The properties are of taste or
Rasa, physico-chemical properties/qualities or Guna,
post digestive/assimilative properties or Vipaka and
potency of the drug or Virya. The effect of the drugs
directly or indirectly on Tridosha can be quantified
using these properties.
Rasa (Taste) - There are six Rasas
and they have different effects on the body
- Amla - sour- digestive, appetizer, sialagogue
- Kasaya - astringent - diuretic, wound healer
- Katu - pungent - lacrimatory, appetizer sialagogue
- Lavan - salty - digestive, appetizer, sialagogue,
- Madhura - sweet - brain and heart tonic, galactogogueTikta
- bitter - appetizer
Relationship between Rasa and the Doshas
Guna (Qualities) - There are twenty qualities of a
drug called gunas. They are:
- Drava - fluidity - spread through the entire body.
- Guru - heaviness- induces heaviness and fatigue,
impairs digestive functions, increases quantity of
- Kathina - hardness - causes stiffness and firmness
in a body, excites Vata.
- Khara - roughness - causes emaciation, aggravates
- Laghu - lightness - imparts lightness or fitness
in body, helps digestion.
- Manda - dullness - slow acting, placate deranged
- Mridu - softness - increases softness in relation
to body tissues, stimulate Kapha, depress Vata and
- Piccila - sliminess - stimulates excretory system,
increases body weight, promotes wound healing.
- Rooksha - un-unctuous, dryness - promotes Vata,
reduces Kapha, reduces vigour and virility.
- Sandra - solidity - nourishes the body.
- Sara - mobility - stimulates excretory system.
- Sheeta - cold - produces cooling effect, aggravates
vata and kapha, pacifies Pitta, impedes blood flow,
- Shlakshana - smoothness - promotes tissue making,
increases Kapha and Pitta.
- Snigdha - unctuous - produces soothing effect on
the body, promotes Kapha, reduces Vata, eliminates
- Sthira - stability - makes physiological functions
normal and stable.
- Sthula - bulkiness - not easily digestible.
- Sukshma - fineness - pervade through the whole body,
- Tikshna - sharpness - sharp, potent, promotes Pitta,
acts against Vata and Kapha.
- Ushna - hot - increases body temperature, promotes
Pitta, reduces Vata and Kapha, improves blood circulation,
stimulates appetite, increases amount of urine, excreta
- Visada - clarity - removes sliminess, promotes Vata,
Vipaka (Post-Digestive Action): - It
is the action of the drug after it has undergone digestive
and assimilative alterations. It is the metabolism of
the drugs after the biochemical changes in the gastro-intestinal
tracts. Rasa and Vipaka has certain difference in their
actions. Action of Rasa is immediate, local and perceivable
but Vipaka's actions are delayed, systemic, inferable
and estimated. The ancient texts on Ayurveda describes
three kinds of drug metabolism, Katu (pungent), Amla
(sour) and Madhura (sweet) responsible for increase
in Vata, Pitta and Kapha respectively.
Virya (Potency) - It refers to the
strength of the drug not accounted for by the classifications
of Rasa, Guna or Vipaka. Generally it can be of three
types, Usna (hot), Sheeta (cold) or Prabhava (influence).
Usna Virya causes storing of energy, easier digestion
and subdues Vata and Kapha but aggravates Pitta. Sheeta
Virya works in just the opposite way in reducing secretions
including haemorrages, aggravates Vata and Pitta but
pacifies Pitta, increases vigour and vitality and stabilises
excretory functions. Prabhava refers to the specific
and distinctive influence of the drug.
Dhatus (Tissues) - All the drugs when
administered systemically effect different areas in
the body. In other words drugs have selective affinity
for different organs or tissues of the body. In Ayurveda
the body consists of seven types of tissues or Dhatus.
The seven dhatus or tissues are:
||Red Blood Cells
||Bone Marrow, Nervous Tissue, Connective
||Male / Female Reproductive Tissue
The basic object of Ayurveda is to
bring back the balance of the Tridosha in the different
dhatus and in the body and to take steps to prevent
its recurrence in the future so as to maintain the "Quality
of Life". Other than drugs, use of various cleansing
processes like meditation, breath control, special baths,
use of emesis etc. for the body and the mind are also
recommended in Ayurvedas.
Some of the concepts of Ayurveda seems
puzzling from the point of view of modern clinical methods
and practice of medicine. Clinical diagnosis uses the
physical sciences to help define conditions with medical
implications, the object being eradication of symptoms.
Concepts of Ayurveda and their applications leads to
removal of the symptoms as well as prevention of their
recurrence using a holistic and natural approach.