Ayurveda is a simple, practical science of life, the principles and practices of which evolved through many centuries. Ayurvedic science is based on eternal wisdom of people who acquired the knowledge from experience and meditation. Ayurvedic system is applicable universally to all those seeking harmony and peace. The Classical Ayurvedic texts discuss all forms of science like biology, toxicology and subjects like philosophy and theology.
Ayurveda has its own views about principles and philosophy of life. Ayurvedic system describes man as a universe within himself which is a child of the cosmic forces. His existence is inextricably intertwined to the total cosmic manifestation. The entire universe, as well as the body is made up of five basic elements. These elements are Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space.
The word Ayurveda is composed of two sanskrit terms – Ayu meaning life and Veda meaning knowledge. Therefore Ayurveda means the knowledge of life or science of life. It is defined as the science, through which one can obtain knowledge about the useful and harmful ways of life, happy and miserable types of life, conditions that lead to the above types of life, as well as, the very nature of life.
According to Ayurvedic medicine, human body consists of three primary life forces or biological humors, which are Vatha, Pitha and Kapha. These three doshas are called the tridoshas. A balance among these life forces is essential for proper health. Any imbalance among the tridoshas causes a state of unhealthiness or disease.
Ayurvedic system says that this imbalance is the effect of the constant reaction of the internal environment of body to the changes in external environment. It is only required that we bring back normalcy to the balance of these doshas, to bring back the state of healthiness.
Other basic concepts of Ayurvedic system are the Saptha Dhathus (the bodily tissues), Srotas (Channals), Ama (toxins and filthy matter) and the trinity of life – body, mind and spiritual awareness.
The first step in the method of diagnosis in Ayurvedic form of medicine is to determine the constitution of the person. That means it is the patient who is diagnosed first and not the disease.
The same disease might appear in different forms in two persons because their constitution is different. Due to this variation in constitution the medicines and treatment may be different for two people with the same illness. This difference in treatment methods according to the constitution is essential to bring back the natural balance of the biological humors. The constitutional approach is the essence of the Ayurvedic system. Understanding ones constitution helps one to lead a life style that is most befitting his constitution, thus optimizing his health and creative potential.
According to Ayurvedic system, human body consists of three primary life forces or biological humors, which are Vatha, Pitha and Kapha. These three doshas are called the tridoshas. A balance among these life forces is essential for proper health. Any imbalance among the tridoshas causes a state of unhealthiness or disease. Ayurvedic treatment measures include internal medicine, external medicine, surgical treatment and psychotherapy.
Ayurvedic treatments can be classified under two groups – tonification and reduction. Reduction therapies decrease excesses in the body while tonification methods nurture insufficiency in the body. Reduction therapy has two parts called pacification and purification. Pacification is done with herbs, fasting, exercise, sunbathing and exposure to wind. Purification is a special form of therapy for elimination of the disease causing humors. The power of Ayurvedic elimination therapy is its system for guiding the toxins to their sites for elimination. It consist of five parts – The pancha karmas – cleaning enemas, nasal medication, Purgation, Emesis and blood letting. All these require preliminary Ayurvedic practises of oleation and sweating. Kerala a southern state of India, has developed its own Ayurvedic treatment modalities like Dhara, pizhichil, Navarakizhi, Elakizhi, Sirovasthi, Thalapothichil etc. which are highly effective in a number of diseases which include Motor neuron diseases, Arthritis of various kinds, skin diseases, heart diseases, peptic ulcer, Asthama, Peripheral vascular diseases and Gynecological disorders.
Ayurvedic pharmacology is based upon the concepts of rasa, veerya and vipaka. A vast variety of plants, metals, minerals, animals, birds and even mud and sand are used as medicines in Ayurveda.
Knowledge about Ayurvedic type of medicine is divided into eight branches. The branches are
1. Kaya chikilsa (general medicine)
2. Shalya (surgery)
3. Shalakya (ENT and Ophthalmology)
4. Graha (Psychotherapy)
5. Damshitra (toxicology)
6. Bala (Pediatrics and Gynecology)
7. Jara (rejuvenation)
8. Vrishya (Aphrodisiacs).
Of the above the seventh one, that is rejuvenation therapy is a unique method which Ayurveda performs. Until death our body is engaged in a continuous struggle against the aging process. Hence the body is called Shareeram – something that degenerates.