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Ayurveda- Health Practise That Has Lasted Over Two Millenia

Medikoe Health Expert

Medikoe Health Expert

  Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru     Feb 9, 2017

   6 min     



Ayurveda is a branch of medicine that is said to have been originated in India. It is a doctrine that has been there for more than two millennia.  Over time it has been globalized and modernized and few of its elements have now been added into general wellness applications.

Ayurvedic therapies mainly involve the use of complex herbal compounds, minerals and certain metal substances. 

Certain Ayurvedic texts also include some surgical procedures too. This included suturing techniques, extraction of objects in the human body, kidney stone extractions, etc.

Since there is no proper scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of Ayurveda, it is considered to be pseudoscientific, or sometimes also called a protoscience.

One of the main things emphasised in Ayurveda id the balance between the three ‘Doshas,’ Vata, pitta and Kapha. If the state of any of these Doshas is out of balance, then the person is unhealthy.

It also advises against the suppression of natural urges and considers it unhealthy and claims that it could lead to illness.

According to the text, Ayurvedic medicine is divided into eight canonical elements.

Principles Followed In Ayurveda

Panchamabhuta- This principle involves the division of the bodily elements into five; earth, water, fire, air and ether.

Trigunas- This principle suggests that there are three fundamental universal energies; Satva, Rajas and Tamas. This helps with the understanding of the human psyche. Satva includes lightness, consciousness, pleasure and clarity. While Rajas talks about motion and stimulation which affects desires, wishes, ambitions and fickle-mindedness. 

Tamas- Which is all about heaviness and resistance. This results in delusion, false knowledge, laziness, apathy, sleep and drowsiness.

Tridoshas- This includes the three doshas mentioned before Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

The Sapta Dhatu- This principle talks about the basic body tissues; plasma (rasa), blood (rakta), muscles (māmsa), fat (meda), bone (asthi), marrow (majja), and semen (shukra). 

The TrayodosaAgni- This is said to be the biological fire that has control over body metabolism, There are  thirteen types of digestive fires Important ones being Jatharagni (gastric fire), SaptaDhatvagni and PancaBhutagni

The TriMalas- This classifies the body wastes into three:  Purisa (faeces), Mutra (urine) and Sveda (sweat)

Ama- This is a concept that refers to anything in the body that is said to exist in a state of incomplete transformation, like toxic products that are a result of incomplete digestion.

Ayurveda Practice

In Ayurveda, a person’s physical existence, mental existence and personality are all considered as individual elements that can influence one another. Therefore, all of these aspects are considered when it comes to diagnosing and treating patients.

Another part of Ayurveda includes a treatment where the patient is massaged with oils or is made to sweat, as it could help open up blocked or unhealthy channels (‘Srotas,” those transport bodily fluids) that is said to cause diseases.

Diagnosis In Ayurveda

In Ayurveda, a patient is diagnosed by examining the Nadi (pulse), Mootra (urine), Mala (stool), Jihva (tongue), Shabda (speech), Sparsha (touch), Druk (vision), and Aakruti (appearance). These aspects are examined by the use of the basic five sense. 

Practitioners also study the body’s lethal points, similar to the Chinese acupuncture points.

Treatment In Ayurveda

Ayurveda involves many things that are prevalent in modern medicine such as surgery. But in general, this doctrine tends to focus more on attaining health and strength by developing a healthy metabolic system and maintaining good digestion and excretion.

It also emphasises in the need for exercise and promotes practises like yoga and meditation. The texts also talk about a certain type of diet to be maintained, called the Sattvic diet and is in fact prescribed to a lot of patients.

Ayurvedic treatment also talks about the importance of maintaining natural bodily cycles like walking, sleeping, working, meditation as it is considered to be important to the health. Following good hygiene is another key to perfect health.

Substances Used In The Ayurvedic Treatment

Most of Ayurvedic medicines and treatments involve substances that have been concocted using roots, leaves, fruits, bark or seeds. 

These medicines also use substances from animals such as milk, bones, fat, or gallstones.

It also makes use of mineral substances such as sulphur, arsenic, lead, copper sulphate and gold, and the introduction of these minerals in their plant-based medicines is called rasa Shastra.

Ayurveda also promotes the use of alcoholic beverages, referred to as Madya. These help adjust the Doshas when required; increases Pitta and reduces Vatta and Kapha. Madya is said to purify the body, help improve the digestion or taste, create dryness or loosen the joints. Madya is preferred as it is said to be non-viscid and fast-acting.

Ayurvedic texts have also mentioned about the use of purified opium to help balance the doshas; usually prescribed for diarrhoea and dysentery. It is also used or its sedating and pain-relieving properties as well as the effect it has on the brain.

Cannabis indica is also used for the treatment of diarrhoea.

In case of bleeding, oil and tar are used to help stop it. While traumatic bleeding is stopped by ligation of the blood vessel, cauterisation, facilitate clotting and constricting blood vessels by preparing substances.

Oils are also used in massages as well as consumption, anointing, smearing or application.

Ayurveda In India

In India, the Medical Central Council Act that was passed in 1970 provided ayurvedic practitioners with standard qualifications and also promoted the setting up of accredited medical institutions to study and research the practice.

AYUSH, or the Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha medicine and Homoeopathy, a part of the health ministry set up the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) so that higher education in Ayurveda could be monitored.

The government also set up the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library in 2001 as a solution against biopiracy. The library has information regarding formulations of Ayurveda and various other systems of Indian medicine taken from over 100 traditional ayurvedic texts.

Ayurvedic research and teaching have received immense support of the Indian government through both central and state channels. This helps the institutionalisation of traditional medicine.

Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) is an institution that has been sponsored by the state to conduct ayurvedic research.

Though there are few anti-superstitious organisations that consider Ayurveda a pseudo-science.

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