"AYURVEDA" is made up of two words-Ayuh and Veda. Ayuh means life and Veda means knowledge or science. Thus "AYURVEDA' in totality means 'Science of life'. It incorporates all aspects of life whether physical, psychological, spiritual or social. What is beneficial and what is harmful to life, what is happy life and what is sorrowful life; all these four questions and life span allied issues are elaborately and emphatically discussed in Ayurveda. It believes the existence of soul before birth and after death too.
Ayurveda, the ancient most health care system originated with the origin of universe. With the inception of human life on earth Ayurveda started being applied. The antique vedic texts have scattered references of Ayurvedic Remedies and allied aspects of medicine and health. Atharva-veda mainly deals with extensive Ayurvedic information. That is why Ayurveda is said to be the off shoot of Atharva Veda.
Universe as well as human body are made up of five basic elements colectively called ‘Panch Mahabhootas'. These are Aakash (Ether), Vayu (Air), Agni(Fire), Aapa (Water) and Prithvi (Earth). The sixth mandatory component of life is Atma (life spirit) without which life ceases. The human body is made up of Doshas (Bio-humours), Dhatus(Body matrix) and Malas (excretable products). Vata, Pitta and kapha, known as Tridoshs are physiological entities of the body which are responsible for carrying out all the functions of the body. Dhatus are the structural entities of thebody. These are Rasa (Plasma), Rakta (Blood cells), Mamsa (Muscular tissue), Meda (Fatty tissue), Asthi (Bony tissue), Majja (Bone marrow) and Shukra (Hormonal and other secretions of genital).
Agni (Metabolic fire) is in thirteen different forms and carries out the whole metabolism of the body. The waste products of the body which are excretable are produced in the body as bye-products of metabolism. These are known as malas which include pureesh (faeces), Sweda (sweat) and Mutra (urine). All biotransformations within the body occur through Srotases (body channels) which are the sites for action of agni.
As per Ayurveda, ‘Health' is a state of equilibrium of normal functions of doshas, Dhatus, malas and Agni with delighted body, mind and soul. It means that when Dosh-Dhatu-Malas and Agni are constantly in a state of functional equilibrium, then the health is maintained. Otherwise distortion of the equilibrium results into diseases. Erratic lifestyle is believed to be one of the basic causes behind the failure of mechanism of maintaining equilibrium.
Treatment either with or without drugs and application of specific rules of diet, activity and mental status as described, disease wise, brings back the state of equilibrium i.e. health.
There exists eight divisions of Ayurvedic therapeutics, namely Kayachikitsa (Internal medicine), Shalya (Surgery), Shalkya (Otorhinolaryngology and Opthalmology), Kaumr Bhritya (Paediatrics, Gynaecology and Obstetrics) Agad tantra (Toxicology), Rasayana (Gerentorology), Vajikaran (Aphrodisiacs) and Bhoot Vidya (Psychiatry).
The principles of treatment are Shodhan (purificatory), Shaman (palliative and conservative), Nidan parivarjan (avoidance of causative and prescipitating factors of disease) and Pathya Vyavastha (do's and don'ts regarding diets lifestyle). Shodhan therapy includes Vamana (medically induced emesis), Virechana (medically induced laxation), Vasti (medicated enema), shirovirechana (administration of medicines through nose) and Raktmokshan (Blood letting). These therapeutic procedures are collectively known as Panchkarma. Before executing Panch karma treatment Snehan (olation) and Swedan (getting perspiration) are to employed first.
About 20 years back, W.H.O. adopted Traditional Medicine programme in conjunction with the goal of healt h for all with the adoption of primary health care approach. W.H.O. has an open mind on Traditional Medicine. However, it endorses only that therapy which has solid scientific evidence with no toxicity. In view of this Ayurveda is duly recognised by W.H.O.
The classical texts describe three types of diets- saatvik, rajasik and tamasik, the saatvik diet consists of leafy vegetable, fresh fruits, milk, curd, butter, honey and so on. The rajasik diet consists of hot and pungent foods meat, beans and so on. This is suitable only for those who engage in heavy physical work. A tamasik diet includes fermented and highly spiced foods, curd, wines and so on and is considered harmful to health.
According to Ayurveda, a saatvik diet, moderate physical exercise and regular practice of yoga help one to maintain good health.
In Ayurveda, beauty is not just about carefully applied makeup or well manicured nails. Though there are various herbs to improve the texture of the skin and hair, beauty, according to Ayurveda, is the result of a radiant inner self. The radiance is caused by a healthy Ojas , the subtle quality of vigour or vitality. Which is the superfine essence of the seven dhatus.
Traditional societies did not need a specialized approach for prevention of diseases. As such, the concept of pathogenesis in Ayurveda is basically different from theat of modern medical science. Ayurveda defines health as the state in which the dhatus are in equilibrium if this is disturbed disease is caused. Therefore the prevention of vitiation of the doshas (humors) is the first step in prevention of diseases, whether agantu( exogenous), nija ( endogenous) or manasa( mental) in nature.
Toxins (amam) that accumulate in the human body take a long time to manifest as some disease, in the meantime, our body and mind get somewhat habituated to them. Removal of these at one go. Like the surgical removal of a tumour, is practically impossible besides, it would also go against the wisdom of the body according to which the immune system works. This is why a comparatively lengthy purvakarma – pradhanakarma – paschatkarma mode of therapy has been designed for the elimination of disease causing factors.