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About Ayurveda - Traditional Medical Science of Hinduism



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Ayurveda (Sanskrit: ayu—life; veda—knowledge of) or ayurvedic medicine is a form of alternative medicine, first described by Agnivesha in his book Agnivesh tantra, which later revised by the Charaka and presently known as Charaka Samhita. It is believed that he lived some time between 2 BC and 2 AD. One Kashmiri Pandit Shri Dridhabal re-edited and re-constructed the Charaka Samhita in the 9th century. Ayurveda, based upon the Indian philosophical, psychological, conventional and medicinal understandings, is a traditional health care system from centuries.

Sushruta Samhita is written by the Sushruta at an unknown date. Charaka around the beginning of the Common Era, and based on a holistic approach rooted in earlier Vedic culture. Its conspicuous use of the word veda, or knowledge, reveals its role in early Hinduism and describes its hallowed place in India. Ayurveda also had a tradition of surgery in ancient India. Two early texts of Ayurveda are the Charaka Samhita and the Sushruta Samhita.

The notion that Ayurveda is of divine origin is shared by many Ayurvedaic personalities. That the knowledge of medical sciences come from the gods is a common belief in other civilizations as well. Thoth and Apollo were thought to have given medical practices to the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, while in India, it is said that Lord Brahma is the originator of Ayurveda.

Origin of Ayurveda

Several theories exist on the genesis of Ayurveda, the knowledge being passed on from person to person:

According to Charaka Samhita Lord Brahma transferred the Ayurvedic teachings and knowledge to:

  1. Daksha Prajapati, who transferred them to
  2. Ashwani kumar, who in turn transferred them to
  3. Indra, who passed them them on to
  4. Bhardwaj, who transferred them to
  5. Atreya Punarvasu, who next passed them to
  6. Agnivesh, who finally passed them onto
  7. Jatukarna, Bhel, Parashar, Hareeta and Ksharpani.

But according to Sushruta Samhita Lord Bramha transferred the knowledge to:

  1. Daksha Prajapati
  2. Ashwani Kumar
  3. Indra
  4. Dhanvantari
  5. Aupdhenav, Vaitaran, Aurabhra , Pushklavata, Karveerya, Gopur Rakshit and Sushruta.

In another view, accroding to Kashyap Samhita Lord Brahma transferred the knowledge to:

  1. Ashwani Kumar
  2. Indra
  3. Kashyap 
  4. Vashishta,Atri, Bhragu etc and lastly among them Atri transferred the knowledge to his son and his pupils subsequently.

Development of Ayurveda in Ancient India 

Some writers say that Ayurveda is thousands of thousands years old. Acharya Vishwa Nath Dwivedi writes in his book in Bhartiya Ras Shashtra that in early years, when communication language was not written in script, the Guru [teacher] memorises the pupil the Vedas in Gurukul and this tradition was continue upto the years and years till the script did not came in existence. "Atharva Veda" is memorised in this tradition to save the short precepts / sentences.From mouth to mouth these vedas were alive. Earlier scripts were written on Taalpatra, Bhojapatra , but they can not be saved for many years. Then script was written on the stone and copper sheets.In Atharva Veda, Ayurveda verses are written, by which it can be assumed that Ayurveda is as old as the Vedas.In "Rig Veda" some maxim, precepts are written about the direction of keeping good health. If Atharva veda and Rig Vedas are thousands and thousands of years old, the life of Ayurveda should be counted in the same manner. 

But the actual age of the Ayurvedic practice is difficult to establish because it was practiced by the tribes living in the small groups, then the concept came to the wise persons and slowly and gradually it took shape as a mode of treatment and health care system. However any written descriptions are not available. Only correlation and circumstantial evidences is possible to establish the life of Ayurveda.

Some facts are available. Chanakyya alias Vishnu Gupta have written book on Economics and Politics, which is knows as "Kautilya Arthashashtra and Rasayan Vigyan", in 430 BC in the regime of Chandra Gupta Maurya. At that time the knowledge of chemistry was in peak. Dr. Prabhakar Chatterjee writes in Ras Chkitsa that at the time of Buddha, Ayurveda was practiced, and that in this period the Ayurvedic practitioners were commonly using Mercuric-sulphur combination based medicine. In this period Mercury and sulphur and other metals were used in conjunction with herbs to prepare the different medications. An Ayurvedic practicionner Nagarjuna, a follower of the Buddha, is a well known herbologist, famous for inventing various new drugs for the treatment of ailments. Nagarjuna was accompanied by Surananda, Nagbodhi, Yashodhana, Nityanatha, Govinda, Anantdev ,Vagbhatta etc. The knowledge of Ayurveda progressed alot during this period.

The Buddha period (around 520 BC) is said to be golden period for the Ayurveda. In this period "Ras Vidya" (purified mercurio-purified sulphur based medicaments)innovated in the three departments.

After Kalinga win, King Ashoka (304 BC-232 BC) influenced by the Buddhist teachings, banned the bloodshed in his kingdom in 250 BC. Therefore many Ayurveda practitioners, who were practicing surgery along with medicine, left the surgical intervention and adopted totally new medicinal treatments. In this period, Ayurveda flourished with the invention of new drugs, new methodology and new innovations. The practice of the accompanying surgery slowly died out.

During the regime of Chandra gupta Vikramaditya (375-415 AD), Ayurveda was in the main stream of progress, and continued till the invasion of Alexander the Great, the Mughals and Britain. The last 1100 years were the crucial period for the survival of Ayurveda. Because Ayurveda was understood to be the traditional "science of life", it was preerved by the people of India.

Brhat Trayi (The Greater Triad) 

The Charka and Sushruta Samhitas are compendiums of two traditions rather than texts written by single authors. A third tradition is that of the Kashyapas. Some Ayurvedaic plant remedies of also mentioned in the earlier Vedic literature 2nd millennium BC. Both the Sushruta and Charaka Samhitas are the product of several editorial hands, having been revised and supplemented over a period of several hundred years.

The scholar Vagbhata, who lived in Sind at the beginning of the 7th century AD, produced a grand synthesis of earlier Ayurvedaic materials in a verse work called Ashtanga Hridayam. Another work associated with the same author, the Ashtanga Samgraha, contains much the same material in a more diffuse form, written in a mixture of prose and verse. The relationship between these two works, and a third intermediate compilation, is still a topic of active research. The works of Charaka, Sushruta, and Vagbhata are considered canonical and reverentially called the Vriddha Trayi, "The Triad of Ancients"; or Brhat Trayi, "The Greater Triad." In the early 8th century, Madhav wrote his Nidana, a work on etiology, which soon assumed a position of authority. In the 79 chapters of this book, he lists diseases along with their causes, symptoms, and complications.

After Brhat Trayi

At one time, it was believed that those who read and fully understood the contents of Vriddha Trayi and the Brhat Trayi, were good practitioners of Ayurveda. The story of the legendary Ayurvedaic practitioner Vagbhata lived during the time of the epic Mahabharata and was the chief physician of king Yudhisthir. Most believe that the author of the Ashtanga Samgraha was born before 200 AD and is properly known as Vagbhata the 1st. Another man named Vagbhata (who was born about 100 BC) recomposed the , including the writtings of Charak, Sushruta under a new title Astang Hridaya.

Living some time after Vagbhata was another legendary Ayurvedaic physician known as Vangsen. Myths place him in ancient Bengal where he wrote a classic Ayurvedaic book, simply called Vangsen. The book is written in easy and understandable language and adds many new chapters to the previous texts.

After Vangsen, a scholar by the name of Madhavacharya composed the book, Madhav Nidan. He is thought to have been the prime minister for the king of Vijay Nagar (a state which existed in southern India before Independence). Madhav Nidan is widely considered the best Ayurvedaic book for disease diagnosis. (Although it understandably does not contain the description of some modern diseases.)

After Madhav Nidan, the next in line of famous Ayurvedaic books Bhav Prakash was written during the time that the Portuguese first came to India in 1498 by a man named Bhav Mishra of Madras (now known as Chennai). The period in which he wrote can be pinpointed so accurately because in the Bhav Prakash, he described the symptoms of a disease called "Phirang" [ Gonorrhoea and Syphilis],which was introduced to the subcontinent through contact with the Europeans. ("Phirangi" was the word used to describe Europeans in India.) Bhav Mishra's other contribution to Ayurvedaic medicine was the introduction of pulse examination / pulse diagnosis. His reputation as an excellent Ayurvedaic doctor lives on because he began and introduced so many effective methods of controlling and curing diseases.

Many writers after Bhav Mishra contributed to Ayurvedaic literature. Among them Sharangdhar,Chakra Dutta, Vaidya Vinod, Vaidya Vamanotsava, Bhaisajya Ratnawali, and the great Lolimb Raj, who wrote the Vaidya Jeevan in verse form. The first lines of the verses of the Vaidya Jeevan are addressed to the author's "beloved," while the rest of the verse has contains information about curing a disease.

About 200 years ago, Pranacharya Shri Sadanand Sharma wrote the Ras Tarangini, which was the "base book" for modernizing Ayurvedai practices. In this book, advances in chemistry ares included. The book describes the use of many chemical substances as medicine and their successful uses. Upon considering the advice of this book, Ayurvedaic practitioners began to process the traditional herbs in a new manner. Ayurvedaic herbs in sulphate, nitrate, muriate, phosphate and nitromuriate forms. Sarpagandha [Latin: Rauwolfia Serpentina Muriate, Sarpagandha Sulphate, Sarpagandha Phosphate,Sarpagandha Nitrate, Sarpagandha nitromuriate and many others have been prepared and tested on the patient successfully and effectively. Ras Tarangini mentiones "Shankhadrav", which is a medicine used internally and externally in many disease conditions. Shankhadrav-based herbal medicine, invented by an Indian physician is well appreciated by the National Innovation Foundation, Ahamdabad, India.

Teachings of Ayurveda

Ayurveda teaches two main principles:

  • Preservation of health - how to maintain health and what to do to keep the human body healthy and fit to avoid sickeness
  • Methods, medicine, and tactics for management of diseases and ailments to cure and procure a return to normal health.

Ashtang Ayurveda : Eight Sections of Ayurveda

Traditional Ayurveda speaks of eight sections, known as Astanga Ayurveda:

1- Shalya Chikitsa which describes about the Surgery / surgical treatment and Midwifery

2- Shalakya Otology, Rhinology, Dentistry, Oropharyngology and Ophthalmology: which deals the diagnosis and treatment of Eyes, Ear, Nose, Throat,Nape of the neck, cervical problems, Head, teeth, mouth etc.

3- kayachikitsa (internal medicine): which deals diagnosis and treatment, management of the bodily aiolments,

4- Bhuta vidya Psychopathology / Psychology / Microbiology : this section deals in diagnosis, treatment , management of the Psychological, Psycogenic, Somatopsychic and Psychosomatic disorders

5- Kaumaryabhritya deals in (pediatrics, gyneacology & obstetrics.

6- Agad Tantra Toxicology, Medical jurisprudence : in this section, the treatment of the poison and toxines are given

7- Rasayana Tantra:Science of rejuvination this section deals to maintain the longevity, Intellectual behaviour, rejunivate the body, narrates about the maintenance of General Health Conditions

8- Bajeekaran Tantra: Science of Aphrodiciac / Maintenance of Vigour deals to promote the sexual power, strengthen the body, vigour etc.

The basic motive of Ayurveda is to keep the healthy person healthy and to cure the illnesses.

Qualities

It could be said that the simple essence of Ayurveda is knowledge and awareness of the qualities of nature – called gurvadi gunah. By understanding the qualities inherent in the environment, in foodstuffs, in activities, etc., one gains an appreciation of their effects on the individual constitution through the principle of similarities; i.e., that similarities cause increase while dissimilarities cause decrease. Thus hot qualities in the environment or diet will increase hot qualities in the body.

The gurvadi gunah are listed in Vagbhata's Ashtanga Hridayam as:

  1. Guru (heavy) – laghu (light)
  2. Manda (slow) – tikshna (quick, sharp)
  3. Hima (cold) – ushna (hot)
  4. Snigdha (unctuous) – ruksha (dry)
  5. Slakshna (smooth) – khara (rough)
  6. Sandra (solid) – drava (liquid)
  7. Mrdu (soft) – kathina (hard)
  8. Sthira (stable) – cala (mobile)
  9. Sukshma (subtle) – sthula (gross)
  10. Vishada (non-slimy) – picchila (slimy)

Since everything in the material world possesses combinations of the 20 qualities, Ayurveda postulates that every material process or object can either harm or heal a person by influencing that person's unique original constitution (called prakrti). An Ayurvedaic practitioner will assess the qualities of a disorder, the patient's unique prakrti, and his/her influencing factors to arrive at a treatment plan. The treatment plan will consist of using herbs, therapies, diet, etc., with opposite qualities so as to assist the patient in re-establishing their prakrti.

The Five Elements

According to the ancient Sankhya cosmology, on which Ayurveda is based, the "five great elements" (Panchamahabhuta); combine in different proportions to form the material world. Each element possesses different amounts of the above-mentioned gunas; thus each element has its unique qualitative nature. The elements are:

  1. Akasha – aether
  2. Vayu or Pavan – air or wind
  3. Agni or Tejas – fire
  4. Ap or Jala – water)
  5. Prithvi or Bhumi – earth

Some authorities state that the early European concept of five elements evolved as a result of contact with Ayurveda

Maulik Siddhant : Basic Principles

Every medical science has some basic principles on which the structure of the science is built and fabricated. Ayurveda has the Maulik Siddhant ("Basic Principles") according to the findings of the keen observers. These Maulik Siddhants are:

  • Dosha: normal equlibrium = normal health / abnormal: Aetiological factors of diseases, predisposing factor of diseases
  • Dosha Bhed: When not affected by the Doshas : normal physiology / abnormal : pathophysiology of the organs : Physiological basis of diseases
  • Dhatus: abnormal pathology : Pathological basis of diseases
    Malas: Ketabolic products, substances ; helps in diagnosis of diseases
  • Agni: Digestive Hunger : related to metabolism
  • Oaj: estimation of Vitality / equivalent to "vital power" or "life force"
  • Prakrati
  • Deh Bal: Constitution / body built /body strength
    Temperaments
  • Ritu: weather
  • time
  • Area / place of living/ Domecile
  • Nidan Panchak

Doshas: Aetiological factors of Ayurveda

Doshas are known as Tridosha, which is a part of the Maulik Siddhant (Basic Principles) of Ayurveda. Doshas are three mainly, but when combines, total makes Seven. These are known as Dwidoshaj, if combines two and when all three combines, known as Tridoshaj or Sannipataj. The 3 main doshas (sometimes translated into English as humours) are: Vata (combination of the space and air elements), Pitta (analogous to the fire element), and Kapha (combination of water and earth elements). However there is no equivalent word to translate "Dosha" in the English language, because the concept of Humour is different to the concept of 'Ayurvedic Tridosha'.

All bodily processes are believed to be governed by a balance of the 3 doshas. Whichever dosha appears to dominate a person's behavior and physique is called his constitution type. Each constitution type has particular strengths and susceptibilities. 'Tridoshas are considered similar to Aetiological factors responsible to derange normal health condition.

Vata

Vata, composed of space and air, governs all movement in the mind and body and must be kept in good balance. Too much vata leads to, "worries, insomnia, cramps and constipation. Vata controls blood flow, elimination of wastes, breathing and the movement of thoughts across the mind." Vata activates the nervous system, hearing and speech; and expresses as enthusiasm and creativity. Vata also controls the other two principles (Pitta and Kapha) and is usually the first cause of disease. Another word for Vata is Vayu - it is the more traditional Sanskrit word for air.

Those who are classified as Vata tend to have lighter frames, and are either short or tall and thin. Their skin tends to be dry and cold with dark, thin hair. They have dark brown or grey eyes. Movements and speech is quick and sleep is light, interrupted, and fitful. Mentally, they are restless and have lots of ideas. They are creative and imaginative, but are fearful, anxious, and insecure.

Vata doshas' corresponding colors are warm and gentle, such as yellow, ochre, or brown. Amethyst is the stone associated with Vata.

Pitta

Pitta is said to be composed of fire; it governs, "all heat, metabolism and transformation in the mind and body. It controls how we digest food, how we metabolize our sensory perceptions, and how we discriminate between right and wrong." Pitta must be kept in balance, too. "Too much Pitta can lead to anger, criticism, acidity, ulcers, rashes and thinning hair.". A balanced Pitta mind makes one a good leader with a warm personality.

Pitta types are generally average physically. They tend to have fine, soft, red or fair hair (though Pittas have been known to have dark hair.) Eyes tend to be blue, grey, or hazel. Their moods change slowly and they are busy people, usually achieving much in their lives. They are more intellectual and speech is clear, sharp, and precise. They are fiery, angry and judgemental.

The Pitta doshas' corresponding color are cool, calming colors such as blue, green, or purple. Their stone is Moonstone.

Kapha

Kapha is the watery humour, consisting of the water and earth elements. "Kapha cements the elements in the body, providing the material for physical structure. This dosha maintains body resistance....Kapha lubricates the joints; provides moisture to the skin; helps to heal wounds; fills the spaces in the body; gives biological strength, vigor and stability; supports memory retention; gives energy to the heart and lungs and maintains immunity...Kapha is responsible for emotions of attachment, greed and long-standing envy; it is also expressed in tendencies toward calmness, forgiveness and love." Too much Kapha leads to lethargy and weight gain, as well as congestion and allergies.

Kaphas' body types are sturdier and thicker than the other body types. Hair is thick and lustrous and eyes are blue or brown. They have the best strength and endurance and have a slow, steady pace. Mentally they are calm, steady, and stable. They can be greedy and possessive but are caring and not easily irritated.

Kapha governs bright, vibrant colors such as red, pink, and orange. Their corresponding stone is Lapis.

A Primer for a Biochemical Understanding

The purpose of this section is to provide some thinking tools for someone well versed in a model of medicine based on biology, chemistry and physics. It raises a few possibilities on how to shed light on these often opaque or disarmingly simple terminology when presented in English. This section is speculative.

Ayurvedic Methods versus Biochemical Methods of Inquiry

Ayruvedic methodology revolves around the physician's sensual experience of the world. All techniques of knowledge are based on insights gained from touching, seeing, smelling, tasting, and listening, both to patients and the medicines involved.

It's important to understand how to map concepts from Ayurveda that derive from insights from the senses, to the modernism of scientific inquiry, which has benefitted from microscopy and other "extensions" to the senses.

It's misleading to assume that the biomedical model has a superior "resolution" because the technology has provided methods to see much smaller than the eye. Many diagnostic methods, such as the reading of the pulse in Ayurveda, are considered high arts that require perhaps decades to perfect, but could potentially have incalculable value for a practising biomedical physician, should they be able to incorporate it into their practice.

Thus consider that, first, translating these concepts is an ongoing process as Ayurveda and Biomedicine explore each other. Second, translation should not be an attempt to reduce these concepts, but to enrich both sets of knowledge.

An "Element" as a State of Matter

The term element in Chemistry refers to one of the 92 naturally occurring atomic elements, identified by the number of protons, and given properties according to the combined electromagnetic properties of the full and empty electron orbitals.

Elements have a different meaning in Ayurveda, because of the nature of the methods of inquiry.

One possible way to "translate" the five elements into a western conception is see them as the "states of matter" of substances that exist in the body at body temperature: solid, liquid, gas, redox reactions (fire) and charged particles (the electromagnetic aspect of matter). Matter in different states of density, and with different physical properties.

The element vayu, or air for example is not so much about the properties of a specific elemental gas, but of gases which behave more or less like ideal gases at body temperature, and that occur naturally as various compounds in the body.

The physical properties of gases may be at the core of the understanding of the "element" of "air". Gases can dissolve in fluids, can in gaseous and in dissolved form exert pressure on the body. We cannot also neglect to consider specific chemical properties of commonly found biological gases, water vapor, oxygen molecules, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, methane, hydrogen sulphide. Nor the chemical reactions in the body that evolve and consume gases.

An "Element" may therefore be more richly understood as a collection of basic physical laws that govern the behaviour of common biological substances occurring both in living beings and their environment that share a common physical state

Tejas as Oxidation-Reduction

The Element Tejas, may refer collectively to different forms of oxidation-reduction reactions. It's quality of being an "element" may refer more to the ubiquity of such reactions, and the associated the laws of thermodynamics.

Tejas may include such concepts as Heat, Internal Energy, Enthalply, Entropy, Radiant forms of energy

Indeed pitta understood as "biological fire" can encompass so many chemical reactions by virtue of the fact that all burning or oxydation-reduction reactions in the body occur in solution, thus, the "fire" and "water" "elements" of pitta.

The thought of "fire" as an entity or element to be perceived, suggests heat, radiant energy, and temperature changes, and suggests a medical line of inquiry of managing the body's thermodynamics.

Towards a western understanding of "Dosha"

By the time we get to the concept of a dosha, which cobmines elements, we end up with a very complex biochemcial, biophysical idea that does not easily translate into a specific fluid that flows in the body.

Since a Dosha is often translated as a "problem", it's worthwhile to examine diseases caused by excesses of these doshas to get a better understanding of what exactly is meant biologically by a dosha and their corresponding "elements"; which biochmical pathways are involved, which systems in the body ? which organs, tissues, cells and organelles ? what about intercellualr fluids?

Kapha: an example of trying to understand a Dosha Biochemically

If we take as a starting point, the densest matters, "earth" and "water" combining to create kapha, we must ask ourselves? what in the body and in circulation in the body has the qualities of solids, liquids, is sweet, slimy, dark, consistent? what are "kapha" type diseases? (obesity, poor circulation, respiratory problems, and many more). perhaps then the concept "kapha" actually maps out to a variety of biosynthetic and circualtory pathways of a variety of biological compounds involving production of mucus, animal starches, fats, and the circulation of these substances in the body seen as a whole, via the blood, lymph, and intercellular fluids.

Since Kapha is considered "sweet" naturally we turn to sugars. following the pathways of sugars in the body, and where these compounds end up and are transformed, we start to get a "fluid" picture that is much more far reaching and profoundly useful than just "phlegm".

Tridosha existence in Human body

According to Ayurved, the site of the existence of Tridosha is established by the keen observers.Charaka, Sushruta and others have finalised the locations in human body, where tridosha are mainly existed.Bhav Praksha clearly locates the part of human body where Tridoshas are presents.

  • Vata: existed below the naval and lower part of body. {Draw Horizontal line from naval to round back to naval}
  • Pitta existed in between the naval line and epigastrium line {Draw horizontal line from xephoid process of sternum -epigastrium- to round back to epigastrium}
  • Kaphha existed in upper part of the body above from the epigastrium line, includes thoracic cavity upper limbs and head.

Although the main site of Tridosha's are as described above, but they help eachother in their respective functions to make equality and harmony in the functions of body smoothly. Thus plays a comprehensive role for the comprehensive diagnosis and for the comprehensive treatment of human body.

Tridosha Bhed : The Physiological Basis Of Diseases According To Ayurveda

Ayurved have its own philosophy for concieving Physiological basis of diseases as of concieved by the Modern Western Medicine. Thousands years before, the practitioners of the Ayurveda, observed the Physiological phenomenon of the body and pathophysiology.

These are grouped according to the Doshas.

  • Vata have five bhed 1.Pran 2.Apan 3.Saman 4.Udan 5.Vyan
  • Pitta' have five kinds 1. Sadhak 2. Bhrajak 3.Pachak 4.Lochak 5. Ranjak
  • Kaphha have five Bhed {kinds} 1. Snehan 2. Avalamban 3. Rasan 4. Shleshman 5. Kledan
Short details of vata five kinds
  1. Pran vata: the vayu existed in Oral Cavity, in head, in throat, in Ear, in tongue, in chest and in heart. It help in Deglutition of food and water, act of swallowing, acts of sneezing, spitting, eructations, acts of respiration etc. this vayu-bhed helps to place properly the Vital elements like Pitta and Kaphha, Satva, Raj, Tam and Maan, panch gyanendriya in their own work and functions. When this vayu-bhed deranged, causes repiratory disorders, pulmonary problems, bronchitis, Asthama, Coryza, Hoarseness, Hiccough, Tuberculosis and Lungs disorders etc.
  2. Apan vata: is existed Sigmoid Colon and Rectum [Paquaashaya], Testicles, Scrotum, Urinary Bladder, Male and Female Genital Parts, Navel, Loins and Groins. The Function of this Vayu-Bhed is the excretion of the Stool, Urine, Semen, Menstrual discharges, expulsion of full term baby at proper time. When this bhed becomes abnormal, it causes Urinary Stones, Frequent Urination, Polyuria, difficult, painful, obstructive, burning urination, Urinary bladder problems, Heamorrhoids, prolapsus of Rectum , Fistula, constriction of Anus, anomalies of Semen, Semen related problems, Obstruction of Flatus etc.
  3. Saman vata: is existed near at 'Pachak Agni' [Digestive fire], in Stomach and duodenum. Its function is to help to digest food, to maintain the vitality of digestive power and help to isolate the "Ras Dhatu", Stool, Urine. It helps to regulate the process of sweating, dosha excretion and water expulsion process. When this Vata-bhed becomes abnormal, creates the loss of Appetite, diminished hunger, indigestion, loose stool, tympenitis, etc. It helps to assimilate the food and food contents and finally help to supply the assimilated matter to blood stream and Heart.
  4. Vyan vata: is existed in whole body. Sapta Dhaut (All Seven Vital Elements) are carried and transferred to the Vital Part of the human body , by holding its own natural action. Acts of contraction, relaxion, spasmodic effects, colic, pain, neuralgia, aches, inflammation, rigidity, paralysis etc. are produced by the Vyan Vayu, when it deranged. It causes also Fever, diarrhoea, heamorrhagic conditions, in any part of the body.
  5. Udan vata: is existed at Navel, Thoracic Cavity, Chest, Throat and Throat pit. The functions are act of speech, act of talking, act of singing, enthusiasm, mental strength and capacity support, helps to make body strong, brightens color and texture of skin. When it deranges, produces diseases of eyes, mouth, nose, ear, larynx, pharynx, head, vertex complaints each.
Pitta-bhed
  1. Sadhak pitta is situated at Cardiac region. It supports and develops individual intelligence, intellectual capacity, natural qualities of human, perception, conception, experience, concentration, mental capacity, memory, behavour etc. When is deranges, crates Fear, Anxiety, Anger, Uncontrolled Emotions, Maniacal problems, forgetfulness etc.
  2. Pachak oitta is situated in between Pakashay [Pancreas] and Amashay [Stomach]. It supports to nourish all Seven Dhatus step by step in their established increasing order. Its work is to digest the food, whatever is eaten and churn and converts food in small particals. It maintains the human body temperature and warmth of body etc. When it deranges, creats sensation of Chilliness, coldness and Dhatu Kshaya etc.
  3. Ranjak pitta is situated in Liver and Spleen. Its function is to provide good quality of digestive and assimilative power.
    Bharajak pitta is situated in the Skin. All Skin problems are covered by its action. However its area of functions are in the whole body.
  4. Lochak pitta is situated in the Eyes and Eye cavity. All Ophthalmic problems are covered by this Dosha bhed. Problems related to Vision, Ophthalmopathy and the organs near the eyes etc.
Kaphha bhed
  1. Kledan kaphha is situated in the stomach. It provides support to lubricate the joints, head, nourishing the Vital parts.
    Snehan kaphha is situated in the head. It nourishes the brain. It supports the Vital functions of senses, of nose, eyes, tongue, taste etc. It helps to increase the performance of the intellectual behaviour of the brain like knowledge, excuse, intelligence, memory etc.
  2. Shleshman kaphha is situated in between two joints or layers. It provides lubrication in joints to save the vital parts from friction by forming layer in between the smaller and bigger joints.
    Rasan kaphha is situated in tongue, taste buds, salivary glands, oral and mouth cavity, taste of food is perceived.
  3. Avalamban kaphha is situated in the Chest, Thoracic cavity, Problems of Lungs, pulmonary disorders, Heart, Nape of Neck, Thyroid, Thymus, Pituitary Glands, Neck, Cercvico-thoracic region, upper extremeties both etc. Problem in these parts are covered by this Kaphha bhed.

Sapta Dhatu: The Pathological Basis Of Diseases According To Ayurveda

Ayurved perceives its own phenomenon to conceive the Pathological Basis of disease conditions. These DHATUS are divided into seven parts, which are again divided according to tridosha dominant factors.

The Sapta Dhatus [Seven Vital elements] are considered to be :

  1. Ras
  2. Rakta
  3. Maans
  4. Med
  5. Asthi
  6. Majja
  7. Shukra

Short description on these elements

1- Ras Dhatu

No desire for food, perverted taste. Diminished hunger, unable to feel the real taste of the food, insufficient saliva, nausea, loss of Appetite, heaviness feeling in body. After meal, after physical exertion, sleepiness in day time, bodyache, feels aching like pain in wholebody, sensation as if having temeparature, fever like sensation, feels as if entering in a dark place, Jaundice like syndromes, assimilative disorders, sexual weakness, impotency like symptoms, weak and lethargy feeling, weight loss with sick feeling, emaciation, white hairs, skin shrinkage, old look in young age.

Modern Ayurved experts understand that Ras [Fluid] Dhatu : Derived from the digested food and it nourishes each and every tissue and cell of the body and is analogous to the plasma.

2- Rakta Dhatu: 

Skin diseases, Dermatitis, Erythema, Lichen, Ringworm, Urticaria, Allergic reactions, Spleenomegaly, Stomatitis, Boils, Dandruff, seborrhoic capatis, eczema, moles, inflammation of rectum, anus, of glans penis, bloody leucorrheal discharge, swelling, Skin discharges, Leucoderma, Leprosy, black patches and spots, scabies, Ichthyosis, Psoriasis. All Anomalies of Blood, etc.

Modern Ayurvedic experts understand that RAKTA [blood] DHATU regarded as the basis of life, analogous to the circulating blood cells. It not only nourishes the body tissues, but provides physical strength and color to the body. Hb% TLC, DLC, ESR, infections, blood sepsis, problems related to blood serum is covered by this Dhatu.

3- Maans Dhatu 

Glands, Buboes, Abscess gland, tumours, cysts, ulcers, cancerous glands and cancerous ulcers, warty growth, corn, warts, lymphadenopathy, tonsillitis, hard flesy, extra fleshy growth, hardness of muscles, fibrositis, myositis, tendinitis, rigidity, shortness of muscles, tendons and ligaments. Anomlies of Flesh and muscular system etc.

Modern Ayurvedic experts understand that MAANS [the muscle tissues]: its function is to provide physical strength and support for the MEDA DHATU.

4- Meda Dhatu

Deposition of extra fat, obesity, accumulation of Fat, early syndromes of Polyuria, Glycosuria, growth of glands, fat due to hyperglyceamia, excessive sweating, etc.

Modern experts understand, MEDA DHATU ; consiste of adipose tissue providing support to Asthi Dhatu. It also lubricates the body.

5- Asthi Dhatu 

Extra Bony growth, extra formation of Teeth, tooth problems, caries of tooth, caries of Bone, Osteoporosis, Ostitis, Calcium Metabolism, weak bones, calcium deposits in joints, anomalies of calcium, formation of Renal Calculus, Gall Bladder calculus, problem related to skeletal system etc.

Modern Ayurvedic experts thinks that ASTHI DHATU : comprisinf of bone tissue, including cartilages. It s main function is to give support to the MAJJA DHATU and provide support to MAANS Dhatu, Serum Calcium etc.

6- Majja Dhatu

Pain in joints, fear, unconsciousness, collapse, seeing dark in day light, problems of bone marrow and reticulo-endothelial system, extra hard root like formation in joints, anomalies of Bone marrow and reticuloendothelial system etc.

Modern Ayurvedic experts thinks MAJJA DHATU : denoting the yellow and red bone marrow tissue, its main function is to fill up the Asthi and to oleate the body.

7- Shukra Dhatu

Anomalies of Semen, semen contents, semen quality, impotency, incomplete erection, impotency due to insufficient quantity of semen, desire for coition but fails, infertility, miscarriage, irregular menstrual cycles, painful menstruation, other menstrual problems, Pelvic Inflammatory diseases. Problem related to male and female reproductive systems, genito urinary male and female disorders etc.

Tridosha effect on the Sapta Dhatus

Sapta Dhatus are affected by the Tridosha. For example, when Rakta Dhatu is affected by the 'Pitta Dosha', the condition is known as 'Rakta-Pitta'. 'Rakta-pitta' presents syndromes equal to Haematomasis, Haemophillia, purpura conditions. When Rakta is affected by the Vata Dosha, the condition is known as Rakta-Vata, the syndromes are equal to Gout and Uric Acid diathesis. When Kaphha affects the Rakta-Dhatu, the condition isBloody Dysentery, Bloody Mucous Colitis etc.

Malas : The Ketabolic Products

Ayurvedic Malas are three in number, and aid in in diagnosis i.e:

  1. 'Pureesh' [Stool]
  2. 'Mootra' [Urine
  3. 'Swed' [Sweat]

Agni : Digestive Fire

Concept of Ayurveda-Agni is very important in Ayurveda. It is instructed by the practitioners of the Ayurved that Agni [digestive fire]should be maintained of sick persons.

Oaj : Vital power / Vital Force

Sushrut writes about Oaj that the last remaining conclusive material of the Sapta Dhatu, is known Oaj. In other words Oaj is known as 'Bal' [Bodily strength]. Some says that Oaj is equivalent to 'Vital force'. When Oaj is less than the normal limit, as a consiquence it creates Unknown Fear, Constant Anxiety, Anxiety Neurosis, Worries, trouble to senses and sensory organs, weakness of the joints, low enthusiasm, Low Vital Power, Weak vigour etc. When Oaj is high than the normal limit, it creates more allertiveness, aroused senses, hurryness etc.

Panchakarma

This is a high profile process of cleaning internally the entire human body, described in Ayurvedic Science. Panchakarma is a purification and cleaning process of human body. It counts five steps to complete the process.

  • Vaman
  • Virechan
  • Anuvasan
  • Niruhan
  • Navan/Nasya

The process is still practiced today. Many Panchakarma centers are opened in the big and small cities over all in India, where specially qualified Ayurvedic physician provides the panchakarma treatment. In South India, there is still big Ayurvedic Centers exists, in Madhya Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh etc. Among them Kerala is ahead in Panchakarma Therapy with world class facilities.

Herbs and Minerals in Ayurvedaic Medicine

Ayurveda believes that every material i.e. vegetable, animal, metals, minerals of this world has at least some medicinal property / properties, which have inert power to cure or helps to maintain health. Below mentioned some of the medicine belongs to vegetable, animal, mineral and metal kingdoms. These materials have the medicinal property, which are time tested and are using since centuries.

Commonly used herbs and minerals
Botanical (Latin) Name Common (English) Name Sanskrit Name Therapeutic Use (According to Ayurveda)
Acacia concinna Acacia Shikakai useful in billious affections, Jaundice, malarial fever, prevtive to Flatulence, mild Laxative
Acacia nilotica Indian Gum Arabic Tree Babool demulcent, astringent, gonorrhoea, Leucorrhoea, styptic, diarrhoea, dysentry, Diabetes,
Acorus calamus Sweet Flag Vacha Bitter Tonic, ague, habitual constipation, atonic dyspepsia, flatulence, paralytic nervous affections, colic, epilepsy, dropsy, glandular diseases, rheumatoc swellings, useful for children's ailments teething etc.
Adhatoda vasica Malabar Nut Vasaka For comfort from bronchitis, whooping cough & bronchial asthma. To support lung functions. Has immune system-boosting properties.
Aegle marmelos Bael Tree Bael For intestinal problems such as amoebic dysentery & diarrhea. Is digestive, anthelmintic, & anti-inflammatory, useful in Irritable Bowel syndromes and Inflammatory condition of Bowels
Allium sativum Garlic Lasuna To control excess conversion of lipids & cholesterol
Aloe vera Indian Aloe Kumari useful in Ophthalmic disorders, mild laxative, tonic, increases semen quality, cure Vata Dosha, poisonous effects, Hepatospleenomegaly, spleen and liver disorders, cystic formation, Hydrocele, Kaphha Fever, Glands, Anomalies of Blood, anomalies of Skin
Andrographis paniculata The Creat Yavatika used in Malaria Fever, Enlargement of Liver, Chronic and Obstinate Fever, Dropsy, Edema, removes Constipation, Appetiser, useful in infants disorders diarrhoa, colic, vomitting etc.
Anethum sowa Indian Dill Satahva useful in improoving hunger, good appetiser, anti-febric, vermifugal, digestive, abdominal colic, intestinal colic, Ophthalmic disorders, pelvic inflammatory disease conditions, analgesic, body pain
Asparagus racemosus Asparagus Shatavari To nourish the female reproductive system, promote lactation
Azadirachta indica Neem Neem for skin disorders. Has blood purifying & immune-boosting properties. is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal.
Balsamodendron mukul Indian Bdellium Tree Guggulu anti-spasmodic, emmenagogue, stimulent, tonic, alterative demulcent, useful in Rheumatism, nervous diseases, glands and scrofulous diseases, blood purifier, useful in chronic wounds which not heals easily
Benincasa hispada White Pumpkin Kushmanda as a food nourished body, vigour, purifies blood, appetiser, easy to digest, removes constipation, normalise bowel movements / as a remedy useful in Mental disorders, Epilepsy, Mania, Psychological disorders and helps to cure all mental diseases and their conditions
Betula utilis Himalayan Birch Bhurjapatra useful in Ear disorders, Bile disorders, anomalies of Blood, Psychological dosorders, Anti-obesity, Anti-poisonous,
Capsicum annuum Red Pepper Katuvira aroused Digestive fire, removes Kaphha Dosha, produce burning sensation, removes indigestion, Anti-Cholera, helps to heal obstinate wounds, removes hoarseness, sleepiness and perversion of taste, useful in loss of senses and weak pulse condition,
Cassia fistula Golden Shower Tree Aragvadha FRUIT-BODY:Mild laxative, Anti-fever, useful in Cardiac or Heart problems, Rakta Pitta, Hematemesis, Hemorrhages, Arthritis, Vatavyadhi, Colic, Eructations, Acidity and acidic eructations, ROOTS: Very strong purgative, should not be used alone
Cedrus deodara Deodar Cedar Devadaru BARK and STEM is used: creats sweating, creates urination, Anti-vata, eliminates Skin disorders, Anti-febril, Anti-edema, Arthritis, Joints pain, Joints swelling, Antitussive, Vermifugal, anomaly of Blood, anomaly of urine etc.
Cinnamomum camphora Camphor Karpoora useful in kaphha, thirst, obesity, burning sensations, throat problems, intestinal worms, mouth freshner, analgesics, antitusive, antipyeratic, excessive sweats, beneficial effects when taken in small quantity [50mg]in Low blood pressure and asthama,
Citrus grandis Pomelo Mahanimbu Vata-kaphha nashak, mild laxative, digestive, appetiser, loss of appetite, abdominal colic, worms, vomitting, nausea
Citrus limon Lemon Nimbaka use as food, increased taste, increased hunger, digestive, help to pass abdominal wind, flatus
Citrus medica Citron Bijapura useful in heart disorders, abdominal colic, Gulm, vomitting, nausea, indigestion, heamorrhoids
Cucumis sativus Cucumber Trapusha Diuretic, useful in heamatamesis, heamorrhages, bleeding, cold in nature, as a food to renal stone patient
Cuminum cyminum Cumin Shvetajiraka SEEDS: smell increasing the taste of food, increased taste, appetiser, Cholegague, useful in abdominal colic, flatulence, wind formation, offensive flatus, vermifugal, dysentry, diarrhoea, Gulma, indigestion, inflammatory condtion of bowels, renal calculus, gonorrhoea, obstruction of urine, nausea, vomitting etc.
Daucus carota Carrot Garjira SEEDS: useful in flatulence, renal disorders, pathophysiology of small and large intestines, salpingitis, Impotency, Female genital disorders, ROOT: vermifugal, spleenomegaly, physical weakness, cholecystitis, problem before delivery, cardiac problems, piles, colic burning sensation, asthama, hiccough, mouth freshner, EXTERNAL: Burns, abscess
Eclipta alba Thistles Bhringaraja JUICE:useful to teeth, skin and hairs, indicated for the treatment of Kaphha-vata disorders, cough, bronchitis, wroms, asthama, skin diseases, oedema, mucous disorders, anemia, digestive, support and nourished body, choleggue, hepatomegaly, liver disorders, loss of appetite, vertigo, hepatospleenomegaly, piles, indigestion, headache, weak vision, EXTERNAL; Burns, skin diseases, leucoderma, hair falling, alopecia
Mimosa pudica Sensitive plant Lajjalu for gynaecological disorders, skin disorders, bleeding piles, amoebic dysentry, diarrhea.
hippophae rhamnoides Seabuckthorn Seabuckthorn BHASAM [Ashes]: used in respiratory disorders, hiccough, asthama, cough, cardiac pain, glandular swellings, rheumatism, arthritis, tuberculosis, pulmonary disorders, joints pain, increases sexual desire in male and female both, Impotency EXTERNAL: paste is applied in Pleuritis, Pneumonia, backache, painful inflammatory condition with swelling
Alum INTERNAL:Bloody dysentery, Dysentery, worms, Remmitent and intermittent fever, anti-tussive, EXTERNAL: Piles, wound, traumatic wounds and conditions, stings, itching, eczema, conjunctivitis, leucorrhoea, otorrhoea, gonorrhoea, gargles in pharyngitis, tonsillitis, throat problems
Conch Shell Shankha BHASAM [Ashes]: Loss of appetite, indigestion, peptic ulcers, dueodenal ulcers, hyperacidity, bronchitis, hepatospleenomegaly, Gulm, Asthama, cough, respiratory disorders
Sodium carbonate Svarjikshara INTERNAL:useful in constipation, Diuretic, Gulmanashak, Colic, pain abdominal, wroms intestinal, flatulence, eructations, abdominal winds, tympenitis, Irritable bowel syndromes EXTERNAL:promotes suppuration of boils, burns, pimples, leucoderma, white patches of skin
Sodium Bicarbonate Tankana First purify according of Ayurveda directions: Increased digestive fire, Kaphha nashak, antitoxic, cough, bronchitis, asthama, pulmonary resoiratory disorders, antipyeritic, Gulm nashak, colic, bodyache, sensation of chilliness etc. spleenomegaly hyperacidity, diminished hunger, stomatitis EXTERNAL:eczema, ringworm, itching of skin, mouth pain in aphthea, vaginal itching, leucorrhoea, hydrocele, mammary gland inflammation, toothache, black spot on face etc.
Cowrie Shell Varatika BHASAM [Ash]: used in colic of all nature, Mucous colitis, Dysentary, Hyperacidity, weak assimilation, diarrhoea, gastritis, gas formation, flatulence, excessive thirst, tympenitis, rumbling in abdomen, loss of appetite, Irritable bowel syndromes, improves digestive power, Asthama, Bronchitis, Otorrhoea, Dry cough, Tuberculosis, exhaustive disease conditions, aphthea, stomatitis etc.
Natural Zinc Yashad Bhasma BHASAM [Ash]: used in Ophthalmic disorders, Night Blindness, Kaphha-pitta disorders, Jaundice, Liver disorders, hepatitis, Anomalies of Urine, Diebetes, Asthama, Cysts, Glands, Diarhoea, Mucous Colitis, Dhatu Kshaya, Tuberculosis, Bacillary Dysentry, Gonorrhoea, Impotency, Improves digestion, beneficial in Vomitting and nausea
Botanical (Latin) Name Common (English) Name Sanskrit Name Therapeutic Use (According to Ayurveda)

Ayurvedic Medicaments

Apart from the herbs Ayurvedic medicaments are used in single or in combination of the few or many herbs with minerals or animal or metal origin.The metals, animals and minerals are first purified by the specific process of purification of these materials and after that they are used for medicinal purposes. Impurified materials are not allowed to use as medicine.

The forms of Ayurvedic medicaments are in:

  • crud powder of herbs, used as decoction or tea for internal and external uses, known as Quath : Decoction : herbal tea
  • fine powder, used as medicine with water or in food for internal and external uses. known as Churna / Powder
  • Herbs cooked in eatable oil according to rule laid down for internal and external uses, known as Herbal Oil / Tail
  • Herbs cooked in Ghrat : Butter, knows as Ghrit / Ghrat for use in treatment
  • Herbs uses to prepare Asav / Arista / Sura [a kind of light wine obtained after fermentation]
  • Herbs used for distillation,known as Arka
  • Herbs used with the metals, minerals and animal kingdom ingredients, known as Rasausadhi / Kharliya Rasayan. As a medicine- metals, minerals,animal kingdom and certain herbs should be purified according to the strict rules laid down by the Ayurveda. Impure materials are strictly prohibited for the medicinal uses in Ayurved.
  • Bhasma /Ashes should be prepared according to the strict rule laid down by the Ayurveda.The quality for testing these prepared medicine should be according to the rule laid down by the Ayurveda. Crud substances are not allowed strictly and is discarded to use as medicine.
  • Parpaty prepared with the combination of Metals , Minerals, Animal Kingdom and Herbs
  • Kshar / Lavan / Salt / Drava: these are specially prepared medicaments
  • Guggula based medicaments
  • Lauha Bhasam, Mandoor Bhasam based medicaments
  • Avaleha / Modak / Paak / Prash : Herbs cooked in Jaggery or Sugar
  • Bati / Gutika / Goli : Pills, pilules, Tablets mixture of medicines are shaped in pills for ease of administration
  • Pralep / Anjan / Varti / Dhoop for external uses as liniments, drops,paint, paste etc.

Suggested Further Reading

 

 

Adapted from the Wikipedia article "Ayurveda", under the G.N U Free Docmentation License. Please also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki

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