Ayurveda is a Traditional System of Medicine (TSM), recognised as such by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It originated in India around 5,000 years ago and is often referred to as the “mother of all healing sciences.” Ayurveda is much more than herbal capsules, diet books, Yoga and luxurious massages.
The primary goal of Ayurveda is to help people live long, healthy, and balanced lives without the need for prescription drugs, complicated surgeries or suffering painful conditions. Today, Ayurveda is widely practiced in India and Sri Lanka as a government-recognized and statutorily regulated medical system. In fact, more than 90 percent of the South Asian continent’s population use some form of Ayurvedic therapy and even in medical circles, Ayurveda is widely recognized as a complementary system of medicine and has reached the threshold of entering into the realm of evidence-based science. In North America and several European countries, such as Italy, the UK, and Germany, doctors can now study Ayurvedic medicine within the framework of postgraduate medical education recognized by medical councils and universities. Ayurveda is firmly embedded in Indian philosophy and its theory of evolution, according to which the universe is composed of five basic elements. These are ether, air, fire, water and earth, which combine and manifest in living beings as so-called Doshas. According to Ayurvedic principles, good health is achieved when your mind, body, and spirit are in harmony with the external universe. A disruption of this harmony or balance can lead to poor health and sickness. Ayurveda places great emphasis on prevention of diseases and promotion of health through dietary regimen, lifestyle regulations, detoxification of body, and the use of natural products.
The aims and objectives of Ayurveda have been divided into two gross aspects namely:
- Swasthasya Swathya Rakshanam (Preserve the health of healthy people).
- Aturasya Vikar Prashamanam (Cure the diseases of ill people).
Ayurveda teaches that health is maintained by the balance of three subtle bioenergies or Doshas known as Vata (nerve energy), Pitta (catabolic fire energy) and Kapha (anabolic nutritive energy). Disease is simply understood as imbalance between these three bio-energies. Knowledge of Ayurveda enables one to understand how to create this balance of body, mind and consciousness according to one’s own individual constitution and what changes are to be done in our lifestyles to maintain this balance.
Ayurveda does not heal the symptoms superficially, but instead it evaluates the complete body and mind of the individual, and aims to prevent disease and promote health.
Definition of Health in Ayurveda:
In Ayurveda Health is defined as
The condition when the bio-energies (vata, pitta and kapha) are in equilibrium, the digestive fire (agni) is in a balanced condition; the seven bodily tissues (rasa, rakta, mamsa, meda, asthi, majja and shukra) are functioning normally, the three waste products (urine, feces and sweat) are produced and eliminated normally and the mind, senses and consciousness are in state of happiness.
Ayurveda treatments consist of four basic forms:
- Panchkarma (the five detoxification procedure)
- medicine or drug therapy,
- dietary regime and
- the regulation in lifestyle
These are designed to return three bioenergies to the harmonious State. All foods, herbal medicines, special purification and rejuvenation procedures, exercise therapy, meditation and life styles have an effect on over all balance of these three bioenergies or Doshas.
In order to keep the Doshas in a state of healthy equlibrium and Agni – digestion & metabolism; in proper order Ayurveda prescribes preventive methods for each individual such as Dincharya (daily routine), Ritucharya (seasonal corrections), Sadachara (appropriate behaviour), Rasayana (rejuvenation) and Vajikarana (virlification).
According to ayurveda, success in treatment of disease depends on the reliability of four factors Vaidya (doctor), Aushadhi (medicine), Paricharak (nurse) and Rogi (patient).
There are eight branches in Ayurveda:
- Kayacikitsa (Internal medicine)
- Koumara Bhrutya (Paediatrics)
- Bhootavidya (Psychiatry)
- Agadatantra (Toxicology)
- Shalya Tantra (Surgery)
- Shalakya Tantra (Eye & ENT)
- Rasayana (Geriatrics)
- Vajeekarana (Virilation Therapy)
Kayacikitsa (Internal medicine)
The branch of Ayurveda which deals with internal medicine and treatment through various means like Mantra, Mani and Aushadhi. The Ayurvedic therapeutics are not limited to dravya chikitsa only i.e treatment with medicines but also in the form of bhava chikitsa i.e treatment without medicines in the form of Thoughts.
This branch of Ayurveda deals with diseases acquired or inherited from apparently unknown causes. In modern terminology it can be considered as idiopathic diseases in which the exact cause of disease is unknown.
According to Ayurveda these diseases are caused by affliction due to Deva, Asura, Gandharva, Yaksha, Rakshasa, Pitara, Pishacha, Naga etc. The exact pathophysiology of these disorders will have to be extensively researched.
Koumara Bhrutya (Paediatrics)
This branch deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases related to preconception, childbearing (Pregnancy), childbirth (delivery) and diseases of children (Pediatrics).
This branch deals with the various types of poisons and their antidotes.
Shalya Tantra (Surgery)
It deals with the shalya in the body and the methods to remove it from the body. It deals with the means such as Yantra (Tools), Shastra (Instruments), Kshara (Alkalies) and Agni (Fire).
Shalakya Tantra (Eye & ENT)
It deals with the disease of Urdhva Jatru region i.e diseases in the organs above the Clavicle (Jatru) and their treatment. In other words it deals with the diseases related to Nose, Ear, Throat and Eyes.
This branch deals with various aspects of preventive health care. It includes longevity, improved memory, health, youthfulness, glow, complexion, generosity, and strength of body and senses. Without rasayana it is impossible to gain neither oratory nor the desirable aura. Rasayana improves the metabolic activities, which results in best possible biotransformation leading to health.
Vajeekarana (Virilation Therapy)
This branch deals with sexual aspect. It includes medications for diseases related with reproduction namely spermatogenesis, aphrodisiacs etc.