Ayurveda is the world’s oldest natural healing and lifestyle system, thriving with the traditional wisdom of over 5000 years. The work ‘Ayurveda’ is composed of two Sanskrit words - Ayu which means Life, and Veda which means The Knowledge Of. Ayurveda is the traditional and natural system of medicine based on the appreciation of balance in bodily systems, through diet, herbal treatment, and yogic breathing.
The origins of Ayurveda have been traced back to around 5,000 B.C., when the system originated as an oral tradition. The first recordings of Ayurveda as medical texts evolved from the Vedas. Ayurveda is a discipline of the Upaveda or ‘auxiliary knowledge’ in Vedic tradition. The origins of Ayurveda are also found in Atharvaveda which contains 114 hymns and incantations described as magical cures for diseases. There exist various legendary accounts of the origins of Ayurveda. Some of the concepts of Ayurveda have been discovered since the era of the Indus Valley Civilization.
Ayurveda functions on the basic principles of establishing and maintaining balance of life energies within the human body, rather than merely focusing on symptoms. As a science, it identifies and recognises the unique constitutional variances in all individuals and therefore provides tailored regimens for different people – while two people may appear to have the same external symptoms or manifestations, their energetic constitutions may be drastically vary, necessitating the need for different remedies. A complete and holistic medical system, Ayurveda recognizes that all intelligence and wisdom flows from one absolute source or the Paramatman. One’s health is the manifestation of the grace of the Paramatman, acting through the laws of Nature or Prakriti.
The ancient science of Ayurveda believes that the five universal elements of panchamahaabhutas of space, air, fire, water and earth are coded into three biological forces which regulate life processes. These biological forces are known as the Doshas or the Tridosha - The tridosha dictates every physiological and psychological process in a living constituent. A harmonious and balanced state of the three Doshas manifests in balance and health; the Tridosha are Vaata comprising of space (Aakaasha) and air (Vaayu), Pitta comprising of fire (Agni) and water (Apa), and Kapha comprising of water (Apa) and earth (Prithvi).
Ayurveda dictates that the human body being a conglomeration of the Tridosha or humours consists of seven basic tissues – Rasa, Rakta, Mansa, Meda, Asthi, Majja and Shukra – and bodily waste of Mala. These three constituents work together to perform various body functionalities.
An imbalance of any kind between the three Doshas is responsible for an individual’s illness and disease. Essentially, the Tridosha govern the health and well-being of the human body; a perfect balance or harmony of the three doshas is necessary for the human body and mind to function at its utmost efficiency and efficacy. However, an imbalance in the doshas creates an elemental imbalance, and results in ailments and illnesses.
The importance of Ayurveda has been known to mankind for over a period of 5000 years; in its essence, Ayurveda enhances the overall health and wellbeing of man, be it physiological or psychological. The Ayurvedic systems are simple to follow and are devoid of trauma-causing agents to the body or mind. A regular full-body Ayurvedic massage which incorporates herbal oils enhances the effects of regular exercise and makes the skin supple. Additionally, Ayurveda improves one’s appetite and aids in healthy and rapid elimination of bodily waste; Ayurvedic medicine assists in rapid removal of toxic elements from the body if one falls sick, enabling him or her to recover his or her health quickly.
Ayurvedic treatment techniques can be broadly classified as follows – Shodhana therapy or Purification Treatment Shamana therapy or Palliative Treatment Pathya Vyavastha or the Prescription of diet and activity Nidan Parivarjan or Preventative treatment by avoidance of disease causing and aggravating factors Satvavajaya or Psychotherapy Rasayana therapy or the employment of immune-modulators and rejuvenation medicines
According to Ayurveda, food is just as important and vital as medicine and treatment. Ayurveda prescribes a diet of naturally intelligent foods such as whole grains, organic vegetables, fruits and wild herbs, avoiding ever-changing food fads, consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables, the proper mix of spices and herbs, consuming foods or preparations with herbal cleansing or detoxing properties, and drinking lots of water and beverages created from natural ingredients.
Ayurveda fundamentally addresses the root causes of a disease and the imbalance it causes, as opposed to mere symptom management as is done in other systems of medicine. In Ayurveda, each person is treated as a unique individual and is provided customized wellness solutions. There exists in practice an entire sub-branch of Ayurveda that focuses exclusively on how lead a healthy lifestyle. Ayurveda is a holistic medicinal and health science that empowers us to take health into our own hands.
Ayurveda is an amalgamation of unique diagnostic concepts that ensure potent methodologies that benefit one’s health and wellbeing take priority, passed down through generations. Primarily, the root cause of the illness is determined – the cause can be internal or external. Ayurveda makes for an analytical study of one’s disease by studying the physical, physiological, psychic and behavioural aspects of each individual patient.
A common misconception about Ayurvedic treatments is the length of time they take to heal one’s ailments. Ayurveda works to remove the root of the health problem, rather than merely suppressing its symptoms. While the healing time can vary depending on the health condition and the individual, Ayurveda does not take a considerable length of time to eliminate the root of the health problem.
Panchakarma is Ayurveda's primary purification and detoxification treatment. Panchakarma means ‘five therapies’ – these 5 therapeutic treatments eliminate toxins from the body - Vamana, Virechana, Nasya, Basti and Raktamoskshana. The series of these five therapies help remove deep rooted stress and illness-causing toxins from the body while balancing the doshas .Panchakarma is effective only if special detoxification diet is consumed along with the Ayurvedic treatments.
Ayurveda incorporates the medicinal and healing properties of herbs to counteract or cure various diseases, even those that are considered incurable in other forms of medicine. Various herbs help remove metabolic toxins from the body, boost the immunity, help in rejuvenation of body cells and tissues, promote healing of wounds, stimulate and energize the body, work as cardiac stimulants and promote calmness and a soothing feeling in the body.
Yoga is an ancient art that is based on a harmonizing system of development for the body, mind, and spirit. Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline, with its roots in India. The continued practice of yoga will lead one to a sense of peace and well-being, along with the feeling of being at one with his or her environment.
Yoga is a time-tested application of bodily science that provides several benefits to one’s physiology, psyche and sense of self by working on a wholesome custom on the entire body. Regular practice increases flexibility, lubrication of joints, ligaments and tendons; it massages all organs of the body, aids in complete detoxification and makes for excellent toning of the muscles. The stimulation and massage of the organs is beneficial in keeping diseases at bay and providing a forewarning at the first possible indication or the likely onset of a disease or disorder. Yoga therefore provides benefits such as energy, delayed ageing, and a remarkable zest for life.
Fundamentally, Yoga and Ayurveda are two interrelated branches of the same great tree of Vedic knowledge that encompasses all of human life and the entire universe. Keeping this in mind, it is vital to understand the respective roles of Ayurveda and Yoga in the Vedic system. Yoga and Ayurveda are related healing disciplines of India, each with a unique place and function, often overlapping into the other on various levels. Simply put, Ayurveda is the science whereas as Yoga is the practise of this science.
Ayurvedic medicines are safe to purchase over the counter provided the manufacturer is legally licensed and the label of the container specifically describes the date of manufacturing, expiry date, batch number of the medicine, dosage indications supplemented with ingredients and composition of the medicine, along with any necessary precautions
Simple herbal medicines such as powders, pills and tablets, syrups and decoctions for the management of common ailments like cough, cold, fever, indigestion, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, body & joint pains and the like can be consumed even without the prescription of a doctor. Herbal tonics or health foods can also be consumed if they do not create any alarming discomfort.
Herbal tea is an infusion of seeds, leaves, roots and bark of beneficial herbs and plants, extracted in hot water. Essentially, herbal tea does not contain caffeine.