Ayurveda as “the science of life or the knowledge of life” is the oldest healing science or a natural system of medicine that originated in India over 5,000 years ago. It encourages certain lifestyle interventions and natural remedies to promote health and maintain balance.
Ayurvedic medicine (“Ayurveda” for short) uses natural herbs and minerals, so it is often called the “Mother of All Healing”. It is considered one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems, and focuses on the balance between mind, body and spirit to achieve optimal health.
It offers a wide range of treatments including herbal remedies, massage, meditation, yoga and dietary changes to promote balance and wellness.
Basic Principles Of Ayurveda
From the beginning, Ayurveda was taught orally in India by sages under the Guru-shishya tradition. But about 5000 years ago this knowledge was given the form of books. Sushruta Samhita, Charaka Samhita, and Ashtanga Hridaya are ancient texts of Ayurveda.
In these texts, the effects of the five great elements prevalent in the universe – earth, water, air, fire and sky, on human beings have been rendered. According to Ayurveda, out of these five elements, some elements have more effect on each person than others. Ayurveda classifies these combinations as three doshas –
- Vata dosha – in which air and sky elements are dominant.
- Pitta dosha – in which fire element predominates.
- Kapha dosha – in which earth and water elements predominate.
According to Ayurveda, every person is born with a mixture of the elements or doshas of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Our lifestyle has a great impact on the balance of these three energies which are also known as “tri-energies” of doshas. In Ayurveda Vata, Pitta and Kapha are the fundamental qualities of all three doshas and their balance is responsible for “health” or “harmony”.
The body’s constitution (prakriti), and life forces (doshas) are the primary basis of ayurvedic medicine.
The root cause of all diseases is an imbalance of the doshas in the body. Ayurvedic treatments aim to balance the doshas in the body and promote health and also well-being.
In India, Ayurveda is considered on a par with Western medicine, traditional Chinese medicine and homeopathic medicine. Ayurveda practitioners in India are trained from institutions recognized by the government. Currently, many countries do not recognize Ayurvedic practitioners, and there are no national standards for Ayurvedic training or certification. However, Ayurvedic schools have been recognized as educational institutions in many countries. Researches done on Ayurveda in many countries including India found that this medical system is very effective in treating diseases.
Treatment in Ayurveda can be divided into purification therapy (panchakarma) and shamana therapy (drugs) i.e. purifying and palliative therapy respectively.
In Shodhana therapy, toxins and other residual substances are removed from different parts of the body by Ayurvedic liquids which can be harmful to the body. The aim of this medical method is to make the various organs of the body healthy. Various methods are used in shodhana therapy, such as emesis, virechana, nasya and raktamokshana etc.
Shamana therapy is used to pacify the resistant elements in the body. This system of medicine is a holistic medical system in Ayurveda that generally uses various substances to bring about changes in the body. It helps in reducing the disease response of the body and in improving the balance of the body. Shaman therapy used a variety of substances such as kashay (Ayurvedic drink), churna (powdered compound), vati (pills), ghrit (clarified butter), tail (oil) and also lepa (ointment). .
The importance of Ayurveda, the world’s oldest medical system, remains unchanged even today. It originated in India about 5,000 years ago. It is also often called the mother of all medical systems. Moreover, Ayurveda states that health and wellness is based on a fine balance between mind, body and spirit. Its main goal is to promote good health, not to fight diseases.
Ayurveda places special importance on one’s diet or lifestyle (food habits and also daily lifestyle). It also gives guidance on how to adapt the lifestyle based on the change in weather.