Ayurveda is one of the great gifts of the sages of ancient India to mankind. It is one of the oldest scientific medical systems in the world, with a long record of clinical experience. However, it is not only a system of medicine in the conventional sense of curing disease. It is also a way of life that teaches us how to maintain and protect health. It shows us both how to cure disease and how to promote longevity. Ayurveda treats man as a “whole” – which is a combination of body, mind and soul. Therefore it is a truly holistic and integral medical system.
The word “Ayu” means all aspects of life from birth to death. The word “Veda” means knowledge or learning. Hence Ayurveda indicates the science by which life in its totality is understood. It is a way of life that describes the diet, medicine and behavior that are beneficial or harmful for life. The roots of Ayurveda can be traced to the beginning of cosmic creation. Indian philosophers state that Ayurveda originated from Brahma, the creator of the universe. Brahma is not a mere individual but the unmanifest from the Divine Lord, from whom the whole manifest world comes into being. The desire to maintain fitness, health and longevity is one of the basic instincts of all creatures. Ayurveda in this respect sets the pattern for other system of medicine. It is a tradition with an antiquity comparable to that of life itself .
The magico- religious aspect of medicine in the Vedas was gradually supplemented by observations based on scientific thinking. Ayurvedic scholars from subsequent generations gave a sound and logical footing of philosophy to Ayurveda. The material scattered in the Vedas was collected, subjected to rigid tests of efficacy and systematically arranged. Such compilations were called ”Samhitas.” Many of these compilations no longer exist. Only three authentic works have stood the test of time and are available today – the Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Ashtanga Hridya Samhita. This great trio – the Brihatrayi as it called – has enjoyed much popularity and respect for the last two thousand years. Although these texts have undergone some modification by various authors in subsequent periods, their present form is at least 1200 years old. They are all in the Sanskrit language.
The Charaka Samhita is the oldest of the three and was probably first compiled around 1500 BC. It is considered the prime work on the basic concepts of Ayurveda. Charaka represents the Atreya School of physicians. It is a systematic work divided into eight Sthanas or sections, which are further divided into 120 chapters.
Sushruta represents the Dhanwantri School of surgeons, and is considered in Ayurveda to be the father of surgery. Even a great American society of surgeons is named after Sushruta. In the Sushruta Samhita there are sophisticated descriptions of diseases and surgical instruments.
The next important authority in Ayurveda after Charaka and Sushruta is Vagbhatta of Sindh, who flourished about the seventh century AD. His treatise called Ashtanga Hridya.
The Eight Branches of Ayurveda
Kaya Chikitsa (General medicine)
Shalya Tantra (Surgery)
Shalakya Tantra (Diseases of Eye, Ear, Nose & Throat )
Kaumarbhritya (Children diseases, obstetr ics and Gynecology)
Agada Tantra (Toxicology)
Bhuta Vidya (Psychiatry)
Rasayana (Rejuvenat ion), and
Basic Principles of Ayurveda
Ayurveda is the science of positive health and fulfillment in life. The aim of Ayurveda is threefold:
To achieve positive health for the individual
Protection of the masses
The last goal can be achieved by following regulations of daily conduct and by following strict seasonal regimens, so that one can be constantly healthy. Being continuously healthy is comparable to achieving ultimate liberation, as it involves the eradication of the factors that bring about suffering.
To understand Ayurveda, it is very essential to know its basic concepts. These are the backbone of Ayurvedic philosophy. Ayurvedic approach to health care is based on their applications.
Pancha Mahabhuta (The five basic elements)
Doshas (Biological elements)
Dhatus (Basic tissues)
Malas (Waste products)
Agni (Biological fire)
1. Pancha Mahabhuta (The Five Basic Elements)
Ancient Indian philosophy is of opinion that all materials, living or nonliving are made of five fundamental elements called Panchamahabhutas, representing five fundamental categories of matter. These are:
Akasha (ether )
Vayu (air )
Jala (water), and
All material on this earth contains Panchamahabhutas in different proportion.
2. Dosha (Three biological humors)
Biological application of Panchamahabhutas reflects in the form of Tridosha. Here ‘Tri’ means three and 'Dosha’ represents to humor (bio-entity). Thus the word ‘Tridosha’ denotes to three humors i.e. Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These are said ‘Dosha’ because these have tendency to get vitiated and also to vitiate others. This bilateral tendency of Dosha is cause of health and diseases. State of balance of Dosha represents health while imbalance to the disease. Every Dosha has definite place/ location and functions in our body. All have their five types respectively.
3. Dhatus (Basic Tissues)
Our body is supported and sustained by seven Dhatus (basic tissues). Beside this, Dhatus have property to vitiate. Dosha and Dhatus have relation with each other in health and disease. In pathogenesis of disease these both play key role.
Following are the seven Dhatus:
Maj ja (Marrow)
Shukra (Reproduct ive t issues)
4. Malas (Waste Products)
The word 'Mala' means excretal products. Ayurveda has a unique concept of Malas. Sustenance of Mala in appropriate limits, sustain the life. To understand it in a better way, take the example of common excreta - urine. Excess urination may cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
5. Agni (Biological Fire)
Agni is considered as biological fire. In our body entire range of digestive and metabolic activities are performed by it. Ayurveda considers about thirteen types of 'Agnis'.
Jatharagni - It performs digestion of food and considered to govern other 'Agnis'.
Dhatvagni - Every Dhatu has a particular type of Agni, which is responsible for that particular tissue metabolism. These are seven in number.
Bhutagni - Each of the five Mahabhuta (elements) has a specific Agni, which is responsible for molecular metabolism.
The word literally means three qualities or three properties. These are the three specific properties of the Mind. They are Satwa, Rajas and Tamas.
Ayurvedic Prakriti (Constitution)
Please try to remember any occasion when you enjoyed the food with your friend. Next day you found that you are not feeling well, as your stomach is ‘not in order’ but your friend is happy even next day with the taste of food enjoyed with you last night. You get puzzled, what happens to you? Why the same food reacted in a different way to you and your friend? In your daily life there may be so many occasions like this. It is really strange to observe such things. You may wonder that why under similar conditions, people react in a different way.
Ayurveda has answer of all these curiosities. The concept of Prakriti is unique and has explanation for this. Every person is born with a definite genetic constitution, depending upon Doshas, there are three major types of Prakriti, and these reflect predominance of that particular Dosha. Our body behaves according to the status of Dosha Prakriti. For example, a person is born with Vata Prakriti and his or her diet is rich in Vata promoting substances then he or she is likely to develop a problems like Constipation etc. while the same diet is consumed by a person of Pitta constitution that will keep him or her in order.
There are seven possible Prakriti (constitution) types –
Vata – Pitta Prakriti
Vata – Kapha Prakriti
Pitta – Kapha Prakriti
These are only broad categories. But by variation in proportion it may be of innumerable types. We find that most people around us have a dual personality. You are required to develop a good concept of Prakriti analysis, without knowledge of one’s Prakriti, it is practically impossible to apply Ayurvedic fundamentals in prevention, promotion and cure of disease.
Have a look of some important features of different Prakritis
Vata Prakriti – These persons are either short or long but are most often with a thin body frame. Mostly towards lower side of weight range, sometimes under weight. Skin is dark, dry with cracks. Nails are hard and brittle, Appetite is variable, mostly suffer from constipation. Sleep is light but varies from night to night. They remember easily and forget easily. Find great difficulty in developing a routine, but are very active.
Pitta prakriti – They are of medium body frame. Skin is usually delicate, light in color and more prone to sunburn. Sweating is excessive. Nails are soft, strong and well formed. Endowed with good appetite and rarely constipated. Have capacity to perform vigorous exercise. Go to sleep easily but is light. These persons are more practical in life. Memory is good. More organized in work.
Kapha Prakriti – Body frame is mostly medium to broad. Weight gain is varying easy. Skin of these people is smooth, thick and slightly oily. Sweating is moderate. Nails are strong, large and symmetrical. Appeite is moderate and bowel habit is regular. They enjoy sleep, which is usually heavy. Appear calm and quiet. They are of stable nature. From them it takes time to memorize but once happen, it is forever. Most of the time they are relaxed.
Persons having predominance of two types of Doshas have mixed type of features.
Diseases and their Causes
The harmony and the balance of the Doshas, Dhatus, Malas and Agni in the body is the primary condition of the health. The equilibrium is maintained through a life in conformity with the laws of nature.
A wrong behavior and food habit disturbs the harmony and lead to diseases.
The vitiated Doshas are the prime causative factor for a disease. Because they are the only causative factors for the vitiation (derangement) of other body elements like Dhatus, Malas, Agni etc. Both under pathological and healthy conditions, the Doshas behave in different patterns and elicit various signs and symptoms in regard to their vitiation, direction of spreading area of localization and manifestation.
The Doshas can be vitiated mainly by two ways normally and abnormally. The normal vitiation is produced by the inevitable and natural factors like seasonal variations, diurnal variations, various stages of digestion. This type of vitiation is easy to treat and often it does not require any treatment as the condition subside automatically. Abnormal vitiation of Doshas is caused by deliberate exposure to specific etiological factors, both external and internal. That is abuse of functions of sense organs, wrong bodily habits, suppression of body urges, ill food habits, avoidance of seasonal and daily regimes. Incompatible combination of food, lack of body care and preservation of health, constant exposure of mind to bad feelings like greed, jealousy, anger etc.
Having a through knowledge of the signs and symptoms produced by the vitiated Doshas and Dhtus, and through careful examination one can know causative factors of a disease.This very much helpful in aspect of treatment. The basic principles of treatment in Ayurveda is to eliminate the internal disease causing factors of disease, also to bring back the vitiated Doshas, Dhatus, Malas and Agni to normal functioning state.
Diagnosis in Ayurveda
There are three main methods mentioned in Ayurveda for diagnosing the Dosha imbalance and disease process in a person. They are –
Darsana Pareeksha – By observing the patient’s physical signs and symptoms, Example – colour of skin, hair, eyes, behavior, body condition etc.
Prasna Preeksha – By asking minute questions regarding the imbalance of each Doshas.
Sparsana Pareeksha – By touching the patient. The pulse diagnosis, palpation, percussion and auscultation are included in this method.
Nadi Pareeksha (Pulse diagnosis) is a very important tool for diagnosis. The physician feels the radial artery pulsations on the wrist of the patient and through his experience he can get a clear picture of the milieu interior.
The treatment in Ayurveda can be classified broadly into two-
Shamana Chikitsa (Alleviating Therapy)
Sodhana Chikitsa (Purification Therapy)
This is specially done after the sodhana therapy and in less vitiation. Herbal medicines are used internally and externally to correct the derangement of functions of Doshas, Dhatus, Malas and Agni and also to increase the Immunity. The restoration of normality is brought about without any elimination.
The main aim of this treatment is to eliminate the internal causative factors of the disease. A large quantities of toxic bi-products are formed in the body as a result of continuous metabolic process. All though most of these toxins are eliminated naturally by the body’s excretory system, some may get deposited in the various tissues of the body, which ensures the vitiation of Doshas, Dhatus etc. and then the normal functioning of the system is impaired. Similarly disease causing toxins accumulate in the body as a result of various factors like wrong body habits, wrong food habits, incompatible combination of food items, suppression of the body urges, emotional imbalance etc. Panchakarma therapeutic procedures are used to facilitate the elimination of such harmful factors.
Panchakarma is the cornerstone to Ayurvedic management of disease. Pancha Karma is the process, which gets to the root cause of the problem and re-establishes the essential balance of 'Tridosha' (three doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha) in body. Pancha Karma is not only good for alleviating disease but is also a useful tool in maintaining excellent health. Ayurveda advises undergoing Pancha Karma at the seasonal changes in order to clean the body and improve the digestion and metabolic processes.
Panchakarma is a Sanskrit word that means "five actions" or "five treatments". This science of purifying the body is an ancient branch of Ayurveda. The Treatment in Ayurveda consists of two main types.
One is Shaman Chikitsa, used to subdue the vitiated Doshas, which may cause any ailments. It is administered by using various medicinal herbomineral preparations.
However, if the Doshas are vitiated beyond a particular level, they give rise to various toxins, which have a tendency to be accumulated in the minute channels. These are beyond the level of pacification and hence need to be eliminating from the body. In such cases, the second type of treatment, which is Shodhan Chikitsa or cleansing therapy, is indicated. Since it consists of the five types of main therapies, it is known as the Panchakarma.
Panchakarma has been given a special place in all ancient Ayurvedic texts. Aacharya Charak, the author of the most important ancient text on internal medicine, has described a wide use of Panchakarma therapy in almost all major diseases. Two separate sections, Kalpa Sthanam, and Siddhi Sthanam in Charak Samhita describe in details special decoctions and other preparations used for Panchakarma therapy.
Panchakarma includes three parts namely:
Poorva Karma (Preparatory Methods), which includes:
Snehana (Internal and external oleation)
Pradhan Karma (Main methods), which includes:
Vamana (Induced vomit ing)
Virechana (Induced purgat ion)
Anuvasana (Medicated oil enema)
Asthapana (Medicated decoct ion enema)
Nasya (Drug administ rat ion through nose)
Pashchat Karma (Post -Therapeutic Measures) which includes:
This includes Sansarjan Krama (Specific diet), DhumaPana (nasal smoking of medicinal cigars) and some rules to follow specific activities.
Prime treatments in Ayurveda
Abhyanga (Head, Face and Body Massage):
A specialized whole body massage performed by therapist using specific herbal oil selected according to the body type. The treatment brings about improved physical consistency, induces deep relaxation and is very beneficial for vigor and vitality.
Synchronized Ayurveda massage:
2 therapists to maintain the symmetry of the body perform this massage. Using synchronized rhythmic movements, herbal oil are anointed on the body starting from the head to toes. This massage assists the flow of energy through the body and promotes relaxation.
Marma Therapy Massage:
A healing massage using the specialized pressure point techniques on the energy gateways, the palms and soles, of the body. Massage with warm herbal oil on the body with concentration on the marma points, promotes a feeling of complete physical and mental well-being.
Udavartana (Dry herb invigorating massage):
This dry massage starts with deep manipulation of the muscles to reduce obesity and improve mobility of the joints. This is followed by a scrub massage with ayurvedic herbs to remove dead cells and leave the skin glowing. Rhythmic strokes towards the heart promote blood circulation. The therapy ends with 15 minutes of herbal steam.
Pizhichil (Oil Therapy with head, face and body massage):
In this therapy 3-4 liters lukewarm herbal medicated oil is poured on the whole body continuously, followed by simultaneous massage. Ideal for retards the ageing process, arrests degeneration of the body cells and relieving muscular pain, joint stiffness. Effective for Arthritis, Rheumatic diseases, Sexual weakness, Nervous weakness, and Nervous disorders. Improves Vigor and Vitality.
In this therapy herbal medicated oils, medicated milk, medicated but termilk etc., are poured on the forehead in a special method followed by Indian head massage. It relieves mental tension, provides peace of mind and checks stress and strain. Tunes up brain functions, help to improve memory.
Dhara with Head, Face and Body Massage:
This Treatment is a combination of Shirodhara & Abhyanga (Body massage). From this treatment Person can get benefit of both treatments in less time and money.
A very effective treatment for migraine and certain kinds of headaches, cold and ailments above the neck. Drops of herbal juices, medicated oils are taken through the nose followed by Indian head & face massage and hot fomentation.
In this treatment the body is massaged with cloth bags (poultices) filled with powders of medicinal leaves along with warm medicated oil. This is especially for inflammatory conditions of bones and joints, sports injuries.
Medicated Steam Bath:
Herbal leaves and certain medicinal powders are boiled and that steam is passed on to the body, inducing sweat, which opens the blocked pores of the skin, thus eliminating impurities from the body through sweat glands. It improves the tone of the body and skin. Reduces body stiffness, aches, pains, and swelling. Reduces fat from under the skin and make skin soft. A totally relaxing and refreshing experience.
Medicated ghee is retained for prescribed time over the eyes. Strengthens optic nerve. Prevents eye diseases and gives a cooling effect to the eye. Very good to relieve eyestrain for those who work with computers.
Prime Treatment Programmes in Ayurveda
Stress management Programme:
Short and power packed program for one day for those of you who are stressed out due to heavy work schedules, meet ing deadlines, long hours in work load. The therapeutic procedure in this package is specially formulated for those who get the ‘burnt out feeling’ and for super stressed-out businessman. The package consists of a free consultation with our Ayurvedic doctor, synchronized body massage with traditional Ayurvedic oils, Herbal steam bath & Shirodhara.
Experience this three days program, which reinvigorates and revitalizes you. Best for getting rid of stress, weariness and fatigue. The feeling of well being is infused to the body and soul. The package includes a free consultation with our Ayurvedic doctor; synchronized body massage using medicated oils as per traditional Ayurvedic procedures. Herbal steam bath, Shirodhara, Netra Trapana, includes Yoga and relaxation techniques. Guidelines on Ayurvedic diets are also given. This package gives you mental and physical relaxation; reinvigorate body and mind to experience the fullness of life.
Detoxification / Body Purification Programme:
Detoxification & Rejuvenative Program which includes Panchakarma procedures, is meant to purify the whole body by eliminating the accumulated toxins from it. This package includes treatments like Abhyanga (Ayurveda body massage), Swedana (herbal steam bath), Vamana (Emesis), Virechana (Purgation), Snehavasti (Medicated oil enema), Kashayavasti (Medicated decoction enema), Nasya (Drug administration through nose), Shirodhara, Tarpana, Face care & some other therapies customized individually. The specialty of this treatment is that it can be administered both in a healthy, as well as the diseased person. When a healthy person subjects himself to Panchakarma, it has a preventive, restorative and rejuvenative effect on the body. Panchakarma administered to a diseased person, after careful examination and diagnosis of the condition, eliminates the accumulated toxins from the body, which had been root cause of the ailment. Any one or two these procedures are offered in this package based on individual requirements and the duration of the treatment at our center.
Executive’s and IT Professional ’s Programme:
Two days exclusive health package developed for the fast paced Executive and IT Professional, who is continuously exposed to computer screen, prone to Computer vision syndrome, confined to sitting on a chair for long hours with prolonged use of fingers for operating keyboard leading to carpal tunnel syndrome (repetitive strain injuries), working late hours without proper sleep, physical and mental stress of meeting deadlines and have untimely food. Package includes free consultation with Ayurvedic doctor, synchronized body massage with medicated oil in typical Kerala tradition, Herbal steam bath and Shirodhara. Also Netra Tarpana especially for eye care. Relaxation techniques explained. Guidelines to traditional Ayurvedic diet for health and nutrition. This package revitalizes you, sooths mind and body. A most effective way to get back to the shape and get the vital energy to start your work afresh, optimizing your health and creative potential.
Frequent Traveler’s Programme:
Package for the frequent travelers, to relieve the tiredness, weariness, fatigue, and the stress and strain caused while and after traveling. This package includes free consultation with our Ayurvedic doctor, traditional body massage with medicated oil and Herbal steam bath.
Eve’s Beauty Care Programme:
A special package offered for ladies. A comprehensive beauty care program based on treatment modalities developed by the traditional Ayurvedic practitioner of Kerala. This program includes herbal oil massage, herbal steam bath, face packs using freshly ground herbs, skin care, hair care, eye care and related healthy treatment to the body. Our Ayurvedic doctor will recommend the suitable procedures according to individual’s body constitution. Also guidelines on diet as per Ayurvedic traditions are given. This package will also help to improve the complexion, give shine and vitality to skin, improves the tone of the body, improves blood circulation and revitalizes the body.
Old Age Care Programme:
A happy and comfortable old age is the fruit of well-spent childhood, youth and middle age. However, old age brings along with it many aging health problems like constipation, indigestion, sleeplessness, exhaustion, wrinkled skin, diminishing sensory faculties, etc. The rejuvenation therapies like Pizhichil, Njavarakizhi, etc. strengthen the system, invigorates the immunity and imparts a freshness in the body. Panchakarma therapies, particularly medicated enemas relieve constipation & correct digestion. Shirodhara done over the head nourishes the head, which is the abode of all sense organs. On the whole, this package wages the harmony of mind, body & soul.
Spine and Neck Care Programme:
The main sites for arthritic manifestation in the vertebral column are the lumbar and cervical regions. This treatment programme includes special massages, kativasti, snehavasti , kashayavasti, kizhi, njavarakizhi etc. This is also very effective for cervical spondylosis, osteo porosis, low backaches, sciatica etc.
Weight Reduction Programme:
Weight Reduction Program as per Ayurvedic system to reduce the excess body fat. This package includes free consultation with our Ayurvedic doctor, Massage with powder of various herbs, herbal steam bath, Ayurvedic basti (enema), Herbal medicines and guidelines on diet.