Just What Exactly Is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda, an ancient Indian stream of medicine, is basically a Sanskrit term that has been drawn from two roots – ‘Ayus’ denoting life and ‘vid’ meaning knowledge. In effect, life or ‘Ayus’ manifests an amalgamation of the body, the mind, the sense organs as well as the soul. It may be noted here that the Vedas are earliest Hindu texts of knowledge which are known to have been exquisitely discovered by the sages or wise men of India several thousand years back. The four Vedas enclose the information, cadence as well as the makeup of the universe, in addition to the secrets behind the ailments and health.
As aforementioned, there are four Vedas – the Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda, and the Atharva Veda. Precisely speaking, Ayurveda is an element of the fourth Veda, which comprises comprehensive critiques related to treating the sick by means of using mantras, potions, and herbs. Actually, Ayurveda is an amalgamation of both sciences as well as the philosophy that specifies the numerous physical, emotional, mental as well as spiritual elements that are essential for complete or universal health. The superiority of this system is evident in the most prominent among all the ancient ayurvedic manuscripts – the Charaka Samhita.
Charaka Samhita is a significant manuscript regarding internal medicine that was written over 2,000 years prior to the invention of the microscope. This document presents a detailed explanation of the manner of the composition of the cells, in addition to listing as many as 20 dissimilar microscopic organisms that may be responsible for various ailments. Another such text in Atharva Veda – the Sushruta Samhita elucidates surgical techniques, surgical tools, suturing as well as the significance of hygiene during the period or as well as following any surgery. Thorough medical knowledge is merged with philosophical and spiritual guidance regarding the manner to lead a healthy as well as meaningful life. As per the Vedic way of life, human lives would be complete with purpose when they endeavor to accomplish their utmost potential, but this is not possible to achieve devoid of health on a primary level.
Ayurvedic medicine, mainly practiced in India as well as Sri Lanka, is a customary and comprehensive system of medicine of these two nations. In effect, Ayurvedic medicine is an all-inclusive healthcare system and has several elements that function in conjugation stipulating a lifestyle or routine, instead of a cure for particular ailments. Ayurvedic medicine comprises several elements and some of them comprise the following.
- Detoxification by means of ‘panchakarma’ wherein in Ayurveda, ‘panchakarma’ – a Sanskrit term – denotes the five purifying therapies used in this ancient Indian medicine stream.
- Meditation and prayer
- Herbal medication
The fundamental belief in Ayurveda is that all things in the universe, counting ourselves, are made up of five elements known as ‘panchamahabhutas’ and ‘tridoshas’. By means of rectifying the equilibrium of the tridoshas inside us as well as concerning the environment and humanity around us, we will be able to endorse health on every level.
It is interesting to note that Ayurvedic cure is customized to suit the requirements of every individual. In fact, in Ayurveda, there is no single cure that works for any disease in all the patients. Precisely speaking, the combination of the different doshas that comprise an individual may possibly result in the best possible health for him or her. In the instance of another individual, the equilibrium of doshas may be responsible for the origin of the ailment. Therefore, in Ayurvedic medicine, each individual ought to be treated separately. The talent of a practitioner of Ayurvedic medicine actually lies in evaluating every individual’s nature, make a diagnosis of the reasons in case there is any lack of equilibrium of the doshas, recognizing the constitutional types as well as identifying the location of the doshas’ equilibrium and, subsequently, making a decision on the optimum treatment.
Ayurveda is also a wonderful guide for well-being and leading a good and ethical lifestyle. Similar to several other comprehensive treatments, the stress of Ayurveda is on the body, mind as well as spirit. Moreover, in Ayurveda, this theology is inherent for good health as well as a dignified and righteous manner of life. The objective of ayurvedic medicine is not just to treat ailments, but also to develop well-being and happiness.
Ayurvedic conjecture is founded on the individual structure of a person depending on which he or she is vulnerable to specific ailments. Ayurveda takes into account the sway of psychosomatic aspects in the majority of the ailments as well as the lack of balance of the fundamental constitutional aspects that are liable to cause any ailment.
HOW IT WORKS
Ayurvedic medicine is rooted in the theory that each individual person possesses a distinct constitution which is associated with energies inside their body. An excellent and balanced constitution is considered to be the greatest resistance against ailments. In case your body is performing at its best possible plane, there is no possibility of ailments gaining ground. Nevertheless, a feebly balanced constitution makes an individual vulnerable to physical as well as mental ailments. Ayurveda aspires to avoid the development of ailment by functioning with the individual foundation of a person. In effect, our constitutions are decided upon by the equilibrium of the three key energies within the body, which are also known as doshas or tridoshas. According to Sanskrit, the three doshas or tridoshas are known as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Every personal constitution is regulated by all the three doshas to dissimilar extents, although an individual may have one or two prevailing doshas. A practitioner of Ayurvedic medicine will first evaluate the individual’s constitution and then decide on the prakrti or physical construction to which he or she belongs.
It may be noted that besides determining the attributes of our constitutions as well as the nature of ailment to which we are almost certainly going to give in, the three doshas also decide on the aspects that make us distinct, for instance our hair color, the shape of our body, our desire for food and the type of foods we ought to consume. The doshas have an effect on each and every feature of our lives.
We are in the pink of our health when there is equilibrium among all the three doshas or the tridoshas. Every dosha has a distinct function in our body. For instance, Vata creates movement and primarily has to do with the nervous system as well as the energy of the body. Pitta is actually fire and is concerned with digestion, metabolism, bile, enzymes, and acids. Kapha is associated with water in the phlegm, mucous membranes, moisture, lymphatics, and fat. To a great extent, the equilibrium of the tridoshas is dependent on an assortment of issues, especially appropriate diet as well as exercise, healthy elimination of body wastes, proper digestion as well as an even-handed emotional and spiritual well-being.
Every constitution is decided on by the condition of the parental doshas during the time of formation. In addition, every individual is born with a distinct prakrti (physical structure) – a blend of doshas that are exclusive to him or her. In fact, this is the individual’s constitution and this continues with you throughout your life. However, while we traverse life, environment, diet, trauma, stress, and injury make the doshas turn out to be imbalanced – a condition called the ‘vikrti’ state in Sanskrit. When the intensity of loss of equilibrium becomes too elevated or low, it may cause ill health. Practitioners of ayurvedic medicine endeavor to reinstate every individual to the optimum balance that is possible in their prakrti.
Constitutions or physical structures are basically innate and can never be altered. The philosophy of Ayurveda recognizes as well as acknowledges the dissimilarities between individuals and the uniqueness of each person. In effect, the science of Ayurveda assists us to comprehend our individual constitutions as well as to subsist in a manner that underlines their constructive features, which, of course, is not easy all the time.
It is important to note that in Ayurveda, every disease is associated with the tridoshas or the three doshas. Imbalances of the doshas have an effect on additional aspects that are at work within our body and result in disparities that are responsible for the development of diseases. These additional aspects comprise the five elements, also known as panchamahabhutas, the ten pairs of attributes of the tridoshas, Agni (fire), the three malas as well as the seven tissues (known as ‘sapha dhathus’ in Sanskrit).
Our body, as well as the mind, maybe the dwelling of ailments in the same way and as easily like healthiness. We can achieve good health by means of the equilibrium of the biological elements, and ailments are a result of the imbalance of these elements. The aim of Ayurveda is to restore the balance at times when we are sick and also to sustain the equilibrium with a view to helping us maintain our good health.
In Ayurveda, the tridoshas, which denotes three doshas, are the basic and vital aspects of the human body that manage our complete physical formation as well as utility. The tridoshas include Vata, Pitta and Kapha and they are drawn from the five primary perpetual substances, called the ‘panchamahabutas’ in Ayurveda. In fact, every dosha has a prevalence of at least one of the five ‘bhutas’.
Vata comprises the collective prevalence of ‘vayu’ (air) and ‘akasha’ (space) while Pitta comprises of ‘tejas’ (fire) and ‘jala’ (water). Similarly, Kapha consists of ‘jala’ (water) and ‘prithvi’ (earth).
When our health is in the pink, all these three doshas are balanced or in a condition of stability. When the tridoshas are in their usual and balanced condition, they provide us with potency, an excellent complexion, standard or usual working of the fundamental organs as well as long life. On the contrary, when these three doshas are unbalanced or unstable, they result in diseases.
It may be noted that all the three doshas have their respective subtypes, having attributes that carry out a variety of functions at dissimilar levels in our body.
Several of the bodily, as well as mental occurrences, which contemporary physiology attributes to the nervous system, may be related to Vata. In the same manner, the whole chemical progression functioning in your body may be attributed to Pitta, counting hormones, enzymes, and the entire dietary system. The actions of the skeletal, as well as anabolic system (the features of metabolism concerned in developing the physical body), may be credited to Kapha, which implies that the complete bodily volume in any living being is in the effect of Kapha.
To be precise, the whole productive procedure in any living being may be credited to Kapha; the total chemical process may be attributed to Pitta; while the sensory, as well as the motor movements or activities, may be credited to Vata.
In Sanskrit, Vata denotes ‘to progress’ or ‘to stimulate’. In effect, Vata comprises the most significant component of the tridoshic structure and has a prevalence of ‘akasha’ (space) and ‘vayu’ (air) mahabhutas. Vata is accountable for all the movements of our body (including physical and mental). In addition, this dosha sustains the entire supportive framework as well as tissue, in addition to managing circulation all through the body.
Vata has numerous physical attributes and they have been depicted in the form of:
- Chala (unstable)
- Laghu (light)
- Ruksha (dry)
- Suksma (subtle)
- Site (cold)
- Visada (clear and transparent)
- Khara (rough)
Every one of the above-mentioned physical attributes of Vata originates from one’s intra-uterine life, which denotes the life inside the womb. These attributes actually determine one’s individual prakrti (physical structure).
Generally, Vata is accountable for the total physiological performance of your body. In addition, Vata also controls the mind as well as its functioning. Hence, when Vata is unstable or not in equilibrium, it is likely that you will undergo a variety of psychosomatic problems. In fact, it results in weight loss and depleting strength and, at the same time, generates various emotions, such as concern, nervousness, apprehension, sorrow, and even anger.
Vata can be present in these five forms according to its role and the site of action:
When the equilibrium of Vata is bothered, it brings about:
- Abnormal blood pressure and heart disease
- Mental instability
- Rheumatic and joint pain
Diseases that can be caused by unbalanced Vata:
- Aksepaka (violent muscular convulsion, as in “clinic” fits in epilepsy)
- Aksibheda (eye pain)
- Aksivyudasa (sunken eyeball)
- Aksisula (pinching pain in the eye)
- Atipralapa (delirium)
- Anavasthitacittatva (mental instability)
- Arasajnata (ageustia – loss of the sense of taste)
- Ardita (facial paralysis)
- Asabdasravana (tinnitus)
- Asvapna (sleeplessness)
- Badhirya (deafness)
- Bahusosa (atrophy of the arm)
- Bhrama (giddiness)
- Bhruvyudasa (drooping of the eyebrow)
- Dandaka (continuous muscular convulsion)
- Dantasaithilya (loose teeth)
- Dantabheda (a toothache)
- Ekangaroga (monoplegia – paralysis of one limb)
- Ghrananasa (anosmia – loss of the sense of smell)
- Grdhrasi (sciatica)
- Grivastambha (stiff neck)
- Gudarti (tenesmus, a bowel disorder)
- Gudabhramsa (rectal prolapse)
- Gulphagraha (stiffness of the ankle)
- Hanubheda (pain in the jaw)
- Hikka (hiccup)
- Hrddrava (tachycardia – rapidity of a heartbeat)
- Hrnmoha (bradycardia – slowness of heartbeat)
- Jrmbha (yawning)
- Januvislesha (genu valgum – club feet where the feet are turned outward)
- Janubheda (genu varum – “knock-knees,” where the feet are turned inward)
- Kanasula (an earache)
- Kanthoddhvamsa (hoarseness)
- Kasayasyata (astringent taste in the mouth)
- Kesabhumisphutana (dandruff)
- Khanjatva (lameness)
- Kubjatva (kyphosis – curvature of the spine)
- Lalatabheda (frontal pain)
- Manyastambha (torticlorosis – twisted neck)
- Mukatva (aphasia – loss of speech)
- Mukhasosa (dry mouth)
- Nakhabheda (cracking of the nails)
- Osthabheda (pain in the hip)
- Padabhramsa (fallen arches)
- Padasula (pain in the feet)
- Padasuptata (numbness of the feet)
- Paksavadha (hemiplegia – half body paralysis)
- Pangulya (paraplegia)
- Parsvamarda (chest pain)
- Pindikodvestana (cramps in the calf)
- Prasthagraha (stiffness of the back)
- Rauksya and Parusya (dryness and hardness)
- Sankhabheda (temporal pain)
- Sephastambha (priapism)
- Sarvangaroga (polyplegia – paralysis of all limbs)
- Siroruk (a headache)
- Sroni bheda (pelvic girdle pain)
- Syavarunavadhasata (dusky red appearance)
- Tama (fainting)
- Timira (cataract)
- Trikagraha (sacroiliac arthritis)
- Uccaihsruti (hard of hearing)
- Udaravesta (gripping abdominal pain)
- Udavarta (misperistalsis – difficulty with passing food down into the gut)
- Urusada (pain in the thigh)
- Urustambha (stiffness of the thigh)
- Vaksanga (slow speech)
- Vaksastoda (stabbing pain in the chest)
- Vaksa uparodha (impaired thoracic movements)
- Vaksa uddharsa (friction pain in the chest)
- Vamanatva (dwarfism)
- Vanksananaha (groin tension)
- Vartmasamkoca (entropion – introversion of the eyelids)
- Vartmastabha (ptosis – drooping of the eyelids)
- Vatakhuddata (clubfoot)
- Vepathu (tremor)
- Vidbheda (diarrhea)
- Vipadika (cracking of the feet)
- Visada (weakness)
- Vrsanaksepa (scrotal pain)
In Sanskrit, the term Pitta denotes ‘to burn’ or ‘to heat’. The entire biochemical activities, counting heat generation, are attributed to Pitta. Pitta is made up of ‘jala’ (water) and ‘tejas’ (fire).
The inherent ordinary attributes of Pitta are:
- Acrid and sour tastes (arnlam)
- Blue and yellow colors (neelpitta)
- Fluidity (sara)
- Fleshy and unpleasant smell (pichhila)
- Heat (ushma)
- Liquidity (drav)
- Sharpness (teekshna)
- Slight oiliness (sneham)
The prakrti or individual constitution of a person possesses aspects that are analogous to these natural attributes. When one is ill or suffering from any disease, the natural attributes as well as actions of Pitta are present, often completely or to some extent.
Pitta has been divided into five categories:
When the equilibrium of Pitta is disturbed, it can bring about:
- Subnormal or abnormal temperature
- Burning feelings all over the body
- Confused mind and anger
- Impaired skin health, luster, complexion, and color
- Impaired visual perception
- Impaired skin health, color luster, and complexion
- Yellowness of urine, eyes, feces, and skin
Diseases that can be caused by unbalanced Pitta:
- Aksipaka (conjunctivitis)
- Amlaka (acid eructation)
- Amsadaha (burning sensations in the shoulder)
- Angavadarana (cracking pain in the body)
- Ashwagandha (foul odor of the body)
- Antardaha (burning sensations in the body)
- Asyavipaka (stomatitis – inflammation of the lining of the mouth)
- Atisveda (excessive perspiration)
- Atrpti (dissatisfaction)
- Carmadalana (itiching of the skin)
- Daha (burning)
- Davathu (boiling)
- Dhumaka (fuming)
- Galapaka (pharyngitis)
- Gudapaka (proctitis – inflammation of the anus)
- Haridratva (icterus, jaundice)
- Haritaharidra netra, mutra, purish (greenish yellow coloration of the urine, eyes, and feces)
- Haritatva (greenishness)
- Jivadana (hemorrhage)
- Kamala (jaundice)
- Kaksa (genital herpes)
- Lohita gandhasyata (smell of blood from the mouth)
- Mamsakleda (sloughing of the muscles)
- Medhrapaka (inflammation of the penis)
- Miluca (skin warts)
- Osa (heat)
- Plosa (scorching)
- Putimukhata (foul odor of the mouth)
- Raktakoshtha (urticaria)
- Raktapitta (bleeding tendency)
- Raktavisphota (red vesicles)
- Rakta mandala (red wheals)
- Sonitakleda (sloughing of the blood)
- Tamahpravesa (fainting)
- Tiktasyata (bitter taste)
- Trsnadhikya (excessive thirst)
- Tvagavadarana (cracking of the skin)
- Tvagdaha (burning sensation of the skin)
- Usmadhikya (high temperature)
- Vidaha (burning sensations in the chest)
In Sanskrit, the word Kapha basically denotes ‘phlegm’. In addition, it also means ‘to keep together’ or ‘to embrace’. Kapha is known to be the basis of potency as well as resistance (known as ‘bolla’ in Ayurveda). Going by Ayurveda, Kapha is accountable for the formation of the living body, and Kapha comprises water (‘jala’) and earth (‘prithvi’) elements. Owing to the composition of Kapha, it is additionally stable in nature compared to the two other doshas – Vata and Pitta. When it is in its usual state, Kapha is accountable for the power as well as the construction of the body.
Physical features of Kapha are described as:
- Guru (heavy)
- Ishat (viscous)
- Madhura (sweet)
- Mirdu (soft)
- Picchila (slimy)
- Sita (cool)
- Sthira (stable)
Kapha can bring about:
Kapha is of five categories, depending upon their location and purpose:
When the equilibrium of Kapha is disturbed, it can bring about:
- Confusion, lack of understanding, and ignorance
- Emaciation of the body
- Immobility and loss of function of the joints
- Impotency and sterility
- Loss of oiliness
- Weakness and susceptibility to disease
- Lethargy and weariness
Ailments that can be caused by unbalanced Kapha:
- Alasya (laziness)
- Apakti (indigestion)
- Atisthaulya (obesity)
- Balasaka (loss of strength)
- Dhamanipraticaya (atherosclerosis – narrowing of the arteries)
- Galaganda (goiter)
- Gurugatrata (heaviness of the body)
- Hrdayopalepa (mucus around the heart)
- Kanthopalepa (mucus in the throat)
- Maladhikya (excess bodily excretion)
- Mukhasrava (salivation)
- Mukhamadhurya (sweet taste in the mouth)
- Nidradhikya (excessive sleep)
- Sitagnita (suppressed digestive power)
- Slesmodgirana (excess mucus production)
- Staimitya (timidity)
- Svetavabhasata (pallor)
- Tandra (drowsiness)
- Trpti (anorexia nervosa)
- Udarda (urticaria – irritation and inflammation of the skin)
Ayurveda and Aromatherapy
Ayurveda and Aromatherapy
By Margi Macdonald
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is the science of life which was first understood by the Vedic Rishis – or Seers – of ancient India at least 4000 years ago. The Seers observed life and the universe and described this system of understanding which was subsequently handed down through the generations.
The knowledge was recorded in Sanskrit as poetic verse, and first, describes the creation of the universe which began with the sound Om. Energy and Matter came into being, and from them arose the Five Great Elements of Ether, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. This is the guiding philosophy of Ayurveda – Sankhya – behind which there is considered a state of pure existence or awareness, beyond time or space, without beginning or end.
The Gunas are the primary qualities or attributes of all things in the universe. They are Sattva, the higher principle of harmony, equilibrium, and subtleness; Rajas, the intermediate principle of energy, motion, and lightness; and Tamas, the lower principle of inertia, and density of matter.
Within the Pranic and mental fields, the Gunas manifest as Prana, Tejas, and Ojas.
Prana is the first air of creation, the universe, and the body. This is the life-force or energy which holds body, mind, and spirit together, and animates their functions. It is infused with the life of all organisms. Also meaning breath, Prana is closely associated with respiration.
Tejas is the subtle fire which helps maintain metabolism while producing combustion. It carries the vital essences of radiance, color, and luminosity to every cell in every organism.
Ojas is the cumulative essence upon which our physical, mental and spiritual strength depend on. Our aura – the strength and glow we are meant to exude -is produced from abundant Ojas.
Doshas – perhaps the better known of the Ayurvedic concepts – are the more physically material, biological forms of Prana, Tejas, and Ojas. Called Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, they are condensations of the Five Great Elements. Each Dosha is a pairing of two elements. Vata is Ether and Air; Pitta is Fire and Water; Kapha is Water and Earth.
Each Dosha exhibits and holds the attributes of its Great Elements, which have specific activities and structures in the body and the mind. With regular and mindful observation of the Elements in nature all around us, we effortlessly understand their activity and presence in our body-mind.
We are each made up of a unique mix of the three Doshas, which provide us with our greatest strengths and greatest challenges as we move through life and fulfill our destiny. This unique mix which we inherit at birth is called Prakriti. Disease, pain, emotional distress and other states of disharmony are the body-mind alerting us that we have moved out of our state of Prakriti.
The general functions of the Doshas are summarized here:
Vata: transmission of nerve impulses, blood circulation, respiration, transport of secretions, movement of food and waste, childbirth, expression of emotions, creativity, enthusiasm.
Pitta: digestion, metabolism, body heat, discrimination, vision, coloring, hunger, and thirst, conversion of sensation to nerve impulses, thought processes, appreciation, reasoning, intelligence, confidence.
Kapha: Mucus to lubricate food in the gut, mucus to ease respiration and trap dust particles, synovial fluid in the joints, physical matter in the body, insulation, endurance, sleep, long-term memory, flexibility, compassion, patience, stability.
The Doshas direct and influence body type and structure, tissues and organs, mental ability and emotional state, memory, personality, libido, skin and hair color; and texture, the shape and arrangement of our teeth, our ability to lose and gain weight, our senses and body tissues, our sleeping patterns and our dreams. Even our money management and cooking skills are directed by the balance and proportions of the Doshas.
When a Dosha is in excess, or disharmony, certain conditions may occur. The goal is to provide healing activities and exercises, natural substances and external stimuli which will restore the usual balance. Essential oils are an ideal group of natural remedies as they work on the physical, mental and emotional levels.
Vata in excess will manifest as agitation, anxiety or fear, weight loss, dry skin, feeling cold, scattered thoughts, ungroundedness, unpredictability, wind, gas, or constipation, cracking joints, light sleep or sleep-talking. Vata needs to be warmed and calmed with essential oils such as cardamom, patchouli, ginger, nutmeg, basil, coriander, spikenard, bergamot, clove, elemi, frankincense, vanilla. Vata’s dry excess benefits immensely from regular application of body oils.
If Pitta is excessive, there may be fiery outbursts, rashes, heartburn, thirst or mouth ulcers, hypertension, inflammatory conditions, or intense headaches. Pitta in excess needs to be cooled and soothed with essential oils such as sandalwood, kewda, roman and German chamomile, lavender, vetiver, rose otto, yarrow, geranium, clary sage, ylang-ylang, jasmine, Champa, lemon-lime.
Kapha in excess manifests with fluid congestion or retention, weight gain, and heaviness, lethargy, clinginess, stuck or foggy thinking. It too needs to be warm, so any of the spice essential oils are a good choice. Kapha also needs to be activated and stimulated with drying, energizing and uplifting essential oils such as eucalyptus, lemongrass, peppermint, angelica, neroli, rosemary, juniper, grapefruit, myrrh, fennel, spruce, the cedar woods, Myrtle.
Many essential oils can benefit more than one Dosha, particularly when combined in a synergistic blend, making them a pleasurable, effective, economical and useful addition to our lives.
There are many resources available to us if we choose to understand a little more about healing ourselves with Ayurveda, the ‘mother’ of all healing systems. The best place to start is with a self-assessment tool which enables us to discover our Prakriti. One of the most helpful books for understanding Ayurveda and Aromatherapy is Dr. Light and Dr. Bryan Millerï¿½s Ayurveda and Aromatherapy: The Earth Essential Guide to Ancient Wisdom & Modern Healing.
Margi Macdonald is an Australian Acupuncturist and TCM practitioner, Aromatherapist, and Reiki Healer. Ayurveda was the first of the ancient life sciences Margi studied before formally qualifying with a Bachelor of Health Science in Acupuncture. The principles of Ayurveda and Aromatherapy guide her work in the emotional and mental realms of healing.