Ayurveda, which literally means the science of life (Ayur = Life, Veda = Science), ayurveda is an ancient medical science which was developed in India thousands of years ago. Believed to have been passed on to humans from the Gods themselves, Ayurveda developed and evolved into what it is today from several ancient treatises, most notably Adharva Veda which dates back to five thousand years. The ancient Vedic literature by sages has clearly laid out instructions to maintain health as well as fighting illness through therapies, massages, herbal medicines, diet control and exercise.
Ayurveda names seven basic tissues (dhatu), which are plasma (rasa), blood (rakta), muscles (māmsa), fat (meda), bone (asthi), marrow (majja), and semen (shukra). Like the medicine of classical antiquity, Ayurveda has historically divided bodily substances into five classical elements (Sanskrit [maha]panchabhuta, viz. earth, water, fire, air and ether. There are also twenty gunas (qualities or characteristics) which are considered to be inherent in all substances. These are organized in ten pairs: heavy/light, cold/hot, unctuous/dry, dull/sharp, stable/mobile, soft/hard, non-slimy/slimy, smooth/coarse, minute/gross, and viscous/liquid.
Ayurveda also names three elemental substances, the dosha (called Vata, Pitta and Kapha), and states that a balance of the doshas results in health, while imbalance results in disease. One Ayurvedic view is that the doshas are balanced when they are equal to each other, while another view is that each human possesses a unique combination of the doshas which define this person’s temperament and characteristics. In either case, it says that each person should modulate their behavior or environment to increase or decrease the doshas and maintain their natural state.
In medieval taxonomies of the Sanskrit knowledge systems, Ayurveda is assigned a place as a subsidiary Veda (upveda). Some medicinal plant names from the atharveda and other Vedas can be found in subsequent Ayurveda literature. The earliest recorded theoretical statements about the canonical models of disease in Ayurveda occur in the earliest Buddhist Cannon.
Ayurvedic doctors regard physical existence, mental existence, and personality as a unit, with each element being able to influence the others. This is a holistic approach used during diagnosis and therapy, and is a fundamental aspect of Ayurveda. Another part of Ayurvedic treatment says that there are channels (srotas) which transport fluids, and that the channels can be opened up by massage treatment using oils and Swedana (fomentation). Unhealthy channels are thought to cause disease.
Ayurveda has eight ways to diagnose illness, called Nadi(pulse), Mootra (urine), Mala (stool), Jihva (tongue), Shabda (speech), Sparsha (touch), Druk (vision), and Aakruti (appearance). Ayurvedic practitioners approach diagnosis by using the five senses. For example, hearing is used to observe the condition of breathing and speech. The study of the lethal points or marman marma is of special importance.
Original scope of Ayurveda was far and wide. The major divisions of Ayurveda depict the same. It encompasses the health care of Animals, plants and human beings as shown here under:
Major Divisions of Ayurveda
Garayurveda Vrikshayurveda Ayurveda
(Health of domestic animals) (Health care of plants) (Human beings)
Ancient literature on former two are lost to a great extent and not so much in vogue. However efforts are being made here and there to revive the same. Human Ayurveda is mostly prevalent and practiced to a large extent.
Specialized branches of Ayurveda : There are 8 specialised branches. The concept of specialization is nothing new to medical field in India. But the basis of specialization is somewhat unique when we consider the period during which this concept of specialization evolved. The chart below shows 8 branches
Kayachikitsa, Grahachikitsa, Shalyachikistsa, Jarachikitsa (Rasayana)
Balachikitsa Urdhwangachikitsa Damstrachikitsa
(Shalakya Tantra) (Vishachikitsa) Vajeekarna
Click here for Aims of Ayurveda :
Aims of Ayurveda are twofold:
1) Prevention of diseases and promotion of health
2) Curing the ailment.
The chief principle is to bring back normalcy in 3 bio energies which are in a state of imbalance. This is achieved by 3 methods. They are:
- Avoidance or to keep away from causative factors
- Elimination of morbid materials
- Promoting the disease resistance power.
First one is helpful to reduce the strength of morbidity and to arrest further change to the bio energies and vital tissues.
The second one helps to remove the morbid and clear the passage to medicines and diet so as to enable them to reach their proper destination and to act quickly with lower dosage and also helps to retain them in the body until a desired time.
The third one improves the resistance power of all the tissues and also prevents the further formation of morbid material.
Ayurveda is very economic and within the reach of common man. It may be surprising to know that there are those who hold quite opposite view. Both are right in their own economic perspectives. It is considered cheap for the following reasons:
1) It is cheap simply because it is herbal.
2) Raw herbs, mostly single herb, which is naturally grown in the surrounding fields of forests and procured by the physician himself and distributed freely or shows the herb to the patient and asks him to procure for himself.
3) Does not require too many investigations as diagnosing technique is very simple.
4) One time single dose of medicine will be sufficient in many cases.
5) Even manufactured and marketed products are cheaper compared to modern medicine.
6) Physician does not charge consultation fees.
Click here for Glossary of Ayurvedic Terms :
Agni : The Sanskrit word for fire; its forms are light/electro-magnetic radiation, acids, bases, enzymes, co-enzymes, hormones and so on; it’s responsible for burning, digesting, cooking, absorbing, assimilating, discrimination, and for cellular metabolism, etc. There are thirteen forms of which the stomach/intestinal fire is primary and supportive to agnis in the liver (5 element agnis) and 7 tissue agnis (one specifically for each tissue).
Ayurveda : The eternal system of life knowledge from an ancient culture of India. It defines life as a combination of mind, body, senses and spirit. Its aims are to heal the sick and prevent disease, sustain quality of and length of life. Its scope includes knowledge of science, medicine and philosophy.
Dharma : The term commonly is translated as “duty,” but I prefer “virtue.” Without the context of its spiritual roots this meaning is too vague. It arose in the ancient Vedic culture, in Sanskrit, as a way of expressing that one must do God’s will while on earth. This means that every facet of life must express a willingness to accept good and bad with equanimity and indeed a willingness to express one’s divinity in all aspects of daily life. One lives in accord with Nature’s laws, which are a means for the expression of God’s will. Living in accord with Natural Law is holy and healthy, while adharma, its opposite, means pain, suffering, and destruction.
Dhatu : The word means stable or fixed or supporting and connotes the role of the bodily tissues in Ayurveda, of which there are 7: plasma/lymph, red blood cells, muscle, fat, bone, bone marrow/nerve tissue, reproductive tissue
Dosha : The fundamental governing principle of life and creation, which – in the body – serves to execute the blueprint of DNA. This sustains sentient life during all the vagaries of changing times. When influence upon this governing agent is overwhelming . . . disease arises.
Element : Ayurveda has named 5 kinds of substance that are responsible for action or effects: space, air, fire, water, earth; these comprise all of the matter of living and non-living things in the creation.
Guna : This term means quality or attribute. It describes a fundamental stable energy which is the nature and essence of any substance. [qualities &attributes of prana?] Thoughts, feelings and similar subtle energies are considered as substance as well as actual materiality like foodstuffs. The gunas are sattva (spiritual), rajas, (worldly), tamas (involutionary or decaying).
Ghee : The clarified essence of butter which obtains from cooking it for about 15 minutes over medium heat. When cool, accumulated fats on the bottom of the pot are discarded and a pure, golden oil is retrieved.
Kapha : The name of the governing principle of Creation relating to physical forms of energy. It is responsible for secretions, maintaining lubrication, fluid balance, growth, heaviness, grounding, forgiveness, compassion, potency, understanding.
Karma : The word means action and is synonymous with moral / spiritual law that states one receives / reaps as one sews
Pitta : The name of the governing principle of Creation relating to transformation reactions. It is responsible for digestion, absorption, assimilation, metabolism, complexion, body temperature, vision, courage and enthusiasm.
Prakriti : This term is used to describe the idea of constitution, especially bodily constitution, and is elaborated in terms of vata, pitta, and kapha doshas
Prana : A subtle essence of all energy forms; hence, the energetic essence of all creation. The particular prana of foods determines whether and how foodstuffs are used.
Pranayama : Generally, this term refers to controlled breathing for the purpose of controlling the mind. It is a set of practices designed to move energy around the body; health–mental, emotional, physical, spiritual–is its outcome.
Rajas : (Rajasic) The mobilization of energy by Consciousness in such a manner as to produce action, attraction, repulsion, desire and so on.
Sattva : (Sattvic) That style of functioning of Consciousness which embraces balanced use of the mind, body and senses thus promoting wisdom, compassion, clarity, health and long life.
Tamas : (Tamasic) That style of functioning of Consciousness which embraces notions of darkness, inertia, insensitivity, ignorance and so on.
Vaidya : One who knows. A respectful title of an Ayurvedic medical practitioner, indicating appreciation of the depth and scope of knowledge in the training of this science; note that the title only connotes being a healer indirectly.
Vata : The governing principle of Creation that has the most importance by having the ability to move all things. It is responsible for respiration, circulation, elimination, speech, motion, locomotion. It also governs all nervous system functioning, intuition, cheerfulness and creativity.
Click here for Ayurveda benefits & home remedies
1. Massage your face skin with fresh tomato juice and clean it with warm water after 1 or 2 hours, this simple ayurveda beauty tip helps in clearing pimples problem.
2. Drink a glass of apple juice every morning, it makes your skin shinning and beautiful.
3. Apply & massage fresh Aloe Vera gel taken from plant, it will get rid of black marks.
Myth 1 – Ayurveda is not a science at all?
Fact – Anything which works has its own science and operates on its own equations. Ayurveda is nothing different. Ayurveda is not only science but is beyond science. Many things in the core of Ayurveda are yet to be understood by the scientific world. Thorough reading, practise and understanding Ayurveda in its true unadulterated sense makes us realise that it is the greatest science that man has ever known.
Ayurveda needs no research works to support its existence or efficacy. It is a time tested science. It is unparalleled in its approach towards healing and preventive aspects.
The principles of life and medicine which were written followed and documented thousands of years ago hold good even today and will be applicable even in future whereas we have seen many medical systems to be struggling in the varying waves of un-predictabilities and un-certainties.
We simply don’t tell that Ayurveda is the mother of all medical sciences.
Myth 2 – Ayurveda is “By Chance” Medicine!
Fact – This concept is wrong and a product of preoccupancy or fear of competition or inadequate information or habit of criticizing.
Ayurveda is not about chances, it is more scientific than any other medicines. The reality is that many concepts are beyond the reach of scientific analysis. Ayurveda basics are totally different from the other medical systems and naturally the treatment too will depend on the ancient basics.
A thorough knowledge of the depths of Ayurveda is required to understand Ayurveda or its methodology and basics of treatment.
The medicines, formulations, treatment line-ups, dietetic protocol, lifestyle advises etc written in Ayurvedic books are the experiences of constant practise done by ancient teachers, doctors and stalwarts of Ayurvedic science, which has survived the acid test of evolution and is still standing tall. They are nothing less than scientific documentation.
Myth 3 – Ayurveda is slow acting??
Fact – People have a myth that Ayurveda is slow acting. Ayurveda might be the oldest documented medical science on the planet but it is not slow acting.
Slowness or quickness with respect to how a medicine acts depends on what type of medicine is chosen by the doctor and what type of morbidity is being attended.
We can find the quickest acting formulations in the core of Ayurvedic treatises.
Myth 4 – Ayurveda is free from side effects…!!!
Fact – Any medicines or treatment will have varied impact depending on how it is prescribed. Any medicine or treatment not prescribed with responsibility or administered by negligence can be harmful. This rule is also applicable to Ayurveda medicine.
Ayurveda was the first health science to have given an explanation of comprehensive medical or hospital care in terms of ‘Chikitsa Chatushpada’ or 4 limbs of treatment. This includes Bhishak (doctor), Dravya (medicine), Upastha (nursing staff or caretakers) and Rogi (patient). The coordinated approach of all these 4 limbs and equal effort put by all these forms the basis for effective cure.
Each limb has equal contribution to give if the disease needs to be effectively cured. Failure of any limb towards giving their 100% will lead to failure of the treatment and also might give rise to side effects and complications.
Myth 5 – Anything which is herbal is Ayurveda!!
Fact – Ayurveda is essentially a medical science or system which relies on herbal remedies and preparations. Ayurveda believes that the same elements of nature which make up our body also make up the plants and herbs. Thus when any element increases or decreases in the body, it will lead to the manifestation of various diseases, tissue and organ damages.
When the elements increase, herbs having antagonistic element which can deplete the excessive element is administered. The same is the truth when particular element decreases in the body. The herbs having antagonistic element which can increase the depleted element is administered. Thus the health is restored by balancing the important elements in the body.
Ayurveda as a medical science and is a current, hot and happening global trend. Thus Ayurveda is used for heavy and non-ethical marketing. People are marking and branding ‘Ayurvedic Product’ for any package of nonsense because they know that the word ‘Ayurveda’ will sell their product.
Remember & Beware ‘Ayurveda is all herbal’ and ‘All Herbal may not be Ayurveda’.
Myth 6 – Ayurveda medicines do not have EXPIRY!
Fact – Everything has an expiry date. Something does expire quickly and something’s late. Ayurveda was the first medical science which scientifically explained about the shelf lives and expiry of various forms of medicines.
According to classical reference some medicines do not have an end life. Some medicines get better and derive great healing properties as they get older. But the fact is, most of the medicines have an expiry time.
Myth 7 – ‘Traditional healers’ are Ayurvedic Doctors?
Fact – Traditional healers gain wisdom of curing some diseases from familial practices. The art of healing is passed on through a system of hierarchy. The medicines or herbs used in these practices are kept secret. They are not revealed to any others apart from the successor who has pledged to carry on the system ahead. These people collect medicines from the natural resources like forests etc and prepare the medicines.
Traditional healers are quite different from qualified Ayurvedic doctors though what they do and the way in which they have been practicing looks similar. Traditional healers may not be qualified or certified to call themselves or tag themselves with ‘Ayurvedic Doctor’ term.
Traditional healers too use a set of herbal medicines which have been carried over from familial knowledge and practice the same. Some traditional practitioners are equally successful.
Myth 8 – Ayurvedic medicines are safe enough to be brought over the counter!
Fact – Any medicine taken without being prescribed by a qualified doctor is equal to poison. No medicine is universal and everything doesn’t suit everyone. The same medicine which has provided good relief in a given person can be reactive or lethal at some other instance. This rule is applicable to Ayurvedic medicines also.
In fact no medicine should be brought on counter unless prescribed by a qualified and experienced Ayurvedic Doctor. You also need to know whether it can eradicate your illness.
Many products are marketed in news-papers and media and the advertisements are so appealing and attractive that common man falls into the temptation of procuring it especially those which decrease weight, anti-diabetes medicines, fertility medicines etc.
Some things which are sold in the name of medicines are nothing short of business trends. Such products have really become a headache and challenge to the real traditional-holistic and pure form of Ayurveda.
Myth 9 – Ayurvedic doctors are stringent in advising tight and rigorous diet schedules!
Fact – Ayurvedic doctors do advice diet but they do not cut short the quality and quantity of food you have been taking. They may help you in keeping away from the food stuffs which might harm your constitution and cause health disturbances or aggravate an existing illness. They may also advice you to take something in excess which might suit you and also help in overcoming the disease process.
Ayurveda many times is stringent in advocating diet changes and in implementing diet restrictions.
According to Ayurveda ‘Pathya’ or wholesome diet and life-style advises are an essential part of healing. They complement and supplement a properly administered medicine or treatment and enable in quick healing. Diet by itself is medication. In many sorts of illnesses the diet works more than the medicine.
Ayurveda tells ‘Sankshepataha Kriya Yogo Nidana Parivarjanam’ i.e. the best form of treatment is avoidance of causative factors.
Eat better…live better..
Myth 10 – Ayurvedic medicines are bitter and have horrible palatability…!!!
Fact – The million dollar question is what is important – health or taste of medicine? Bitter is always better. Not all Ayurvedic medicines are bitter or astringent. Most of them have bitter taste and are not palatable because of the herbal ingredients they have. It also depends on the combination of various herbs in the formulations.
If we are looking for palatability, we will be left out with less or almost negligible options of herbs which can be used as medicines.
Myth 11 – Ayurvedic medicines increase body heat!!!
Fact – This is another ridiculous myth surrounding Ayurveda. According to Ayurvedic principles, the body functions are governed and maintained by a balance between cold (Vata and Kapha) and hot (Pitta) factors (elements or humors). When there is a proportional imbalance between these factors, the equilibrium and rhythm of physiology of the body is disturbed which further sets a platform for manifestation of various diseases.
Ayurvedic medicines neither increase heat nor cold in the body, nor do they decrease them. Many times the medicines are given to correct the imbalances in heat and cold elements of the body and to restore them back to normal. In due process the temperature variations can take place for a limited time which also indicates recovery of the body from certain ailments.
A few people might experience some heat related changes while consuming Ayurvedic medicines because of the metabolic changes as a response of the medicines but this may be temporary. This doesn’t happen always and with everybody.
Myth 12 – Ayurvedic medicines have toxic chemicals and heavy metals?
Fact – Ayurvedic medicines are available in the form of Herbal, Mineral or Herbo-Mineral forms. Rasa Shastra or the Indian Metallurgy (Study of Metals and Minerals) was the earliest science belonging to Ayurveda where the other form of Nature i.e. Metals and Minerals were used as medicines either individually or in combination with herbs.
At the same time care is taken to purify and sterilize each and every metal or mineral of its impurities and toxins and make them fit for human use.
Anything which is used with utmost care and precaution will surely not act as a toxin. Ayurveda being a holistic and comprehensive health care system will have no intentions in harming the patient by using crude metals into the medicaments.
The art of prescription is the key. Rasa Shastra has in its belly many life-saving remedies. By not using this form of medicines provided by nature, we would be guilty of not saving many lives.
The question is why use them when we have many other options! That is true. But these minerals and or herbo-minerals are the only choices in combating certain diseases.
When it comes to restoring health and saving a life, yes we should use these priceless medicines. Because nothing is precious than a life and we can’t play with it.
Myth 13 – Ayurvedic doctors and hospitals charge heavily…!!!
Fact – Blame it on popularity! Ayurveda is equated to a term called BUSINESS due to the selfish motives of a few doctors, hospitals and franchises where-in they are targeting the income (as a monthly target) rather than addressing health issues.
Many Ayurvedic medicines and treatments include a lot of expenditure including the cost of rare herbs, time taken and methodologies of preparation, laborious work and lot more which makes the cost per unit of medicine and treatment high.
Many times medicines and treatment shall have to be planned only for a given patient. In such cases, the cost will be high. Some doctors do not prefer patent and marketed products. They prepare highly effective medicines on a small scale basis which again genuinely hikes the price per unit of the medicines.
Myth 14 – Ayurveda is many…!!!
Fact – Many people think that Ayurveda is many and has different forms. The fact is Ayurveda doesn’t exist in many forms…it is always SINGLE AYURVEDA at anytime.
There is nothing like a Kerala Ayurveda, Karnataka Ayurveda, Gujarat Ayurveda, Bihar Ayurveda etc.
Just before finish…..
Ayurveda is the best time-tested medical science which was, is and will be available at the service of ailing mankind. It has time and again proved ‘Old is Gold’ saying. Ayurveda has given hope to hopeless, life to those with worst prognosis and fortified health and rejuvenation to those who want to maintain health.
Since it is a science at disposal for both healthy and ailing, it stands as a holistic and comprehensive health-care system. Just experience it and you will never complain for getting healthier, rejuvenated and fit like never before.
Spread the fragrance of this divine science to everyone in your circle.