Ayurveda is a system of traditional medicine, originated in India more than 3,000 years ago. The term Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit words ‘aayus’ (life) and ‘veda’ (science or knowledge). Hence the term Ayurveda means the science of
life or life science. Aayus also means longevity and hence the term also could mean the science of longevity.
History of medicine is a fascinating subject as it is a saga of man's struggle against disease. As the civilization advances and as the disease pattern changes, the medical science also changes. Ayurveda is the system of medicine that evolved in India with a rational logical foundation and it has survived as a distinct entity from remote antiquity to the present day. The fundamentals on which the Ayurvedic system is based are essentially true for all times and do not change from age to age.
These are based on human actors, on intrinsic causes. The origin of Ayurveda is attributed to Atharva Veda where mention is made several diseases with their treatments. Later, from the 6 th Century BC to 7 th Century AD there was systematic development of the science and it is called Samhita period, when a number of classical works were produced by several authors and during this period there is evidence of organized medical care. Ayurveda places great emphasis to encourage maintaining health by paying close attention to balance in one’s life through right thinking, diet, lifestyle and use of herbs. Holistic and Natural Approach Ayurveda, as the meaning science of life already shows, is more than just a medical system: It touches all the different aspects of human life and gives recommendations for the best possible lifestyle. Ayurveda places great value on the prevention of diseases instead of just curing them. A therapy does not only focus on the single complaint or symptom of the patient, but the person as a whole. With this holistic approach, Ayurveda clearly aims at finding the root of the disease to eliminate it. The Ayurvedic system provides detailed instructions for seasonal and daily routines, nutrition, sleep, and even sexual behaviour – always with the goal to heal from diseases and support the health. It strengthens the body’s own immunity system to help it heal the body itself. It is a holistic and nature-based healing system which knows almost no side-effects (except for positive ones). And everyone can benefit from it, regardless their nationality or background.
Healing and Prevention
Ayurveda has two main intentions: On one hand, it is focused on curing from a disease and therefore covers the functionalities of all physiological systems in the human body – from childhood age over adolescence to the different ages of adult life. On the other hand, it is about remaining and improving the health. This preventive focus is more a wellness area. The concept and the effectiveness of Ayurveda considers a person more in its holistic perspective and integrates everything necessary to make that person healthy and happy. It helps to prolongate the life expectancy by a good health and inner balance.
The medical system of Ayurveda includes
1. Internal & External Medications
2. Detoxification treatments called Panchakarma.
Internal & External Medication
The medicines in Ayurveda are usually prepared from herbs, minerals and herbo-minerals. The main sources of medicines are herbs itself & they are made in the form of decoctions, powders, ghee, jams, tablets, oils etc single herbs as well as in combinations. Ayurveda medicines are available in different modes according to the difference in mode of preparations. They include-
These medicines are prepared with different combinations which can be used in different disease conditions.
Panchakarma (meaning “five actions”)
According to the Father of Ayurveda Charaka, the five treatment actions are
These five major procedures in Panchakarma are meant to purify the whole body by eliminating the accumulated toxins from it.
Another school of thought, that of the surgeon Sushruta, regards Rakta (blood) also as a dosha (humor), the vitiation of which can cause diseases, and advocates Raktamokshana (bloodletting) as the fifth in the Panchakarma therapies. In this school, the five therapies are this
fivefold therapy is aimed at Shodhana, the eradication of the basic cause of disease. Shodhana or eradication, along with Shamana, the mitigation of the disease and its symptoms, are the two concepts of disease management in Ayurveda. Panchakarma, as believed by practitioners, has a rejuvenating effect when it is subjected to a healthy person.
Panchakarma is always performed in three stages, and they are
The patient who opts for any one of the five therapies must invariably undergo all three stages.
Purva Karma (Pre-treatment) mainly consists of oil therapy, massage and fomentation therapy. Snehana is administering oleation, or sneha or snigdha dravyas in the form of thailam or ghritham to the body.
Oil massage (Sanskrit: abhyanga) is an important treatment in Ayurveda. It involves a therapeutic massage of around 45 minutes, and it is helpful to treat diseases.
Treatment Swedana is a fomentation or sudation therapy given to the whole or part of the body depending on the disease. The ama or the impurities that reaches the Koshta is believed to be eliminated during the Pradhana Karma (primary treatment). This is the panchakarma itself, when care is given with the classical treatments under the strict supervision of Physicians. During the treatments, food is given according to the degree of purification intended for the body.
To complete the healing process, dietary regimens, restricted bodily exertion and the intake of herbs believed to promote health, are followed and they come under the Paschat Karma (post-treatment). Paschatkarma would include administering required food for the body after the purification of the body, to intensify the agni (digestion power), which will be usually subsided after Panchakarma.