General Introduction

Any science survives through different generations and flows from one generation to another. Nature has its unique ways to make or break a system. The oral tradition of this science is timeless and the written tradition dates back around 5,000 years. Ayurveda is a holistic art and science that utilizes natural herbs and minerals to promote well-being and maintain balance.

What Exactly Is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is defined as “The science of life or knowledge of life.”

Ayurveda is an ancient system for living beings and has been the world's oldest science of health care which is still growing and emerging as a renowned name regarding health issues.

Ayurveda is the oldest system on earth related to health and wellness. Its date of origin is based on the oldest written texts, just like Yoga. Two features of Vedic Texts are - Yoga and Ayurveda.

Basic Principles Of Ayurveda

According to Ayurveda, there are three basic fundamental biological humors also called the "tri-energies" found inside every living being who are totally controlling the universe and are responsible for planetary movements (Vata), their formation and destruction (Pitta), generation and maintenance of new life, and (Kapha), these are – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Our diet, behavior, emotions, the seasons and our life style all have a great impact on the balance of these tri energies. Their balance is responsible for "health" or "harmony", whereas their imbalance leads to the disease infecting. These govern all the processes in all levels of our life like - Vata governs all movements, Pitta governs heat and transformation and Kapha governs growth, lubrication and structure. Ayurveda's main principle of healing is to understand the nature to maintain the balance of Vata, Pitta and Kapha by alteration in our diet, our lifestyle, and our thoughts, and that too through herbal medicines.

Eight Branches Of Ayurveda

Ayurveda has eight different branches, collectively known as "Ashtang'' Ayurveda. The word "Asht" stands for eight and the word ''Ang'' means limbs. The eight branches are -

  1. Baala Chikitsa (Pediatrics)
  2. Damstra Chikitsa – Agad Tantra (Toxicology)
  3. Graha Chikitsa or Bhoot Vidya (Psychiatry)
  4. Kaaya Chikitsa (Internal medicine)
  5. Jara Chikitsa – Rasayana (Geriatrics)
  6. Shalyaroga Chikitsa (Surgery)
  7. Urdhyaanga Chikitsa (Eyes, nose, throat, head-related diseases)
  8. Vrishya Chikitsa or Vajjikarana (Aphrodisiac therapy)

"Kaayabaala graha urdhvaanga shalya damshtra jara vrshan 

Ashtau angaani tasyaahuhchikitsa yeshu samsthitaah."

- Ashtanga hrdayam

Following Are Some Concepts Of Ayurveda Related To Our Body, Health And Herbs

Manas Prakriti - The word Prakriti is made up of two words- PRA + KRITI. Pra means the beginning/source or origin and kriti means form. Word swabhab, sharrir and uttpati are used for prakriti in vedic literature. Every human being is born with definite genetic constitution, determined by environmental factors, and the three doshas. Every human body has panchmahabhuta, tridosha and triguna, which are decided at the time of birth. "DEH PRAKRITI" is associated with physique, physiology and psychology and "MANAS PRAKRITI" is the parkriti associated with three gunas (satva, raja and tama).

Panchamahabhuta in the human body - Prithavi, Jala, Vayu, Akaash, Agni.

Tridosha in human body - Vata, Pitta, Kapha.

  • Vata - Combination of air and ether
  • Pitta - Combination of earth and fire
  • Kapha - Combination of ether and water.

Triguna in human body - Satva, Raja, Tama.

Seven Parameters for drug formulation, as per Ayurveda -

There are as follow -

  • Dravya (Substance)
  • Rasa (Taste)
  • Guna (Property)
  • Virya (Potency)
  • Vipaka (Post digestion effect)
  • Prabha (Therapeutics)
  • Karma (Pharmacological activity)

Dravya (Substance) - According to Ayurvedic principles, every component of the universe is dravya and is a substance used for medicinal purposes. Dravya includes - drugs derived from herbs, minerals and animal source. Dravya is the nucleus of Ayurvedic pharmacy, according to charaksamhita.

Rasa (Taste) - It represents taste.

Guna (Property) - It represents the physical properties of the drugs.

Virya (potency) - It represents an active constituent of the drug and is responsible for the pharmacological activity of the medicinal herb. These drugs have cold and hot potencies.

Vipaka (Post digestion effect) - This represents biotransformation of the drug after digestion.

Prabha (Therapeutics) - It represents the therapeutic activity of the drug.

Karma (Pharmacological activity) - It describes the pharmacological activity of the drug.

Classical reference -

Samadosha samagnisch samadhatu malakriya

Prasanna atma mana swastha iti abhidhiyate.

Meaning - This Shloka explains the symptoms of a healthy life. It states that a balanced state of Doshas, Dhatus (tissues), Agni (digestive fire), normal functioning of Mala (waste products), cheerful state of Atman (soul), sensory organs and mind are the symptoms of a healthy life. Imbalanced "Vata" leads to overactive mind, poor circulation, poor nerve conduction, loss of memory, irregular elimination and uncomfortable menses etc. Imbalanced "Pitta" can lead to heartburn, excess stomach acid, digestive fire, hot temper & inflammations. Imbalanced "Kapha" can lead to chronic congestion, weight gain, cellulite, cholesterol buildup, acne & oily skin etc. According to Ayurveda, diet, herbs in synergistic combination and meditation are used to restore balance, health and proper operation of the various systems. Ayurveda focuses on increasing health not on decreasing symptoms because where there is health, there is no room for disease. Ayurveda is the worlds' fastest growing health care system. The five elements (fire, earth, water, air & space) in their biological form combine to form these 3 energies in the body which are - The Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. They regulate physical functioning within our body and provide us with individual physical characteristics because the constitution of a person is primarily determined by the dominant dosha. No two persons are identical and the determination of constitution gives insight into deeper behavior, body type and with this it is possible to know which herb, diet, medicines will be suitable for a particular individual. It also becomes easier to outline the disease tendencies of the different body types; based upon that a person can plan diet and other routine activities. Your predominant dosha could be any one of the three, a combination of any two or all the three doshas in a balanced form.