Thursday, 17 July 2014

Ayurveda and Health

The science teaches us what is good and what is bad in terms of what causes disease or cause them is Ayurveda say the Maharishis. Ayurveda helps achieve good in this life as well as next life as per Indian philosophy.

Originally India is called Bharath. BHA means illumination, RATH means involved. Hence Bharath means one who is illumined with knowledge.

The four Vedas and Upanishads that constitutes Vedanta are the storehouses of Knowledge and they are the Encyclopedia of the world.

The four Vedas – Rig, Sam, Yajur and Atharva which are the ancient texts and Ayurveda originated from these ancient texts. Ayurveda is part of Atharva Veda. It is the oldest treatise released to health. It comprises 1,000 chapters containing 1, 00,000 verses and is more than 4,000 years old.

The word Ayurveda is a combination of two words, Ayu as in Ayush means life and Veda means life. Hence Ayurveda is the science of life that imparts knowledge of not just the physical but also the psychological and spiritual wellbeing of mankind.

As per Indian philosophy there are four aims to be accomplished by man. They are

·         Dharma – righteousness
·         Arth – wealth
·         Kama – desire
·         Moksha – salvation.

To achieve this aim the healthy body is essential and so it is claimed that Shariramadhyam Kula Dharma Sadhanam. Through a strong body only, the fur noble aims have to be realized. So Ayurveda gives prime importance to the health of the body and mind. If the person is healthy and free from disease only then he can follow his daily routine properly, perform his duties efficiently, derive pleasure from any activity, earn his living from any enterprise and serve the society and nation. A healthy body is the first of seven pleasures to be attained, says Dharmashastra. Therefore it is concluded:

||Dharmartha kaama mokshana moraagyam Moola Murttammam||
Health is the basis of Duty, Wealth, Desire and Liberation.

Physical wear and tear is natural. Hence for a long and healthy life, following a proper diet and a good life style assumes great importance. This is the highest duty towards oneself, says Ayurveda.

Health is wealth and not vice versa. Unfortunate are those who are vested with unlimited wealth but cannot enjoy it because of poor health. He has to lead a miserable life. So good life and good diet becomes inevitable observes Ayurveda.

A galaxy of great Sages like Dhanvantari, Bharadwaj, Punarvasu, Atreya, Agnivesh and Parashar studied Ayurveda and handed down to their disciples. Later great Scholars like Charaka, Sushruta and Vagabhatacharya researched Ayurveda and created volumes for the benefit of all. They are Charaka Samhita, Sushrut Samhita and Ashtang Hridayam.

These classic compositions are admired all over the world.

All the four Vedas deal with different aspects of medicine and healing. Vedas mention the basic principles of Three Doshas – Vayu, Pitta, Kapha and also the ‘The Seven Dhatus’ like Rasa, Meda and Majja of digestion and metabolism process.

Thus the basic principles of Ayurveda are in accordance with the Indian philosophical scriptures. The basis of Ayurveda as per Sankhya Yoga, the five great elements: the Space, Wind, Fire, Water and Earth combine to create the entire living and nonliving world. The fundamental belief of Ayurveda is that the human body is basically composed of three energy components called the Three Doshas and Three Malas and these are made up of earth and the liquid part is with water.

The empty spaces in the body are the element of space. Air is the subtle part in the body. The food we ingest is metabolized by the fire element. In addition various physical and mental processes are carried out with the help of the element air. Different kinds of foods and medicine that nourish and treat the body are also constituted of these five elements. I the food material, the elements are identified by basic tastes which are sweet, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent.



Three Doshas: - There are three energies in the body- Vata, Pitta and Kapha. They get spoilt because o0f the food we eat and our erratic life styles and due to which either they are increased or decreased which causes fault hence are called Doshas. These three Doshas are the basis of the body and is responsible for creation, preservation and destruction. All bodily processes, physical or chemical are controlled by them. The body becomes susceptible to disease when Doshas are imbalanced. The two reasons for corruption of these Doshas are
1.      Increase in the level present in the body.
2.      Decrease in the normal

An increase in the amount of Dosha Spoils the Dhatus and leads to disease. Therefore a balance in the three Doshas is essential says Ayurveda.

            The Three Doshas and their functions:-

Vayu: Vayu is the element Air, Vayu is responsible for movements, hence it generates motion and vitality in the body. Vayu is responsible for nervous function. It controls the mind, the senses and the motor organs. Vayu also stimulates the digestive enzymes for digestion. The srotas- channels in the body are made of Vayu. Communications between various organs is also due to Vayu. Without the Vayu Dosha, Pitta Dosha and the Kapha Dosha becomes ineffective. Elimination of wastes (Mala) is due to Vayu.

Being active and mobile, the Vayu Dosha can transport other Doshas to various parts of the body, where they are not required, increasing their levels and causing imbalance. Hence many ailments are due to Vayu Doshas and are 80 in number.

Pitta: that which generates heat energy in the body is called Pitta Dosha. Pitta regulates the enzymes and the hormones in the body. The food we ingest and the oxygen we breathe in is converted into Doshas, Dhatus and Malas by Pitta. Pitta maintains the body temperature and digest food. It imparts colour to the blood and skin. Pitta also controls mental functions like intellect, courage and happiness. When pitta is not in balance the digestion is adversely affected and energy level goes down. Kapha begins to accumulate in the lungs and heart.

Kapha: the kapha Dosha originates from water. Kapha provides nutrition to the body and regulates the other two Doshas, pittas and vayu. Kapha makes the organs of the body moist and lubricates joints, increases strength, enthusiasm, heals wounds, strengthens the immunity, provides energy, promotes patience, knowledge and wisdom regulated mental balance and also protects the tissues from wear and tear. Kapha is the primary reason for lethargy and inertia. If Kapha decreases, pitta and vayu increases and damages the Dhatus, joints heart and body parts.

The three Doshas and Five elements:

The three Doshas are made up of five elements:

Vayu: Space and Air.
Pitta: Fire and Water.
Kapha: Water and Earth.




Although pervading the entire body, the Doshas are prominent in certain regions in the body.

Dosha                                    Location

Vayu                            Below the navel, urinary bladder intestines, pelvic region, thighs, legs and bones.

Pitta                             Between the navel and chest, sweat, lymph, blood and stomach.

Kapha                          Upper part of the throat, head, neck, joints, upper portion of the stomach and fat tissues of the body.


Attributes of the Three Doshas

Vayu is the mobile, dry, cold, light, minute, rough. These attributes can be felt when breathing air in the state of excitement. When Vayu is the aggravated it leads to dryness, roughness, stiff body, pain similar to needle prick, joint pain, brittle bones shivering, numbness in limbs, constipation and pain in the nails and teeth. Reasons for aggravation are suppressing natural urges like excretion, urination and sneezing, eating before digestion of previous meals, sleeping late, talking loudly, exerting more, bumpy rides in vehicle, eating too much- dry pungent bitter things over eating dry fruits, worrying and feeling tense always. Over indulgence in sexual activity, fasting, over eating cold food, being afraid.

Remedies: consumption of ghee, only food, bathing with warm water fermentation and oil massage would help the Vayu to pacify. Love and reassurance would reduce further.

Symptoms of Low Vayu:
Slowing down of various physiological functions, unhappiness reduction in perceptive powers, weariness, disinterest in speech, nausea, indigestion etc. Light, cold, bitter, pungent and spicy food items increase Vayu.

Pitta: This is hot, slightly greasy pungent, liquid and smells.

Effects on Psychology- When Pitta Dosha dominates in the body, it is called pitta constitution. Such people have excessive hunger and thirst, greying of hair and baldness, sharpness of character, strong digestive power, excessive sweating, urine and excreta, etc.

Symptoms of Aggravated Pitta: Fatigue, lack of strength and sleep, excessive sweating, burning, sensation darkening of complexion, anger, dizziness, fainting, yellowing of skin, stool, urine, nails and eyes, bitter taste in the mouth are unique symptoms of aggravated Pitta.

Causes Consumption of large quantities of bitter, sour, hot, spicy, fermented food and drinks increases Pitta.  Consuming dry vegetables, alkaline foods, exposure to too much heat and sun, indigestion, anger, fear and depression affect Pitta Dosha. Food items like mustard oil, yogurt, butter milk, vinegar, intoxicating drinks, cream of boiled milk, meat, and mutton aggravates Pitta.

Remedies: Causes of aggravation of pitta are to be discontinued. Intake of ghee is very useful remedy. When pitta falls down reduction in digestive powers, body temperature, radiance and sheen on skin and feeling of coldness would occur. Therefore pitta increasing food and herbal medicine are to be used. Herbal preparations which increase pitta should be used.

Kapha: Kapha is sweet, oily, heavy, soft, firm, cold, mist and white. People with dominant Kapha Dosha have Kapha body type. People with dominant Kapha Dosha have Kapha body type. People with Kapha constitution have abundance of strength material wealth, knowledge and peace. They also have a long life span.

Symptoms of Vitiated Kapha: Feeling languid, increased sleep, feeling sweet taste in the mouth, feeling cold, itchy, heavy swelling, congestion, increased secretion in the eyes, nose, muscles, retarded response cough, depression and feeling of lifelessness.

Reasons: Over eating, sweet, sour heavy oily, moist foods, foods containing meat, fish, sesames, sugarcane and milk, eating before digestion of previous meals, lack of exercise, sleeping during the day, lack of physical activity, all these are increase Kapha Dosha. Other foods that increases Kapha are curds, milk, rice pudding, sea food, fat, water chestnut, coconut, green guard and pumpkin and other vegetables that grow on creepers.

Remedies: Precautions are to be taken about the above food items to restore Kapha balance. Consumption of honey will help, using pungent and hot herbal preparations would help to balance Kapha. Exercising, running, sit ups, swimming and being active would help to balance Kapha. Low Kapha displays symptoms of dryness, burning sensation, looseness of joints and lack of sleep, induced vomiting is good as per Ayurveda. Pungent and hot substances should be used for induced vomiting.

The Seven Dhatus

The most important elements that make up our body are the Dhatus. They are the tissues which form our body structure, nourish and sustain it. There are seven types of Dhatus.





Dhatus
Dominant Element
1
Rasa – Chyle or Plasma
Water.
2
Rakta – Blood, Hemoglobin pat
Fire.
3
Mamsa – Muscle Tissue
Earth.
4
Med – Fat Tissue
Earth.
5
Asthi – Bone Tissue
Air and Space.
6
Majja – Bone Marrow
Fire.
7
Shukra – Ovum in female
Sperm in Male (Reproductive tissue)
Water.






 Blood tissue includes blood vessels and all tissues connected with the blood system. Like the Three Doshas the seven Dhatus are also composed of five elements and one or two elements dominates the Dhatus. The Dhatus are formed as a result of five elements and one or two elements dominates the Dhatus. The Dhatus are formed as a result of the action of the digestive fire that breaks down the food in the stomach and the gastro- intestinal tract.  The digestive systems breaks down foods into two parts – the Saar – which is nourishing and Mala – which is the waste product that needs to be excreted. The Saar is carried to different parts of the body by Vyanvayu, where it nourishes and replenishes the Rasa and Rakta Dhatus.

Conversion of food into the building blocks of the body i.e. the Dhatus takes place in a definite order. Food is first converted into Rasa, Dhatu, which then is transformed into Rakta, then converted into Mamsa, Mamsa to Med, Med into Asthi, Asthi into Majja and finally Majja is converted and processed into Shukra. The by-products are tissues or substances that are either used in the body or expelled by it, once they have served their purpose. The sequence of tissue formation is a series of processes each generating one of the tissue types and the raw material for the next product. Under this system, the product of the seven processes is most refined as its raw materials have undergone a series of transformation. Many days go by the processing of the first product to the last product in refined Ojas.

The end product is dependant in the previous product. It is a chain effect. The first workshop produces plasma of the blood. The seventh workshop produces reproductive tissues. As per Charaka,

It is a chain system as well as a circuit system.


            Wastes: (Malas) A constant flow of nutrient’s, tissues and waste products move into, around and out of the body. The body expels three waste products – urine, sweat and feces. These substances also have important physiological functions as a part of a well-balanced healthy system. Urine helps the water balance. Sweat keeps the skin moist and supple and feces give support the colon and body.

              Strength and Ojas: Good health and strong body are inseparable. A healthy body is a strong body. Strength refers to physical energy that helps to do tasks and lift heavy things. Good food and exercise nourish all muscles and make them stable and strong. Sushrut has differentiated between Bala- Strength and Ojas- Vitality. The quality of the voice and the glow of the skin is determined by Ojas. All external and internal parts of the body are able to perform their tasks well because of Ojas. Ojas- Shukra is a very important and vital element of the body and is dominated by the qualities of the element water. The final product of Ras, Rakt, Med, Majja and other Dhatus in the body is called Ojas. Ojas is elastic, oily, cold, white liquid and is located in the heart. In the transformation of food from Rasa to Shukra Dhatu, every step releases Ojas. As bees collect honey from flower, digestive fires collet Ojas from the Dhatus. Even though it permeates the entire body, it is located in the heart from where the arteries carry and distribute it throughout the body. Ojas is moist and has a reddish yellowish and whitish hue. It has two types.

1.   Par- located in the heart, its normal amount is 8 points, its absence leads to death.
2.   Apar is spread over the entire body, its normal amount is about a handful, a decrease in Apar, Ojas leads to lifelessness, indifference and reduced immunity.


Ojas lends strength and radiance to the body. Being the essence of all Dhatus its decline in the body leads to a corresponding decline in the ability of the Dhatus to support the body even when they are in balance. It keeps all Dhatus Steady and nourished. All physical, mental, sensory and motor functions are made possible by Ojas in times of joy and sorrow. It is also a source of will power, determination, patience and enthusiasm. It refines speech and complexion and strengthens immunity. It is the foundation of health and happiness. Without Ojas external medication is of no use. On losing Ojas, one becomes immune to all treatment.

Symptoms of decrease of Ojas – A timid and sacred personality, dry and lusterless appearance, a general listlessness, weakness in the mind and body, worries and tension, painful and fatigued organs, and loss of zest of life.

Causes of decrease- Anger, fear, worrying, sorrow and other psychological excitements, inadequate diet, excessive fasting, eating and drinking too many rough, dry and harsh foods, overwork, insomnia, emaciation due to sickness, excessive secretion of Kapha, Mala, Blood and semen and external injury can result in loss of Ojas. The disease commonly known as Aids result in drastic reduction of Ojas levels in the body.





Digestion and Metabolism

The proteins, carbohydrates, oils, vitamins etc. which are ingested a food nourish the Dhatus and provide strength and colour, intelligence, longevity etc. but this is possible only when the ingested external elements are successively converted into bodily elements. This entire process is called digestion and metabolism, and the substances that carry out these processes are referred to as Agnis. Different enzymes are produces y these Agnis in the stomach, lover and Dhatu channels to carry out the digestion.  The entire digestive system begins in the mouth. The food mixed with saliva and taste is perceived. Food then moves to the stomach where it turns watery foamy, soft and smooth due to the action of the stomach juice which is liquid and oily. Here foamy kapha and sweet Rasa are produced. This half-digested food reaches the intestines via duodenum. Here ‘samaan vayu’ and ‘pachak pitta’ act upon it, segregate the food into two parts 1) Saar 2) Asaar or kitt. If Saman Vayu and Pachak Pitta are low in intensity then the toxins are formed and the ras becomes sour and bitter. These toxins are the cause of disease.

The digested Saar used for further nourishment and Asaar which is not digested properly becomes the kitt (waste). Its solid part becomes stool, the liquid part becomes urine, and collects in the bowels. The Agnis convert the form of five elements in the digestive food to match the form food found in the body. This nourishes the earth element formed in the body.

This Ahaar ras is circulated around the body as the Ras Dhatu though the srotas – channels. This nourishing Ras in which are inherent building blocks of all Dhatus, thus reaches all the parts of the body. The digestive actions of the Agni- enzymes replenishes Dhatus and produces Ojas, Pitta, plays a vital role in this entire digestive process. So Ayurveda dos not differentiate between Agni and Pitta.

Aama Toxins- When the Ahaar Ras nutritive part of the ingested foo is not properly digested due to decreased activity of Agni or enzymes, it turns toxic and is called Aama Ras or toxins. This causes various ailments in the body. As toxins are not acceptable to the body, they accumulate in different parts of the body like lungs, heart and other organs. The four cavities that usually attract toxins are the brain, chest, abdomen and rectum of which, the abdomen is the most common site of Aama Ras accumulation. This leads to dyspepsia and other disorders.

  Aama Ras affects the Agnis weakening the metabolic process and causing food to remain undigested, blocking the srotas- the body channels. This leads to blockage in the srotas due to sweat, urine etc. Weakness, heaviness, improper circulation of vayu, laziness, increased salivation, phlegm formation, fatigue etc. are the symptoms of Aama disease. In a normal person digestive powers keep gaining strength till the age of 60 and after 60 begins to decline, which prevents the bod from getting all nutrients that it needs. The body weakens and the quantity of wastes increases. A person also experiences the draining of mental faculties. This is termed as old age. If Agni enzymes are strengthened the ageing process will be arrested.