Ayurveda is a system of medicine that finds its roots in the Indian subcontinent. It is one of the few systems of medicine developed in ancient times that is still widely practiced in modern times. During the colonial British rule of India, the practice of Ayurveda was neglected in favor of modern medicine by the British Indian Government. It was only after Indian independence that the focus on Ayurveda and other traditional medical systems increased. Ayurveda became a part of the Indian National health care system, with state hospitals for Ayurveda established across the country. Balance is the key factor that is emphasised by ayurveda; disturbance of which can lead to illness. Suppression of natural urges is considered unhealthy by the system. For example, suppression of a sneeze could give rise to a shoulder pain. However, human beings are cautioned to stay within limits and not just blindly follow their urges- emphasis is placed on moderation of food intake, sleep, and sexual intercourse.
Coming to principles and terminology;
Ayurveda names seven different tissues which are,
Ayurveda has also divided the elements of the body into:
Then there are twenty gunas arranged in ten pairs. These gunas are known to be inherent in all substances. They are:
Then comes the main elemental substances, the doshas, an imbalance of which results in diseases. The three doshas are:
The ayurvedic practitioners employ senses to diagnose illness. There are eight ways classified as:
- Sparsha (touch)
- Shabda (speech)
- Mala (stool)
- Jihva (tongue)
- Aakruti (appearance)
- Nadi (pulse)
- Druk (vision)
- Mootra (urine)
And finally for the treatment, Ayurveda believes that the technique of panchakarma eliminates toxic elements from the body. It is preceded by Poorva Karma as a preparatory step, and is followed by Paschat Karma and Peyadikarma. It includes Vamana, Virechana, Basti, Nasya and Raktamokshana.
The various Ayurveda therapies are:
Abhyangam: It implies synchronized massage to the whole body or local body parts as per the condition of disease.
Shirodhara: It is a procedure of pouring liquid form of medicine constantly on forehead for around an hour.
Shirovasti: It is a procedure of retaining warm medicated oil in a cap like structure structured on the head.
Swedanam: Also addressed as steam bath, it is considered as one among the poorva karmas and is carried on till the person is adequately sweating.
AvagahaSweda: It is a procedure in which the patient is made to sit in a tub containing medicated liquid for a certain period of time.
Ksheeradhoomam: In this, the face is exposed to the steam of medicated milk for a certain time.
Pichu: It involves application of cotton dipped in lukewarm medicated oil on local body parts such as head, lumbar region, cervical region, joints etc.