Basic Concepts of Ayurveda
Ayurveda is described as the science of life. It explains the ideal way to lead a healthy and cheerful life. Ayurveda aims to maintain the health of a healthy human life and to get a remedy for the problems of an unhealthy condition. To achieve this Ayurveda describes a detailed way of life and regimens. The chikitsa (treatment ) is only a part of Ayurveda but the most important area of Ayurveda.
Ayurveda treatment is based on the panchamahabhootha concept , the five elements (Pruthvi – earth, Ap – water, Thejus – fire, Vayu – air, Akasha – ether (space). All the materials are made up of panchamahabhoothas. These panchamahabhoothas combine in various ratios and proportions and make each and everything different and unique. Based on this concept, the human body, food materials as well as medicine, all are made up of panchamahabhoothas in different compositions. That is why food and medicines can make an influence on the human body.
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Doshas are the functional units of the body and are of three types; vata, pitha and kapha. Doshas represent “groups of physiological activities going on continuously in the body, so long one is alive”. Hence, by watching these physiological activities or their aberrations, health or illness can be assessed. Thus, doshas are the windows of health or disease. They destroy or maintain the body when vitiated or not, respectively.
Dhatus are the structural units of the body. Dhatu is that which supports body, mind and soul. Their main functions are dhaarana (to support) and poshana (to nourish). They are called as saptadhatus and are;
Meda (Fat tissues)
The excretory products of the body are termed as mala. They include mutra (urine), shakrit (feces) and sweda (sweat)
Prakruthi (constitution) is a non-pathological doshik status, which is inherited in the individual from birth to death. It is the proportion of the doshas- vata, pitha and kapha, which represents the ideal state of balance of that particular individual. The Prakruthi of a person remains unchanged during one’s lifetime since it is genetically determined. It is inherited during the fertilization of ovum and sperm in the mother’s womb itself and hence the various factors that determine prakruthi are the state of existence of doshas in dominance in sperm, ovum, pregnant woman, her diet, her activities, uterus and during the period of ovulation.
Types of Prakruti
Importance of Prakruthi Assessment
How prakruthi is assessed?
Vata Prakruthi – low quality
Pitha Prakruthi – moderate quality
Kapha Prakruthi – good quality
Vatapithakapha Prakruthi – best quality
From the perspective of the Ayurvedic physician, precise determination of the Prakruthi is highly important as it is the first step in formulating a course of treatment for each patient. It is also helpful for an individual to modify the lifestyle to prevent the disease and to promote health.
For example; Consider a person with kapha prakruthi is suffering from insomnia, tensions and having a very stressful life. For these problems, shirovasti or thakradhara on the head is an apt treatment but due to his kapha prakriti, one cannot do it on this individual. If it is done, it may lead to some other diseases. This is the role of prakruthi assessment in patients.
One’s prakruthi is assessed through different criteria. It includes their voice, way of speech, likes and dislikes, determination power, way of walking, concentration, eating habits, appetite, bowel, sleep, hobbies, habits, color and texture of skin, eyes, etc.
Basic Concept of Treatment
The equilibrium stage of dosha, dhathu and mala along with clear athma (soul), indriya (sense organs) and manas (mind), is the healthy state and the disturbance in any of these is the diseased condition. So Ayurveda, treats a person as a whole considering the variation in the dosha,dhathu and mala, to restore its equilibrium. According to Ayurveda, the disturbance in the vital areas can happen due to defective food habits, physical activities and mental attitude. The basics of Ayurveda treatment methodology are samana (subsiding treatment) and sodhana (expulsion treatment). The application or choosing of the methodology depends upon the strength of the patient and the severity of the disease. The prakruthi (body nature) is also an influencing factor in the treatment.