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What is Ayurveda?

"AYURVEDA" is made up of two words-Ayur and Veda. Ayur means life and Veda means knowledge or science. Thus "AYURVEDA’ in totality means ‘Science of life’. It incorporates all aspects of life whether physical, psychological, spiritual or social. What is beneficial and what is harmful to life? What is happy life and what is sorrowful life? All these four questions and life span allied issues are elaborately and emphatically discussed in Ayurveda. It believes the existence of soul before birth and after death too.

 

What is the origin of Ayurveda?

Ayurveda, the ancient most health care system originated with the origin of universe. With the inception of human life on earth Ayurveda started being applied. The antique Vedic texts have scattered references of Ayurvedic Remedies and allied aspects of medicine and health. Atharvaveda mainly deals with extensive Ayurvedic information. That is why Ayurveda is said to be the off shoot of Atharvaveda.

 

What is Ayurvedic viewpoint of structure and functions of body ?

Universe as well as human body is made up of five basic elements collectively called ‘Panch Mahabhootas’. These are Aakash (Ether), Vayu (Air), Agni (Fire), Aapa (Water) and Prithvi (Earth). The sixth mandatory component of life is Atma (life spirit) without which life ceases. The human body is made up of Doshas (Bio-humors), Dhatus (Body matrix) and Malas (extractable products). Vata, Pitta and Kapha, known as Tridoshs are physiological entities of the body which are responsible for carrying out all the functions of the body. Dhatus are the structural entities of the body. These are Rasa (Plasma), Rakta (Blood cells), Mamsa (Muscular tissue), Meda (Fatty tissue), Asthi (Bony tissue), Majja (Bone marrow) and Shukra (Hormonal and other secretions of genital). Agni (Metabolic fire) is in thirteen different forms and carries out the whole metabolism of the body. The waste products of the body which are extractable are produced in the body as by-products of metabolism. These are known as malas which include pureesh (fasces), Sweda (sweat) and Mutra (urine). All bio-transformations within the body occur through Srotases (body channels) which are the sites for action of agni.

 

What is the basic philosophy of health, disease and treatment in Ayurveda?

As per Ayurveda, ‘Health’ is a state of equilibrium of normal functions of doshas, dhatus, malas and Agni with delighted body, mind and soul. It means that when Dosh - Dhatu - Malas and Agni are constantly in a state of functional equilibrium, then the health is maintained. Otherwise distortion of the equilibrium results into diseases. Erratic lifestyle is believed to be one of the basic causes behind the failure of mechanism of maintaining equilibrium. Treatment either with or without drugs and application of specific rules of diet, activity and mental status as described, disease wise, brings back the state of equilibrium i.e. health.

 

How is diagnosis done in Ayurveda?

Diagnostic procedures in Ayurveda are two pronged; one is aimed to establish the state and type of pathology and second to decide the mode of treatment to be applied. The former implies examination of the patient and make different investigations to diagnose the disease entity. Inspection, palpation, percussion and interrogation are the main modes of physical examination. The second type of examination is to assess the strength and physical status of the individual so that accordingly the type of management required could be planned. For this examination of Prakriti (Body constitution), Saar (Tissue quality), Samhnan (physique), Satva (Mental strength), Satamya (specific adaptability), Aaharshakti (diet intake capacity), Vyayaam shakti (exercise capacity) and Vaya (age) is done. On the basis of this examination the individual is decided to be having Pravar bal (excellent strength), Madhyam Bal (moderate strength) or Heen Bal (low strength).

 

What are the modes of Ayurvedic treatment?

There exist eight divisions of Ayurvedic therapeutics, namely Kayachikitsa (Internal medicine), Shalya (Surgery), Shalkya (Otorhinolaryngology and Opthalmology), Kaumr Bhritya (Paediatrics, Gynaecology and Obstetrics) Agad tantra (Toxicology), Rasayana (Gerentorology), Vajikaran (Aphrodisiacs) and Bhoot Vidya (Psychiatry). The principles of treatment are Shodhan (purificatory), Shaman (palliative and conservative), Nidan parivarjan (avoidance of Causative and precipitating factors of disease) and Pathya Vyavastha (do’s and don’ts regarding diets lifestyle). Shodhan therapy includes Vamana (medically induced emesis), Virechana (medically induced laxation), Vasti (medicated enema), shirovirechana (administration of medicines through nose) and Raktmokshan (Blood letting). These therapeutic procedures are collectively known as Panchkarma. Before executing Panch karma treatment Snehan (olation) and Swedan (getting perspiration) are employed first.

 

Where do raw materials for manufacturing Ayurvedic medicines come from?

Whatever is natural whether belonging to plants or animals or minerals: all are considered the source of raw material for Ayurvedic medicines. However 600 medicinal plant products, 52 minerals and 50 animal products are commonly used.

 

Is there scope for Ayurveda in the contemporary period?

Ayurveda has a wide scope as far as the prevention of disease, promotion of health and its preservation are concerned. Lifestyle rules mentioned in Ayurvedic texts if applied rigorously give definite results. Lifestyle related diseases, drug abuse, degenerative diseases, auto immune diseases and certain metabolic and allergic disorders are well manageable with Ayurvedic techniques and medications.

 

Can one take Ayurveda Medicine with modern medicines?

If not indicated otherwise by the attending physician, Ayurveda Medicines can generally be taken along with allopathic medicines. Moreover, Ayurveda Medicines are used as adjuvant to allopathic medicines in most of chronic and degenerative diseases. As such there is no harm to consume simple herbal formulations of Ayurveda even without the prescription of the doctor but mineral based medicines must be used after due consultation and advice of the doctor.

 

Is there any rationale behind integrating Ayurveda and Western Medicine?

Because of multidimensional and wide range of efficacy of Ayurvedic treatment, where certain disease conditions or symptoms become refractory to conventional treatment, a harmonized approach of these two systems of health care has proven to be successful and fruitful. Sometimes Ayurveda helps for a synergistic activity while at other places to antagonize and minimize the toxicity of modern drugs.

 

Is Ayurveda recognized by W.H.O.?

About 20 years back, W.H.O. adopted Traditional Medicine program in conjunction with the goal of health for all with the adoption of primary health care approach. W.H.O. has an open mind on Traditional Medicine. However, it endorses only that therapy which has solid scientific evidence with no toxicity. In view of this Ayurveda is duly recognized by W.H.O.

 

Does Ayurvedic system of Medicine have a plus point over conventional medicinal system?

Being holistic and disease eradicative with principles of individualized treatment, conducive to socio-economic conditions of India and with availability of abundant formulations for any particular disease, use of food items as medicine and lifestyle rules, Ayurveda enjoys a better place in respect of prevention and cure of the disease is concerned in comparison to western medical system.

 

What are the diseases for which treatments is available in Ayurveda?

Ayurveda has effective treatment for diseases of all systems of the body, of persons of all age groups. There are special treatment for the diseases of elderly, women and children. Disorders of nervous system, respiratory system, digestive system, circulatory system, diseases of urinary tract, water metabolism, disorders of reproductive system, fibril and infectious diseases, mental disorders and many more illnesses are successfully treated with herb and plant based Ayurvedic procedures. But authentic Ayurvedic treatment, medicine and facilities are only available in India. The Southernmost state of India, Kerala is known as the 'heart land of Ayurveda'. "Panchakrama" detoxification, and rejuvenation therapy was perfected in Kerala, the mountains of which are rich in medicinal herbs. Ayurvedic medical system is being upgraded all over India now to meet the needs of present day. Research institutions and Ayurvedic medical colleges in India are engaged in research and development which has resulted in bringing to light the efficacy of many age old formulations. New drugs which can cure killer diseases in a natural way are being formulated. Well-documented studies in many parts of India confirm the breakthroughs in this field, through scientific research studies; Ayurvedic doctors have unequivocally proved their claims of having cured cancer. Effective herbal remedies to control diabetes are also formulated. Many diseases for which modern medicine has no effective cure are successfully treated by Ayurveda. Treatment of arthritis has been perfected by Ayurvedic system, which is sought by many from all over the world.

 

Why is Ayurveda becoming more and more popular in the western world?

Ayurvedic science though ancient, could not be more relevant to today’s medical challenges and needs. In fact along with Buddhism it is the fastest growing belief system in the West. In ancient India, Buddhism enriched the Ayurvedic system and took it to the masses. Ayurveda is becoming so popular because it complements western medicine and Ayurveda understands how and why we become ill. It can offer effective treatment for many conditions for which conventional medicine has not found cure.

 

Does Ayurveda work for Everybody?

Up until now I have seen that Ayurveda works in 95% of cases. The other 5% is due to intense karmic sickness.

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