AYURVEDA – Science of Life !

Ayurveda is a traditional health care system of India, based upon Indian philosophical, medicinal and psychological concepts. An ancient medical treatise summarizing the Hindu art of healing and prolonging life. It is a science of living healthy and strong life. ‘Ayur’ in Ayurveda means ‘life’ and ‘veda’ means ‘knowledge’.

Ayurveda is not merely a treatment for disease; it is a lifestyle, a manner in which the individual organizes his regiment to promote health care. It is one of the most developed codified systems of traditional medicine in the world. The art and science of wholesome living, known as Ayurveda, originated in the Himalayas when many highly evolved souls worked together to determine ways and means of mankind to live fulfilling, healthy and long lives.

In India, the records indicate that herbs have been in use for treating diseases since the ancient times. There are references to curative properties of some herbs in the Rigveda, which is believed to have been written between 3500 and 1800 BC. A more detailed account is found in the Atharvaveda. Ayurveda is a Upaveda, or accessory veda, to the Atharvaveda. The practice of herbal medicine dates back to the very earliest periods of known human history. There is evidence of herbs having been used in the treatment of diseases and for revitalizing body systems in almost all ancient civilizations – the Indian, the Egyptian, the Greek, the Chinese and even the Roman civilizations. The Vedas are the oldest sacred scriptures of India, which make mention of Ayurveda. Originating from men of great vision, the knowledge of herbs was refined over thousands of years of experience. It was committed to memory and then handed down orally from teachers to students for centuries, before it was finally written down.
An ancient Indian healing system, Ayurveda is also called ‘the science of living’. Following a methodical approach of diagnosis by eliciting the patients family history, examining the entire body, categorizing the patients temperament, analyzing his digestion and reading the pulse, the Ayurveda physician concludes which of the doshas (humors) is imbalanced. It then strengthens the body’s inheritant ability to rejuvenate, heal and restore its natural balance. It stress on removing the cause of disease rather than its symptoms.
At the heart of Ayurveda is its concept of the three doshas, or the three different basic types of human constitutions. From ether and air comes vata; from fire and an aspect of water comes pitta, and from water and earth comes kapha. By the elements and doshas, the basic nature of individual is determined and a line of treatment unique to their needs is established. The three doshas can be recognized by their attributes:
Vata is dry, cold, light, mobile, clear, rough and subtle.
Pitta is slightly oily, hot, intense, light, fluid, sour or malodorous and sharp.
Kapha is oily, cold, heavy, stable, viscid, smooth and soft.
Vata is most powerful of doshas, being the life force itself, the strongest to create disease. It governs all movement, and carries both pitta and kapha.
According to the ancient texts, everything in the world is ultimately composed of five Bhutas (elements) – prithvi (earth), apa (water), teja (fire), vayu (air) and akash (ether). Ayurveda strictly adheres to this concept called the Panchbhuta theory. The five parts of plants in Ayurveda show how plant structure is related to five elements. The root corresponds to earth, as the densest and the lowest part, connected to the earth. The stem and branches correspond to water, as they convey the water or sap of the plant. The flowers correspond to fire, which manifest life and color. The leaves correspond to air, since through them the plant breathes and the wind moves the plant. The fruit correspond to ether, the subtle essence of the plant. The seed contain all five elements, containing the entire potential plant within itself.
The diagnosis and treatment in Ayurveda is based upon sound concepts. These basic concepts which have been passed down through the ages are part of the culture of Indian people, whether in the villages or in the cities. Ayurvedic medicines are mostly derived from vegetable sources though mineral compounds are sometimes; drugs of animal origin are also used. These drugs are dispensed in a number of powders, solutions, decoctions, fermented liquids, pills, medicated oils and ghees. Ayurvedic drugs are easily available. A majority of the drugs of vegetable, mineral or animal origin are available in a kitchen, or in a grocery store. The methods of preparation are also simple. Ayurvedic drugs are less toxic due to their slow bioavailability.
Herbs play a significant role, especially in modern times, when the damaging effects of food processing and over-medication have assumed alarming proportions. Herbs are used in many different ways. However the ultimate objective of their use is that they should interact directly with our body chemistry. They may be used in various forms like food, medicines, cosmetics or fragrance, but in all cases their active constituents must be absorbed in the body for deriving the required benefits. Once they are absorbed in the bloodstream, they circulate to influence our whole system. In order to understand the Ayurvedic approach to herbs, one must understand the basic system of Ayurveda, which is a complete healing science, including the physical, psychological and spiritual aspects of life. The majority of medicines and tonics mentioned in Ayurveda are plant-based. Ayurveda, with its vast pharmacopoeia, is one of the greatest gifts of the ancient Indian sages to mankind.