• The Origin
  • The History
  • The Branches Of Ayurveda
  • Objectives of Ayurveda
  • Treatments In Ayurveda
  • Importance of Diet in Ayurveda
Origin & Brief History

Ayurveda is a system of healing that originated in India long back in pre- vedic period. Rig veda and Atharvaveda (5000 years B.C.) have references on health and diseases.

Ayurveda thus offers a unique blend of science and philosophy that balances the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual components necessary for holistic health.

India is known as the Land of Vedas. The word Veda refers to “True Knowledge”. A number of guiding principles for preservation of health are mentioned in Vedas. However in Atharvaveda (dates back around 1000 BC), such guiding principles, medicinal effects of herbs etc. occur more abundantly. Of the few other treatises on Ayurveda that have survived from around the same time, the most famous are Charaka Samhita and the Sushruta Samhita which concentrate on internal medicine and surgery respectively. The Astanga Hridayam is a more concise compilation of earlier texts that was created about a thousand years ago. Thus, Atharvaveda forms the structural foundation for emergence of Ayurveda, as a separate branch of science of knowledge.

A perusal of several classical treatises of Ayurveda indicates presence of two schools of Physicians and Surgeons and eight specialties. These eight disciplines generally called “Ashtanga Ayurveda” are:

1. Internal Medicine (Kaya Chikitsa)
2. Paediatrics (Balroga Chikitsa)
3. Surgery (Shalya Tantra)
4. Otorhinolarynxgology & Ophthalmology (Shalakya Tantra)
5. Toxiocology (Agada Tantra)
6. Geriatrics (Rasayana Tantra)
7. Eugenics and Aphrodisiacs (Vajeekaran Tantra)
8. Psychiatry (Bhuta Vidya)
Objectives of  Ayurveda

The basic aim of Ayurveda is to maintain health of every person and hence a disease free world.

Ayurveda is the oldest surviving complete medical system in the world. Derived from its ancient Sanskrit roots. “Ayu” means life span.

Ayu means composition of body, soul and mind. Physio-chemical basis (five elements of nature which are present in body -- your living body) is “Ayu”. The Veda means knowledge, science. Thus the term Ayurveda means, “Science of Life”.

Aims and objectives of Ayurveda have been divided into two aspects namely:
Swasthaya Swasthsaya Rakshanam (Preventive and Socialmedicine)
Aturasya Vikar Prashamanam (Therapeutics)

These two aspects reflect the unique approach of Ayurveda.
Therapeutics is not strictly related to dravya chikitsa i.e. treatment with medicines but also to the form of bhava chikitsa i.e. treatment without medicines and in the form of achar rasayan (good conduct both personal and social).

Ayurveda has not restricted itself as the path which treats diseases but being the science of life has covered all the aspects necessary to maintain health and to restore it when inflicted with a disease.

Treatment in Ayurveda:

The basic therapeutic maxim is, “that alone is the right treatment which makes for health and he alone is the best doctor who frees one from disease”. This sums up the principle objectives of Ayurveda, i.e. maintenance and promotion of health, prevention of disease and cure of sickness.

Treatment of the disease consists in avoiding causative factors responsible for disequilibrium of the body matrix or of any of its constituent parts through the use of Panchkarma procedures, medicine, suitable diet, physical activity and regimen for restoring the balance and strengthening the body mechanisms to prevent or minimize future occurrence of the disease.

Preventive Treatment and the Concepts of Aetio-Pathogenesis
Classifications of Ayurvedic Treatment
Diet Based Ayurvedic Treatment

Preventive Treatment with Concepts of Aetio-Pathogenesis:

Ayurveda has developed a very vivid analytical description of the stages and events that take place since the causative factors commence to operate till the final manifestation of disease. This gives this system an additional advantage of knowing the possible onset of disease much before the latent symptoms become apparent.

This enhances the preventive role of this system of medicine by making it possible to take proper effective steps in advance, to arrest further progress in pathogenesis or to take suitable therapeutic measures to curb the diseases in its earliest stage of onset. Pathogenesis is described as Shat Kriya Kala i.e. Six stages as follows:

Stage of accumulation of disease(Dosha) initiating complexes

Stage of vitiation of dosha (humors)

Stage of dissemination of dosha (humors)

Stage of localization of dosha (humors) at a particular organ or system

Stage of manifestation of sign and symptoms of the diseases

Stage of complications, sequel and surgical intervention

Classification of Ayurvedic Treatment:

The treatment of disease can broadly be classified as:

Shodhana (Purification) treatment aims at removal of the causative factors of somatic and psychosomatic diseases. The process involves internal and external purification. The usual practices involved are Panchkarma (medically induced Emesis, Purgation, Oil enema, Decoction enema and Nasal administration of medicines) and Pre-panchkarma procedures (external and internal oleation and induced sweating). Panchkarma treatment focuses on metabolic management. It provides needed purificatory effect, besides conferring therapeutic benefits. This treatment is especially helpful in neurological disorders, musculo-skeletal disease conditions, certain vascular or neuro-vascular states, respiratory diseases, metabolic and degenerative disorders.

Shamana (Palliative) treatment involves suppression of vitiated humors (doshas). The process by which disturbed humor subsides or returns to normal without creating imbalance of other humors is known as Shamana. This treatment is achieved by use of appetisers, digestives, yogic practices and exposure to sun, fresh air etc. In this form of treatment, palliatives and sedatives are used.

Nidan Parivarjan (Avoidance of disease causing and aggravating factors) is to avoid the known disease causing factors in diet and lifestyle of the patient. It also encompasses the idea to refrain from precipitating or aggravating of the disease.

Pathya Vyavastha (Prescription of diet and activity) comprises indications and contra indications in respect of diet, activity, habits and emotional status. This is done with a view to enhance the effects of therapeutic measures and to impede the pathogenetic processes. Emphasis on do’s and don’ts of diet etc. are laid with the aim to stimulate Agni and optimize digestion and assimilation of food in order to ensure strength of tissues.

Satvavajaya (Psycho-therapy) concerns mainly with the area of mental disturbances. This includes restraining the mind from desires for unwholesome objects and cultivation of courage, memory and concentration. The studies of psychology and psychiatry have been developed extensively in Ayurveda and have wide range of approaches in the treatment of mental disorders.

Rasayana therapy (use of immunomodulators and rejuvenationmedicines) deals with the promotion of strength and vitality. The integrity of body matrix, promotion of memory, intelligence, immunity against the disease, the preservation of youth, luster and complexion and maintenance of optimum strength of the body and senses are some of the positive benefits credited to this treatment. Prevention of premature wear and tear of body tissues and promotion of the total health of an individual are the roles that Rasayana therapy plays.

Diet based Ayurvedic treatment:

In Ayurveda, regulation of diet as therapy has great importance. This is because it considers the human body as the product of food. An individual’s mental and spiritual development as well as his temperament is influenced by the quality of food consumed.

Food in the human body is transformed first into chyme or Rasa and then the successive processes involve its conversion into blood, muscle, fat, bone, and bone-marrow, reproductive elements and ojas. Thus, food is basic to all the metabolic transformations and life activities.

Lack of nutrients in food or improper transformation of food lead to a variety of diseased conditions.
  "Dr. Vijay Sharma"