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What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda, the ancient medical science is developed over a long period of time by scholars and learned men of India. Ayurveda is a knowledge of life which deals with various aspect of shareera (body), indriya (organs), manas (mind) and Aatman (soul). For healthy body and mind all of the above should be in a perfect state of harmony.

The word Ayurveda is derived from 2 words. i.e, Veda (Knowledge) which deals with the Ayu (life). Also happiness or otherwise good or bad for life itself within their parameters.

Importance of Ayurveda

According to Indian culture, one’s life is to achieve MOKSHA (Salvation), by using ARTHA (Wealth and sensory objects) & KAAMA (desires) through DHARMA (Religious merit) which are the four PURUSHARTHAS. To have all these, one should have a sound health (AAROGYA). To have the sound health, he must adopt the guidelines which are explained in the health science, i.e., Ayurveda.

Branches Of Ayurveda
Ayurveda has eight branches

  • Kaayachikitsa (can be taken as General medicine)
  • Baalachikitsa (can be taken as Pediatrics)
  • Grahachikitsa (can be taken as Medical Astrology)
  • Urdhwaangachikitsa (can be taken as E.N.T & Ophthalmology)
  • Shalyachikitsa (can be taken as Surgery)
  • Visha chikitsa (can be taken as Toxicology)
  • Jaraachikitsa (can be taken as Geriatrics)
  • Vrishachikitsa(can be taken as Virlification therapy)
Goals of Ayurveda
Ayurveda has two aims..

  • To maintain the health of a healthy person.
  • To cure the diseases
Who is considered as Swastha (Healthy)?

There should be equilibrium in the 3 Doshas (Vaata, Pitta, Kapha), Agni (Digestive Fire), 7 Dhatus (Tissues), 3 Malas (metabolic wastes) & also the person should be having pleasant / peaceful soul (Aatman), organs (Indriyaas), mind (manas) then he will be called as SWASTHA.

What are Doshas?

Doshas are the very basic factors which are functional elements. If they are in balanced condition, they maintain the health & if they become abnormal, they lead to unhealthy condition in one’s body & or mind. They are three types of doshas.

  • Vaata
  • Pitta
  • Kapha
Vaata - The Combination of Air & Space

As the air has no specific control, direction etc, VAATA also doesn’t have any specific rule. But it is the controlling force. As air controls fire and water, Vaata controls Pitta (eg., fire can’t blow without air) and Kapha (water can’t exist without air).

Vaata is the responsible factor for enthusiasm, respiration, all types of activities of the body, efficacy of our organs (both sensory and motor.

Vaata is that entity which initiates motor and sensory activities of a human body. Gandhana also means Utsaaha (Motivation). Vata is the motivator of all the activities and also gives motility to fellow doshas Pitta and Kapha.

Pitta - The Combination of Fire & Water
It is the entity, which has got the property to give heat (Taapa).

For the formation and sustenance of a shareera, elements in varied proportions and consistencies are required. This is governed by Pitta. The energy needed for this purpose in the form of heat is provided by Pitta (Agni). As the fire below the rice bowl cooks the rice, so does Pitta transforms or cooks, different elements in the body, be it food or even Doshas.

Food after ingestion undergoes process of transformation and is bifurcated into the essence and waste product. Essence part nourishes the body. So food which is made of panchamahabhootas (gross form) undergoes transformation due to Pitta (Agni), to be broken down into subtle particles so as to nourish shareera, which is again Panchabhoutika.

Since tapana is the nature of Pitta, it is responsible for body temperature, color and complexion of the body.

Kapha - The Combination of Earth & Water
Kapha / Shleshma is that entity which holds together.

Shleshma / Kapha binds together the subtle and the gross elements in the body and gives a structural form. Once the structure is built, further development and nourishment too is done by kapha dosha. As we all know, maximum rate of growth occurs during childhood, and this is because Kapha Dosha is predominant in childhood.

While constructing a building, the cement is the strength giving material when cement powder is proportionately mixed with water. In the same way The Kapha is the basic element which binds the things inside the body. It is also responsible for stability, unctuousness etc.

What is Agni?
This is the digestive fire or power which converts the consumed things from one form to another. PANCHAMAHAABHOOTAS assessable form. E.g. If we consume milk, it will be converted by Agni, finally in to bones or blood etc. Dhaatus (body tissues).

There are four types of Agni —

Vishamaagni Sometimes too high & sometimes too dull It is due to Vaata
Teekshnaagni Too high It is due to Pitta
Mandaagni Too dull It is due to Kapha
Samaagni It is due to Kapha
What are DHAATUs?
Dhaatus are the structural units or entities of the body. There are seven dhaatus in all.
RASA (as Body fluids)
Its normal function is Preenana (Satisfying, Nourishing).
RAKTA (as the blood)
Its normal function is Jeevana (Sustaining life)
MAAMSA (as the muscular tissue)
Its normal function is Lepana (Covering, Adhering)
MEDAS (as the fatty tissue)
Its normal function is Snehana (Oleating, Lubricating)
ASTHI (as the bones or skeletal tissue)
Its normal function is Dhaarana (Supporting)
MAJJAA (as the bone marrow)
Its normal function is Poorana (Filling the cavities)
SHUKRA (as the reproductory tissues separate in males & females)
Its normal function is Garbhotpatti (Production of the Embryo, Reproduction).
What is Mala?

Mala are the waste products which are formed in our body during the metabolism & are to be eliminated out from the body from time to time, in the proper quantity.

They are of three main types

Pureesha / Mala Bowels / Faecal matter
Mootra Urine
Sweda Sweat

Whether Ayurvedic Medical approach is symptomatic or disease based?

Ayurveda follows both approaches. Generally, based on the intensity of the condition, Ayurveda physician will decide which kind of medicine is to be given to begin with.

For ex., in case of high sugar level or high blood pressure, it is important to bring down the values to the normal range. An Ayurveda physician can do this with the internal medicines or external therapies. Having said this, this may not be a complete treatment. Later the physician starts treating the root cause.

Is there any side effect with Ayurveda Medicine

Both yes and no. If the medicine is selected properly and taken as per the advice, then definitely there will not be any side effects. But if a person / patient consumes either medicine or food in an inappropriate manner, surely it leads to any kind of side effects.

For ex. Ginger – if taken accordingly, it leads to good health. If used wrongly, it develops excess heat inside the body.

Can we take (regular) oral Allopthic medications along with these medicines?

Most of Ayurveda medicines can be taken along with oral Allopathic medicines. A physician may be consulted if required.

Whether Ayurveda doctors use heavy metals in their medicines & prescriptions?

Yes, occasionally. Ayurveda physicians (especially in North Indian style of practice) use few of the heavy metals. But these are used under strict Ayurvedic guidelines. For ex: any of the heavy metal is to undergo two main procedures.

Shodhana To remove the impurities from the metal and also to remove the toxicity of the metal.
Maarana To convert the metal into Bhasma (fine powder / nano particles).

Heavy metals like mercury, zinc, lead etc have been made purified and converted into Bhasma form and being used as medicine since hundreds of years on lakhs of patients. Many toxicity tests are also conducted over these preparations according to modern parameters and proved that these processed heavy metals do not have any kind of toxicity over the body.

For how long these herbo-mineral medicines can be continued?

Generally, these herbo-mineral medicines are advised to take with a gap of one week after 21 days / 48 days cycle. (On advice of physician, depending on the potency of the medicine & strength of the patient.)

Most of the Ayurveda medicines are bitter in taste. Does Ayurveda has any alternatives?

It is true that most of the medicines are bitter, but there are numerous medicines which are tasty and palatable also. Some of the preparations like Lehya, choorna etc are palatable, but depending upon the Dosha involved and the disease condition Ayurveda physician decides the taste and form of the medicine. There are alternatives, but it is to be decided by the physician based on the textual guidelines.

Whether Ayurveda medicine preparations are hygienic?

Yes. Ayurveda medicines are manufactured under strict government guidelines. Only the GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certified companies can manufacture and market the medicines.

Is there any life saving Ayurveda medicines that can be used in emergency conditions? Are they in use practically?
Yes, there are various Ayurveda medicines and therapies which are of use about which people are unaware.

For example; Medicines like

Brihat Vaata Chintamani Ras In uncontrolled blood pressure ( by our experience upto 240/140 mm of Hg has been treated), semiconscious / unconscious condition etc.,
Malla sindoora / rasasindhoora In severe breathlessness
Godanti Bhasma In children with high fever & convulsions
Abhraka Bhasma In convulsions
Dashamoolaarishta Chills
Pradhamana nasya Nasal instillation of medicinal powders or juices in unconscious or semiconscious conditions.
Gruel prepared with popped rice (Aralu / Laajaa) In uncontrolled vomiting / loose stools.
Is there any expiry date for Ayurveda Medicine?

Yes. For Asava, Arishta and Bhasma – there is no expiry date. For other preparations like Kashaya, Churna etc- there is expiry date.

Does Ayurveda has scientific base?
Ayurveda does have scientific base.

  • Ayurveda is based on Indian Traditional System of Science
  • It is time tested and again tested over last thousands of years
  • Recent Research activities are also proving that Ayurveda has very strong scientific base which is closely related with the nature
General perception is that Ayurveda is very poor in diagnosis. Is it true?

Ayurveda has accepted TRIDOSHA theory. Along with Tridosha, Dhatu (7 structural units of the body), Mala (3 metabolic wastes), Agni (digestive fire), Ama (undigested material – may be food) are analyzed as per the classical guidelines. By this way, we can conclude that the present health issue is manifested due to “which Dosha imbalance”, “which Dhatu-Mala-Agni” are affected, whether “Ama” is there or not. Based on these we Ayurveda physicians will be able to understand the disease and can treat effectively. Hence Ayurveda is not poor in diagnosis but equally efficient. Based on the necessity, we also recommend the usage of advanced medical technology viz., Blood tests, X-Ray, Scanning, CT, MRI, ECHO, etc.

People say that Ayurveda treatments are very slow in action. Is it true?

We can prove this thinking is not right by the following example. A simple wound where skin is peeled off, it heals off within few days; a wound where muscles are injured will get healed within few weeks; whereas a bone fracture / ligament damage takes few months to get healed completely. Here we can understand that based on the depth of the problem, severity of the problem, the healing time will be varied; not based on the system of medicine.

Also from our practical experience we can confidently say that, in conditions like severe vomiting, diarrhea, blood pressure etc Ayurveda medicines can control the situation very fast.

Regarding conditions like infections, emergencies etc feel free to ask questions.

Does Ayurveda treats all kinds of disease / in what kind of health issues Ayurveda is essential?

For the health issues related to any system of the body (ex : Digestive / respiratory / Neuro-muscular etc) in most of the functional abnormalities Ayurveda can give best treatment. In most of the structural health ailments (problems with valves of the heart; few types of cancer etc) Ayurveda has limitations.

You can consult your nearest Ayurveda physician / send your questions to us

Does Ayurveda has research activities?

Yes, both Literary and clinical research activities are being conducted regularly in all the areas of Ayurveda.

What is Panchakarma? Is it necessary to everyone?
Panchakarmas are 5 types of body purificatory procedures. They are

  • Vamana
  • Virechana
  • Basti
  • Nasya
  • Raktamoshana

When the intensity and depth of the problem is more; where the physical & psychological strength of the person is good, any of the Panchakarma are advised.

It may not be necessary for each and everyone.

What is Abhyanga / Ayurveda massage? For whom it is good?

Abhyanga is the systematic and specific way of applying oil or any other unctuous materials like ghee etc, over the body.

It is advised to do Abhanga daily. It delays aging process, relieves physical & mental stress & strain, improves vision, improves skin complexion and texture.

Does Ayurveda has Surgery? In what kind of health issues should i go for Ayurvedic surgical methods?

Yes. Ayurveda had an ancient scholar by name Acharya Sushruta. He has explained in detail about Surgeries like – cosmetic surgeries, surgery for kidney stones, Ano-rectal cases like piles, fistula-in-ano, fissures etc. Even today they are being practiced effectively.

In present days, we would suggest people to approach Ayurveda surgeon in health conditions like Ano-rectal cases like piles, fistula-in-ano, fissures & wound management, etc.

Can i do exercises / Yoga(Asana) / Pranayama during my Ayurveda treatment method?

It is advised not to do any exercises / yoga asana during procedures like Panchakarma. But in case of health issues like Diabetes, Obesity etc, during out-patient based management, one can practice these on advice of their physician.

People say Ayurveda medicines & treatments are costly? What is the truth?

Only in few conditions where Gold / Silver etc minerals are used as per the need, then only Ayurveda medicines and treatments might become costly.

Only to treat the condition symptomatically, the cost might be less. But for treating the root cause, the TIME & COST might be more.

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What is the right time to consume food?
The right time to consume food is:

    • After elimination of bowels and urine ( प्रसृष्टे विट् मूत्रे )
    • When the mind is devoid of emotions ( हृदि सुविमले )
    • When Doshas are functioning normally ( दोषे स्वपथगे )
    • When belching has no smell ( विशुद्धे च उद्गारे )
    • When hunger starts ( क्षुदुपगमने )
    • When the body is light ( देहे च सुलघौ )

Ayurveda advises not to consume food frequently.

How to consume food? (Regimen of diet)
The food

      • to be consumed at the proper time ( काले )
      • which is accustomed ( सात्म्यं )
      • which is clean ( शुचि )
      • that suits one’s health ( हितं )
      • that is unctuous ( स्निद्ग्ध )
      • that is warm / slight hot ( उष्ण )
      • that is easily digestible ( लघु )
      • to be consumed with due attention ( तन्मनाः )
      • should contain all six tastes ( षड्रसं )
      • to be predominantly sweet ( मधुरप्रायं )
      • consumption should neither be very quick nor very slow ( नातिद्रुत विलम्बितं )
      • should be consumed after taking bath ( स्नातः )
      • should be consumed after washing feet, hands & face ( धौत पाद – कर – आननः )
What to eat?
  • Each time use freshly prepared food
  • Each food should contain all the six tastes. (Sweet, Sour, Salt, Pungent, Astringent, Bitter)
  • CEREALS should be more in quantity. (rice / wheat / barley etc)
  • Second priority for Pulses (Legumes) (Moong dal / Toor dal etc)
  • Third priority for locally available and seasonal vegetables, green leafy vegetables & fruits
  • Usage of spices like Pepper, Cumin, Cardamom, Coriander etc are to be used in minimum but appropriate quality
  • Too hot / too cold items are not advised
  • Should reduce sweets, oily food. (Especially deep fried items, bakery items, junk foods)
  • Consuming sweets / fruits / milk after food is not advised
  • Seasonal & fresh juice can be taken when needed
What food is good for general & regular usage ? ( सदा पथ्य)
Generally, the following have been given more importance.

  • Cereals – Rice (शालि)(unpolished), Wheat (गोधूम), Barley (यव)
  • Boiled water is advised for regular usage
  • Warm water is good during cold seasons (Rainy and winter season) and boiled & cooled water is good during hot season (summer)
  • Vegetables – Snake guard etc. (पटॊल), tender raddish (बालमूलक)
  • Fruits – Grapes (द्राक्षा), pomegranate (दाडिम), Gooseberry (आमलकी)
  • Water – Pure rain water (दिव्योदक)
  • Dairy products – Milk (क्षीर), ghee (घृत)
  • Salt – Rock salt (सैन्धव)
  • Others – Honey (क्षौद्र)
Water intake
Generally, the following have been given more importance.

  • Properly collected rain water is advised for internal usage
  • Boiled water is advised for regular usage
  • Warm water is good during cold seasons (Rainy and winter season) and boiled & cooled water is good during hot season (summer)
  • Based on the season, water processed with different herbs (like ginger, cumin seeds, coriander seeds etc) is also advised
  • No specific quantity (per day) is mentioned. [It is based on one’s nature of work, the area where we live, the season (summer, winter etc), nature of food etc.]
  • One should consume water when he feels thirst
  • Water consumption in between the food is good. (after each menu 1 sip, to clean the mouth)
  • If consumed in more quantity at the end of food, in heavy quantity, it acts like a poison
What is pathya?

The word PATHYA means “is good for health” . It will be decided on the basis of one’s body constitution (Prakruthi), health conditions, area where we live, season, one’s physical strength, one’s digestion capacity, one’s age, psychological status, accustomed habits etc.,

For ex. Ginger may be good for a Kapha dominant person, in winter, in Kapha related health issues. It may be harmful for a Pitta dominant person, in hot season, in Pitta related health issues etc. Finally, we can understand as – one’s “Pathya” might be “Apathya” for someone else.

What is the importance of Pathya?
A verse says
पथ्ये सति गदार्तस्य किमौषध निषेवणैः ।
पथ्ये असति गदार्तस्य किमौषध निषेवणैः॥

Means – What is the necessity of medicine for a person who follows Pathya properly? (as he will have a good health); and what is the use by giving medicine to a person who does not follow proper Pathya? (as indigestion takes place in the body and loses its natural immune system and even medicines also cannot work effectively on it.)

What are the general rules for food intake?
  • Do not take bath after food. (give at least 3 hours gap after food intake.)
  • Doing Fasting {(either complete / with qualitative & quantitative light food)} is good (≈ once in 15 days).

Think before you eat (about good and bad- based on your appetite & digestion capacity).

Food

  • Cereals                : Old rice, Wheat, Barley (regular usage), Maize (Jowar), Ragi
  • Pulses                  : Green gram, Moong dal, Toor dal, Masoor dal are good.

Note : After wash, fry dal with little quantity of castor oil / Ghee, before preparing any dish.

(Cold season / hot season respectively)

  • Vegetables          : Guard family, Raddish for regular usage as these are light for digestion. (Snake guard, Bottle guard, Ash guard, Ridge guard, Bitter guard, Cucumber etc)
  • Green leaves      : Except Palak, Dantu, Basale all others can be used.

Note : Except during rainy season, in all other seasons, green leaves can be used.

After boiling vegetables / green leaves, remove the water part & again add water as required.

  • Fruits                   : (Sweet) grapes, Pomegranate, Orange, Moosambi, Papaya.

Note : Seasonal & locally available vegetables, green leaves, fruits are advised.

  • Jeera (Cumin seeds), Dhaniya (Coriander), Methi (Fenu greek), Ginger (Dried / fresh), Ajwain, Pepper, Long pepper, Indian Gooseberry etc are good.
  • Churned & butter removed buttermilk. (can be used for drinking & also with rice)
  • Appropriate quantity of Milk, Butter, Ghee
  • Honey

 

Not advised for regular usage / (to be reduced)            :

  • Black gram, Horse gram, sprouted grains, varieties of beans.
  • Excessive sweet, salt, sour, pungent, acidic items, alkaline items
  • Beat root, potato, sweet potato, brinjal, capsicum, sweet pumpkin, tomato
  • Curds, all kinds of junk food, deep fried items, ice creams
  • Having juice / milk shakes in excess (often and often)
Virudha Aahara - Incompatible Food Combinations
Sl# Type Description
1 देश विरुद्ध रूक्ष – तीक्ष्ण आहार in जाङ्गल प्रदेश स्निग्ध – शीत आहार in अनूप प्रदेश
2 काल विरुद्ध शीत – रूक्ष in शीत काल
3 अग्नि विरुद्ध गुरु आहार in मन्दाग्नि पुरुष
4 मात्रा विरुद्ध मधु – सर्पि in समान मात्रा
5 मसात्म्य विरुद्ध मधुर रस – for – कटु सात्म्य पुरुष
6 दोष विरुद्ध वात – पित्त – कफ समान गुण आहार – विहार
7 वीर्य विरुद्ध क्षीर – मत्स्य
8 कोष्ठ विरुद्ध लघु – अत्यल्प आहार – in क्रूर कोष्ठ
9 संस्कार विरुद्ध मयूर मांस fried in ऎरण्ड काष्ठ
10 परिहार विरुद्ध उष्ण द्रव्य सेवना After वराह मांस सेवना
11 अवस्था विरुद्ध कफकर आहार in निद्रालु / प्रमेही व्यक्ति
12 क्रम विरुद्ध वेग उदीरण / धारण
13 उपचार विरुद्ध शीतजलपान after intake of घृत / स्नेह
14 पाक विरुद्ध अर्ध पक्व / अपक्व आहार
15 संयोग विरुद्ध अम्ल द्रव्य & क्षीर सॆवना (च)
सुश्रुत says — कुलत्थ, लवण, दधि, अज / अवि मांस, मद्य with क्षीर
— मधु + उष्णोदक
— कृशर + क्षीर
— मत्स्य + इक्षुविकार
— मूलक + क्षीर
— कदली + क्षीर
16 हृदय विरुद्ध अप्रिय आहार
17 सम्पत् विरुद्ध शुष्क फल
18 विधि विरुद्ध Not following अष्टविध आहार आयतन of चरक
19 कर्म विरुद्ध (सु) — सर्पि in कांस्य पात्र for > 10 days
— तिल कल्क + उपोदिक शाका