Guide to Ayurveda and its benefits in enhancing wellness

Ayurveda is a body of knowledge that relates to the system of medication in the ancient Indian subcontinent.  The word is derived from two words of the Sanskrit language, i.e., ‘Ayush’ and ‘Veda’. The word ‘Ayush’ means life whereas the word ‘Veda’ means knowledge. Thus Ayurveda is knowledge of life or the science of life.  Ayurveda helps to live a healthy life. It is not only concerned with the well being of the body but it also focuses on the well being of the mind. It is based on the principles which aim at the promotion of health along with prolonging the life. Another principle is to eliminate diseases and other dysfunctions from the body.

Its traditional application and benefits have been acknowledged globally, and in the current context Ayurvedic treatment is modernized and carried out internationally in the form of alternate medicines. The legend goes that the sacred knowledge of curing ailments was passed on to the sages from gods. The sages preached its use and benefits to the humankind.

History:

medicinal-plants-and-herbs

The roots of Ayurveda originate back around 6000 BCE when the body of knowledge it contained were communicated verbally. Even evidences found from the archaeological digs at Indus Valley civilization sites indicate that the concepts of Ayurvedic medicine were known at the time.

Ayurveda has earned a position as Upaveda, which is a branch of Veda according to medieval classification by Sanskrit language system. Records reveal that names of medicinal plants and herbs are traced in the Ayurvedic literature collected from Atharva Veda and the other Vedas as well. Even the earliest Buddhist codes of law reveal records of elaborate statements of canonical models of different ailments which also has a reflection in Ayurvedic literature.

Ashtanga Ayurveda

Ayurveda is divided into eight subsections or branches, which are internal medicine, surgery, organic medicine, rejuvenating remedy, spiritual healing, pediatrics, aphrodisiac remedies and toxicology. All these sections come together to qualify as the ancient science of healing, Astanga Ayurveda. The most famous ayurvedic texts include Charak Samhita, Sushrut Samhita, and the AshtanghaHridaya Samhita. Charaka and Sushruta wrote the first two texts respectively; however, the third one is a combined version that includes detailed information culled from both the texts.

If we further delve into manuscripts that laid the very foundation of Ayurveda, we cannot afford to underestimate or sideline the importance of the Bower Manuscript since it further inspires the healing methods prevalent in Central Asian Buddhism. Ayurveda saw its growth and fruition during the Gupta Empire, which is quite evident in the narrative of Chinese pilgrim Fa Hien. The Chinese thinker, traveler and philosopher described how Ayurveda played a pivotal role in inspiring the health care system of Gupta Empire and instilled an institutional approach into Indian medicine.

Legend also runs on the belief that the secrets of beneficial properties of plants and herbs and their role in curing specific diseases were divulged to Dhanvantry, the father of universal medical practitioners, by Lord Brahma himself. The lost texts composed by sage Agnivesa have also influenced Ayurvedic literature to a large extent. The three major ancient texts on Ayurveda are Susruta Samhita, Bhela Samhita and Charaka Samhita all dating back to 6th century BC and before later modified over the ages.

Principle:

elements of human body

Medicine and religion were combined together by ancient Indian philosophers.  Nagarjuna is known for his legendary work of Madhyamaka or the middle path. Medicine and religion showed humankind the route to health and happiness.

The principles of Ayurveda run simultaneously with Buddhist, Jain, Sankhya and Vaisasikha philosophies. The ideas are interesting and focus on the primary elements which human body is constructed from. It is emphasized that natural urges should not be suppressed as these would lead to physical harm. They should not be over used as well. Moderate use is the best, reflecting again the righteousness of Madyamaka or the middle path. Consequently, an emphasis is put on striking a proper equilibrium in eating, drinking, sleeping and sexual intercourse.

Principally, Ayurveda states that the constitution of our body includes seven tissues (dhatu ) namely plasma (rasa),blood (rakta  ), bone (asthi) , fat (meda ) , semen (sukra ) and muscles ( mamsa) and marrow (majja).

Like medicines of remote past, Ayurveda has classified human body into five natural elements known as Panchabhoota which includes air, water, fire, earth and ether. All substances contain twenty gunas or characteristics that occur in pair like hot and cold, dull and sharp, light and heavy, smooth and coarse and so on which affect us when coming in contact. Similarly, the principles also throw light on three elemental inclination of the human body, Vata, Pitta and Kapha maintaining the balance of which is essential for achieving a healthy and disease free life.

Methods:

The states of physical, mental and personality in a human being are considered a single unit by Ayurvedic belief system. One can influence the other and so there is always an approach towards improving all three of them in a single treatment package.  Oil massage is thought to open up channels responsible for transportation of fluids.

Ayurveda diagnoses illness by studying mala (excreta), mutra (urine), nadi (pulse beat), sparsa(touch) , sabda (speech) and jihva ( tongue). The observation of virulent points in human body called Marman is of special significance.

Importance of satvik diet, which is simple and easily digestible, is suggested as is the concept of dinacharya like regular chores of sleeping, waking up, working and meditation are considered crucial for good health. Medicines and concoctions from plants, roots, seeds and barks form the basic raw materials for Ayurvedic medicine.

Benefits:

woman taking Ayurvedic medicine

Ayurveda is said to have some great benefits for the human body. It helps in building a proper connection between the body, mind, spirit, and emotions. Physical as well as mental health is ensured with the herbal medicines. There are no side effects of Ayurveda thus it makes the body completely fit. The vitality of the body is established with the usage of herbs and proper nutrition. Ayurveda helps the body to achieve mental and physical balance. The treatment of every individual is based on his/her body composition, i.e., the dominance of particular doshas or energies.

Ayurveda can cure metabolic and chronic ailments including those because of stress. Ayurvedic medicines can be a remedy for a number of ailments like inflammation, hormonal imbalance and digestive disorders and auto immune system disrupting diseases.  It can be a remedy for depression, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, cancer, high blood pressure, asthma, dementia, herpes, Parkinson’s disease and issues related to menstruation.

Results of Ayurvedic treatment

The results of Ayurvedic treatments can hugely depend on the condition of the individual, severe diseases require more time as compared to normal ones. It cures the disease from its very roots, it does not cure it at a superficial level. Thus you can expect permanent cure of your illness. The effects of Ayurvedic treatments can be seen gradually over a period of time, instant cure is not a possibility as far as Ayurveda is concerned. Ayurveda treatment can be combined with other treatments as it is non-invasive and non-toxic.

Safety of Ayurvedic treatment

woman making herbal products

The Ayurvedic treatment is 100 percent safe as it basically uses herbal products. The Ayurvedic medicines are made up of natural minerals and herbs. All the ingredients are taken from the natural surroundings and are thus very safe. The herbs and minerals are used to calm down the energies in order to cure the ailment. You must inform the doctor in advance if you are using Ayurveda as a complementary treatment. Ayurveda has the potential to soothe the body, mind, sense, heart, and the very spirit of the human being.

How Ayurveda and Yoga are bonded together

No one can say with any real certainty who exactly invented yoga and who created the Ayurveda system of medicine. Nevertheless, what we do know today is the fact that these two are probably the most popular naturalistic healing and physical conditioning system. Both the therapies evolved alongside one another in the Indian subcontinent though not many people realize just how closely the two systems are bonded.

What does Ayurveda do?

back massage with herbal balls

Ayurveda is inherently a holistic and naturalistic system of medicine that focuses on using naturally occurring herbs, plants and oils etc. to heal specific ailments or to promote overall health. As a system of medicine, Ayurveda recommends the use of specific ingredients to heal specific ailments. The well-being segment of Ayurveda basically deals with identifying a healthy person’s body type and constitution and recommending physical and dietary therapies to optimize their health and energy.

What does Yoga do?

Yoga experts claim that yoga gives its practitioner the precise benefit they seek from it. The popular belief that a yoga practice will provide a practitioner with mental peace and enlightenment no matter what their goals are is actually a misconception. People, who practice yoga to get fit, achieve greater fitness with yoga, people who wish to get rid of ailments, yoga helps them boost their health and people who use yoga to achieve mental peace are able to use the practice to alleviate stress.

How are Ayurveda and Yoga bonded?

old couple following holistic system

Yoga and Ayurveda are bonded together not only in their origin and development, but also in the way they work. They are both holistic systems that can be used in conjunction to boost the effectiveness of either. Yoga is a way to allow your body to get rid of toxins and slowly ease into a system of wellbeing, while Ayurveda uses specific natural ingredients to heal illnesses and boosts health over time.

Dr Prem Jagyasi and Team (C)

Dr Prem is an award winning strategic leader, renowned author, publisher and highly acclaimed global speaker. Aside from publishing a bevy of life improvement guides, Dr Prem runs a network of 50 niche websites that attracts millions of readers across the globe. Thus far, Dr Prem has traveled to more than 40 countries, addressed numerous international conferences and offered his expert training and consultancy services to more than 150 international organizations. He also owns and leads a web services and technology business, supervised and managed by his eminent team. Dr Prem further takes great delight in travel photography.

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