Ayurveda is a body of knowledge that relates to the system of medication in the ancient Indian subcontinent. 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.
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.
The roots of Ayurveda originate back around 3000 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. The abstractions of Ayurveda were an integral part of early Vedic philosophy and Atharva Veda includes 114 hymns that explain the curative properties of herbal medicines.
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.
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.
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.
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.