Basics of Ayurveda
Ayurveda is one of the oldest healthcare systems known to humans. It has a unique and remarkably accurate perspective regarding health, diseases, and treatment. The basic Ayurvedic concepts reflect distinctive healthcare wisdom. That's why Ayurveda is relevant even in the modern healthcare scenario.
Let’s explore some of the exceptional concepts of Ayurveda and their universal applicability to healthcare.
Ayurveda for health
Charak Samhita, the principal Ayurvedic text on general medicine, says -
(First) preserve the health of the healthy
(and then) cure the sick/anxious
According to Ayurveda, an ideal healthcare system should aim to preserve the health of the healthy.
A healthcare system with a focus on health preservation incidentally reduces the burden of disease, loss of man-hours, and medical
Besides, as the law of attraction says – you get what is on your mind. A focus on diseases or their treatment may bring more disorders. On the other hand, a focus on health brings health!
Definition of Swasthya (healthy)
The ayurvedic definition of healthy is the most comprehensive one. It says –Only the one with a balanced metabolic pattern, robust digestion, unhindered excretion, healthy tissues; Joyful soul, senses, and mind; is truly healthy.
This definition highlights the holistic approach of Ayurveda, an approach that accounts for complete physical as well as mental health.It includes the deep relation of mind and body and the effect on mind on overall health. Even modern medicine agrees with the devastating effect of stress, anxiety, etc.
Ayurveda, A holistic approach to health
Our body is a deeply connected system. Besides, the nervous system and hormonal system affect each body cell and integrate the entire metabolism. That is why both health and disease spread throughout the body. It is impossible to treat any organ or system in isolation.
Ayurveda follows a holistic treatment approach that focuses on the health of the body as a whole. It does not address a single body part or an organ system in exclusion. This holistic approach prevents side effects and brings a positive effect to the entire body.
Ayurveda is the first ancient healthcare science to describe the deep connection of the mind to physical health. It says that the mind is the source of the body. As already mentioned, the Ayurvedic definition of swasthya (healthy) advocates that a peaceful mind, cheerful senses, and soul are the very foundation for complete health.
According to Ayurveda, there are two fields of diseases – mind, and body. And the mind can be a source of severe disorders that affect the body as well. For example, today most autoimmune and lifestyle disorders can be traced back to chronic stress.
Removal of the Cause
Ayurveda has a unique concept of Nidan parivarjanam (removal of the cause/symptoms). This concept is the force behind lasting respite from disorders. Ayurveda says that without eliminating the causal factors, you cannot achieve a permanent cure.
Let us take the example of crime in society. We can go on killing or punishing the criminals. However, a society can recover from a heavy crime rate only by focusing on better education and job opportunities for the poor. So, removing the causal factor – lack of education or job opportunities is the enduring solution against crime.
Similarly, you cannot permanently cure respiratory diseases without quitting smoking. There can be no permanent cure for liver cirrhosis without the elimination of alcohol consumption.
Acharya Sushrut, an eminent Ayurveda Guru, says that the elimination of the causal factor is a complete treatment in itself!
Ayurveda says that each person has a distinct body and mind. And therefore, diet, lifestyle, disease prevention, and treatment for an individual should be completely personalized.
Ayurveda has a unique concept of prakrati. There are two primary types of Prakrati :
manas prakrati – mind type
sharir prakrati – body type.
The prakrati is akin to the measurement of an individual. This concept of prakrati makes the Ayurvedic approach “tailored to fit” the age, gender, metabolic pattern (dosha), and body type.
Organic, local, and seasonal
Ancient Ayurvedic texts emphasize that you must never consume any produce grown in unnatural seasons, climatic condition, soil, etc. Artificially grown produce is devoid of its natural nutrition. Instead, it may have an abnormal chemical combination. It may even be incompatible with your body.
Today, we have genetically modified fruits, vegetables, and grains. This genetically modified produce can survive and thrive in abnormal conditions. For example, GM strawberries can withstand extreme frost. But this strawberry is also capable of resisting the digestive juices in your digestive tract. Therefore, you may get zero nutrition from this strawberry.
Besides, a lot of medical data suggests a steep growth of lifestyle and autoimmune disorders after the advent of GM modified food.
Ayurveda advises consumption of only naturally grown organic food. Naturally grown produce is incidentally seasonal and local. Such produce is the best for you, the environment, and the planet.
Local produce is subject to the same climatic cycles as the local population. Therefore, it is more compatible with the needs of the residents. For example, coconut naturally grows in hot and humid conditions. And it is cooling in nature!
Use of Whole herbs
Herbal extracts are in vogue. Many scientists claim that they have a faster and more powerful impact on the body. However, being faster, and powerful is not always beneficial. These extracts have a harsh effect on the body compared to the whole herb. Ayurveda on the other hand uses whole herbs.
Whole herbs contain numerous chemical ingredients in a naturally balanced combination. However, the herbal extract focuses only on a few scientifically proven bioactive compounds. Therefore, extracts ignore the richness of natural herbal composition. They may miss several other components that complement the activity of the main bioactive ingredient.
Whole herbs normally never cause side effects. But, herbal extracts with an unnatural combination of bioactive ingredients may cause a hazardous impact on your physiology.
Nature is the mother of Ayurveda. All Ayurvedic medicines and therapies emerge from natural raw materials, processed in a natural eco-friendly manner.
The personalized approach of Ayurveda eliminates the need for any kind of mass production. Because a Vaidya prepares customized medicines according to the need of the patient. Most of the Ayurvedic preparations are fresh and reduce the need for unnecessary storage and transport.
In short, Ayurveda is the wisdom of nature, transformed to heal living beings.
Do you know that Ayurveda forbids fees for a consultation?
Ayurvedic texts prescribe that healthcare advice should be free of cost. Ayurveda has a huge range of preventive and natural healing techniques. You can easily heal your body and prevent diseases. A Vaidya or the Ayurveda physician should first use These techniques to eliminate the need for expensive medicines or therapy.
Besides, a Vaidya is entitled to take away 1/11th part of the medicines prepared for the rich and use them for the poor. This rule ensured the availability of top-quality medicine for the poor, without any need for payment.
These are some of the fundamental concepts in Ayurveda. However, these concepts are only the tip of the iceberg. I hope that this information helps everyone to appreciate this ancient treasure of healthcare wisdom!