1) Can Ayurveda be integrated along with other systems of medicine?
Despite remarkable developments in modern science, technology, and allopathic medicine, we are not able to offer adequate healthcare to the majority of the population. The traditional system of medicine, mainly herbal medicine, is often regarded as a critical source of healthcare, particularly in rural and remote locations around the world. In undeveloped or developing countries, a substantial number of people rely on such medicine for their primary healthcare. Traditional Indian medicinal systems such as Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani Medicine have a long history of efficacy, and modern research has recognised the relevance of such medicine.
Traditional systems of medicine based on medicinal plants are playing an increasingly important role in providing health care to a broad segment of the population, particularly in developing nations. Interest in them is growing in industrialised countries, as is herbal supplements made from them. It is vital to have a minimal degree of basic information on the many aspects of these systems to get the most out of them and understand how they work. Indian Systems of Medicine are one of the most well-known traditional medical systems globally. The evidence-based integration of Indian conventional medicine into clinical practice will help to ensure that everyone receives high-quality treatment.
The roots of most Indian systems of medicine, including Ayurveda, can be found in folk medicine. What sets Ayurveda apart from other systems is its well-defined conceptual framework that has remained consistent over time. It was maybe highly advanced and well ahead of its time conceptually. One of the earliest medical systems to argue for a holistic approach to health and disease. Another distinguishing trait of Ayurveda is that, unlike other medical systems, it formed its conceptual framework based on the results gained through medications and therapy rather than the outcomes obtained through the use of drugs and treatment. Its philosophical foundation is taken from Indian philosophy’s ‘Samkhya’ and ‘Nyaya Vaisheshika’ schools. This allowed it to develop into a sound medical system early on and become independent of religious influences. It placed a strong focus on the importance of sensory evidence and human thinking.
Concept of health in Ayurveda
Ayurveda is regarded in India as an ethnomedicine and as a comprehensive medical system that considers the physical, psychological, intellectual, ethical, and spiritual well-being of people. This system emphasises the significance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle to maintain good health. This concept has been in use for over two millennia, and modern medicine practitioners have now recognised the significance of this feature. Not surprisingly, the modern-day WHO idea of health is very similar to the Ayurvedic concept of health.
Ayurveda believes following Dinacharya (daily regimen), and Ritucharya (seasonal regimen) keeps an individual away from diseases. However, other factors may also contribute to the onset of illness. External factors such as microorganisms or changes in environmental circumstances, for example, can cause Dosha buildup, disrupting doshic balance and vitiating Doshas. According to popular belief, Doshas are generally circulated through macro and micro-channels known as srotas. The srotas are a crucial conduit for nourishing body tissues and transporting metabolic end-products out of the tissue. Therefore, Srotorodha or blockage in the Srotas is one main reason for disease manifestation in Ayurveda.
Ayurvedic Medicines can be integrated with other sciences to improve various health conditions. When utilised as a supplementary therapy with standard, conventional medical care, Ayurveda can benefit. In many regions of the world, remarkable advancements in the healthcare sector coexist with discrepancies in access, availability, and cost of healthcare services in the twenty-first century. As a result, traditional medicine has been gaining popularity worldwide in recent decades. Conventional medicine’s expansion was fuelled by its variety, flexibility, ease of access, religious/social acceptance, few side effects, and low cost.
Of course, this allows us to include such medicine into primary care to improve people’s health. However, the road is not without its difficulties. Several strategies have been proposed to integrate traditional medicine into the healthcare system. ‘Trans-cultural and transdisciplinary synergy approach’ supports the fact that sciences recognise that they stand for one type of knowledge among others. That information is always culturally entrenched and forms part of the historic advance. The ‘syncretic approach’ considered merging two systems to create a new system, and the ‘complementarity approach’ believe one system provides complimentary services to another. However, an evidence-based approach that uses both conventional and traditional medicine in tandem may be the best option for providing healthcare to all.
2) What are the methods of diagnosis in Ayurveda?
The concept of diagnosis in Ayurveda derives from the premise that the body is always interacting in a balanced way between order and disorder, and diagnosis is the idea of regularly monitoring these interactions on a moment-by-moment basis. As a result, diagnosis in Ayurveda differs from diagnosis in Western medicine, in which the ailment is discovered after it has manifested in the body.
The disease process is the result of an interaction between the Tridoshas, and Tissues, or Dhatus. Every disease’s symptoms are always linked to the nature of the Tridoshas’ imbalance. Once the imbalance has been discovered, Ayurvedic treatment and management can be used to restore equilibrium.
Factors Affecting Disease Diagnosis –
In Ayurveda, diagnosis-related decision-making is extremely complex, and it is based on a thorough examination of a variety of internal elements that emerge along the course of a disease, such as – the tridosha theory (Vata Pitta Kapha), Saptadhathus, Trimala, Agni and Strotas.
External elements such as pathogens or infection, season or weather changes, and the patient’s lifestyle, which includes nutrition, medicine, smoking or alcohol, and other habits that contribute to the vitiation of his or her constitution, all play a role in the disease’s manifestation.
Different methods of diagnosis in Ayurveda –
Three diagnostic procedures are used in an Ayurvedic clinical examination called ‘Trividhapariksha’.
- Darshana (inspection) – entails examining physical components such as the skin, hair, eyes, and tongue.
- Sparsana (Ppalpation) – includes pulse and body part palpation (wrist pulse, abdominal palpation etc.).
- Prasna (questioning) – during the questioning stage, the medical history, symptoms, mental and physical state of the patient are all covered.
Treatment and the selection of herbs are prescribed based on this diagnosis.
Nadi Pareeksha – The art of pulse diagnosis in Ayurveda
This is a distinct science that provides numerous insights into disease and overall health. In Ayurveda, the pulse, or Nadi, is sensed at the wrist and is helpful to detect ailments. The signals acquired from the wrist pulse are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha specific. The patient’s arm and wrist are held at rest, and three fingers are put on the wrist, just below the wrist bone, to feel and analyse the throbbing movement of the pulse.
The Vata Dosha is represented by the location of the index finger. The index finger feels the pulse strongly when Vata becomes dominant in an individual’s Prakriti or constitution. It is uneven and narrow, with a snake-like motion to it; thus, it is known as the snake pulse, which signals increased Vata in the body. Vata Dosha treatments mainly aim at Snehana (external and internal) and Vata pacifying diets.
The pulse of the Pitta in body is indicated by the location of the middle finger. The pulse under the middle finger becomes stronger when pitta dominates the constitution. It feels lively and enthusiastic, and the pulse resembles that of a frog, hence the name “frog pulse.” This pulse indicates that the pitta is exacerbated.
The throbbing of the pulse under the ring finger is particularly noticeable when Kapha dominates. The pulse is powerful, and the movement is similar to that of a swan across a pond. So, it’s also called the “swan pulse”.
Other observation techniques used in Ayurveda to detect ailments include checking the sensory organs such as the tongue, eyes, facial skin, appearance of lips, nails, and so on. In more severe situations, tests of the urine, faeces, spit, sweat, heart, liver, kidney, and other bodily fluids may be performed.
3) What is Shirodhara?
Shirodhara is an ancient Ayurvedic therapeutic technique that can aid in finding balance in the mind, body, and spirit for overall well-being. It is one of the essential Ayurvedic therapies since it rejuvenates and purifies the body and relieves stress, mental tiredness, and heals various illnesses.
Shirodhara comprises two Sanskrit words: ‘Shiro’, which means head and ‘Dhara’, which means stream, pour, or flow. It refers to a continuous stream of lukewarm herbal oils being poured or dripped on the forehead. The oil is poured from a certain height for a specific time during the therapy to run through the scalp and into the hair. It stimulates the ‘Ajna Marma’ or ‘Maha-Marma,’ a crucial place on the head that offers mental and consciousness stability. According to Ayurveda, the Ajna Marma is the primary point through which vital life power or ‘Prana’ circulates. It’s also known as the ‘Third-Eye Chakra,’ also known as the ‘Intuition Chakra.’ Shirodhara also balances the doshas in the body and improves nervous system function while providing a wonderfully satisfying and holy experience.
What are the benefits of shirodhara treatment?
Stress reliever – When warm herbal oils are placed on the forehead and gently massaged into the scalp, the body relaxes, conserves energy, dilates the blood vessels, and slows the pulse rate. As a result, Shirodhara therapy is vital in treating hypertension, arrhythmia and one of the easiest ways to manage stress. In addition, Shirodhara promotes tranquillity and peace while also reducing tension. Shirodhara can help you battle the effects of stress for hours or days with just one session.
Improves sleep quality – Because of the fast-paced lifestyle, insomnia and sleep problems have become a widespread concern for many. Sleepless nights or irregularity can be taxing, resulting in lethargy, a deterioration in decision-making abilities and mental processes, as well as a detrimental influence on physical and emotional health. Shirodhara treatment is proven to lower cortisol levels in the body, reducing stress symptoms and increasing the quality and duration of sleep. As a result Shirodhara is opted in insomnia treatment.
Shirodhara therapy is an effective stress reliever. Shirodhara removes toxins from the head and improves cognitive processes with a relaxing head massage and herbal oils. In addition, it regulates serotonin levels in the body, which contributes to a person’s pleasure and well-being. As a result, it alleviates anxiety symptoms such as agitation, restlessness, and cold hands and feet, among others.
Pacifies Vata Dosha
Unwanted and disorganised thoughts, forgetfulness, restlessness, and lack of attention can be symptoms of an aggravated Vata Dosha in the body. Shirodhara is a beautiful therapy and medicine for relieving excess Vata Dosha. The balancing characteristics of the herbal oils used in Shirodhara help alleviate the symptoms of Vata imbalance by counteracting the Vata dosha’s chilly, light, and fluctuating nature.
At Sitaram Ayurvedic Beach Retreat, we believe living in harmony with nature and incorporating Ayurvedic practices into our daily lives should be prioritised. We should not wait until there is a health concern or disorder before acting. Shirodhara treatment has numerous advantages and is helpful to both the mind and the body.
Please get in touch with us if you’d like to learn more about the healing powers of this ancient therapeutic miracle. Allow this traditional Ayurvedic therapy to revitalise you and reconnect with your spiritual self.
4) What is the cause of diseases & health according to Ayurveda?
The concept of health, or Swasthya, is central to understanding any ailment in Ayurveda. The term ‘disease’ is made up of the words ‘dis’ which means ‘lack of’ and ‘ease’ which means ‘comfort.’ Perfect health, according to Ayurveda, is “a balance between body, mind, soul, and social wellness.”
In reality, the Ayurvedic writings, philosophy, and practice repeat the dual ideals of balance and connectivity. Ayurveda, like all holistic health systems, emphasises the inextricable links between the body, mind, and spirit. The connectivity of Ayurveda, on the other hand, goes far beyond the individual and into the universe. Ayurveda is best regarded as the preventive medicine which keeps a balance in body and mind.
Ayurveda believes health is obtained by the balance of the following factors –
- Agni (the digestive fire and metabolic changes)
- Balance of Tridosha (vata, pitta, kapha)
- Trimalas are produced at normal levels and eliminated properly
- Panchendriya’s (vision, hearing, touch, taste & smell) functioning normally
- Balance of Shareera (body), Manas (mind) and Atma (soul)
Ayurveda also emphasises that each person’s Prakriti or constitution, which is unique to them, is equally responsible for their health and illness patterns. The three psychological personality traits of Sattva, a pure state of mind; Rajas, a mind with emotion, desire, and attachment; and Tamas, the passive, ignorant mind – interact with the biological Tridoshas and ultimately build an individual’s mind and body constitution. This relationship is critical for evaluating a person’s health and deciding on a treatment, diet, and regimen. One is healthy as long as he or she remains in their natural state or Prakriti. When a person comes into contact with the disease’s causative factor or Hetu, he is said to be in a condition or disease, or Vikriti.
As a result, health is a state of order, while the disease is a state of chaos. Order and disorder are continuously in conflict within the human body. At the same time, the internal environment of the body interacts with the exterior environment regularly. When these two are out of harmony, the disease can develop. Ayurveda offers substantial training and expertise on how to treat and prevent disease and dysfunction, allowing the body to reclaim its health and balance.
What is a disease and what are the causes of diseases?
Ayurveda defines sickness as a state of the body and mind that cause us pain and anguish. The imbalance in body affects the equilibrium in Doshas and Dhatus. Agantuja (external), or Nija (internal) factors might disrupt the regular balance between the mind and body. When these two are out of sync, chaos ensues. As a result, understanding the process of disease occurring within the mind, and body condition is critical to changing the internal environment and bringing it into balance with the exterior world. Ayurveda gives us a lot of information about the disease and how it works.
The term ‘Dosha’ in Ayurveda refers to a ‘disturbing factor.’ The three doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha – are in charge of maintaining homeostasis in the body, also known as Dhatusamya (the condition of harmony among body tissues and organs). As a result, health is defined as a condition of balance between these Doshas. Disease, on the other hand, happens when these doshas are out of balance.
Ayurveda divides ailments into three categories: physical, psychological, and spiritual. The disease is also classified according to the organs in which it manifests itself: the heart, lungs, liver, and so on. The disease process may start in the stomach but eventually manifest in the heart. As a result, disease symptoms may manifest at a location other than the disease’s origin. The causal variables and tridosha pattern can also be used to define the disease.
Every person’s Prakriti, or constitution, determines their susceptibility to a specific disease or group of diseases. People with a Kapha constitution, for example, have a predisposition to Kapha ailments such as tonsillitis, sinusitis, bronchitis, and lung congestion.
Similarly, those with a Pitta constitution are prone to gallbladder, bile, and liver problems, acidity, and stomach ulcers, among other things. Pitta people are prone to skin problems like hives and redness. Gas, lower back discomfort, arthritis, sciatica, paralysis, and nerve pain are all common among Vata persons.
The large intestine causes Vata diseases, the small intestine causes Pitta diseases, and the stomach causes Kapha disorders. Certain signs and symptoms are caused by unbalanced humours or Tridoshas in various body parts. These imbalances damage the body’s natural defensive or immune mechanism, making it susceptible to disease.
The disease caused by external factors –
External factors such as eating habits, living habits, seasonal variations, and so on can all produce ailments comparable to those caused by Tridosha imbalance. These elements first cause physical problems, which then has an impact on the mind due to a disruption in the Tridoshas. For example, disrupted Vata causes anxiety, sadness, and nervousness; excess Pitta causes rage, hatred, and jealousy; and inflamed Kapha causes possessiveness, avarice, and attachment. As a result, there is a clear link between diet, behaviours, and the environment, as well as emotional illnesses. Depending upon the cause, various herbal treatments and herbal therapies can be adopted to treat the conditions.
5) What is the concept of Agni in Ayurveda?
Agni, which means fire in Sanskrit, is the entity that is responsible for all digestive and metabolic processes in humans, according to Ayurveda. In the Paka process, Agni is the invariable agent (digestion, transformation). Food must be digested, absorbed, and assimilated, which is an unavoidable part of life and is carried out by the Agni. In Ayurveda, there are several reasons for maintaining Agni (the body’s digestive capacity). Different examples can be found in our classics to show that Pitta and Agni are the same. Because Agni is present in every Paramanu of the body, it has an infinite number of manifestations.
Types of Agni in Ayurveda
Agni in Ayurveda has been classified into 13 categories based on its roles and action sites. They are one Jatharagni (digestive fire), five Bhutagni, and seven Dhatvagni. The most significant is Jatharagni, which digests four different types of food and converts them into Rasa and Mala. The five Bhutagnis act on the food’s Bhutika component, nourishing the Bhutas in the body. Each Dhatu is divided into three parts by the seven Dhatvagni, who operate on the respective Dhatus. In this sense, the entire transformation process is made up of two sorts of products: Prasada (essence) and Kitta (excrete). The former is consumed for nutrition, whereas the latter is discarded because it would otherwise pollute the body if it remains in the body for longer. Jatharagni is also divided into four groups based on its ability to digest food and the metabolic activities in humans: Vishamagni, Tikshanagni, Mandagni, and Samagni.
Samagni: helps to digest food properly at the proper time (owing to Samyavastha of all Doshas).
Vishamagni: (due to excess vata)- This type of Agni alternates between swiftly and slowly digesting food.
Tikshnagni: (due to excess pitta) – This is a condition in which food is digested very quickly, regardless of the type of food.
Mandagni: “Manda” means “slow” (due to excess Kapha). Digestion will take longer with a smaller amount of food.
The creation of Ama, which is the main cause of many diseases, is caused by an imbalance in the physiology of Agni. As a result, Agni is essential for every bodily function.
Functions of Agni
– transformation inside the body or metabolic activities in the body
– digestion, absorption, and assimilation
– aids the production of digestive enzymes in the body.
– vitality and strength
– production of tissue repair nutrients
– good health to the gastrointestinal system
– maintains Ojas and Tejas
– enhance radiance of the skin
– the preservation of bodily temperature
– provides intelligence and mental clarity
– perception through the senses (especially visual perception)
– cellular communication flow
– courage and self-assurance
– discrimination, logic, and reason
– patience, consistency, and endurance
When Agni is in balance, it promotes robust immunity as well as a long and healthy life. Agni that is in balance lends a scent to our existence, a zest for life that makes the whole experience more delightful. The following are the cardinal signs of a balanced Agni – Normal appetite, uncoated-clean tongue, a proper appreciation of taste, healthy digestion, regular bowel movements, maintains homeostasis, increases immunity, healthy weight, normal blood pressure, good immunity, sound sleep and longevity in life.
To keep the metabolism intact, diet intake should be appropriate. The first thumb rule is to eat only when you are hungry, this is a good remedy for healthy digestion. Do not overload the stomach with food; as per Ayurveda, the stomach should have half portion filled with solids, one-fourth with liquids and one-fourth portion left empty. This will prevent bloating and indigestion. Foods good for gut health include regular intake of ghee, optimum spices like coriander, cumin, ginger, garlic, methi, hingu etc. Regular intake of fresh vegetables and fruits can also accelerate healthy digestion.