Ayurveda (ayush=life; vid=wisdom-sanskrit) is said to be the most ancient of medical systems. The ancient vedic tradition, cognized by the great indian seers, offers a wealth of knowledge for healthy and meaningful life. 1 since ayurveda (part of atharvaveda, the last of the four vedas) is timeless and unbounded it has relevance even to the present day. It was mark twain who once said: so far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make india the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked.
The philosophy of ayurveda believes that everything in this universe is composed of five elements, the panchbhootas. They, in turn, constitute the three doshas or bio-energetic forces that govern our health and determine our constitution. The trigunas or psychic forces determine our mental and spiritual health. Ayurveda teaches us to balance all these to live a healthy, happy and contented life.
Unlike modern medicine, ayurveda recognizes that the mind and body are but the two manifestations of the same consciousness-mind as the field of ideas and the body as the field of molecules and organs. Each tries to help keep the other working and healthy extracting nourishment from the environment. Elimination of impurities of the emotional wounds are as important as the elimination of the waste matter from the body to have true physical, emotional and spiritual health.
Modern risk factor hypothesis pales into insignificance in view of the most elaborate knowledge in ayurveda. Some of the recent additions to the modern medical list like hostility form the basis of the ayurvedic risk factors. Viz.
Khrodha, shoka, bhaya, aayaasa, virudhaanna bhojana,
Thaponnalaan, lavanakshara, rakta pitta prakopayeth
(anger, depression and sorrow, extreme fear, exhaustion, wrong foods, sedentary living, too much salt and spices lead to most major killer diseases)
The solution is also simple:
nithya hitha, mitha aahaara sevi, sameekshkaari, dhata samaha sathyapara
Kshamavaan aapthopasevi aarogyam.
(have food in moderation and that which pleases the mind. Do not cheat or tell lies. Work very hard. Forgive others even if they hurt you. Treat all as your own kith and kin. Health would be yours always.) 2
Vedic wisdom follows non-linear mathematics (vedic mathematics) and the laws akin to modern quantum physics. It is, therefore, the right approach for holistic assessment of health and disease. Its aims are not only to heal the sick, but also to preserve life by preventing illness-most complete system of health care known. 2
Ayurvedic treatment is based on restoring the disturbed balance of the three doshas-vata, pitta, and kapha - very much like the humors theory of hippocrates. It takes into consideration the whole human being, and not just the phenotype. The tridosha concept takes into consideration the phenotype, genotype as also the mind, in classifying patients. Consequently, treatment differs even for the same disease from individual to individual, based on the constitutional types.
Whereas billions of tons of water get displaced during the tidal changes in the oceans due to the gravitational pull of the moon, the human body, which is mostly water, could not be exempt from the effects of the planets. Ayurvedic astrology plays a large part in the total picture of disease and its cure. Many of us scientists who feel nauseated at the very mention of the word astrology would do well to know that isaac newton and gelileo were both practising astrologers. The science of astrology is good but not the astrologers predictions! most predictions, including the ones we make in scientific medicine, are just predicting the unpredictable.
Empirical knowledge, derived from long term prospective studies, form the basis of therapy in ayurveda, unlike the short term case-control studies or, even, cohort studies based on matching the controls, based on phentotypical features alone, as is done in modern medicine. Treatment is tailored to individual needs and could be broadly grouped into the following:
* herbal medications
* meditation and prayer (no particular god or book prescribed)