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Ayurveda originated in India and is one of the oldest medical systems in the world. The word Ayurveda means science of life. It is the combination of two words - Ayu (Life) & Veda (Knowledge).
The objectives of Ayurveda are preservation and promotion of the health of a healthy person and restoration of health in the diseased. Good health is the fundamental pre-requisite to acquire materialistic, social and spiritual upliftment of human being.
Ayurveda is based on the theory of three humours (Tridosha) i.e. Vata, Pitta and Kapha, seven body tissues (Saptadhatu) i.e., fluid components of the body (Rasa), Blood (Rakta), muscle tissue (Mamsa), adipose tissue(Medas), bone tissue(Asthi), bone marrow (Majja) and reproductive elements (Sukra) and three bio-wastes (Trimalas) i.e. Urine (Mootra), Faeces (Pureesha) and Sweat (Sweda). The essence of saptadhatu called Ojas is responsible for immunity and strength.
Ayurveda is also known as Ashtanga Veda (science with eight branches) because it is classified into eight different branches. Ayurveda provides comprehensive preventive, promotive and curative aspects of health through eight major clinical specialties.
Every individual has a peculiar body-mind constitution which is responsible for the health or disease pattern of an individual. Ayurvedic concept of examination of constitution (Prakriti pareeksha) is to know body, mind constitution while selecting diet, medicine or treatment regimen. The human mind has three components i.e. Sattva, Raja and Tama, which interact with the biological components Vata, Pitta & Kapha and decides the psychosomatic constitution of an individual (Prakriti).
The diagnosis in Ayurveda is based on a two-fold approach to diagnostics viz. (1) Examination of the patient i.e., Rogi-pareeksha; and (2) Examination of the disease i.e., Roga-pareeksha. Therefore, Rogi- pareeksha is essentially concerned with ascertaining the constitution of the individual and status of his health and vitality.
This is achieved through ten fold examination of patients (Dasavidha pareeksha) comprising of (1) Constitution (Prakriti) (2) Disease susceptibility (Vikriti), (3) Essence (Sara),(4) Compactness (Samhanana), (5) Anthropometry (Pramana), (6) Compatibility (Satmya), (7) Mind (Sattwa), (8) Digestion capacity of food (Aharasakti), (9) Physical strength (Vyayamasakti) and (10) Age (Vaya).
The general examination is made through popular eight types of examination of patient (Ashtasthana pareeksha) comprising examination of pulse (Nadi), urine (Mootra), faeces (Mala), tongue (Jihva), voice (Sabda), touch (Sparsha), eye/vision (Drik) and stature (Akriti) and also considering the state of pathways of internal transport systems (Srotas) and digestive faculty (Agni).
Ideal treatment according to Ayurveda is one, which cures the disease without causing adverse effect. Three classical therapeutic streams advocated by Ayurveda are (1) Therapies with inexplicable mode of action (Daivavyapasraya chikitsa), (2) Rationale treatment (Yukti vyapasraya chikitsa) and (3) Preventive and remedial measures to Psychic disorders (Satwavajaya chikitsa).
The rational Ayurveda treatment is carried out in four parts. They are (1) Dosha pacifying therapy (Samsamana), and (2) Bio-cleansing therapy (Samsodhana or Panchakarma) (3) Avoiding causative factors (Nidana Parivarjana) and (4) Dietetics (Pathya Vyavastha).
Ayurvedic treatments rely heavily on plant materials. Sometimes, botanicals are mixed with metals, minerals or other naturally occurring substances and the formulae are prepared according to specific Ayurvedic text procedures; such preparations involve several precise treatment to detoxify and potenciate the medicines.Specific diet (Pathya) is prescribed along with the drugs and treatment. The diet regimen is as important as remedies since the former helps to restore the balance as much as the latter.
Ayurveda emphasizes preventative and healing therapies along with various methods of bio-cleansing and rejuvenation. Some procedures are aimed at the management of the disease. Scientific studies have validated the efficacy and acceptability of these procedures.
Panchakarma - Panchakarma means the "five therapies"/five therapeutic means of eliminating toxins from the body are Vaman (emesis), Virechan (purgation), Nasya (nasal insufflation), Basti (enema) and Raktamoskshana (blood-letting by using leech and different instruments). This series of five therapies help remove deep-rooted stress and illness causing toxins from the body while balancing the doshas (energies that govern all biological functions).
Kshara Sautra- A procedure using medicated thread is a unique minimally invasive para-surgical measure being successfully practiced as a promising therapy for ano-rectal disorders since time immortal by Indian surgeons, widely cited in ancient medical literatures for its safety and efficacy.This technique was practiced by Sushruta (1000-600 B.C.), the famed ancient Indian surgeon. This technique was revived, developed and standardized in the early seventies by eminent scientists like Prof.P.J.Deshpande,Dr.P.S.Shankaran(Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi).
Rasayana- Literally, rasayana means the augmentation of rasa, the vital fluid produced by the digestion of food. It is the rasa flowing in the body that sustains life. Rasayana in ayurveda is the method of treatment through which the rasa is maintained in the body. This is a specialized branch of clinical medicine meant for preventing the effect of ageing and to improve memory, intelligence, complexion, sensory and motor functions. Numerous rasayana medicines are reported to possess diversified actions like immuno-enhancement, free radical scavenging, adaptogenic or anti-stress and nutritive effects.