According to Ayurveda, our health is a state of balance of normal functions of Dhatus, Doshas, Agni, and Malas with mind, body, and soul. That is, the health is maintained when the Dhatus, Doshas, Agni, and Malas are always in a state of functional equilibrium. Imbalance of these elements can result in ailments and other health complications. The primary cause of this distortion of stability is an erratic lifestyle. Ayurveda emphasizes on providing treatment, with or without drugs, to bring back the equilibrium. It may also include specific rules of diet and mental and physical treatment.
Ayurveda is one of the ancient holistic healing techniques developed more than 5000 years ago in India, during the Vedic civilization. Ayurveda is based on the fact that wellness and health depend on a subtle balance between the body, mind, and spirit. The goal of Ayurveda is not to fight disease, but to promote good health. However, if required, treatment can be steered towards specific health complications. In the present ear, Ayurveda is considered a form of alternative and complementary medicine.
This article focuses on explaining the Ayurveda’s basic philosophy of health, disease, and treatment.
Constitution and its inner balance
According to the scholars of Ayurveda, the practice of Ayurveda emphasize on preventing and encouraging the maintenance of health by bringing equilibrium to a person’s life by implementing lifestyle changes, right thinking, and the use of natural herbs and minerals. Knowledge of Ayurveda enables a person to recognize how to construct this balance of mind, body, and consciousness according to his/her own individual constitution. Moreover, it also enables the individual to make certain lifestyle changes to maintain this balance.
According to Ayurveda, every individual boasts a particular pattern of energy, a combination of emotional, mental, and physical characteristics, which encompasses their own constitutions. This constitution remains the same throughout the individual’s life and is determined at the beginning, by numerous factors.
These factors include both external and internal components that act upon a person to disturb this balance. These are echoed as a change in a person’s constitution from a balanced state. Family relationships, work, physical trauma, weather and seasons, food choices, diet, and emotional state are some of the stressors that can create this imbalance. Once these stressors are understood, an individual can take precautionary measures to minimize or nullify to eliminate the causes of imbalance. This also helps in re-establishing an individual’s original constitution.
In terms of Ayurveda, the imbalance is a disorder, and balance is the natural order. That is, health is order, and illness is a disorder. Within our body, there is frequent interaction between disorder and order. One can re-establish order when he/she understands the structure and nature of the disorder.
In simple terms, if your body, spirit, and mind are in harmony with the universe, you will have good health. On the other hand, if something disrupts this harmony, you get sick.
Balancing the principle energies of the body
Every element in this universe, including living things, is made of the five basic building blocks or elements – earth, water, fire, air, and space.
The five elements combine in the human body to create three energies or life forces, known as the Doshas. Doshas control how your body works.
- The Vata Dosha – air and space
- The Pitta Dosha – water and fire
- The Kapha Dosha – earth and water
Every person inherits a unique combination of the three Doshas. However, one is always dominant than the other two. Each Dosha controls different bodily functions. According to Ayurveda, your chances of getting ill, including other health complications you develop, are associated with the balance of your three Doshas.
#1 Vata Dosha
Those practicing Ayurveda believes that Vata Dosha is the most powerful of all the Doshas. Vata Dosha carries out the most basic body functions, such as how cells divide. Moreover, it also controls your heart function, blood flow, breathing, mind, and ability to dispose of waste through intestines. Factors that can cause an imbalance in Vata Dosha include staying up too late, grief, fear, and eating again soon after a meal.
If Vata Dosha is your dominant life force, you are most likely to develop conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, skin problems, heart diseases, asthma, and anxiety.
Vita Dosha is associated with movement, and it is expressed as flexibility and creativity.
#2 Pitta Dosha
Pitta Dosha is responsible for controlling your hormones that are linked to your appetite, metabolism, and your digestion. Factors that can disrupt the balance of Pitta Dosha may include overeating spicy or sour food and spending a lot of time in the sun.
If Pitta Dosha is your dominant life force, you are more likely to develop conditions like infections, high blood pressure, heart disease, and Crohn’s disease.
Pitta Dosha is associated with the body’s metabolic system, and it is expressed as intelligence and understanding.
#3 Kapha Dosha
This energy controls your immune system, weight, stability, body strength, and muscle growth. Kapha Dosha can get easily disrupted by drinking or eating foods that contain too much water or salt, eating too many sweet foods, and by sleeping during the day.
If Kapha Dosha is your dominant life force, followers believe that you are more likely to develop breathing disorders including asthma, obesity, nausea after eating, diabetes, and even cancer.
Kapha Dosha is associated with the structure, and it is expressed as forgiveness, calmness, and love.
Treatment in Ayurveda
Ayurvedic treatment emphasizes on taking into account the unique emotional and physical makeup of an individual, his/her primary life force, and the balance between all the three elements.
The aim of Ayurvedic treatment is to cleanse your body of toxins, housing in the form of undigested food. Undigested food can stay in your body and cause illness. According to the practitioners, Ayurveda involves a cleaning process, called the ‘panchakarma,’ which is designed to alleviate the symptoms and restore balance and harmony.
To achieve this, an individual may have to undergo laxatives, enemas, massage, blood purification, and the use of herbs and therapeutic oils.