Ayurveda and Panchkarma
The World Health Organization defines health “as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” Physical Health, Mental Health and Social well-being .are the three important pillars of health in a human being.
Ayurveda is known as the “Science of Life”. It is derived from two Sanskrit terms “Ayur” which means life and “Veda” which means knowledge. Thus Ayurveda teaches to lead a healthy life. The basic philosophy of Ayurveda is to make people aware of their life style, diet, exercise and mental activities to achieve a prefect balance in mind, body and soul. Literally, it focuses on uninterrupted physical, mental and spiritual happiness and fulfillment. So, Ayurveda focuses on absolute perfect health and not disease. On the other hand, the modern medicine stresses only on the body and neglects the mind, senses and the soul. Any infirmity in the mind, senses and soul leads to illness in the Ayurvedic definition.
The system of Ayurveda medicine evolved over thousands of years through processes of experience, observation, experimentation and intuition. It is the most practical and sensible preventive system in the world. It is practiced intact even in today’s technology-driven world. Ayurvedic system of medicine prescribes time tested and trusted methods to improve ones physical and mental activities.
Uniqueness of Ayurveda
The holistic approach of Ayurveda is unique. Treatment given is for the individual as a whole, not just the body alone, but also mind and soul. Again, treatment is not to correct the affected part only, but to correct the origin and balance the equilibrium. The Mind – Body relation is well explained in Ayurveda. Mental aberrations can lead to physical ill-health and vice versa.
Ayurveda believes that a ‘healthy mind can exist only in a healthy body’. It is essentially knowledge of the Art and Science of Living which man needs, as long as there is life on earth. It maintains the tradition of using only plants, vegetables etc. which are available in nature. In other words, no artificial substance is used in Ayurveda.
Ayurvedic Treatment varies from person to person. It is not the same for the same illness, for all. It is based on the age, sex, strength, constitution, condition of the disease etc, of the patient. Ayurveda believes that the disease is gone once the balance is restored. Great emphasis is laid on the principles of proper diet, proper exercise, proper breathing, proper relaxation, proper thinking and proper meditation.
Ayurveda is the sister science of YOGA which highlights the importance of mind in proper health. It helps human beings to achieve a higher state of body and mind. Yoga enables the individual to economize energy and thus refreshes the mind and body. Relaxation is very important, as it is nature’s way of recharging the body. Practice of Yoga with Ayurvedic medicines gives sure relief to Asthma and other ailments. Breathing exercises cleanse the body and activates all the systems. Meditation goes a long way to relieve tension and stress. Yoga and meditation are highly beneficial to the modern man in this fast changing and busy world.
Ayurveda states that no single substance or influence can be ultimately branded as totally wholesome or unwholesome. The idea of wholesomeness of life is represented by the myth of “AMBROSIA’ i.e. the fabled food of the Gods (Elixir), a drop of which in a single dose, will take away all illnesses, for ever.
From the Ayurvedic point of view, ‘Ambrosia’ and ‘Toxin’ are not structural entities; they are functional. A material, in proper union with life, is the representative of Ambrosia, whereas the same material in improper union will be regarded as `Toxin’. All Ayurvedic principles have an immunological bearing.
The fundamentals of Ayurveda, state that “all human beings are born in a state of equipoise, but later lose it either through bad diet, bad treatment or moving away from the physical location most conducive to the body constitution and temperament”. Ayurveda looks at the role of the physician as follows: “To understand the imbalance happening to the dynamic equilibrium of the body and to set it right by bringing back to the original state”. The physician makes the patient healthy and not just treats the illness.
According to Ayurveda, the human body is composed of three fundamental elements called, “DOSHAS” which represent the physio–chemical and physiological activities of the body, “DHADUS” which denotes the materials entering into the formation of a basic structure of the body cell, to perform basic actions and “MALAS” which denotes the substances which are partly used in the body and partly excreted in another form after serving their physiological activities.
Proper balance of these three ‘principles’ at work, in the human body, is essential. All the three are equally important, but ‘Doshas’ are a bit more dominant. There are three kinds of Doshas. They are ‘Vata’, ‘Pitta’, and “Kapha’, which may not be equal and same in all people. Our food habits, lifestyle etc., can be adjusted according to the body type, to maintain perfect health. The signs and symptoms, by which we can foresee an illness, are well described in the Ayurvedic texts. How to change our lifestyle, according to the climate, is also given in the books.
Ayurveda prescribes the social norms for an individual. This helps in maintaining spiritual health and elaborates on daily routines, according to the region of the habitat, age of the person etc. Ayurveda believes that man is influenced very much by his environment, which affects his health status too. The routines include diets, habits and attitude to life. These are to be changed according to age, sex, living conditions, environment etc., these changes are required to maintain the natural resistance of the body to diseases.
Diet and dialectics are of great importance. Any abnormality in the consumption of food can cause insufficiency and upset the immune system.
PANCHAKARMA consists of five Ayurvedic procedures, which are purificatory in nature, viz. Nasya, Vamana, Virechana, Vasthi and Raktha Moksha which eliminate all the toxic elements from the body and mind. Panchakarma (Purification Therapy) deals mainly with the removal of toxins and waste materials from the body to purify the biological system from gross channels to eradicate the disease completely. It is helpful in the prevention of disease and preservation and promotion of health, as well as the management of psychosomatic, neurological, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and many other chronic degenerative diseases and autogenic conditions. Panchakarma plays a vital role in Ayurvedic therapeutics and occupies an important place in the Ayurvedic system of medicine.
Under pre-operative management, the doshas are liquefied by internal and external oleation of ghee, oil, abhyangam and fomentation followed by main purification processes for the elimination of toxins from the body. Under post-operative management, various types of dietetics and disciplined living for a few days after the treatment methods are described.