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Basic Principles

Human body is composed of five basic elements namely : Prithvi ( earth), Jala(water), Agni(fire), Vayu(air) and Akasha(ether). Man thus is the replica of the nature itself. What happens in the nature will happen within the body also. The panchabhoutic body is nourished and sustained by the panchabhoutic food.

Tridoshas (Three body homours-three pillars of the body)
The five elements are being represented in the body by three primary energies called Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata is the master dosha and governs all functions of the body, both physical and mental. Pitta is responsible for all stages of digestion and metabolism. Also it responsible for the intellect and analytical power. Kapha imparts stability to the body as well as to the mind.

Tridoshas thus do the functions in the body as the sun, moon and the air sustain the whole universe. Their abnormality therefore disturbs the functions of the body and leads to various diseases.

Sapta Dhatus (Seven basic tissues)
Physical body is composed of seven tissues viz. Rasa(plasma), Rakta(blood), Mamsa(muscle), Medas(fat tissue), Asthi(bone), Majja(marrow) and Shukra(semen). The excellence of all tissues is very essential for maintenance of health. The food which constitutes all nutrients helps to build up the qualities of respective dhatus. They lose their qualities when not supported by proper food or when vitiated by doshas. Dhatus then become part in diseases process.

Malas (Waste products)
Pureesha(faeces), mootra(urine) and Sweda(sweat) are the main three excretes of the body. Every tissue metabolism gives out the essence that is needed for nourishment of the next tissue, a byproduct and some excreta. Thus Kapha(phlem) is the excreta of Rasa, Snayu(ligament) is the excreta of the medas(fat tissue) and so on.

Digestion and metabolism takes place with the help of an energy called Agni(digestive fire) The food on consumption comes in contact with the Agni, first in the stomach and gets disintegrated into simpler forms. The ahara rasa (product of first part of digestion) then reaches the dhatus one by one gets digested by the each Dhatu agni( digestive fire at each tissue). The final products are then assimilated by ech and every part of respective tissues.

Srotases (Channels)
The movement of nutrients to various tissues takes place through several channels which are of different size and shape according to the functions they have to perform.

Prakriti (Constitution)
Ayurveda approaches the individual from a different perspective which is very unique. Each individual has got a constitution based on the dominance of tridoshas at the time of conception. Some are of vata-pitta prakriti, some have kapha vata prakriti and so on. Characters of a person in terms of physical body, appetite, tendencies, mental attitudes etc. depend upon the prakriti of the person.

Ayurveda advocates right conducts which enable the person to become more satvik which ultimately makes him more healthy and leads to the greatest happiness ie. Moksha.

Preventive medicine
One has to follow the principles of Ayurveda in order to prevent the occurrence of diseases. Swasthavritta (regmen which keep the person healthy) is one of the main section of Ayurveda wherein basic principles for maintenance of health are described. Principles of diet, daily regimen and seasonal regimen are a few important areas in swasthavritta.

Diet plays an important role both in healthy and diseased conditions. It is the fundamental factor for keeping doshas in a balanced state. Food having qualities similar to those of doshas and dhatus will enhance them and vice versa.

Ayurveda does not advocate a uniform balanced diet. It is told that a man's diet may be another's poison. Each individual is unique. His diet must be planned in relation to many factors like, his constitution, digestive capacity, bowel habits, body strength, mental status. Quality of the food and time factor like day-night, season etc. Ideally the food must constitute all the six tastes viz. madhura(sweet), amla(sour), lavana(salt), katu(pungent), tikta (bitter) and kashaya(astringent) .Also emphasis has been given to the method of cooking, selection of vessels, interval between two consumptions, method of eating etc.

Dinacharya (Daily regimen)
Daily regimen begins with waking up at Brahma muhurtam and includes various procedures like danta dhavana (brushing), abhyanga (oil massage), snana ( bathing), anjana (colyrum to eyes), nasya (nasal instillation of oils) etc. These enable the body to get rid of the waste regularly and keep the body, mind and the sense organs in optimum health condition.

Rtucharya (Seasonal regimen)
We know that the nature around us changes regularly according to various seasons. Similarly the internal environment of the body also changes. The digestive power is maximum during hemanta (winter) but is poor in greeshma(summer). Tridoshas vitiate and subside in different seasons. It is therefore very essential to adopt a proper regimen which will protect the body from the onslaught of seasonal changes.

Role of mind in health
Ayurveda gives equal importance to mental health as for physical health for man cannot be considered healthy if he is not sound mentally. Mind has got three domains: satva(enlightment), rajas(turbulent) and tamas(darkness).A person may have dominant satva or rajas or tamas and is called as satvik, rajasik and tamasik respectively. Ayurveda advocates right conducts which enable the person to become more satvik which ultimately makes him more healthy and leads to the greatest happiness ie. Moksha.

Imbalance of tridoshas is called as disease. Improper diet, inappropriate working pattern, suppressing the natural urges, not controlling the emotions, effects of seasonal changes etc are the main causative factors. Role played by the infections, injuries and genetic fators is also discussed in detail. Tridoshas vitiate due to the causes mentioned above, they move to different parts of the body through channels,vitiate the tissues and result in the manifestation of the disease.

Vyadhikshamatva (Immunity)
It is worth noting that not all persons who come in contact with the cause become sick. The disturbed tridoshas may not lead to the disease process if the immune power of the person is strong. Immunity thus enables the person to resist the disease as well as to resist the effect of the diseases, if occurs. Genetic factors, constitution, food and other regimen etc. influence the immunity of the person.

Disease management

  1. disease, for example fever, manifests in different forms in different persons. A detailed examination of both the patient and the diseases is mandatory for planning the treatment which is of three types:-
  2. Yuktivyapasraya (administration of medicines and diet).
  3. Daivavyapasraya (various religious rituals).
  4. Satvavajaya (psychotherapy).

Ayurvedic way of managing diseases involves :

  1. Avoiding the cause.
  2. Breaking the pathology by-- correcting the digestive fire, purification and pacification.
  3. Enhancing the immunity by--rejuvenation with proper regimen.

Branches of Ayurveda