Ayurveda is the oldest surviving complete medical system in the world. Derived from its ancient Sanskrit roots - 'ayus' (life) and 'ved' (knowledge) - and offering a rich, comprehensive outlook to a healthy life, its origins go back nearly 5000 years. To when it was expounded and practiced by the same spiritual rishis, who laid the foundations of the Vedic civilisation in India, by organising the fundamentals of life into proper systems.
About Ayurveda Treatments
Ayurvedic treatments differ from the majority of conventional cures in its unique approach towards healing. The principle of treating the sick and not the sickness is central to all forms of ayurvedic treatments. Rather than trying to cure a disease in isolatation, ayurveda takes into account an individual in his entirety.
"Samadosha samagnischa samadhatu malakriya Prasanna atma manah swastha itih abhidhiyate."
Having a balanced state of doshas, agni (digestive fire), dhatus (tissues) normal functioning of mala (waste products), cheerful state of atman (soul), sensory organs and mind are the symptoms of healthy life.
Ayurvedic treatments lay emphasis on examining the doshas/prakriti or the natural states of individuals before proceeding. The prakriti or the physical constitution, susceptibility to diseases, mental make-up and lifestyle of an individual is ascertained in accordance to the elemental constitution of the larger prakriti or the universe.
Of course, ayurveda has drawn the most comprehensive picture of human body and the natural world, saying that, the elements of the nature-the Panchamahabhuts: kshit (earth), ap (water), marut(air), tejas (fire), and vyoma (space or ether or akash), are also, the components of human body,which are manifested in three types of physic-kaph (water/earth), pitta (fire), vata (ether/ air).These three types are further recognized by ayurveda as tridoshas or the three faults-vata, pitta and kapha irregularities. The smooth functioning of the body is hampered owing to the imbalances in the three doshas (prakriti) causing all kinds of diseases.
Ayurveda takes into consideration the body, mind and soul of an individual as the unit for diagnosis. Hence, it recognizes negative emotions like anger, fear, insecurity, jealousy and greed as incorrect thinking on the part of an individual. These can directly create an imbalance in the doshas. Sattva, or peaceful equilibrium, rajas, or excessive activity and tamas, or inertia-the three tendencies or gunas of mind influence the imbalances in the three doshas. Hence the mind-body imbalance impairs the creative functioning of man.
Vata, which is identified with the cosmic element of vaayu or air and akash or ether, control all types of movements and is responsible for respiration too. This is the kinetic force in all kinds of biological forms, and controls the body's auto-functions (nerve impulses, circulation, respiration, and elimination and heartbeats etc.) therein. In case of an imbalance (vikruti), vata prakriti individuals, who are quick in their mental process and initiation of action, tend to suffer from diseases of the neurological system especially motor functions. The diseases are pronounced during the old age, which is the period of vata (vata kala). The disease mostly affects the lower parts of the body since they are the predominant seats of vata dosha. Also, individuals belonging to this type suffer from angina (hridgraha).
Pitta Prakriti is consists of agni or teja, the element of heat energy. It is responsible for maintenance of body heat and transforming in nature. All types of outside elements an individual takes-in are transformed into inside elements (microcosm) of the body by pitta. It governs the digestion or proper assimilation of physical, mental and emotional elements of a biological entity. Hence, Pitta is responsible for metabolism in the organ and tissue systems, as well as cellular metabolism. The persons of this prakriti are sharp, quick in action and normally possess a very good intellect as well as grasping power. The pitta prakriti persons are prone to diseases of the digestive and metabolic systems. The diseases mostly affect the abdomen i.e. the area between the chest and umbilicus. Also, pitta disorders are pronounced in the middle ages, which is the period of pitta (pitta kala).
Kapha prakriti or dosha consists of prithvi (earth) and jala (water). Jala or ap, is essential for sustenance of life. Prithvi, or earth, is responsible for structure and bulk of the material. Kapha is responsible for body form and structure (fluids, fats, bones and muscles). The kapha prakriti endows the individuals with a good physic and strong perseverance but they are slow in their activities. The cold quality of kapha results in poor appetite as their agni or digestion is poor. In case of an imbalance (vikruti), individuals tend to suffer from the diseases of the respiratory system especially phlegmatic disorders. The diseases normally affect the upper parts of the body i.e. chest and above. The diseases are pronounced during the early ages (childhood), which is the period of kapha (kapha kala). Generally people are a combination of two doshas i.e. dwandvaja prakriti. They possess characteristics of both doshas involved depending on the percentage of the combination. In this case, one is a primary and the other is the secondary dosha. Sometimes people are a combination of all the three imbalances of doshas. But, it is extremely rare to find a balanced state of all the three doshas. Not only the humans but also everything (animals, plants, geographical locations, times of day, seasons and activities performed etc.) in the universe is categorized according to these three doshas. An ayurvedic practitioner formulates a diet plan and recommends herbs for a patient after taking into consideration all these aspects. That's why in ayurveda different people with the same disease sometimes receive different diet and herb plans.
Effect of Seasons on the Prakriti Types
The condition of human body depends on the continuous interaction between internal and external factors. Environmental factors include the nature of the land, water and various atmospheric phenomena such as temperature, humidity, wind, rain and snow shortly, the seasons and climes. Food and proper digestion of it in our systems is considered vital to maintain a reasonable balance of the three doshas of vata, pitta and kapha. Food is digested by agni (heat/fire) within us just as it is cooked by agni (heat/fire) outside.
According to ayurveda, there is a "stimulus-response" relation between the agni within us and the outside agni-the sun. When the agni outside is strong (i.e. summer) the agni inside us (the digestive energy) is weak and vice-versa. Basing on this principle the Indian food customs (even festival delicacies) and of course, the diet and lifestyle regimen (Dinacharya and Ritucharya) of ayurveda have been adapted to seasonal changes.