Ayurveda

Ayurveda means "the science of life".  Ayur means "life" and Veda means "knowledge or science".

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"Into its ancient well of profound healing wisdom, some of the greatest doctors and sages have poured their finest insights and discoveries.  Yet to fully appreciate the nectar of the Eastern healing wisdom, Westerners need to overcome their literal and linear process of thought to enter into a non-linear reasoning approach.  Therefore, a perspective grounded in an intuitive vision of the whole rather than the microscopic view of contemporary science is necessary."
Michael Terra, The Yoga of Herbs

Ayurveda is dated to be anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 years old.  It is the oldest known medicine in the world.  The Ayurvedic paradigm demonstrates how the mind, body and spirit interactions enable us to live gracefully and in harmony.  Ayurveda has already donated the drug reserpine and the discipline of plastic surgery to modern medicine.  Reserpine from the plant sarpagandha (Rauwolfia serpentine) for hypertension. Plus the cholesterol controlling drug gugglipid from the plant guggulu (Commiphora mukul) which binds cholesterol in the gastro-intestinal tract.  It is as good as Lopid.  Plastic surgery ideas were taken from Sushruta Samhita, Ayurveda's text.

Disease, if correctly understood, does not occur as a arbitrary phenomena but for definite reasons.  In understanding this correctly, disease can be prevented from recurring.


History of Ayurveda
Ayurveda is part of the Vedas. The common known Vedas are Rig Veda and Avartha Veda. From the youngest of the Vedas, the Atharva Veda, developed Ayurveda.  At the turn of the first millennium BC the treatise known as Charaka Samhita (the first and most important of all Ayurvedic texts) was written.  Around this time Ayurveda ‘s most famous surgical text , the Sushruta Samhita was also compiled. 

The belief that exist in Ayurveda: nothing exist in the world that cannot be used as medicine.
Indian medicine found its way into Greece when Alexander the Great's invaded northern India, .  In the 3rd century BC, Asoka, the emperor of northern India built charitable hospitals, specialized surgical, obstetric and mental facilities for both human and animals through out his kingdom.  With the spread of Buddhism, (as the Buddha himself was a strong supporter of Ayurveda), Ayurveda soon followed suit to Sri Lanka.  Two other famous texts are Ashtanga Sangraha (7th century) and Ashtanga Hrdaya (8th century).  These two texts are condensations of the work of Charaka and Sushruta.

With the Muslim invasion of India, Ayurveda text and libraries and universities were destroyed.  The survivors who fled to Nepal and Tibet carried with them Ayurvedic texts. Till today some Ayurvedic text are preserved only in Tibetan language. Ayurveda still survived in India. The Muslim/Arabic physicians combined Ayurveda with Greek medicine and it is called Unani.  In Southern India the traditional medicine is known as Siddha medicine . It is dedicated to the 18 Siddhas or "seers".  There are similarities between Ayurveda and Siddha but they are not entirely the same system of medicine.
Ayurveda is a fluid system of : body constitution, humor, metals and mineral medicine, herbalogy, external and internal cleansing, gem therapy, astrology, Yoga, mantra, meditation and prayers.  It is an extensively developed science that gives humans the tools to live in harmony with the nature and connection with the universe.


Principles of treatment
In all branches of Indian medicine, Ayurveda or Siddha, medical treatment is divided into eight (astanga) branches.

They are :
1. Kaya chikitsai (general medicine), 2. Bala chikitisai (pediatrics), 3. Graha chikitsai (treatment of mental and neurological diseases), 4. Urdvanga chikitisai (eye, ear, nose, throat and head), 5. Saya chikitisai (surgery), 6. Visha chikitisai (toxicology), 7. Rasayana chikitisai (geriatrics or gerontology), 8. Vajeekarna chikitsai (aphrodisiacs) .
Ayurveda treatment consist of broadly of two parts; Samana treatment (palliative) and Sodhana treatment (radical). Five Sodhana treatment or eliminative treatment are as mentioned. These are similar to Panchakarma.  Before treatment is administered a person has to be prepared to undergo these sessions with discipline.

They are;
1. Vamana-emetics, 2. Virechana-purgatives, 3a. Sneha Vasthi-medicated oils, enemas. 3b. Kashaya Vasthi- medicated enemas, 4. Rakta mokshanam-blood letting, 5. Nasyam- errhines

The Three Main Forces
Most people familiar with Ayurveda have heard of the distinct body types. While this is one minor component of Ayurveda it is not all of Ayurveda.  The Rishis (ancient seers) recorded three forces, tridosha in the basic existence of life in human. These three forces are a condensation of the five elements.  The five elements are fire, earth, water, air and ether.  These five elements make up all matter in the universe. The human body is a microcosm of the macrocosm.  A person can be one of these elements or a combination of two or three with one of the elements predominating the other.  All these five elements are energy in different forms. The tridosha influence our state of health.

Energy is never destroyed,  but evolves into different levels of vibration.  Depending on the levels of vibration it can transmute to light, heat and cold.  Energy is constantly moving, changing, gives direction, force.  All living things in Ayurveda are viewed as static or dense energy constantly evolving.  We are matter which seems solid to the naked eye but we are in actual subtle moving forces.
Prana is the name for life force that inhibits all living things.  Prana is also referred to as Purusha or Primal Force.  Unlike other livings things humans are gifted with the highest form of consciousness and most important of all, the conscious will.
Dosha or biological humor is defined as impurities, decay or waste products,  that arises out of process of the body metabolism.  When doshas predominate or become out of balance, disease arise.  From the five elements arise vata from air and ether, kapha from water and earth, pitta from fire and water.  Air is the predominant factor in vata, water in kapha, and fire in pitta.


Vata, kapha and pitta
Vata is also referred to as wind or air.  It attributes are dry, light, cold, changeable, mental clarity, calmness. Vata is the most important of the three humors. It directs the other two humors.  It has the potential to affect the mental and physical self.  When aggravated or disturbed vata can cause mental agitation, insomnia, dizziness, constipation, anxiety, nervousness, depression, retard fetus growth to name a few.

Kapha is also refered to as water or phlegm.  It unites earth and water.  It supports the other two humors. It holds things together. Its attributes are coldness, dampness, denseness, soft & firm, and oily.  It has the potential to affect mobility, lubrication and stability in emotions.  When aggravated it can cause lethargy, weight gain, cough, paleness, dehydrated effect, breathing difficulties, etc.
Pitta is otherwise known as fire or bile.  It properties are slightly oily, digestion/heat, lustre/glow, viscosity, etc.  When aggravated it can cause thirst, difficulty sleeping, yellowing of skin, eyes, stool and urine, inflammation, fever, flushed complexion.


Location of the humors
In Ayurveda the disease is treated at the sites at which the humors reside. By treating the specific location(s) where the imbalance has accumulated the dis-ease is treated it becomes chronic. Thus vata is located in the brain, heart, ears, bones, lungs, thighs, and colon. Kapha at head, nose, mouth, joints, tongue, throat, lymph system, fat, and stomach. Pitta at liver, spleen, sweat glands, stomach, endocrine glands, small intestine, blood, lymph system, and eyes.


Types of Vata
In Ayurveda there are 5 types of vata-air or wind.  If you have practiced Yoga breath work,  and the Bandras,  you will be familiar with directing the different types of air through the chakras.  The five types are called Prana, Udana, Samana, Vyana, and Apana.
These are upward and down ward moving air currents within the human body.  To briefly define these five currents.  Prana is the main life force which directs all other vata. Udana is the upward moving air. Samana is the equalizing air.  Vyana is the diffusive air. Apana is the downward moving air. (Refer to Siddha Medicine)  


Types of Kapha
By connecting the water element of kapha to its attributes and location, the function of the five types of water will make sense to the reader. Sleshaka is related to lubrication (synovial fluid) with the joints.  Tarpaka is related to contentment.  Kledaka is for moisturizing.  Bodhaka for perception.  Avalambaka for support.

Types of Pitta
As with vata and kapha, fire also has it different functions depending where it is located. Sadhaka pitta for reality. Pachaka for fire that aids digestion. Bhrajaka governs skin glow or lustre.  Ranjaka gives color to internal organs and liquid medium in the body.  Lastly, Alochaka for visual perception.

Tissues, lustre and aura
The Tridoshas influence their actions through the tissues and waste products in the body.  In Ayurveda the human body has seven Dhatus or tissue layers.  They are: rasa (plasma or liquid), rakta (blood), medas (fat), asthi (bone), majja (marrow) and shukra (semen or reproductive essence). Rasa is the nectar that bathes each cells in the body.  Ojas is the purest or refined nectar, that the body reproduces and it resides in the bone marrow.   Ojas is also connected to the sexual fluids or shukra. Ojas enhances the immune system and boost digestion.  Hence the health glow or lustre.  The aura is the external glow that permeates from a person's complexion and radiance.
 
Sex and illness
As ojas is connected to shukra (semen or reproductive esence) which is connected to sexual fluids, that is a direct link between depletion of body's energy and sex during any illness.  When sex is initiated, the mind identifies with the sex organs, hence sexual excitement increase blood flow to the sexual organs.  During sex shukra is moved from its stored location, the spinal cord,  depending on each persons level of awareness.  (Hence Tantric Yoga in charging the sexual energy up the spine through the chakras without ejaculations as the primarily goal of sex).  In ejaculation or orgasms of fe/male, ojas is disturbed and the shukra moves downward.  Excessive sex/masturbation robs the body of these energies, breaks down ojas and shukra, depletes the physical system, weakens immune system, increases vata and apana (down ward moving air).  If one engages in excessive sex then one has to learn how to restore the energy by Yogic practices or satvic (pure) foods. As you can sense,  Ayurveda/Siddha is rather a complex science that is challenging to write in a western linera view of the human body.
 
Channels of flow or Srotas
In Ayurveda channels through out the body nourish the tissue with nutrients or remove waste products. When these channels flow fluidly, all is in harmony. Problems arise when these channels are blocked, or there is an excessive flow, decrease flow, knotted or flow out into wrong channel.  There are a total of 16 channels.  The first three are Prana channel (Pranavah Srotas), food channel (Annavah), water (Ambhuvah).  These three are connected with nutritional intake and the environment.  The next seven channels are: rasa (Rasavah), blood(Raktavah), muscle (Mamsavah), fat (Medavaha), bone (Asthivah), marrow (Majjavaha), and reproductive (Shukravah).


The next three are connection to the external world.  They are: sweat(Svedavaha), feces (Purishavaha), and urine (Mutravah).  Two additional channels are for females; menstruation (Artavavaha) and breast milk (Stanyavaha).  The last and one of the most important channels is the Manovaha Shrotas.  This channel connects to the nervous system and reproductive system.
 
Constitution or body types
Besides genetics, ethnicity and geographic locations that determines our body types, other subtle forces are at play that determine our overall mental, physical, sexual, emotional and spiritual make-up.  Tridoshas affect the constitution that we are predisposed with.  However, we are in control of altering the doshas that cause imbalances in our systems with a little discipline.
This table below should help you determine your constitution. When you visit a Ayurvedic practitioner this knowledge will help you to work in partnership with the practitioner.  In addition you may have a clearer knowledge of why s/he expects you to modify certain foods from your diet.  Once you have determined your body constitution,  you can makes necessary changes to counteract the predominate tridosha by diet, massage, exercise, or cleansing. The table below has been adapted from Ayurvedic Healing/David Frawley and Ayurveda: Life, Health and Longevity/Robert Svoboda.

 


Attributes

Vata

Pitta

Kapha

Built/frame

thin, tall, short

medium

stout, broad, heavy

Weight

hard to gain, low

moderate

gains easily, heavy

Skin

thin, dry, tans deeply, 
cold, rough

light, freckles, acne, warm, sunburns easily

soft, smooth, cold, thick, medium tan

Complexion

dull, dark

red, flushed

white, pale

Hair

dry, coarse, wavy, dark, scanty

fine, gray or balds easily, straight, soft

oily, lustrous, brown, thick

Head

small

moderate

large

Forehead

small, narrow

moderate with folds

large 

Eyes

unsteady, small dull

piercing, medium

wide, attractive

Eye color

violet, gray tones

green, blue, hazel

brown, blue

Eyebrows

fine, thin

moderate

thick, bushy

Eyelashes

dry, firm, short

short, thin, fine

long, thick

Nose

small, crooked, thin

medium

oily, thick, big

Lips

thin, small, dry

soft, red, medium

thick, firm, large

Teeth and gums

small, crooked

medium, pink, bleeds easily

thick, firm, large

Shoulders

thin, small

medium

broad, firm

Chest

narrow, small

medium

broad, firm

Arms

thin, small

medium

well developed ,thick

Hands, feet and  joint

 small, dry, cold, thin

warm, medium

large, firm

Calves

small

loose, soft

round, firm

Nails

small, dry, rough

soft, pink

thick, smooth, white

Urine and feces

erratic, colorless, gas, constipation

regular, loose motion, burning sensation 

slow, whitish, solid, mucus in stool

Sweat/body odor

no smell

strong smell, heaty

cold, pleasant smell

Appetite

variable

medium

regular

Energy/stamina

poor, over exert

medium

good, under exert

Voice/speech

low, weak/quick, erratic, talkative

high, sharp/argumentative

pleasant, good tone, slow, not talkative

Weather

likes warm

likes cool

likes season

Mental

quick, indecisive

intelligent, critical

slow, emotions

Memory

poor, learns easily but forgets quickly

sharp, good memory

learns slowly & forgets slowly

Emotions

fearful, nervous

irritable

calm, sentimental

Sleep

variable, often light

moderate

deep

Faith

erratic

determined

constant

Dreams

restless, nightmares

colorful,  passion

few dreams

Sex drive

variable

intense

steady

Resistance to disease

poor

medium

good

Disease  tendency

nervous system, mental, arthritis

infections, inflammatory

respiratory

Side effects of medications

quick, nervous reaction

medium

slow, reacts to high doses usually

Pulse

rapid, irregular

moderate

deep, slow or steady

A person can be a combination of two humors,  while one predominates.  Because of the complexity  of Ayurveda and Siddha there  is no one treatment for HIV/AIDS.  First you have to determine your constitution to balance the humors.  The humors are not only the causes of disease but also the site of the disease.  An excess humor will migrate to another site once it has damaged it own site.  The humors affect each other and as the disease becomes chronic,  treatment become very complicated.  The goal is know the attributes of the humor and not to be caught up with the name of the disease.   In Ayurveda and Siddha there  are no new disease just different degrees of a disease or disease causing factors.  In that context HIV/AIDS is not a new disease.
 
Access to quality Ayurvedic medicines
These companies carry an excellent choice of Ayurvedic products. You can request a brochure or call or check web site for more info.  They carry a range of  products for enhancement of immune system, respiratory system, liver, kidney, heart, digestion, relaxation, plus products specific to male and females.


Some good choices for Ayurvedic products in North America are,
1. Holistic International  at 1-800-387-0177, request for  a  product catalogue
2. Dabur Ayurvedic products ( I have  used their Chayavanprash, and Shiljalit).
3. Maharishi Ayur-Ved Products International, Inc.  at 1-800-255-8332
4. Himalaya ProSelect.  Two of their products used by PHAs for  liver support/detox is LIV. 52 and Cystone, keeps the kidneys and urinary tract working at optimum efficiency. Plus I have used these two products myself.  It is available at some health food stores or call  Himalaya ProSelect at 1-888-668-6600


If you are going to Kerala in  Southern India than it is worthwhile to visit an Ayurvedic physician and the store. In my experience the best Ayurvedic products comes from Kottakal, Kerala.  Look for Arya Vaidya Sala brand or Coimbatore Arya Vaidya Pharmacy.

Chayavanprash, an Ayurvedic jelly. It contains 49 herbs plus the amla fruit (Indian gooseberry, Emblican officinalis). The amla is the main ingredient. Amla contains 3000 mg of vitamin c plus bioflavanoids, anti-oxidants, B complex, and carotenoids. It boost digestion , increases muscle mass, lowers blood pressure and blood cholesterol, and enhances healing of tissue. Available  at most Indian grocery stores.
Other tonics used in HIV/AIDS are, Brahma Rasayana, Ashwaghandha Leyham, Narishamaya Rasayana and Jeevani.  


HIV and Ayurvedic medications.
The most important aspect is building Ojas with tonics.
These are the range of tonics aswagandha, shijalit, shatavari, gokshura, bala and kapikacchu.  Also hira bhasma  (diamond ash). Mantras  for increasing Ojas are Om, Shum, and Shrim.  Gems to wear yellow sapphire, yellow topaz, citrine, diamonds, and zircon. Saffron, in milk decoction is an excellent herb.  For other remedies and tonics refer to David Frawley, Ayurvedic Healing, pg 198.


It is not all about the virus
In Ayurveda, and in TCM and Tibetan medicine, immune suppression is not viewed as an illness due to a virus. The problem is immune weakness. If the environment is not conducive to the host pathogen, the disease does not flourish. The treatment procedure for cancer, HIV and other consumption disease is in reverse to other diseases.
The usual cause of action is; removal of the cause, purification to eliminate excess Doshas, balancing the Dosha and rekindling the digestive fire, rejuvenation to rebuild the organism.
For disease of consumption such as cancer, HIV, the procedure is as follows: rejuvenate first to preserve life. Next balance the Dosha; to strengthen the patient and weaken the disease. Purify the system by using Panchakarma and finally remove the emotional cause of the condition, when the patient is ready for it.
 
The gastro-intestinal tract
Ayurveda’s  emphasis is on the health of the colon. We know 75 percent of HIV replication takes place in the gastrointestinal tract. ( Refer to Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissues studies).   Only 2% of HIV is found in the blood (plasma). The remaining 20 % is distributed among the CNS, lymph nodes, sexual fluids, and the brain.


Immune weakness, is aggravated by taking in more nutrients than you digest, excessive  indulgence in improper diet, sex, alcohol and recreational drugs. This excess fills the system with Ama (toxins) and aggravates kapha and vata.  This directly depletes Ojas (life force).
[The human colon -most cellular toxins are generated from within the colon itself, 5 ft in length. The small intestine is approx. 22 feet long.  It has been discovered that there are over 36 known toxic substances which are generated within the colon. These substances are created through the putrificationof undigested food, mostly protein.] Healing Our Cells, The Human Ecology Program, pg 26.
As significant high percentage of PHAs have gastro-intestinal  ailments. This is intensified with HAART medications, adding to the digestive problems.  As the digestive fire decreases, putrification increases, so does the toxins.


Excess nutrition (which is not absorbed or digested) blocks the pathways for Dhatu nutrition and obstructs the proper movement of nutrients, which is controlled by Vata. The insufficient intake of nutrients to replace an excess outflow of energy, directly disturbs Vata, whose qualities exhaust the Dhatus. This robs the Dhatus of nourishment, decrease Ojas, and weaken the immunity, permitting pathogens to colonize the system.


While the is no single therapy for HIV infection, the Ayurvedic approach involves whittling away at the strength of the disease while rebuilding a the individual’s immune power in which nature can cure.  Whatever the therapy, rejuvenation is essential to invigorate the Dhatus and revitalize the organism.

Massage/ oil baths
Oil baths and massage are a strong component of Ayurveda and Siddha medicine.
Oil is most specific for vata disorders, but also used for other disorders plus general health maintenance.
For general health, Ayurvedic oil is warmed and/or  mixed with herbs, and massaged  into the skin. This is left on for an hour minimum  to enhance penetration of oil followed by a hot bath.  Use 3/4 cup of warmed oil, rub from head to toe.   Coconut and sesame is used commonly. Coconut oil  also has cooling properties. Sesame is said to have the  strongest penetrating properties compared to other oils.  To these oils essential oils are added to enhance healing property.
Vatas constitution should use sesame oil.  Pittas use coconut or sunflower oil. Kaphas use corn oil.  From my experience of Ayurveda massages in India it was quite different than any massage I have received elsewhere.
 
Incense
First, only purchase incense that have natural essential oils not additives.  Incense are used for calming of the mind, meditation and mental clarity.  Incense cleans the air, aura, and astral environment.  Chose scents that appeal to you or to impart particular goal.
 
Gem therapy and Astrology
In East Indian cultures,  Astrology( Vedic Astrology)  plays a strong component of an individual's  life.  When a child is born his/her astrological chart is calculated according to time of birth and planetary positions. There is a science  to this Vedic astrology.  Astrology treats subtle body or mind.  Hence each person has a particular gem stone that enhances or minimizes the effect of planets.
Gem therapy, can also be used for internal use  via drinking water that certain gem stones, or gold, copper, silver  has been boiled in.  This is done to very specific formula.  It can be compared to extraction of flower essences.  Gem are worn externally as rings or pendants ( they must be aligned with the heart or throat chakra).  To acquire benefits of gem stones the light should be able to reflect right through the stone to touch the skin (the back of the ring or pendant should not be covered in metal).
 
Meditation, Prayers and Mantra
In Ayurveda and Siddha the above three are intertwined and prescribed.
Meditation, is an art, of becoming aware of your thoughts, observing it, allowing it to go on till you achieve  mastery over your thoughts.   An important part of meditation is listening to your spirit, higher self or God and to be aware of your breathing.  When you are in sync with your breathing you enter a different realm of consciousness.

The difference between meditation and prayers. In prayers you ask your spirit, higher self or God for guidance.  In meditation,  you listen to the answer,  hence clearing the clutter of your mind.  Out of half an hour of meditation, you would achieve a minute or two of utmost silence.  In a given hour, there are around 300,000 thoughts that go through your mind.  In meditation,  you learn to merge with the word, action and to be one -pointed. With meditation you cultivate mindfulness.  This only comes with practice and discipline. There are no shortcut or instants meditation techniques.  Every action that you perform can be a form  of meditation such as painting, writing, watching a sunset, etc.


Mantras are  vibration sounds that you repeat to be become  part of your consciousness.  Sanskrit mantras are NOT meaningless words.  Words have a sound vibration in the ether,  and becomes etched in your consciousness.  Repeating a mantra in mediation calms the minds and allows one a glimpse of bliss. The most potent and simplest mantra  is OM.   The mantra, Om Namah Sivaya is another potent cleansing mantra . It is dated  to be 10,000 years B.C.

To enroll in correspondence courses in Ayurveda please contact: The Ayurvedic Institute, P.O.Box 23445, Albuquerque, NM 87 192-1445. Telephone: (505) 291-9698. Fax: 294-7572.
Web site: http://www.ayurveda.com
 
Reference and recommended reading :
1. Ayurvedic Healing: A Comprehensive Guide.  Dr. David Frawley
2. Ayurveda: Life, Health and Longevity.  Robert Svoboda
3. The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine.  Dr. David Frawley and Dr. Vasant Lad
4. The Complete book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies.  Vasant Lad
5. The Science And Art of Indian Medicine.  G. Srivinasa Murti.
6. Introduction to the Siddha System of Medicine. Dr.V. Narayanswami and Dr. A. Anandakumar