Ayurveda is one such term that has been making the rounds for centuries. A traditional system of medicine that is accepted and practised worldwide, this form of treatment is just as vast as it is ancient, with its complete potential still elusive to not just us commoners, but to experts as well. Finding its roots more than 3000 years ago, in our own country, this National Ayurveda Day, I set out to explore this traditional system of medicine and its implications in modern science and healthcare.
Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit words ayur which means life and veda which stands for knowledge. The knowledge of life. The term was first documented in the Vedic Era, with the Rig Veda and Atharva Veda frequently mentioning 'health', 'diseases' and 'medicinal plants'. This is where our story starts. These books frequently mentioned hymns that propagated the medical benefits of Acorus Calamus (or Muskrat Root or Sweet Flag) and Phyllanthus Embelia (or Indian Gooseberry, more commonly known as Amla). Of the many manuscripts that were referred to, Charaka Samhita was one of the oldest and most authentic of the lot, which is still available for reference even today. Sadly, with our long standing history of foreign invasions, India lost many of these manuscripts either to invaders or destruction, causing a major setback in the once greatly explored field of ayurveda.
The basic principle that governs ayurveda is that our environment is made up of 5 elements: Vayu (air), Jala (water), Aakash (space or ether), Prithvi (Earth) and Teja (fire). And it is a permutation and combination of these elements that make up our Tridosha, the fundamental energies that govern the human body and its health. The Tridosha consists of Vata dosha, Pitta dosha and Kapha dosha. The Vata dosha stands responsible for electrolyte balance and movement. The Pitta dosha is responsible for regulating body temperature, hunger and thirst. And lastly, Kapha dosha is responsible for joint function. In order to maintain a healthy mind and body, one must ensure that the Tridosha is perfectly balanced, in addition to being in harmony with our environmental elements. The theory of Ayurveda is quite comprehensible, but when it comes to application, it is important to be mindful and consistent in practices and remedy.
If you've had any inkling towards the medical sciences, you'll have come across the statement or claim that while allopathy helps effectively manage and deal with symptoms, natural remedies work to eradicate the root cause of the illness. Similar is the case with this field of study as well. Ayurveda follows a process of internal purification, through the means of a special diet, herbal remedies, massage therapies, meditation and yoga. And while in some cases the combined efforts of ayurveda and modern medicine can work a miracle, it is necessary that all forms of treatment are thoroughly discussed with a certified medical practitioner. Some very popularly used ayurvedic remedies are ashwagandha (Indian Ginseng), brahmi (Indian Pennywort), triphala (a powder formulation of amla, haritaki and vibhitaka), licorice, neem and the age old turmeric, all boasted for their abilities to enhance cognition and strike the perfect balance among the Tridosha.
Despite the leaps and bounds that modern medicine and healthcare has seen and will continue to see, owing to technological and scientific advancement, ayurveda still remains prominent. Owing to the fact that it is reliable, readily available and has little to no side effects while at the same time attacking the root cause of the illness and eradicating it as compared to allopathy, the future too will see a rise in the use of ayurvedic treatments. While modern medicine has evolved on the foundation of ayurveda, this alliance of two completely different forms of treatment can revolutionise modern healthcare in the long run and in turn make it sustainable. It indeed is fascinating how something that was explored and documented more than three millennia ago is still relevant and in some ways also proves to be quite advanced despite the changes our world has undergone.
Data fetched from sources such as Johns Hopkins, Frontiers and National Library of Medicine. This article provides general information and discussions about health, nutrition and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.
Natasha Kittur is an aspiring writer. Her love for anything with cheese and spice is profound, but a white sauce pasta always tops her list. In her free time you will catch her reading or watching crime books and shows or go on and on about psychological experiments and theories. She aims to write a book in the fictional genre someday.