In the article published in this news paper on last Sunday, we had taken a review about the concept of health according to Ayurveda. We had understood that Ayurveda has pronounced definition of health as not the absence of disease but strong physique, healthy mind and kind heart. The person who leads a life useful to him and to society is a real healthy person. Ayurveda has such a broad compass about concept of health. It is the outcome of the great Indian tradition which stresses on ‘sarve santu niraamayaha/’ (let all be healthy.)
In spite of phenomenal progress in modern medical science and other life sciences in the fields of investigations such as biochemistry, radiology; in the fields of therapeutics such as antibiotics, chemotherapies; techniques such as endoscopies; there is a growing demand for the wisdom of Ayurveda, and the services of ayurvedic doctors all over the world. The reason lies in the unique features of Ayurveda.
Treatment of the patient and not of the disease alone
In addition to the clinical features of disease, there are a lot more to be seen by an Ayurveda physician. It starts with the constitution of the patient (prakruti). It is nothing but the tendency of the physical and mental reactions by the person to external stimulus. It changes from person to person. For example, in the October heart only few and not all of us are prone to mouth ulcers. In the rainy season not everybody complains of body ache. This body ache is without any major illness and just presents in a milder but perceivable form. . Next comes the mental attitude. The severity of the symptoms as described by the patient are often the result of his perception about self and the disease. Similarly to choose the treatment modality we need to assess the satwa of patient. For example, in some cases of skin diseases, the patient has to take medicines for quite a long time and a heena satwa person (weak mental attitude) will need a lot of encouragement by doctor to keep him on track. Otherwise, in despair, he may divert from his course.
Next comes inline the patient’s habits. Whether these habits are wholesome and according to the place where the patient stays or the season or the age of the patient. For example the curds may be wholesome to one where as the other might suffer from its ingestion. Sleeping in afternoon may be without any problem for one and may cause sinusitis in other.
We also need to examine the quality of tissues in the body. It is called as saara pariksha. The medicine for a person of weak muscle tissues as evident by less bulk of mass will differ from the person with bulky muscles, even if he is suffering from some digestive problem.
Along with these are the measurements of the body and tissue elements (pramaana pariksha), age (vayas), and diet of the patient (aahaara), the digestive capacity (anala). All these examinations are required for the correct diagnosis of the patient and the disease. So the examination consists of two phases. Examination of disease and diseased. Thus, two patients having same disease may receive two different treatments. The treatment is individualized and that’s why many a times very difficult to standardize.
Field is more important than the seed.
Ayurveda considers micro-organisms as one of the causes of the disease. Ayurveda describes them as krimi. They are classified into 20 types. Some of them are invisible. Some of them are beneficial to body. Ayurveda also describes some of them as rakshasa.and massive eradication of these rakshasas is recommended. Fumigation of operation theatre by burning some herbs is one of the examples of these eradicative procedures.
But Ayurveda doesn’t give them prime importance. The importance is to the underlying environment beneficial for microbes to grow. Our oral cavity (mouth) contains millions of bacteria. We ingest a lot of bacteria). They come in contact with our body every second via skin, via air, food drink etc. but still we are not always ill. Nor every one of us falls ill even in epidemics. So there is something beyond bacteria. And this is body’s resistance. Our body is made up of three main factors called as Dosha, dhatus and mala. Now out of this Dosha are the basic vitiating factors and if they are stable the person is healthy. When these doshas which are 3 in number (vaata, pitta, kapha) get disturbed they vitiate other two factors. Whenever these vitiated factors are formed in the body them the micro-organism can invade the body and produce disease. Ayurveda considers deha or body as the fields and the bacteria as the seeds and gives importance to field then the seeds. If the field is fertile for the seeds then only the seeds can grow. Similarly if the body is weak then the diseases ca crop up. Same is with the mind. Ayurveda, therefore while treating a disease, the importance is given to the promotion of health of doshas and dhatus, and not upon destroying the microbes.
Promotion of immunity.
When microbes are more powerful than the body cells, they attack and cause disease. Antibiotics are powerful than the microbes and can cause death of the microbes. But unfortunately, they destroy body cells also. They cause further disharmony in the cells of the body and some other disease comes up.ayurveda believes in strengthening of the immunity. This immunity is described of two types. First one is the strength to fight against the disease. (Vyadhi-bala-virodhitwa) And the other one is the strength to prevent the starting or fabrication of the disease. (Vyadhi-utpada-pratibandhatwa). Both of these are called as vyadhi kshamatwa. When this immunity is built not only the present disease is eradicated, but recurrence also is prevented. Thus ayurvedic medicine s do have certain side benefits and not the toxic side effects.
In the next article we will discuss some of the other very interesting features of Ayurveda.