Ayurveda or ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditionalmedicine native to India and a form of alternative medicine.The term is derived from Sanskrit words āyus, meaning"longevity", and veda, meaning "knowledge" or "science―.The earliest literature on Indian medical practice appearedduring the Vedic period in India, i.e., in the mid-secondmillennium BCE. The Suśruta Saṃhitā and the CharakaSaṃhitā are encyclopedias of medicine compiled from varioussources from the mid-first millennium BCE to about 500 CE.They are among the foundational works of Ayurveda.Over the following centuries, ayurvedic practitionersdeveloped a number of medicinal preparations and surgicalprocedures for the treatment of various ailments.
One view of the early history of ayurveda asserts that around1500 BC, ayurvedas fundamental and applied principles gotorganized and enunciated.In this historical construction, Ayurveda traces its origins tothe Vedas, Atharvaveda in particular, and is connected toHindu religion. Indian medicine has a long history, and is oneof the oldest organised systems of medicine. Its earliestconcepts are set out in the sacred writings called the Vedas,especially in the metrical passages of the Atharvaveda, whichmay possibly date as far back as the 2nd millennium BC.Atharvaveda (one of the four most ancient books of Indianknowledge, wisdom and culture) contains 114 hymns orformulations for the treatment of diseases. Ayurvedaoriginated in and developed from these hymns. In this sense,ayurveda is considered by some to have divine origin.
According to a later writer,the system of medicine wasreceived by Dhanvantari fromBrahma, and Dhanvantariwas deified as the god ofmedicine.In later times his status wasgradually reduced, until hewas credited with havingbeen an earthly king namedDivodasa
Other early works of ayurveda include the CharakaSamhita, attributed to Charaka. The earliest survivingexcavated written material which contains references tothe works of Sushruta is the Bower Manuscript, datedto the 6th century AD. The Bower manuscript is ofspecial interest to historians due to the presence ofIndian medicine and its concepts in Central Asia.
Vagbhata, the son of a senior doctor by the name of Simhagupta,also compiled his works on traditional medicine. Early ayurvedahad a school of physicians and a school of surgeons. Tradition holdsthat the text Agnivesh tantra, written by the sage Agnivesh, astudent of the sage Bharadwaja, influenced the writings ofayurveda.The Chinese pilgrim Fa Hsien (ca. 337–422 AD) wrote about thehealth care system of the Gupta empire (320–550) and described theinstitutional approach of Indian medicine, also visible in the worksof Charaka, who mentions a clinic and how it should be equipped. Madhava (fl. 700), Sarngadhara (fl. 1300), and Bhavamisra (fl. 1500)compiled works on Indian medicine. The medical works of bothSushruta and Charaka were translated into the Arabic languageduring the Abbasid Caliphate (ca. 750). These Arabic works madetheir way into Europe via intermediaries. In Italy, the Branca family of Sicily and Gaspare Tagliacozzi(Bologna) became familiar with the techniques of Sushruta.
At an early period, Ayurveda adopted the physics of the "fiveelements" (Pṛthvī (earth), Jala(water), Agni (fire), Vāyu (air) andĀkāśa (Sky)) — that compose the universe, including the humanbody.Chyle or plasma (called rasa dhātu), blood (rakta dhātu), flesh(māṃsa dhātu), fat (medha dhātu), bone (asthi dhātu), marrow (majjadhātu), and semen or female reproductive tissue (śukra dhātu) areheld to be the seven primary constituent elements – saptadhātu ofthe body. Ayurvedic literature deals elaborately with measures ofhealthful living during the entire span of life and its various phases.Ayurveda stresses a balance of three elemental energies or humors:Vāyu vāta (air & space – "wind"), pitta (fire & water – "bile") andkapha (water & earth – "phlegm"). According to ayurvedic medicaltheory, these three substances — doṣas (literally that whichdeteriorates) — are important for health, because when they exist inequal quantities, the body will be healthy, and when they are not inequal amounts, the body will be unhealthy in various ways.
One ayurvedic theory assertsthat each human possesses aunique combination of doṣasthat define that personstemperament andcharacteristics.Another view, also present inthe ancient literature, assertsthat humoral equality isidentical to health, and thatpersons with preponderances ofhumours are proportionatelyunhealthy, and that this is nottheir natural temperament.
In ayurveda, there are 20 fundamentalqualities, guṇa, inherent in all substances.Surgery and surgical instruments wereemployed from a very early period,Ayurvedic theory asserts that building ahealthy metabolic system, attaining gooddigestion, and proper excretion leads tovitality. Ayurveda also focuses onexercise, yoga, and meditation.
The practice of panchakarma is a therapeutic way of eliminating toxic elements from the body. As early as the Mahābhārata, ayurveda was called "the science of eight components", a classification that became canonical for ayurveda. They are:1. Internal medicine (Kāya-cikitsā)2. Paediatrics (Kaumārabhṛtyam)3. Surgery (Śalya-cikitsā)4. Eye and ENT (Śālākya tantra)5. Bhūta vidyā has been called psychiatry.6. Toxicology (Agadatantram)7. Prevention of diseases and improving immunity and rejuvenation (rasayana)8. Aphrodisiacs and improving health of progeny (Vajikaranam)
BALANCEHinduism and Buddhism have been an influenceon the development of many of ayurvedas centralideas — particularly its fascination with balance,known in Buddhism as Madhyamaka. Balance isemphasized; suppressing natural urges is seen tobe unhealthy, and doing so claimed to lead toillness. However, people are cautioned to staywithin the limits of reasonable balance andmeasure. For example, emphasis is placed onmoderation of food intake, sleep, sexualintercourse.
DIAGNOSIS The Charaka Samhita recommends a tenfold examination of the patient:1. constitution2. abnormality3. essence4. stability5. body measurements6. diet suitability7. psychic strength8. digestive capacity9. physical fitness10. age
DIAGNOSISAyurvedic practitioners approach diagnosis by using all fivesenses. Hearing is used to observe the condition of breathingand speech. The study of the lethal points or marman marma isof special importance. Ayurvedic doctors regard physical andmental existence together with personality as a unit, eachelement having the capacity to influence the others. One of thefundamental aspects of ayurvedic medicine is to take this intoaccount during diagnosis and therapy.Hygiene is an Indian cultural value and a central practice ofayurvedic medicine. Hygienic living involves regular bathing,cleansing of teeth, skin care, and eye washing. Daily anointingof the body with oil is also prescribed.
TREATMENTSAyurveda stresses the use of plant-based medicines and treatments.Hundreds of plant-based medicines are employed, including cardamomand cinnamon. Some animal products may also be used, for example milk,bones, and gallstones. In addition, fats are used both for consumption andfor external use. Minerals, including sulfur, arsenic, lead, copper sulfate andgold are also consumed as prescribed. This practice of adding minerals toherbal medicine is known as rasa shastra.In some cases, alcohol was used as a narcotic for the patient undergoing anoperation. The advent of Islam introduced opium as a narcotic. Both oil andtar were used to stop bleeding. Traumatic bleeding was said to be stoppedby four different methods ligation of the blood vessel; cauterisation by heat;using different herbal or animal preparations locally which could facilitateclotting; and different medical preparations which could constrict thebleeding or oozing vessels. Various oils could be used in a number of ways,including regular consumption as a part of food, anointing, smearing, headmassage, and prescribed application to infected areas.
SROTASEnsuring the proper functions ofchannels (srotas) that transportfluids from one point to another is avital goal of ayurvedic medicine,because the lack of healthy srotas isthought to cause rheumatism,epilepsy, autism, paralysis,convulsions, and insanity.Practitioners induce sweating andprescribe steam-based treatments asa means to open up the channels anddilute the doshas that cause theblockages and lead to disease.
Hatha yoga is a system of yoga introduced by YogiSwatmarama, a Hindu sage of 15th century India, andcompiler of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.The Sanskrit term haṭha refers to the use of persistence orforce, and haṭhayoga is translated by the Monier-Williamsdictionary as "a kind of forced Yoga or abstract meditation(forcing the mind to withdraw from external objects; treatedof in the Haṭha‐pradīpikā by Svātmārāma and performedwith much self‐torture, such as standing on one leg, holdingup the arms, inhaling smoke with the head inverted &c.)."Swatmarama introduces his system as preparatory stage ofphysical purification that the body practices for highermeditation or Yoga. It is based on asanas (postures) andpranayama (breathing techniques, also known as shatkarma).Hatha Yoga became popular in the west beginning in thesecond half of the 20th century, and is often referred to simplyas "Yoga" in the context of health and physical exercise.
Traditional hatha yoga is a holistic yogic path, including disciplines,physical postures (asana), purification procedures (shatkriya), poses(mudra), breathing (pranayama), and meditation. The hatha yogapredominantly practiced in the West consists of mostly asanas understoodas physical exercises. It is also recognized as a stress-reducing practice.Hatha yoga is one of the two branches of yoga that focuses on the physicalculture, the other one being raja yoga. Both of these are commonly referredto as sadanga yoga, i.e., yoga of six parts (sad meaning six and angameaning limbs).Svatmarama emphasizes many times in his Hathapradipika text that thereis no raja yoga without hatha yoga and no hatha yoga without raja yoga.The main difference is that raja yoga uses asanas mainly to get the bodyready for prolonged meditation, and hence focuses more on the meditativeasana poses: Lotus Posture (padmasana), Accomplished Posture(siddhasana), Easy Posture (sukhasana) and Pelvic Posture (vajrasana).Hatha yoga utilizes not only meditative postures but also cultural postures.Similarly, raja yogas use of pranayama is also devoid of extensive locks(bandha).
Hatha represents opposing energies: hot and cold(fire and water, following similar concept as yin-yang), male and female, positive and negative.Hatha yoga attempts to balance mind and bodyvia physical postures or "asanas", purificationpractices, controlled breathing, and the calming ofthe mind through relaxation and meditation.Asanas teach poise, balance and strength and arepracticed to improve the bodys physical healthand clear the mind in preparation for meditation.However if an individual has too much phlegm orfat then purification procedures are a necessitybefore undertaking pranayama.
Hatha yoga consists of six limbsfocused on attaining samādhi. Inthis scheme, the six limbs of hathayoga are defined as asana,pranayama, pratyahara, dharana,dhyana and samādhi.An important part of hathapractices is awakening ofKundalini. The signs of success inhatha yoga are slenderness of thebody, cheerful face, hearingmystical sound, bright eyes, senseof well-being, control over thebindu, increase in gastric fire andpurification of the nadis.
The words prana (life-force) and ayama (tolengthen or regulate) make up pranayama.Pranayama seeks to lengthen, control andregulate the breath. In one variation, therechak (exhaled air), poorak (inhalation) andkumbhak (retention during normal inhalingand exhaling) are the three parts of the breaththat are regulated. Pranayama is practiced todevelop mental, physical and spiritualstrength.
Yogas combined focus on mindfulness, breathing and physical movementsbrings health benefits with regular participation. Yoga participants reportbetter sleep, increased energy levels and muscle tone, relief from musclepain and stiffness, improved circulation and overall better general health.The breathing aspect of yoga can benefit heartrate and blood pressure.The 2008 "Yoga in America" survey, conducted by Yoga Journal, shows thatthe number of adult practitioners in the US is 15.8 million, and 9.4 millionpeople will definitely try yoga within the next year.