In Ayurveda, the lifespan has been defined as the time period between the birth and death and has been divided into three stages – the childhood, the middle stage (the youth & middle age) and the old age.
The childhood is marked by growth, the middle stage is marked by more growth and optimization of the physical and mental capabilities and the old age is marked by slow and progressive degeneration of the physical and mental capabilities. The childhood is dominated by Kapha Dosha, middle stage by Pitta Dosha and the old age by Vata Dosha.
In Ayurveda old age is called Jara. It is of two Types. 1. Akala jara- premature aging 2. Kalaja jara- timely ageing
Akala jara is due to the non-adherence to the fundamental laid by Ayurveda regarding diet & lifestyle like taking improper diet, sleeping during the day, not doing any physical work or excessive physical/mental work, improper handling of emotional upheavals, indulgence in excessive sexual activity, taking excess alcohol (smoking, drugs etc) and not following the daily and seasonal regimens as propounded by Ayurveda.
Ayurveda has answers for delaying the inevitable changes of old age that can optimize the physical and mental abilities of the old person and also to deal with the old age problems. For delaying of ‘timely ageing’ and prevention/cure of ‘untimely ageing, Ayurvedic texts advocate the use of herbs called Rasayana or the rejuvenators.
The use of Indian goose berry (Amla), terminalia chebula & their compounds like Chyavanprash, Agastya Rasayan (jam like formulations), Tinospora cordifolia (Giloy), Garlic, Semicarpus anacardium (Bhallataka), long pepper and also regular use of milk (for Pitta body type), ghee (for Vata type) and honey (Kapha body type) are described for the purpose of ‘rejuvenation’. Apart from the rejuvenation therapy Ayurveda has effective guidelines, treatment modalities & specific medicines to help one age keeping the physical and mental abilities intact to the maximum extent.