INTRODUCTION TO AYURVEDA

Introduction to Ayurveda

The Ayurveda Experience July 22, 2021

Ayurveda is the Indian system of medicine. Ayurveda principles and practices have been recorded in written documents for more than 3000 years. 

Origin of Ayurveda 

The spiritual sages of ancient times gathered in the Himalayas and prayed for the health and longevity of all human beings. Ayurveda dawned on earth, as a result of such prayer.

Growth of Ayurveda:  

In the Vedic period (3000 – 2000 BCE), people were using single herbs for cooking and medicinal purposes. In the Vedas, we find many references of herbs that are used in cooking, making furniture, in spiritual practices such as Homa (fire ritual) and as remedies for common ailments.  
During the times of Master Charaka and Master Sushruta, at about 2000 -1000 BC, slowly poly-herbal combinations were introduced in Ayurvedic treatments. Multiple herbs in various combinations were used in different medicine forms such as herbal pastes, jams, tablets, powder mixes, herbal teas etc.  

These medicine forms can be divided into two categories -  
Basic dosage forms – juice extract, herbal paste, decoction (herbal tea), cold infusion and hot infusion.  
 
Secondary dosage forms – These are developed from the basic dosage forms. Examples: Powders, herbal jams, syrups, tablets, fermented liquids etc.  

The ancient masters of Ayurveda were able to develop these medicines with the help of their rich clinical experience.  

Ayurveda text books 

With their knowledge and expertise, ancient masters wrote many text books, 3000 years ago, among which,  

  • Charaka Samhita-  written by Master Charaka  
  • Sushruta Samhita- written by Master Sushruta and  
  • Ashtanga Hridayam and Ashtanga Hrudayam- written by Master Vagbhata are important.  

As Ayurveda gained momentum, many Masters of the recent centuries such as Sharangdhara, Bhavamishra etc. wrote textbooks which added contemporary treatments and medicines to Ayurveda.  

Types of Ayurvedic treatment 

Panchakarma therapy 

This is the detoxification therapy to eliminate waste products and toxins from the body. It is the first line of treatment in majority of the cases. 

Oral Ayurvedic medicine – Used as second line of treatment or as follow up to panchakarma therapy. 

Sub therapies – These are external therapies with oils, powders, etc.  

For example:

Oil massage –used for the treatment of aches, pains, joint and muscle disorders etc.  
Powder massage – used for the treatment of obesity, to loosen up fat deposition, to improve blood circulation etc.,  
Sweating treatment – This is used to relieve stiffness and to eliminate toxins through sweat.  
Shirodhara – Streaming of liquids on different body parts, oil Shirodhara is used for the treatment of migraine, depression, insomnia etc.  
Applying herbal pastes – Used for improving blood circulation, for cleansing and healing wounds, for ripening and opening up abscesses etc.,  
Katibasti – pooling the oil over the lower back to relieve back pain stiffness and pain. 

Apart from these, dietetics, cosmetic therapies, counselling therapy, lifestyle advice, spiritual healing etc. treatment modalities are also incorporated in Ayurvedic healing. 

What is Ayurvedic medicine?  

Ayurvedic medicine is basically the product derived from herbal, animal and mineral origin which is targeted to treat disease/s based on traditional yet scientific principles of Ayurveda.  Ayurveda medicines are grouped into two categories. 

2 Types of Ayurvedic medicines are in the market – 

  1. Traditional Ayurvedic medicine
  2. Proprietary Ayurvedic medicines.

Traditional Ayurvedic medicine 

These are the products that are manufactured based on Ayurvedic textbook reference. 

Ayurveda, Indian traditional system of medicine, is based on traditional scientific beliefs, that is recorded in ancient Ayurvedic text books like Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita, Ashtanga Hrudaya, Sharangdhara Samhita, Bhavaprakasha, Bhaishajya Ratnavali, Chakradatta etc.  
The products manufactured based on the formulas of these ancient text books are called traditional Ayurvedic medicine. 

Here, an Ayurvedic Pharmaceutical company takes up a medicine formula from an Ayurveda textbook and manufactures the medicine as per the formula. 

Example –  

  • Dasamoolarishtam – a fermented liquid product, used for the treatment of inflammation, respiratory tract disorders such as asthma, post natal care of the mother etc.  
  • Chyawanaprash – A very famous Ayurvedic herbal jam, used in rejuvenation, anti aging therapies, cold, cough, bronchitis, male and female infertility etc.  
  • Trikatu Churna – A simple combination of three spices – ginger, black pepper and long pepper, used for the treatment of weak digestion strength, anorexia and obesity.  
  • Triphala – A combination of three fruits, used for the treatment of obesity, eye disorders, non-healing wounds etc.

It is a matter of wonder that the formulas that are explained thousands of year ago are still effective in the present times. 

Traditional Ayurvedic medicines are in the form of – 

Herbal powders – choorna – like Triphala choorna 

Juice extract – swarasa – like Tulasi swarasa – juice extract of holy basil  

Herbal paste form – like neem paste, used for quicker healing of wounds  

Water decoction – kwatha / kashaya like Guduchi Kashaya used for improving immunity and to treat fever.

Herbal oils, herbal ghee, tablets, Guggulu tablets, etc. 

Asava and Arishta – fermented preparations. 

Proprietary Ayurvedic medicine 

These are the products that are manufactured based on a Pharmaceutical company’s experience and experiments. Based on medical experiments and therapeutic properties of different herbs, an herbal combination is planned and formulated into a medicine. This medicine is subjected to experimental and clinical trials and a license is obtained for manufacturing. Such medicines are called proprietary Ayurvedic medicines. 

Here, the manufacturer formulates his own combination of Ayurvedic herbs, blends it into his desired form, like syrup, herbal jam, tablet, capsule etc. 

He tests the product in his laboratory for safety, conducts clinical trial to know efficacy, applies for a license and then manufactures and sells it. 

Example: 

Cervilon capsule – for neck pain, 

Shatavari Kalpa granules – to improve breast milk production etc. 

Proprietary Ayurvedic medicines are also available in ancient dosage forms like tablets, jams powders etc. But some advanced dosage forms like capsules, soft gel capsules, syrups, herbal creams, ointments, oral mouthwash, shampoo etc. are also popular. 

Factors That Make Ayurvedic Treatment Unique:  

Ayurveda believes in comprehensive care of the patient, considering his unique physical and mental features, depth and chronicity of the disease.  
Ayurveda uproots the diseases from its root cause. This is far better than palliative treatment. For example, in a 60-year-old patient of arthritis, joint pain relief should not be the point of concentration.  
In such a patient, Ayurveda addresses the below areas -  
Detoxifying the joints to get rid of inflammatory agents  
Improving the strength of the joints, bones, ligaments and tendons,  
Rejuvenating the bones and muscles around the joints,  
Bringing down the inflammation and improving the mobility and flexibility of the joint etc. 

For most of the diseases, Ayurveda adopts Panchakarma cleansing and detoxification therapy as the first line of treatment. This approach helps to prevent recurrence of diseases.  

After the Panchakarma treatment, oral medicines, sub therapies, diet and lifestyle advice, healthy Yoga exercises, etc. are advised. These advices not only heal the disease but they also prevent the recurrence.  
This approach of Ayurveda, taking spiritual, social, mental and physical aspects of a disease, is very unique.  

 Read More: Ayurveda Definition: Sanskrit, Pronunciation + Ayurveda Today, What Is Ayurveda? Ayurveda Benefits + Ayurvedic Therapies, An Ayurveda Breakfast: 10 Healthy Breakfast Ideas From Ayurveda

With the growing awareness of natural healing measures amongst the public, Ayurveda is regaining its lost glory and helping millions across the world to have a healthy, balanced and disease-free lifestyle.  


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