History of Ayurveda, Process of Ayurveda

History of medicine is a fascinating subject as it is a saga of man's struggle against disease. Ayurveda is commonly referred as ‘science of life’ because the Sanskrit meaning of Ayu is life and Veda is science or knowledge. Ayurveda, one of the oldest recorded scientific observations of human health, translates loosely into the “science of life” and its historical roots evolved from the Ancient India.

Some of those scientific recordings are entailed in textbooks like Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita (~400BC–200 AD) and Ashtanga Hridaya of Vagbhataa that remain classics and give detailed descriptions of over 700 herbs and 6,000 formulations. Madhav Nidan (~800 AD), a diagnostic classic, provides over 5,000 signs and symptoms of various diseases. There is a plethora of information on Ayurveda on the internet and even more so in the great scholarly libraries of the India, so it is not possible to give a complete synopsis of Ayurveda on this page, but we have presented just the basics.

a girl standing near a river bank with her legs spread and hands joined
yoga pose

However, most of the theoretical constructs and medical practices in Ayurveda are based on clinical experience gained over the centuries. Ayurveda places great emphasis on prevention and encourages the maintenance of health through close attention to balance in one’s life, right thinking, diet, lifestyle and the use of herbs.

The epistemology of Ayurveda is based on the relation between microcosm and macrocosm involving five basic elements (mahabhoota), three dynamic principles similar to humors (dosha), seven types of tissues (dhatus) and many other unique concepts. Svastha, or a healthy living being, is the one who possesses the equilibrium of doshas (the triad of physiological functional elements), with adequate functioning of dhatus (body tissues), agni (metabolic enzymes and digestive functions), mala (metabolic by-products and excretory functions), and gratification of indriya (sensory modalities), manah (mental faculty) and atma (self).

Life is a period when these aspects function together in cooperation and harmony. In ‘death’ these aspects disintegrate and depart. Ayurveda elucidates this integration, continuation and disintegration by preservation and promotion of health in a healthy individual, and prevention and management of disease in an unhealthy individual.

Pathogenesis Of Disease

The word Samprapti (Pathogenesis) is obtained from the combination of SAMA + PRA+ AP + KITNA, meaning obtaining, getting, acquisition.

According to Ayurveda, the series of pathological changes that occurs starting from vitiation of Doshas to the manifestation of disease is known as Samprapti and measures which break the pathogenesis bring about Samprapti vighatana and preciously termed as Chikitsa. Vyadhi (Disease) is a condition that causes discomfort to the body or mind. Vyadhi is produced by three factors, namely, asatmendriyartha-samyoga (incompatible contact of the sense organs and the sense objects, leading to stressful transaction), prajnaparadha (errors of judgement or willful excesses in conduct) and parinama or kala (the impact of Season and time in terms of seasonal variations and ageing).

a small wooden book
green apple in a girls hand

According to Ayurveda, any disease starts from a disturbance in the balance between the TRIDOSHAS caused due to improper diet, behavior, and life-style. Thus, Ayurveda lays emphasis on correct diet and proper habits. Imbalance of these vital functions may hamper the proper digestion of food and would lead to indigestion causing discomfort. This variance, in turn, results in the reduced absorption of nutrition to the body. On the other hand, it hinders the elimination of toxins which get accumulated in the body by blocking the channels and thus, heading yourself to many complications.

Ayurveda, as the art of healing and science of living, aims at removing the underlying causes of disease, and restoring the equilibrium of the bioenergies- Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Therefore, maintaining a proper diet, eating at regular intervals, having the adequate amount of water, improving the quality of your sleep and a little fitness is the formula to lead a healthy and a happy life.