Ayurveda 101 - An ancient life science
Tradition tells us that about 5,000 years ago the knowledge of this Life Science was acquired by a group of seers through a series of deep and conscious meditations. The teachings were passed down the ages as oral tradition and eventually transcribed onto natural leaves called Bhojpatra, as Sutras, or poetical verses in Sanskrit.
The Charak Samhita and the Sushrut Samhita form the two main ancient texts of Ayurveda believed to have been written more than 1,200 years ago. Charak discusses physiology, anatomy, etiology, pathogenesis, symptoms, and signs of disease, methods of diagnosis and treatment. It also discusses the effect of external influences on health including time of day, seasons, diet, lifestyle, medicinal aspects of herbs, diet and reversal of aging. Its month-by-month description of the development of the fetus in the womb parallels almost exactly what we know about fetal development today. Sushrut presents the human anatomy in very great detail including descriptions of bones, joints, blood, vessels, nerves, heart and all other system corroborated by today's methods of mechanical investigation. From this text, the first science of massage using marma points or vital body points, is described. Later, a more concise compilation known as the Ashtanga Hridayam was documented. This is believed to be approximately 1,000 years old.
Tridosha -- The theory of the three basic Life Principles
In Ayurveda, the human organism is first viewed as an inseparable whole before examination of its organs and systems takes place. In contrast to popular medicine, which primarily developed along therapeutic concepts for predetermined illness, Ayurveda addresses the basic needs of a human being on three levels: prevention of illness, awareness of the origins of health issues, a systematic approach for establishing diagnosis and treatment.
All tangible life forms contain five essential elements or building blocks: ether, air, fire, water, and earth. Life proceeds from the subtlest to the grossest matter, the subtlest form of matter being ether. This mixes with eternity to create air, a more observable element. As air moves, it creates friction, which creates heat or fire. Heat produces moisture, thus creating water. Finally, water produces the densest form of matter, earth. The Vedas (ancient texts) assert that all, including humans, are made up of the five elements, the subtlest aspects of human life, before the molecular, atomic or subatomic levels.
This is the level on which Ayurvedic healing works. The five elements combine to give three distinct life principles or doshas: Ether and air compose the Vata dosha, which is responsible for movement - the movement of food through the gastrointestinal tract, nerve impulses, motor impulses, physical activity and intellect.
Fire and water
compose the Pitta dosha, which relates to internal fire, emotion,
bile, body heat, digestive enzymes and endocrine systems.
Water and earth combine to form the Kapha dosha, which fills the inter cellular spaces of the body as connective tissue. Examples of Kapha include mucus, synovial fluid and tendons, elements that are responsible for the gross structure of the body.
Clearly, as each individual has all these principles at work, each person is a combination of the three doshas. Together, all doshas are responsible for anabolic and catabolic metabolism, nourishing the body and building the tissues. Typically though, one or two doshas dominate lending unique character to the individual's mind-body constitution.
Tridosha is a concept that has been clinically tested and proven to be effective for centuries. It represents basic psycho-physiological processes in the human body.
Here are examples of each dosha:
||Dry, very cold
||Hot & Humid
||Cold and Damp
||Cold and dry foods e.g. chilled
drinks or garbanzo beans
|Spicy foods e.g. chilies, peppers
||Sweet foods, complex carbohydrates e.g. cakes and breads
||Long and wiry build
||Normal to dry, thin
||Thick, large pores, oily all over
||Low immunity, Susceptible to fatigue
||Susceptible to infection, bacteria
||Light or disturbed sleep
||Medium Sleep, active dreams
||Deep, sound sleep