The term Ayurveda has two components; Ayu means long life and Veda means science.
Ayurveda is the medical science deals with a healthy long life. This science is practised since 5000yrs, whose roots are in the Indian subcontinent. Ayurveda texts were documented about 1000 years B.C.
Ayurveda presents a close similarity with the WHO’s concept of health.
It deals with the measures for healthy living during the span of life and its phases. It also deals with a wide range of therapeutic measures to combat illness. In a nutshell Ayurveda is a holistic medicine system which focuses on physical, mental, social and spiritual wellbeing.
Ayurveda defines health as the state of equilibrium of Dosha, Dhatu, Agni and Mala accompanied with a balanced mind (Mana), senses (Indriya) and soul (Atma). This covers three aspects of one’s life i.e., biological, psychological and social wellbeing. Biological positive health is a state in which every cell and every organ is functioning at its optimum capacity and harmony with the rest of the body. This is represented by the equilibrium of Dosha, Agni, Dhatu and Mala.
Charaka (earliest author in Ayurveda) gives the following features as healthy living:
The normalcy of voice and complexion
Increase in strength
Desire for food
Relish the mealtime
Timely evacuation of flatus, urine and stools.
Proper and timely digestion of taken food.
Psychological and social positive health is a state in which individual feels a sense of perfect well being and mastering over his environment, also he feels he has the optimum capacity for the participation in social systems. This is represented by balanced mind (Mana), senses (Indriya) and soul (Atma). Features to see in condition are:
No abnormal dreams
Overall normalcy of mind, intellect and sense organs.
To attain the state of complete health Ayurveda gives set of rules (principles or regime) called Swasthavrutta. This includes wholesome diet, lifestyle and behaviour, which raise the standard of life. In other words following these rules improves both qualitative and quantitative aspects of human not only in individual perspective but also in relation to social environment.
Tridoshas are the three basic units, which are responsible for different functions of the body. These three in harmony maintain proper physiological and psychological functioning of the human body.
Ayurveda believes the whole world is made-up of Five Mahabhootas i.e., 5 basic elements. Tridoshas have one or two of these basic elements in them. Vata is formed by the combination of Vayu (wind) and Akasha (space) elements. Pitta is made-up of Agni (fire) element. Kapha is formed by the combination of Ap (water) and Pritvi (earth) elements. Based on these elements the Tridoshas are attributed with qualities and different functions in the body.
Theory of tridosha explains the relationship between physical, physiological and psychological dimensions of human being.
These three Doshas are present all over the body. It is difficult to attribute a part or system of the body to a Dosha, but their ratio is different in different parts of the body. The ratio of these three Doshas is different in different individuals and makes them unique. These can be understood as the variables which maintain the equilibrium at different levels.
VATA: - Qualities of Vata are dry, cold, moving, clear and rough. Vata functions as initiator, motive force, controller and divider in the body.
PITTA: - Qualities of Pitta are hot, sharp, liquid, unctuous, sour and pungent. Pitta is responsible for production of heat, energy, digestion and metabolism.
KAPHA: - Qualities of Kapha are heavy, slow, smooth, thick, soft, white, unctuous, stable, viscous and sweet. Strength, resistance, immunity, protection and growth of the being are due to the functioning of Kapha.
The functioning of Tridoshas can be understood in different levels, from single cell level to organism level.
In a cell, nucleus can be termed as Vata predominant part as it controls all the activities of the cell, responsible for cell division and initiates cellular movements. The enzymes which are responsible for the production of heat and energy, cellular metabolism and mediate chemical reactions can be considered as Pitta part. Plasma membrane represents Kapha by protecting the cell, giving strength, support and shape to the cell.
Agni means fire. Agni in Ayurveda refers to fire energy in the body which is responsible for digestion and metabolism. Agni is responsible for transforming the food ingested into body tissues. This is also responsible for one’s health, skin and complexion, energy to do work, strength, proper growth and compactness of the body.