Ayurveda is a science which focuses on human health in its totality taking full advantage of the nature around. It gives importance to not only the body but also the soul, mind and the senses so as to strike a balance between nature and humans. It is the oldest system in the world on self care and originated in India. It has been the traditional medicine system of our country. It began in ancient India when medicine and philosophy were not studied separately and so the Ayurvedic system of medicine has been strongly influenced by philosophy.
The word 'Ayurveda' is derived from Sanskrit and is the union of two words 'ayur' which means life, and 'veda' which means a science or knowledge established once and for all times. It is a philosophy, and human temperaments are classified according to the 'veda' into 'satvic,' 'rajasic' and 'tamasic'. Humans with different levels of each differ in their reactions and dispositions to physical and socio-cultural environment. People with 'satvic' temperament are good and happy; those who are of the 'rajasic' temperament are people who are restless and enjoy various pleasure of life, and those with the 'tamasic' temperament are lethargic and have interest mainly in material things. These three qualities/temperaments or 'gunas' are present in each human's conscience but the predominence of any brings about the particular psychological constitution of an individual. 'Ayu' stands for the soul, mind and the body. So the complete meaning of Ayurveda is 'the knowledge or the science of life (soul, mind and the body)'. The aim of this science is, therefore, to prevent diseases, to protect health and to prolong life, and get rid of any disease and body dysfunction.
The basic principles governing this system are the five elements of the universe: fire, earth, air, water and space, These five elements are found in human body as three energies or 'doshas' called the vata, kapha and pitta which are present in the body in optimum amounts. Good health is due to these three energies present in the body in a proper balance. Ayurveda defines a healthy human being as 'one whose mind, body and soul are cheerful and who has all the 'doshas' in balance viz. good appetite with all body tissues and natural urges properly functioning.
When any of the three energies (doshas) accumulates in the body and reaches undesirable limits, the body system becomes imbalanced. Ayurveda then steps in to get rid of the toxic levels of 'dosha' through changes in nutrition and lifestyle. The cleansing process or the 'therapy of purification' is called 'panchakarma'. This process is used to purge out the excess, unwanted toxins from the body. The process is carried out in five specific steps where first comes the 'vaman' which is deliberate vomiting or therapeutic emesis. This is followed by 'virechan' or purgation. Thereafter enema or 'basti' is given. Elimination of toxins is also carried out through the nose or 'nasya' which is the fourth step. Lastly, detoxification of the blood is done through bloodletting or 'rakta moksha'.
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