The Ayurved and its Teaching
By Dr. Bharat Vaidya
Chapter1: Path of Ayurved
With the efforts of the civilized world to reach its desired goal, the medicine no doubt has played its part, rather too well. Researches, now set forth reveal to any honest critic, the full value of Ayurved, science that is gaining ground day by day, despite the frantic efforts of its bad wishers, to do otherwise. People have tried to interpret and understand the teachings of Ayurved in various ways, by various authors, I have tried my best to put little drop from big ocean of Ayurved. Ayurved is not dead. It is yet alive, though not fully awake today. It is precisely because it is a living force. It provokes antagonism from those, who dislike or fear its culture. Even scholars could not be impartial while touching Ayurved because, it is not just mere subject of academic talk but it is still powerful enough to impose its ideas upon the world. It is this, which tempted me, to write this article. It is my ideal, to bring together, various allopathic doctors, who have a zealous love for Ayurved and the vaidyas. It is also my ambition to encourage the spirit of enthusiasm and hope in the young Ayurvedic practitioners and ayurvedic students. Ayurved required preserving and researching in the right spirit of the seekers after the truth. When it will be done, the world will see that the Allopathy has yet more to learn from Ayurved.
Traditionally connected with medical science, travelling in different parts of the world, plus studied in University of Leuven (Belgium-EU) and some time in the United States, my respect grows more for my ancestors and their knowledge of Ayurveda; plus hardships they went through in the 19th and 20th century for enlistment of this great science of life. Ayurved has its own medicine, surgery, midwifery, sexology, hygiene, health, toxicology, pathology, bacteriology, chemistry, botany, pharmacology, materia medica, anatomy, and physiology, most important of all includes Tridosh teaching and, the practitioners have to acquire a thorough knowledge of these subjects, before they begin their practice. Ayurved is divided in eight parts:
- First part is related to diseases treated by surgery – Shalya
- Second part is related to diseases of Ear, Nose, Throat and, Mouth and its surgery – Shalakya
- Third part is related to diseases of body and treatment with medicine – Kaya Chikitsa.
- Fourth part is related to Psychology – Manas Shastra.
- Fifth part is related to pediatrics – Kaumbharbhrutya.
- Sixth part is related to Medical toxicology and Jurisprudence – Visha Tantrum.
- Seventh part is related to Rejuvenations – Rasayan and Vajikaran.
- Eighth part is related to healthy living – Sawasthvritta.
Here, I am proud to mention that Ayurvedic chemistry is the oldest in the world and even much older then chemistry of Arabia. It is all part of curricula of ayurvedic student. It may be argued that nearly all the facts found in Ayurved are now well known to the Allopathist and that there is nothing mysterious or wonderful about them. But please remember that it is my little effort to bring light on works of great medical men like Shusruta and Charaka who flourished in the ancient days is like a light house in the ocean of mankind for happy and healthy living. A medical system more thorough and practical than the present one existed then, is indeed very satisfactory for us who are now and then dubbed by the foreigners, not only in cases of medicine but in other things as well.
Ayurvedic medicine is a vast branch of the great tree. Ayurved is full of meanings when it comes to a decision regarding clinical examination, signs and symptoms of disease, and a perfect diagnosis. The Ayurvedic practitioner has a double diagnosis. Diagnosis of the disease itself, as is done by the western scientist, and an extra diagnosis of the disorder of the humour (Tridoshas) such as Vata, Pitta or Kapha in connection with the disease. With the assistance of this, the treatment in even most serious diseases is sometime a very simple one. A germ fever, for instance malaria, is diagnosed as that particular fever by seeing to the signs and symptoms and learning from the patient, the history of the case, in some cases examining the blood to come to a true diagnosis. According to Ayurvedic science, that diagnosis is not perfect and one has sufficient grounds to say so, when one sees that although anti malarial drug e.g. quinine or chloroquine, etc. considered as a specific for malaria. When the medical practitioner diagnoses the case as that of malaria, if anti malarial drug is not able to cure that case with every dose of drug, the patient gets worse, where I ask lays the fault? In Diagnosis, in treatment, or in the science? Western scientists would say anti malarial drugs did not agree with the patient; others would say he could not bear it, but this is not a scientific solution to the problem. The Ayurvedic science shines light over the problem. The theory of Vata, Pitta and Kapha (Tridosha), plays a very important part in this. Anti malarial drug, which aggravates the humour Pitta in the system, and if a person who suffers from malaria, with the humour pitta predominant in him is given quinine or anti malarial drug, all the symptoms of the disease are sure to aggravate, and if the treatment is obstinately continued, the patient may suffer a lot more. The only way to cure such patients without suffering is to give Ayurvevic medicines, which will alleviate the predominance of pitta in the system and the patient will be cured.
This is only one instance of the kind, but I would suggest to our western scientific brethren, to stop with his treatment of a patient, at a particular stage, where after using the best, most appropriate, and highly valuable drugs the patient does not get better, and to consult an Ayurvedic doctor and change the treatment, according to the predominance in the system of one or the other humour, and he will find that the most satisfactory results arrived at, in many till now, given up as incurable cases, by my western brothers. If case after case are thus cured, people tired of the western doctors’ treatments will go to Ayurvedic practitioners and get better with Ayurvedic science and system both!
Our medicine as stated in standard Ayurvedic works of Charka and Vagbhatta has all its scientific beings, the causation, signs, symptoms, diagnosis, prognosis and treatments. The diseases are the same as we find in the best works of western scientists. It is surprising how exhaustively Charak has dealt with the ailments of the human race at such an early age.
Chapter 2: Surgery in Ayurved
Going to surgery now, I venture to say that if proper aid were at the disposal of the workers in Ayurved, the science of surgery would have been carried, side by side with our Western brothers to its highest level. To prove this, one has only to refer to the pages of Sushruta and read some surgical operations, out of many mentioned there. In Chikitsa Sthana, chapter 7, the author describes the operation of lithotemy for removing stones from the bladder about 2000 years ago, and one is surprised to see that all stages described in the operation easily correspond with the stages in any text book on surgery, still being taught in our medical colleges; not even leaving the most minute details of patient’s posture, cleanliness to be observed, removal of the stones, and six directions and situations for the completion of surgery. There are eight main parts of surgery in Ayurveda:
- Drawing lines
All parts listed above are well mentioned by what little left in this branch of Ayurved. There is excellent classification shown by Sushruta with seven procedures in connection with treatment of an abscess. Those seven classifications are Vimlapan, Aveschana, Upanham, Patanam, Sodhan, Ropanam, Vaikritapaham which give detail description from pre-operative to dressing to post-operative methods. Sammohan churna, Murchana Dravya and other medical preparations were used as an anesthesia in major surgeries during that time. Ayurvedic surgeons were the first people to make use of the surgical instruments, and to attain proficiency in the operations of eye, ear and nose and so on.
The west has taken many things from this branch of surgery of Ayurved. In Sushruta and Charaka, we can see detailed description of surgical instruments for example Vetaspatra, Dantshanku, Karpatra, Mandalagra, Dantashanku, Vahimukh and many more; indeedly author went in to deep detail regarding this matter. Method of autoclave is also described in depth in Ayurved. Plastic surgery and neurosurgery also described by Sushruta. When India was known as golden sparrow, practice of Indian surgery was in full swing. Major surgeries were performed with incredible success and surgical instruments and bandages were divided in 125 departments. It is written in “Bhojprabandh” that the brain of king Bhoja was cleared of certain organisms which would have threatened his death. Sushruta used “Sammohan Churna” as an anesthesia.
The remarkable instance of the ingenious methods of the formation of the artificial nose or Rhinoplasty, that art Europe has borrowed from India, perhaps hundreds of years ago. The curing of fistula, hernia, piles, the removal of stones from urinary bladder and the practice of Lithotomy, etc. are not yet extinct from the surgery of Ayurved and are part of Ayurvedic curricula for students. However, it was very difficult to continue and keep up the standard of Ayurvedic surgery without adequate means. It is highly regrettable that no such means were provided for Ayurvedic practitioners from the time of Buddha in branch of surgery. In addition to this, when Nalanda University burned (which was epic center of knowledge) many important books and manuscripts were either stolen or burned, plus many were destroyed or lost in time. We are advancing more and more in this branch in the western science due to money and power and there is no reason why Ayurvedic practitioners should not; if necessary, incorporate some of the new ideas from their western brothers.
Chapter 3: Pregnancy and Childbirth
Going to the subject of midwifery, the signs and symptoms of pregnancy, the normal and difficult labors, with several disorders of the pregnancy are so well described and means of their prevention, with the care of the infant after birth is so scientifically mentioned when these works were written. Sushruta described cesarean section in complicated surgery with its pros and cons. Ayurved emphasizes natural birth with healthy eating and positive good thinking of mother, which can nourish all five sense of child in mother’s womb. During pregnancy, particular exercises and yoga postures with meditation helps to reduce stress in mother and establishes perfect channel of relationship between both partners. Hatha yoga under supervision is the best-prescribed yogic exercise during pregnancy.
Here, I must say that herbs like Shatavari (Asparagus recemosus), Mandur bhasma (Iron preparation) and Ghee(clarified butter) enhances mother’s milk supply and gives her mental as well as physical strength to cope with postpartum depression and boosts mother’s and child’s immune system. Prenatal care and postnatal care is described in great length and detail. Medicine prepared from different herbs in the form of liquid can protect newborn children from many diseases and help to improve health in total Before pregnancy, couples are advised to eat nourishing food and concentrate on pure and divine thoughts. They will be instructed to perform light yoga exercises to keep them healthy and fit until the end of pregnancy.
After childbirth, medicine like Shatavatri (Asparagus racemosus), Ashwagandha (Withania Sominifera), Chavanprash (Ayurvedic tonic enriched in vitamin C), Ghee (clarified butter) and other medicines can be prescribed for excellent health of mother and child to improve immune system of both. After child birth, mother and baby are taken care by herbal oil massages. Mothers are also given herbal decoctions. Medication is also given for proper lactation and improve overall immunity of mother and newborn baby. Medicine prepared from different herbs can work wonders in diseases of newborns e.g. “Balaghuti or Balkadu” is still today the medicine of choice for experienced Ayurvedic physician for healthy and hearty child. These are traditional herbal preparations which help in baby’s digestion and reduce frequency of colic. It also helps in regularizing bowel moments of in babies.
Healthy effect of stanpan or breast-feeding is mentioned in Ayurved from the time of Vedic age when practice of Ayurved was in full swing. Importance of baby oil massage is mentioned in Ayurved which is important key for healthy growth of baby. In this direction, many scientific studies have been carried out with positive results.
Oil massage improves peripheral blood flow, weight gain, length and induces post massage sleep in babies. We can see the complete work of midwifery and pregnancy classically written in the textbook like “Sautikam” or “Prasuti tantra”. In addition to this how we should design the delivery room and nursing facility for the pregnant women is mentioned. If we design our nursing facilities for pregnancy as written in Aurved “Sutica Shastra” will it be helpful to prevent or reduce complications in pregnancy or other infections in mother and new born. It is another subject for research.
Not only this but whole subject of human sexuality is well embedded from relationship to pleasure to procreation in Veda and Ayurved. Human sexuality and rejuvenation is important part of Ayurved. Men and women both are important as means of pleasure in sexuality and women as a symbol of fertility, childbirth, lactation, etc. and continuity of human kind on this earth. Vatsayan Kamasutram can be used in Planned Parenthood with detail descriptions on human sexuality. Another important view is; can western and Indian scientist work on a common ground with Vatasayan Kamastram and highlight points which can help to prevent HIV infection and I am sure the outcome will be positive.
One more surprising but sad part is our Allopathist who never believed in a principle unless it came via US or UK. The allopathist never accepts a statement unless he sees it in a foreign medical journal; but will really be amazed to find that the ancient Indian practitioner knew fully the art of Punsavana or the science of effecting the change of sex in the embryo. Reference about test tube baby is not only mentioned in Ayurved but it is also mentioned in Hindu religious books and for one excellent example is Mahabharata where Queen Gndhari’s sons born by science of test tube baby.
Chapter 4: Public Health and Hygiene
The subject of Public Health and Hygiene is again mentioned at great length. Definition of health is described in a simple and perfect way while I am looking at the definition of Health by World Health Organization (W.H.O.) is more confusing and looking like a mirage in a desert. In Ayurved not only there is a general hygiene, but personal hygiene as well directions for prevention of several diseases occurring in different seasons are described at great length to lead a very healthy life and guard against several kinds of epidemics. Regarding food supply and healthy living give important thoughts of Pathya-pathya Vichara, which is directly applies to healthy eating and living habits of human beings.
Ayurvedic diet which is designed to balance your body type for consumption of food intake. Ayurvedic diet and medicine can be prescribed by keeping in mind one’s Prakruti (natural tendencies), Kala (time), Desh (country) and, Ritucharya (seasons). Food plays an important part in Ayurvedic treatment for balancing Tridosh. Ayurved covers all aspect of living positive and healthy life style through Pathya-Pathya Vichara (concept of healthy eating and living). Healthy living mentally as well as physically is important base of Ayurved. In this direction, Acharya (Guru) Charaka used excellent word Pragya Apradh (mistake of intellect with attitude and behavior), which is directly or indirectly related with many diseases including acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
Surprisingly many Ayurvedic physicians have not given much importance to this small but very important word of Charaka. Dinacharya (Daytime regime) and Ratrichrya (Nighttime regime) means daily routine suggested in Ayurved is complete approach to healthy living from stress relieving to balancing your body clock. Dinacharya starts with sunrise and ends with sunset. Ratrichrya starts with sunset and finishes at sunrise. Dinacharya includes all the things that one should do during the day. Ratricharya includes all the things that one should do during the night. Dinacharya includes the following:
- Getting up in the morning in Brahma muhart (sunrise)
- Cleansing your body wast
- Mukhmarjanam (washing your mouth)
- Dantadhavanam (washing your teeth)
- Jivhamardanam (cleaning your tongue)
- Chakshumardanam and Anjanam (cleaning your eye with water and putting medicated drops in your eye)
- Gandusham (gargling with warm medicated water in mouth and throat)
- Nasyam (put medicated drops in your nose)
- Abhyang (massaging medicated oil on the body)
- Vyayam (exercise)
- Snanam (bathing)
- Pujanam (prayer)
- Din Bhojanam (morning meal)
- Yavsyam (your work to make a living)
- Sayam bhojanam (evening supper)
- Chintnam (focus on your entire day work with positive thoughts)
- Pujanam (prayer)
- Nindra (sleeping)
Now let us cover most important part of healthy living and that is Yoga. Yoga is a part of Ayurved teaching, and one of the very important part of Astang (eight departments) Aired. In Ayurved curricula student have to learn Yoga through “Pattanjali yogsutram” with combination of Ayurved. There are main eight pillars of yoga. Yama means abstentions, Niyama means ethical guidelines, Asana means different yogic postures, Pranayam means self control of prana (through oxygen vital breath), Pratyahar means process of developing control on senses and mind, Dharna means total cocentration, Dhyan means meditation and ultimate goal that is Samadhi means state union between soul and creator . Just like Ayurved and Yoga have a same anatomy and part of physiology which consist of 7 main Chakras (energy centers), 72000 Nadis (pulse or subtle channels) and Kundalini strength (energy). Ayurved with Yoga is the best foundation for physical as well as mental well being through spiritual enlistment of mind, body and soul.
There are different types of yoga. Important types are as follow:
- Karma Yoga: Yoga based on karma (action).
- Gyan Yoga: Yoga, which is based on gyan (knowledge).
- Raj Yoga: It is based on Swasam (breath control).
- Kam Yoga: based on kamasutram Asana.
- Laya Yoga: based on Laya and T all (rhythm).
- Bhakti Yoga: Based on Bhakti (faith)
- Mantra Yoga: which is based on concentration and enchantment of Mantras.
- Tanta Yoga: which is based on Tantras-meditation.
- Hatha yoga: which is based on exercise with complete movement for exercise of different part of body
- Kundalini yoga: which helps in releasing cosmic energy by awaken kundalini through spine and nabhi.
Every kind of Yoga can be combined with all other kind of Yoga for different types of yoga exercises. The main goal of Yoga is salvation through complete concentration of mind and body. I do not know that any other health science have such complete foundation for ultimate goal of human being. Yoga can do miracle in cure, from mentally to physically many diseases including cancer and high blood pressure. Yogic meditation- Dhyan and, Samadhi play important part in upliftment of physical as well mental well being of individual. I am glad that at least this branch of Ayurved is eventually, accepted by western scientist. Ayurved teaches you how to know your body and remain healthy by treating your body as a whole, which includes body, mind and, spirit.
Chapter 5: Tridosh theory
One of the members of Indian Medical council once told me that there was no Bacteriology in Ayurved. I could not enlighten him on the point then, as we had this talk at a garden party of Mr.Minoo Masani and Mr. and Mrs. Adi and Permeshwari Godrej in 1986. He has not met me since. I take this opportunity to say, that Bacteriology is a part of the Ayurvedic science, mentioned in Vimana Sthana of Charaka, and author has gone deep in the matter, and the subject is very interesting. Bacteriology also mentioned in Yajurved and Atharwaved. I will not omit to mention that why Ayurved, with her pathology, so unique and so different from any of the west, been preserved. It is amazing and interesting to see that how urine and stools were analyzed before 2000 years ago for different diseases. In addition, it will be interesting to learn and study about the worms and bacteria mentioned in Ayurved like Keshad, Lomad, Sauras, and Lomdeep, Jantumata and, many more. Ayurved is still lives because of the world purpose, which Ayurveda has to fulfill, because the world is enriched by what this science can give to other medical system.
Great Ayurvedic physician Madhav, in “Madhavnidan” in chapter two and three has mentioned germ theory including microorganisms. Ayurved covers complete germ theory including Bacteriology that includes incubation period and specific infectious diseases, which are germs and worms related like Anaemia, Leucopenia, chlorosis and others. In Ayurvedic, text “Vridhhashounak” germ theory is very well covered. Ayurvedic tridosh theory is directly link to pathology and physiology of human body and very important backbone of Ayurved. Tridosh theory is directly related to pathology, which is very helpful in Nidan (Diagnosis), and Chikitsa (Treatment) of diseases in Ayurved.
Ayurved scientists have the physiology, where not only accurate descriptions of the organs are given, but the science has gone here little further, and propagated the theory of Vata, Pitta and Kapha, the three humours, which are the results of the sympathetic and healthy working of different organs together. Predominance is generally taken in a particular person by a particular humour and the symptoms of that humour are always manifested in that person. These symptoms are permanent in the body of these persons, and generally hereditary. If proper research and development can be done in this area, it can flash light on many hereditary diseases. Hence, we have Vata families, Pitta families, and Kapha families. Ayurvedic substances are classified according to their effect on doshas. Our western scientists talk of bilious, phlegmatic, and windy nature; this is not the true explanation of Vata, Pitta and kafa, but is surely an attempt on their part to adopt the theory.
Here, I would like to put important point which is not considerate by ayurvedic physician that, Healthy functions of several organs separately, is physiology, and the source of a combination of symptoms, produced by the healthy working together of particular organs, where the effects of one or more together predominate, is the humour of the person. Now let us see how it works by an excellent example, which I have observed in my practice. The humour may remain normal or may be abnormally increased or decreased and that gives different colors to the disease by which patient is suffering. This explains the predominance of certain symptoms in the patient in a particular disease. In case of Pneumonia (Kaphaj Jwara in Ayurved), which is quite common in severe cold weather; some die of delirium, some of heart failure, and some of asphyxia. Why? In the same disease the symptom at several stages are not the exact symptoms described in the book. Why? Why do they change? This is scientifically explained by adopting the theory of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. The abnormality of a particular humour, predominant in the patient at the same time, produces particular symptoms; and thus suggests particular changes in the treatment. The Ayurvedic physician has therefore, to add drugs to counteract the effects of the abnormal stage of the humour, predominant in the patient at the time, extra to the treatment of Pneumonia, and has to change it, according to the changes in the humour at several stages. Slightest change in the humour, manifested by changes in the pulse or symptoms, is indication for the Ayurvedic physician to do something at once, thus saving the patient from the more serious developments. This is an initial from the theory of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Here, if my western brothers can combine Tridosh theory in their diagnosis and treatment result will be excellent.
Chapter 6: Medicine and Chemistry
Coming to the other subjects in Ayurvedic medicine, we have Medical Chemistry, where Sharangdhar, Rasa Ratna Sammuchaya, Rasa Ratnakar, Rasendra Sara Sangraha, and Rasratnasamuchaya take a leading part. The Chemistry of Ayurveda is purely medical, and the several combinations and ways of preparing different Rasayanas, Bhasmas, Upbhasmas, Ghrit, Arista, asav, Gutika, Choorn, Kashay, Leh, Rasayan, and other preparations are mentioned in a great depth, which come across a student of Chemistry and Pharmacy are very interesting. Materia medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacology again are very vast subjects, and important subjects for study for an Ayurvedic school.
The pharmacology as practiced in Ayurved is very ingenious, several tests are to determine the particular results of the tests are to be applied to the drugs in question, and particular results of the test are to determine the particular therapeutic value of the drug. Still, no Ayurvedic student or practitioner can have any objection to try these drugs according to western methods of pharmacology; but is it not surprising and congratulatory to the ayurvedic science, that the therapeutic value, as described in standard works, of the Ayurvedic drugs that are at present used by our western scientists, have even after their pharmacological tests, remained unchanged.
Mercury, which is considered poisonous substance by our western scientists, is for a student of Ayurved, a special subject of study and it’s combination with sulphur and it’s prominence in several compounds which are proved to be most efficacious, shows the real value of drug, which is ignored by western scientist. Here, I would like to suggest that every allopathic practitioner seeking to practice in India should be acquainted with Pharmacopoeia of Ayurved, which will help him to serve his patient better. At present time, it is very interesting to see, that young engineers from Indian Institute of Technology and other engineering colleges in India, are interested in Vedic science, and expanding this branch.
Our western scientists considered gold insoluble in the juices of stomach and therefore incapable of assimilation in the body. This same gold in form of Suvarna Bhasma, Raj-Mrugank, Suvarna Parpati, Suvarna Vasant and Poorna Chandrodaya has been known to work wonders as medicines. These are drugs, which are in common use by Vaidyas in diseases like Neurasthenia, Consumption, Sprue, Chronic Diarrhea, long continued low fevers, Atomic dyspepsia, and others. In making of ayurvedic medicine to its perfection physicians used to make Yantras (machines or equipments) like Dola yantra, Kachap yantra, Jala yantra and many more, which are prescribed in Ayurvedic text in a great length. I wonder why we cannot design same Yantras with modern day technology, which can help in environment protection and drug perfection.
It is unfortunate that strong remark is made against Ayurvedic recipes, regarding making of some of the Ayurvedic medicine, including Bhasmas and Upbhasmas that, they contradict with human body and lead to many diseases due to presence of heavy metals in them. I have to ask those people that did they learn ayurved as it taught in India. Are they fully capable to make such remarks? I do not agree with this remark, as fault is in not in the medicine and it effects, but it is lying in preparation of medicine and its prescription.
Let us discuss, bhasma of iron, I have found in my personal practice that iron bhasma which is prepared by method describe in Ayurved with decoction of Triphla (Ayurvedic herbal medicine) is none constipated and works wonder in many diseases like asthma, general debility, colic pain, intestinal worms (specially for cases of anemia due to hook worms in women) and, other blood diseases. Making of Ayurvedic recipes is time consuming and hard plus proper knowledge and attention is required in making this preparation. If proper procedure is not follow and rules and regulations are not taken care off like proper quantity and timings, outcome will be wrong and opposite one. Here, question arises about allopathic preparations of Arsenic and Zinc. Beauty and wealth of Ayurved lies in its simplicity and promotion of herbal medicine and through that environment of mother earth. Old school of Ayurved strongly believed in natural herbal remedies by which environment can be protected and side effect of the medicine could be minimizing at zero level. Here comes importance of Botany. Medical Botany is very important branch of Ayurvedic science. In the Allopathy the study of Botany is very minimize.
One cannot know why graduates of medical colleges are kept quite unacquainted with the source and the natural forms of drugs. The study of this branch of Ayurved is very much cultivated, and Ayurvedic graduates before he passes his final examination, or begins practice after studying the science, have to get him acquainted with the full knowledge of Ayurvedic Botany in their crude as well as green form. In medical chemistry and in medical Botany Ayurvedic students have to take excursions in jungles and gardens, thus giving through instructions in those subjects. At the same time modernizing them to the present day requirements. In almost all Ayurvedic preparation, you will find at least one herbal combination. Ayurvedic herb, medicine, or food always analyzed by their scientific quality and its effect on different parts of body in different ways. This analysis plays important part in metabolism of drug and its effect. It is important part of Pharmacology in Ayurved. It is mainly divided in five factors:
1. Dravya: In Ayurved Dravya means a substance, which includes in Ayurvedic medicine or food including all kind of herb. With Ayurvedic point of view all Dravyas are classified as aapya, agneya, vaayavya, akashya and, prudhiva. The properties of Dravyas depend upon Rasa, Guna, Virya, Vipak and, Prabhav. Acharya Charak in Chark Samhita mentioned it rightly that Dravya is most vital part of ayurvedic pharmacology and chemistry. Here one thing is very important to remember and, that is what aggravate or inhibits Vata, Pitta and, Kapha. One: Bitter, astringent and, pungent increased vatadosh while sour, sweet and salty decrease vatadosh. Two: Sour, pungent and, salty increase pittadosh while bitter, sweet and, astringent decrease pittadosh. Three: Sour, salty and sweet increase kaphadosh while astringent, pungent and, bitter decrease kaphadosh. This is very important in Chikitsa (treatment) of patients.
2. Rasa: Taste, which starts at digestion from tongue. There are six kind of main rasa, which are sweet, salty, sour, astringent, bitter and, pungent. All rasas are present in dravyas by virtue of “Panchmahabhoot” for example Madhura or sweet rasa have properties of Jala(water) and Prithvi (earth) and that’s how it effect on “Tridosh” which is Vata,Pitta and kapha.
3. Guna: means properties of dravya, which is inherent, are grouped in 10 pairs and each one complementary to others called guna and there are twenty gunas. Some examples of twenty gunas are Snigdh (oily), Ruksha (dry), Laghu (light), Guru (heavy), Sooksham (micro), Sthoolam (macro), Sheet (cold),Ushna (hot) which help in understanding properties of dravya or medical drug.
4. Virya: Virya is directly related with metabolic activity of the dravya. This relates to the heating and cooling effect during digestion means heating and cooling energy of substance and, in Ayurved it is called as ushnavirya (hot potency) or sheet virya (cold potency) of drugs. Virya shows potency of drugs and virya effect of drug continue until vipak or until digestion. Best example would be pippli (piper longum) pippli virya is ushna it works best as a kapha suppressant through its ushna virya same way Guduchi or Giloy or galo satva (Tinspora Cordifolia), even though it is bitter in taste it does not aggravate Vata because its virya (potency) is ushna virya which is hot in nature and thus it help in serves as inhibiting factor for Vata.
5. Vipak: Which is final post digestive effect and, during assimilation means, substances which having effect on sweat, urine and, faeces. Vipak help to understand physiological changes of dravya or substance. There are three kind of vipak: 1. Madhur vipak 2. Aamla vipak and Katu vipak.
Madhur vipak increases kapha dosh. Aamla vipak increases pitta dosh. Katu vipak increases vata dosh. Best example for vipak is herb Ginger. Vipak of Ginger is madhur so ginger works best in acidity and acidity related diseases by its Madhur vipak.
6. Prabhav: Which do not abide by the rules and work its unique way, which called Prabhav of particular dravya or substance. Here I would like to give example of Ayurvedic herb Arjuna. Arjuna work by its Prabhav.Arjuna comes from bark of the Terminalia Arjuna tree. Ayurved described Arjuna as a heart tonic and, daily use of Arjuna can strengthen the heart. Thus, Ayurvedic Pharmacology and chemistry is important part of curricula for students of Ayurved. Ayurvedic physician rather than slave of many multinational pharmaceutical companies, you can find him surrounded by the nature and grow his own natural remedies. Here, I would like to give example of Ayurvedic scholar of his time, late Vaidya Prabhuram Jivanram. He used to grow his natural herbs in Porbundar, Gujarat, India and used to prepare different kind of medicines in his regular practice for his patients.
Let us take a simple example of banyan tree.
- A. The worst type of ulcers and sores are cured when powdered with mercury oxide and covered over with a peace of cotton wet with the juice of banyan tree
- B. The young sprouts of banyan tree taken by a woman in second or third month of pregnancy would help her to give birth to a beautiful and healthy boy.
- C. The powdered bark of banyan tree will stop frequent seminal discharge.
- D. The powdered bark also cures leucorrhea and
- E. The decotion of its hanging roots purifies blood.
Thus, Ayurved proved by its medicine that it is very near to nature and helps in protecting environment through its herbal preparations.
Let us take another herbal medicine Guggul. Guggul (Commiphora mukul or Indian Bedelium) is herbal plant extract. It is like a gummy yellowish liquid, which grows in India. It is used frequently as a medicine by Ayurvedic physicians and in different forms and preparation for different diseases. It can strengthen nerve, bone tissue and muscle. It is also used as a cardiac tonic. It helps in cholesterol by clearing it from arteries and veins. It lowers triglycerides. It is promising hypolipidaemic drug. Guggul can help in reducing inflation. Sinhnad Guggul is one of the drugs of choice for Ayurvedic physicians in treatment of joint diseases. Preparation like Triphala Guggul is good for weight loss.
Another popular herbal remedy is Triphala. Triphala is made up of three herbal combination which are Harda, Behda and, Amla. Harda cures diseases of Vata humour. Harda properties are anti parasitical, laxative, astringent, anti-spasmodic and lubricant. Behda cures diseases of Kafa humour. Behda properties are astringent, anti-spasmodic, tonic, digestive, anti bronchiole, anti allergic. Amla cures diseases of Pitta humour. It is best source of natural vitamin C. Amla properties are astringent, anti viral, anti bacterial, expectorant, and (Rasayanic) rejuvenate tonic. Triphala help in improve liver function, Improve immunity, helping in weight loss, improve digestion, has proven anti-inflammatory, has proven anti-viral, helps in reduce serum cholesterol, reduce high-blood pressure, works as expectorant and hypotensive.
Simplicity and greatness of Ayurved we can see in its herbal remedies, which are used by ayurvedic physicians from thousands of years. It promotes the sense of environment through its natural and herbal medicine. In Ayurved every part of herb is important one-way or another. Let us take leaves and excellent example is multi purpose Neem leaves which are used in many bacterial diseases and if apply locally on skin it can cure many skin diseases. Neem leaves are Shothaghna (anti- inflammatory), Wrana ropak (wound healer), Wrana Shodhak (Wound disinfectant-anti-bacterial), Kusthaghna (cure skin diseases).
Same way another leafy herb is hibiscus, which is Keshya means very beneficial as a hair shampoo and very useful in natural hair growth and mastishk Krumighnna (anti-dandruff). As I have mentioned above every part of herb is important in Ayurvedic medicinal plants. Let us take another example, Udummbar or Umbar (Ficus Glomerata). Each and every part of this herb is important as per Ayurvedic Botanical study in different diseases. Udummbar Guna means its peculiarity or property is Grahi (Anti-diarrhoeal) and, Ropak (healer). Its medical effect remains long lasting when used as a medicine.
- It is Paustic (nutritional).
- It is Kapha and Pitta suppressant.
- It is Krumighnna (wormicidal).
- It is Shothagna (anti-Inflammatory).
- It is Tawyadoshaghna (cures skin diseases).
- It is chaksushya (cures eye diseases) and
- It is Trushaghna (thrust quencher).
Further, When we go to vegetable kingdom, we come across innumerable medical drugs of highest value in medicine, either alone or in various combinations, each preparation having its therapeutic value fully described, not only that but it is divided in to parts, nutritional value and, seasons in which it will suitable best. For example let us take Coccinia Cordifolia or English name is ivy gourd, in India it is Koval. It produces fruit, which look like a small version of cucumber. It is useful for diabetes and Liver function.
Another one is Ajamo or Ajawayan, which is a spice of India. Its English name is Bishop Weed. Ajawayan looks like a cumin seed and it is very useful especially as a Krumighna (wormicidal) in small kids plus it is also useful in Asthma and digestion related problems.
Now let us take our day-to-day vegetables. Onions are pungent. Its post digestive effect is also pungent. It promotes vigor and vitality. It helps in diseases like anemia, asthma, and when applied externally it relives fever.
Let us take one more and that is carrot. Its taste is Bitter, sweet and astringent. Its post-digestive effect is pungent. It is beneficial in reducing Hemorrhoids and anemia. It is useful in improving eyesight, as it is natural source of vitamin A.
Every vegetable is connected directly with natural source of many minerals and vitamins. When this is the case, one would really be surprised to hear from a learned doctor that he waited in vain for 20 years, for even one herbal drug to test and study in the scientific way, in spite of all his efforts to do so. I must say, that I take him to be the most unfortunate man. During his daily rounds, if he had cared to stop at a Gandhi’s shop (Ayurvedic Medicine Shop in India) or so we called grocery store and bought even five drugs for fifty rupees, he would have, if conscientiously tried and experimented upon, added a good deal to his own knowledge.
According to Ayurved, foods which eaten by healthy choice can provide proper proportion of essential nutrients. In this direction study of dieting, knowing minutely and definitely the property of each eatable, their directions in that respect in the treatment of each disease is well mentioned in Ayurved. It is wonderful to see in the same section that, how thoroughly, vegetables and fruits are divided in different varga (classifications) and for different seasons, which can play important part in science of nutrition and promotion of health with help of healthy eating and, through that healthy living concept (Pathay-Pathya Vichara). Important part of which teaches you to eat according to your constitution without unbalancing your Tridosh.
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