onsdag 2 april 2014

Facts about Ayurveda

This is an appendix to the article from 2005 "Combining complementary medicine with western medicine - can we gain something?

It is a very short description of Ayurveda, realising that it takes 5-7 years to get an Ayurveda diploma.

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The paradigm

Consciousness is the source of all manifestation. It is synonymous with the source of all experience, or God. Movement, or energy, is the very nature of consciousness and therefore inseparable from it. The principle of movement, of motion on the most fundamental level – even before creation – is prana. Prana is the prime moving force in both body and universe. Prana is not breath; it is the power that enables us to breathe. Prana is the power behind movement.

There are five elements, or states of material existence: Ether, air, fire, water and earth. They could also be called the five states of matter: the field in which they operate, propulsion, conversion, liquidity and density. The theory explains that the given constituent – energy – is the cause of the five principles of creation. Energy interacting with the “field” creates movement, or “propulsion”. Propulsion creates friction or heat, which causes the “conversion” of energy. Conversion causes condensation or “liquidity”. As liquidity settles, “mass” is formed.

Constitution is an important conception of Ayurveda. Three basic constitutional types (or tridosha, the three humours) are recognized: Vata (dry), Pitta (hot), Kapha (cool). They combine to make seven possibilities. These seven possibilities vary according to the degree that they function in an individual. Each of the three humours is said to “live” primarily in one place in the body.

A constitutional test includes a mixture of variables such as the form of different parts of the body, weight, appetite, digestion, urine and faeces, snacks or taste, voice, memory, dreams, endurance, menses, sexuality and finances. The choices seem rather schematic to an unskilled reader, and might not always suit individuals of all races and cultures. After performing a test, you can find out your own balance between vata, pitta and kapha.

Disease and illness

Many of our diseases, aches and pains can be seen as conflicts between different states of matter. Learning how to harmonize these three humours eliminates the problem from a basic source. Controlling the dominant humour or the unbalanced humour, results in harmony to the five states of matter.

Diseases and psychological disorders are considered to be a major cause of sorrow and unhappiness. Sometimes the physical and mental disorders are related, sometimes not, but both are related to ignorance. Ignorance leads to bad mental habits and poor, irregular routines for the body, which in turn causes disease. Ayurveda provides us with both physical and mental routines with which we can break destructive mental and physical habits.

Physical ailments are divided into two categories – ordinary and serious. The ordinary ones can be corrected by a change in daily routine, including diet and exercise. The serious ailments and mental disorders are not truly corrected until self-knowledge is recognized.

Mental confusion, or the inability to function without stress, agitates the prana, which then flows unevenly along the channels or nadis. This results in the congestion of some nadis and the depletion of others, which creates a disturbance in the metabolic process, including indigestion, appetite and functioning of the digestive system. This is why Ayurveda places so much stress on the health of the digestive system. When the digestive system is maintained in correct balance, then mental afflictions will not be able to unbalance the pranic flow enough to cause damage.

There are six steps of the disease process: accumulation, disturbed, flood, movement, manifestation and chronic disease. If no treatment is given during the first steps, the disease becomes acute and chronic. The three humours give different diseases according to where they live and how they flood the body.


Ayurvedic diagnosis is based on direct observation of the body and personality of a person. The easiest and best map of the body interior lies in the tongue. Cleaning the tongue is more important than brushing the teeth. Pulse diagnosis is very important. One hundred and four different pulse descriptions are given, although six are recognised as determining the individual’s constitution.



There are two levels in which to perceive this information. The Yogic concept is that ignorance, or responsibility on a mundane level, leads to both physical and mental illness. If we follow correct living habits, the possibility for ailments to occur will be greatly diminished or eliminated.

The other level in which to perceive the above information is from an “absolute” point of view. This utilizes the perspective that everything is Consciousness (God) because everything manifests out of consciousness.

Self-love is a basic question. Instead of giving up one’s responsibility to an outside force – doctor or synthetic medicine – one should generate internal power, prana, by deciding to accept and love oneself. Without self-love, the energy will not be there to implement the required changes of life habits.


A person will need very different food according to his or her constitution. What is good for one person, might be harmful for another. Together with constitution, the six tastes (sweet, sour, salt, pungent, bitter, astringent) are used to determine which foods are good for a certain person.

Herbs follow the same rules that are outlined for food. Whether we use food or herbs, it is the prana that they carry that creates the therapeutic action in our body. There are six classifications for every substance that we ingest into the body: taste, attribute or quality, potency, long-term effect, general action and specific action. In addition, there is a”therapeutic action” or the action on the three humours. The therapeutic effects are most effective when combined in formulas.

Herbs can be ingested orally, or absorbed from oils applied on the skin with massage. The oral treatment is more common in northern India, and the oil-based treatment, known as oil therapy, is more common in southern parts of India.

Other methods 

Other methods used are cleansing, purification, breathing exercises, other yoga exercises and meditation.

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