What Is Ayurveda?
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What Is Ayurveda?

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The Word Ayurveda is composed of two terms, Ayush meaning life and Veda meaning science. Ayurveda means the science of life. Ayurveda is a science dealing not only with treatment of some diseases but is a complete way of life

Ayurveda aims at making a happy, healthy and peaceful society. The two most important aims of Ayurveda are:

  • To maintain the health of healthy people
  • To cure the diseases of sick people

A Person is seen in Ayurveda as a unique individual made up of five primary elements. These elements are ether (space), air, fire, water and earth. Just as in nature, we too have these five elements in us. When any of these elements are imbalanced in the environment, they will in turn have an influence on us. The foods we eat and the weather are just two examples of the influence of these elements. While we are a composite of these five primary elements, certain elements are seen to have an ability to combine to create various physiological functions.

What are the Tridoshas?

Ayurveda's concept of the Tridoshas is unique to medical science. In Ayurveda the body is made up of tissues (Dhatus), waste products (Malas), and Doshas (loosely translated to Energetic Forces). It is the Tridoshas' job to assist with the creation of all of the various tissues of the body and to remove any unnecessary waste products from the body. It is also the Tridoshas that influence all movements, all transformations, all sensory functions, and many of the other activities in the human body and mind.

Vata dosha

The Vata Dosha is Dominated by akasha mahabhuta and vayu mahabhuta. The Vata dosha is responsible for all movement in the body and is the most important of the three doshas. This is for two reasons. First, if Vata becomes imbalanced for long enough and sufficiently enough, it can also cause the other two doshas (Pitta or Kapha) to become imbalanced. It can even cause both Pitta and Kapha to become imbalanced; this is called a Tridoshic imbalance and is the most difficult to overcome. Secondly, Vata is the main driver or mover of the body, including the other two doshas, all the tissues (dhatus) and all of the waste products (malas).

Vata provides the following functions:

  • All eliminations: fetus, semen, feces, urine, sweat, and a few others
  • Assists with all the various metabolisms in the body.
  • Controls all of the various movement of body.
  • Including such things as respiration, heartbeat, motivation and contraction of muscles.
  • Relays all sensory input from the various sense organs to the brain.

Pitta dosha

The Pitta dosha is predominant by Agni mahabhut.

The Pitta dosha is associated with fire or heat and is responsible for all metabolisms in the body. Wherever there is transformation, there is Pitta (doing its job). Whether it is in the GI tract, liver, skin, eyes or brain doesn't matter, for these are all locations where Pitta works.

Pitta provides the following functions:

  • Metabolism - at all the various levels
  • From digestion of food to transformation of all other material
  • Thermogenesis - maintains the proper body temperature
  • Vision - converts external images into optic nerve impulses
  • Appetite - the feeling of hunger and thirst
  • Comprehension - of information into knowledge, also reasoning and judgment
  • Courage & Braveness - to face the situation
  • Complexion - gives color and softness to skin

Kapha dosha

The Kapha dosha is primarily constituted of jala and prithvi mahabhutas.

Kapha is the heaviest of the three doshas. It provides the structures and the lubrication that the body needs. These qualities help to counterbalance Vata's movement and Pitta's metabolism. A big, heavyset football play or wrestler is a person with a predominance of Kapha.

Kapha provides the following functions:

  • Strength - to perform physical tasks
  • Moistness & Lubrication - to prevent excessive friction from occurring between the various parts of the body
  • Stability - to add the necessary grounding aspect to both mind and body
  • Mass & Structure - to provide fullness to bodily tissues
  • Fertility & Virility - to produce healthy offspring

The Dhatus

Ayurveda identifies seven vital tissues that provide nourishment, growth, and structure to the entire body. These tissue layers, called dhatus, are strikingly similar to the major tissues identified by modern science. Ayurveda expands upon modern interpretation, however, by also including tissues in liquid form. The 7 dhatus are:

1. Plasma (Rasa)
2. Blood (Rakta)
3. Muscle (Mamsa)
4. Fat (Meda)
5. Bone (Asthi)
6. Bone marrow and nerve (Majja)
7. Reproductive fluid (Shukra)

The Malas

Malas are the various waste products of the dhatus produced during the normal metabolical process. Stool, Urine and Sweat are the three important malas recognized in Ayurveda. Ayurveda clearly states that only a balanced condition of doshas, dhatus and malas is arogya (good health or disease free condition) and their imbalance is the cause of ill health or disease.

Purisa is the waste left back after nutrients of digested food have been absorbed in the small intestine. While water and salt absorbed in the large intestine, the residue now converted into solid faeces, leaves the body. The consistency of the faeces depending both on gastrointestinal mobility and nature of diet.

The tridoshas must be in balance to ensure normal evacuation. Pitta and kapha help digestion and vata governs the mobility throughout the process. Any discrepancy or imbalance between these can lead to various symptoms of abdominal heaviness or pain, flatulance, constipation or diarrohea. It may also give rise to diseases as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, low-back pain, asthama, bronchitis as well as stomach ulcers and irritable bowels.

Mutra is derived during the course of biological processes within the human body. The first stage of urine formation begins in the large intestine where fluids are absorbed into the system. The entire urinary system (kidneys, uterus, bladder and urethra) takes part in the formation and elimination of urine, regulating the fluid balance in our body and also maintaining blood pressure. Any imbalance of increased or decreased urine, may result in disorders as kidney stones urinary infections, cystitis, abdominal pain and bladder disorders.

Sweda is the third primary mala, and it occurs as a waste product during the synthesis of meda dhatu (fatty tissue). Eliminated through skin pores, it controls body temperature and helps to regulate the electrolytic balance. The channels responsible for bringing the sweat to skin surface are known as sweda vaha srotas. It is essential that normal formation and flow of sweat takes place as otherwise it may lead to skin infections, itching/burning sensation over the body, loss of fluid balance and reduced body temperature.