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The Meaning of Ayurveda

The Meaning of Ayurveda

Traditional systems of medicine like Ayurveda have become popular in recent years. This is part of the renewed ethnic cultures the world over, in their lifestyles and religious beliefs. Medicine may be seen as a living component of an unbroken tradition stretching back to several centuries. In India and her neighbours like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan, such systems have long being in existence and studies scientifically and codified, with written texts that have been preserved through the ages. Passed on from one generation to another, they have stood the test of time. Of the many systems Ayurveda is perhaps the best known most widely prevalent.

These systems are unique in that they are deeply rooted in traditional cultures and draw upon their wisdom, knowledge and experience. But at the same time, because they emanate from man’s interaction with the environment or the macrocosm, they are applicable universally. They may be termed as alternative systems of medicine only in relation to modern Western medicine. Ayurveda and other such systems are both supplementary and complementary to modern medicine in helping to provide good health to humanity.

Despite the advances in modern medicine there are many drugs, which often cause toxic side effects. Painkillers and palliative measures offer only temporary relief. This has influenced the need for other kinds of treatment. A visible shift is also evident today from the over specialization which characterizes modern medical science to a more holistic viewpoint in the treatment of diseases. Holistic medicine as in Ayurveda, deals with the body-mind-spirit complex. More than the specific disease, it is the patient who is sought to be treated.

Good health thus becomes a whole way of life, which may be achieved by adopting certain general principles of behaviour and following certain regimens. Diseases may not only be cured but in fact may be prevented by observing these rules. Ayurveda also draws upon other traditional systems of medicines like naturopathy, Tibetan Buddhist medicine and Unani tibb (Graeco-Arabic medicine) since in theory and practice there is a high degree of commonality among them. Practitioners of one system freely use the medicinal products of the other, as they are all products of nature.

The word Ayurveda is made up of two Sanskrit words ayur and veda meaning ‘life’ and ‘knowledge’ respectively. Taken together they mean the ‘science of life’; in a more limited sense, the term is used to imply the science of medicine. The origins of Ayurveda are shrouded in antiquity. Legend say that Brahma the Creator, a part of the holy trinity of gods, first perceived it and taught it to his son, Daksha Prajapati. Subsequently, Lord Dhanwantari, the god of healing and the teacher of the medical sciences passed it on to the prominent Hindu sages Atreya, Bharadvaja, Kashyapa, Sushruta, Parashara, and Charaka. Sage Atreya’s disciple Agnivesha is said to have written the original Agnivesha Sambita around 1000 BC which has come down to us in the form of Charaka Sambita. This text is considered an authoritative pronouncement of Ayurvedic doctrine. Its present form goes back to the seventh century BC. Sage Charaka defines Ayurveda as ‘the science through which one can obtain the knowledge about the useful and harmful types of life (bita and abita ayus), happy and miserable types of life, things which are useful and harmful for such types of life, the span of life as well as the very nature of life’. Ayurveda thus emphasizes on not only leading a happy life from an individualistic point of view but also aims to be beneficial to society as a whole.

Health, according to Ayurveda, is not merely freedom from disease. It is essential that body, mind and soul are in a excellent state so that the individual can perform his functions and fulfil his role in life which in Vedic philosophy is called dharma; and ultimately work towards the final goal of salvation or moksha with the help of wealth, economic means which artha satisfying his legitimate desires of love and sex which is kama. The roots of Indian Culture can be traced back to the Vedic period, from c. 5000 BC or perhaps even earlier. All the four Vedas — Rig, Yajur, Sama, Atharva — contain several references to the digestive system, metabolism, anatomy and s of diseases along with the bacteria that cause them and more importantly, the concept of tridosha or the three doshas. The doshas, according to the Vedas, are subtle elements in the human body responsible for all its functions. According to the dictates of Ayurveda, illnesses occur due to an imbalance in the equilibrium between the three doshas — vayu, pitta, kapha. Roughly translated, vayu (also known as vata) is wind, pitta can be represented by bile and kapha by phlegm.

In India a large section of the vast population depends on the indigenous Ayurvedic tradition, which has deep cultural roots because of its easy availability, accessibility and reliability. The carries of this tradition are the millions of housewives brought up in this culture, the hundreds of birth-attendance, bone-setters, village herbalists, those skilled in eye-care, dental care are in the specialized treatment of mental diseases. Ayurveda is a body of knowledge, which is extremely coherent and logical within itself yet not restricted by any fixed dogma. Like life itself, it is universal and dynamic.

The Basic Elements

The Meaning of AyurvedaThe science of Ayurveda is a branch of Indian philosophy. Although it is deeply rooted in Indian culture, the university of Indian thought is widely acknowledged. Hence, the world can respond to Ayurveda as a science of healing based on man’s response to his environment.
The Meaning of AyurvedaIts universal approach emphasizes its applicability and relevance to all, irrespective of their geographical, cultural and religious differences. As a science, it is founded on the rational principles of physiology, pathology, pharmacology and diagnostics, which have been critiqued, systematized and generalized, based on the rigid principles of logic.
The Meaning of AyurvedaBeing a holistic science of life, it believes that the functioning of the body is closely related to the mind and soul of the individual. Ideally speaking the body should be free from disease, the mind should be happy and the person should be spiritually elevated. It follows that certain regimens regarding diet must be observed as also code of conduct in order to achieve a harmonious life. In prescribing medicines or therapies, Ayurveda takes cognizance of the mind as well as the body.
The Meaning of Ayurveda

In Ayurveda, germs and organism cause diseases are described as secondary factors. The primary factor is the disturbance in the equilibrium of the three doshas. The doshas: vayu, pitta and kapha are three elementary functional units or principles on which the building up and sustenance of the body depends. They may roughly be represented by the terms, wind for vayu, bile for pitta and phlegm for kapha. But the doshas are not actually these substances. Vayu, pitta and kapha are more than that. They are forces that cause these substances to be produced in the body. They are the outcome of the absorption of the basic elements in the universe by the human sensory organs.

They exist in all individual constitutions, in certain combinations, endowing each with a characteristic feature. The body generally maintains an equilibrium in the functioning of these doshas. Ayurveda believes that just as seeds sown over the barren land will not take root, even virulent germs cannot multiply and produce disease if this equilibrium is maintained in the body. Maintaining good health is as important as treating diseases.

The Meaning of AyurvedaTherapeutic use is made of drugs of vegetable origin, animal products and metals, minerals, gems and semi-precious stones. They are processed only in order to render them non-toxic, palatable and therapeutically more potent. No synthetic additives are used in these processes. The processes themselves have been carefully designed to preserve the therapeutic properties of the medicines’ ingredients. Toxic ingredients such as aconite, mercury and arsenic are made to pass through elaborate processes before they are used. Only minute doses are prescribed after their efficacy has been tried and tested over time. Ayurvedic medicines not only cure the patient of diseases, they also provide immunity against future attacks. In normal healthy individuals, they help to revitalize the body cells and stimulate the immune system.
The Meaning of AyurvedaAyurvedic therapy is directed towards the patient rather than the disease. The line of treatment for two patients suffering from the same disease may differ. The physician prescribes medication and a regimen for each individual patient depending on his/her constitution and mental state. He does not prescribe for the disease alone.
The Meaning of Ayurveda

The whole of nature is included in the realm of Ayurveda. The individual is the microcosm of the universe, which is macrocosm. All the elements of the universe can be found in the individual. Hence, the external world is, in a sense, represented in the individual. Because it is based on the elements existing in the universe and the individual’s awareness of these, Ayurveda as a science must necessarily comply with the laws of nature. Therefore, Ayurveda and the world around it are inter-dependent. Both the healer and the healed are part of the same ecosystem. Ayurveda is an environment-friendly science, which enables the individual to live in harmony with nature as a part of nature.

Natural Body Constitution

Indian philosophy represents various schools or systems of thought, which are known as darshanas. Broadly divided, these systems fall into two categories: astika darshanas and nastika darshanas, the former acknowledge the authority of the Vedas while the latter do not.

The relevance of Ayurveda in today’s world lies in the fact that the science is the product of an ancient civilization and culture that postulate man as part of and as microcosm of the universe, the microcosm. What this really means is that for Ayurveda, every phenomenon in the universe can be found to take place in the individual, albeit in a subtle form. Every individual act as therefore an impact on the environment (in a very broad sense of the term) and on the universe.

All matter and psyche, from the more subtle to the gross and characterized by three attributes or gunas, namely sattva, rajas and tamas. Sattva stands for consciousness, rajas for energy and dynamism and tamas stands for mass, inertia and stability. These three attributes are conceived as real and substantive entities perpetually uniting, separating and reuniting. Everything in the universe is consequent upon their unique arrangement and combination.

In the phenomenal world whatever energy exists is due to rajas; all matter, resistance and stability are due to tamas, and all manifestations of consciousness are because of sattva. The predominant attribute in a substance becomes manifest while the other two become latent through their presence is felt by their effects. These collocations make for the difference in the psychological temperament physical constitution of an individual.

An understanding of these three attributes and what they represent is important for appreciating various Ayurvedic concepts. The individual according to the Vedas is made up of five successive layers of koshas: the annamaya kosha or the physical body; the pranamaya kosha: the astral body or the elan vitae or what the individual feels; the manomaya kosha: the psyche or what the individual thinks; the vijnanmaya kosha: the intellect which can discriminate; the anandamaya kosha: the sheath of bliss.

The physical body in its turn is composed of five basic elements or mahabhutas, which make up the universe. These elements are prithvi, jala, agni, vayu, akasha. Loosely translated, these five elements are often referred to earth, water, fire, air and ether respectively. They do not however, connote the correct and full implications of the original Sanskrit terms. They are used in the representative sense in order to help understand how the external world is linked to the world within us.

Here it may be useful to elaborate on the five element or pancha mahabhuta theory.

Man perceives the external world in five different ways through his five senses (indriyas): the auditory, tactile, taste, visual and olfactory. Through the corresponding sense organs, man not only perceives the external object but also absorbs it into his body in the form of energy.

Each element is composed of all the five elements but each also has one predominant characteristic, which gives it its name. For example, ordinary water does not contain water alone. Its composition includes water, air, earth, fire and ether. The force of cohesion or the power of attraction which is inherent in water is its characteristic feature.

Causes & Diagnosis of Diseases

Understanding our individual constitution, as we have seen, is one of the main ways of keeping good health. Diseases, according to Ayurveda are caused by the imbalance in the three doshas. The predominance of a dosha in an individual’s constitution indicates his or her vulnerability to a particular disease. Diseases in Ayurveda are classified according to thee origin of their causes.

Diseases which originate from factors within the human body, including psychosomatic diseases, are called adhyatmika. Adhyatmika diseases are further divided into hereditary diseases, congenital diseases and those caused by the aggravation of the doshas. Adhibhautika diseases are those whose origin can be traced to external physical factors such as germs and accidents. Adhidaiveka diseases are caused by the seasons, planetary influential, providential causes and so forth.

The physician diagnoses a disease in an individual by an examination of the patient based on three general methods. These methods are common to understanding any phenomenon in the universe.

Direct observation or pratyaksha: This is done through the senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and tasting. A direct contact between the senses and the object of examination is thus established.

Inference or anumana: Just as one deduces that there is a fire when one sees smoke, one can make deductions in the observation of certain substances under the microscope. For instance, the examination of stool under a microscope will give clues about the state of the health of a person.

Authoritative statement or shabda: Experts have bequeathed to us a legacy of authoritative statements regarding diseases. The patient is interrogated closely to determine the exact nature of the diseases. The patient’s relatives too are questioned for in this way the patient’s previous history of diseases can be recorded. Fortified with the knowledge from previously recorded cases and the findings of experts, the physician can make a diagnosis.

The physician may ask the patient a few questions. For example, if the physician feels that a headache may be caused by a stomach problem he may ask the patient about the food he ate the previous night. Interrogation is thus also a tool of investigation and diagnosis. Ayurvedic classics caution the physician against being very specific in naming the disease in a patient . Names are attributed to some diseases purely in order to facilitate and aid the physician in ascertaining and understanding the entire gamut of the remaining diseases for which names are not furnished.

It is however essential to determinate the exact nature of a disease in order to prescribe the proper treatment. Each disease must be studied with regard to the following points:

The Meaning of AyurvedaCauses of diseases or nidana.
The Meaning of AyurvedaThe premonitory signs or symptoms or purvarupa.
The Meaning of AyurvedaThe actual signs or symptoms or rupa.
The Meaning of AyurvedaExploratory therapy or upasaya.
The Meaning of AyurvedaThe mode of manifestation of the disease or samprapti.

Causes of disease may vary. Some factors may cause diseases to appear quite early; others may have delayed effects; yet others may not be strong enough to cause disease. There are also some which cause instantaneous effects, for example strong poisons. Various types of diets, regimens and the effects of the seasons are exogenous factors which cause disease. The endogenous ones are attributed to the doshas and tissue elements. Premonitory signs can be general or specific in indicating the nature of the disease that will manifest itself. They provide a clue to the diagnosis of the impending disease. At this stage some diet restrictions as well as administration of medicines may avert the onset of the actual disease. Exploratory therapy is carried out to arrive at the correct diagnosis of a disease of doubtful identity. Actual signs and symptoms of the disease become manifest if it is not averted during the premonitory stage. The signs and the symptoms of the disease are related to the site of its origin or udbhava sthana, the site of its manifestation or adhisthana and the path of transportation or sanchara marga. All actual signs and symptoms are also related to the doshas, tissues, enzymes and channels of circulation.

Measures For Good Health

Maintaining good health and treatment of disease are two sides of the same coin. The food, drugs and regimen that Ayurveda prescribe for both are similar. The components are the same: they are all found in nature. Equal importance is given to the kind of food to be taken as to the drugs prescribed. Each reinforces the other and both act in similar ways to maintain the equilibrium of the doshas in the body.

Traditionally, a person should wake up before dawn when it is calm and quiet, the air is free from pollutants and there is time to pray or to meditate. There is also time enough to plan the day’s work. After getting out of the bed one should wash one’s face with water-lukewarm or cold according to the season. While gently splashing water over the eyes, it helps if one keeps one’s mouth full of water. This helps exercise the eye-muscles. The eyes should be kept wide open while splashing water over them.

After this, the teeth should be brushed. In India, twigs of the neem tree and others are used for brushing the teeth. The neem twig is chewed at the top while brushing. Herbal tooth powders and paste are also available. Along with brushing the teeth, scraping is also highly recommended. Again this helps the eye muscles and therefore strengthens eyesight. Tongue scrapers should be made of gold, silver, copper, tin or brass. They should be curved and should have smooth edges.

After washing and cleaning one’s face, it is always advisable to drink a glass of cold water. This is prescribed for all days in all seasons unless one has a cold, a cough or a sore throat. The importance of drinking a glass of water in the morning cannot be overemphasized for it helps in the excretory process. Drinking a cup of tea in the morning only produces pressure and stimulates the intestine to start the movement for evacuation of waste. It is like a reflex action which is different from the effect produced by drinking a glass of water. Hot tea stimulates the intestine so strongly that the effect loses its significance after some days leading to constipation. The caffeine content in tea also produces some adverse effects in the intestines. A glass of water, on the other hand, is excellent for the peristalsis of the intestines.

Evacuation of stool early in the morning should become a regular habit and a glass of cold water helps overcome any problems caused by indigestion and inadequate sleep if the previous night’s meal has not been assimilated properly. Worry, anxiety, a short temper, over-sensitivity cause a lot of wind to form in the stomach which gets accumulated in the intestines at night. Fried food and certain ‘heavy’ lentils cause flatulence as also the absence of an adequate quantity of leafy vegetables and fruit in one’s diet. Flatulence causes obstruction and irregularity in bowel movements. Very often this incomplete metabolism leads to loss of appetite, indigestion, headache, fatigue and even sleeplessness. Excessive flatulence can also put pressure on the heart and cause palpitation. Proper food, drink and sleep are therefore of primary importance.


The use of oils in therapies can be of two kinds — internal and external. Oil massage for the body is an essential part of the daily routine in most parts of India. The oil used for this purpose are generally mustard oil, sesame oil and coconut oil. Massage with mustard oil particularly in winter, is characteristic of the north of India while sesame oil is used in the south. Coconut oil is generally used for massaging the scalp and for luxuriant hair growth. A good oil massage slows down the ageing process. It keeps the skin moisturized and shiny. It helps to overcome fatigue, tones up the nervous system, promotes eyesight and nourishes the body by opening the pores of the skin. A good oil massage followed by a bath helps one to sleep well and feel rested. Applying oil (sesame oil or coconut oil preferably) on the head quite regularly is a good way to prevent hair from falling. Massaging the body with oil is also somewhat like oiling a machine. It keeps it in shape. It strengthens and maintains the body and relaxes the muscles. It smoothens the skin and removes roughness and dryness, prevents susceptibility to vata — aggravated diseases and relieves exhaustion and the effects of exertion. It alleviates the effects of strenuous physical exercise and even of injuries. Sesame oil has several excellent properties. It can be used for gargling, it effectively strengthens the jaws, gives depth to the voice, and a fuller to the face, provides excellent gustatory sensation and increases appetite. Regular gargles with this oil prevents dryness in the throat and cracked lips, while massaging the gums with this oil strengthens them and prevents caries. The teeth become strong and less prone to disease. Nasal inhalation with Anu taila during all the three seasons — the rainy season, autumn and spring — is an extremely useful practice with numerous benefits. Habitual nasal therapy according to the prescribed methods helps keep the eyes, nose and ears healthy, restores and strengthens hair, prevents greying. Inhalation therapy also helps cure disease such as torticolis, headache, facial paralysis, lockjaw, rhinitis, hemicrania and tremors of the head. It gives strength to the veins, joints, ligaments and tendons of the head and neck. The voice becomes stable and sweet and the face fills out. All the sense organs regulated. Signs of age such as grey hair are not manifested. Oil used as ear-drops prevents deafness and other diseases of the ear.

Massaging the soles of the feet with oil cures roughness, immobility, dryness, fatigue and numbness. The feet become strong and steady and eyesight is improved because the eye muscles are strengthened through this. Regular oil massage of the feet helps prevent sciatica, cracks in the feet, and constriction of vessels and ligaments.

Oleation relieves drowsiness and itching. It also eliminates unpleasant body odours because of perspiration.

Physical exercise in excess causes exertion, exhaustion, consumption, thirst, bleeding from various parts of the body, acute form of dyspnoea, cough, fever and vomiting. On the other hand, if exercise is done correctly. There will be perspiration, enhanced respiration, a feeling of lightness and proper functioning of the heart and other organs of the body. It also builds resistance and alleviates doshas especially kapha. It stimulates the power of digestion. Ayurveda does not recommend exercise while laughing, taking or walking or during sex. Exercise should be done in a relaxed manner, not on a full stomach, nor when one is tired. Rest after exercise is essential. Yoga is an excellence form of exercise helping the body, mind and soul.

A bath in the morning is not just refreshing but a sexual stimulant. It enhances stability in the body and gives it strength. Above all, it helps remove fatigue, dirt and perspiration. Generally, warm baths should be taken in winter or during the rains. Cold baths are better in warm weather. Hair and scalp should be washed with cold water. Wearing clean clothes adds to one’s appearance and personal hygiene. Clean apparel inspires self-confidence. Enhancing one’s looks and providing a well-groomed appearance by trimming one’s hair and beard (for men), combing one’s hair, keeping the finger-nails trimmed and clean. Longevity, cleanliness and beauty help in maintaining physical and mental well-being.

Proper and comfortable shoes preserve the skin of the feet. It protects the feet from contact with germs, disease-carrying bacteria and from the attacks of reptiles and other creatures.

Food, an important factor in the maintenance of good health, should be eaten in proper quantities, depending upon the power of digestion and the metabolism of the individual. The right quantity of food is the amount which, without disturbing the equilibrium of tissues and doshas of the body, gets digested as well as metabolised in proper time. The power of digestion varies with individual metabolisms.

In Ayurveda, food is characterised as light or heavy. Food which is light is rich in the qualities of air and fire. Those dominated by earth and water are heavy. Light food stimulates appetite and is less harmful even if eaten in excess of the prescribed quantity. On the other hand, food which is heavy suppresses appetite and is exceedingly harmful if taken in excess unless the power of digestion and metabolism are greatly reinforced by physical exercise. If the food is heavy, only three-fourths or half of the stomach should be filled. Even in the case of light food, excessive intake is not conducive to the processes of digestion and metabolism.

Proper sleep endows an individual with nourishment, strength, virility, knowledge, longevity and happiness. On the other hand, improper sleep causes misery, emaciation, sterility and even early death. Untimely and excessive sleep as well as prolonged vigil take away both happiness and longevity.

Depending on the causative factors, there are seven types of sleep:

The Meaning of Ayurvedasleep caused by lethargy
The Meaning of Ayurvedasleep caused by vitiation of kapha
The Meaning of Ayurvedasleep caused by mental exertion
The Meaning of Ayurvedasleep caused by physical exhaustion
The Meaning of Ayurvedaexotic type of sleep (agantuka) which is caused by artificial means like sedatives
The Meaning of Ayurvedasleep caused by diseases
The Meaning of Ayurvedasleep caused by nightfall when the body naturally demands sleep or physiological sleep

It is not advisable to sleep during the day in seasons other than summer. Doing so causes vitiation of kapha and pitta. Obese people who are used to unctuous substances, those with a pitta constitution, those suffering from diseases due to vitiation of kapha and those suffering from artificial poisoning (which happens when substances are incompatible are mixed and consumed either deliberately or inadvertently; honey in hot water can act as a poison) should never sleep during the day. This could lead to liver problems, heaviness of the body, fever, loss of digestive power, oedema, anorexia, nausea, urticaria, eruption, abscess, drowsiness, coughing, diseases of the throat, impairment of the memory and intelligence, obstruction of the circulatory channels of the body and weakness of sensory or motor organs.

Sleeping during the day in all seasons is permitted for those who are exhausted by singing, studying, alcoholic drinks, sex, elimination therapy, carrying heavy weights, walking long distances; those suffering from diarrhoea, colic pain, dyspnoea, insanity; those who are too old, too young, weak and emaciated; those injured by fall and assault; those exhausted by a journey, vigil, anger, grief and fear. In summer, nights become shorter and vata gets aggravated in the body due to absorption of fluid because of perspiration. Therefore, during this season, sleep during the day is allowed for all.

Elimination of doshas from the body through purgation and emesis; fear, anxiety, anger, smoke, physical exercise, excessive bleeding, fasting, uncomfortable bed go a long way towards overcoming sleep. The above-mentioned factors along with overwork, old age, diseases, specially those due to the vitiation of vata (like colic pain) are known to cause sleeplessness even in normal individuals.

Sleep may be induced by massages, unction, bath, drinking meat soup, eating rice with curd, drinking milk and alcohol, giving the mind rest, peace and happiness and hearing soft music, applying soothing ointments to the eyes, head and face, having a comfortable bed and home and going to bed at an appropriate hour. There should be a sufficient gap between retiring for bed. This will aid the digestive process which in turn will result in good sleep. Food should, as far as possible, be light and easily digestible. Curd should be strictly avoided at night. Though good for health, curd has a negative effect on the channels of circulation when taken at night and obstructs them. It is specially unsuitable for patients suffering from asthma, bronchitis and rheumatism.

 One should not indulge in excessive sex. Sex should be avoided if there is no privacy, or if under pressure of the urge to micturate, after exertion, after physical exercise, while fasting, and if exhausted. A glass of milk should be taken before and after the sexual act.

The living body has some natural urges. They are the urge to urinate, to dedicate, to have sexual intercourse, pass wind, for vomiting, sneezing, yawning, hunger, thirst, tears and sleep. Inhibition of these natural urges leads to many complications. These complications affect digestion and metabolism which in turn can lead to several kinds of ailments. Therefore, on order to sleep enough at night, it is essential to see that the body’s natural urges are never curbed.

The philosophy behind Ayurveda is to enable the individual to live his full span of life as a useful and productive member of society. By prescribing various diets and regimens along with therapies, Ayurveda aims to help the individual towards this end. Specialized therapies such as garlic and rejuvenation therapies have been touched upon in brief to show the scope of this complex system of medicine that heals and preserves at the same time.

The averaged span of an individual has increased in present times due to better quality of medical help and improved nutrition. Therefore the number of old people in the society has gone up. Rejuvenation or rasayana therapy, prescribed in Ayurveda, is meant to help improve the lives of old people. Charaka, while defining the scope of this therapy, states that through it, the individual is endowed with longevity; memory; intellect; positive health; youthfulness; excellent complexion, voice, strength of the sensory and motor organs and luster. Instead of a society of old and invalid people, it aims at creating a society of youthful vigour-both physical and mental.

Rejuvenation therapy aims at keeping the enzymes in the tissues cells in their normal functioning conditions. These cells are revitalized and their composition is changed. Tranquility of the mind as well as bones kept in good condition. This prevents the process of aging and makes the individual free from any disease in his advanced years. He is able to see as clearly as before and maintain his hearing abilities, as also the glow on his face and the colour of his skin. The sooner the therapy is administered to the individual the better. As the person grows older, this therapy becomes ineffective.

For rejuvenation, many drugs are described in Ayurvedic classics, and prescribed by Ayurvedic physicians. The most important ones are amalaki, bibhataki, haritaki, guduchi and brahmi. Drugs of mineral origin like mercury, sulphur, gold and mineral pitch or bitumen are also extensively used for the purpose of rejuvenation. These drugs are detoxicated and assimilated before they are used. The mode of administration, the method of preparation, the dosage, the diet and the precautions to be taken while administering these drugs, vary from drug to drug. Normally, they require the supervision of experts. To obtain the desired effect, the therapy should be followed for a considerable amount of time. The duration of this therapy depends on the age and other physical and psychological conditions of the individual.

There are many pharmaceutical processes to make these drugs palatable. The most common tonic used by Ayurvedic physicians is Chyavanaprasha. Ayurvedic physicians consider Chyavanaprasha more a food than a medicine. The dosage of this medicine has to be increased gradually. This medicine is absolutely non-toxic. But, at times, it suppresses the power of digestion, if the dose is increased all of a sudden.

There are more than forty-five varieties of garlic which are used as medicine in several parts of the globe from Siberia to the tropical climes of India. Despite differences in colour and taste, they all have the characteristic odour of garlic.Its therapeutic properties are undisputed but Indian texts on religious rites categorize that it is food that rouses passion and emotion or rajsic food. Hence, it is taboo for Brahmins and those engaged I spiritual practices.

Garlic therapy or rasona kalpa which is a rejuvenation therapy can be administered only to persons who are physically strong and whose systems of digestion and metabolism are powerful. It should be administered only in certain seasons, according to the individual constitution of the person receiving the treatment. Ayurvedic texts are also emphatic in indicating the kinds of individuals (including children) who are not fit to receive this therapy. The list of such persons is fairly long and detailed.

For a long term effect and especially for rejuvenation, a large quantity of garlic has to be used which most people cannot tolerate. The procedure is therefore very gradual where due care is given to indications and contraindications. The plant has to be gathered in a specific manner and it has to be mixed with other drugs before administration. The dosage, the preparation of the patient, the processing of the drug and its administration are all part of a highly complex system which involves the patient and the physician in a protracted process of therapy and aftercare. Rejuvenation therapies likewise are not for everyone. These therapies can be administered only to persons who posses certain qualities that go to make a ‘good’ individual whose conduct and bearing in all respects make him or her an asset to society


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