¤ Age-Old Science of Medicines
‘Harmony is health’, is what Ayurveda preaches. This is India’s age-old science of medicine which illumined many, like the early Greeks and Arabs who were so awed that they went ahead and borrowed from it.
According to World Health Organization, Health is not only physical well being or absence of disease, it is rather physical and metal well being. And Ayurveda deals with mental, physical and social well being of an individual; making it different from other form of medicinal therapies. Derived from the Sanskrit word, Ayurveda is divided into two words - 'Ayur' which means life and Veda - which means knowledge.
Ayurveda in India was at its glorious best in the age of rishis (Hindu ascetics) and rajas (kings). Our ancient masters and physicians knew exactly how to be hale and hearty till a ripe age, which would be nothing less than a century! Traces of the science have filtered down the centuries, and are being revived in a big way these days. But most people tend to think of Ayurveda as an alternative system of medicine, which it is not. It is a way of life.
We tend to ignore that the human body does react to nature’s ever-changing moods and that human life is but only a link in the great web of Life. Medication today has been reduced to curative or system-regulating medicines; preventive medicine has hardly made much progress except for a handful of vaccines. Ayurveda or ‘the knowledge of life’ will tell you that there’s much more to ‘medication’ than that. Ayurveda is based on sound observational concepts which have stood the test of time for thousands of years.
¤ Ayurveda - An Extension of Atharva
Ayurveda in India is an extension of the Atharva Veda one of the early Vedic compositions dealing with science, art and philosophy. Charaka’s (the grand old man of medicine) treatise is the oldest known ayurvedic text. It is a holistic science, looking at all things which make for a bouncy life, where life means the body, mind and spirit.
The starting point of Ayurveda in India is the theory of the three doshas (humours) – vata (wind), pitta (bile) and kapha (phlegm). From this evolves the concept of the doshas (controlling forces) which act on the dhatus (tissues), giving rise to the various malas (metabolic products or wastes).
The character of these are governed by what we eat, when we eat, how we live and in which environment, and our mental state, of course. and so, even a slight change in any of these can make us ‘unwell’, not necessarily diseased. As an extension, if we remain unwell for too long our tissues can lose their strength and become susceptible to diseases.
¤ Treatment Based On Herbs and Minerals
In case of an illness, Ayurveda has remedies based on herbs, minerals and other therapeutic procedures like yoga (path to self realization) and panchakarma.
The panchakarma are the five internal cleansing procedures – vamana (vomiting), virechana (purgation), vasti (enema), nasya (application of herbal preparations through the nostrils), and rakta moksha (therapeutic release of toxic blood). But the vaid (Ayurvedic doctor) will not suggest the same remedy for everyone.
Ayurveda in India recognizes each individual as genetically different from the other, of a very specific prakriti (constitution) and with a very individual way of interacting with the environment. The science also gives the framework in which we can modify our lifestyles to optimize our bodily functions, in what is described as ritucharya (seasonal behaviour) and dinacharya (daily behaviour). A healthy diet and digestion are important factors here.
Ayurveda in India has eight branches – Internal Medicine, Paediatrics and Gynaecology, Surgery, ENT (ear, nose and throat), Toxicology, Rejuvination, Study of Sexual Function and Reproduction and Psychiatry. The basic understanding of this whole systematic body of knowledge is restoring ‘life’ to the body.
Given the steady environmental changes (read slow disasters), lifestyle and stresses of the present day, the need of the hour is to eliminate the gap between modern medicine and other systems such as Ayurveda. Because, true to its name, Ayurveda is the means to vitality in a fast paced world.
¤ Ayurveda & its therapies.
This therapy is a traditional way of detoxification. The therapy dates hundred of years back. Panchkarma is a good way of cleansing and servicing your body. The therapy is specially advantageous as it helps in preventing disease which occurs due to the accumulation of doshas or toxins.
Pizhichil is a treatment which involves application of luke warm herbal oils in the body. The treatment is quite benefecial for Rheumatic diseases like Arthiritis, Parlysis, Hemiplegia, Paralysis-Agitanus, Sexual Weakness, Nervous Wakness and Nervous disorders etc. Pizhichil is one of the special massages for rejuvenating the whole body. The prescribed oil is first applied on the head. Then the whole body is smeared with this medicated oil. This requires a specific posture and bench; the person is made to lie on a droni (a wooden bed specially designed for the purpose). Then pieces of linen dipped in warm medicated oil is squeezed over on to the patient’s body while massaging the body with the hand all the time.
The massage is very slow and light without exerting much pressure. Apart from being a lavish treatment, it also protects from illnesses by building immunity for a bouncy life. and that’s not all; Pizhichil is also a panacea for rheumatic diseases, blood pressure, pain in the joints and diabetes.
In this method, the entire body is made to perspire by the application of certain medical pudding. The medical puddings are used externally in the form of blouses and are tied up in a muslin bag.
In this therapy, highly medicated oil is poured as an even stream on the forehead continuously to make effect on central nervous system. Sirodhra will help you to tune up the brain and will also increase your memory. The method is a good way of preventing and curing diseases like paralysis, senile dementia and other neurological ailments.
¤ The Kerala School of Ayurveda
While Ayurveda barely managed to keep its head above water in most of India, it thrived in robust health down in Kerala. It is primarily because of two reasons:
1) Kerala boasts two monsoons in a year (May-June and August-September), and provides an ideal climate for the treatments it has preserved so well.
2) Kerala is also the land of Vagbhatta, the last and well-known students of Charaka (the grand old man of medicine), who is supposed to have taught his chosen 18 students here. The descendants of three or four of these students practice the science till today.
You will be pleasantly surprised at the unique ‘treatment’ the Kerala School offers. A heavenly oil massage called snehana is given. In fact, feudal lords in Kkkerelaare known to have indulged in it to keep themselves fighting fit. The oils are ayurvedic and work wonders for the entire body functioning.
The oils are formulated as per the body constitution, age, symptoms of ailment and the prevalent climatic condition. This is what sets apart Ayurveda from other medical sciences: in recognizing each person’s unique make up. As such there are more than 1500 formulations of medicated oils for the treatment of various ailments.
Imagine going for a weight-losing programme with just herbal oil massages and Ayurvedic medicines and no exercises or even dieting! This kind of treatment is especially effective for arthritis, spondylitis, paralysis, obesity, sinusitis, migraine, hysteria, premature aging and other psychosomatic ailments.
¤ Ayurvedic centres
Kottakkal Arya Vaidyasala at Kottakkal, Malappuram.
Kairali Ayurvedic Health Resort at Palakkad.
Surya Ayurvedics Ltd. at Kanjany, Thrissur.
Somatheeram Ayurvedic Beach Resort at Kovalam, Thiruvananthapuram.
Ideal Ayurvedic Center at Chowara Kovalam, Thiruvananthapuram.
Ayushya Ayurvedic Center at Kovalam, Thiruvananthapuram.