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 Post subject: Ayurveda - the Science of Healing
 Post Posted: Tue Apr 26, 2005 3:15 am 
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Ayurveda - the Science of Healing

Passed down through time, this ancient science of healing focuses on the connection between the body and the mind. Using natural cures, Ayurveda maintains the body in a balanced state of health.

Ayurveda translates into English as the Science of Life (Ayur - life, veda - science). Considered to be the oldest healing science in the world, this ancient medicine is practiced extensively in Sri Lanka and India. This curative art was passed down from time immemorial through an oral tradition, through old masters to their disciples.

Ayurveda is a holistic system of curative and preventive medicine, focusing on the prevention of disease through a deeper connection between the mind and the body. It concentrates on a state of total health based on vigour, energy and balance. The concept of balance is important in Ayurveda - the balance of body, mind and consciousness based on each person's individual constitution.

Ayurvedic Concepts

According to Ayurveda the human body is composed of five elements known as the Panchamahabhuta (Pancha - five, Maha - great, Bhuta - elements). These five elements are apo (water), theejo (fire) vayo (air) patavi (earth) and akasa (space or ether).

The Ayurvedic concept of creation focuses on four interrelated factors. These are Body, Mind, Consciousness (or Soul) and the Panchamahabhuta (or five elements). These four elements blend into three bio-energetic forces that govern the health and determine the physical constitution of living beings. They are called Va (or Vata - air and space), Pith (or Pitta - fire and water) and Sem (or Kapha - water and earth).

Ayurveda refers to three other forces, which control mental and spiritual functions. They are Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Mental disturbances are caused by imbalances of these three properties, in the same way that the five elements influence the body.

Individual Constitution

The three bio-energetic forces Vata, Pitta and Kapha are present in every human being. Vata is considered to be the energy of movement. Pitta the energy of digestion and Kapha is the energy of lubrication and structure. Although all three forces are found in the human body one is usually prominent.

Vata

People with Vata dosha tend to be thin, light and quick in their thoughts and actions. Change is an important aspect of their lives. When Vata is balanced they are creative, flexible, enthusiastic and lively. However, if Vata becomes excessive, we may develop anxiety, insomnia, or irregular digestion.

Pitta

People with Pitta dosha are vivacious, smart and determined. If Pitta is balanced they tend to be warm, understanding and intelligent. Excessive Pitta can however, create irritability, jealousy and aggressiveness.

Kapha

Those with Kapha dosha tend to be leisurely and stable. When balanced, Kapha creates calmness, sweetness and loyalty. When excessive, Kapha can result in greed and attachment.

Herbal medicaments are an amalgamation of various herbs prepared to time tested pharmaceutical procedures recommended by Ayurveda. The curative properties of these herbs have been identified and catalogued by the ancient Rishis (hermits). They are meant to maintain or regain equilibrium of body functions based on the physical and psychic forces mentioned in Ayurvedic Concepts. No synthetic chemicals are used in the preparation of Ayurvedic formulations.

Some popular Ayurvedic formulations are given below.

Svarasa: The juice of herbs with or without water/sugar.
Kalka: Paste prepared by grinding medicinal plant materials.
Kasaya: A decoction. Herbal materials such as bark, roots, leaves, fruits and flowers are cut, sliced or powdered coarsely and one part of the amalgamation is boiled in four, eight or sixteen parts of water (usually cups) and reduced to a quarter.
Churna: Medicinal plant materials in powder form.
Guli: Tablets or pills prepared singly or in combination.
Asava: Preparation in which herbal drugs are soaked in liquids (mainly water) fermented and filtered. Sometimes natural alcohol obtained from herbs is added to expedite fermentation and efficacy.
Arishta: An Elixir, a Rasayana preparation similar to Asava. Various decoctions are used and fermented for retaining efficacy over a long period of time.
Leha: This is a semi-solid preparation; sugar or jaggery is used as a medium.
Thaila: Ayurveda medicinal oils; special procedures are followed in the preparation of these oils.
Grita: Similar to the medicinal oils but the herbs are boiled in ghee.
Lepa: A type of medicinal paste used for external application.
Bhasa Calcified preparations in which herbal extracts are subjected to intense heat.
Peyawa: These are concentrations of decoctions preserved with the help of sugar, jaggery or herbal alcohol.


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