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Cause and treatment of diseases
Understanding our individual constitution and adopting a corresponding diet & lifestyle 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 the 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, coated tongue of an individual is suggestive of Indigestion. 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. Following these three principles, a brief examination of the patient proceeds in three stages: visual observation or darshana, touch or sparshana, interrogation or prashna. Another tool of diagnosis in Ayurveda involves the eight-fold method of examination or ashtasthana pariksha which has the following steps:
- Examination of the pulse or nadi pariksha: Pulse examination is carried out with the help of radial artery. The index, middle and ring fingers of the right hand are used in pulse examination. The index figure is placed about the width of the patient’s wrist below root of the thumb, the other two fingers are placed next to the index.Certain rules have to be observed in pulse examination.
- The examination should be carried out preferably in the morning after ablutions, on an empty stomach. The pulse should not be examined immediately after a bath, or oil massage, nor when the patient is hungry or thirsty. The examination can also be carried out in the afternoon only if the patient has not eaten for three hours.
- The pulse on the right hand of men and the left hand of women must be examined.
- The doctor has to have total concentration.
- The examination of the pulse is at least repeated three times. Each time the pulse is gently and evenly pressed, then the pressure is released. It is important that tho doctor feels the pulse of the patient and not the capillaries of his own fingers.
- The pressure of the examining fingers has to be uniform.
The state of vayu is indicated by the pulse felt with the index finger. The state is pitta is indicated by the pulse felt with the middle finger. The state of kapha is indicated by the pulse felt with the ring finger. The physician should wash his hands each time he has examined a pulse, so that the energies are not transmitted. If all three doshas are aggravated (the state of sannipata), the pulse movement resembles that of a woodpecker. A healthy person’s pulse is slow steady and regular. A regular pulse beat of thirty times always indicates good prognosis. While examining the pulse some other factors must also be taken into consideration: vayu content in the body increases in the old stage, in the late afternoon, late at night, two hours after eating, during summer or in the beginning of the rainy season. Pitta content goes up during youth and middle age, at noon, at midnight, while digesting food and in autumn and the amount of kapha is more in the morning, in the evening, immediately after eating and in spring. Children have more kapha in their bodies. During pregnancy, which is a bi-cardiac stage, there is a kind of a double pulse.
- Examination of physical features: Vayu-dominated patients normally have a rather dry and cracked skin and dry hair. They do not like cold things. Pitta-dominated patients are frequently thirsty and hungry. Their skin is hot to touch and often yellowish. The palms and soles are frequently coppery in colour. They have somewhat less hair. Kapha-dominated patients have compact joints, bones and muscles. They are never excessively thirsty or hungry.
- Examination of the eyes: In case of vayu diseases, the patient will complain of a burning sensation in the eyes. The eyes will also be dry and smoky. Pitta type of diseases will manifest in a yellowish tinge in the whites of the eyes, an aversion to light and a burning sensation. Unctuous and dull eyes and kapha predominance.
- Examination of the tongue: Vayu aggravation is indicated when the tongue is cold, rough and cracked. A red or bluish tinge indicates pitta aggravation. And a white and slimy tongue indicates kapha aggravation. The tongue is dark with eruptions when all the doshas are aggravated.
- Examination of the skin: A cold skin indicates vayu aggravation. When the skin is hot to touch, pitta is aggravated and a moist and wet skin indicates kapha aggravation.
- Examination if nails: Cracked and dry nails indicate vayu aggravation, while red or yellowish nails indicate pitta aggravation.
- Urine examination
- Stool examination
Applying these methods of examination, an experienced physician is able to comprehend a general impression about the patient’s individual constitution and which dosha or combination of doshas is affected. The treatment can thus be broadly identified.
Ayurveda looks for food and drugs as having similar effects on the human body. Food and drugs are composed of the same five elements that are found in nature. Therefore, the components of both can be categorized to these five elements. Thus, even if these drugs are continued after the body has regained its normal state, they can provide immunity against disease by strengthening the system in much the same way as a tonic does. Symptomatic treatment is almost alien to Ayurvedic medicine. The primary aim of treatment is to break the process of pathogenesis. It is only when the symptoms become excessively painful that the Ayurvedic physician resorts to symptomatic treatment. Chronic disease, ailments of the mind and the body will naturally involve a lengthy process of therapy accompanied by a fairly strict adherence to diet and regimen. Recovery will necessarily be a slow and gradual process. As we have already emphasized, even before the diagnosis is formed and the treatment of a patient is begun, it is essential to identify the patient’s individual constitution. Ayurveda advocates a bifid approach to the treatment of a disease.
- Shodhana-In Shodhana the excessive doshas accumulated in the body are thrown out by cleansing or Panchkarma.
- Shamana-In Shamana the dosha imbalance is corrected by digesting the accumulated vitiated dosha. It is usually done in mild vitiation of Doshas or after shodhana so as to stop the recurrence of disease.
During and after Shamana the patient is kept on a specific diet so as to stop the recurrence of imbalance of Doshas. The Ayurvedic physician, in prescribing a therapy, examines both the patient and the disease carefully. The selection of medicines depends upon several factors. Doshas: These may get diminished or aggravated in quantity. Seasonal changes, the constitution of the individual and the tissue elements affected by the disease also influence variation in the doshas. The nature of the drugs: The drug prescribed may vary in its effect due to the age, feature and the combination of constituent herbs. Drugs also vary in their effectiveness by virtue of their qualities: taste, potency, post-digestive effect and the specific the drug provokes. Time: Treatment may vary according to changes in seasons, the time of day and night, or the duration of the disease. Strength: The patient’s strength or general resistance to disease is a factor which influences the selection of the treatment. Body structure: The patients body may be fat, lean, porous loose-limbed or compact. The condition of the vital organs may differ too. Diet: The kind of food the patient eats may affect the selection of the drug. The way the food is prepared, the quantity which the patient eats are important factors in choosing a drug. Mental state: The patient’s mind may be affected with grief, fear or happiness. This would influence the choice of medicine. Age: Different stages of life such as infancy, youth, old age may also cause variations in the treatment selected. Depending on the kind of disease, Ayurveda offers therapies, which are of six types:
- Lightening therapy or Langhana.
- Nourishing therapy or Brimhana.
- Oleation therapy or Snehana.
- Fomentation therapy or Svedana.
- Drying therapy or Rukshana.
- Astringent therapy or Stambhana.
Lightening therapy can include the administration of six types of elimination therapies such as emesis, purgation, enema and inhalation; control of thirst; exposure to wind and sun; intake of drugs that stimulate digestion; fasting and physical exercise. These are specialized therapies where herbal decoctions and medicated oils are utilized. Elimination therapies can be judiciously used in the case of patients who tend to be corpulent and who suffer from diseases which are caused by aggravated kapha, pitta and vata and affect the blood and excreta. Drugs that promote digestion are useful in treating diseases such as vomiting, nausea and anorexia, diarrhoea, heart diseases, cholera, intestinal disorders, fever, constipation, belching, heaviness of the body caused by a vitiation of kapha and pitta. Fasting and control of thirst will take care of the same diseases in less effective ways. Such diseases which are mild or moderate in strong individuals can be administered during winter (November to February) to patients suffering from skin diseases, obstinate urinary disorders and those who possess a corpulent body together with unctuousness and fluidity. It can also be prescribed for those who suffer from diseases of vitiated vata. Nourishing therapy can be used effectively for those suffering from emaciation, phthisis, weakness, old age, exertion from long tours and habitual indulgence in sex and alcohol. Such persons are in greater need of this therapy during summer. The kind of nourishing food prescribed for this therapy consists of fresh meat of young animals, fish and bird which have been nurtured on natural feed and slaughtered accordingly. Patients afflicted with the piles, sprue or consumptions are recommended soups of meat-eating birds and animals, rendered light for easy digestion. Unction, sleep, enema with sweet-tasting drugs, sugar, milk and ghee constitute universal nourishing devices. Oleation therapy uses ghee, oil, muscle fat and bone marrow. This therapy is usually done in three ways: oral administration, administration through the anus with a syringe and massage. The simplest way is to drink hot sweetened milk with one or two teaspoonfuls of ghee before going to bed. Ghee is the best because of its power to effectively assimilate the properties of drugs boiled in it. Ghee alleviates pitta and vata and is conductive to blood and semen. It has a cooling effect in the body. It also has a softening effect and adds to the clarity of the voice and the complexion. Oil alleviates vata but does not aggravate kapha. It promotes bodily strength and is beneficial for the skin. It is a hot substance, also a stabiliser and it controls the morbidity of the female genital organs. Muscle fat is prescribed for the treatment of injury, fracture, trauma, prolapse of the uterus, earache and headache. It enhances the virility of a person. It is also useful for those who do physical exercise. Bone marrow enhances strength, semen, kapha, fat and the marrow. It adds to the physical strength of the individual, especially of the bones. Ghee should be taken in autumn, muscle fat and bone marrow in the months of April and May and oil during the rainy season. One should not take any of the unctuous substances when it is either hot or cold. Fomentation therapy is of thirteen kinds in Ayurveda. This therapy induces perspiration thereby eliminating toxins from the skin. The simplest way to perspire is to wrap oneself in a towel after a hot bath and lie covered till the body stops perspiring. Other methods are to apply external heat like a hot water bottle, hot sand bags and heated onesp>. Fomentation is used to cure coryza, cough, hiccups, dyspnoea, heaviness of the body, pain in the ears, neck and head, hoarseness of voice, spasmodic obstruction in the throat, paralysis of the face, limbs, the whole body or part of it. It can also help when there is distention of the abdomen; constipation and suppression of urine; stiffness of back waist sides and abdomen; sciatica; dysuria; enlargement of the scrotum; pain and stiffness feet, knee, calf; oedema; neuralgia of the upper and lower extremities; diseases due to impaired digestion and metabolism. Drying therapy involves the intake of pungent, bitter and astringent substances like cakes made of mustard and sesame as also honey. Sexual indulgence is prescribed. This therapy is recommended for patients suffering from diseases where the channels of circulation are obstructed and there is an excessive dominance of the aggravated dosha which is manifested in the vital organs of the body through spasticity of the thighs, gout and severe urinary disorders. Astringent therapy is a therapy which reduces or prevents excessive physiological secretions. It can be applied in case of uncontrolled watering of eyes, excessive secretion of ear-wax, profuse menstrual flow and diarrhoea. Ayurveda considers substances like spinach and dates (astringents) which decrease pitta and kapha but increase vata.[/ig_text][ig_woo_codes el_title=”Panchkarma Healing Packages” woo_code_type=”product_category” cols_qty=”3″ orderby=”date” order=”ASC” items_number=”30″ product_cat=”services” product_cat_ids=”54″ use_slider=”no” lazyload=”no” disabled_el=”no” ][/ig_woo_codes][/ig_column][/ig_row]