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      "The ancient Indian Herbal Health care"

Ayurveda is a branch or Upaveda of Atharva Veda which deals with the curing of diseases and suggests remedies to enhance and increase ones lifespan. It is the oldest known existing health care system and is a great heritage of India. The importance attached to a good healthy living can be judged from the fact that - the four principle texts of Ancient India are called Vedas and all other branches of learning are called either Shastras or Vidyas, but the branch of learning dealing with health is called Ayurveda.

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 The basics of Ayurveda

The basics of Ayurveda The following are some of the principle theories and practices of Ayurveda. Ayurveda is divided into eight parts. Hence it is also known as Ashtanga ayurveda. These are as follows: Kaya, Bal, Graha, Urdhwanga, Shalya, Daunstra, Jara, Vrushan.

  • Kaya: The part of ayurveda which mainly related with diseases related with body, related with digestion or digestive power.
  • Bala: It is related with the paediatric age group. It is the treatment for the proper growth and diseases of children.
  • Graha: It deals with effects of stars, planets and evil spirits on the body and other mental disorders.
  • Urdhwang: The diseases of upper part of the body above the neck. This part is also known as Shalakyatantra. In this part, disorders of ear, nose, throat, eyes, and oral cavity are considered.
  • Shalya: This is surgical branch of Ayurveda which is well developed by Sushrut, who is considered as the Father of surgery in ayurveda .
  • Daunstra: It is related to the sting induced or where animal bites, poisoning and its treatment is considered.
  • Jara: It is the branch related to geriatrics. It deals with treatment to avoid old age and rejuvenate the body.
  • Vrushya: It is the branch related with healthy sex life and treatment related to complaints about sexual health, infertility etc.
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At the time of conception, the particular dosha dominating is the prakruti of that individual. According to individual�s prakruti, the person is prone to certain types of disease. To cure those disorders, some hints related to day to day life "dinacharya" and seasonal behavior "Rutucharya"are described in ayurveda.

 Panch Mahabhoot Siddhanta: The whole body is considered to be made up of five basic elements such as Prithvi (Earth), Aap (Water), Teja(Fire), Vayu (Air) and Aakash (Cosmos). These five elements constitute the body, which in turn is supported by three factors � Doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha), dhatus (Rasa, Rakta, Mansa, Meda, Asthi, Majja and Shukra) and Mala (Purisha, Mutra, and sweda) . these factors are having equilibrium in a healthy condition. When there is disturbance in dosha-dhatu-mala equilibrium, the individual suffers from disease. Hence they should be treated accordingly. The treatment part includes Shodhan and Shaman. In Shodhan, the doshas are expelled out of the body with the help of panchakarmas and in Shaman, doshas are suppressed in the body with the help of medication. Shodhan includes five ways of cleansing named as
Pancha karma. It includes;

  • Vaman: emesis,
  • Virechan: purgation, Nasya:
  • medicine administered through nostrils.
  •  Raktamokshan: letting out blood,
  •  Basti: medicated enema administered through anus.

Prakruti can also be described as The Unique Genetic Code of an Individual:
Just like two fingerprints or two voice modulation or two genetic codes can never be the same, the Prakruti of two individuals can never be the same. Though two persons are having same food, following same lifestyle, their diseases cannot be treated with the same medication since their prakrutis are different and they need to be treated according to their prakrutis. Ayurveda uses a system of historical analysis and physical examination done almost entirely by observation (with the exception of pulse reading), to ascertain one's original nature and current imbalances.
A diet and health plan are given to the individual according to the needs to correct the imbalance. The basis for all other concepts in Ayurveda is Sankhya (the analytical study of the elements that comprise the universe). Although the modern physicist would delineate well over one hundred elements, Sankhya states there are twenty-four, of which five are the foundation of the gross world: Earth, Water, Fire, Air and cosmos. These five elements, when joined in different combinations, make up the three "doshas" or "biological modes" which are the "Prakruti" or nature of an individual and the nature of all things.

The combination of air and cosmos constitutes Vata or the Kinetic Biological Mode. Vata is that which is electric in the body and causes all movement in and out of the system (breathing, urination, defecation, menstruation, etc.) The combination of fire and water constitute Pitta or the Transformative Biological Mode. Pitta is that which mutates or transforms the outside elements of the macrocosm into the inside elements of the body (the microcosm). Pitta governs the digestion of physical, mental, and emotional elements.

Finally, the combination of earth and water constitutes Kapha or the Structive Biological mode. Kapha is that which makes for both lubrication (mucus, synovial fluid) and structure (bones, muscles, fat, joints, etc). Generally speaking most people are a combination of two modes. One is the primary and the other is the secondary. But there are those who are purely dominated by one mode, and in rare cases, those who are a mixture of all three. This elemental theory broken down into divisions of modes identifies not only body types for humans, but also for animals, vegetables, plants, herbs, geographical locations, times of day, seasons of the years, and activities performed. Everything in the universe is categorized by this system. Ascertaining one's Prakruti (nature of constitution) and imbalances is the service rendered by the Ayurvedic analysis using the processes stated earlier. Then the Ayurvedic practitioner constructs a diet and recommends herbs which would be helpful to regain balance with one's original nature.

In Ayurveda different people with the same disease sometimes receive different diet and medication plans. The constitution, the imbalance, and the various nuances of the development of the disease in each individual must be studied to determine the nature of the imbalance whether Vata, Pitta, or Kapha for that disease. Unfortunately people will give up trying holistic health practices because good food was given to the wrong person. The secret of understanding the dynamics of food and which food is for whom is in the taste, therefore, the appropriate tastes with their elements will correct the imbalance of elements in one's constitution if taken correctly.

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The proof is in the tasting
There are six tastes according to Ayurveda: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Bitter, and Astringent. Each is comprised of two elements: Sweet (earth and water) examples: wheat, sugar, milk, rice, dates; Sour (earth and fire) examples: yogurt, lemon, tamarind; Salty (water and fire) examples: sea salt, rock salt, etc.; Pungent (fire and air) examples: onion, radish, ginger, chilly; Bitter (air and cosmos) examples: Neem, bitter gourd; Astringent (air and earth) examples: beetle nut, Alum;

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There are two other considerations in Ayurveda. First, whether a foods action is heating or cooling. The taste sweet, bitter, and astringent are cooling. Sour, salty, and pungent are all heating. The second is the post-digestive effect or how the foods "taste" to the tissues during and after assimilation. Sweet and salty are sweet in post-digestive effect. Sour is sour, and pungent, bitter, and astringent are pungent.
Taste, action, and post-digestive effect are known is Sanskrit as rasa, virya, and vipaka respectively in Ayurveda. They are the keys to understanding food and herbs. With this knowledge, one can unlock the mysteries of the energetic dynamics of food and be able to make the right choices for oneself.

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Raw Foods According To Ayurveda:
Raw foods and juices are magnificent in that they are cleansing and energizing. Sprouts are especially wonderful because they contain large amounts of enzymes and nourishment which help with digestion and assimilation of nutrients. Some of the spicier sprouts help to destroy and eliminate toxins in the system known as ama in Ayurveda.
Fenugreek sprouts can even help in cases of seminal debility. But in general, raw food is very cold and hard to digest in the Vedic sense as it releases its Prana or nourishing life giving energy in the upper portion of the body between the mouth and the stomach. This gives quick, short-term energy, but not long-term tissue building nourishment. This is good for pittas, and some raw foods are good for kaphas, but this is not very good for vatas.

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Cooking Foods According to Ayurveda
Well cooked grains, beans, and vegetables release their Prana in the colon. This provides long-term tissue building energy. However, these energies cannot be released from complex carbohydrates without the assistance of enzymes. A Clean intestinal tract is also essential for proper absorption. This coincides with two of the modern holistic health theories of colon cleansing and enzyme consumption. But the Ayurvedic approach again is practical and individualized. Which herbs for which constitution will produce the best colon cleansing varies. Therefore, some people find some of the standard colon cleansing products ineffectual or difficult for their bodies to tolerate. Triphala ("the three fruits"), used in Ayurveda, is one of the best colon cleansers because it strengthens and tones the muscle action of the colon. It does not cause laxative dependency by doing the work for the colon. Similarly, the consumption of enzyme tablets will cause the digestive organs� natural ability to produce enzymes for digestion to become suppressed and lazy and possibly lose their ability to function all together. Ayurvedic cooking uses certain herbs and spices to help stimulate the body to produce its own digestive enzymes.

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