Ayurveda is the ancient medical system of India. It has been practiced for thousands of years. Today the western world is turning to Ayurveda.
Three Humors of Ayurveda
Ayurveda is an Indian medical system that has been practiced for more than two thousand years. Although by the intervention of western influence the people on the Indian subcontinent sought allopathy and other medical systems from the west, the importance and uniqueness of Ayurveda cannot be underestimated.
The basic philosophy of Ayurveda
We come to know about our world through our five senses, seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting. Each one of these senses grasps one quality (guna). Each guna or quality has its matter (dhravya) which, however, cannot exist independently. As our body has five senses, there have to be five basic elements. These five primary aspects of the matter are called five boothas (Panchaboothas). They are the five elements of nature: earth, water, fire, air, and ether or atmosphere. These five ‘ boothas’ combine in various proportions to form various objects that are found in the universe. Since all these material objects can be seen, heard, smelt, touched, and tasted, they are said to be composed of these five primary aspects of materials (boothas). As it was said above, because of the variations of qualities in combinations, we find the different materials. In some objects, some qualities may be latent. For example, silver cannot be smelt or tasted. But all the properties ascribed to the ‘boothas’ are present in the silver when it is processed and used. That is why we say that all objects or materials are composed of these panchaboothas.
What are doshas?
The basic concept of Ayurveda is not disease and treatment. It is the rectification of the body and circumstances of the improper function. The word ‘dosha’ has two meanings: the condition which promotes proper functioning under proper conditions of life and the other one the condition which pollutes the tissues when the living conditions are not proper. In a proper lifestyle, the working of these ‘doshas’ determines health. When the conditions of life are not conducive the effect of ‘doshas’ also changes. As a result, the imbalance of the system causes disease. In disease, the symptoms indicate the unpleasantness and pain that the body experiences. In health, we do not even feel our breathing nor are we aware of our body.
Three doshas of Ayurveda
Ayurveda is based on the treatment of three ‘doshas’ (three substances or humors). They are Vadha (promotion), Pitha (digestion), and Kapha (nourishment). They control all the functions of our life.
Vadha represents air. The elements ether and air are predominant in vadha. It affects coordination and control of both metabolism and anabolism. It stands for the regulation of energy and regulates building up processes and transformations in the body.
Vadha is a powerful dosha due to its mobility. Other doshas do not move about actively. They are transported by vadha. Hence it is considered the leader of the three doshas. It is easily prone to denaturing and so the majority of diseases are caused by vadha.
Vadha people are usually lean with cold hands and legs. They hate cold climates. They eat fast and feel sleepier. Constipation becomes one of their problems.
Pitha represents the sun. Fire is predominant in pitha. It affects catabolism and stands for its expenditure of energy. Pitha is the causative factor for the transformation of energy. Pitha is hot and sharp. It has a foul smell which can be understood in exudations and excretions polluted by deranged pitha. It also imparts an offensive odor to the body, especially through sweat.
Pitha is responsible for digestion. It produces thirst, hunger, and appetite. It is also responsible for generating the body temperature. It enables visual perception. It provides complexion and shining to the skin.
The pitha people are usually acute brain and medium built-up bodies. They are regular in their food habits.
Kapha represents the moon and also water. It stands for the conservation of energy. It is the builder of the body and is anabolic. It is gross and stable and all the structural material of the living body is the product of Kapha. It is responsible for the growth, repair, and nutrition of the body.
Kapha people are usually dull and slow. They have sleepy nature. Obesity and laziness are their problems.
It is very important to note that none of these doshas is diametrically opposite to any other dosha. They are complimentary, contributory, and at the same time antagonistic to some extent. The relationship among these doshas must generate a normal equilibrium for an optimized function.