Ayurveda is a holistic system of healing which evolved among the Brahmin sages of ancient India some 3000-5000 years ago. There are several aspects of this system of medicine which distinguishes it from other approaches to health care.
Everything in the universe is made up of combinations of five elenents (panchamahaabhutas). This includes the human being which also acquires a soul or spirit. These five elements are known as:
These 5 subtle elements (Panchamahaabhutas) form the basis for all things found in the material creation, from a grain of sand to the complex physiology of every human being. Balancing these elements in just the right way for each unique individual is the key to maintaining health and treating disease.
Five elements are coded into 3 biological forces which govern all life processes. These 3 forces are known as the 3 doshas, or simply the tridosha. The tridosha regulates every physiological and psychological process in the living organism. The interplay among them determines the qualities and conditions of the individual. A harmonious state of the 3 doshas creates balance and health; an imbalance, which might be an excess (vrddhi) or deficiency (kshaya), manifests as a sign or symptom of disease. The Tridoshas are:
Each of the 3 doshas is composed of 2 elements as shown here:
Vata dosha has the mobility quickness of aakaasha and vaayu; Pitta dosha the metabolic qualities of fire and water; Kapha dosha the stability and solidity of water and earth. This alerts us to the fact that when in balance, these force are life-supporting but when imbalanced they are the agents of disease and misery.
"Vikarodhatuvaishamyam dhatusatmyam arogatha"
Doshas are of 2 varieties: Shaareerika (bodily) and Maanasika (psychological, of the mind). Shaareerika doshas are Vaata, Pitta and Kapha. They are what we mean when we use the term "tridosha". Generally, they are intimately connected to physical activities. The maanasika doshas are Satva, Rajas and Tamas. These are often referred to as the 3 gunas, or qualities of the mind. Maanasika doshas have reference only to the mind and mental activities.
An intimate inter-relationship exists between these two types of doshas. In fact, according to charaka, derangements in one arena is always accompanied by changes in the other (Charaka samhita, sarirasthana 4, 35-36).
However, greater importance is attributed to the tridosha (vata, pitta & kapha) as the primary causative agents of disease. For every individual, each dosha has a unique quantity (pramana), quality (guna), and action (karma) in the physiology. Equilibrium of these 3 attributes with respect to an individual engenders health. When this balance is distributed through indulgence in foods and habits which are similar in nature to a specific dosha, this causes vrddhi - increase - in that dosha; food and habits of a dissimilar nature to that dasha will likewise cause its kshaya - decrease. This is the Ayurvedic doctrine of "like increases like".
"Vrddhi samanyarsarvesham vipareethairviparya:"
The term Vaata comes from the Sanskrit word Vaayu which means "that which move things". Vaata regulates the nervous processes involved with movements, thoughts, emotions, eating, drinking, elimination and our general functioning, its disturbance can often have far-reaching consequences.
The term pitta comes from the Sanskrit word pinj means "to shine". It carries the meaning of "that which digest" and is associated with the idea of being yellow-tinged or bilious. Pitta is often regarded as the "fire" within the body. Think of it as the energy stored in the chemical bonds of all the organic substances which make us up: it's encoded in our hormones, enzymes, organic acids and neurotransmitters. Charaka samhita, teaches that pitta functions in digestion, heat production, providing colour to the blood, vision and skin luster.
The term kapha derives from the Sanskrit word "shlish" which means "that which hold things together; to embrace; coherent". It is the force which provides structure to everything from an individual atom or cell to the sturdy musculoskeletal frame. It gives strength, stability, and endurance - both physical and psychological - and promotes human emotions and capacities.
The dhaathus are the basic varieties of tissues which compose the human body. The word dhaathu comes from a Sanskrit word which means "that which enters into the formation of the body". The root Dha means "support, which means bears". The primary dhaathus are 7 in number. They are:
Rasa dhaatu catalyzed by Rasagni - is transformed into Rakta dathu, the second fundamental bodily tissue. Rakta dhaatu in turn, with the help of Raktagni, becomes Maamsa dhaatu and so on.
As a consequence of foods which we take into our bodies from the external world and the normal biological processes which take place internally, we generate different kinds of waste materials or mala, which must be excreted.
Although these are all waste products, they serve a role in maintaining health as long as they are normal in their pramana, guna and karma. However if the malaas become abnormal in some regard, they become a factor in creating disease. When the dhaatus and malaas become imbalanced, they are called dushyas.
"Samadosha: samagnicha samadhatumalakriya: