Ayurveda is the ancient Indian medical science, the origin of which can be traced back to more than 5000 years. The source of Ayurveda are the vedas, the oldest available classics.
Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word, derived from two roots: ayur, which means life and veda, which mean knowledge. It is fair to say that Ayurveda is the science of life.
Ayurveda is a science dealing not only with treatment of some diseases but is a complete way of life. It is only system of medicine which incorporates suggestions and remedies for both healthy and diseased people. Centuries before the World Health Organization recognized that health is not merely the physical well being and just the absence of disease, ayurveda was dealing with the mental, physical and social well being of an individual.
According to Ayurveda every individual is made up of five elements, namely:
1) Prithvi or earth.
2) Apa or water.
3) Tejas or fire.
4) Vayu or air.
5) Akash or space.
The structural aspect of the body is made up of these five elements, but the functional aspect of the body is governed by three biological humors. Ether and air combine to form what is known in Ayurveda as the Vata dosha. Vata governs the principle of movement and therefore can be seen as the force which directs nerve impulses, circulation, respiration, and elimination. Fire and water combine to form the Pitta dosha. The Pitta dosha governs the process of transformation or metabolism. The digestion of food in our body is an example of Pitta function. Pitta is also responsible for metabolism in the organ and tissue systems as well as cellular metabolism. Finally, the water and earth combine to form the Kapha dosha.
There are seven body types: mono-types (vata, pitta or kapha predominant), dual types (vata-pitta, pitta-kapha or, kapha-vata), and equal types, (vata, pitta and kapha in equal proportions). Every individual has a unique combination of these three doshas. To understand the uniqueness of every individual is the very basis of ayurveda.
Ayurveda classifies human temperaments into three basic qualities: satvic, rajasic and tamasic. Satvic qualities imply purity and clarity of perception which are responsible for goodness and happiness. Rajas is responsible for all movements, and activities. It leads to the life of sensual enjoyment, pleasure and pain, effort and restlessness. Tamas is darkness, inertia, heaviness and materialistic attitudes. There is a constant interplay of these three gunas (qualities) in the individual consciousness, but the relative predominance of either satva, rajas, or tamas is responsible for individual psychological constitution.
According to Ayurveda, health is a state of balance between the body, mind and consciousness. Within the body, Ayurveda recognizes the three doshas( bodily humors) vata, pitta and kapha; seven dhatus(tissues), blood, plasma, fat, muscle, bone, nerve, and reproductive; three malas(wastes), feces, urine and sweat; and agni, the energy of metabolism. Disease is a condition of disharmony in any of these factors. The root cause of imbalance, or disease, is an aggravation of dosha, vata-pitta-kapha.
Ayurveda is the system of medicine incorporating centuries of wisdom in it. The emphasis here is on ways to promote health rather than just treat disease. The beauty of the system is that every individual is unique rather than being just another case of particular disease. It is one of the few systems of medicine taking mental, emotional and spiritual well being into account. All the suggestions and remedies prescribed are totally in conjunction with nature.