Any medical science gets recognition by the methods of treatment and their effectiveness. All the principles of a medical system strive towards making the treatment as its hallmark. The hallmark of Ayurveda is its versatile therapy without any side effects.
Ayurveda is popular for treating the disease from its root cause, and the root of most disorders is believed to be our inopportune actions. Like a withering tree can’t be treated just by trimming its leaves but only by uprooting it, Ayurveda also eradicates the cause and treats disease.
It is said that a physician cannot treat the patient because so long as the cause of the disease is not prevented, the disease cannot be alleviated. Therefore the Ayurvedic principle of treatment is to check the cause of the disease.
It is to be noted that Ayurveda gives equal importance to the maintenance of health by prevention of ailments and cure.
Ayurveda treatment principle
Treatment in Ayurveda is called as ‘Cikitsa’ which is derived from the root ‘kit’ meaning to remove diseases. Ayurveda defines Cikitsa as the efforts of physician, medication, attendant, and patient for the revival of the balanced dosha from its disturbed state.
Treatment in Ayurveda has a deeper meaning. It not only means relief from disease but to bring the individual to his reasonable condition. It is said to be useful when the patient is relieved from stress and strain.
Aim of Ayurvedic treatment is to achieve Dhatu-Samya (homeostasis). For this, Ayurveda mentions keeping away from the causing agents as the first line of treatment. The other measures do not only include medicines but also normal things like diet, daily routine, healthy atmosphere.
In Ayurveda treatment is dosha-centered therefore everything ranging from medicines to diet to physical & mental activities is categorized based on their palliative and aggravating actions on Tridoshas, e.g., oiling therapy decreases Vata so, said to be Vatahar while Neem is Pittahar as it pacifies Pitta Dosha.
Unlike fixed treatment methodology of modern medicine, the dosha based treatment of Ayurveda depends on many factors for which treatment is initiated only after ensuring certain factors and treatment is discontinued after assessing particular features of the patient.
But what exactly are the treatment modalities of Ayurveda, and which factors are involved in it?
Kriyakala – The right time for treatment
Every process occurs in small steps, and thus every minor dysfunction takes up a full-fledged form after passing through certain stages. These stages are known as Kriyakala.
Kriyakala is the right time for the treatment before the disease appears in a full-blown form. These stages are six in number and are a golden chance to stop the disease in its budding phase itself
Each step as per disease severity can be managed with different conventions of treatment.
- Sancaya – a collection of spoiled dosha
- Prakopa – other doshas get aggravated
- Prasara – the spread of dosha
- Sthana sansraya – localization of dosha in organ
- Vyakti – the appearance of the matured disease
- Bheda – complications arise, and the condition worsens
The first three stages are the best opportunity to stop the disease from growing, just with a little change in diet and lifestyle. But the next two stages require early diagnosis and specific treatment while the treatment in the last step can only save us from permanent disability & complication and disease becomes difficult to treat.
Therefore we should always be aware of the mild changes happening in our body. These little discomforts could be the warning sign of the severe oncoming illness.
Which factors decide your treatment?
Ayurveda is a personalized medical system and has a different treatment protocol for all. As two people are not equal in all respects, the treatment also cannot be the same for them. Knowing the body constitution of person brings accuracy in diagnosis, treatment, and assessment of results.
The signs of perfect health in every person varies and also the symptoms of imbalanced dosha. Thus, the physician has to recognize the severity of disease and start treatment as per the Prakriti.
There are several other factors which vary from person to person, and a physician considers them before starting any treatment. The same provoked doshas in different individual results in various diseases according to a specific cause and dosha localization.
Therefore, treatment should be initiated after recognizing the nature of the disease, differently affected region, causative factors, and above all considerations.
- Vitiated dosha
- Affected body tissues and organs
- Habitat of individual
- Body strength
- Digestive capacity
- Body constitution
- Mental health
- Wholesome & suitable diet and habits
Also, Ayurveda offers herbs and medicines in various types of preparations for palatability and with different dosage schedule.
So, if a person dislikes taking syrups may have his medicines in the form of powder, decoction, pills, liquid, linctuses, diet, exercise, or other treatment procedures. Thus, making a treatment plan suitable for the person.
What are the Ayurvedic treatment methods?
Ayurvedic treatment is known for its versatility. These are based on the predominance of factors involved in the process of disease making. Appropriate treatment is adopted to treat vitiated dosha (vital energies), dhatu (body tissues), srotas (channels of circulation), Agni (digestive fire) or ama (toxins).
Ayurvedic treatment is classified into many types by various Ayurveda scholars in their texts.
1. Shodhana & Shamana (Elimination and Subsidence therapy)
Shodhana means cleaning. It involves purification of the body by eliminating morbid doshas and dhatus from the body through procedures of emesis, purgation, enema, nasal cleaning, and blood-letting.
These five procedures are collectively called Panchakarma. It is said that once doshas get eliminated, then there is no chance of recurrence of the disease. It is a long process and includes measures to adapt to the body before the start and end of the elimination therapy.
Shamana means to lessen the intensity of the disease and its symptoms gradually. It is adopted in those having low body strength and in case of acute illness. Mainly it comprises of medicinal herbs and other drugs to treat symptoms and morbid doshas.
It can also be implemented in the form of:
- Fasting or light diet
- Control of thirst
- Physical Exercise
- Exposure to wind and sun
- Intake of substance stimulating digestion
2. Shad Upakrama (Six treatment methods)
It includes all the treatment which overcomes either reduced or increased doshas and cures all the curable diseases.
- Langhana / Reducing therapy – It produces lightness in the body and is employed in disease caused due to the abundance of morbid doshas and ama (toxins). It includes elimination therapy, fasting, drugs that promote digestion, physical exercises.
It is used to reduce obesity and cures disease like heart diseases, cholera, intestinal disorders, constipation, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, etc.
- Brimhana/ Nourishing therapy – This is the reverse of Langhana. It is used to nourish and regain the body strength & weight in those suffering from exertion, wasting, old age, and weakness.
This therapy involves intake of nourishing herbs, bath, oil massage, sleep, enema, eating nutritious food like meat soup, sugar, milk, and ghee.
- Rukshana/Drying therapy – This therapy dries up the fatty and heavy materials accumulated in the body. This therapy treats urinary disease, gout, stiffness of thighs, obstructed channels.
It involves the intake of herbs, honey, mustard, etc., oiling and sweating therapies.
- Snehan/ Oleation therapy – This is the reverse of Rukshana. It renders lubrication to the dried body organs and parts. It uses four types of fatty substances viz. oil, ghee, muscle fat, and bone marrow.
It is administered by direct consumption of above fats, by oily drinks & foods, oil massage, oil enema. It is prescribed before elimination therapies, who have roughness in the skin, who do physical exercise and who suffer from mental strain.
- Swedana/ Sweating therapy – This therapy induces perspiration by various heating or non-heating methods. The heating method can be used by applying dry heat, hot poultice, and the use of hot liquids.
It is useful in diseases caused due to cold, paralysis, excessive pain in body, edema, stiffness, numbness, and heaviness of the body.
- Stambhana/ Astringent therapy – This procedure reduces the flow of body fluids and treats diseases like vomiting, diarrhea, poisoning, stricken with alkalis, fire, etc. It uses drugs having astringent properties.
3. Santarpana & Apatarpana (Nourishing & Reducing therapy)
Illness can be caused due to both over-nutrition and under-nutrition. Diseases caused due to over-nutrition like diabetes, obesity, drowsiness, the heaviness of the body, edema, piles, heart disease, skin diseases, etc. are treated by reducing therapy.
It includes elimination therapy, exercise, fasting, sweating, intake of rough & dry food, application of powders & ointments, decoctions, various herbal recipes, etc.
Disease caused by nutritional deficiency like anorexia, weakness, insanity, pain in body parts, reduced semen and muscle tissue, chest pain, etc. gets cured by nourishing therapy.
Nourishing is done by different types of bath, enema, massage, nourishing drinks, meat soup, oil, honey, milk, and ghee.
4. Three complete therapies
- Spiritual therapy – Certain diseases are neither physical nor psychological. Any of the known methods can’t explain them. Such disease is believed to have some divine influence. Spiritual therapies have empirical powers to eradicate diseases instantaneously.
- It includes chanting of mantras, wearing amulets, gems, auspicious offering, charity, observance of spiritual rules, fasts, atonements, going on pilgrimage, obeisance to gods, etc.
- Natural medicine – This therapy consists of the administration of proper diet and medicinal drugs.
- Psychic therapy – It consists of restraining oneself from the desire of dangerous objects.
5. Three bodily therapies
In the event of the spoiling of bodily doshas, generally, three types of treatments are applied to the body,
- Internal cleansing – consists of medicines taken for the removal of toxins formed due to intake of improper diet, etc.
- External cleansing – has its curative effect by external contact of medicines with the body such as massage, sweating, oiling, affusion, and kneading of body.
- Surgical therapy – comprises excision, incision, puncturing, scraping, uprooting, rubbing with a substance having a rough surface, suturing, application of alkalis, and leeches.
Even though these therapies are mostly applicable to the diseases of the body, they have their utility for the cure of mental illnesses like insanity, epilepsy, etc.
Among so many treatment methods, it is up to the physician to select which line of treatment will be suitable to the patient for the cure of disease.
How to know if the treatment worked or not?
Once the treatment is administered, and you feel better than before, but how to know if you are entirely cured or not? Ayurveda mentions various signs through which we can ascertain our state of health.
- Relief from pain
- The appearance of normal voice & complexion
- Nourishment of body
- Increase in strength
- The desire for taking food
- Appetite for food during meal time
- Proper digestion of food
- Getting sleep at an appropriate time
- Happy awakening
- Adequate excretion for urine, stool, flatus, and semen
- Satisfactory working of mind, senses, and intellect
Moreover, the achievement of spiritual happiness is the result of Ayurvedic therapeutic action. It is characterized by the pleasure and satisfaction of the mind, brain, senses, and the body.
Importance of Ayurvedic Treatment
In Ayurveda treatment requires the full participation of doctor, patient, attendant, and medicines, i.e., it makes one aware of his responsibility towards health. It offers several methods to stay healthy and cure diseases.
Ayurveda treatment is holistic as it takes all the aspects of an individual into account and hence avoids side effects. Ayurveda treats the patient as a whole and not just the symptoms or affected organ of the body for momentary relief.
By the judicious use of diet, medicine, and activities suitable to one’s body, there are no chances of side effects. Whereas in modern medicine, people seek separate treatment to treat just the numerous side effects of medications they took before.
Moreover, Ayurveda stresses on early treatment. This approach can play a crucial role in today’s healthcare. Nowadays, we have a habit of popping pills and ignoring the mild discomforts which appear to be insignificant. This defect grows and grows and ultimately takes away our strength & life.
Ayurveda advises that one should be desirous of his well-being & should take recourse to the appropriate therapies before the occurrence of diseases.
As the world faces growing cases of chronic, stress & lifestyle related disorders, this idea of treatment of Ayurveda can take our society a step towards becoming disease-free.