The word Ayurveda is composed of two sanskrit terms - Ayu meaning life and Veda meaning knowledge. Therefore Ayurveda means the knowledge of life or science of life. It is defined as the science, through which one can obtain knowledge about the ways and nature of life. Ayurvedic system is applicable universally to all those seeking harmony and peace. The Classical Ayurvedic texts discuss all forms of science like biology, toxicology and subjects like philosophy and theology.
Ayurveda has its own views about principles and philosophy of life. Ayurvedic system describes man as a universe within himself which is a child of the cosmic forces. According to Ayurvedic medicine, human body consists of three primary life forces or biological humors, which are Vatha, Pitha and Kapha. These three doshas are called the tridoshas. Any imbalance among the tridoshas causes a state of unhealthiness or disease. Other basic concepts of Ayurvedic system are the Saptha Dhathus (the bodily tissues), Srotas (Channals), Ama (toxins and filthy matter) and the trinity of life - body, mind and spiritual awareness.
The first step in the method of diagnosis in Ayurvedic form of medicine is to determine the constitution of the person. That means it is the patient who is diagnosed first and not the disease. Ayurveda recognises the fact that the same disease might appear in different forms in two persons because their constitution is different. Due to this variation in constitution the medicines and treatment may be different for two people with the same illness. This difference in treatment methods according to the constitution is essential to bring back the natural balance of the biological humors. This constitutional approach is the essence of the treatment prescribed in the Ayurvedic system.
Ayurvedic treatment measures include internal medicine, external medicine, surgical treatment and psychotherapy. The treatments can be divided under two groups - Tonification and Reduction.Tonification methods nurture insufficiency in the body while reduction therapies decrease excesses in the body .Reduction therapy has two parts called Purification and Pacification. Purification is a special form of therapy for elimination of the disease causing humors while Pacification is done with herbs, fasting, exercise, sunbathing and exposure to wind. The power of Ayurvedic elimination therapy is its system for guiding the toxins to their sites for elimination. It consists of five parts
The pancha karmas namely :
All these requires preliminary Ayurvedic practises of oleation and sweating.
Ayurveda in Kerala
Kerala has developed its own Ayurvedic treatment modalities like Dhara, pizhichil, Navarakizhi, Elakizhi, Sirovasthi, Thalapothichil etc. which are highly effective in a number of diseases which includes Motor neuron diseases, Arthritis of various kinds, skin diseases, heart diseases, peptic ulcer, Asthama, Peripheral vascular diseases and Gynaecological disorders. Medicinal Knowledge about Ayurvedic type of medicine is divided into eight branches. The branches are
1. Kaya chikilsa (general medicine),
2. Shalya (surgery),
3. Shalakya (ENT and Ophthalmology),
4. Graha (Psychotherapy),
5. Damshitra (toxicology),
6. Bala (Paediatrics and Gynaecology),
7. Jara (rejuvenation) and
8. Vrishya (Aphrodisiacs).