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  1. Ayurveda The Science of Life

  2. Origins and Definition • knowledge for long life; science of life • from Sanskrit ayus, long life, and veda, science of knowledge • Atharvaveda (one of the 4 most ancient books of Hindu culture): 114 hymns for treatement of disease dating from (maybe) 1500 BCE • Charaka Samhita (5th or 6th cent. BCE) attributed to Charaka is primary classical source

  3. 5 Elements + 3 Doshas • ayurveda stresses balance, a kind of dynamic homeostasis • everything in the universe, including human beings, is comprised of prthv/earth, jala/water, agni/fire, vayu/air and akasa/sky. • these resolve into 7 body tissues/dhatus: plasma/chyle (rasa dhatu), blood (rakta dhatu), flesh (mamsa dhatu), fat (medha dhatu), bone (asthi dhatu), marrow (majja dhatu) and semen or female reproductive tissue (sukra dhatu) • the elements combine in various proportions to create the elemental humors, called doshas as follow: vayu vata (air and space/wind), pitta (fire and water/bile) and kapha (water and earth/phlegm)

  4. Earth, Water, Fire • earth represents that which is solid, stable, rigid, unchanging; manifests as bones, teeth, tissues, cells/matter; a stable substance • water is fluid, changing, substance w/o stability; in the body it is the blood, lymph, fluid between cells that carry off wastes and transport nutrients • fire is transformational power; form w/o substance; energy of atoms, of digestion and transformation of food into energy or tissue; responsible for impulses of nervous system, thoughts and feelings

  5. Air and Ether/Akasa • air is gaseous, mobile and dynamic; existence w/o form; air/oxygen is the basis for all energy transformations; necessary for fire • ether is space in which everything happens; both source of matter and space in which it exists; also defined as sound--meaning the entire spectrum of vibration

  6. Health • is defined as balance/ harmony • balance is achieved when prakriti and vikriti are in sync • prakriti: one’s basic constitution as defined by the inherent composition of doshas • vikriti: the presenting doshic composite that is the result of life circumstances and the system’s reaction to those circumstances • methods: life style interventions and natural therapies • mind-body one system: both need to be addressed

  7. Prakruti and Vikruti • prakruti: constitution, individual composite of doshas determined at conception; unchanging throughout the lifespan; sanskrit word means “nature,” “first creation.” • vikruti: that constitution/composite of doshas that is a result of the interaction between an individual and her environment • ideally, vikruti should match prakruti; when it doesn’t there is disharmony and possibly illness • treatment aims to bring harmony to the system through diminishing excess and increasing vitality to that which has become depleted.

  8. Ojas and Ama • Ojas is vitality, vital essence • Ama is congestion, toxicity • Ama is defined as a sticky plaque-like substance that is produced as the body’s way of trying to mobilize impurities from the tissues and organs and micro-channels (or Shrotas) of the body. When the body is not able to fully eliminate these impurities through the normal channels of elimination such as the bowel, urinary tract or skin, then Ama forms, and may first appear as congestion, phlegm, dental plaque, the white coating on the tongue, and may later accumulate in the arteries, joints and tissues. • Ayurvedic practices are designed to decrease/eliminate ama and increase ojas

  9. The Senses

  10. The Doshas • dosha, that which changes • can be regarded as a mistake • constantly shifting in relation to one another • not only human beings but days and seasons participate in tridosha • 2-6 (am and pm) vata • 6-10 (am and pm) kapha • 10-2 (am and pm) pitta • winter is kapha; spring and fall are vata; summer is pitta (note: this is am approximation)

  11. Vata • meaning: wind, to move, flow, direct the process of, command • needed by other 2 doshas for expression • governs all movements w/in the body-mind • blinking, breathing, pulsations, expansion and contraction, cytoplasm and cell movements, single impulses in nerves, feeling and emotions such as freshness, nervousness, fear, anxiety, pain, tremors, spasms • primary seat is colon but also lives in hips, thighs, ears, bones, pelvic cavity and skin • related to touch

  12. Pitta • dynamic interplay between water and fire, which are transformative in their interaction and modulation of each other • governs • digestion, absorption, nutrition, metabolism • body temperature, skin color, eye luster • intelligence, understanding • arouses anger, hate and jealousy • small intestine, stomach, sweat glands, blood, fat, eyes and skin are homes for pitta

  13. Kapha • equilibrium of water and earth/structure and lubrication • kapha dosha • cements the body, maintains strength and natural tissue resistance • lubricates the joints, moisturizes the skin, helps heal wounds • imparts biological strength, vigor, stability • supports memory retention; gives energy to heart and lungs and maintains immunity • lives in chest (home), throat, head, sinuses, nose, mouth, stomach, joints, cytoplasm, plasma, liquid secretions • attachment, greed, long-standing envy as well as calmness, forgiveness and love are its emotions

  14. Rules for Healthy Living • any substance that enters the body-mind can nourish, balance or disturb the organism • nourishment is food; balance is medicine; disturbance is poison • based on the idea that like increases like, we use food, herbs, thoughts, lifestyle choices to nourish, heal or sicken ourselves

  15. Diagnosis • The Charaka Samhita recommends a tenfold examination of the patient: • constitution▪ • abnormality▪ • essence▪ • stability▪ • body measurements▪ • diet suitability▪ • psychic strength▪ • digestive capacity▪ • physical fitness▪ • age

  16. Pancha Karma • Literally “5 actions” • curative and preventative; recommended at least once a year to remove ama • done under supervision at health spa--3, 5, 6, 14, 21 days • can include lighter cleansing diet, and several consecutive days of deeply relaxing, luxurious Ayurvedic cleansing treatments such as warm oil massages, herbal steam baths and mild herbal enemas • originally induced vomitting (vamana) as well as herbal enemas, netti pot and nysa oil treatments for sinuses