Prevention and Cure by Dietary Restraints
Ayurveda treats based more on fasting and dietary understanding that deals with the root of the disease creation rather than on consuming medicines to fight out the symptoms of diseases. Half the disease is cured simply by appropriate dietary control. Principles of diagnostics and therapeutics are based on the identification of the level of doshas vata, pitta, and kapha through visual observation or darshana, touch or sparshana, interrogation or prashna. Tools of diagnosis involves the tenfold method of examination and an eight-fold method of examination or dashavidha & ashtasthana pariksha.
Principles of Diagnosis – Trividha
There are three basic activities of a Ayurveda doctor; examine the patient, to make a diagnosis, and accordingly treat the patient. Successful treatment needs a correct diagnosis.
The understanding of the total nature of any thing does not arise from a fragmentary knowledge of it. Same is true for a disease. It is only after examining diseases completely and from all aspects of the individual as well as the imbalance allows a correct decision regarding diagnosis to be arrived at.
The ways of assessment are called Trividh Pariksha.
- Darshana (by looking at the patient)
- Sparshana, (making the assessment by touch)
- Prashna. (By interrogating the patient
Dasha Vidha Pariksha (Tenfold Examination)
• Regarding the structural and functional abnormalities of the body.
• Geographical situation of the place where patient lives.
• Physical strength.
• The season and climatic conditions.
• The digestive system of the patient.
• Prakruti The natural Tridosha constitution of the body.
• Age of the patient.
• Psychological strength of the patient.
• General and personal habits of the patient.
• Nature of food (e.g. vegetarian or non-vegetarian).
After tenfold examination, the eightfold examination is conducted to diagnose the imbalance or disorder. In this examination, there are eight types, which are more practical and useful.
Ashta Sthana Pariksha (Eightfold Examination)
• Faecal matter
• Voice and speech of the patient
• Touch, skin and tactile sense
• Eyes and vision
• General body build & Facial diagnosis, e.g.: lean, muscular, etc.
For an indepth look into the Astha Sthana Pariksha check this out..
Diagnosis in Ayurveda
Diagnosis is divided into two parts: Inspection of the individual and their constitution and the examination of the progression of the disorder. Determination of the constitution is described as ones ultimate state of health and indicates hereditary tendencies to particular ailments. The constitution is diagnosed by determining the individual’s inherited blueprint (genetics) and proportion of the elements at the time of birth.
From all of this you must see that there is no way in which a computer program or checklist on a sheet of paper of questions to find Prakrti (original constitution) and Vikrti (state of imbalance) is Ayurveda. The individualized dietary restrictions and lifestyle changes are all based upon the diagnosis above. Everything is individual and very few generalizations exist.
What should be always avoided by everyone desirous of a healthy life?
Tea, coffee, cold-drinks, ice-creams, tobacco, wine (liquor/alcohol), synthetic food and baked goods, fruits that are harvested out of season and then cold stored and ripened artificially using carbide. Ayurveda also warns against eating food preserved under cold storage, eggs, meat, breads prepared from refined white wheat flour, etc.
Common Modes of Medication in Ayurveda : Ayurvedic medicines are usually available in the forms of vati (tablets), curna (powder of herbs), ras-bhasma (specially grinded, prepared fine powders of processed herbs), syrups and decoctions of different types asava, arishta, kwatha or kadha etc. Apart from these, some herbal oils and ointments are also prescribed for external use. The following are general guidelines for using the different classes of Ayurvedic medicines.
For vati and churna: These types are usually recommended to be taken around 10-20 minutes after meal. Should be taken with warm water in case of diseases due to vataj-kapha dosha, and with normal water in case of pitta doshas. Unless they taste bitter or pungent, the tablets (vatis) should preferably be chewed rather than gulped down with water. The special tablets like muktadi, madhunashini and kayakalpa vatis are recommended to be taken with fresh water about one hour before meals. Often people use some curnas just because of their taste and soothing effects on digestion. This is not correct, such curnas are also medicinal e.g. for controlling acidity and might cause imbalance in the dosha levels; these should also be taken only as per the doctor’s advice.
For rasa and bhasmas: These are usually eaten with honey, fresh cream of milk or with warm water (depending upon the dosha and ailment type) at least half-an-hour before meals. For asava and arishta: These are drunk with fresh water (mixed in equal proportion) about 10 to 15 minutes after meals.
For kwatha (kadha): Kwatha should be best drunk freshly prepared at timings as prescribed by the doctor. It is recommended that nothing should be mixed in it. However, if it is bitter in taste and one just can’t bear that bitterness then minimal quantity of honey or sugar-crystals (mishri) could be mixed.
For kwatha-bathing: At times, depending upon the type and state of disease, bathing or fomenting in the steam of boiling kwatha of specific types are advised. In such cases, the prescribed herbal medicines are to be cooked in a pressure cooker with about 1-1.5 kg water. A tube of appropriate size (and of material that could bear the high temperature) is to be connected at the outlet for steam (where usually a weight-whistle is kept on the cooker). A small piece of cloth is tied on the other end of the cloth; the desired body-part is exposed to this end at a safe distance so that direct spray of steam does not burn the skin. If available, an appropriate steaming device should be used instead of pressure-cooker. After steaming for prescribed duration of time, the desired body part should be fomented by gently bathing it in the medicinal solution (left in the cooker) while the latter is cooled up to a bearable temperature.
For Massaging (by Ayurvedic oils): Massaging of the particular body-part should always be done gently and at a slow pace. Its direction should always be towards the heart. If the guidelines and disciplines of Ayurvedic medication and preventive care are followed strictly, the patients enjoy fast recovery and natural vigor thereafter. In the succeeding issues we shall look at the therapeutic and other important aspects of Ayurveda .