Ayurveda: Family Medicine

Words: Dr Ambika P NAYAK

Ayurveda emerged during Vedic times — for the well-being of our human race. The origin of Ayurveda, as literature testifies, started when illnesses emerged on earth. When this happened and triggered a cascading effect, our ancient great sages submitted themselves to Lord Brahma for help — to alleviate ill-health. Lord Brahma, with all his great wisdom, dictated, or passed, on the knowledge of Ayurveda.

This may be construed as mythology by some folks today, but the point is, mythology, or not, Ayurveda has existed for ages; it also, in more ways than one, dates back to Atharvaveda.

The earliest definition of Ayurveda shows how fulfilling this ancient system was, or is. Call it a medical system, or a way of living, it is whole and it covers all aspects of health — physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Just two lines of this verse below, extracted from Charaka Samhita, explains how Ayurveda quantifies the measure for what is favourable and unfavourable for our overall health, and wellness, or what leads to comfort and discomfort with regard to health.

Hita ahitam sukham dukham ayu: tasya hita ahitam |

Maanam cha taccha yatra uktam ayurveda: sa uchyate ||

Ayurveda is too vast; to make it simple, one could classify it as preventative and curative medicine. Prevention of illness and preventive medicine have been the foremost objectives of Ayurveda. It is also, likewise, engrossing as to how Ayurveda includes and inculcates appropriate dietary habits and lifestyle for sustaining and promoting health, its preservation and also treatment.

Ayurveda Tenets

Ayurveda corresponds to our daily life — in word and deed. To sum it up its tenets —

  • The quantity of food one must intake should solely depend on one’s digestive capacity
  • The quality of food should be such that it does not go against one’s body type. For example, a person with pitta body type should avoid indulging in foods that are of hot potency, viz., chilli, drumstick, or meat; and, those with kapha body type must avoid cold potency foods, like robusta banana, melons, sweets etc. There must always be a balance in planning the components of food
  • Certain food items may be included in our diet every day for healthy living, viz., rice [shashtika variety — a crop that yields in 60 days], green gram, Himalayan, or pink salt, Indian gooseberry, barley, rain water, milk, ghee, soups, made from meat procured from dry lands, and honey. It is interesting how well Ayurveda covers and balances all nutritional factors
  • Almost all the herbs that are used in cooking — spices, grains, or vegetables — have medicinal qualities. Various such herb-processed recipes can be used as food as also for their medicinal benefits. For example, gruel processed with panchakola [combination of two Piper species, leadwort and ginger] is used as an appetiser and analgesic; gruel, or porridge, made in dashamula [a polyherbal combination of ten drugs] as decoction is useful in asthma and bronchitis. Similarly, herbs with anthelminthic properties, like Embelia ribes and moringa seeds, and black pepper, made into a gruel and cooked in buttermilk, is beneficial for those suffering from intestinal worm infestation. The combination can work as a preventive; it is also safe as the ingredients are food components
  • It is necessary to watch what we eat as the food we consume also affects the mind —different chemicals stimulate us. Besides, they are required for our optimal functioning.

Dinacharya: Self-Care

Good lifestyle habits are given equal importance. They have been detailed under dinacharya — the daily regime for self-care with the benefits imparted by the following practices.

  • Waking up early in the morning — there is better retention capacity at this hour. Hence, it is a good time to read; also, it is the most ideal time for sunlight exposure, the only natural source for the production of vitamin D essential for skin, hair and bone health. The air is also clean at this time — it is, therefore, good, also healthy, for breathing exercises and for better oxygenation of cells
  • Cleansing of wastes [urination and defaecation]. The human body works on a lot of chemical processes. The end results are accumulation of toxins, which reside with urine and feces. It is always a good practice to start your day by clearing these wastes through natural bowel movement. This, in turn, boosts metabolism
  • Oral hygiene [brushing of teeth, tongue cleaning, oil pulling] — this prevents the accumulation of food particles that can be a source for various disease-causing organisms to flourish in the mouth and to maintain good health of teeth, gums, tongue and cheeks
  • Eye care [various combinations of collyrium] on a daily basis. We expose our eyes to different kind of lights, pollutants, harmful rays etc. Ayurveda recommends eyewashes and other applications to protect your eyes
  • Medicated oil administered into the nose and inhaled medicated herbal smoke, likewise, protects the respiratory system from being attacked by microorganisms
  • Body massage with medicated oil, exercise, and bathing — this helps open up the channels and improves circulation to the extremities, while pumping-in necessary nutrition
  • Grooming by dressing well, wearing ornaments, or decorating with accessories and scents, proper footwear, a good hairdo, etc. also help in uplifting one’s moods, spirits and self-confidence.

Ayurveda also lays significant emphasis on the social conduct of the individual, apart from their regular lifestyle.

There is no major difference in the application of Ayurvedic principles when it comes to kids, or adults — men and women. However, there are a few herbs, which are favourites as supplements; they play a major role in promoting health at certain ages.

Ayurveda For The Kid 

Lehana vidhi is a unique practice. It is practiced in different ways in the country — the commonly used herbs in the process are long pepper, sweet flag, licorice, nutmeg etc. These are together, or individually, rubbed a few times on a rubbing stone and mixed with breast milk and fed to babies. It is known to improve immunity and protect infants from respiratory infections.

Chaturbhadra is a combination of four herbs — long pepper, nut grass root, galls of Pistacia integerrima, and atis [aconitum root]. This is effective for almost all complaints pertaining to infants and kids. It addresses fever, cold, cough, digestive impairments. It also promotes the child’s overall wellness.

Ayurveda For Dad   

Ashwagandha, a famous herb, needs no introduction. It is beneficial for all age groups and in men and women, alike. It also has the capacity to improve muscle bulk and boost male vitality. It is, at the same time, a good stress reliever. Hence, its usage is more prevalent in men. Ashwagandha powder [3-4gm] can be used, along with a cup of milk daily, for a period of 1-3 months, depending one’s need. Ashwagandha extract capsules [500mg], per day, are just as useful. It is also convenient to take. 

Musali. This a chlorophytum species, which single-handedly, or in combination, is a good herb in correcting male sexual problems — be it low sperm count, truncated sexual vigour, or erectile dysfunction. It is also useful in individuals who involve in extensive workouts — it has tissue repair and regeneration function. Boil 5-6gm of musali powder in one cup each of water and milk to reduce it to one cup. 

Kapikacchu, or Mucuna pruriens, is another herb that comes as a blessing to men — a potent nerve stimulant, it promotes sperm production and improves the quality of semen. The powder made from the seeds [5gm, per day], or capsule [250-500mg], per day, is useful dosage.

Ayurveda For Mom

Shatavari, from the Asparagacea family, is the herb of choice in bringing about hormonal balance in women at all stages — be it menarche, menstrual, antenatal, pregnancy, postnatal conditions and menopause. It has rose to its fame and is, therefore, an effective galactagogue. Asparagus stems are also available and are used in cooking. 6-10gm of the powder taken with milk is found to be effective; or, 500mg-1gm of the extract capsule, per day, is just as good.

Asoka — or, Saraca asoka. This herb, in combination, could be the answer to all menstrual issues.

Methika, or fenugreek seeds, is well-known since time immemorial to increase breast milk production. It also helps in menstrual cramps and keeps weight in check by reducing excess fats, or ‘fat depots,’ in the body.

From the time we wake up in the morning till the time we go to sleep, from conception to birth and till death, there are a lot of things we do instinctively — this is all part of Ayurveda. The best definition of Ayurveda, therefore, is simple — it’s a way of life, rather than being just a medical system, or science.

Dr AMBIKA P NAYAK, MD [Ayurveda], is Founder & Managing Director of Ayurvedeeyam, a speciality Ayurveda Clinic in Bengaluru. Her passion for the ancient, yet ‘completest’ natural medical system, and professional clinical skills are keyed to raising awareness for Ayurveda as a first choice of treatment for illness and healthy living, just as much as her axiom, Svasthasya svāsthya rakṣaṇaṃ — the age-old, fundamental principle of Ayurveda. Dr Nayak, who has presented papers and participated in national and international symposia, is also a strong advocate of panchakarma, thanks to its fully holistic and proven therapeutic efficacy in the treatment and prevention of illness, or disease.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

four  +  six  =  

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies.