Health For All

Words: Drs ALISHA, N R SINGH & Jitendra VARSAKIYA

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease, or infirmity. The WHO definition of health is in accordance with the Ayurveda concept of swasthya. 

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of medicine. It emphasises on the prevention of body ailments rather than simply relieving pathological problems, or symptoms.

The concept, arogyam mulamuttamam, in Ayurveda, provides utmost importance to arogya [health]. The primary aim of Ayurveda is swasthasya swasthyarakshanam and aturasya vikaraprashamanam. The concept explains the importance of maintenance and promotion of health, along with the treatment of disease. Swasthya means health; rakshanam means protection; aturashya means the patient; vikara means disease; and, prashamanam means alleviation.

To achieve the goal of public health for diverged ethnicities, their socio-geographical specificity should be kept at the core, along with individual specificities, while framing treatment guidelines and patient assessment for better outcomes. Every person is different from the another and they should be observed as a different entity, because there are as many variations in the universe, as also among human beings.

Health promotion concepts are enriched by the understanding of panchamahabhuta, tridosha theory, ecological health concepts, yoga and nutrition. Ashtanga hridaya describes that dushya [dhatu — tissue and mala — excreta], desha [deha — human and bhumi, the locality], bala [samarthya — stamina], kala [diurnal and seasonal time], anala [different states of agni], prakriti [vata, pitta, kapha], vaya [child, adult and old age], sattva [mind], satmya [food and geographical compatibility], ahara [sweet, sour, etc.], avastha [different phenomenal states], sukshmasukshma [minute observation], esham [diseases], and dosha aushadha nirupanam [doshik involvement and drugs], are the fundamental principles to be followed, also observed.

There are two types of medicines in Ayurveda — those that promote resistance, or immunity, of the body and vitality; and, those that cure disease. 

Scope Of Ayurveda 

Ayurveda is widely used in India as a system of primary healthcare; it is now flourishing worldwide. It aims to make a happy, healthy and peaceful society. The simple regimens described in ancient [classical] Ayurveda texts are of immense value in preventing and treating health issues that we’re facing today.

Swastavritta is personal hygiene; it consists of dinacharya [daily routine]. It includes brushing of teeth, mouth wash, scraping the tongue, bathing, exercising, eating, sleeping, and so on. Ritucharya covers regimens and diet to be followed during the different seasons of the year.

Sadvritta is an orbit of social behaviour and conduct of the individual based on religious rituals and practices. Rasayana and vajeekarana refer to the usage of rejuvenating agents to preventing aging; they impart longevity, immunity against disease and assist in improving our mental faculties.

Ayurveda emphasises on early diagnosis and prashna [interrogation] etc., besides treatment modalities, such shaman [alleviation] and sodhana [purification]. Ayurveda also recommends several therapies for maintaining our mental, physical and spiritual health. This includes therapeutics [rasayana] and panchakarma. Yoga is being increasingly accepted as an adjuvant. When Ayurveda, the principal line of treatment, is used in conjunction with yoga, which embraces physical, moral, social, mental and spiritual well-being, the two-pronged holistic approach is evidenced to lead to better treatment outcomes.

According to Ayurveda, diseases manifest owing to imbalances [attributed to stress] in a compromised state of mind and body. Ayurveda treatment modalities are directed towards correcting this imbalance and focusing on enhancing digestion and eliminating toxins out of the body. It follows an integrated approach to the prevention and treatment of illness and endeavours to maintain, or re-establish, harmony between the mind, body, and forces of nature.

Vagabhata and Sharangadhar emphasised that progressive deterioration of bodily features occur on a decade-wise format, thereby setting milestones of aging. Today, we see no discipline is maintained by people, due to their job patterns, or busy schedules. People are doing better, but they are not maintaining optimal health and self-satisfaction. The only way to be gratified and healthy is through dinacharya.

Our stressful and busy daily routine triggers radical changes in our body, mind and consciousness. Dinacharya helps to establish balance in one’s constitution [vata, pitta and kapha]. It also determines and regularises a person’s biological clock, aids digestion, absorption and assimilation and propels self-esteem, discipline, peace, happiness and longevity. Dinacharya is the collective information of all the practices for promoting health and preventing disease that our ancient sages followed. 

Ayurveda focuses primarily on longevity, whose notion is not only limited solely to a long-lasting life; it prescribes useful conditions to live in healthy vitality in order to carry out a ‘healthy way to death;’ meaning, the natural final experience of the cycle of life. Thus, in Ayurveda, the concept of personal health, encompassing all ages, focuses fundamentally on the individual’s capability of healthy aging as intended to completely fulfil our purpose in life. 

Our world is eagerly waiting for help from Ayurveda to solving health problems. The government is ready to offer financial help for the development of Ayurveda as an international ‘brand.’ All the stakeholders of Ayurveda, i.e., practitioners, researchers, teachers, law makers, and professional organisations should respond to the call wholeheartedly, also diligently — and, for a higher purpose.

Conclusion 

Public health today is gaining momentum across the globe. It is a good sign for traditional medical systems, such as Ayurveda, to get their rightful place and fulfill the need.

Public health is predominantly seen as a part of community medicine. The ancient texts of Ayurveda describe certain principles of public health in their own idiom. The classical texts of Ayurveda also describe several principles, such as infectious disease, immunity, nutrition etc., which are common issues in personal and public health. Ayurveda is, therefore, endowed with all the requisites to achieving the goal of personal health, along with public health, at the glocal level.

Dr ALISHA is MD Scholar, PG Department of Kayachikitsa, Ch Brahm Prakash Ayurveda Charak Sansthan. Dr SINGH N R is Head of Department, PG Department of Kayachikitsa, Ch Brahm Prakash Ayurveda Charak Sansthan. Dr VARSAKIYA JITENDRA is Assistant Professor, PG Department of Kayachikitsa, Ch Brahm Prakash Ayurveda Charak Sansthan, Khera Dabar, Najafgarh, New Delhi, India. This is a redacted, also abridged, version of the article [Role of Ayurveda in Public Health: Compass and Challenges], first published in Journal of Ayurveda and Herbal Medicine [2019;5(1):28-30], under a Creative Commons License 4.0.

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