As I had written in another post, we are now in the process of publishing Joy J. Kaimaparamban’s newest novel, The Ayurvedic Healer.
In Joy’s own words, “The novel is the story of an Ayurvedic Physician. Hope you have heard of Ayurveda, an ancient medical science generated in India. When I thought of writing about an Ayurvedic Physician, I remembered my ancestor, who had converted into Christianity from Brahminhood (An upper division in Hindu religion). Except this fact, remaining narrations are fictitious. I have created a mythological atmosphere throughout the novel. Freedom struggle of India, Communist revolt in Kerala, a Southern State in India, social developments, emergence of new societies etc., are dominating in this novel. The novel reveals the developments of incident that happening from 1920 to 1960. Although this is not a historical novel, nevertheless I am trying to unveil the personal life of an Ayurvedic Physician who had lived for the downtrodden people.”
Ayurveda, is the oldest and most holistic medical system on this planet today. It is a system of traditional medicine native to the Indian Subcontinent and practiced in other parts of the world as a form of alternative medicine. It is an age old scientific method of healing with natural products. Knowledge of Ayurveda has been recorded in two of the Vedic texts: the Atharva Veda and the Rig Veda, which are more than 5,000 years old.
The Sanskrit term ‘Ayurveda’ is composed of two words- Ayus + Veda. Ayus means life and Veda means knowledge. So the literal meaning of Ayurveda is the “Science of Life”
Lord Dhanwanthari - the God who introduced Ayurvedia to the human race
Dhanvantari is said to be an avatar of Vishnu from the Hindu tradition and God of Ayurvedic medicine. Dhanvantari was an early Indian medical practitioner and one of the world’s first surgeons. Based on Vedic traditions, he is regarded as the source of Ayurveda. He perfected many herbal based cures and natural remedies and was credited with the discovery of the antiseptic properties of turmeric and the preservative properties of salt which he incorporated in his cures.
Evolving throughout its history, Ayurveda remains an influential system of medicine in South Asia. The earliest literature of Ayurveda appeared during the Vedic period in India.The Sushruta Samhita and the Charaka Samhita were influential works on traditional medicine during this era. Ayurvedic practitioners also identified a number of medicinal preparations and surgical procedures for curing various ailments and diseases.
Essentially, Ayurveda is the traditional medicine of Kerala. Largely due to geographical and climatic conditions, Kerala, better known as the “God’s Own Country” has rich and diverse reserves medicinal and aromatic plants. Along the Western Ghats, sub-tropical and tropical region, as many as 1463 medicinal plants have been identified. Maruthva Mala, Agasthya Vanam are said to be the natural treasures of these holistic medicinal reserves.
Ayurveda is considered to be a form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) within the western world, where several of its methods, such as the use of herbs, massage, and Yoga as exercise or alternative medicine, are applied on their own as a form of CAM treatment.
Agasthya Muni - A monk who developed a new brach named 'Siddha.'
For diagnosis the patient is to be questioned and all five senses are to be employed. The Charaka Samhita recommends a tenfold examination of the patient. The qualities to be judged are: constitution, abnormality, essence, stability, body measurements, diet suitability, psychic strength, digestive capacity, physical fitness and age. Hearing is used to observe the condition of breathing and speech. The study of the vital pressure points or marma is of special importance. It is the trauma science described in Ayurveda. There are 107 different spots described and located on the body surface, which produce different signs and symptoms. With respect to the underlying anatomical structures, the symptoms vary according to blunt or penetrating trauma. The severity of the symptoms and signs also depend on whether the injury is exactly on the marma point or slightly around it. These signs and symptoms are described by Sushruta and Vagbhata.
Hygiene — also a component of religious virtue to many Indians — is a strong belief. Hygienic living involves regular bathing, cleansing of teeth, skin care, and eye washing. Occasional anointing of the body with oil is also prescribed.
Vagbhata - One of the three classic writers of Ayurveda
Hundreds of vegetable drugs are used in Ayurvedic medicine—including cardamom and cinnamon. Ayurveda stresses the use of vegetable drugs. Fats are used both for consumption and for external use. Hundreds of vegetable drugs are employed, including cardamom and cinnamon. Some animal products may also be used, for example milk, bones, and gallstones. Minerals, including sulfur, arsenic, lead, copper sulfate and gold are also consumed as prescribed. This practice of adding minerals to herbal medicine is known as Rasa Shastra. Different oils may be used in a number of ways including regular consumption as a part of food, anointing, smearing, head massage, and prescribed application to infected areas.
Basic Principles of Ayurveda:
The human body is composed of derivatives of five basic elements such as Pancha Bhootha which are Prithvi (earth) Jala (water), Tejas (fire), Vayu (wind) and Akash (space), More specifically these appear in the form of doshas (physiological factors), Dhatus (tissues) and Mala (waste products and excretions).
Charaka - One of the principal contributors to Ayurveda
Tridoshas: The human body is composed of derivatives of five basic elements such as Pancha Bhootha which are Prithvi (earth) Jala (water), Tejas (fire), Vayu (wind) and Akash (space), More specifically these appear in the form of doshas (physiological factors), Dhatus (tissues) and Mala (waste products and excretions). Doshas are the physiological factors of the body. They are to be seen as all pervasive, subtle entities and are categorized into Vatha, Pitta and Kapha. In the usual terminology Kapha is translated as Phlegm, Pitta as Bile, and Vatha as Air or Wind. In actual fact, the true interpretation of these words goes far beyond the usual translation.
Vatha: Vatha regulates movement and is represented by the nervous system. Too little Vatha causes nerve loss, congestion, constipation, thoughtlessness etc and too much Vatha leads nerve irritation, high blood pressure, confusion etc. Vatha problems are predominant in old ages and dry climates or cold autumn winds increases Vatha.
Pitta: Pitta is the principle of biotransformation and is the cause of all metabolic processes in the body. Too little Pitta causes indigestion, inability to understand, sluggish metabolism etc and too much Pitta causes ulcers, hormonal imbalance, irritated skin (acne), consuming emotions (anger). Pitta related problems are predominant in teens and adulthood. Hot summers or hot climates will increase Pitta.
Sushruta - Known as the "Father of Surgery"
Kapha: Kapha is the principle of cohesion and functions through the body fluids. Together, these three doshas determine the physiologic constitution of an individual. Too little Kapha experiences a dry respiratory tract , burning stomach (due to lack of mucous, which protects from excess stomach acids), inability to concentrate and too much Kapha causes Mucous build-up in the sinus and nasal passages, the lungs and colon. In the mind it creates rigidity, a fixation of thought, inflexibility etc. Kapha related problems are predominant in childhood years. Wet winters and a damp climate increases Kapha.
Treatment and Drugs: The principle of treatment in Ayurveda focuses on bringing back the normalcy of functions of systems (tridoshas) by various methods. The drugs can increase or decrease these doshas and the treatment ends by establishing an equilibrium of doshas (humours). Read more about Ayurvedic drugs
Sirovashti - A method to cure diseases affecting the head
According to Ayurveda a normal body will be have an equilibrium between three doshas. (between doshas and the body, mind and soul). If there is any disequilibrium, the Ayurveda system considers it to be a state of disease, even though the disease may not have manifested outwardly. So the aim of Ayurvedic system of medicines is to restore the equilibrium if there is disequilibrium. This is accomplished by three main types of therapies. They are:
- Aushada (Medicines)
- Anna (Nutrition)
- Vihara (Environment)
Each of these three types of therapies of Ayurveda can be administrated in six different ways namely,
- Hetu Viparita
- Vyadhi Viparita
- Hetu-Vyadhi Viparita
- Hetu Viparitarthakari
- Vyadhi Viparitakari
- Hetu Vyadhi Viparitakari
In Hetu Viparitarthakari, a medicine is administrated in small but potent dose, which in healthy persons, would produce the symptoms of the very diseases for the cure of which it is prescribed. Alternatively, that type of drug can be administrated which induces the opposite tendency. You may think that it is quoted from Hahneman or Hippocrates. But it is mentioned in Ayurveda before the days of Hippocrates. Ayurveda does not confine itself to administrating medicines only. It also recommends various other therapies. The main sections of Ayurveda are:
- Kayachikitsa (Internal Medicine)
- Kaumarabhrtya or Balachikitsa (Paediatrics)
- Bhutavidya or Grahachikitsa (Psychiatry)
- Salakyatantra (Otto-Rhino-Laryngology & Opthalmology)
- Salyatantra (Surgery)
- Visatantra (Toxicology)
- Rasayanatantra (Geriatrics)
- Vajikaranatantra (The therapy for male sterility, impotency and the promotion of virility)