Modern life stresses our bodies. Ayurvedic herbal supplements can help provide energy and balance. The herbal products we make enhance good health in accordance with 5,000 year-old traditions combined with the latest scientific research. We grow and harvest these herbs on our own farms in the pristine Himachal Pradesh region of India, the natural habitat of most Ayurvedic herbs, ensuring the highest quality. The herbs are then extracted at the source to maintain the potency of a fresh herb and avoid the need for irradiation at the US border.
Ayurveda is one of the most ancient systems of medicine known today. The origins of this science of life (Ayu – life, Veda – knowledge), though difficult to pinpoint, have been placed by scholars of ancient Indian Ayurvedic literature at somewhere around 6000 BC.
Ayurvedic medicine is a holistic science of balance and health. Disease is seen as an imbalance and its treatment involves diverse strategies to restore optimal function and balance. Using dietary alterations, yoga, exercise, integrated herbal formulas, and elaborate surgical techniques, the Ayurvedic physician treats the whole person, removing disease completely by ending the imbalance that created it.
Ayurvedic knowledge is based on the concept of the five basic elements: ether (space), air, fire, water, and earth. At the beginning of the world, consciousness was without form, existing as the subtle vibration of the cosmic “soundless” sound Aum.
Within these vibrations appeared the element ether. Ether started to move, creating air. The movement of ether also produced friction and through friction, generated heat, then fire. From the heat of the fire, ethereal elements dissolved and liquified into water. Water then solidified to form molecules of earth. Thus, was all matter born from the five elements. These five elements exist in subatomic forms.
Humans are a microcosm of nature and, as such, themselves comprise the five basic elements:
- Ether is represented in the hollow spaces of the mouth, nose, gastrointestinal tract, abdomen, thorax, respiratory apparatus, capillaries, lymphatics, tissues, and cells.
- Air exists in movement – as pulsation, expansion, or contraction of the various organs. Bodily movement is controlled by the central nervous system, itself governed by air.
- Fire is the source of heat and light present as metabolism, gray matter, vision, temperature, digestion, and intelligence.
- Water exists as secretions of the salivary and digestive glands, the mucus membranes, and within plasma and cytoplasm.
- Earth is the solid structures (e.g., bones, cartilage, nails, muscles, tendons, skin, hair).
The five elements also connect with the five senses – ether, hearing; air, touch; fire, vision; water, taste; earth, smell. These elements are present in certain physiological functions and expressing the functions of the sensory organs are five actions. The elements are directly related to the ability of people to perceive and respond to the external environment in which they live.
The five elements manifest within the body as the Tridosha (Dosha means protective or, when out of balance, disease-producing). The Tridosha are the three humors, or basic principles, known as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. These three control all human biological and psychological functions of the body, mind, and consciousness. Each one has subtle properties. These forces determine personality traits and physiological structure. They produce natural urges and individual tastes in food, flavor, and temperature. They govern the maintenance and destruction of bodily tissue and the elimination of waste products. They are also responsible for psychological phenomena, including the emotions of fear, anger, and greed, as well as the highest order of emotions: understanding, compassion, and love. Together, the Doshas also govern all metabolic activities: anabolism (Kapha), catabolism (Vata), and metabolism (Pitta).
At the time of conception, permutations of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha determine the constitution of the individual. Individuals can be a certain body type but can also have another type running in that mode of pathology. In Ayurvedic medicine, we talk about Prakruti and Vikruti.
Prakruti, a Sanskrit word composed of pra (original) and akriti (creativity), denotes the constitution of individuals as determined at conception and is the inherent balance of the three Doshas at the moment of their creation. The combination of the three humors remains unchanged throughout an individual’s lifetime and can indicate a person’s inherent strengths and susceptibilities.
Vikruti is where people develop adapted behaviors and lifestyle and refers to the current state of the three Doshas and how they are expressing themselves in the body and mind. Your adapted lifestyle can create an imbalance in your Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, and your body may start functioning more in that module of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha temporarily. Perhaps it is more appropriate to consider these as: V-mode, P-mode, and K-mode, for better understanding. As the imbalances are corrected, the body and mind return to the dominant and optimal mode. The combination of these modes can also respond to environmental changes such as diet and lifestyle, thereby providing opportunities for the individual to maintain optimal health.
The Doshas increase by similar properties and are diminished by opposite properties. For example, Vata is dry, light, and cold, so any food, medicine, lifestyle, or behavior which increases these qualities will increase Vata within the body. Conversely, oily, heavy, or hot factors will decrease Vata.
A balance of the Doshas is necessary for optimal health since together, they govern all metabolic activities. An excess of Vata results in an excess of catabolism, creating emaciation. When anabolism outstrips catabolism, there is an increase of growth and repair in the organs and tissues. Excessive Pitta disturbs metabolism. At any given time, other less-dominant Doshas may go out of balance. For example, even though you may be predominantly Pitta, Vata may tend to go out of balance in the fall. Thus, they experience Vata imbalance symptoms in the fall. In childhood, Kapha elements associated with growth predominate. In adulthood, Pitta is more apparent. As the body deteriorates in old age, Vata is most prominent.
Other body types are a combination and variation of the Dosha present in them. Life is considered a sacred path in Ayurveda. It is a ceaseless interaction between the internal tridosha, the environment and the external environments or the sum of the cosmic forces. When your nutrition and lifestyle are not in accordance to your body type, your body fills up with Ama (metabolic toxic build-up), and your Ojas (immune-supporting sap) is lowered. When these conditions are present, the body is out of balance, and infections and inflammation find the body to be fertile ground. To counterbalance external change, an individual must create balance among his or her internal forces by altering diet, lifestyle, and behavior.
On the mental and astral planes, three Gunas (attributes of female energy or Pakriti) correspond to the three humors that make up the physical constitution. In the Ayurvedic system, the Gunas are Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas. They provide the basis for the distinctions in human temperament and individual differences in psychological and moral dispositions.
This type of mind expresses essence, understanding, purity, clarity, compassion, and love. People of Sattvic psyche (Sattva temperament) have healthy bodies and very pure behavior and consciousness. They believe in the existence of God and are religious, often very holy, people.
This type of mind operates on the sensual level. Such persons are interested in business, prosperity, power, prestige, and position. They enjoy wealth, are generally extroverted, and are politically minded.
This type is distinguished by its ignorance, inertia, heaviness, and dullness. Tamasic people are lazy, selfish, destructive by nature, and show very little respect to others. All of their activities are egocentric.
Ayurvedic Health and Disease Philosophy
Health is defined in Ayurveda as soundness of body (Shrira), mind (Manas), and soul (Atma). Each part of this tripod of life should receive equal attention to ensure that the individual achieves sound health. Ayurvedic medicine stresses that psychic influences strongly affect the body in health as well as disease, a fact which must also be considered in modern therapies.
Modern science prides itself in its understanding of physiology, but in so doing, has emphasized fragmentation, isolation, and disunity. Instead of wholeness and interaction, the modern view accepts only physical objects as causes of disease, where these objects are merely agents of disease able to cause specific symptoms in a susceptible host. Disease is the result of a disruption of the spontaneous flow of nature’s intelligence within our physiology. When we violate nature’s law and cannot adequately rid ourselves of the results of this action, then we have disease.
Ayurvedic medicine teaches that the origin of most diseases is found either in an internal or external Dosha imbalance, or an inherent or acquired weakness of the tissues. The predominant Dosha, apart from genetics, age, environment, and dietary factors, may make an individual susceptible to a certain disease. For example, Pitta Pakriti individuals are more prone to develop burning in the digestive tract secondary to hyperactivity of the Pitta Dosha which regulates enzymatic activity. The successful treatment or prevention of disease consists of normalizing cellular functions through correcting any Dosha imbalance or improving inherent tissue vitality.
However, if one studies the classical Ayurvedic texts, one rarely finds them talking about disease. Rather, the texts put forward the concept of “syndromes.” These are complex interactions of physiological/functional imbalances that lead to incidence of disease. When the Ayurvedic doctor reverses those syndromes through Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle changes, yoga, exercise, and pranayama, while also modifying thought processes (including the way people relate to themselves, their relationships, and their environment), and of course, through Ayurvedic supplements, one is able to restore balance. This is described as the restoration of the inherent health of the individual. This is the art of prevention, addressing the imbalance before it manifests as disease. The Ayurvedic model describes the job of a physician as:
Swasthasya swasthya rakshanam: “health is inherent; our work is to help maintain it.”
Ayurveda views each patient as a unique, complex individual. The basis of Ayurvedic philosophy is the belief that the intelligence of the natural world is within each of us. Ayurvedic doctors use natural treatments to promote each person’s inherent, self-healing abilities.