Concept of Disease and its Management in Ayurvedic Medicine

Diseases are caused by a disturbance of the dosha-dhaatu-mala triad. The nature of the disease and the most suitable treatment for it, are determined based on the understanding of the state of the dosha. The three doshas are the primary tools to understand any disease; named or unnamed, explained or unexplained, in Ayurveda. It is said that “an Ayurvedic practitioner need not be shy if s/he cannot name a disease; what is essential is to know the dosha(s) involved and the pattern of its/their involvement”.

The Classification of Disease in Ayurvedic Medicine

Diseases are broadly classified into three –
- Diseases caused by our environment, like pollution;
- Diseases caused by “unseen” factors, like para-psychological and spiritual;
- Diseases caused by one’s own physical and mental factors.

Yuktivyapaasrya is of two kinds – samana and sodhana :

Three broad types of Ayurvedic treatments are –
- Samana means pacifying mild to moderately increased dosha.
- Sodhana means removing the profoundly increased dosha.

Types of Ayurvedic Treatment :

Three broad types of Ayurvedic treatments are –
- Yuktivyapaasraya (that which depends upon the Ayurvedic practitioner’s logic)
- Sattvaavajaya (that which is meant to gain control over the mind)
- Daivavyapasraya (that which depends on divine intervention).

"Samana or" pacification of increased dosha is made possible through a carefully charted Ayurvedic diet along with lifestyle restrictions, and internal medications. Ayurvedic medicines are in the form of

- Kashaya/kwath (decoction)
- Choorna (powder)
- Arishta/aasava (fermented preparations)
- Lehya (Ayurvedic herbal jams)
- Ghrita (medicated ghee)
- Thaila (medicated oils)

Thriphala Choorna, Chyavanaprasa Lehya, Dhanwantaram Thailam are some of the traditional formulations which are either the most known formulations or well-studied and available with most Ayurveda practitioners worldwide.

Preparation of Ayurvedic Medicine
- Raw materials need to make Ayurvedic medicines are obtained from plant, animal and mineral sources. They are selected based on their taste, potency, post digestive taste, quality and known actions on the dosha or specific diseases. Some of the most popular, widely studied and used Ayurvedic herbs are
Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) - for its effect in boosting the memory
- Guggulu (Commiphorawightii) - for its effect on dyslipidemia and arthritis
- Ashwagandha (Withaniasomnifera) - for its energising and stress relieving action
- Amalaki (Embillica officinalis) - for its effect in diabetes and as an rejuvenation agent

Panchakarma Ayurvedic Treatment
Sodhana or cleansing of excessively increased dosha is made possible through various techniques propularly known as Panchakarma. Some of the techniques followed by Ayurvedic practitioners for this purpose are:
- Vamana (inducing vomiting for kapha)
- Virechana (inducing purgation for pitta)
- Vasti (decoction or oil enema for vaata)
- Nasya (nasal application exclusively for head)
- Raktamoksha (blood-letting)
These procedures are popularly known as panchakarma.

Additional Therapeutic Practices - Some of the Ayurvedic therapies that are in vogue, in addition to panchakarma :
- Snehana(oleation/lubrication)
- Svedana (fomentation)
- These procedures are administered either for saman or for preparation for the sodhana. They include treatments like sirodhara (treating the head with medicated oil/buttermilk/milk). This technique, known throughout the world as special Kerala treatment, has been studied extensively. In Japan, a robot has been developed by a scientist to perform sirodhara and to study its physio-psychological impact on patients.

Ayurvedic treatments for mental illnesses
- Ayurvedic medicine treats the mind and body as a cohesive unit, where imbalance in one affects the wellness of the other. Extensive research was done by ancient Ayurvedic practitioners to develop treatments for mental illnesses as well. Sattvaavajaya is the field of Ayurveda dealing with such ailments.
- Sattvaavajaya treatments include yoga, meditation, etc, for gaining control over the mind. Charaka calls these procedures as methods for 5“restraining the mind from the unfavorable”.

Ayurvedic Medicine and spirituality
Daivavyapaasraya offers remedial measures for “unseen” causes of the disease.6 It is spiritual therapy achieved through chanting, use of spiritually significant Ayurvedic herbs, indulging in auspicious and charitable activities, fire rituals etc.
Branches of Ayurvedic Medicine
- Ayurveda has eight branches, much like modern western medicine. These branches are –
- General medicine
- Paediatrics
- Psychiatry
- ENT & ophthalmology
- Surgery
- Toxicology
- Rejuvenation medicine
- Reproductive medicine

Surgical treatments in Ayurvedic Medicine
Among the eight branches of Ayurvedic medicine, Surgery was the most developed branch. Many elaborate surgical procedures were explained in the treatises and were practiced during ancient times. Only two of these procedures continue to be used to date:
- Ksharakarma or an Ayurvedic herbal cauterisation procedure for piles
- Ksharasutra or an Ayurvedic herbal cauterization threading for fistula-in-ano

- The bloodletting procedures like
- Jalooka (leech) application
- Iravyadha (venesection)
- That are widely practiced globally also fall within the branch of surgery.

The Reference Below :
- 4 Ashtangahridaya. Sutrasthaana. 12.64

- 5 Charakasamhita. Sutrasthaana. 11.54

- 6 Charakasamhita. Sutrasthaana. 11.