By Prabath P
India’s reigning alternative therapy, ayurveda is a profound expression of the holistic nature of good health. Here, we draw attention to the therapy’s diet, seasonal cycles and premier places for treatment
Ayurveda views a healthy individual as a unique and integral whole made of mind, body and spirit existing in harmony with fellow beings and environment. Perfected over five millennia, ayurveda’s holistic healing methods are free of toxic side-effects. In his international best seller, Perfect Health, Dr Deepak Chopra concludes that “the purpose of ayurveda is to tell us how our lives can be influenced, shaped, extended, and ultimately controlled without interference from sickness and old age.”
Ayurvedic Theory and Therapy
The classical texts, Charaka Samhita (Charaka), Ashtanga Hridaya (Vagbhata) and Susruta Samhita (Susruta) form the foundation of ayurveda. According to ayurveda, the body is composed of panchamahabhuta – earth, fire, air, water and ether (space). The inherited combination of somatic humours (tridosha), vata (ether, air), pitta (water, fire) and kapha (water, earth), determines one’s unique constitution, prakriti. “The ayurvedic body type is like a blueprint outlining the innate tendencies that have been built into your system,” says Deepak Chopra. The ten body types are vata, pitta, kapha, vata-pitta, pitta-vata, pitta-kapha, kapha-pitta, vata-kapha, kapha-vata and vata-pitta-kapha.
Vata governs movement, pitta directs digestion and metabolism while kapha governs mucous membranes. Other physical derivatives of panchamahabhuta are dhatus (tissues) and malas (waste products). The psychic states of triguna (sattva, rajas, tamas) – are interconnected to tridosha. The dynamic balance of tridosha, triguna, dhatus and malas create health. Ojas maintains health by integrating body, mind and spirit with prana, the life energy.
Fundamentally, tridosha imbalance causes illness. Other causes are the imbalance of digestive fire (agni), and accumulation of toxins (ama) formed by undigested nutrients and psychological experiences. The intensity of illness depends on how far your current body condition (vikriti) is from prakriti.
The eight branches of ayurveda are kaya chikitsa (general medicine), kaumara bhritya (paediatrics), bhuta vidya (psychiatry), shalakya tantra (ent, ophthalmology), salya tantra (surgery), agada tantra (toxicology), vajikarana (aphrodisiac treatment) and jara chikitsa (geriatrics). The main treatment methodologies are shamana (palliative), shodhana (purification), rasayana (rejuvenation/age-reversal) and satvajaya (mental health).
While modern medicine treats the symptoms and diseases uniformly, ayurveda highlights individual uniqueness in relation to natural habitat. The emphasis is not on cure alone but also on preventive healthcare.
Dr Partap Chauhan, Director, Jiva Ayurveda, Faridabad, writes, “Ayurveda considers each person to be unique and offers personalised ayurvedic treatment. Two persons suffering from the same symptoms may receive different treatment. The treatment is personalized according to the patient’s physical nature (prakriti), age, immunity, mind power, habitat, etc. A customized diet, lifestyle, exercise, emotional support, breathing and meditation techniques also form part of the treatment. Ayurvedic treatments aim to eradicate the root cause of the disease, which could be located in the body, mind, environment, family or profession.”
Kerala school of ayurveda underlines purification and detoxification like the five-fold therapy, panchakarma, though the essential principles are the same as other schools.
Ayurveda can heal a variety of diseases that modern medicine fails to cure.
Dr N.R.Gopinatha Pillai, retired professor and head, Department of Malayalam, Kerala University, a Kerala Sahitya Academy Award winner for Linguistics, had a life-transforming experience with ayurveda. He says, “When I was 29, I fell and broke my leg. The leg was plastered. But there was no improvement and I felt unbearable pain. The knee became stiff with swelling and I couldn’t even bend the leg. The doctors of Thiruvanantha- puram Medical College said surgery was the only way to repair the knee. I was apprehensive of surgery and decided to try ayurveda.”
He approached a traditional ayurvedic physician, Kattukkada Asan. “Asan massaged my leg with a specially prepared herbal oil. The leg started improving as the treatment progressed and became normal after a month. Till now I haven’t had any problem with that leg. I feel if I had agreed to the surgery, my leg would have ended up damaged,” Dr Pillai adds.
Subair, 40, had psoriasis. “I suffered for four years. Endless itching, silvery scales regularly falling from the patches, body pain and fever worsened matters,” he says. He consulted Dr G. Unnikrishnan, Professor and H.O.D, Government Ayurveda College and Hospital, Thrippunithura, Kochi, and recovered fully.
Dr Unnikrishnan says, “The medicated ghee mahathikthakaghritha taken internally is good for psoriasis. Kashaya decoctions are also given. Purification is the main treatment along with palliative samana treatment.”
“Ayurveda greatly emphasizes diet, both for its direct effects on the physiological state and on drug action. Proper digestion is essential for good health,” says Dr Unnikrishnan. Incompatible food:
• Avoid drinking milk with meat, fish, eggs, citrus fruits, radishes, tomatoes and alcoholic drinks, yoghurt
• Eat high-protein and high fat foods separately from light foods (vegetables, starch)
• Eat fresh fruits separate from other meals
• Eat cooked and raw foods separately
• Eat only when hungry, at moderate pace, chewing food
• Eat freshly cooked meals
• Interval of 2-4 hours between light meals and 4-6 hours between heavy meals
• Leave one-third to one-quarter of the stomach empty for aiding digestion
A balanced diet must contain in every meal the tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. The diet should balance one’s dominant dosha in compatibility with seasonal changes. Ayurveda prefers vegetarian diet though it offers non-vegetarian guidelines too.
Daily and Seasonal Routines
“Ayurveda recommends that to be healthy, we should tune our body to nature’s master cycle which in turn regulates various other rhythms. There are definite cycles of changes, in a day and in a year, bringing up vata, pitta, or kapha dosha predominance at a particular point. To maintain health you should make changes in diet and lifestyle to counterbalance this cyclical dosha predominance,” says Dr Shashikant Patwardhan, ayurvedic consultant, practicing for 27 years at Sangli, Maharashtra and chief editor, www.ayurveda-foryou.com.
Daily master cycles:
6 a.m. – 10 a.m. – kapha
10 a.m. – 2 p.m. – pitta
2 p.m. – 6 p.m. – vata
6 p.m.-10 p.m. – kapha
10 p.m.- 2 a.m. – pitta
2 a.m.- 6 a.m. – vata
Recommended by Deepak Chopra in Perfect Health.
Rising : 6-8 a.m.
• Wake up without an alarm clock
• Drink a glass of warm water to encourage bowel movements
• Urinate; bowel movement without forcing
• Brush teeth
• Scrape tongue if coated; gargle with sesame oil
• Massage body with sesame oil (abhyanga)
• Warm water bath
• Exercise: sun salute (surya namaskar), yoga postures, balanced breathing
• Mid-morning walk (one or half hour)
Lunch: noon-1 p.m.
• Eat lunch early (day’s largest meal)
• Sit quietly for five minutes after eating
• Walk to aid digestion (5-15 minutes)
• Meditation in late afternoon
Dinner: 6-7 p.m.
• Moderate dinner
• Sit quietly for five minutes after eating
• Walk to aid digestion (5-15 mins)
Bedtime: 9.30-10.30 p.m.
• Light activity in evening
• Early bedtime (minimum three hours after dinner)
• No reading, eating, watching TV in bed
Premier Ayurvedic Centres
Arya Vaidya Sala,
Founded by Vaidyaratnam P.S. Varier in 1902, it led the revival of authentic ayurveda in India. Varier pioneered ayurvedic medicine production and treatment on modern lines.
According to Dr P.K. Warrier, managing trustee and chief physician, the guiding vision is the “preservation and promotion of ayurveda by providing genuine ayurvedic medicines, treatment, education and research facilities for the benefit of the whole world and maintaining the ayurvedic system of health care resorting to timely adaptations.”
Arya Vaidya Sala spans a national network of 14 branches (including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore) and 1000-odd distributors that market its 500-plus formulations. Its herbal garden and medicine manufacturing centers are the best in India and the Kottakkal Ayurveda College promotes ayurvedic education.
Nestled in the quiet town of Kottakkal in North Kerala, Arya Vaidya Sala’s Ayurvedic Hospital with four treatment blocks, attracts patients from all over India and the world. Genuine ayurvedic medicines, panchakarma, rasayana therapy and Kerala special treatments are provided. Research on cancer and rheumatoid arthritis is being done there.
Kottakkal Ayurvedic Hospital at Karkardhooma, Delhi, offers panchakarma and Kerala special treatments. It has air-conditioned VIP suits with attached treatment rooms, standard rooms with air-cooling system, common treatment areas and free wards.
• Kottakkal, Kerala, 676503.
Phone: 0483-2742216, 2742561
• 18X, 19X, Institutional Area
Karkardhooma, Delhi, 110092.
Phone: 11-22376534, 22376553.
Jiva Ayurveda, Haryana
The health wing of Jiva Institute, Faridabad, Haryana, it propagates original ayurveda worldwide. Dr Partap Chauhan, Director of Jiva Ayurveda, is famous for treating chronic and incurable diseases. Jiva aims to present ayurvedic principles, products and treatment in its original form. Jiva focusses on healing, not mere treatment, and it is followed up to get convincing results.
Jiva has an ayurvedic panchakarma centre in Faridabad and conducts ayurvedic residential courses through its Ayurscape programme, at Sector – 21B, Faridabad. Ayurscape also offers treatments including oil massage, shirodhara, medicated steaming, yoga, pranayama and meditation.
Through Ayunique, a holistic, personalized ayurvedic care program, Jiva has treated diseases like cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, SLE, arthritis, diabetes, migraine, hepatitis, skin diseases, kidney dysfunction, fibroids and tumours. Ayunique services are also available online (www.ayunique.com). Teledoc, a Jiva venture, brings ayurvedic telemedicine services to rural villages. The Jiva College of Ayurveda offers certificate courses, both online and at Jiva Institute.
• 1144, Sector 19, Faridabad, Haryana.
Phone: 129-2296174, 5041541.
Rajah Healthy Acres, Kerala
Part of Rajah Ayurvedic Hospitals, it offers traditional ayurvedic treatment with resort facilities located in the hilly countryside of Kerala. Kerala special methods and treatments for diseases like anxiety, arthralgia, asthma, back pain, diabetes, disc prolapse, eye diseases, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis are available. Cottages surrounded by lush greenery provide a serene atmosphere, increasing the effectiveness of healing. Rajah Healthy Acres revived the ancient age-reversing kayakalpa rasyana therapy in India.
Rajah Ayurvedic Hospitals has another ayurveda centre, Rajah Islands, on a 14-acre island on the backwaters of Kerala. Facilities include air-conditioned houseboats with bedrooms, cottages overlooking the backwaters and the river, suites and treatment rooms.
• Perumannoor, Chalissery, Kootanad,
Palakkad District, Kerala, 679536.
Dr Franklin’s Panchakarma Institute and Research Centre, Kerala
Located near Chowara, close to the famed Kovalam Beach, Kerala, this is a unique ayurvedic centre, catering to foreign and domestic tourists, with Geen Leaf Classification given by the department of tourism, government of Kerala. Dr V. Franklin, chief medical officer, was formerly district medical officer (ayurveda) of Kerala government. Hailing from a family with 400 years of ayurvedic background, he has 35 years experience with panchakarma.
Packages include panchakarma, massage, Kerala special methods, rasayana therapy, a modernised version of kayakalpa longevity treatment, yoga, meditation and body purification. Special treatments are available for psoriasis, bronchial asthma, arthritis and mental ailments.
• Chowara P.O. Thiruvananthapuram
Phone: 471 2480870, 2267974.
Nagarjuna Ayurvedic Centre, Kerala
Nagarjuna Ayurvedic group, the second largest in Kerala, has the highest Olive Leaf Certification by government. Nagarjuna manufactures medicines, cultivates medicinal plants and provides ayurvedic education.
Nagarjuna’s Ayurvedic Centre situated on the banks of Periyar river at Kalady, Kerala, provides comprehensive treatments. This much sought-after destination is a blend of ayurvedic insights, modern amenities and natural surroundings. Nagarjuna’s new nature-based, multi-disciplinary holistic centre at Mulamkuzhi, Kerala, just 20 km away from Cochin International Airport, will become operational towards the end of 2005.
• Thannipuzha, Okkal P.O.,
Kalady, 683550, Kerala.
Phone: 0484 2463350, 2460854
Pankajakasthuri Herbals, Kerala
The state’s first ISO 9002 ayurvedic company, founded by Dr J. Hareendran Nair, offers ayurvedic treatment, manufactures medicines and runs a self-financing ayurveda college. The medicines Pankaja Kasthuri for asthma, Ilogen Excel tablets for diabetes and Somatone caspsules for hypertension are hailed as wonder drugs.
Tucked away in the tranquil Poovachal village near Thiruvananthapuram, the Pankajakasthuri Panchaka-rma Centre, with 18 beds, combines natural environment with modern amenities. Through the franchisee scheme Ayurjeevanam, Pankaja-kasthuri has established a chain of panchakarma centers. Ayurjeevanam aims to make the ayurvedic principles of good health more relevant to modern times by triggering lifestyle changes.
• Poovachal, Trivandrum, Kerala, 695575.
Phone: 0 472 2895301, 2896301.
Ayurveda Yoga Retreat, Coonoor, Tamil Nadu
Situated amidst tea gardens, the centre provides traditional ayurveda, yoga and meditation packages. Founded in 1950 by a family with three generations of experience in ayurveda and yoga, the resort features glass cottages designed according to vaastu for enhancing healing energies.
The retreat won the award for authentic and exceptional service from Ayurveda and Yoga Survey. Treatments offered include panchakarma, rejuvenation, anti-stress, weight-loss, anti-aging kayakalpa and advanced treatments for a range of diseases.
• 286, Sanatorium Kambisholai Road,
Coonoor, 643231,Tamil Nadu.
Phone: 0423 2233161, 2231912
Ashtavaidyan Thaikkattu Mooss’ Aatma, the Ayurvedic Centre, Kerala
This place offers a rejuvenation package at the resort, including oil massage, steam bath and vasti. Specialised treatments like vajeekarana (aphrodisiac treatment), weight reduction, low back pain treatment and yoga are also available.
Treatment at Aatma is unique as ashtavaidyas, the descendants of the disciples of Buddhist Ayurvedic expert Vagbhata, are the traditional Kerala physicians, prominent in all eight branches of ayurveda.
• Near Panchayath Office,
Muriyad, P.O. 680323.
Ph: 0480 – 3091039, 2881397.
Government Ayurveda College and Hospital, Thrippunithura, Kochi, Kerala
This is one of the government ayurvedic institutions providing education, research and treatment. With around 200 beds the hospital provides both inpatient and outpatient treatment in all ayurvedic branches.
• Dr G. Unnikrishnan M. D. (ayurveda),
Professor and H.O.D, (R & B),
Phone: 0474 – 2745690
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