Ayurvedic is an alternative medicine system with historical roots in the Indian subcontinent. The theory and practice of Ayurvedic is pseudoscientific. Ayurvedic is heavily practiced in India and Nepal, where around 80% of the population report using it.
Ayurvedic therapies have varied and evolved over more than two millennia. Therapies include herbal medicines, special diets, meditation, yoga, massage, laxatives, enemas, and medical oils.
Ayurvedic preparations are typically based on complex herbal compounds, minerals, and metal substances (perhaps under the influence of early Indian alchemy or rasashastra). Ancient Ayurvedic texts also taught surgical techniques, including rhinoplasty, kidney stone extractions, sutures, and the extraction of foreign objects.
The main classical Ayurvedic texts begin with accounts of the transmission of medical knowledge from the gods to sages, and then to human physicians. Printed editions of the Sushruta Samhita (Sushruta’s Compendium), frame the work as the teachings of Dhanvantari, Hindu god of Ayurvedic , incarnated as King Divodāsa of Varanasi, to a group of physicians, including Sushruta.
The oldest manuscripts of the work, however, omit this frame, ascribing the work directly to King Divodāsa. Through well-understood processes of modernization and globalization, Ayurvedic has been adapted for Western consumption, notably by Baba Hari Dass in the 1970s and Maharishi Ayurveda in the 1980s.
Historical evidence for Ayurvedic texts, terminology and concepts appears from the middle of the first millennium BCE onwards.
In Ayurveda texts, Dosha balance is emphasized, and suppressing natural urges is considered unhealthy and claimed to lead to illness. Ayurveda treatises describe three elemental doshas viz. vāta, pitta and kapha, and state that balance (Skt. sāmyatva) of the doshas results in health, while imbalance (viṣamatva) results in disease.
Ayurveda treatises divide medicine into eight canonical components. Ayurveda practitioners had developed various medicinal preparations and surgical procedures from at least the beginning of the common era.
There is no good evidence that Ayurveda is effective to treat or cure cancer. Some Ayurvedic preparations have been found to contain lead, mercury, and arsenic, substances known to be harmful to humans.
A 2008 study found the three substances in close to 21% of U.S. and Indian-manufactured patent Ayurvedic medicines sold through the Internet. The public health implications of such metallic contaminants in India are unknown.
The central theoretical ideas of Ayurveda show parallels with Sāṅkhya and Vaiśeṣika philosophies, as well as with Buddhism and Jainism. Balance is emphasized, and suppressing natural urges is considered unhealthy and claimed to lead to illness. For example, to suppress sneezing is said to potentially give rise to shoulder pain.
However, people are also cautioned to stay within the limits of reasonable balance and measure when following nature’s urges. For example, emphasis is placed on moderation of food intake, sleep, and sexual intercourse.
According to ayurveda, the human body is composed of tissues (dhatus), waste (malas), and humoral biomaterials (doshas). The seven dhatus are chyle (rasa), blood (rakta), muscles (māmsa), fat (meda), bone (asthi), marrow (majja), and semen (shukra).
Like the medicine of classical antiquity, the classic treatises of Ayurveda divided bodily substances into five classical elements, (Sanskrit) panchamahabhuta, viz. earth, water, fire, air and ether.
There are also twenty gunas (qualities or characteristics) which are considered to be inherent in all matter. These are organized in ten pairs: heavy/light, cold/hot, unctuous/dry, dull/sharp, stable/mobile, soft/hard, non-slimy/slimy, smooth/coarse, minute/gross, and viscous/liquid.
The three postulated elemental bodily humors, the doshas or tridosha, are vata (air, which some modern authors equate with the nervous system), pitta (bile, fire, equated by some with enzymes), and kapha (phlegm, or earth and water, equated by some with mucus).
Contemporary critics assert that doshas are not real, but are a fictional concept.The humours (doshas) may also affect mental health. Each dosha has particular attributes and roles within the body and mind; the natural predominance of one or more doshas thus explains a person’s physical constitution (prakriti) and personality.
Ayurvedic tradition holds that imbalance among the bodily and mental doshas is a major etiologic component of disease.
One Ayurvedic view is that the doshas are balanced when they are equal to each other, while another view is that each human possesses a unique combination of the doshas which define this person’s temperament and characteristics.
In either case, it says that each person should modulate their behavior or environment to increase or decrease the doshas and maintain their natural state. Practitioners of Ayurveda must determine an individual’s bodily and mental dosha makeup, as certain prakriti are said to predispose one to particular diseases.
For example, a person who is thin, shy, excitable, has a pronounced Adam’s apple, and enjoys of esoteric knowledge is likely vata prakriti and therefore more susceptible to conditions such as flatulence, stuttering, and rheumatism.
Deranged vata is also associated with certain mental disorders due to excited or excess vayu (gas), although the Ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita also attributes “insanity” (unmada) to cold food and possession by the ghost of a sinful Brahman (brahmarakshasa).
Ama (a Sanskrit word meaning “uncooked” or “undigested” ) is used to refer to the concept of anything that exists in a state of incomplete transformation. With regards to oral hygiene, it is claimed to be a toxic byproduct generated by improper or incomplete digestion. The concept has no equivalent in standard medicine.
In medieval taxonomies of the Sanskrit knowledge systems, Ayurveda is assigned a place as a subsidiary Veda (upaveda). Some medicinal plant names from the Atharvaveda and other Vedas can be found in subsequent Ayurveda literature.
Some other school of thoughts considers ‘Ayurveda’ as the ‘Fifth Veda’. The earliest recorded theoretical statements about the canonical models of disease in Ayurveda occur in the earliest Buddhist Canon.
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