The definition of ‘Ayurveda’ in simple terms means “the science of life”. Ayurveda represents a system of healing that has been perfected over more than five thousand years. It is famed as South Asia’s ancient health care system based on herbs and diet. Ayurveda sees health and disease in holistic terms. It takes into account the relationship between energy and matter. This system of healing believes in treatment of not just the part affected by disease but the individual as a whole. It emphasizes on the harmony of mind, body and spirit to cure diseases.
What is Ayurveda?
It is an ancient system of medicine developed in our part of the world, long before the “father of medicine”, Hippocrates, was even born. The name comes from two conjoined Sanskrit words “Ayuh” (life) and “Veda” (science or knowledge).
Since ancient times, man has engaged in the pursuit of achieving and maintaining an optimum state of health. Way back in 600 BC, Ayurveda emerged in South Asia as the natural way of healing. Today, Ayurveda has evolved into a scientific system of holistic healing that has gained recognition across the globe.
Ayurveda in Sri Lanka
“Ayurveda” is not only a form of medication – it is a way of life known to generations of Sri Lankans for over 3000 years.
The health conscious today are searching for effective alternatives to the spiraling costs and side effects that result from the use of modern medicine. Sri Lankans, in the last couple of millennia has made use of the “user-friendly and traditional medicine – Ayurveda” which over 75% of the island’s population depend on because of its reliance on natural plants, herbs and oils.
Three vital forces of Ayurveda
One of the fundamental beliefs of Ayurveda is the doctrine of “Tri Dosha” or the Three Vital Forces – Vayu, Pita and Kapha. Generally translated into Wind, Bile and Phlegm, a more accurate interpretation of Vayu is the transmission of energy within the body; in modern medical terms, nerve impulses, muscle contractions and hormonal activity.
Pita may not be confined to bile but signifies the whole scope of metabolism and internal heat production while Kapha means mucus, often described as “The Protective Fluid”.
The modern concept of mucus as an antibody containing liquid which coats and protects internal linings of the body, seems to fit in with Ayurvedic thinking. When the three, “Doshas” are balanced, the body is in good health. When this equilibrium is disturbed and the balance of these complementary forces become unbalanced and upset, illness takes over.
Ayurvedic practitioners study the patient as a whole with the object of restoring balance, getting to the root of the problem and treating it. Local folk have been known to say that while western medicine classifieds germs and attempts to destroy them, Ayurveda classifies human beings and attempts to save them.