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 Ayurvedic Medicine: An Introduction to Ayurveda  
 

For clinical examination of urine, take a clean vessel and collect the early morning urine in midstream. Observe the color. If the color is blackish-brown, this indicates a vata disorder. If the color is dark yellow, a pitta disorder. Also when there is constipation or the body has less intake of water, the urine will be dark yellow. If the urine is cloudy, there is a kapha disorder. Red color of urine indicates a rakta (blood) disorder. Next there is the oil drop test. With a dropper, place one drop of sesame oil into the same sample of urine. If the drop spreads immediately, the physical disorder is probably easy to cure. If the drop sinks to the middle of the urine sample the illness is more difficult to cure. If the drop sinks to the bottom, the illness may be very difficult to cure. If the drop spreads on the surface in wave like movements, this indicates a vata disorder. If the drop spreads on the surface with multiple colors visible like a rainbow, this indicates a pitta disorder. If the drop breaks up into pearl like droplets on the surface of the urine, this indicates a kapha disorder. Normal urine has a typical uremic smell. However, if the urine has a foul odor this indicates ama dosha (toxins) in the system. Acidic urine which creates a burning sensation indicates excess pitta. A sweet smell to the urine indicates a diabetic condition. In this condition, the individual may experience goose bumps on the skin surface while passing urine. Gravel in the urine indicates stones in the urinary tract.

Chikitsa, Disease Management
Ayurveda says that to restore health we must understand the exact quality, nature and structure of disease, disorder, or imbalance. The body has its own intelligence to create balance. and we are helping in that process. There are four main classifications of management of disease in Ayurveda: shodan, or cleansing; shaman or palliation; rasayana, or rejuvenation; and satvajaya, or mental hygiene.

Shodan, Cleansing
The purpose of shodan, is to remove excess doshas and ama from the body. Shodan includes purvakarma (initial procedures), pradhanakarma (the main procedures), and pashchatkarma (post-operative procedures). Purvakarma procedures move the aggravated doshas and ama from sites deeper in the body to locations in preparation for elimination. Panchakarma (five actions), which belongs to pradhanakarma, then removes these doshas and ama. It includes vaman (vomiting), virechan (purgation), basti (medicinal enema), rakta-moksha (blood cleansing) and nasya (nasal insufflation, administration).

Vaman is vomiting therapy for removing excess kapha impurities out of the body. Virechan is for removing pitta by giving purgation therapy. Basti is to remove excess vata from the body by enema therapy. Nasya is administration of certain herbal powders, medicated oils and medicated concoctions, and ghee into the nose for purification of prana, mind and consciousness. Rakta-moksha includes blood letting by application of leaches or removing blood or donating blood to the blood bank, and using certain cleansing and blood thinning herbs.

Ayurveda says toxins are produced when the aggravated dosha, vata-pitta-kapha, effects the biological fire, agni, which in turn effects digestion, metabolism and assimilation. So undigested, un-absorbed, unassimilated food products remain in the body as a morbid substance. Ama, then, is a toxic, morbid, raw, undigested, unabsorbed, unassimilated, non-homogeneous, sticky substance in the body that adheres to the tissues, clogs the channels and creates toxicity in the body. It enters the blood and creates toxemia, which is a root cause of disease. The root cause of ama is the aggravated dosha attacking agni (fire) and producing low digestion and metabolism. So Ayurveda says that one should remove these aggravated doshas by panchakarma.

Shaman, Palliation
According to Ayurveda shaman, or palliation is the balancing and pacification of bodily doshas (as opposed to elimination). Shaman is of seven types: dipan, kindling the fire (agni); pachan, burning the toxic ama; ksud-nigraha, fasting; trut-nigraha, observing thirst, (not drinking water); vyayama, yoga stretching; atap-seva, lying in the sunlight [Sometimes they make a fire during the daytime or evening and that heat of the fire does cleansing of the astral body, physical body, subtle body and causal body. Lying in the sun, which is also used for kindling the fire in the solar plexus.]; marut-seva, sitting and doing pranayama, meditation.

Shaman is a very spiritual cleansing method of purification. People with insufficient strength to undergo panchakarma, who are emotionally weak and not strong enough to face panchakarma are good candidates for shaman. Any pitta disorder, vata disorder, and chronic kapha disorder which effects the immune system of an individual and affects the agni or fire of the individual, is a very good subject for shaman. Shaman can be done in the healthy person also, because shaman has both curative and preventative aspects. Prevention is better than curing. If we prevent the future ailment through shaman we can attain success in healing the soul.

The first method in shaman is dipan, kindling the fire. Kindling the bodily fire is absolutely necessary in kapha and vata disorders, where the person has low gastric fire. That can be accomplished by using certain herbs like pippili, ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, and chitrak. These different herbs are used in certain proportions with honey internally, which does kindling of the fire. You can do the fire ceremony, by burning certain special woods, making an agnikunda, like a yagyakunda, or fireplace, arranging the woods in a certain pyramidal, square fashion, putting camphor and cotton at the center, and kindling the fire while chanting special mantras. By doing these mantras, you can increase the internal fire. While watching the external fire, you are meditating and chanting certain mantras for agni, the internal fire. Concentrating at the solar plexus, you can also kindle the agni, and that will burn the toxins in the physical body, subtle body, and causal body. This kind of ceremony is very effective for kapha and vata people, but for pitta people it should be done with great caution.

Pachan, burning the toxins is done with certain herbs in certain proportions, because kindling the gastric fire is necessary to improve the digestive capacity. For pachan, Ayurveda uses trikatu, chitrak, cinnamon, ginger, cumin, coriander and fennel. All of these herbal teas are used after meals to improve the digestive capacity of agni. Pachan can be improved through concentration, meditation and contemplation so that the person's digestive capacity will improve and there will be proper assimilation and nutrition of the bodily tissue.

Ksud-nigraha is fasting, or eating a mono-diet. In acute fever, acute indigestion, acute dysentery and diarrhea, Ayurveda suggests fasting. A person may only eat cooked apple with ghee or basmati rice with mung dal and ghee, or just yogurt and rice, and in small quantity. But in acute fever, acute diarrhea and dysentery it is better not to eat anything for a couple of days, so that the bodily fire will kindle and burn the internal toxins. For this, observing a fast is very important.

Trut-nigraha, observing thirst (not drinking water) is very important when water disorders take place, kapha disorders. For example, kidney disorders like edema, or ascites where there is accumulated water in the peritoneal cavity, or certain other kapha urinary disorders where too much water is retained in the system, there Ayurveda says not to give water. Observing thirst means not to drink water. It is not a water fast, a water fast is different. If you drink too much water, it will retain in the body. Trut-nigraha means observing thirst, which is very effective in certain kapha types of disorders.

The next important shaman is vyayam, exercise, yoga stretching. Exercise is defined here as stretching of the muscles in a particular direction with a goal so that you can reach the goal with effort and in that effort you are creating physical stress. Physical stress kindles the fire, like hiking in the mountains, walking, jogging and jumping. Ayurveda says exercise has such a quality that it improves circulation, accelerates the heart rate, enhances the combustion of calories and also stimulates metabolism, regulates body temperature and maintains body weight. Exercise makes your senses alert and attentive and your mind becomes very sharp and develops keen perception. These qualities of exercise are very important, but again, exercise varies from person to person.

Ayurveda suggests certain exercises according to individual constitution. The vata person should do certain yoga postures. The important seat of vata in the body is the pelvic cavity, so any exercise which will help the stretching of the pelvic muscles is good. Therefore the forward bend, backward bend, spinal twist, cobra pose, camel pose, shoulder stand and plow pose help to move the vata in a particular direction and that helps to calm down vata.

The important seat of pitta is the solar plexus, so any exercise that will stretch the muscles of the solar plexus will be very effective for the pitta person. So the fish pose, boat pose, camel pose as well as locust pose and bow pose will help to calm down pitta.

The important seat of kapha is the chest, therefore exercises which will stretch the chest are very effective. Ayurveda says that you can do the shoulder stand, plow pose, locust pose, cat pose, cow pose and bow pose. These different poses improve the circulation of kapha in the pulmonary cavity. Jogging is not good for vata, it is good for kapha, but kapha people don't like jogging. Swimming is good exercise for the pitta person. Swimming is also good for the vata person. Mountain climbing and hiking are good for kapha people, but they don't like hiking. So this is a very interesting thing, that proper exercise is a wonderful art of shaman.

Atap-seva, lying in the sun, is another ancient shaman. The sun is the source of heat and light. The sun is the source of higher consciousness. Pitta predominant people can lie in the sun and apply certain oils (sun blockers) so that they will reduce their exposure. The pitta person should not lie in the sun more than half an hour. The vata person can lie in the sun for about an hour. The kapha person can lie in the sun for more than an hour. If the proper care is taken, lying in the sun and meditating upon the solar plexus, is a wonderful shaman for kapha and vata. It improves circulation, the absorption of vitamin D, and strengthens the bones.

Today, however, lying in the sunlight is becoming very bad because the ionosphere and ozone are damaged and the unwanted radiation (ultraviolet rays) comes to the earth and that aggravates brajak-pitta under the skin which can result in skin cancer. The person that has multiple moles should not lie in the sun. Lying in the moon light is also an ancient art of shaman for reducing pitta.

Lastly, there is breathing. Respiration is partly conscious and partly unconscious. One should do proper breathing through both nostrils by doing alternate nostril pranayama. There are different types of pranayama, the breathing exercise, and there is a totally different science of breath one can study from an experienced teacher. But if you sit quietly, inhale deeply through one nostril, hold the breath into the lower abdomen, and slowly exhale through the opposite nostril, repeating alternately, this kind of pranayama helps to bring balance to prana, apana and udana (subtypes of prana). Out of that balance, one can attain the highest state of tranquility.

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 About The Author
Dr.Vasant Lad Vasant Lad is an Ayurvedic Physician and Executive Director of the Ayurvedic Institute. Dr. Lad brings a wealth of classroom and practical experience to the United States. A native of India, he served for three years as......more
 
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