Ayurveda. An ancient medical system

Research Paper (undergraduate), 2012
12 Pages, Grade: 2,0



1. Introduction

2. Ayurveda: A milleniums-old concept of life
2.1. The Basics of Ayurveda medicine
2.2. The three Doshas
2.3. The Dhatus and Srotas

3. Ayurvdic therapy
3.1. Health and illness
3.2. Diagnoses and therapy
3.3. Pancha Karma

4. Medical substances

5. Ayurvedic nutrition

6. Conclusion

7. References

1. Introduction

If people living in the western civilization think about medicine the first thoughts coming to their minds may be medical scrubs, syringes, illness, science and a lot of complicated words they don’t understand. Terms like philosophy, prevention, responsibility and being in tune with one’s self and the environment aren’t directly related to the orthodox medicine. But that’s what Ayurveda, mankind’s oldest medical system, is all about. Ayurveda is the doctrine of longevity, it’s a religious based science of how to live one’s daily life. This over 3000 years old scheme, invented by wise men who got together at the foot of the Himalaya Mountains looking for methods to cure diseases, recognizes a close relationship between human and a universe where everything (plants, rocks, animals) is inspired.

On the following pages I will look at Ayurvedic medicine, with its basic assumptions, most important forms of therapy, remedies and its special nutrition system.1

2. Ayurveda: A millenium-old concept of life

2.1. The Basics of Ayurveda medicine

The Vedas composed by the Rhesis at the foot of the Himalaya form the basics of Ayurvedic medicine. They include the first thesis about diagnosis, therapy and measures of sanitation. The Vedas are apaurusheya; an uncreated, timeless, unmanifested reality.2 This means they are subject to constant change, which makes adding of different Sanskrits (medical writings on palm leaves) by different Weidjas (that’s how ayurvedic doctors are called) possible. This adding of new knowledge allowed Ayurveda to improve itself over thousands of years.3

The three most important extensions of the Vedas are: The Caraka Samhita, which unites philosophy with anthropological medical facts, the Sushruta Samhita, where particular attention is given to surgery, which was nearly forgotten after the Buddhist influence on India in the year 300 before Christ, and the Ashtanga Hridaya Samhita, which is a flatly classification of Ayurvedic medicine in eight categories:

Kaya Cikitsa (Internal medicine), Bala Cikitsa (Pediatrics), Graha Cikitsa (Psychiatry), Shalya (Surgery), Shalakya Tantra (Ophthalmology, otolaryngology), Agada Tantra

(toxicology), Rasayana Tantra (longevity and rejuvenation), Vajikarana Tantra (Eugenics and aphrodisiacs).4,5,6

2.2. The three Doshas

In the ayurvedic science, every human consists of a distinct composition of the five elements fire, water, air, terra and ether. These five elements appear in the human body as three bioenergetics, the Doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha, which control all body functions as holistic concepts. The percentage amount of every Dosha is determined at the fertilization and is termed as Prakriti. As a result, one, two, or all Doshas can exist in one human, whereby the dominating Dosha characterizes the physical and mental tees. That principle results in seven different constitutional types: Vata, Pitta, Kapha, Vata-Pitta, Pitta-Kapha, Vata-Kapha, Vata-Pitta-Kapha. In the further course the three Doshas will be explained.

Vata: Is composed of the elements ether and air. It stands for movement and flow. Vata steers movements in the body like breathing, muscle movement or fluctuation of the cytoplasm. It’s the pacesetter of biological action and controls Pitta and Kapha. Humans with a dominant Vata-Dosha, are slender build and got a lot of energy. Their mind is active and restless.

Pitta: Pitta means fire and consists of the elements fire and water, whereby fire dominates. Pitta steers metabolism, digestion and even understanding and intelligence. People with a dominating Pitta-Dosha are normal build. They got a high intelligence and tend to be aggressive.

Kapha: Kapha means biological water and consists of the elements water and terra. It’s the Dosha that gives structure to the body. It forms bones, muscles, sinews and all other tissue types. In addition, it is also responsible for the proper function of the immune system. People with a dominating Kapha-Dosha tend to obesity. They are slow and smoothly (physically and mental).

According to the three Doshas, there are three Gunas. Sattwa represents understanding, purity, clarity, compassion and love. Rajas embodies movement, aggression and extraversion. And last but not least Tamas, which displays nescience, lethargy and stupor.7

2.3. The Dhatus and Srotas

In the Ayurveda, there are 7 different tissue types, the Dhatus. The Dhatus are chronologically related elements, which give the body structure and ensure the proper function of all organs. If one Dhatu fails, it will affect the following Dhatu. The chronology of the Dhatus is constructed as seen below.

1. Rasa (plasma): Contains nutrients of the digested food and provides all organs, tissue types and body systems.
2. Rakta (blood): Manages the oxidation in all tissue types and organs. Preserves one’s life.
3. Mamsa (muscle): Protects the sensitive, vital organs. Manages the movement of joints. Keeps the physical strength of the body working.
4. Meda (fat): Makes everything greasy, makes the tissue types lubricated.
5. Asthi (bones): Stabilizes the body structure.
6. Majja (bone marrow and nerves): Fills the bones and mediates motoric and sensory impulses.
7. Shukra and Artav (Genitals): Consists of all tissue types and makes propagation possible.8

The ayurvedic medicine assumes canal systems existing throughout the human body, the Srotas. There are providing Srotas like the bronchial tubes or the gastrointestinal system and Srotas managing the transport of waste products like the urinary passages or the colon. Even lymph and capillary are Srotas.9

For a better understanding of the ayurvedic medicine I’d like to add, that the fire of the digestion is called Agni. Agni helps keeping the immune system in shape. Additionally the body produces three juices, the Malas (fecal, urine and sweat).10

Ayurveda is, like you see, very comprehensive, that’s why there would be much more things to explain. That would however go beyond the scope of this paper, so I won’t explain further details concerning basics of Ayurveda. The knowledge given on the first pages is enough to understand the information on the following sides.


1 (Lad 13-18)

2 (Schrott 10)

3 (The Moving Visuals Co., narrator)

4 (Schrott 10-16)

5 (The Moving Visuals Co., narrator)

6 (Pandora Film, Dr. B. G. Gokulan)

7 (Lad 19-31)

8 (Lad 39-41)

9 (Ranade 84-85)

10 (Lad 35-38)

Excerpt out of 12 pages


Ayurveda. An ancient medical system
Hochschule für Gesundheit und Sport, Ismaning
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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Ayurveda, India, veden, ayurvedic
Quote paper
Bachelor of Science Max Ande (Author), 2012, Ayurveda. An ancient medical system, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/311294


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