Acknowledged as the oldest among the different streams of medicine in the world, Ayurveda has become a very popular with the tourists visiting Kerala in the recent years.
Ayurveda, literally meaning the science of life, is more than 3500 years old. Traditionally the knowledge of Ayurveda was passed on through the 'Gurukula' system ie, one master teaching a group of selected students. It was common to have the students residing in the masters' house and working for the upkeep of the house. And whenever the master felt them fit to practice medicine, he would let them start practicing on their own. Now the traditional knowledge has been improved through scientific research and is taught in various Ayurveda Colleges in Kerala. A graduate doctor in Ayurveda, takes5 years of course at college besides six months of internship and is considered on par with doctors of modern medicine.
Ayurveda is based on the vedic philosophy of healthy living as pres prescribe in the 'Atharvaveda', a vedic txt on Hindu philosophy. It is a system of preventive medicine which provides remedies for various illnesses and prescribes ideal lifestyles to prevent the onset of sickness and disease. The majority of ayurvedic medicines are not mass produced, as ayurveda treatment is based on the premise that every that every person has an individualised constitution and medicines have to be tailored to suit the individual. According to ayurveda the human body comprises of 3 constituents known as the 'Tridoshas'. They are 'Vatha', 'Pitha' and 'Kapha'. Though these constituents vary from person to person, one of the 'Tridoshas' predominance can be identified by the physical and emotional characteristics of a person ('Personality types'). Accordingly two people suffering from the same ailment may be prescribed different medicines to suit their constitutions.
To stay healthy, the Tridoshas need to function in harmony with each other, as well as with the five basic elements of the Universe, Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether. Most illnesses arise due to the imbalance in functioning of any one or two of the Tridoshas which leads to malfunction of the internal organs. Although ayurveda acknowledges that infective diseases are spread by germs, the treatment is based on the theory of Tridoshas. Ayurveda does not 'kill' an infection like antibiotics but instead it strengthens body's immune system to fight or infection.
Ayurveda Treatments :
A cloth is dipped in lukewarm medicated oil, and then squeezed over the body for 45 - 60 minutes. This is followed by a gentle body massage. The oils are prescribed depending on the specific ailment.
This is a process traditionally followed once a year, aimed at keeping the body fit and healthy and preventing premature ageing. It is also recommended for papaplegia, hemiplegia and general weakness.
Small cotton bags are filled with a particular kind of cooked rice which is dipped in warm milk with medicated decoction and rubbed on to the body.
This is very effective in cases of wasting of muscles, weakness and rheumatism. The duration varies from 7 to 14 days.
Little cloth bundles made of specially selected herbs are dipped in warm oil and rubbed over the whole body. Recommended for certain types of muscular and nervous ailments. The duration varies from 3 to 7 days.
Uzhichil (General Body Massage) :
Useful for general fitness and well being of the entire body. It helps in toning up muscle tissues, alleviates stiffness of joints, promotes better blood circulation and stimulates the nervous system.
Medicated Steam Bath :
The patient is exposed to a steam bath with medicinal herbs steamed in boiling water. Most suited for obesity, and to rid the body of harmful toxic substances. It has also been found to help certain kinds of skin problems.
Foot Message :
The masseur uses his feet to massage the body. This is excellent for general fitness also. This massage is for conditions of obesity or inflamation of muscles resulting from a fall etc., where extra pressure has to be applied.
The body is massaged with various medicated powders. A procedure primarily to melt away subcutaneous fat and obesity - related problems. It also helps blood circulation.
This process of treatment is done via the nasal canal. Medicated oils of certain herbs are dipped into the nose to expell all the doshas which cause head-related problems. Sometimes, mere inhalation can work wonders.Ideal for sinusitis, problems concerned with dental care, ear, nose and eye ailments, facial paralysis and migraine.
The patient lies on the back and medicated oil is poured continuously on the forehead from an eastern vessel.Extremely beneficial in cases of disorders such as migraines, headaches and insomnia.
The procedure is the same as that of Shirodhara. In this treatment medicated buttermilk is poured on the forehead continuously. It cools the system and is good for eye-ear-nose related complaints.
Punnagathi Kizhi :
Small muslin cloth bags containing special fresh herbs are kept warm by constantly dipping in hot medicated oil slimmered in a pan. These are then rubbed onto the body for 60 minutes.
Kulatha Swedham :
Small bags containing various herbal powders are heated to a constant temperature in a dry pan. These bags are then rubbed longer on the affected parts of the body than the rest of the body, though the whole body is massaged as well.
Ayurveda, Yoga and Tantra are all parts of the ancient life-disciplines that have been practiced in India for centuries. They find mention in the scriptures of the Vedas and Upnishads. Yoga is the the science of the Union with the divine, with Truth; Tantra is the most direct method of controlling the energy that creates the ultimate union with truth; and Ayurveda is the science of life. The purpose of each practice is to help the individual achieve longevity, rejuvenation and self-realisation. The object of the practice of Yoga and Tantra is liberation, although only certain disciplined individuals are able to achieve the ultimate goals through these practices. If Ayurveda is the science of the body, Yoga is the science of the body, Yoga is the science of spirit. They are sister sciences. The practice of Yoga is an important , natural, preventive measure to ensure good health. The practice of an ayurvedic regimen is a precursor to Yoga because it is only when the body is fit that the individual is ready to study the spiritual science of Yoga.