Ayurvedic pathology of disease, the manifestation of which is not immediate, is very scientific. In the Dhanvantari-samhita of the Garuda Purana indigestion is called the “parent of all diseases” and according to Ayurveda all diseases have their origin somewhere in gastro-intestinal tract where undigested, raw material called ama is allowed to accumulate. Therefore so much emphasis is put on not overeating. Due to indiscretion in eating habits and improper digestion due to anxiety and anger and / or uncleanliness of food, ama begins to accumulate either in the stomach or in the upper part of small intestine. This is the first of five progressive stages of disease, technically called chaya. In this chaya stage diseases are best treated. Ayurvedic medicines are very effective at this stage as well as at later stages. Allopathic medicines do little or nothing in chaya.
The ama can accumulate also in the lower area of the large intestine due to some kind of blockage there. The nature of ama is going to vary according to the predominant diet and makeup of an individual.
The place of origin of disease is called the mulasthana (root situation) and Ayurvedic medicines aim at interfering with it there.
There are three doshas. They are known as vayu-dosha, air or the nervous system; pitta-dosha, bile or the metabolic system; and kapha-dosha, mucus-phlegm or the excretory system. In fact, all understanding of the science hinges around these. Although this is a simplification of their actual position, the gross understandings of these three doshas are air, bile and mucus. The nature of ama will be predominantly one, or sometimes two of these.
The subtle symptoms which are present during the chaya stage are apathy, heaviness, bloated feeling in the abdomen, pallor and some loss of appetite. Few persons are intelligent enough to start treatment in this stage.
The next stage is called prakopa. Because the problem has not been rectified, the accumulated ama begins to liquefy at the mulasthana. Thirst, burning sensations, sour eructations (belching) and flatulence (unexpelled air in the stomach) are symptoms of this stage. Toxins begin to seep outside the walls of either stomach or intestines and enter channels of circulation. This is called vitiation of dosha (remember, the ama is of the nature of doshas). A dosha becomes vitiated when too much of it has been consumed and thus it builds up as ama. Few patients treat a disease at this stage either.
The third stage of disease is called prasava, the spreading stage. The wandering toxins spread through one of the three main circulatory systems of the body, namely the alimento-respiratory tract, the blood or the vital organ-bone-joint system and settle at the first weak spot, a site where no local resistance has been built up. The symptoms of this stage are nausea, loss of taste and painful abdomen.
The fourth stage is called sthana-sanskriya. Toxins or dosha has found its site and is accumulating. Thus an improper balance of one of the three doshas is growing in the body. Good health is equivalent to static balance of the doshas in the body and bad health is equivalent to imbalance among them. At this stage of sthana-sanskriya unwanted bacteria or viruses accumulate to breed in the environment. The disease emerges in full and everyone rushes to the physician who then administers an antibiotic to cover the symptoms.
Ayurvedic medicines are prescribed to eliminate the specific dosha buildup and vitiation, called dosha-kara. The germs which cause the disease have their habitat taken away from them. This is the right way to cure disease.
But along with the medicines there must be a proper program of activity for true effectiveness. Trying to ignite a fire while pouring water on it is the philosophy of the deluded. Therefore we have to know the eight pillars of disease prevention according to Ayurveda:
- Dina-charya, the prescribed bodily regulations
- Ritu-charya, consideration of the season
- Shad-vritta, the proper mental culture
- Timely attention to nature’s calls
The four subordinate pillars are:
- Inherent qualities of liquids and solids
- Rules for eating
- Proper sleep
These, of course, could expand into a whole book in themselves. Thus we are going to present a general synopsis only. Strictly following Srila Prabhupada’s sadhana complemented with common sense and intelligence incorporates almost all of these understandings.