Q.1 What is Ayurveda?
“AYURVEDA” is made up of two words-Ayuh and Veda. Ayuh means life and Veda means knowledge or science. Thus “AYURVEDA’ in totality means ‘Science of life’. It incorporates all aspects of life whether physical, psychological, spiritual or social. What is beneficial and what is harmful to life, what is happy life and what is sorrowful life; all these four questions and life span allied issues are elaborately and emphatically discussed in Ayurveda. It believes the existence of soul before birth and after death too.

Q.2 What is the Ayurvedic viewpoint of structure and functions of the body?
Universe as well as human body are made up of five basic elements colectively called ‘Panch Mahabhootas’. These are Aakash (Ether), Vayu (Air), Agni(Fire), Aapa (Water) and Prithvi (Earth). The sixth mandatory component of life is Atma (life spirit) without which life ceases. The human body is made up of Doshas (Bio-humours), Dhatus(Body matrix) and Malas (excretable products). Vata, Pitta and kapha, known as Tridoshs are physiological entities of the body which are responsible for carrying out all the functions of the body. Dhatus are the structural entities of thebody. These are Rasa (Plasma), Rakta (Blood cells), Mamsa (Muscular tissue), Meda (Fatty tissue), Asthi (Bony tissue), Majja (Bone marrow) and Shukra (Hormonal and other secretions of genital). Agni (Metabolic fire) is in thirteen different forms and carries out the whole metabolism of the body. The waste products of the body which are excretable are produced in the body as bye-products of metabolism. These are known as malas which include pureesh (faeces), Sweda (sweat) and Mutra (urine). All biotransformations within the body occur through Srotases (body channels) which are the sites for action of agni.

Q.3 What is the basic philosophy of health, disease and treatment in Ayurveda?
As per Ayurveda, ‘Health’ is a state of equilibrium of normal functions of doshas, Dhatus, malas and Agni with delighted body, mind and soul. It means that when Dosh-Dhatu-Malas and Agni are constantly in a state of functional equilibrium, then the health is maintained. Otherwise distortion of the equilibrium results into diseases. Erratic lifestyle is believed to be one of the basic causes behind the failure of mechanism of maintaining equilibrium.
Treatment either with or without drugs and application of specific rules of diet, activity and mental status as described, disease wise, brings back the state of equilibrium i.e. health.

Q.4 How is diagnosis done in Ayurveda?
1. Diagnostic procedures in Ayurveda are two pronged; one is aimed to establish the state and type of pathology and second to decide the mode of treatment tobe applied. The former implies examination of the patient and make different investigations to diagnose the disease entity. Inspection, palpation, percussion and interrogation are the main modes of physical examination. The second type of examination is to assess the strength and physical status of the individual so that accordingly the type of management required could be planned. For this examination of Prakriti (Body constitution), Saar (Tissue quality), Samhnan (physique), Satva (Mental strength), Satamya (specific adaptability), Aaharshakti (diet intake capacity), Vyayaam shakti (exercise capacity) and Vaya (age) is done. On the basis of this examination the individual is decided to be having Pravar bal (excellent strength), Madhyam Bal (moderate strength) or Heen Bal (low strength).

Q.5 What are the main classical reference books of Ayurveda?
The main classical texts for reference of Ayurvedic principles comprise of Charak Samhita, Susrut Samhita, Astang Hridaya, Sharangdhar Samhita, Madhav Nidan, Kashyap Samhita, Bhavprakash and Bhaisajya Ratnavali etc.

Q.6 Is there any rationale behind integrating Ayurveda and Western medicine?
Because of multidimensional wide range of efficacy of Ayurvedic treatment, where certain disease conditions or symptoms become refractory to conventional treatment, a harmonised approach of these two systems of health care has proven to be successful and fruitful. Sometimes Ayurveda helps for a synergistic activity while at other places to antagonise and minmise the toxicity of modern drugs.

Q.7 What is the manpower and institutional profile of Ayurveda in India?
(i) Number of Registered Medical Practitioners 361881
(ii) Number of dispensaries 14252
(iii) Number of hospitals 2189
(iv) Bed strength 33145
(v) Number of teaching institutions(Under Graduate) 187
(vi) Number of upgraded Post Graduate Depts. 51
(vii) Number of specialities in Post Graduation 16

Q.8 What are the main Rasayanas (Immuno-modular) medicines of Ayurveda?
Ashavgandha (Withania somnifera), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Amla (Emblica officinalis), Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), Shilajeet (Black bitumen or Mineral pitch), Suvarn Bhasm (incinerated Gold with herbal excipients) are very potent Rasayana medicines, prescribed judiciously in somatic degenerative disease conditions for immuno-modulation and and adaptogenic effects. Mandookparni (Bacopa Monieri), Mulethi (Glycirrhiza glabra), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia) and Shankhapushpi (Convolvulus Plenricaulis) are from main Psychomodular Rasayanas used extensively in mental disorders and for improving higher mental functions like concentration, retention and memory, Vijaysara (Pterocaspus marsupium) for Diabetes Mellitus, Katuka (Picrosshiza kurco) for liver disorders Vidang (Abies Webiana) for Hoelminthic induced Gasto intestinal problem, Bakuchi (Psorylia Corylifolia) for Leucoderma Bhallatak (Semecarpur anacardium) for piles and autoimmune disorders), Shirees (Albizzia Lebek) fr allergic conditions), Vacha (Acorus clamus) for speech disorders, haldi (Curcuma Longa) for urinary, allergic and septic problems, Neem (Melia Azadiracta) and Khadir (Acacia Catechu) for skin problems and Chirayata (swertia chirayata) for febrile disorders are some of the other Rasayana Medicines for disease-wise use.
Apart from the above mentioned medicines there is an eleborate code of conduct described in the classical text for achieving rejuvenation and maintaining youthfulness.

Q.9 What is a Herbal Tea?
In fact, herbal tea is a misnomer, which confuses the consumer that it is a sort of tea made of tea leaves and other herbal ingredients. Actually, Herbal Tea is a combination of certain medicinal herb components devoid of tea leaves, which on boiling gives a palatable decoction and can be used as an alternative to conventional tea. In accordance to the composition the so called herbal tea has appetizing, antacid, soothing, antitussive, anti common cold and anti pyretic effects.

Source: Dpt. Indian Systems of Medicine and Homoeopathy

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