Ayurvedic Drug – Medicine

Ayurvedic medicinal substances are used to bring about a balance of the tridoshas In traditional Ayurvedic practice, a medicinal formula is always considered as being more than merely the sum of its parts. It is the overall balance or action of a formula that is valued.

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Preparation of Ayurvedic drugs follows the general Ayurvedic philosophy that emphasizes the whole; that is, substances are combined in such a way that their natural attributes synergistically enhance the action of the whole formula .Traditional formulas are often named. The name may denote a specific combination of herbs and other products prepared in a prescribed way, or formulas may be named for their major ingredient(s), for the person who first devised the formula, for the therapeutic action, for the part of the plant used, etc, for example Triphala powder is the mixture of powders of  three fruits amla, baheda and hirda: Chyavanprash is a semisolid formulation named after a sage ‘Chyavan’ who first devised the formula.

 

The principles that guide Ayurvedic medicinal formulation are:

synergy, opposition, enhancement, protection, and balance.

Synergy is the enhancement of the effectiveness of herbs and minerals with similar or complementary action, when they combine together.

Opposition is the counterbalancing of an undesirable effect  an herb or mineral  by adding another ingredient with the opposite action.

Enhancement is the promotion of the efficacy of the main ingredient, by either increasing its activity or its absorption, by the addition of other ingredients to a formulation.

Protection describes when the potential toxicity of a formula is checked by adding mild laxatives or diuretics that promote elimination.

Balance describes when the antagonistic actions of different portions of a formula are considered in balance with each other.

 

Preparation Methods

Single drugs are rarely used in Ayurveda. The formulations often contain heterogeneous mixtures of herbs and minerals with a complex process of purification and preparation.

The traditional methods used to prepare Ayurvedic drugs are based on the principles of extraction, concentration, and purification. The choice of preparation method depends on the part of the plant to be used, on its condition (fresh or dried), and on the drug’s expected use; for example, cold decoctions are preferred for conditions attributed to an excess of pitta. Plants can also be used whole or as their expressed juice.

A common method for the preparation of an herbal decoction involved 1 part of herb to 16 parts of water. This mixture is then gently heated  until it reduced to one-fourth of the original volume. Water is the major solvent used for extraction, but milk, oil, or fermented juices are also used. Both medicinal wine (asava-arishta) and medicinal jams (leha-avaleha) are used in Ayurvedic preparations.

 Some substances used in Ayurvedic medicine are toxic in their original form, such as poisonous herbs (aconite) or metals (lead, mercury, arsenic, antimony). Shodhana (purification) is the process by which toxic substances are purified; that is, rendered less toxic. For example,  detoxification of mercury  involved heating and cooling the mercury salt, grinding it, and then suspending and re-suspending the substance in a variety of liquids. Specific products that facilitate the process are added at each stage of preparation. In addition, the instructions may call for the use of a specific vessel at different stages of preparation, and they may be detailed to the point of stating from which direction the heat is to be applied. It is the experience of Ayurvedic practitioners that at the conclusion of an appropriate purification process, the toxic substances are no longer poisonous but are therapeutic.

The classical Ayurvedic methods of preparation are complex, tedious, and shortcuts in preparation may make a significant difference in the efficacy and safety of the resultant product. Because of this, it may be beyond the scope of the average scientific paper to exactly describe the method in which an herb is prepared, especially if a formula is used. This may create a problem in replicating the results of other researchers.

Properties of Ayurvedic Herbs

Ayurvedic herbs are described and classified according to five major properties: rasa (taste), guna (physicochemical properties), veerya (potency), vipaka (post-digestive effect), and prabhava (unique effect of the drug) .The term rasa, mean taste, can also mean dhatus or tissues.

Rasa

It is divided into six major tastes: madhura (sweet), amla (sour/acid), lavana (salty), katu (pungent), tikta (bitter), and kashaya (astringent). In Ayurveda, each taste is made of a combination of two of the five basic elements or mahabhutas (earth, water, fire, air, and ether). Each taste has corresponding effects on the three bodily doshas (pitta, vata, and kapha).

Guna

It represents the more physical aspects of a medicinal substance. There are five major classes of guna, and each class corresponds to one of the major elements:

heaviness corresponds with earth;

unctuousness with water;

keenness and sharpness with fire;

dryness with air; and

light with ether.

Gunas are generally considered in pairs: light/heavy, wet/dry, etc. There is an extensive subdivision of guna based on combinations with the elements, but its description is beyond the scope of this report

Veerya

It represents the active principle or potency of a drug.

Factors such as growth conditions, harvesting technique, and storage affect an herb’s veerya. Various authorities have different classification systems for this attribute. The simplest system classifies veerya as having properties that range between hot and cold. Substances that heat are pitta dominant; cooling ones are kapha and vata dominant.

Vipaka

It is the quality a substance takes on after it has been acted on by the body. After digestion,  the rasas are simplified into three groups corresponding to three vipakas.

Prabhava

It refers to a drug’s unique influence on the body. Even though the drugs have the same rasa, guna, veerya, and vipaka they may have different actions in the body. The drug’s prabhava accounts for these differences.

Yoga as therapy in psychosomatic medicine

Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.

1979;31(1-4):373-81.

 Goyeche JR.

 

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Yoga as therapy with psychosomatic disorders has been practiced for many centuries in India, and only recently has become utilized for this purpose in other countries. The yoga system evolved as a ‘system of liberation’ to allow man to discriminate between his ego-self and pure consciousness, and as such, its medical benefits are really ‘side-effects’. Integral yoga practice, however, with which many other self-regulatory somatopsychic approaches have much in common, consists of a holistic technology which functions to restore optimal homeostatis by a variety of special techniques not found in other approaches. Clinical observations of psychosomatic patients indicate that their distorted somatopsychic functioning necessitates their practice of yoga-like therapy. A review of the clinical evidence available indicates that yoga practice has proven most effective with a wide range of psychosomatic and psychiatric disorders. The effectiveness of yoga can be partially understood in terms of neurophysiological theory.

 

 

Homeopathy

Homeopathy (homeopathic medicine) is a form of health care that developed in Germany. Homeopathic practitioners are commonly called homeopaths. The term homeopathy comes from the Greek words homeo, meaning similar, and pathos, meaning suffering or disease. Homeopathy is an alternative medical system. Alternative medical systems are built upon complete systems of theory and practice. Homeopathy seeks to stimulate the body’s defense mechanisms and processes so as to prevent or treat illness.

History of Homeopathy:

In the late 1700s, Samuel Hahnemann, a physician, chemist, and linguist in Germany, proposed a new approach to treating illness. This was at a time when the most common medical treatments were harsh, such as bloodletting, purging, blistering, and the use of sulfur and mercury. At the time, there were few effective medications for treating patients, and knowledge about their effects was limited. Hahnemann was interested in developing a less-threatening approach to medicine. The first major step reportedly was when he was translating an herbal text and read about a treatment (cinchona bark) used to cure malaria. He took some cinchona bark and observed that, as a healthy person, he developed symptoms that were very similar to malaria symptoms. This led Hahnemann to consider that a substance may create symptoms that it can also relieve. This concept is called the “similia principle” or “like cures like.” The similia principle had a prior history in medicine, from Hippocrates in Ancient Greece–who noted, for example, that recurrent vomiting could be treated with an emetic (such as ipecacuanha) that would be expected to make it worse–to folk medicine. Another way to view “like cures like” is that symptoms are part of the body’s attempt to heal itself–for example, a fever can develop as a result of an immune response to an infection, and a cough may help to eliminate mucus–and medication may be given to support this self-healing response.     Hans Burch Gram, a Boston-born doctor, studied homeopathy in Europe and introduced it into the United States in 1825. European immigrants trained in homeopathy also made the treatment increasingly available in America. In 1835, the first homeopathic medical college was established in Allentown, Pennsylvania.   Homeopathy is particularly popular in Europe and India, although less so in the USA, where such therapies have been subject to tighter regulation. Stricter European regulations have also been implemented recently by the EDQM.

Homeopathic Remedies:

Treatment involves giving very small doses of substances called remedies that, according to homeopathy, would produce the same or similar symptoms of illness in healthy people if they were given in larger doses. Treatment in homeopathy is individualized (tailored to each person). Homeopathic practitioners select remedies according to a total picture of the patient, including not only symptoms but lifestyle, emotional and mental states, and other factors. Most homeopathic remedies are derived from natural substances that come from plants, minerals, or animals. A remedy is prepared by diluting the substance in a series of steps. Homeopathy asserts that this process can maintain a substance’s healing properties regardless of how many times it has been diluted. Many homeopathic remedies are so highly diluted that not one molecule of the original natural substance remains. Remedies are sold in liquid, pellet, and tablet forms.

Homeopathy and side effects:

Homeopathic medicines in high dilutions, taken under the supervision of trained professionals, are considered safe and unlikely to cause severe adverse reactions.

Homeopathy Scientific controversies: Research studies on homeopathy have been contradictory in their findings. Some analyses have concluded that there is no strong evidence supporting homeopathy as effective for any clinical condition. However, others have found positive effects from homeopathy. The positive effects are not readily explained in scientific terms. Homeopathic formulas are based on the theory that even when a remedy is diluted with water to the point where no starting material remains, the water will retain a “memory” of what it was once in contact with. Homeopaths assert that the therapeutic potency of a remedy can be increased by serial dilution combined with succussion, or vigorous shaking. This dilution is often repeated such that there is no active molecule present in the solution. Because of this, homeopathy is often characterised as a mystical belief system that depends on faith from practitioners and patients, and therefore distinct from conventional medicine which is generally supported by scientific evidence.

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