Ageing In Ayurveda
By Dr. Sajimon George BAMS. AAA. ATMS
Ageing is not a disease but it is a natural phenomenon. Accelerated ageing, age associated diseases etc are conditions that deserve attention. Speed of ageing process depends up on many factors including genetic factors, living environment and lifestyle. In certain ethnic groups and families ageing happens slowly. In people who live in polluted environment and stressful surroundings age rapidly. Ageing results in arthritis, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, cataract, osteoporosis, diabetes, hypertension, and memory related disorders .Globally more than 60% deaths occur due to age related diseases.
Ayurveda is defined as veda (knowledge) of Ayu (life).This holistic system contain detailed knowledge required for healthy living of every stages of life such as Balya (Child hood), Kaumara (Adolescent), Youvana (Youth), Vardhakya (Old age). Aging cause structural, physiological and psychological changes of body. Vaghbhata enlists following changes during aging. Aging decreases the quality and quantity of dhatus, reduces sensory perception and causes wrinkles of skin (Vali), graying of hair (Palithya), Khalitya (Baldness).
Ayurveda has eight specialties or branches (Ashtanga) and Rasayana chikitsa is one among them. This speciality is meant for managing age related conditions and about treatment procedures, formulations and principles behind them. Chronological aging (aging with respect to date of birth) is irreversible but by following Ayurvedic life style and undergoing treatments according to Ayurvedic Rasayana chikitsa, physiological aging can be retarded or reversed.
Ayurvedic principles suggest that the three basic humors such as Vatha, Pitha and Kapha will have predominance (within the physiological level not in the pathological level) during old age, middle age and younger age respectively. It is thus obvious that as age advances, body cells and subtle channels called srothas get dried up or Vatha start to predominate body functions. Functions related to sensory perception is controlled by Vatha in equilibrium. Vatha aggravation during aging impairs sensory perception leading to hearing impairment, impairment in tactile perception, visual perception etc.
While considering methods for preventing aging process concept of Aachaara rasayana is very important. It emphasizes importance of healthy mind in preventing aging process. Suggested measures for achieving healthy and slow aging or aachaara rasayana is leading a good lifestyle by not indulging in material life and attachments, patience, truthful, leading a life obeying rules lay down by sages. Ayurvedic classics say that such a person doesn’t even require any rejuvenative medicines. All medicines used for rejuvenation are light and easy to digest, appetizing, nutritive, and hence won’t cause blockage of subtle channels or srothas. We can understand that when someone lead such a pious life he will be emotionally very calm and free radical production in the body will be minimum.
Rasayana chikitsa specialty of Ayurveda deals with management of age associated disorders and its prevention. Rasayana treatment may be done to young adults to old people. In the case of old people it may be done till the body can withstand treatment procedures. Impact of aging can reach every organs and systems. Hundreds of formulations are mentioned in Rasayana specialty to address each of these problems.
Treatment starts from accepting the truth that aging is natural, denial of this truth only will increase stress associated with aging. Treatments increase dhatus or body tissues quality and quantity wise.
Rasayana specialty is done in two ways.
- Kuteepraveshika B.Vathaathapika.
It is the superior mode of treatment. But while undergoing this method, patient needs to go through very strict procedures and stringent restrictions. Whole treatment is done in a building in auspicious, ideally ventilated place. The place should be free from dust, fumes; patient should abstain from sex and emotional disturbances. Only after completing the whole three stages of treatment procedures the patient will come out of the building.
Stage 1 Purification procedures
Patient should undergo all panchakarma or detoxification procedures such as Vamana, Virechana, and Vasti and Nasya.
Each of this detoxification procedures are done in a very classical manner.
Based on the system most affected by the aging, medicines for each procedure are selected. Prior to Vamana (Medicated vomiting), Virechana (Purgation), Vasthi (Medicated enema) and Nasya (Nasal drops) suitable medicated oil/ghee is given for oleation. After sweating procedures these purification procedures are given.
Stage 2 Peyaadikrama or light food regimen.
While undergoing treatment procedures digestive power may get affected. Hence after each purification procedure, patient is given very light to digest semi solid food for two to three days. This restriction helps in regaining normal digestive power.
Stage 3 Administration of specific Rasayana or rejuvenative preparations
Here patient can have the rejuvenative preparations while living in the normal environment without undergoing purification procedures or light food regimen. Since patient is allowed to take medicines along with his normal life it can be applied to anyone.
Large numbers of rejuvenative formulations are given in classical texts addressing different health problems of aging.
Following are some of the formulations given by Vaghbhata
- Brahama rasayana: General preparation for retarding aging process and specifically mentioned for intellect related senile changes.
- Thriphala rasayana : General rejuvenative and specially for eye diseases
- Pancharavinda Rasayana : Specifically for the age related weakness of male sex glands
- Gokshura rasayana (Tribulus terestris): Specifically for male sex glands rejuvenation.
- Thuvaraka rasayanam (Hydnocarpus laurifolia ): Specially for skin diseases
- Thippali rasayana (Piper longum): Especially for joint diseases.
- Lasuna rasayana (Garlic – Allium cepa): Specifically for nervous system disorders.
- Bhallathaka rasayana(Marking nut, Semicarpus anacardium) : Specially for Diabetes, Skin diseases, Non bleeding piles.
- Chitraka rasayana(Plumbago indica ): Nervous system and skin related disorders
- Mandooka parni (Centella asiatica ) : Specifically for intelligence related senile changes
- Yashti madhu(Glycyrrhiza glabra) : Specifically for intelligence related senile changes
- Guloochi (Tinospora cordifolia): Specifically for intelligence related senile changes.
- Thila rasayana (Sesame seeds): Especially for teeth and bones.