Ayurveda or the 'science longevity' is the system of nature cure. It is known to promote positive health, natural beauty and long life. Although rooted in antiquity, Ayurveda is based on universal principles and is a living, growing body of knowledge - as useful today as it was in earlier centuries.
Ayurveda [ayur + veda] is considered to be a sub-veda or the branch of knowledge that is concerned with the physical health and happiness on earth which therefore assumes great significance to human life. Vedic culture was based on the Vedas [ four books of knowledge] the origin of which dates back to 40000 years. This is an indication to the age old roots of Ayurveda. Ancient physicians segmented the universe into different types of manifested energy and attributed the very same energy to food and herbs.
In India Kerala has been a prime centre for the development of Ayurveda for long. The verdant forests and hills abundant in herbs and other flora are extremely valuable for the preparation of Ayurvedic concoctions. Keralites or Malayalis adhere to a ayurvedic lifestyle in their cuisine, religious rituals, oil baths, periodic purification etc. Even the martial art forms and dances have drawn from Ayurvedic therapy of health, exercise and healing. This tradition has been kept alive in this exotic land of Kerala at the south western tip of india by Vaidyars (physicians). These physicians classify a patients' state of health according to the imbalances of the three doshas namely Vata, Pitha and Kapha. Kapha is the entire physical volume in a living organisms, pitha, the entire biochemical process operating in a body and Vata is that which constitutes bodily movement and activity. A disturbance in any of these three doshas leads to a particular disease and the treatment is administered to restore the equilibrium.
The treatment is prescribed by a physician based on the patients' state of health gauging by the status of the doshas - can be in
stages, sometimes of longer duration. Depending upon the nature and itensity of the disease the treatment involves either medicines or
oil baths and massages or a combination of both. Another theory of Ayurveda is that certain passages or minutest channels of the human
body has to be cleansed regularly through processes like emesis [ vamana ] , purgation [ virechana ], oil- predominent enema [ snehavasti ]
, decoction- predominant enema [ niruhavasti ] and nasal medication [ nasya]. Panchakarma is the Ayurvedic terminology for this five fold
purificatory process which involves repested application of oil and heat therapy in tandem with certain internal medication. Panchakarma
rejuvenates the body and mind to its potential.
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 STEM 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.
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.
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.
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.