Ayurveda states that everything in this universe, including the human body is composed of five basic elements.
PRITHVI - Earth
JALA - Water
AGNI - Fire
VAYU - Air
AKASH - Space
These five elements are the basic constituents of everything on Earth. In the human body, space is present where there is an empty, hollow area (nostrils, mouth, ears, throat, lungs, stomach). Air provides movement - such as in the joints, intestine or heart. Fire is present in all metabolic activity; and water in all fluids such as plasma, blood, lymph and saliva. Earth is represented in any solid, heavy part of the body like fat muscles, skin and nails.
In humans, the five elements combine to produce three primary life forces, or "biological humors". The Ayurvedic term for these forces is Dosha. Because there are three of them, they are referred to as the tridosa (tri meaning three), Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Like any other object each dosha is also made of the five elements. However they have predominance of one or more elements as described below:
Vata - air and space
Pitta - fire
Kapha - water and earth.
The doshas can be understood from their qualities and actions in the body. For example, people with a Vata dosha display characteristics and qualities related to the space and air elements - active, restless, mobile. Those with a Kapha dosha (earth and water) are usually very solid, stable and slow.
The Tridosa theory is a basic principle of Ayurveda. All humans have the three doshas, although there is always a predominance of one or more dosha. This predominance of dosha and their unique proportion, in a person, is responsible for her or his unique nature. This unique nature of an individual is called prakriti or constitution. Knowing the constitution assists both in preventing as well as curing diseases.
Other important basic principles of Ayurveda are:
• Dhatus- These are the basic tissues which maintain and nourish the body. There are seven dhatus - plasma, blood, muscle, fat, bone, marrow and reproductive fluid. The quality and quantity of each dhatu and its balanced functioning is very important for good health.
• Mala- These are the waste materials produced as a result of various metabolic activities in the body. The main mala are urine, faeces and sweat. Proper elimination of mala is equally important for good health. Accumulation of mala causes blockages in the body resulting in manifestation of diseases.
• Srota- These are channels which are responsible for transportation of food, dhatus, malas and doshas Proper functioning of srota is necessary for transporting different materials. Blockage of srota causes many diseases.
• Agni- Agni means fire. According to Ayurveda there are 13 types of agni in the body which carry out different metabolic activities. The agni can be compared to different types of enzymes responsible for digestion and metabolic activity.
All these factors should function in a proper balance for good health.
Analysis of the constitution & psychosomatic personality. Based on the above factors and their varying presence in each human being, an investigative analysis is done to arrive at the `Prakriti' of each individual. This forms the basis of the treatment especially in chronic diseases or major health problems.
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Published with the kind permission of Dr. Sachin Dua
Dr. Dua has a tremendous passion for Ayurveda, believing that it is by far the best preventative healthcare system known to man. He holds a B.A.M.S. Degree from M.D. University, Rohtak, Haryana. He is committed to academic excellence and his ongoing goal of providing the highest level of Ayurvedic training outside of India.
He teaches both the public and professionals such as; physicians, chiropractors, osteopaths, psychologists and other professionals in the basic principles and practices of Ayurveda.
Dr. Dua may be emailed at: sachin_dua1979[at]yahoo[dot]co[dot]in
Copyright © 2008 Dr. Sachin Dua. All rights reserved.