Ayurveda as an Immunomodulator and ant-ageing
Every one of us wants to know how to look younger and healthy. Ayurveda holds all the secrets to living, maintaining and preserving a sweet, beautiful, meaningful long life.
Ayurveda is the ancient system of Medicine in the world. Ayurveda, the science of life deals with every aspect of life.
Attaining a human life, according to the Vedas, Buddhism and old Ayurvedic scriptures (such as Chakara Samhita) is the greatest gift of God to humans so that we realize our true selves.
No matter what your age, there are things you can do to look and feel younger, healthier, and happier. You hold the future of your health in your own hands.
The wonderful thing about ayurvedic healing is that it teaches both damage prevention and damage-reversal. So, following these few basic tips can make a big difference to that image you see in the mirror.
Ageing is inevitable. It involves physical, psychological, mental and social changes in a person. Wrinkled skin, greying hair and macular degeneration are a few symptoms of ageing.
While one cannot avoid these changes, but can definitely delay them through medications, natural kitchen ingredients or Ayurvedic herbs.
Ayurveda is known to be the art of daily living in harmony and the laws of nature. It is an ancient natural wisdom of health and healing. Ayurvedic treatment for an ailment is focused on three doshas of a person – Vata dosha, Pitta dosha and Kapha dosha.
It believes in maintaining a perfect balance among these three aspects, which is the secret to how to look younger and healthy.
The process of degenerating cells as you grow old is known as ageing. Ayurveda suggests herbs that can help reduce the symptoms of ageing by regenerating body cells.
Most herbs have various antioxidants that inhibit the growth of cell-damaging free radicals in the body.
What is Rasayana?
The word ‘Rasayana’ is composed of two words i.e. Rasa and Ayana. ‘Rasa’ means fluid or juice and ‘Ayana’ means Pathway. Hence the word ‘Rasayana’ means the path of the juice’. Or the means by which one gets the excellence of Rasa is known as Rasayana.
Rasayana in Ayurveda is described as – a “Drug, diet and regimens which destroys the old age and disease is called Rasayana.”
How to look younger and healthy?
How Rasayana prevents anti-ageing is a big question in mind. Now, Rasayana can be correlated with Anti-ageing therapy. That means by taking Rasayana we always remain healthy and young.
This does not mean that you will not die. It means that even when you are in your 80s or 90s you are able to perform your normal duties and you don’t have to depend on others.
According to Ayurveda, rejuvenation takes place so that a person becomes healthy and explores the spiritual aspect of life.
The Rasayana (rejuvenation) branch of Ayurveda specifically deals with ageing and its effects.
As ageing is a degenerative and palliative phase and process like Rasayana checks its pace and impact substantially, resulting in slowing down the ageing process.
Every man wants to live long and healthy. This is possible by promoting rejuvenation, healing, and regeneration of living tissue in the body and for this Rasayana therapy in Ayurveda has no competitor.
Ayurveda has two aims i.e. prevention and promotion of health and secondly cure of the disease. Rasayana may be employed for fulfilling both of them i.e. protection and promotion of health and curing the diseases.
Rasayana is one of the eight branches of Ayurveda being practised. Rasayana drugs are those medicines which are capable of imparting superior Rasas and Dhatus to the body and toning up the system of healthy persons.
Rasayana aid in increasing natural immunity, enhancing general well-being, improving the functioning of all fundamental organs of the body and keeping the signs of early ageing at bay.
Taking Rasayana is helpful to increase the immunity of the person to keep him away from disease and also reverses the disease process and prevents the re-occurrence.
The Rasayanas are rejuvenators, and nutritional supplements and possess strong antioxidant activity. They also have antagonistic actions on the oxidative stressors, which give rise to the formation of different free radicals.
The main purpose of Rasayana therapy is to impede the ageing process and to delay the degenerative process in the body.
Rasayana is the term given to special herbs, fruits or any other form of medication that are known to promote positive health and longevity.
After taking Rasayana we can learn how to maintain a balance between the material and spiritual aspects of life and help others also to understand it.
This will help in establishing peace, happiness and love on Earth.
How does Rasayana work?
Rasayana promotes nutrition by direct enrichment of the nutritional quality of rasa(nutritional blood) by promoting nutrition through improving Agni (digestion) metabolism and by promoting the competence of Srotas (microcirculatory channels) in the body.
It has been reported that the ‘Rasayanas’ have rejuvenators, and nutritional supplements and possess strong antioxidant activity.
They also have antagonistic actions on the oxidative stressors, which give rise to the formation of different free radicals. They are used mainly in ageing, atherosclerosis, highly infectious diseases, cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune and Parkinson’s disease.
Their anti-stress actions have made them therapeutically more important. These Rasayana drugs probably reduce stress levels by affecting antioxidant levels.
So, these Rasayana drugs act as potent antioxidants and neuroendocrine-immune modulators.
Types Of Rasayana
There are various classifications for Rasayana therapy. Some of them are as follows-
A. On the basis of Need
- Kamya Rasayana is used to fulfil a wish, a desire or to serve a special purpose (Kama – desire). It is also used to promote general physical & mental health. It is of three types:
- a) Prana Kamya Rasayana – These are promoters of vitality, longevity and maintaining the best quality of Prana (life energy) in the body. Eg.– Brahm Rasayan, Amlak Rasayan, Amlakavleh
- b) Medha Kamya Rasayana – These are used for enhancing the memory and intellect. Eg. — Shankhpushpi Rasayan,Nagbala Rasayan
- c) Srikamya Rasayana – Promoter of complexion.
These help to fight against a specific disease. Some examples of this Rasayana are — Dhatri Rasayana, Mandookaparni Rasayana, Brahmi Rasayana and Triphala Rasayana.
B. On the basis of Place of Therapy
Which can be administered by keeping the individual inside a cottage. It is also called as In -door therapy.
Kutipraveshika is made up of two words i.e. Kuti meaning
“A hut or cottage” and Praveshika means “To enter”.
In this method, the person has to reside in a special cottage for a long period while receiving various Rasayana herbs. Elaborate arrangements are made there.
The person has to strictly follow the prescribed diet and other instructions given by the physician. He should undergo Panchakarma therapy before taking the rejuvenation medicines.
This type is not suitable for a person who has to carry on his profession or family responsibilities. This method strictly abides by the laws of nature. Positive results can be obtained in a short period of time.
This can be administered even if the individual is exposed to the wind and the sun. It is also called Outdoor therapy.
Vatatapika Rasayana does not bear stringent rules and can be practised in your routine life. This is rightly indicated in the name “Vatatapika”, where “Vata” means air, and “atapa” means heat or sun.
So, this is a method of taking Rasayana, while a person remains exposed to air and heat and this type can be taken while working and doing your normal routine work.
Because of scarce availability of time, resources and finances, staying in health resorts may not be suitable for some people. This method is best and suitable for common people. It comprises different types of Ayurvedic herbal preparations.
Vatatapika Rasayana can be used even without undergoing Panchakarma therapy. Some special preparations used as a Vatatapika Rasayana are as follows–
- Amalaki Rasayana
- Haritaki Rasayana
- Pippali Rasayana
- Vidanga Rasayana
- Shilajitu Rasayana
- Brahma Rasayana
- Loha shilajitu Rasayana.
- On the basis of diet and lifestyle –
- Aushadha Rasayana – Based on drugs and herbs
- Ahara Rasayana – Based on diet and nutrition
- Achara Rasayana – Based on Lifestyle
Due to Medha (wisdom) a person is able to obtain the knowledge of the existing objects and hence person becomes learned.
Mechanism of action-
Nagarjuna has mentioned that Medhya drugs act mainly by their Achintya Veerya i.e. Prabhava. The effect of Medhya Rasayana is also at different levels such as at the level of Rasa, Agni, and Srotsa.
At the level of Agni, these drugs act by stimulating and improving the function of Agni. At the level of Srotsa, these drugs improve the circulation of Rasa by opening and cleaning the microchannel and then ultimately improve the function of Medha.
These drugs have a beneficial effect on the body as well as on the mind.
Various Medhya Rasayana used are Mandukparni Svarasa, Shankhpushpi Kalka, Guduchi Svarasa and Mulethi Churna. These Medhya Rasayana are described in Charaka Samhita.
- Satva guna- Panchamahabhoot is said to have characteristics of three Mahaguna namely Raja, Satva and Tama. Medha is attributed to the predominance of Satva Guna,
Hence Aakashiya, Taijus, and Aapya drugs having Satva guna predominance improve Medha.
- Tikta Rasa has a direct action on the promotion of Medha. Madhura Rasa also by promoting the formation of Oja nourishes the five senses, mind and medha.
Hence Medhya Rasayana Drugs appear to be predominantly Tikta-Madhura Rasa. Amla, Lavana and Katu Rasa are of having least importance in Medha’s action.
- Ushana Veerya drugs stimulate Saadhak Pitta which promotes Medha. Ushana Veerya drugs improve Grahan Shakti (power of reception) and Samriti (Power of recalling).
- Madhura Vipaka nourishes Medha by the formation of Oja.
So, all the Medhya Rasayana drugs improve mental function and intellect.
Achara Rasayana means rejuvenation by ways of good conduct. Most of these Rasayana are related to Mana, Dhi, and Dhriti along with good conduct and hence result in maximum benefit.
According to the Ancient Ayurveda text(Charak Samhita), the one who can get the most out of Rasayana therapy has the following characteristics–
- Satyavadi – truthful
- Akrodha – free from anger
- Nivrutta Madya Maithunaat – devoid of alcohol and sex indulgence
- Ahimsaka – who do not indulge in violence (ahimsa) or exhaustion
- Anaayaasa – peaceful and pleasing in their speech
- Prashanta – calm
- Priyavaadi – who talk sweetly
- Japa Shaucha para – who do regular Mantra chanting and who is clean
- Dheera – courageous
- Daana nitya – who regularly donate
- Tapasvi – who meditates compassionate
- Sama Jaagarana Swapna – whose period of awakening and sleep is regular
- Nitya ksheera ghrutaashee – who habitually take milk and ghee
- Desha Kaala Pramanajna – who does things appropriate to the country and the time
- Yuktijna – who are experts in the knowledge of rationality
- Anahankruta – who are free from ego
- Shastaachaara – whose conduct is good
- Asankeerna – who are not narrow-minded
- Adhyaatma – who have a love for spiritual knowledge
- Pravanendriya – whose sense organs are in excellent conditions
- Who have reverence for seniors Astikas (those who believe in the existence of God and validity of the knowledge of the Vedas)
- Jitaatmana – having self-control and
- who regularly study scriptures
Those who possess these qualities get the best out of rejuvenation therapy.
Importance of Shodhana
It is very essential for a person who wishes to undergo Rasayana therapy to undergo samshodhana as a preparatory procedure.
As already emphasized, Rasayana is more effective when it is given after Panchakarma therapy.
The person is strongly advised to undergo Snehana, Swedana & Panchakarma i.e. Vamana, Virechana, Basti, Nasya, Rakta-mokshana.
The samshodhana process detoxifies both body and mind. This helps in the initial detoxification of the body and prepares it for the Rasayana regime.
However, if a person is not eligible for samshodhana or is not able to get samshodhana then he can also take Rasayana preparations which still boost the qualities of rasa in his body.
What are the uses of Rasayana Therapy?
Benefits of Rasayana (Charak Samhita)-
- It enhances intelligence, memory power, willpower, body strength, skin lustre sweetness of voice and physical strength.
- It nourishes the blood, lymph, flesh, adipose tissue and semen. This prevents chronic degenerative changes and illness. It gives freedom from chronic degenerative disorders like Arthritis and senile diseases.
- Rasayana is thought to improve metabolic processes and eradicates senility and other diseases of old age.
- Helps to attain optimal physical strength and sharpness of sense organs.
- Rasayana nourishes the whole body and improves natural resistance against infection by increasing Immunity power.
- Rasayana invigorates the body in general by sustaining the required balance between anabolism and catabolism.
- Rasayana Therapy regulates the circulation of vital fluid and eliminates waste materials, rejuvenates the nervous system and keeps vigour and stamina.
- Prevents the wasting of muscles, delays the ageing process, and keeps bones, and tendons strong. Prevents osteoporosis.
- Improves whole body circulation, prevents greying of hair and provides good sleep and appetite.
- Rasayana Therapy keeps the body and minds pleasant.
- It restores youth
- Control all diseases.
- Excellent medicine for virility, longevity and promoter of energy.
- Promotes strength, Satva (mental activities), memory, physique, Agni (power of digestion and metabolism) and Indriya (power of senses).
Contraindications Of Rasayana Therapy
Who is not eligible for Rasayana?
- Persons who are excessively indulged in alcohol or whose anger is not well controlled or are violent. Remember Rasayana therapy is a Satvik process.
- Extreme poor people because Rasayana therapy is a bit costly.
- For people who are lazy as this therapy requires regular follow-ups.
- People who do not take medicines seriously. These are not like ordinary medicines which you may take on your own and can also stop when you are fine.
Rasayana is a special part of Ayurveda medicines which must be taken under the strict guidance of an Ayurveda expert only.
Herbs are used for Rasayana therapy and their actions. According to Sharangdhara are-
1. Rasayana on the basis of their uses-
- Vacha (Acorus calamus), Swarns bhasma used for gaining strength in childhood
- Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Bala (Sida cordifolia) are used for growth and development in teenage.
- Amalaki (Embelica officinalis), Lauha bhasma used for improving lustre or complexion
- Shankhapushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis), and Jyotismati (Celastrus panniculatus) are used for increasing brain power
- Bhringraj (Eclipta alba), Priyal (Buchanania lanzan), and Jyotismati (Celastrus panniculatus ) are used for improving skin tone.
- Triphala, Shatavari(Asparagus racemosus), Jyotismati (Celastrus panniculatus ) Saptamrut lauha used for sharpening eye-sight.
- Atmagupta (Mucuna prurita), and Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) used for fertility and in impotency
- Amalaki (Embelica officinalis), Bala (Sida-cordifolia) are used for gaining vigour
- Brahmi (Centella asiatica) is used for improving recall power
- Bala(Sida-cardifolia), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) are used for improving physical stamina
Rasayana for specific Dhatus
- Rasa dhatu – Draksha(Vitis vinif era), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), Dates(Phoenix sylvestris)
- Rakta dhatu – Amalaki(Embelica officinalis), Bhringaraj(Eclipta alba), Suvarnamakshik Bhasma
- Mamsa dhatu – Masha, Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Bala(Sida-cordifolia), Kupilu (Nux vomica), Rajat bhasma
- Meda dhatu – Guggulu, Shilajit, Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), Guduchi,
- Asthi dhatu – Shukti bhasma, Kukkutandatwak bhasma, Vanshalochana
- Majja dhatu – Shankhapushpi, Loha bhasma, Swarna bhasma
- Shukra dhatu – Kapikacchu (Mucuna prurita), Vidarikanda (Pueraia tuberosa), Shatavari, (Asparagus racemosus), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Swarna bhasma, Ghee and Cow milk.
Rasayana for body systems
- Respiratory System – Chyavanaprasha, Vardhaman pippli
- Digestive System – Fresh Ginger, Cardamom, Pippali (Piper longum), Bhallataka (Semicarpus anacardium), Haritaki, (Terminalia chebula)
- Circulatory System – Amalaki(Embelica officinalis), Bhringaraj (Eclipta alba), Dates (Phoenix sylvestris), Dhatri lauha, Draksha(Vitis vinifera), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), Suvarnamakshik Bhasma
- Muscular System – Masha, Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Bala (Sida-cordifolia), Kupilu (Nux vomica), Rajat bhasma
- Skeletal System – Shukti bhasma, Kukkutandatwak bhasma, Vanshalochana
- Nervous System – Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Loha bhasma, Shankhapushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis), Swarna bhasma
- Reproductive System – Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Kapikacchu (Mucuna prurita), Shweta Mushali, Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), Vidarikanda (Pueraia tuberosa), Swarna bhasma, Cow- milk and ghee
- Urinary System – Punarnava (Boerrhevia diffusa), Gokshura (Tribulus terrestris)
- Excretory System – Kutaj (Holarrhena antidysenterica), Vidanga (Embelica ribs), Triphala
Rasayana based on their action on tissues/glands
- Adipose tissues – Guggulu (Commiphora mukul), Shilajit, Haritaki, Guduchi
- Sweat glands – Basil, Kupilu (Nux vomica)
- Female Menstruation tissues – Ashoka (Saraca asoca), Lodhra (Symplocos racemosa), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus)
- Female Lactation glands – Shatavari(Asparagus racemosus), Jeeraka (Cuminum cyminum), Milk
Rasayana according to organs
- Eyes – Triphala, Shatavari(Asparagus racemosus)
- Nose – Nasya of Anu oil
- Skin – Tuvarak (Hydnocarpus laurifolia), Khadir (Acacia Catechu), Bakuchi (Psoralia cordifolia)
- Brain – Calamus
- Heart – Guggul (Commiphora mukul), Swarna bhasma
- Neuro-Muscular System – Bala(Sida-cordifolia), Nagbala (Grewia hirsuta), Garlic (Allum sativum)
Rasayana according to the Ayurveda body constitution
- Vata – Bala (Sida-cordifolia), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
- Pitta – Amalaki (Embelica officinalis), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia)
- Kapha – Bhallataka (Semicarpus anacardium), Guggul, Pippali (Piper longum) and Garlic (Allum sativum)
You must now be aware of ways to appear younger and healthier. To have both a sound body and mind and to always be young and healthy, you must adhere to the Ayurvedic Daily Regimes and take the necessary Rasayana preparations.