Traditional Āyurvedic Medicine utilizes a unique framework for understanding and quantifying health and disease. Doṣhas are Āyurvedic medical concepts but you can learn about them. Understanding doṣas can help you engage more fully in your Āyurvedic journey to health. You may also learn to better manage your own health at every stage of your life.
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Doṣha is a Sanskrit word that means ‘that which goes bad’. Doṣhas are the key components of your body and perform all of its functions from breathing and moving to seeing and digesting.
Doṣhas perform their various functions properly when they are at their optimal levels. They have a tendency to become sick or malfunction when they deviate from their optimal levels. This is when you experience symptoms of discomfort or disease.
Doṣhas are primary factors of Āyurveda for diagnosing and treating disease. There are three classes of doṣas and they are divided according to their qualities.
The three doṣhas (Vāta, Pitta, and Kapha) operate in the scope of the human body and represent the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and space.
Vāta doṣha has qualities similar to the air or wind. It governs all forms of movement in the body, enthusiasm and eagerness, inhalation and exhalation, the initiation and expulsion of all substances that need to exit the body, proper transportation within the digestive system, sharpness of the sense organs, conscious decision making and the normal downward functions of peristalsis.
Insomnia, anxiety, emaciation and constipation are conditions related to vāta doṣha.
Pitta doṣha is likened to the sun and has qualities similar to fire or heat. It governs the body’s temperature, desire for food, digestion, vision, hunger, thirst, complexion, intelligence, discrimination, bravery, happiness and softness or delicateness of the body.
Rashes, fever and mood disorders are conditions related to pitta doṣha.
Kapha doṣha is likened to the moon and has qualities similar to water and earth. It is responsible for the body’s stability, unctuousness and lubrication, well-bound joints, tolerance and patience, heaviness, virility, strength, patience and the absence of greed.
Obesity, depression and edema are conditions related to kapha doṣha.
Complex health conditions like Diabetes, skin diseases and digestive problems may involve more than one doṣha.
Each of the three doṣhas is divided into five subtypes that perform separate functions within the body.
Vāta doṣha, like air and space, performs the following functions.
Pitta doṣha, like fire, performs the following functions.
Kapha doṣha, like water and earth, performs the following functions.
The three doṣhas are composed of all five elements – earth, fire, water, air and space – in varying proportions. Each doṣha has certain unique qualities or characteristics that aid in detection. They perform their functions in specific locations of the body when healthy and they correspond to certain time periods of the day, year and a lifetime.
Doṣhas may be in one of two states – normal and abnormal. In their normal state, they support the proper, healthy functioning of the body. In their abnormal state, they may either fall below their natural level or over-produce into a state of excess. Both situations give rise to certain symptoms that can be detected and managed by a qualified professional.
When abnormal levels of doṣhas are present, the introduction of palliative measures like specific changes or additions to the diet can help reduce the appearance of symptoms. This approach can be beneficial as a short-term solution and should only be taken under the guidance of a qualified professional.
For long-term relief of symptoms, a Pañchakarma program is recommended to manage the doṣhas.
The law of ‘like increases like, and opposites decrease’ is a guiding principle in management of the doṣhas. When you use substances and activities that are similar to the doṣhas their levels increase. When you use substances and activities that are opposite in nature to the doṣhas their levels decrease.
While it is highly beneficial to manage the doṣhas by making such adjustments to bring about homeostasis, there is another more effective method to relieve the body of discomfort and symptoms of disease.
Cleansing doṣhas from the body through the process of Pañchakarma provides a more complete, long-term resolution to health problems with a far greater impact on reestablishing health and building resilience to disease.
The medically-supervised Pañchakarma that we offer at MD Āyurveda gives you the opportunity to experience and benefit from traditional Āyurveda Pañchakarma while under the care and supervision of a physician who can apply modern medical knowledge, diagnostic tools, and medicines to your unique health needs.
Engage in Western medicine and make use of Western diagnostic methods while also receiving the holistic therapies of Pañchakarma.
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