Ayu (life) in Ayurveda has been defined as the time span during which co-ordination between four essential components namely – body, senses, mind and soul run. During this span, various changes occur which are natural and inevitable. The classical texts of Ayurveda divide life stages into three categories according to the types of changes that occur throughout those stages – Bala (up to 16 yrs), Madhya (16 – 70 yrs) and Vriddha (beyond 70 yrs). The vriddha stage or ageing is accompanied by the process of decay and manifests degenerative changes at the physical, physiological and psychological level.
All these changes hamper the homeostasis of an individual and create an unpleasant state, hence Ayurveda considers ageing as a disease. Classical texts have categorized ageing under palliative disease and its management has been summarized into 2 main therapies.
Excellent Ayurveda Therapies For Anti-Aging
- Rasayana Therapy
- Panchakarma Therapy
1. Rasayana Therapy
Rasayana-tantra is one of the branches of Ashtanga-Ayurveda which deals with the longevity of life, increasing physical and mental strength, developing immunity and alleviating senility and maintaining youthfulness. Since ageing is accompanied by degenerative changes, increased stress, reduced immunity and declining memory the inherent properties of Rasayana drugs help to alleviate these effects.
The word Rasayana (rasa + ayana) refers to the circulation of nutrition needed to provide nourishment to the body tissues. Rasayana drugs are directly added to the pool of nutrition and in turn help in improved tissue nourishment. Asparagus, Milk, Ghee etc.
Various scientific studies have shown anti-stress and adaptogenic effects of Rasayana drugs like Shilajatu and Ashwagandha (winter cherry). Pharmacological investigations on Guduchi (Heart-leaved moonseed) has pointed to its immunomodulatory effect. Drugs having nootropic effects i.e. which work upon the intellect, like Brahmi (Water hyssop), Sankhapuspi etc enhance cognitive ability, memory and learning skills. Rasayana drugs like Amalaki (Indian gooseberry), Yesthimadhu (Liquorice) etc. have been discovered to help the physiology in overcoming oxidative injury too.
2. Panchakarma Therapy
Panchakarma therapy is a unique therapeutic technology of body detoxification which forms the most fundamental component of Ayurvedic treatment.
Several intermediary comforting measures of Panchakarma therapy like Abhyanga (oleation), Sveda (fomentation), Sirovasti (a technique of retaining medicated oil on head) and Sirodhara (pouring medicated oil on forehead) are very useful for physical fitness and rehabilitative effect.
Since constipation is a common problem in aged patients Mridu Virechan (mild purgative) is best suited. Among a variety of Vasti, Matra vasti is a harmless and standard one which can be used routinely. Other vasti such as Greeva vasti, Kati vasti and Janu vasti can be utilized in the management of cervical spondylosis, lower back pain, osteoarthritis of knee etc. which are commonly seen in elderly patients. Nasya (nasal insufflation) is beneficial in headache, stress reduction, improving mood and emotions.
Other than these therapy diet and life-style management play an equally important role in the management of ageing.
- Food must be soft, palatable and easily digestible
- Food aggravating Vata dosha like pungent, bitter, astringent should be avoided.
- Food with light, unctuous, gelatinous properties should be given
- Intake of milk before going to bed
- Vegetarian diet
- Satmya (habituated) food should be continued new foods should not be introduced.
Dincharya (daily regimen), Ritucharya (seasonal regimen) and Sadvritta (code of conduct) described in Ayurveda can be an ideal measure for proper management of daily life routine.
Following dincharya regimens help to regularize biological clock, aids in digestion, and generates discipline, peace, happiness, and longevity.
The concept of Ritucharya or seasonal regimen is based on the observation that physiology of body shows relative changes with changes in seasons, and hence in order to adapt properly with such changes, we need to manage our dietary habit and lifestyle.
From Sishir to Grishma (Mid-January to Mid-July) strength of body and digestive power decreases gradually, while the opposite occurs from Varsha to Hemanta (Mid-July to Mid-January). In accordance with these changes, dietary habit and lifestyles need to be adjusted.
Sadvritta consists of principles of ethics of every aspect of life. It includes being truthful and compassionate, adopting non-violence, acquiring the company of humble, kind and moral people, controlling senses and appetite etc. These conducts help an individual to cope with other members of the society which can help to relieve loneliness observed in elderly patients.
Increased life expectancy due to advances in medical science is resulting in an increasing population of the aged. The burden of chronic disease and disability associated with ageing is increasing day by day. In order to manage this burden and to avoid the effect of ageing, a normal elderly person should take panchakarma therapy followed by Rasayana, taking in account – dietary and lifestyle management according to Ayurveda in order to promote overall health.