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Ashtanga Ayurveda – a unique holistic living & healing tradition of Kerala

Ashtanga Ayurveda – a unique holistic living & healing tradition of Kerala

Kerala, The God’s own country, upholds the most holistic tradition of health care practices of ancient Ayurveda-evolved over the centuries as a blend of the Classic text Ashatanga Hrudayam and the locally prevailed traditional health care practices, and upgraded from time to time based on research and developments cognizant of the changing pattern of global lifestyle and the needs of the modern world.

Blessed with sandy stretch of seashore of the Arabian Sea, along the entire stretch of around 600kms on the West, the mighty Western Ghats along the entire stretch of the boundary on the East, the 44 rivers and the rivulets criss-crossing the midland, the diversity and abundance in flora and fauna, the bright Sun, the monsoons, and the rich heritage that upholds human values and global harmony, Kerala always stands tall as the best destination to heal the mind and body through authentic Ayurveda way of life and health care.

Interestingly, the treatments prescribed by classic Ayurveda being practiced in Kerala are able to heal certain diseases which are written off elsewhere as incurable.

Ayurveda is the ancient science of healthy living, recommending to live in harmony with oneself and with the Universe. It defines health as a state of physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. This science upholds that each human body, like any other living and even non-living thing, is a microcosm of the Universe, made up of the 5 elements earth, water, fire, air and space, in specific combinations, the ratio of which varies from one to the other. In human body, the constitution is represented by 3 different combinations of these elements (energy levels)-Doshas, termed as Vata , Pitta & Kapha-The ratio of the elements(energy levels in each combination(Dosha) vary from person to person and this makes the constitution of a person unique.

This ancient science upholds the principle that the fundamental requirement for sustaining healthy long life is the balancing of the bio-physico-chemical energies (3 Doshas), the 7 basic body tissues, the regular discharge of waste from the body and the normal functioning of soul, mind and sense organs.

Three Doshas

The disruption in this balance of these Doshas manifests as illness of different types.


Vata represents energies of Air and Space.
Most of the motor and sensory operations are controlled by Vata. Its Imbalance disrupts functions like heartbeat, breathing, speech, blood circulation and bowel movement.
Dominance of Vata indicates restlessness, leanness and creative spirit.


Pitta represents the energy of Fire, and controls the metabolism of the body. Any imbalance in Pitta affects digestion, blood production, skin tone, vision, memory, intellect and emotions.


Kapha represent energies of Water and Earth elements. Kapha imbalance triggers nausea, excess salivation, fatigue, weight gain and loss of appetite.
Dominance of Kapha reflect as greater emotional control, higher stamina and strength, and a more sober nature.

The holistic Ayurveda way of life helps in maintaining and sustaining the vitality of a healthy person, and in curing diseases and restore the health of a patient.

Diagnosis of constitution and health

Through physical examination of pulse, tongue, the voice, the touch, the eyes, the appearance, the urine, and the faeces of the patient the physicians can diagnose the diseases. He takes in to account the season, the environment, the constitution of the body, age, state of mind, habits, meal preferences, the condition of the vitiated tissues, digestion, and the stages of the manifestation of the disease. Based on these factors he will be able to understand the cause of the disease and administer the appropriate medication which will be different for different patients suffering from the same disease.

Ashtanga Ayurveda

The 8 branches of Ayurveda treatments

  • Kaaya chikitsa deals with digestive disorders.
  • Baala chikitsa deals with Paediatrics including obstetrics
  • Graha chikitsa deals with psychosomatic diseases
  • Urdhvanga chikitsa treats diseases of organs which are above the clavicle such as head, eyes, ears, nose, throat and teeth.
  • Shalya chikitsa deals with treatment of diseases caused by foreign bodies and those which need surgery.
  • Damshtra chikitsa deals with Toxicology poisoning by snake, scorpion or insects and also by plants, metals and minerals.
  • Rasayana chikitsa deals with slowing down of biological aging, restoring and rejuvenating the vitality of body and mind. It helps to preserve intellect, memory and concentration, eyesight, hearing and protect skin, hair, teeth, bones and internal organs from degeneration.
  • Vaajikarana chikitsa deals with treatment for sterility

Panchakarma Therapy

The holistic procedure of detoxification, healing, restoring and rejuvenating
Ayurveda is based on the theory that many of the diseases and health issues are caused by the accumulation and saturation of toxic elements in the tissues. It prescribes 5 therapies (Pancha Karma) to get away with these toxins from all parts of the body, treat the cause of the disease by fixing the imbalance in the Doshas and conclude by rejuvenating the body, mind and soul of the patient.

These 5 therapies of Panchakarma are:

  • Vamana (Therapeutic Emesis)
  • Virechana (Therapeutic Purgation)
  • Vasti (Therapeutic enema),
  • Nasya (nasal insufflations of medicines that nourish or aid elimination of toxins through nose) and
  • Rakta Mokshana (Therapeutic Blood- purification and normalise the circulation).

Before initiating the initiating the detoxification, Oleation (massage herbal oil) is done to loosen the impurities accumulated in the issues followed by fomenting ( pushing out the impurities through sweat)

Ayurveda medicines

“Nature contains all of the answers to every health problem and has the magical ability to heal everything using natural materials such as therapeutic herbs and plants. Even the sun’s rays are utilized in a variety of therapies as a source of the greatest medications” … quote from Ashtanga Hridaya

Having variety of herbs and plants in abundance in Kerala and other natural blessings, the Ayurveda medicines are prepared locally using locally available herbs.
These medicines which are prepared as per the quality standards prescribed by the Classical texts, further undergo the modern scientific tests as prescribed by the Bureau of Indian Standards. The Centre for Medicinal Plants Research and the Herb Garden involves in checking the quality of the raw materials.

Most popular Ayurveda medicines

Popular Ayurveda medicines and their use depending on the constitution of the body.

  • Abhayarishta aids digestion and is recommended for curing constipation and haemorrhoids aids digestion and is recommended for curing constipation and haemorrhoids.
  • Amrutharishta is used for treating persistent fever, malaria and also indigestion.
  • Ashokarishta is used for treating menstrual disorders.
  • Ayaskrithy is recommended for patients suffering from diabetes and other related issues.
  • Balarishta is an effective remedy for rheumatic disorders.
  • Dasamoolarishta is given as a cure for general debilities, urinary disorders, gastric problems, nausea, taste loss, paleness, ascites (swelling caused by build-up of fluids in the abdomen), tuberculosis and severe cough.
  • Jeerakarishta is administered to treat post-natal problems, cough, tuberculosis, aphonia (loss of voice) and dyspnoea (laboured breathing).
  • Kudajarishta is a medicine for diarrhoea with blood and mucus discharge and bleeding haemorrhoids.
  • Vasarishta is prescribed for the treatment of asthma, dyspnoea, haematemesis (vomiting blood), and aphonia.

Asava – Fresh Herbal Juices

Asava or Asavam is a category of Ayurvedic medicine prepared by the fermentation of fresh herbal juices. Some of the commonly used Asavas are:

  • Chandanaasava is prescribed for improving complexion and stamina.
  • Hareethakyasava is given for treating general debilities, all kinds of coughs, haemorrhoids, anaemia (iron deficiency), rheumatic disorders, gastric problems, acidity and similar issues.
  • Kanakasava is recommended for the treatment of asthma and dyspnoea (laboured breathing).
  • Lohasava is administered to patients suffering from anaemia, weight gain and loss of appetite.
  • Pippalyasava is used in the treatment of sprue, digestive tract issues, anaemia, intestinal spasms and loss of appetite.
  • Punarnnavasava is recommended for curing oedema (fluid retention), anaemia, ascites (swelling caused by build-up of fluids in the abdomen), as well as spleen and liver disorders.

Kuzhambus – Medicated oils

Kuzhambus are unguent – like viscous medicated oils used for external applications.

  • Balaswagandhadi Kuzhambu is recommended for curing headache, fever, joint pains, and lumbar issues, and for improving stamina.
  • Dhanwantharam Kuzhambu improves the nervous and musculoskeletal systems. It is also used in pre- and post-natal care.
  • Eladi Kuzhambu aids in the treatment of skin disorders, blood-related problems, bruises, and wounds.
  • Karpasasthyadi Kuzhambu is recommended for easing the patient’s suffering due to stiffness and other rheumatic conditions causing numbness and pain.
  • Pinda Thaila is prescribed for reducing swelling and pain triggered by arthritis.
  • Khajitha Pinda Thaila is used for relieving burning sensation, swelling, and redness experienced by arthritic patients. It offers better relief from heat than normal PindaThailam.
  • Panchasneham Thaila stimulates muscle, nerve, bone, and joint functions.
  • Sahacharadi Kuzhambu eases joint stiffness, muscle cramps and other such rheumatic issues.
  • Lakshadi Kuzhambu improves muscular strength. It is recommended for paralytic and osteoarthritic patients.

Lehyas – Jam like medicines

Lehyas or Lehyam are electuaries or jam-like medicines, sweetened using jaggery or sugar. Some of the popular Lehyas used in Ayurveda are:

  • Chyavanaprasa is a popular lehya consumed to reduce fatigue, improve health and immunity, and revitalize the body.
  • Agashtya Rasayana is administered during the treatment of tuberculosis and cough. It improves stamina, and complexion, and is effective against digestive ailments such as sprue and constipation.
  • Chinchadi Lehya is an effective remedy for anaemia (iron deficiency), haemorrhoids, jaundice, heart-burn and acidity issues.
  • Ajamamsa Rasayana improves strength and stamina and is used to treat Vata imbalances.
  • Aswagandhaadi Lehya rejuvenates the body and helps combat anxiety and stress.
  • Brahma Rasayana builds immunity and neural strength and revitalizes the body.
  • Chiruvilwadi Lehya helps remedy Vata and Kapha imbalances. It is highly effective in the treatment of haemorrhoids.
  • Dashamoola Haritaki Rasayana helps in the treatment of persistent fever, anaemia, liver issues and rheumatic disorders.
  • Narasimha Rasayana is a popular remedy for premature greying.

Thaila – Sesame oil

Thaila (Thailam), or sesame oil medicated with herbal mixes, is an extremely useful category of Ayurvedic medicine. Its potency can be increased during preparation through the addition of specific ingredients.

  • Amruthadi Thaila is recommended for the treatment of conditions ranging from the common cold to rheumatic pains and jaundice.
  • Asanavilwadi Thaila helps cure oedema (fluid retention), and all ear, nose and throat disorders.
  • Chandanadi Thaila has a cooling effect and is given for the treatment of neural disorders, haemorrhoids, rheumatoid arthritis and burning sensations in the body.
  • Karpasasthyadi Thaila is used to alleviate joint aches, pains and the effects of hemiplegia (total or partial paralysis).
  • Nagaradi Thaila is used for curing mouth and nose related disorders, and oedema.
  • Sahacharadi Thaila relieves pain and numbness, especially in the lower limbs afflicted by rheumatic ailments.

Churans – medicinal powders

Churnas are medicinal powders used for a wide range of treatments. They are prepared by the repeated crushing and sifting of herbs and minerals to achieve a specific consistency.

  • Ashta Churna is administered to children worm who suffer from infections and stomach pains. It ensures the smooth functioning of the digestive tract and remedies indigestion issues.
  • Avipathy Churna helps patients regain control over their bowel movements. It is also recommended for people suffering from anaemia (iron deficiency) and gastric disorders.
  • Dadimashtaka Churna soothes acidic imbalance in the body, helps with digestion and regulates bowel movement.
  • Eladigana Churna is used for treating skin ailments such as blemishes and irritations
  • Hinguvachadi Churna is effective in the treatment of a variety of gastric disorders, colon malfunctions, obesity problems, stomach bile issues, as well as urinary and sinus infections.
  • Karpooradi Churna remedies mucus problems related to cough and common cold.
  • Rajanyadi Churna cures gastric issues and revitalises the body.

Gulikas – medicinal balls

Gulikas are tablets dispensed to patients for their ease of consumption. They are made by rolling medicinal pastes into balls and drying them under the sun.

  • Chandraprabha is a gulika recommended for the treatment of diabetics, spleen disorders, urinary issues and anaemia (iron deficiency).
  • Dhanwantharam is prescribed for ante- and post-natal care. This gulika is also a remedy for asthma, digestive issues and joint aches.
  • Hinguvachadi is a solution for all digestion-related issues including acidity, bile imbalance, obesity and lack of appetite as well as breathing-related problems and sinus infections.
  • Kaisoragulgulu helps in the treatment of ulcers due to rheumatoid arthritis, ordinary wounds and skin problems.
  • Karutha Vattu is ground with milk or oil and applied on swellings and inflammations to heal them, or on the forehead to cure high bouts of fever.
  • Marma Gulika is also mixed with milk and butter and applied externally to heal wounds, bruises, cuts, aches and inflammations.
  • Yogarajagulgulu is administered for curing skin, blood and joint-related ailments.
  • Ghrutha is essentially ghee, or clarified butter, heated with a herbal mixture and prepared in the consistency of a Thaila. It is given to the patient to cure issues ranging from joint pains to nervous disorders, epilepsy (involuntary movements and convulsions) and even poisoning.
  • Brahmi Ghrutha is used in the treatment of epilepsy, aphasia (inability to comprehend or discern words), memory loss and brain damage.
  • Gulgulu Thikthaka Ghrutha helps treat joint aches, skin disorders, sinus infections, diabetes and haemorrhoids.
  • Indukantha Ghrutha improves stamina, and cures rheumatic pains, intermittent fevers and intestinal spasms.
  • Jathyadi Ghrutha is applied externally on wounds to heal them.
  • Sukumara Ghrutha is prescribed for the treatment of hernia, haemorrhoids, constipation and genital disorders.
  • Thikthaka Ghrutha helps treat various types of poisoning, bleeding, ulcers, skin diseases, epilepsy and mental illnesses.

Kashayas – water based

Kashayas are water-based extracts of medicinal herbs, often mixed with other medicines as well.

  • Ashtavarga Kashaya is a medicine recommended for patients suffering from joint pains, anxiety, and stress.
  • Chiruvilwadi Kashaya is used to treat constipation, haemorrhoids and other rectal issues.
  • Dasamoolakaduthraya Kashaya is given to patients suffering from respiratory and digestive issues, chest pain, fevers, and headaches.
  • Dhanwantharam Kashaya is widely administered for post-natal care, and for the treatment of rheumatic complaints, digestion issues, and partial paralysis.
  • Elakanadi Kashaya is given to patients with cough and asthma.
  • Gandharvahasthadi Kashaya is a natural laxative, and it also helps treat rheumatic complaints.
  • Indukantha Kashaya revitalises the body, and aids in the treatment of tuberculosis, intestinal spasms and joint pains.
  • Manjishtadi Kashaya helps manage rheumatoid arthritis, skin disorders and anaemia (iron deficiency).
  • Nadee Kashaya is used in post-natal care. It also helps treat joint pains and intestinal spasms.
  • Nayopaya Kashaya is a remedy for all types of joint issues, asthma, and cough.
  • Padolamooladi Kashaya is prescribed for curing skin ailments, inflammations, leprosy, and constipation.

Medicated Oil

Medicated oil for treating ArthritisKeras, Raskriyas [Lambatives] and Avarthis [Medicated Oil] are widely used across God’s Own Country as daily remedies for a number of ailments.

  • Murivenna is a popular oil-based herbal concoction applied externally for treating superficial injuries, fractures and sprains. It also acts as an antiseptic.
  • Neelibhringadi oil helps patients recover from hair loss.
  • Karpooradi oil relieves arthritis-related fluid build-up and body pain.

Ilaneer Kuzhambu is given to patients suffering from acute cataract and conjunctivitis. It keeps the eyes healthy in general, and protects them from contaminants.

Ksheerabala Avarthi relieves rheumatic pains. The potency of this medicine can be increased as the treatment progresses.

Ayurvedic Massages

Ayurvedic MedicinesThe general massages for overall well being:

  1. Abhyangam- Oil massage all over the body. Good for muscular agility and easy joint movements.
  2. Shirobhyangam – Oil massage of head and shoulders. Good for movement of neck and shoulders. Also improves tranquillity.
  3. Paadabhyangam – Oil massage of calf muscles and plantar region. Improves leg movement. Good for general health as plantar pressure points are activated.
  4. Shirodhara – Dripping warm oil in thin line on the forehead. Calms down the nerves. Brings tranquillity. Good for sleep and brain function.
  5. Udvarthanam – Massage in the opposite direction with herbal powders. Helps to reduce excess fat.
  6. Kateevasthi – Oil pool over the spine. Improves the health of back bones and spinal muscles.
  7. Greevavasthi – Oil pool behind the neck. Improves the health of neck bones and muscles.
  8. Januvasthi – Oil pool on knee. Improves the health of knee bones, muscles and ligaments.

Ayurveda is not only a science of curing diseases holistically but also the Science of healthy-living holistically.

Life is in healthy state when all the organs of body are functioning in harmony, mind is in cheerful state, and soul is peaceful.
Quote from Adharva Veda

Visit Kerala, destress, relax and rejuvenate to begin life anew!

Join us onboard RV Vaikundam for the 7Nights expedition, exploring the serene rural life and experiencing the Heritage that is well preserved. On board, take the consultation of Chief Physician, Dr. Madhav Chandran Rasayana Ayurveda, and treat yourself with Panchakarma therapy that your body needs.

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