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Prevention Of Ageing With Ayurveda

by Dr V V Lakshmi Prasuna(more info)

listed in ayurveda, originally published in issue 161 - August 2009

Ageing is an inevitable change for all living organisms. Most people panic about getting old. It's not the ageing, but the consequences of ageing which troubles them. By following the principles of Ayurveda, it is possible to slow down the process of ageing, restore physical and mental strength and prevent the consequences of ageing up to certain extent. In Ayurveda, old age is called jara. It is of two types:

  1. Akala jara – premature ageing
  2. Kalaja jara – timely ageing

Akala Jara – Premature Ageing

Akalajara or premature ageing or early onset of ageing comes to those who don't follow the proper diet and behaviour regimen. The main reasons for this are: [1](cha.chi.1/2/3)

Diet: Amla, Lavana, Katu rasa ati sevana(More intake of Sour, salt, pungent, foods), Laghu, Sushka saka and mamsa (Dry meat, vegetables and very light food), More intake of ginger, rice varieties, More intake of sprouts, Incompatible diet, Unsuitable diet, Excessive dry and alkali food, Heavy foods, Untimely eating, Irregular food habits.

Behavioural: Sleeping in the day time, Excessive indulgence in sex, Excessive indulgence in alcohol, Excessive exercise, Extreme Fear, anxiety, anger, depression, lust, physical exertion.

These improper diets and behaviours make people prone to early ageing. Excessive intake of katurasa (hot and spicy) food induces excessive influx of calcium ions in neurons which damage them. Laghu ruksha ahara means the food deficient in micro nutrients like magnesium, zinc etc.

Excessive exercise induces damage to mitochondria and DNA of muscle cells. Timely sleeping in the night time bestows health, longevity, happiness, strength, etc. Awaking in the night time causes the vata to get vitiated and induces dryness to the body. Untimely sleeping causes lot of ill-effects on the body; it may even take away the longevity and health (caraka sutrasthana [2]1/38-40).

We all know how mental faculties like fear, anxiety, and depression affect the body and cause many psychosomatic disorders. These are all the precipitating factors for early ageing.
Rasayana[2]

The word rasayana contains two words rasa and ayana. Rasa means the body fluid which is responsible for the nourishment of the entire body. Ayana means to channel in a proper way/ to bestow/. This rasa circulates in the entire body, penetrates into minute channels and nourishes the body. This rasa should be of good quality, should be in adequate quantity,  should be properly circulated to provide the nourishment the cells need so that it enables healthy long life.  This rasa circulates in the body and transforms into dhatus. If it is deficient qualitatively and quantitatively it hampers all the dhatus leading to various diseases.

Rasayana is defined as

Caraka defined rasayana as a way to attain excellent rasadi dhatu and it imparts healthy long life, good memory and other benefits.[2]

Chakrapani defined that if rasayana taken by healthy persons it bestows strength to the ojus and dhatus of the body.[3]

Gangadhararay in his commentary jalpakalpataru defined that the therapy which prevents jara (old age itself is disease) as rasayana.[4] 

Sushruta defined rasayana as a measure that prolongs longevity, improves mental faculties, develops positive health, and provides resistance and immunity against diseases.[5] Dalhana defined that rasayana is a measure to yield excellent pharmacokinetics; it restores the youthful healthy long life.[6]

Sarangadhara defined that the therapy which prevents from ageing and disease is rasayana.[7]

The benefits of rasayana (rejuvenation) therapy are- the promotion of memory and intelligence; immunity against disease and decay; the preservation of youth, lustre, complexion and voice; the maintenance of optimum strength of the body and sense; it confers the capacity or the achievement of what is said; and the command of the respect and regard of people and the promotion of bodily glow.[2]

So to prevent old age and to attain healthy long life, rasayana therapy is the best choice. To prevent the akala jara achara rasayana is the best rasayana therapy.

Achara Rasayana[8]

Achara rasayana is a mode of living, behaviour and conduct. It envisages a code of conduct to lead to a stress free life which in turn promotes longevity. The persons who wish to live longer and stay away from diseases should follow these principles. (Ca.Chi.1/1/7)

Speaking pleasant and truthful words always, Maintaining mental peace, Should have control over the mind and mental faculties, Should be Courageous, Reciting the mahamantras and should be interested in purification therapies, Tapahsampannata, Should always associate with donations and righteous things, Kindness towards all includes animals like cow etc., Respectful and friendly attitude towards the elders, teachers, parents, learned ones and god, Knowledge of yukti (rational thinking), Awareness of time and place, Belief in god., Healthy habits and thoughts, Philanthropy, Regular use of ghee and milk.

Things to be avoided-Anger, violence and jealousy, Indulgence in liquor and sex, Fatigue due to excessive strain, Roughness in words, Cruel and sinful acts.  

Kalaja Jara – Timely Ageing

Timely ageing means which comes naturally to every one. Human body is called shareeera, has been defined as "jiryate anena iti shareera" means which gets decayed and decomposed every moment.

So change is inevitable. But the process of ageing can be slowed down by following rasayana therapy. The onset and manifestation of each decade can be postponed by using the rasayana therapy.

Selection of Rasayana According to Age

Sarangadhara mentioned a very beautiful quotation about ageing. With each passing decade childhood, growth, lustre/beauty, intellect, lustre of skin, vision, sexual ability, physical ability, thinking ability, and locomotion starts to ebb from the body (Saragadhara samhita purva khanda). A monograph prepared by K.N.Udupa and R.H.Singh shows the guidelines for selecting drug for specific decade.

Decades of life Specific Loss from the Body Suitable Rasayana Drugs
0-10 Balya (childhood) Vacha (Acorus calamus)
Kasmari (Gmelina arborea)
11-20 Vruddhi (growth) Bala (Sida cordifoila)
Aswagandha (Withania somnifera)
21-30 Chavi (luster) Amalaki (Emblica officinalis)
31-40 Medha (intellect) Shankhapushpi (convalvulus pluricalis)
Jyotishmati (Celestrus paniculata)
41-50 Twak (luster of skin) Bhringaraja (Eclipta alba)
Somaraji (Centratherum anthelminthicum)
51-60 Drusti (Vision) Saptamruta loha
61-70 Sukra (sexual ability) Atmagupta (Mucuna prurita)
Munjataka (Orchis longifolia)
71-80 Vikrama (physical ability)  
81-90 Buddhi (thinking ability)  
91-100 Karmendriya  (locomotion)  

In the last decades drugs are not effective.

Rasayana drugs as per the constitution[9] (su.chi.27/6 Dalhana)

Every individual is bestowed with specific prakruti (constitution) from his birth time itself. According to their prakruti Vata persons are prone to suffer from dry rough skin, etc; pitta persons are prone to suffer from premature graying of hair, wrinkles, etc; kapha persons are prone to suffer from weight gain, inability to lose weight etc; so regular intake of this ghee, milk, honey makes them less prone to those disorders. Regular intake of these rasayanas a/c to their constitution prevents the diseases which are more prone to them

Prakruti Diseases prone to suffer from Specific measure to prevent
Vata
  • Dryness, hardness and roughness of the skin, Cracking of the hair, nails etc
  • Stiffness and pain in the joints   
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
Regular intake of ghee
Pitta
  • Burning sensation in the body, excessive temperature,   
  • Excessive sweating, excessive thirst,
  • Acid eructation,
  • Premature graying of the hair
  • Wrinkles
Regular intake milk
Kapha
  • Heaviness of the body,   
  • Easy weight gain, unable to lose weight, drowsiness
  • Excessive sleep
  • Laziness
  • Obesity
Regular intake honey

 

Other Rasayana Regimens

Brahmacharya[10] by following brahmacharya sukra dhatu which is the essence of all dhatus gets restored in the body, and that is greatest strength to the body. (ca.su.25/44.)

Regular oleation- (ca.su.14) with regular oleation ageing can be delayed/ slowed. (manda jara)
Regular use of ghee, milk, amalaki, prevents all complications of old age.

Some Important Rasayanas

  1. Medhya rasaynas- these promote intellect. (ca.ci.1/3/33,34)
    i. Mandukaparni swarasa
    ii. Yastimadhu churna
    iii. Guduchi samula swarasa
    iv. Sankhapushpi kalka
  2. Amalaka (Emblica officinalis) – Free radical theory is one of the most important theories of ageing. Free radicals damage the body in many ways. To remove the free radicals anti oxidants are the drug of choice. Amalaki contains plenty of anti-oxidants. So Charaka mentioned that amalaki is best vayasthapaka drug (which restores age) (ca.su.25/43).
    The rasayanas which contain amalaki are: Chyavana prasha, Amalaka rasayana, Amalakayasa rasayana, Amalaka ghrutam, Amalaka lehyam, Amalaka churnam, Triphala rasayanam, dhatri rasayana, dhatriloha.
  3. Hareetaki (Terminalia chebula) – it should be taken along with pippali, saindhava lavana, sunthi, honey and guda, restores 100 healthy years. (A.HRU.UT.39/147)
  4. Bhallataka (Semicarpus anacardium) (A.HR.U.39/75) – it is well known drug for immuno- modulation and is very useful as adjuvant in carcinoma. It is indicated in all kapha disorders, constipation, it promotes intellect and ignites the digestive fire. The drugs which contain bhallataka are Bhallataka ghruta, Bhalaltaka lehya, Amruta bhallataka lehya etc.
  5. Swarna – best rasayana potentiates other drugs.
  6. Loha – (A.HR.U.39/151)chakradatta mentioned "loham sarvam rasayanam" is very good rasayana, useful in anemic conditions.
  7. Shilajit (ca.ci.1/3/65-68) – shilajit is sarvarogahara, (cures all diseases), sreshta rasayana (best rasayana). Some precautions are necessary and should be taken under proper supervision.
  8. Pippali – (A.HR.U.39/98)- it should be taken along with milk, ghee or honey. It prevents all disorders. Promotes intellect, restores youth, indicated in respiratory disorders, edema, increases digestive fire.

References

1. Charaka chikitsa 1/2/3
2. Charaka chikitsa 1/1/8
3. "Svasthasyorjaskaram yattad rasayanam ucyate" – Charaka chikitsa 1/1/8 Ayurveda deepika
4. "Yajjaravyadhi vidhwamsi bheshajam tad rasayanam" (jaraiva vyadhiriti jara vyadhi tad vyadhiharana shabde ravyapte") – Charaka chikitsa 1/1/8 jalpakalpataru
5. Sushruta chikitsa 27/1, su.su.1/7
6. Rasadi dhatunamidamapyayanam athava bheshajasritanam rasaviryavipaka prabhavaparamayurbalaviryanam vayasthairyakaranamayanam labhopayo rasayanam" Sushruta chikitsa 27/1, nibandha sangraha
7. "Yajjaravyadhi vidhwamsi bheshajam tad rasayanam" sarangadhara samhita
8. Charaka chikitsa 1/4/31-36
9. Su.chi.27/6 Dalhana
10. Ca.su.25/44.

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About Dr V V Lakshmi Prasuna

Dr V V Lakshmi Prasuna MD (Ayu) has completed her Postgraduation in Kaya Chikitsa from Dr BRKR Govt Ayurvedic College, Hyderabad, India.  Her thesis work was on hypothyroidism. She is presently working as an Ayurvedic physician in SGS Charitable Clinic Pithapuram, Andhra Pradesh, India, and may be contacted via prasuna.dr@gmail.com

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