In Ayurveda, the illness process can be summarised in a simple way. The doshas are increased by aggravating factors such as diet, climate, seasons, lifestyle, emotions etc. This weakens the body's digestive fire, which in turn allows an undigested food mass, Ama, to form. This Ama, together with the increased dosha, blocks the channels and becomes deposited in any weakened site in the body, from where the illness then manifests.
According to Ayurveda, there are six stages in falling ill:
The doshas begin to increase in their respective locales. Causes could include poor diet, seasonal maladjustment, incompatible lifestyle, psychological disturbance etc.
The doshas continue to increase in their respective sites, bringing about an increase in the symptoms manifested there, and by pressure of this accumulation, reflect symptoms elsewhere.
The doshas have now filled up their respective sites and begin to overflow into the rest of the body. They enter the plasma and blood and are no longer localised. They can now penetrate into the organs and tissues of the body.The doshas move in different directions causing various disorders and dysfunctions. The nature and location of these complications depends upon the direction in which the doshas move. They come into close contact with the tissues and waste materials of the body and become mixed with either of them. There will be a worsening of symptoms at their respective sites.
The doshas now relocate themselves in other sites in the body where they begin to cause specific illnesses. Generally, the doshas move to the tissues they are most connected to. Accumulated Vata usually moves to the bones, Pitta to the blood and Kapha to the lymphatic system. However, the doshas can move to any site in the body which is weak.
The doshas manifest specific symptom complexes at these particular sites. The illness can now be identified. The illness onset is now advanced and treatment becomes difficult.
At these particular sites, the doshas manifest their special characteristics. The illness can be identified according to its doshic attributes. For example, Vata type arthritis will evidence severe pain, cold, stiffness, dry skin and constipation. Pitta type arthritis will show fever, burning sensation, red swelling of the joints and loose stool. Kapha type will demonstrate swelling, oedema, phlegm and congestion.
The general rule in treatment is that it is always easier to treat the doshas while they are still located in their original sites. The stages of accumulation and aggravation, therefore, are relatively easy to cure. The stage of overflow is the transitional stage.
At the relocation phase, only the preliminary symptoms of the illness are in evidence and vitality is still strong, so treatment is relatively simple. The last two stages present a fully developed illness which has matured, so it would take time and effort to remedy.
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