It is now well known that India has fully committed for attaining "Health for All by 2000 A. D." This is not only a national commitment, but also the International one. India was a signatory for the above decision at the Alma Ata Conference organised by World Health Organisation and UNICEF in the year 1978. Since then our country is striving hard to make it a success by• pooling all its resources financial, scientific and technological. I n spite of this the progress has not been very promising and hence there is an urgent need for taking some additinal steps so that we may attain the goal laid down by W. H. O. in time.
In India, Health is a state subject and hence there is much difference in the attainment of health status in different states. For example, in the state of Kerala, the infant mortality, one of the important denominators of health status has come down to 30 per thousand of live birth, in comparison to our present national status of 126. From this one can say that for attaining our target, there is an urgent need for intensification of our efforts, specially to the poor people of the rural areas. Further, there is also a need for intensification of our efforts for providing adequate Health Care, Education and Economic uplift. In the Health Care the Modern Medicine alone cannot fulfil the need of people. The indigenous system of medicines, specially Ayurveda and Yoga will have to play a major role in providing Health Care to the rural poor.
Therefore it is high time that experts on Ayurveda and Yoga fully participate in the National Health Programme in each state to the best of their abilities. They must study the situation along with the other Health Workers in the field and provide the necessary services through Ayurveda and Yoga wherever feasible. Hence they can play a great role in this stupendous task. Further, they are cheap, readily available and therefore, more acceptable by the people.
In order to meet the minimum requirement of Health, WHO has suggested that we should adopt "Primary Health Care Measures" in order to attain the goal. The main principles of Primary Health Care measures consist of the following:
1. Maternity and Child Welfare.
2. Adequate Nutrition.
3. Immunisation against preventable diseases.
4. Family welfate and planning.
5. Health education.
6. Treatment of common diseases.
7. Treatment of chronic diseases.
8. Clean water supply.
9. Adequate sanitation and drainage.
10. Providing drug requirements.
11. Promotion of Mental Health.
12. Rehabilitation of the disabled person.
In all the above programmes, Ayurvedic and Yoga experts can play major role in many areas whereas in others they can cooperate with other medical experts to achieve the goal.
In Ayurveda, there are eight specialities of which “Rasavana” or Health Promoting Practice forms an important speciality. This is the unique feature of Ayurveda which can be extensively utilised for promotion of health in the Primary Health Care System to cover the entire population of the developed or developing nations, rich or poor, urban and rural, men, women and children. Therefore, this speciality of Ayurveda and Yoga have special significance for the whole world and. hence the same is discussed in this book in detail. Before we go into these details of promotion of health it would be appropriate to briefly discuss about the definition of health as given in Ayurveda. In this regard, Sushruta's definition of health is the most appropriate even in the present circumstances, though he had described it 2500 years ago.
He stated "A person, possessing balanced neurohumors, balanced hormones, harmonius functioning of all the organs and tissues of the body as a result of balanced metabolic state and also acquisition of 'enlightened state of consciousness, mind and sense organs can be labelled as ideally healthy."
So far, no one has given such a comprehensive definition of health, which included all the components of body and mind, The W. H. O.’s definition of Health only indicated physical, mental and social health, whereas the Sushruta's definition included the spiritual well being or enlightened consciousness as an essential component of healthy state of a person. Mere possession of healthy physical body or even a sound mind does not make a healthy and happy person. He should also look happy, feel happy and work happily, A person with such a quality of life will enjoy only if he possesses an enlightened consciousness. For awakening the consciousness and to attain the spiritual enlightenment, the practice of various types of Yoga, to be discussed later on in the book, plays an important role. Thus, for promoting the health of the physical body and mind, Ayurvedic and Yoga methods are of immense value, whereas for the promotion of the health of the consciousness or in other words, for the promotion of spiritual health one will have to resort essentially to different specified Yogic practices. It is here that Ayurveda and Yoga meet together to provide immense benefit to the mankind.
Because of the above facts we have discussed in sufficient detail the use of Ayurvedic and Yogic Methods for the promotion of the Health of every common man. It is hoped that experts in the field of Health Sciences and others will go through it with the spirit with which it has been presented and make the maximum use of it for the benefit of 'humanity as a whole.
In the World Health Conference held at Alma Ata in Russia, it had been stated that "Health which is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, is a fundamental human right, and that the attainment of highest possible level of Health is a most important world wide social goal." In this context one can ponder and consider how much Ayurveda and Yoga can contribute for implementing the above historical resolution.
It is a known fact that modern Medical Science has made great progress in recent years specially in the field of clinical investigation and treatment. However, it mostly deals with the diseases related to particular organs or tissues. Further as a result of too much of specialization, a person of modern medical science many a times forgets to treat the man as a whole.
Here we feel that "Agni" means hormones and the maintenance of proper hormonal balance is essential for keeping good health. In Ayurveda, Agni has been divided into three types i. e. (1) Jatharagni" or Gut hormones like gastrin, secretin etc. which regulate the secretions of digestive enzymes, (2) "Bhootagni" the various hormonal actions leading to enzymatic actions in the liver, and (3) "Dhatwagni" means hormones produced by various endocrine glands like thyroid, adrenal cortex, etc., which regulate the cellular metabolism at the level of tissues and organs.
From these observations, it is clear that the presence of proper hormonal metabolism is essential for getting the homeostatic balance of the neurohumors and also for the proper functioning of all the organs and tissues of the body. If the hormonal response is poor on the receipt of various stressful stimuli, various pathological conditions may follow. Thus, it is the duty of an Ayurvedic physician to see that a proper balance of various hormonal activities is maintained by advising proper diet (Ahara) and condnct (Vihara).
One can also use various drugs to improve the functioning of different Agnis (hormones) in the body. It may be pointed out that in the modern medical science the hormonal deficiencies are generally treated by replacement therapy from exogenous sources Whereas in Ayurveda the hormonal deficiencies are overcome by the administration of drugs which would promote the endogenous production of hormones. It is generally observed that once a replacement therapy is started, it permanently depresses the endogenous production of hormones leading to atrophy of the respective endocrine glands. On the other hand by adopting Ayurvedic principles one can stimulate the endogenous production with the help of appropriate drugs. For example it has been reported by Tripathi and other that by administering Guggulu (Comifora mukul), thyroid function can be improved. The adrenocortical functions can be improved by administering Madhuyasti (Glycerrhiza glabra). In the same way Insulin secretion can be promoted by administration of Vijaysar (Ptericarpus marsupium). From these examples one can realise the importance of maintaining a balanced hormonal state i. e. "Samagni", by adopting appropriate drugs or other similar measures to promote homeostasis.
It means that in addition to the balance of neurohumors and hormones, there should also be an optimal metebolic activity in the body tissues and organs. Metabolism includes anabolism and catabolism and these processes are closely regulated by various hormones. It the hormonal production is adequate, the metabolic activity is also efficiently balanced. As a result, the activity of various organs and tissue becomes well maintained throughout (Samadhatukriya). In turn the proper catabolic activity helps in the elimination of excretory products in an efficient manner (Samamalakriya). From these observations one can infer as to how closely the bodily functions are inter- related in healthy persons in the form of balanced neurohumors, hormones and metabolic functions. If any disturbance occurs anywhere in the body, all these mechanisms get disturbed.
The Ayurveda had laid stress not only on the balanced state of bodily functions but also on the enlightened state of mind, sense organs and the spirit. This is an unique feature of Ayurveda which gives so much importance to the healthy state of the mind and spirit. Even amongst them, it is more difficult to obtain the pleasantness of the mind. Once the mental activity is controlled, the sense organs and the spirit automatically attain a healthy state. How to control the mental activity is a subject of extensive studies by experts of Yoga. Thus "Patanjali" says "Yoga is a science which teaches various methods to control and regulate the mental activity". He has mentioned eight methods of the practice of Yoga including Dhyana and Samadhi. By practice of the procedures regularly, one can hope to control the turbulant mind. It is premature at this stage to go into more details of these methods. This will be discussed later. Suffice it to say here that they must be practised regularly (Abhyasa) and also that one should develop a spirit of renunciation (Vairagya) in all his activity in order to lead a peaceful life.
If one follows these principles as mentioned by Patanjali one can always keep his kind in a pleasant state. Therefore, in the interest of maintaining good mental and physical health, one should learn and practice all the yogic methods mentioned by Patanjali and other sages regularly. Further, the greatest advantage of Yoga over the other methods is that it does not cost anything for the practitioner or the patient. Hence, it can be practised by the people from all walks of life.
All these matters will be discussed in detail at later stage. From this one can say that the pleasantness of the mind, sense-organs and the spirit plays a great role in maintaining a goods health. On the other hand a disturbed mental state is responsible for producing a large number of stress disease. Yogic practice restores large number of stress diseases and other disturbances to normalcy by acting through the mind.
Thus by following the principles enunciated in Ayurveda and Yoga, one can do a great service to the common man. We can explain all the above principles of promotive aspects of health as described in Ayurveda and Yoga to all the people specially to the poor and the downtrodden. If such massive health education programmes are taken by all of us, we would be able to do a yeoman's service to entire community. While doing so, we must always remember the principles enunciated by Charaka thousands of years ago. "He is the best person who dessiminates the knowledge of health not by any selfish motives, nor for the monetary gains, but by extending compassionate helping hands towards suffering humanity",
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