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Articles - Basics of Ayurveda
 
Basics of Ayurveda :

The Vedas mention that the whole universe is made up of the five basic elements as mentioned below, Ayurvedic reflects the belief of the five elements called Panchamahabhutas in sanskrit. Panchamahabhutas are the five basic elements essential for life namely -Akasha (space), Vayu (air), Agni (fire), Jala (water) and Prithvi (earth). These panchamahabhutas combine into three doshas or the Tridoshas- vata, pita and kapha. The tridoshas are vital energies responsible for all psychological and physiological processes in the body. Ayurvedic medicine is based on the unique combination of the tridoshas. Our constitution or our prakriti is determined by our dominant dosha. Each of us was born with a certain prakriti and it remains with us for life. When all doshas work in balance, good health reigns. This balance depends on various factors like diet digestion, elimination of body wastes and emotional and spiritual states. Ayurveda helps us to understand our prakriti and to live in a way that emphasizes the positive aspects. When the doshas become imbalanced ill health results. The skill of an Ayurveda practitioner lies in assessing an individual's constitution, diagnosing the imbalance and deciding upon the best possible treatment to restore the balance. Ayurveda utilizes diet, herbs, yoga, and detoxification by panchakarma, meditation and prayer to achieve good health.

Vedas : The proof of the oldest civilization in the world………..

Vedas are the primary source of knowledge for all Asian tradition, orthodox & heterodox, and all traditions, in one way or other takes inspiration from the Vedas. Traditional Indian notion regarding Vedas is that, they are considered as revelations from the Almighty to the enlightened ones or Rishis (sages) and was written by Lord Ganapathy and narrated by sage Vedavyas. Thus the term Veda is not limited to a few books and it has got a great role in all Indian traditions. In fact, the whole wisdom of ancient India revolves around the Vedas. Indian tradition strictly adheres to Gurukula Sampradaya that is, handing over of knowledge directly from preceptor (teacher) to disciple (student). Their acts were guided by principles expressed in the form of slokas, or verses. This universality and secular vision in all walks of life makes us difficult to fix a particular time span as the exact period of a particular school thought. Traditional Indian accepts Vedas as apaurusheyam (not man-made), but revealed truths and of eternal validity or relevance.
The Sanskrit word "VEDA" is cognate with Latin "Videre", old English 'witan', New English 'wit', the German 'wessen' and all these words denote the sense of knowledge, vision, learning, information and wisdom.

In sanskrit single words may have more than one meaning. The word Veda is derived from the root "Vid" to endure or to stay and this meaning shows the real eternal nature of the Vedas- to stay for the benefit of mankind similarly the second meaning is to cognize or to know i.e., the whole corpus of Knowledge. The root 'vid' also means examination or inquiry. This signifies the path of constant enquiry followed by our ancient seers who tried to unravel the material and the spiritual truths. The root is having a meaning "Labhe" that is to gain i.e., Vedic corpus help us to achieve all the purusharthas or ultimate values of life. This means Vedas are instrumental in acquiring the material as well as spiritual gains in one's life.

Traditional belief about the Vedic corpus is that, there was only one in the beginning, it was classified into four fold because of the priestly needs such as religious, rituals etc, in later period by sage Vedavyasa. Vyasa distributed the Vedic knowledge to each one of his four disciples, according to his system of belief - Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, Atharvaveda

RIGVEDA YAJURVEDA
Rigveda contains 10,552 rks or mantras or stanzas in 1028 suktas, arranged in 10 books or mandalas. Rigveda is said to have 21/24 sakhas or versions or recensions. Bahurik is another name for Rigveda because it contains more rks than other Vedic branches. Sakala, Bashkala, Asvalayana, Samkhayana and Mandukeya are sakhas mentioned in Charanavyuha. At present only two sakhas are extant - Sakala and Baskala. The former recension of the Rigveda is more popular.

Rigveda Samhita

» Brahmanas Aitareya
» Kaushitaki
» Sankhayana & Bashkala
» Upanishads - Aitareya & Kaushithaki
» Pratisakhya - Saunaka
» Dharasutra - Vasishta
» Grhyasutras - Asvalayana, Sankhayana & Kaushitaki
» Srautasutras - Asvalayana, Sankhayana and Kaushitaki

There are two major schools in Yajurveda - Krshna Yajurveda (Brahma sampradaya), Sukla Yajurvedaor (Adityasampradaya).

This Veda is said to have 101 sakhas or recensions. Vajasaneyi samhita contains only Mantras for chanting in rituals & their explanatory passages. The brahmana portion occurs separately.

Taittiriya samhita has 7 Kandas, 46 Adhyayas, 13 Anuvachanas and 3091 Mantras that deal with sacrifices like Rajasuya, Asvameda, Agnishtoma etc.

Yajurveda Sutra :

» Dharma Sutra - Bodhayana, Apastamba and Hiranyakesi
» Grhya Sutras - Manava
» Srauta Sutra - bodhayana, Apastamba and Hiranyakesi

 
SAMAVEDA ATHARVA VEDA
Samaveda is said to have 1000 recensions, this text meant to help the udgatr priest in the sacrificial sessions. In Samaveda a total of 1504 mantras are from Rigveda, only about 99 mantras are original in Samaveda. The three sakhas extant today are Ranayaniya - (Maharastra), Kauthumiya - (Gujarat), Jaiminiya -(Karnataka)

Samaveda Samhita

» Brahmanas - Panchavimsa, Shadvimsa, Samavidhana, Arsheya. Gopatha
» Upanishads - Chandogya & Kena
» Pratisakhya - Sakatayana, Pushpasutra
» Dharmasutra - Gotama
» Grhya Sutra - Khadira, Gobhila, Gothama
» Srauta Sutra - Khadira, Latyayana, Prahyayana

Brahmaveda, Bhrgvangirasa, Atharvargirsa or nigada or Chhanda are other names for this veda. As many as 50 recensions are there of this Veda of which Paippaladasamhita and saunakasamhitha are presented for our times, of which later appears to be more complete.

Atharva Veda Samhita

» Upanishada - Prasana mundaka, Mandukya
» Grhya Sutra - Kausika

Panch Mahabhuts

According to Ayurveda everything in life is composed of the Panchamahabhutas –Akash (Space), Vayu (Air), Jal (Water), Agni  (Fire) and Prithvi (Earth). Omnipresent, they are mixed in an infinite variety of relative proportions such that each form of matter is distinctly unique. Although each element has a range of attributes, only some get evident in particular situations. Constantly changing and interacting with each other, they create a situation offlux that keeps the world going.

Ahamkara is a two-fold creation.
The first is Satwa (Satwic), the subjective world, which is able to perceive and manipulate matter. It comprises the subtle body (the mind), the capacity of the five sense organs to hear, feel, see, taste and smell, and for the five organs of action to speak, grasp, move, procreate and excrete. The mind and the subtle organs providing the bridge between the body, the Ahamkara and the inner wisdom, which three together is considered the essential nature of humans.
The second is Tamas (Tamsic), the objective world of the five elements of sound, touch, vision, taste and smell – the five subtle elements that give rise to the dense elements of ether or space, air, fire, water and the earth – from which all matter of the physical world is derived. And it is Rajas, the force or the energy of movement, which brings together parts of these two worlds.

Pancha mahabuthas

Sense organs

Sensory Function

Properties

Actions

Space

Ears

Hearing

creates natural void in the body

Produces softness lightness and porosity

Air

Skin

Touch

Light clear and Dry, Slightly bitter, taste

Creates dryness, lightness and emaciation.

Fire

Eyes

Visual (Sight)

Controls temperature and luster of body colour, Pungent taste

Helps in digestion, maturation, improves eye sight

Earth

Nose

Smell

Heavy, immobile, compact & rough.Controls organs as teeth, nails, flesh, skin, tendons & muscles.

Acts as a nutrient, emollient and purgative

Water

Tongue

Taste

Sweet & stringent, sour & saline taste, Imparts lousiness

Enhances fluid content & purgative Acts as nutrient, emollient and purgative.

It is worth noting that even at the stage of the dense elements the philosophy of creation –which according to Sankaya is now and in the present, without any past and any future – is still dealing with aspects of existence beyond our simple physical realms.

The Panchamahabutas combine in an infinite variety of ways to form all matter in the universe.

Tri Doshas

The central principle of Ayurvedic belief is the uniqueness of each individual. The combination of the tridoshas is unique to each person. This is his prakriti. Each individual is born with a typical prakriti. This prakriti is determined by the state of the parental doshas at the time of conception. But our diet, environment, stress, trauma, injury etc. can cause an imbalance in our doshas leading to a state known as vikriti Knowing our constitution or prakriti helps us understand ourselves better. It enables us to plan changes in out diet and our lifestyle for achieving a richer life through holistic well being. The three doshas are Vata, Pitha and Kapha. 

VATTA DOSH :

'Vaa' -the word root denotes movement. This is the coordinator and regulator of all other aspects of this dynamic system. This is the most powerful and active of the three doshas. Mahabutas and Vata

Vayu and Akasha are very predominant in the combination. The qualities of vata are explained by this combination.

Five Fold Division & Functions of Vata

  • Prana- The prime abode of this Vayu is murddha or head. It is mainly concerned with respiration, ingestion of food, spiting out, sneezing out etc. The disorders of this aspect of the dosha manifests themselves as sneezing, cold, bronchitis, hoarseness of voice, asthma etc.
  • Udana- This vayu inoves upward, has its main seat is Uras or thorax region. It is associated with production of sound, specially the vocalization, effort to preserve body strength. The disorder caused by Udana vata vitiation includes disorders of eyes, ears nose and throat.
  • Vyana- This Vata resides in the heart and its movement is characterized by speed. This mainly relates to transport to Rasadhatu. It is the regulator of 5 kinds of actions - contraction, expansion, upward, and downward movements or other general movements. The disease includes jwara or fever, diarrhoea and other ailments over the body.
  • Samanavata- This is related to Agni or fire principle situated near the seat of 'Intaragni' or stomachic fire. This is mainly concerned with admitting food into the stomach and helping it in digestion by controlling the secretion of gastric juices. It also separates the nutrient portions of the digested food from the waste products and assists in seminal production. Disorders include diarrhoea, indigestion, defective assimilation etc.
  • Apana- This is characterized by the downward movement, pushing in due course the urine, semen, menstrual blood etc., towards their exit. This Vata holds the fortes in the womb until the moment of discharge, and also helps in the delivery. Diseases of urinary tract, colon bladders, anus and testicles, obstinate urinary diseases, calculi, constipation, mental disorders, deafness, heart diseases etc., are caused by Apanavitiation. This is hailed as 'Tantrayantradhara' or the dynamic locking system of the human system, which altogether balances the doshas, dhatu traya trad and maintains one's life. If this is lost, the equilibrium is upset and disease process sets in.

Distribution: Thoughvatais distributed all over the body, its affinity or prevalence is more. In the trunk it is more prevalent in the pelvic region. Large intestine, limbo sacral region, legs, ears, bones, skin cuts, as its base of these regions, pakvasaya or large intestine is the special base of Vata.

Abnormal States : The pathological signs and symptoms exhibited in vitiated vata are

  • Leanness or Emaciation. This condition is characterized by the reduction in bulk and weight of the body
  • Darkness of body's natural pigmentation
  • Natural inclination towards hot things.
  • Dizziness
  • Delirium
  • Inability to carry out normal bodily functions
  • Tremor
  • Distension of body parts (e.g. abdomen etc)
  • Constipation
  • Weakness
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of Sensory activity
  • Sickness
  • Lack of interest in speech
  • Loss of sensation

The involvement of 'vata' in a pathological process is inferred by its abnormal activities.

  • Ache
  • Numbness or lack of tactile sensation.
  • Continuous feeling of pain
  • Intermittent feeling of pain as in the form of pin prick
  • Pain of the body as if the bony structures have been broken
  • Constriction or stricture
  • Roughness of skin
  • Porosity
  • Atrophy
  • Fasciculation
  • Stagnation and immobility
  • Dark or cyanotic colour of body or parts
  • Horrification
  • Weakness or inability to function
  • Looseness
  • Dilation
  • Tremor
  • Abnormal astringent taste in the mouth
  • Brownish discoloration of skin etc

Seasonal Variations : The vata accumulates in Summer and aggravates in the rainy season that follows Summer. It subsides in the Autumn.

PITTA DOSH :

The term is derived from the Sanskrit root 'tap' which means to heat. It is means fire or heat .Sage Marichi hails Pitta or Agni as the root of healthy person. This factor is responsible for all transformations taking place in the psychosomatic entity. Though it is catabolic in nature, anabolic transformations are also under its control.

Mahabhoota and Pitta : This has a predominance of Agni - mahabhuta. This concept is a broad one and it comprehends many physiological functions, - digestion and metabolism, many physiological functions and represents anatomical structure. For e.g.: the visual Pathway, digestive system and its related structures etc.

Natural Variation : This increases in midday, midnight, youth, and during the second or active phase of digestion. This accumulates during the rainy season and aggravates in Autumn. It subsides in the early Winter.

Qualities : The inherent natural qualities of Pitta are heat, sharpness, liquidity, slight unctuousness, acrid, and fluidity. It is responsible for generating the body temperature. It enables visual perception. It provides complexion and lustre to the skin. It provides softness to the body. It plays a vital role in higher mental functions. It is the provider of intelligence, will power and courage.

Distribution : The distribution is more in the abdominal region. Nabhi, sweat, lymph, blood, eyes, skin are the basis of Pitta. Of these bases, Nabhi (the first part of gastro intestinal tract including pancreas) is the special seat of Pitta. Abnormal decrease and increase manifests in

  • Imparting of yellow colour to stool, urine, eyes and skin.
  • Causes excessive thirst.
  • Causes excessive hunger
  • Causes excessive sleeplessness
  • All metabolic activities will become slow and reduced.
  • The body will be lusterless and cold.

Factions or Divisions of Pitta Dosh

  • Pachaka Pitta: It is located in the region between the stomach (amasaya) and large intestine (pakvasya). It digests the food. It is called Pachaka pitta (digestive). This is the base of other functions of Pitta and hence considered as the most important form of Pitta.
  • Ranjaka Pitta: This is responsible for converting the Rasa to blood. Therasais the absorbed essence of properly digested food and is considered as the first dhatu. It is mainly concerned with the formation of hemoglobin. The term Ranjaka means that of whitish colouring. This is the context of erythopoieses, which can be taken as the castle's intrinsic factor.
  • Sadhaka Pitta: This is located in mind and it enables one to accomplish his objectives by intelligence, memory, understanding, self-confidence etc. This can be considered responsible for all biochemical events related to higher functions of the brain, with the help of the factors like intelligence. This Pitta helps perception. Hence it is the equipment for perception and for interpretation of the perceived. The term "Saadhaka" literally means equipment.
  • Alochaka Pitta: This is concerned with vision and is seated in the eye. The term means to see or look. The chemical changes taking place in the retina when light falls on it can be attributed to this Pitta.
  • Bhrajaka Pitta: Located in the tvak or skin. It imparts lustre to the skin. The term itself means which is responsible for shining.

Abnormal activities of Pitta:

  • Redness
  • Burning sensation
  • Excessive heat
  • Pus formation
  • Burning sensation
  • Sweat in Excess
  • Denaturing of the body fluids i.e., kleda increases.
  • Increased secretions.
  • Putrefaction
  • Fainting
  • Weakness and inability
  • Feeling of pungent/sour taste in the mouth
  • Various discolorations.

Appearance of any of these signs in a disease indicates that Pitta is involved in its pathology.

KAPHA DOSH :

The root cause for good health is Pitta and is the uniting principle out of these three body doshas. It is anabolic in nature and stands for the conservation of energy. It is body itself, and body is nothing but a product of Kapha. It is directly responsible for growth, repair and nutrition of the body. It is the only heavy humour in the body. It is cold and slow acting.

Kapha- Etymologically the term signifies emanation from water (kena jelena phalathi). The synonym sleshma means the uniting principle. Another rarely used synonym is valasa signifies bala or strength.

Kapha and Mahabhutas : Earth and water elements are predominant in Kapha.

Distribution : It is more concentrated in the therapy as far as trunk is concerned. Its main bases are thorax, throat, head, trachea, stomach, joints tissue fluid, olfactory sense organ and tongue.

Qualities : Kapha is slow acting. In this aspect it is opposite to Pitta, which is fast one. It is cold and unctuous, where as vata is dry cold i.e., non unctuous. It provides stability, strength, solidity, unctuous nature, flooding makes the joints efficient, firm. It provides resistance to disease and enable to recover to normal health. Minor ailments are corrected by this corrective power of Kapha.

Natural Variation : Kapha increases in the morning, in the first part of night, in childhood, and in the first phase of digestion. Kapha accumulates in Winter and is aggravated in Spring.

Abnormal signs and symptoms of Kapha are

  • Decrease of digestive power
  • Feeling of heaviness of the body
  • Excessive salivation
  • Laziness
  • White patches over body
  • Decrease of body temperature
  • Flabbiness
  • Difficulty of respiration
  • Excessive sleep
  • Cough
  • Dizziness v Palpitation
  • Looseness of joints

Divisions

  • Avalambaka Kapha: The term means supporter. This is the main Kapha division, and its base is chest. This provides support to other Kapha bases.
  • Kledaka Kapha: Kledaka means that which soaks or moistens. This kapha facilitates the ingested food for proper digestion. Amasaya or the stomach is the base of this Kapha.
  • Bodhaka Kapha: This is concerned with the perception of taste. It moistens food materials coming in contact with it, so that taste buds can appreciate the taste. Its base is the tongue.
  • Tarpaka Kapha: Tarpaka means that which nourishes. This is concerned with nourishment of sense organs. Its base is the head.
  • Sleshaka Kapha: The term means that which binds. It is the provider of lubrication and cohesion of the joints. It is based in the joints.

Abnormal Functions

  • Hardness v Itching
  • Coldness v Heaviness
  • Occlusion or obstruction of channels
  • Coating of channels
  • Stagnation of transported materials
  • Edema
  • Reduced metabolism
  • Excessive sleep
  • Excessive oiliness
  • Sweet or salty taste

Sapta Dhatu -  Seven Body Tissues

The Seven Bodily Tissues -Sapta Dhatus
The dhatus are the basic varieties of tissues which compose the human body. The word “dhatu”comes from a Sanskrit word which means “that which enters into the formation of the body”; the root Daa (dha) means “support, that which bears”.

The primary Dhatus are seven in number, They are:

  • Sukra dhatu (reproductive tissues)
  • Majja dhatu (bone marrow and nervous tissues)
  • Asthi dhatu (bone)
  • Meda dhatu (fatty tissues)
  • Mamsa dhatu (muscle tissues)
  • Rakta dhatu (formed blood cells)
  • Rasa dhatu (plasma)

The most unique feature of Ayurvedic histology (concept of tissue formation) is that each human tissue is formed from the previous tissue in ascending order of complexity. Thus when food is ingested it is digested until, in the small intestines, it becomes a liquidy, chyme-like material known in Ayurveda asahara rasa, or food essence. With the help of ahara rasagni (each dhatu has its own agni), this ahara rasa is converted into Rasa dhatu (blood plasma)--the first and most simple tissue.
Now, Rasa dhatu catalyzed by Rasagni is transformed into Rakta dhatu (formed blood cells), the second fundamental bodily tissue. Rakta dhatu in turn, with the help of raktagni, becomes mamsa dhatu( muscle), and so on.

Together, the dhatus and upadhatus make up the physical bulk of the body. The updhatus include hair, nails, ligaments, etc.; they are important structurally but usually are not implicated in disease conditions of the body.

Each dhatu consists of countless infinitesimal paramanus (cells) which are units of structure and function. Each paramanu contains innumerable suksma srotas (channels, pores) through which it receives nutrients and subtle energies and eliminates waste materials. Because dhatus are saturated with pores, the human body can also be said to be filled with pores (srotomaya). The srotas of each dhatu are unique in their structure and function and in the materials which move through them. The state of health of each dhatuas well as its relative vriddhi / kshaya (excess/deficiency; increase/decrease) is assessed by the physician.

Waste Materials- Malas

As a consequence of foods which we take into our bodies from the external world and the normal biological processes which take place internally, we generate different kinds of waste materials, or malas, which must be excreted. Ayurveda generally recognizes two kinds of malas:

  • Ahara mala or wastes from food
  • Dhatu mala or wastes from the tissues

The ahara malas include feces (purisha), urine (mutra), and sweat (sveda). These are the three main malas. The dhatu malas include the various secretions of the nose, eyes, ears; lactic acid, carbon dioxide, and other metabolites of cellular respiration; exfoliated hair, skin, and nails. Although these are all waste products, they serve a role in maintaining health as long as they are normal in their quantity (pramana), qualities (gunas), and function (karma). However, if the malas become abnormal in some regard (i.e. increased or decreased) they become a factor in creating disease. When the dhatus and malas become unbalanced they are called dushyas (soiled). The malas are composed predominantly of different elements. Feces is composed mainly of earth element; urine, mainly water and fire; sweat, primarily water. Of course all five elements are contained in every mala.

The following chart summarizes the effects of increased (vriddhi) or decreased (ksaya) malas:

The threemalas

Mala

Vriddhi (increase)

Ksaya (decrease)

Feces (purisha)
Mahabhuta:earth

Heaviness
Flatulence
Abdominal discomfort (generalized)

Bloating
Abdominal pain (mid)
Low back pain
Weakness
Asthma
Osteoarthritis
Hypokalemia
Hypocalcemia

Urine(mutra)
Mahabhuta:
water and fire

Urinary frequency
Bladder dysfunction
Urinary tract infections

Reduced urine
Chronic thirst
Renal stones
Abdominal pain (lower)

Sweat (sveda)
Mahabhuta :water

Perspires easily
Fungal dermatoses
Low body temperature
Constipation
Body odor
Itching
Constipation

Decreased perspiration
Dry skin
Burning sensations
High body temperature

Branches Of Ayurveda

Like modern medicine, Ayurveda is also divided into several important branches of treatment dealing with various human aspects. Each branch follows various methods for regenerating the equilibrium of body, mind and soul.

Kaya Chikitsa (General medicine)
It is one of the eight specialized branches of Ayurveda and the most important among them. It deals with matters relating to general Medicine. It deals with causes, condition, symptoms, progress of the disease, cure of ailments affecting the body and it also deals with diagnosis and prognosis as well as the therapeutics and dietetics. 'Kaya' means 'whole body', so literally it means diseases affecting the body in general, but technically it represents 'Agni' or the pitta that carries out the changes including metabolic ones in our body. The derangement of this tenet 'Agni' is the root cause of disease. So treatment in general means correction of Agni, and so Kayachikitsa is nothing but the correction ofAgnior keeping the function ofAgniin optimum. The school of Kaya chikitsa or School of Medicine led by Punarvasu Atreyais known as Atreya Sampradaya. Charakastates with emphasis that success in treatment depends not only on the efforts of the physician, but on the optimum qualities of the Physician, Drug, Nursing Care and Patient. These are the quadruple (four-fold) aspects of chikitsa-"Bhisak Dravyanyupasthata Rogi Pada Catustayam".
The cells in every living being undergo modification during growth. The rate of this degeneration increases in old age. Rasayana Chikitsa, also known as rejuvenation therapy, reduces the rate of degradation and thereby rejuvenates the body.
As a person gets older, the cells in his body degenerate more rapidly, resulting in several disorders and ageing difficulties. Ayurveda has an effective remedy for this problem in the form of Rasayana Chikitsa. The body is massaged with medicated herbal oil or herbal cream. Sirodhara and medicated steam baths are also done along with intake of rejuvenated Ayurvedic medicines. This lasts for 90 minutes to 2 hours a day for 7 to 14 days.

Salya Chikitsa (General surgery)
The great Maharishi, Susruta was the inventor of this branch of Ayurveda. He even wrote a book on surgery titled 'Salya Chikitsa'. This book describes various surgical operations and the devices associated with them.
Term Salya means foreign body. This branch deals with the removal of the foreign matter. Along with the school of Medicine in India, the school surgery also existed which is popularly called as Dhanwantariya Sampradaya or Dhanvanthiri's school. The Vedic corpus gives narration of the miraculous surgeries performed by Asvinis, the divine twin gods .The compendium of Sushruta, Sushruta Samhita is the magnum opus of ancient Indian surgery; it narrates the theory and practice of that time in detail. In fact, Sushrutha can be rightly called the father of Surgery. He narrates for the first time, description of human cadaver for proper anatomical understanding. Thorwald Jurgeon of Germany in his work of Science and Secrets of Medicine observes as follows - Certainly this was (Sushruta's) the oldest term in dissection known to history.
Sushruta explains one hundred and one ------- instruments or Yantras classified into six classes.

  • Cruciform or Swastika
  • Pineer like or Samdamsa
  • Flat edged or Tala
  • Tabular or Nadi
  • Rod - like or Salaka
  • Accessary or Upayantras

He narrates eight kinds of surgical techniques or sastrakarma such as

  • Incising
  • Excising
  • Scraping
  • Puncturing
  • Probing
  • Extracting
  • Draining
  • Suturing

All the surgical operations that are carried out involve one or more of these eight techniques only and it is hard to add any new one even today. For making a patient insensible to pain for a successful operation, he adopted the use of wine, as an anesthetic. Many accept him as a pioneer in the science of anesthesia in the remote past of the history of surgery in India. Sushrutha should be regarded as the pioneer to imagine, evolve and introduce simple experimental models for training in surgical procedures. The ingenuity of Sushrutha is best reflected in the systematic division of operative procedures in three distinct stages

  • Pre-operative or purvakarma
  • Operation proper or Pradhana karma
  • Post-operative procedure or Paschatkarma

His narration of postoperative wards and keeping the patient in sterile conditions shows his depth in this subject. He narrates about 14 kinds of bandages and specifies the kinds suitable to different parts of the body. Parasurgical measures narrated by him show that he (Sushrutha) was not keen to resort to hold knife at the first instance. He advocates safer and simple techniques like

  • Blood lilting or Raktamoksana
  • Application of poultries of drugs
  • Cautery - Kshara and agnikarmas

Sushruta's contribution in reconstructive surgery or plastic surgery is outstanding. Reconstruction of mutilated nose (Rhinoplasty), ear to be (Otoplasty) and lips (Oroplasty), grafting of the healthy skin from the cheek, rotation of the pedicle flap transfer to the nose, ear or lips and reconstruction resembling the normal shape, all have been described by Sushruta in a meticulous manner.
This narration of Rhinoplasty has stood the test of time and finds mention as the Indian method in modern books on plastic surgery.
We can find surgical treatment for diseases like

  • Hemorrhoids
  • Fistula inano or bhaganda
  • Urinary calculi or Asmari
  • Hernia or anthravriddhi
  • Intestinal obstruction or baddhadara
  • Perforation of abdominal viscera or Chidrodara
  • Tumors or Gulma
  • Benign tumors or Granthi
  • Obstructed labour or mudhagarbha

Bala Chikitsa (Pediatrics)
This branch, equivalent to pediatrics, deals with prenatal and postnatal baby care as well as the care of a woman before and during pregnancy. It also covers various diseases of children and their treatment.
Attention to children and their health care have been bestowed upon ever since the earliest times. The religious texts like Grhyasastra and ayurvedic Samhitas describe the performance of jatakarma, etc in detail. Atharva Veda and Kausikasutra mention grahas and krim is that are considered as the common cause for ailments. Kautilya mentions kaumarabhrtya in relation to care of pregnant women.
Acharya Kasyapais considered to be the foremost authority in Kaumarabhrtya. Sushruta says that Kaumarabhrtya deals with management of the child purification of the breast milk, treatment of diseases caused by vitiated milk and grahas. Dalhana commenting on this adds that vitiated milk causes innate diseases while grahas produce exogenous disorders. Buddhists call this branch asDarakachikitsa. Kerala is a place where this branch had developed to that extent that some of its vernacular books mention poliomyelitis and its treatment.

Visha Chikitsa (Toxicology)
This branch deals with the toxins that enter the body from vegetables, minerals and animal origins. It is equivalent to toxicology in modern medicine.

Graha Chikitsa (Psychiatry)
This Ayurvedic branch is the same as Psychiatry in modern medicine. It focuses on the detection and effective treatment of mental disorders. It also treats psychosomatic disorders.
This is also a very developed branch, which deals with various psychopathic disorders. This takes the vedic and tantric mantras along with Ayurvedic medicines. Usually done by saintly people, like Agadatantra, fees are seldom received from the patients. In many parts of Kerala judicious usage of this branch (even at government level) provides good prognosis for a lot of mental disorders.

Rasayana Chikitsa (Rejuvenation therapy)
he Vedic corpus gives us a good number of hymns devoted to healthy living and longevity. The rejuvenation, healing and regeneration of dhatus plus scope of eternal transformation are seen in these Vedic hymns. These concepts of rejuvenation, longevity and immortality are transformed to Rasayana chikista of Astanga Ayurveda.
Many people interpret this branch as drug therapy. But it includes a stipulated code of conduct for controlling one's senses, special procedure practiced in the form of rejuvenate recipes, dietary regimen etc.
Rasa means the essence, here it stands for the essence of food we consume.Ayanameans channels that transport this essence. The proper nourishment of our body is made possible only by proper functioning of these ayanas or channels that facilitate the movement and proper formation Rasa. The Rasayana drugs and the lifestyle improve these two aspects and helps to consider the factor that causes ageing process.

Classification of Rasayan Chikitsa :

A: As per the scope of use:

  • Kamya Rasayana - Promoter of normal health
  • Pranakamya - (Promoter of life's vitality and longevity)
  • Medhakamya - (Promoter of Higher mental faculty)
  • Srikamy - (Promoter of complexion and luster)

B: As per the scope of use:

  • Naimittika Rasayana - (Promoter of specific vitality in specific diseases)
  • Vatatpika Rasayana - (Without severe restriction, outer regimen)
  • Kutipravesika Rasayana - (Indoor Regimen, with severe restrictions)

C: As per contents of Rasayana are classified into three.

  • Naimittika Rasayana - (Promoter of specific vitality in specific diseases)
  • Ausadha Rasayana - (Drug Rasayana)
  • Ajasrika Rasayana - (Dietary Rasayana)
  • Acara Rasayana - (Special health promoting conduct and behavior.)

Vatatapika Rasayana
This is the routine procedure for administering Rasayana. The patient is not subjected to rigorous procedures. He remains in the society exposed to normal air, sun etc., and continues his normal work while undergoing the therapy.

Kutpraveshika Rasayana
Timing of administering Rasayana for the promotive purpose should be taken into account. This works only when it is used in early or middle age -'Purvavayasai madhyeva'. It is advisable to select Rasayana suitable for different age groups in relevance to the rate of ageing described by Acharyas. They precisely state that an individual looses one of the ten important impacts of like processes every decade. Hence in respective decade, one should select such a Rasayana that can supplement the specific deficiency.

The concept of Rasayana has greater appeal to man, especially in the present world order. The judicious use of Rasayana drugs in Cancer treatment gives better prognosis in Cancer and AIDS treatment. Concept of Medhya Rasayana is to be used in detail to cope with new challenges like Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease etc. Naimittika Rasayana or specific rasayana usage postulated by Sushrutha was very popular among traditional Vaidhyas of Kerala. This includes judicious selection of Rasayana drug, preparing the drug, and making the patient receive the treatment. Many diseases, like Coronary heart disease, Psoriasis, Diabetes mellitus, Motor neuron disease were intervened by traditional practitioners by this method.

In a nutshell Rasayana Chikitsa or Rasayana therapy of Ayurveda is a very comprehensive discipline which introduces a hither to new concept of nutrition and with its relevance to qualities of dhatus, longevity, immunity or Bala, and mental competence and ability.

Salakya Chikitsa (ENT and eye diseases)
Corresponding to the E.N.T. field of modern medicine, this branch ofAyurvedadiagnoses and treats diseases affecting organs like the ear, nose and head.
Salakya, as a branch of the art of healing, which does not find mention in theVedas. Their reference we receive is with dhanvantariyas or the surgeons. Both Dhanwanthiri school (SURGICAL) and Agnivesa school (Medical) gives due respect and regards to this branch. Dalhana, the commentator on the Sushrutha Samhita elaborates it and states that it deals with the diseases of supraclavicular region such as those of ear, eye, nose and mouth etc., as well as their treatment. Panchakarma associated with this branch of Ayurveda is Natsya (application of medicine through nasal orifices). Both Charaka and Sushruta schools has mentioned this and later on authorities added a lot of curative and prophylactic nastyas also.

Vajeekarana Chikitsa (Aphrodisiac therapy)
According to Indian notion, this universe follows a cosmic law called Rita. Each one's birth is supposed to reach the supreme goal; meanwhile he must do the duty entrusted to him by his nature i.e., to extend or perpetuate his race. In fact, Indian tradition speaks of a son or progeny as one's own self-reborn -atma vai putra namasi. The marriage was therefore designed to get a progeny and not for mere sensual pleasures. This longing for a progeny is held as one of primary desires of mankind by Upanishads - 'Putraisana'. This paved way for the development of Vajikarana branch of Ayurveda.

The term vaja means both speed and semen. Thus this branch of Ayurveda is designed to promote virility as well as power, the term Vajikarana strictly from grammarian's point of view, means making a man with some defect in his Sexual system to total fitness and to enable him to acquire a healthy progeny. In ancient days or as per Ayurvedic principles, it was a routine procedure to take some aphrodisiac before understanding and indulging in sexual intercourse. The idea underlying this practice was to promote/ensure the quantity and quality of semen along with the enjoyment of sexual bliss.

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