As per the Ayurvedic principle, each of us contains a unique mixture of three mind body principles that determines our specific mental and physical characteristics. These are called Doshas or humors, present in human body. According to ancient Knowledge, every existing physical object is made of five basic elements i.e. earth, water, fire and ether and space. Human body is no exception. These elements come together to form these doshas. Combination of these elements is the basis of doshas. These doshas are Kaph (phlegm), Vat (wind) and Pitt (bile). Kaph is related to the water and earth, while Pitt is related to the fire and vat to the air or ether and earth respectively.
Most of us have one or two doshas which are most prominent in our nature, with the remaining one or two less significant. Each of them represents different basic element and their prominence in human body determines the personality type of the person. Seven body types can be determined on the basis of the combination of the prominent presence of these three humors. People with the prominent presence of kaph, pitt or vat are considered respectively water, fire or air personalities.
Though very essential for human body, humors are waste product in body that should be flushed out from it. The mucus which is a form of Kapha protects the sensitive tissues, but it must be expelled regularly by the body .similarly with the bile which is a form of Pitta which works properly only when it is excreted into the gut and expelled form the body. And Vata (air) which is released from the body as it causes other wastes to be released.
Between three humors, vat is considered most important .Kaph and pitt do not have capacity to move in themselves; there movement in body depends upon vat. Through the obtained force of vat, disordered humor brings ailment to the whole body, half of the body or any particular organ of the body. It is just as movement of air brings clouds to a particular spot and makes them rain there.
This fact makes vat most prominent among these three. Apart from being free flowing in the body, vat is the cause of most dreadful and quick spreading diseases. Pitt is the fire that sustains the body. It makes Pitt more important than kaph.
Even though humors are present in whole body at any given time of human life, while concerned to age and day-night cycle, vat, pitt and kaph are found respectively in are end, middle and start. During human life span, in old age (end) vat disorder, in young age (middle) pitt disorder, and in childhood (start) kaph disorder are found. In the same manner, during end, middle and start of the day- night, wind-bile-phlegm disorders are found respectively. Governed by the same principle, in spite their all pervading presence in human body, vat, Pitt and kaph respectively originate in the lower parts of body, in the navel and heart, and in the chest area. Main residing places of vat in the body are considered Waist, legs, Bone and ear. Main residing places of Pitt in the body are liver, sweat, saliva, Blood, eyes, skin. Main residing places of kaph in the body are neck, head, fluid, fat, liver, nose, tongue, lungs, and knee joint.
In Ayurveda, physical characteristics of humors are also described.
Vat is in its physical characteristics dry, cool, slender, subtle, moving, vast and sharp. Pitt is characteristically oily, warm, sharp, liquid, acidic, flowing and bitter.
Characteristically kaph is heavy, cold, soft, smooth, sweet, static and smeary. When any two of three humors either exceeds or recedes their appropriate quantity and meet each others, it is called commixture samsarg. In case, when all of three humors commix in their inappropriate quantity, it is called sannipat.
There are three states of humors- accumulation or chaya, disorder or prakopa and subsidence or prashaman. While residing in its own place, growth of a humor is called accumulation. In case of accumulation, it leaves its own place and goes to some other place. This state is called disorder. When symptoms of disordered humor are shown, this state is considered ailment. Subsidence is the state, in which humor is in its own place in the situation of equilibrium without any growth or decay. In that case, there is no ailment. Accumulation of all three humors is caused by different causes. In normal circumstances, subsidence of vat, Pitt and kaph is accelerated respectively in autumn, winter and summer. Accumulation time of vat , pitt and kaph is summer , rain and winter .While three of them are tend to be in disorder in rain autumn and spring respectively.
These doshas function differently in the state of equilibrium and the state of deviation from the equilibrium. When in the state of equilibrium vat helps in nurturing and sustaining the body through proper functioning of body systems like respiration, zeal, bodily efforts, and the functioning of receptors and excretory systems. When the presence of vat in the body is more than adequate, it manifests it self in the form of thin body, blackish skin, quivering, excessive feeling of cold, loss of consciousness, insomnia, weakness, digestive disorders, stiffness in the body, problems related to bone-marrow and receptors, mal-functioning of excretory system, problems in stomach, fearful and depressed mental state etcetera. On the contrary, when the presence of vat in the body is less than sufficient, its symptoms are nausea, dripping of saliva, loss of thinking and speaking capacity, reduction of physical activity, weakness, loss of interest in routine activities and dyspepsia.
Functions of the pitt in the state of equilibrium are to help in nurturing and sustaining the body through the functions of digestion and maintaining the sufficient warmth for this purpose, to generate the desire to consume items of desire, to balance the tendency of hunger and thirst, to keep the body glowing, to maintain the eye sight and to enhance the mental capacities like, bravery and comprehension through intellect and politeness. Excessive presence of pitt in the body is manifested as the yellowness in eyes, skin, and nails, weakness of the receptors, loss of strength, desire for burnt edibles, foul taste in the mouth, excessive thirst, insomnia and disproportionate anger, while inadequate presence of pitt in the body results in stiffness and prickling pain in the body, feeling of cold, dryness of skin, quivering, heaviness in the body, non-digestion of grain, whiteness in nails and eyes.
In the state of equilibrium, kaph provides toughness and flexibility to the body, prevents looseness of joints; enhances sexual capacity, intellect, patience, general endurance, strength, containment and gentleness. Excessive presence of kaph in the body is shown as whitish complexion, bulky body and sloth, hindrance in sources, fainting, excessive sleep, respiration problems, low digestion, and stiffness of joints. Lack of this humor in the body produces illusion, stiffness of the body, insomnia, skin inflammation, burning in throat, loosening of the joints, palpitation, and the feeling of void in throat and heart region.
Ayurveda protects the health of a healthy person and restores the health of an unhealthy person by balancing the presence of three humors in the body.
According to Ayurveda, we are all naturally healthy. The word for health in Sanskrit is “SWASTH” that means “being in the natural state.” We become sick when we deviate from our natural state of being. It happens when we come in contact with some harmful substance from the outside world. These harmful substances enter our body through the food we take through our body, and through the impressions we take in our mind. Our mental state affects our body as well. To cure the body or to get rid of these harmful substances, we have to eliminate these external factors from the body so that it can come back to its natural state.
In contemporary lingo, ‘toxin’ has become a catchword for every type of harmful substance accumulated in the body. It is toxins, which are blamed for most of the diseases. Toxins can enter or develop in the body through any number of mediums. It can be some bacterial substance, pollutant, residue of some drug, unhealthy diet, undigested food, or chemicals released in body due to negative psychic condition.
Ayurveda categorizes toxins on the basis of their relationship with TRIDOSH present in body. Whatever the cause or origin of toxin, it would fall under one of these three DOSHAS or humors. Toxins bring humors in the condition of disequilibrium or make them out of sync.
Vata predominant toxins are light, dry, subtle, and mobile in nature. These are caused by food that is too cold, dry, and light; due to exposure to extreme cold and chilly wind; and drugs and chemicals that have a drying and agitating effect on the nervous system. Apart from them there are psychological factors like fear and aggressiveness that are helpful in the accumulation of these toxins. These can be identified in the body through the presence of constipation, dry skin, insomnia, anxiety, and arthritis etcetera.
Pitta predominant toxins increase bile, toxic blood, and acids in body. These are caused by the consumption of excessively hot, spicy and sour food; exposure to sun, extreme heat, fire, petroleum products, or caustic chemicals. Aggression and anger too cause Pitta predominant toxins. The presence of these toxins in marked by the skin problems, infections, and fever etcetera.
Kapha predominant toxins are caused by food that is too heavy, oily, sugary, salty, and cold. Exposure to a cold, damp environment, stagnant air, and moulds also cause them. Psychological factors like attachment aggravate them, too. The presence of these toxins can be recognized by the cholesterol, obesity, swelling in glands and congestion.
In Ayurveda, there is an elaborate and well planned system of detoxification.