Rasayana chikitsa - part 1

By: Prof.Dr.Subhash Ranade

What is Rasayana ?

The word Rasayana is a combination of two separate words Rasa and ayana. The word Rasa in this context means the first liquid tissue which nourishes all the tissues in the body and Ayana is its circulation. This means that if rasa dhatu is produced in optimum quality and quantity, then naturally all the tissues in the body will be nourished properly.
The method by which Rasa is carried to all the body tissues for biochemical metamorphosis is called as Rasakriya. Rasayana also means the purification of all tissues from Rasa to Shukra. It also aims at giving strength to senses, mind and intellect. Hence Rasayana or rejuvenation is such a form of treatment in which all the tissues are nourished and enhanced. The nourishment of vital tissues helps in stopping old age.
Thus it is useful for enhancement of qualities of life, span of life, increased intellect and enhanced physical strength. It also enhances the immunity of an individual leading to health.

History of Rasayana -
In ancient time the word Deha siddhi was used for rasayana, this also means making body strong that will last for ever. In alchemy or rasashastra the word Dhatu siddhi was used for making higher metal like gold from cheaper metal like iron. The concept is similar in both.
In Rig-Veda, it has been mentioned that Gods were using rasayana and the main substance was herb or preparation known as Soma. For making this preparation, soma herb were taken and mixed with milk, ghee and honey. Then it was fermented and was consumed after filtering it. It is stated that those who use this preparation can resists fire, water and various weapons.

Rasayana actions -
Rasayana acts through various ways –It improves micro-circulation and thereby produces optimum quality tissues in the body. It also increases the strength of Agni as well as Prana and removes waste products from the body.
It works as antioxidant, adaptogenic- anti-stress, anti-anxiety also. Many rasayana procedures and herbs or foods work act as amphoterics, alteratives and tonics. However the most important is that they won't over tonify the body. Amphoteric herbs prepare built in buffer that helps the homeostasis in the body and alteratives help to normalize the physiology by gentle elimination process. Some types of rasayana works as bio purificatory as well as prolong the life span of the individual.

Why we become old ?
Ageing is change in an organism over time. Aging refers to a multidimensional process of physical, psychological and social change. In biology, senescence is the state or process of ageing. Some researchers are treating ageing as a disease in gerontology. They have now discovered genes that have an effect on ageing. As the age advances, tissue loss (catabolism) is more than tissue gain (anabolism), hence strength and Ojas (immunity) starts decreasing. Vata increases and there is accumulation of waste products in the body.

Theories of ageing -
There are various theories of ageing - a) Free radical theory -Oxygen radical is lost due to metabolic activity and there is accumulation of waste products -free radicals. Or AGE -advanced glycosylation end product. b) Telomerase Theory – Telomerase are special types of chemicals that seem to have some ability to protect the chromosomes inside our cells. Every time our cells divide, the telomerase become shorter and less able to protect the chromosome. This may explain why the cells eventually become damaged and die. c) Hayflick Limit Theory -Each healthy cell has limited span of life. Body cells may have a built-in genetic program (encoded program within DNA) that tells them not to reproduce anymore.

Life span -
The average life span or life expectancy of the individual varies according to availability of food, environment as well as his race, cast, nation, etc. However we can say that it is around 80 to 90 years.
All body tissues, organs and channels are gifted with immunity, strength or reserve force. The total effect of all this is the Life span of that individual. If every individual observes rules and regulations (described in Swasthavritta) – daily regimen, seasonal regimen and ethical regimen, takes proper food, sleep and enjoys controlled sexual activity, he can enjoy long and healthy life.
Praneshana (desire for good and long life) is one of the basic instincts of every individual, which has also been explained in Vedas and Upanishads.
Various factors are related with longevity. Out of which food is the most important. Similarly exercise, good marriage and sexual life is also important. Life span may be related to the flexibility of the body's cells. Flexibility of body's cell does not mean flexibility of muscles like that of athletes. It is like vibration, a flexibility of something like that of a rubberized cell. Relax, breathe slowly and calmly, and try to reduce your stress levels. This way, the flexibility of your body's cell will be greater and your life span will be extended.

Time factor -
The time period till today can be divided in four stages-
At the beginning of Universe there was Kruta yuga (Satyayuga). This entire period comprises of 17002800 years. The lifespan in this period was 400 years.
Then came the period of Treta yuga. This lasted for 12009600 years, and the lifespan was 300 years.
Later on in Dwapara yuga started and this lasted for 8007400 years. During this period the Lifespan was 200 years.
The present the time is called as Kali yuga. This time period is of 4003200 years, and the Lifespan is of 100 years.

Need for Rejuvenation -
Our life style has become very hectic. This is due to over exertion – physical as well as mental. Day by day people are feeling in secured which increase stress. The diet has also become faulty as many people are using fast food items. The timing of eating has become irregular due to change in the duties and more and more persons are using stale foods with preservatives.
Due to availability of various gadgets in the kitchen, use of television, mobile phones and computers has resulted in lack of exercise. More and more people are becoming addicted to Alcohol, smoking, excessive sex, too much sleep and drugs. This all leads to low dhatu bala, low ojas, vitiation of all doshas; resulting in – premature aging, fatigue, debility, inability to adopt to stress, recurrent illness and depression.
Anti-oxidants – Rasayana foods, herbs and regimens helps to reestablish this balance.

Purpose of Rasayana -

Rasayana should be used for three fold purpose - 1. Maintaining health, 2. Prevention of diseases and old age and 3. To avoid the recurrence of diseases.
Sharangadhara has advised that in each group of age, every person should take specific rasayana for keeping healthy and fit. It should be kept in mind that Rasayana has a more preventive aspect than a curative one. Hence it is done after the treatment of disease to prevent recurrence of that disease or to nourish the tissues that have been damaged by the disease. It can also be done in absence of a disease to prevent the occurrence of diseases.
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CHYAVANPRASH: is an ancient and most popular rejuvenator tonic of Ayurveda.
Chyavan-Prash enhances body metabolism and immunity and considered to be one of the most health promoting product of Ayurveda.
Have a big spoonful of this Chyavan-Prash with milk everyday morning. This diet is a powerful tonic.

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