Basic Concepts of Ayurveda

It will be helpful to understand a few important concepts and some Ayurvedic terminology before you decide whether you want to include Ayurveda in your treatment plan. The next few sections provide a brief overview of Ayurvedic concepts on which the diagnosis and treatment of all ailments are based.

According to Ayurvedic philosophy, the entire cosmos is made up of the energies of five elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether (space).

Even the human body and herbs are made up of these elements. Collectively, these elements are called pancha-maha-bhootas or material particles. The material particles and the anti-material particles (the spirit) form the cognitive aspect of a living being.

The predominance of a particular element(s) determines the characteristics of a thing, whether it is an animal, a person, or an herb. The medicinal properties of a drug or an herb are determined by the characteristics it exhibits. Similarly, depending upon the relative amounts of the elements, each of us exhibits a unique set of physical and mental characteristics. A disease state changes these characteristics. This change is the basis for the diagnosis and treatment of disease. In prescribing a remedy, the doctor chooses a treatment with the opposite characteristics of the disease to counteract the symptoms.