The word 'kaya' (body) not only refers to the gross body of a person but to the subtle body as well. This natural alternative medicine recognizes that the body of a person is the product of the constant psychosomatic interactions. The imbalances in the three doshas of vata-pitta-kapha occur sometimes by the mind and sometimes by the body's dhatu (tissues) and mala (toxin deposits). Hence, the kayachikitsa branch of this system of herbal and holistic medicine, delves deep into ascertaining the root cause of the illness. Then only a suitable treatment is recommended to bring back mind and body into balance. Though the prescription might give an impression that the treatment is meant for the physical body, these in fact have a strong impact on mind and soul of a person.
The Charaka Samhita is the most important scripture on kayachikitsa. It discussed the basic principles of treatment (mentioned above), various types of therapies and purification or detoxification methods i.e. panchakarma. But, its thrust area has been diagnosis of a disease. Detail account of various methods of diagnosis, study of various stages of symptoms and the comprehensive management of debilitating diseases like diabetes mellitus, tuberculosis, asthma and arthritic conditions.
The section of Nidana Sthana of Charaka Samhita deals with etiology, pathogenesis and diagnosis of an illness. Six stages of the development of disease are enumerated as aggravation, accumulation, overflow, relocation, build up in a new site and manifestation into a recognizable disease (it is interesting to note that modern medical science can only detect a disease during the fifth or sixth stages of the illness). In kayachikitsa there is always an opportunity to stop the disease at each stage preventing its full manifestation.
One of the significant methods of treatment under kayachikitsa is panchakarma. This is a method of reversing the disease path from its manifestation stage back into to its site of original development through special forms of emesis, purgation and enema etc. Another unique aspect of kayachikitsa is rejuvenation called kaya kalpa. The term kaya kalpa means renewal of body. According to ayurveda the human body is made of seven types of dhatu or tissues-structures—plasma, blood, muscle, fat, bone, marrow and reproductive fluids. To prolong the youthfulness of the body kayachikitsa applies several physical and mental disciplinary methods with special medicinal preparations, to rebuild the body's cells and tissues after the initial process of detoxification, through panchakarma.
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