Āyurveda, the holistic ancient Indian medical system is based on the Tridoṣa theory
The word Āyurveda is composed of 2 words Āyur (root āyus) = 'to live' or 'life'; and Veda (root vid) = 'to know' or 'knowledge'. It is considered sacred as it is part of the Vedic knowledge. It was transmitted orally for thousands of years but somewhere around 2,000 BC to 3,000 BC the transformation of Āyurveda from an oral to a written tradition happened gradually & two schools of thought emerged– the School of Medicine and the School of Surgery which codified the āyurvedic teachings into text. Caraka Saṃhitā and Suśruta Saṃhitā are the treatises of these two schools respectively. Aṣṭāṅgasaṅgraha, compiled by Vāgbhaṭa, contains the essence of these two treatises. Together these 3 treatises written in Saṃskṛtam are popularly known as “Bṛhat-Trayī” or the great treatises and are considered most authentic and standard references in Āyurveda.
Understanding the Tridoṣa theory: It is considered that the physical universe is composed of 5 states of matter:
matter in state of transformation (Tejas)
matter in movement (Vāyu)
the above four states exist in a fifth state, space or field (Ākāśa)
All five states of matter are governed by 3 managers who come from the intelligent principle of energy in the universe- Prāṇa & at the same time are composed of these 5 states of matter. These 3 principles, known as the “Doṣa”, are biological forces behind all functions of the body and they begin working prior to birth! They produce the body structure, govern all physiological functions and are the causative factors in a disease process. They are also used to define seasonal cycles, cycles of day and night & cycles of age. The correct understanding of the doṣa at each of these levels is called the Tridoṣa theory which forms the foundation of the āyurvedic system. It is the key to a healthy and balanced life!
Vāta Doṣa : Controls all nervous functions & mobility in body. Manages the Wind and Ether elements
Pitta Doṣa : Responsible for all metabolic and chemical functions. Manages Fire and Water elements
Kapha Doṣa : Provides structure, support, stability & lubrication to the body. Manages Water and Earth elements.
The combination of these 3 doṣas during conception gives rise to what is known as Prakṛti. This combination is unique to each individual and determines his anatomy, physiology & psychology. When these 3 doṣas are in their natural state and are able to perform their functions in the body there is health but when they are disturbed due to diet, lifestyle, environment etc there is dis-ease. The imbalance of the doṣas is known as Vikṛti. It reflects any aspects of diet, lifestyle, emotions, age, environment etc. that are not in harmony with one’s Prakṛti.
Prakṛti determines for each individual his strengths, his weaknesses, his needs and his tendencies which he must take into account to live in good health, in balance and in harmony with himself and the outside world. The basic constitution can not be changed permanently. It can be affected by the physiological or psychic dysfunction / disturbance because of one or more doṣa in excess. The therapeutic approach of Āyurveda is based on the determination of this disorder and then their treatment in order to bring the body into a state of equilibrium.
Hence all āyurvedic therapeutic processes work on:
Reduction of accumulation of Vāta, Pitta, and Kapha
Strengthening agni (digestive power)
Renewal of dhātu (tissues) & correct functioning of srotāṃsi (channels)
Normalisation of mala (excretions) in accordance with Prakṛti
Calming or stimulating and proper use of manas (mind) and jñānendriyā (sensory organs)