|Human beings are made from the union of body systems that work collaboratively. Each type of life, from the simple virus to the largest tree or the complicated human being, has its own functional characteristics. The very fact that we remain alive is the result of a complex of control systems, for hunger make us seek food and fear makes us seek refuge. Sensations of cold make us look for warmth. Other forces cause us to seek fellowship and to reproduce. Thus, the human being is, in many ways, like an automaton, and the fact that we are sensing, feeling, and knowing is part of this automatic reflexive sequence of life; these special attributes allow us to exist under widely varying conditions
Basic living unit of the body
The basic living unit of the body is the cell. Each organ is an aggregate of many different cells held together by intercellular supporting structures. Each type of cell is specially adapted to perform one or a few particular functions. For instance, the red blood cells, numbering 25 trillion in each human being, transport oxygen from the lungs to the tissues. Although the red cells are the most abundant of any single type of cell in the body, there are about 75 trillion additional cells of other types that perform functions different from those of the red cell. The entire body, then, contains about 100 trillion cells1.
Therefore, the body is actually a social order of about 100 trillion cells organized into different functional structures, some of which are called organs. Each functional structure contributes its share to the maintenance of homeostatic conditions in the extracellular fluid, which is called the internal environment. As long as normal conditions are maintained in this internal environment, the cells of the body continue to live and function properly. Each cell benefits from homeostasis, and in turn, each cell contributes its share toward the maintenance of homeostasis. This reciprocal interplay provides continuous automaticity of the body until one or more functional systems lose their ability to contribute their share of function. When this happens, all the cells of the body suffer. Extreme dysfunction leads to death; moderate dysfunction leads to sickness .
Fundamental elements of Human body
The human body according to Ayurveda, is composed of three fundamental elements called dosha, dhathu and mala. The dosha govern the physicochemical and physiological activities of the body, while the dhathu enter into the formation of a basic structure of a body cell, thereby performing some specific actions. The mala are substances which are partly utilized in the body and partly excreted in a modified form after serving their physiological functions. These three elements are said to be in a dynamic equilibrium with each other for the maintenance of health. Any imbalance or their relative preponderance in the body results in disease and decay.
In modern medicine more attention is paid to correct the afflicted part of the body. But in Ayurveda while treating a disease, the individual as a whole is taken into consideration. Not only the condition of other parts of his body but also the condition of his mind and soul are taken into account while treating the patient .
Optimal health is the primary goal of holistic medical practice. It is the conscious pursuit of the highest level of functioning and balance of the physical, environmental, mental, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of human experience, resulting in a dynamic state of being fully alive.
Principles of Holistic Medicine
A holistic approach to taking care of our body systems
Dinacharya: The regimen during daytime
One should get up from bed early in the morning, before sunrise. This is considered to be an auspicious time when air is fresh and there is minimum noise in the atmosphere.
Cleaning the Face: One should wash one’s face with water immediately after getting up from the bed. This helps in the cleaning of the dirt accumulated in the eyes, nose and mouth during night and gives freshness.
Water should be sprinkled over the eyes. This is very important for preserving and promoting the eyesight. After sprinkling water, eyelids should be gently rubbed so that the eye-balls get a tender massage.
Drinking a glass of water: This helps in the passing of stools and urine. Some people are in the habit of taking tea at bedtime for this purpose. The reflex action produced by tea at bedtime is different from the one produced by the glass of water. The latter only produces pressure, thus stimulating the intestines to start their movement for evacuation. Tea being hot stimulates the intestines so strongly that its effect loses its effectivenessafter some days and the individual starts developing constipation. The caffeine content of the tea or coffee produces some adverse effects on the glands of the stomach and intestines which the water does not do. Besides water is a very good tonic for the body.
Movement of the bowels: The habit of taking a glass of water in the morning facilitates clear motion. Proper elimination of stools plays an important part in preserving health.
Cleaning Teeth: One should use twig of neem, babul or any other tree which is astringent, pungent and bitter in taste. The top of the twig should be crushed to make it soft so that the gums are not affected. This removes the foul smell and tastelessness. It removes the dirt of the tongue, teeth and mouth.
Use of nasal drops: One should inhale Anuthaila (Oil) during the rainy season, the autumn and the spring. One who practices nasal therapy according to the prescribed method, his eyes, nose and ears are not affected by any morbidity. His hair will not become grey prematurely and he will not experience untimely falling of hair.
Application of oil in the head: One who applies oil on his head regularly does not suffer from headache, baldness or greying of hair. The hair remains black, long and deep-rooted. The skin of is face becomes bright and induces sound sleep.
Exercise: Physical exercise brings about lightness of the body, ability to work, alleviation of doshas especially kapha [ one of the body constitution elements]and helps to keep the body toned and supple. Exercise boosts circulation, allowing the body to absorb nutrients and eliminate toxins and waste more efficiently.
Bathing: Bathing is purifying, libidinal , stimulating and life giving: it removes fatigue, sweating and dirt. It brings about strength in the body and is an aid par excellence for the enhancement of Ojas i.e. body immunity.
Dress: Wearing clean apparel adds to the bodily charm, reputation, longevity. It brings about pleasure, grace, competence and good looks.
A healthy diet involves eating foods that provide all the nourishment the body requires for growth, tissue repair and energy to carry out vital internal processes6. No matter how wholesome the foods you eat, balance must be maintained among them. Even with balanced menus, the body must be able to digest and assimilate the nutrients it takes in. Ensure that this is possible by eating at regular times in proper quantities and by chewing the food well. Breakfast is a must even if it is a small amount of highly nutritive food.
Sufficient sleep is more essential to recovery from fatigue than any other therapy or drug. No matter how static one remains, as long as the body is awake, the muscles preserve a state of tension. In sleep however, the muscles relax, the organs and cerebral nerves take rest,enabling the body to recover from weariness and be refreshed upon waking. There is no doubt that “early to bed and early to rise” are linked with longevity. But the tempo of modern urban living makes it difficult to follow the sound advice inherent in these words. Nonetheless, it is good to get up early in the morning and enjoy clean air before the pollution of daytime traffic has a chance to sully it.
Along with the healthy practices mentioned above, taking part in religious activities, yoga, meditation and taking part in social activities helps an individual to relieve stress and facilitate psychological well-being. While these helps in the optimal functioning of our body systems and aids in preventing diseases, once a disease is manifested, it is important to cure it by properly eliminating vitiated dosha i.e. the three body humors; Vata, Pittha and Kapha are named Va, Pith and Sem respectively in Sri Lankan traditional medicine, thus removing the root cause; in other words a holistic approach should be taken in curing the disease. In ancient practice, even healthy individuals have utilized detoxification procedures such as cleared their bowels by purgation once or twice a year as a way of preventing unnecessary accumulation of dosha; thus preventing occurrence of diseases. A holistic treatment will not only prevent adverse side-effects, it will reduce the chances of recurrence of the disease and will improve the smooth functioning of all the body systems preserving the vitality of the individual.