September 29, 2020
We begin to age the minute we are born. This change-over from youth to death comprises of many painful, dependable episodes which make the human life miserable. A report released by the United Nations Population Fund and Help Age India suggests that the number of elderly persons is expected to grow to 173 million by 2026 (Source: Elderly in India 2016). Both the share and size of elderly population is increasing over time.
According to Ayurveda, any condition that leads to a disturbance of homeostasis is termed as a disease. Thus, Vriddhavastha /Old age has also been considered as a disease. It is categorized under the heading of natural diseases, which are due to Swabhava (nature) and depend on kala (time). Vriddhavastha or old age refers to the period after 60 or 70 wherein various degenerative changes will take place. This stage is characterized by decay in the Sharira (body), Dhatu (various tissue elements), perception power of the Indriya (sensory and motor organs), potency, strength, speech, various mental and cognitive functions (e.g., memory, intellect, reception, retention, analytic ability etc).
Ayurveda offers an excellent line of management for Jara vikara (Geriatric problems). In fact, Jara Ayurveda, is one among the Ashtanga Ayurveda (8 specialties of Ayurveda) that details exclusively for old-age related problems & its prevention.
Prevention of Aging:
• Following the principles of Dinacharya (daily regimen)
For ex; Abhayanga & Shiro- Abhyanga (body & head massage), Nasya (instillation of nasal drops), Sneha-Gandusha (retaining of oil in the mouth/Oil pulling therapy), Anjana (a type of eye treatment), Vyayama (exercise based on one’s strength & tolerance), Good personal hygiene practices like Cleansing of feet and external orifices, and so on.
• Following the principles of Swasthavritta (Codes of conduct for Healthy Life)
For ex; Proper utilization of Trayopastambha (3 Pillars of Health - Diet, Sleep, and Physical abstinence/Celibacy) according to the rules, to control the suppressible urges of mind/Manasika Dharaniya Vegas (mental fluctuations like Greediness, Anger, Anxiety, etc) and to expel unsuppressible urges / Sharirika Adharaniya Vegas (the natural urges of the body like Urine, Feces, Flatus, etc); periodic administration of Panchakarma (bio-cleansing procedures), and by the regular utilization of Rasayana (rejuvenation) therapy.
• Following the principles of Sadvritta & Achara Rasayana (social and personal ethics).
Disease in elderly can only be managed; they can rarely be cured completely. Therefore, a physician should carefully plan and execute the treatment in Elderly with holistic approach. Herbs like Brahmi, Mandukparni, Yashtimadhu, Shankhapushpi, and others act as Medhya Rasayanas (Cognitive Enhancers) thereby strengthen the sensory and cognitive functioning of brain.
Herbs like Pippali, Bhallataka and others help in the ailments of respiratory system. Rasayanas like Chyavanaprasha, Brahma Rasayana, Vardhamana Pippali etc. are very effective in strengthening the tissues of respiratory system.
Medicines like Triphala, Rasanjana, etc. are useful in improving the vision in elderly. Therapeutic massages with medicated oils like Mahanarayana Taila etc. provides nutrition to muscles and prevent their atrophy. Drugs like Aswagandha, Bala, Asthishrinkhala, Laksha, etc. provide nutrition specifically to muscles and bones. Certain drugs like Lashuna, Triphala etc. have their role in lowering cholesterol and LDL levels. Certain drugs like Guggulu, Prabhakara Vati etc. improve the circulation by cleansing the blood vessels and improving their elasticity.
Ayurveda also offers time tested therapies for healthy ageing. To improve the quality of life of the elderly, holistic approach in making them active and healthy is necessary. For this Ayurveda with all its medicines and principles related to lifestyle, food and psychological well being can be applied to benefit the senior citizens in Indian society.