Dr. Manoj Nesari
Since times immemorial mankind has had the quest for longevity. The story of king Yayaati is a well-known example of it. Youth is the most beautiful stage of life. This is the stage when the tissues are fully developed and obtain the optimum quality. Any being in his youth is full of strength. The Atharva Veda has described that beautiful body and face, good strength and strong built like Vajra are the criteria of an excellent physique. All of these are present only during the phase of youth. This is the most creative stage of life. Hence treatment and research to overcome ageing had always remained the subject on interest. The evolution of longevity therapy can be traced back to Vaidika era. Innumerable references related to desire and treatment for longevity is available in that Veda. Gopatha Braahman`a has described a plant name Soma, which was used to attain strength and longevity. Some more references related to the medicinal properties of Soma are available in 144th sutra of ninth Mand`ala of Rigveda. Atharvaveda has described few more plants namely Jeevaalaa, Naagharisha, Jeevanti, Traayamaan`a, Sahamaana, and Sarasvati for the purpose of longevity. (Ath. 8/2/6)
With this background it wont be a surprise if Ayurveda, the mainstream medical system of that time pays more attention to longevity. In the Charaka Samhitaa, one of the main compendia of Ayurveda, the first chapter is named Deerghanjeeviteeya I.e. about the craving for a long healthy life. By the time of Charaka the science of longevity had advanced to a great extent. The efforts to achieve good tissues, for longevity, is collectively called as Rasaayana Chikitsaa. The Rasaayana therapy gained importance to such an extent, that it became an integral part of Ayurveda, a division in the eight specialized branches.
What is Rasaayana?
The word Rasaayana has two components, the Rasa that indicates all the nutrient fluid tissue & Ayana means to achieve through its activities the best quality of all the body tissues is Rasaayana. The Rasaayana therapy can be given to healthy individuals for promotion of health, by improved tissues; as well as to the sick, to cure the disease, by better resistance. The Rasaayana therapy retards the process of ageing and hence is used effectively in the chronic diseases due to degeneration and diseases of ageing. To ensure better results, by this therapy, the person to be treated is first subjected to various body purification methods; the Rasaayana Formulations are administered after proper body purification. There are many types of Rasaayana therapy and innumerable drug formulations designed, according to the need of the situation. Usually the desired age group is from the young stage to the first stage of old age. However, it can be administered to person of any age and gender with the physicians discretion.
Importance of Rasaayana therapy:
Frequent use of an unwholesome diet and wrong dietary habits, exposure to seasonal variations, environmental factors like pollution of water, air, soil, entry of toxic substances via vegetables or other food items, stress and many other factors have a negative impact on our body, resulting in some negative-disease prone-changes. These negative changes are subtle and are a micro level. Accumulation of these changes is continuously happening in our body, over a period of time; and they are responsible for the diseases like Osteo-arthritis, diabetes, or even cancer and also for early ageing. Modern medical science has till today, nothing to offer for eliminating or averting, or preventing these changes, or the diseases as well as ageing. On the other hand to the increasing population of elderly people, the health problems of old age are on the rise.
The Rasaayana therapy as mentioned earlier serves both the purposes of promotion of health and longevity as well as to cure the diseases by optimizing the host defense mechanism.
The advancement in understanding the cell biology has enabled us to assess the effects of Rasaayanatherapy at the cellular level. It has been observed that popularly used Rasaayana stimuli in the forms of herbs like S`hataavaree and As`hvagandhaa have Cytoprotectiveactivity. As`hvagandhaa and Gud`oochi have shown Immunomodulatory effect. Another popular Rasaayana drug Shilaajita has shown Adaptogenic activity. The Rasaayana herapy may revolutionize the approach towards management of lifestyle diseases and ageing in future.
Effects of Rasaayana therapy:
- Ayurveda has described the effects of Rasaayana therapy as follows:
- Because of overall improvement, Rasaayana therapy results in attaining longevity
- Rasaayana therapy improves the intellect as well as memory
- Promotes general health
- Provides nourishment to all the body tissues
- Improves the complexion
- Maintains quality of voice
- Strengthens the organs of cognition and conation
- Improves the virility
Classification of Rasaayana methods: The types are 1. Kaamya Rasaayana 2. Naimittika Rasaayana 3.Aajasrika Rasaayana. In this, Rasaayana drugs are administered orally or in the form of Basti.
Kaamya Rasaayana: This incorporates various types of Rasaayana methods derived with the intention of optimizing all types of tissues in our body and providing them with stability. In this method some special drugs as well as some dietary items are suggested. The medicinal plants described under Jeevaneeya Gan`a and Vayasthaapana Gan`a by Charaka come under Kaamya Rasaayana. It has been reclassified under many sub classes like: –
- Sarvopaghaata Shamaneeya (to bear diverse trauma)
- Svaabhaavika Vyaadhi Pratishedheeya (combat ageing)
- Ksheen`a Baleeya (to strength endowment)
- Nivritta Santaapeeya (to achieve psychological control)
- Medhaayushkaameeya (for talent longevity)
- Praan`akaameeya to add capacity in many aspects
- Vrishya (enhance virility)
- Vaajeekarana (enhance sexual performance in many aspects)
Naimittika Rasaayana: Naimittika means occasional. The Rasaayana treatment under this category is used to treat specific diseases conditions. Weakness of a system or a type of tissue makes the person vulnerable to specific types of diseases e.g. weakness in Praan`avana Srotas may lead to repeated attacks of respiratory infections and person may become susceptible to pulmonary tuberculosis. The Rasaayana drugs under this class improve the host defense mechanism and strengthen the system thereby preventing the recurrence of the disease.
Aajasrika Rasaayana: This method advocates intake of a balanced diet as part of Rasaayana therapy. This includes proper use of dietary factors like milk, honey, ghee etc. Regular use of these dietary items and proper dietary habits helps to maintain the balance amongst the tissues, methods like a cow is fed on a special diet to get a special quality of milk are also described under this class.
Physiologically Vaata Dosha becomes dominant in body with advancing age. Vaata is responsible for the process of degeneration and ageing. Basti being the therapy of choice for treatment of Vaata, Rasaayana drugs are also administered in the form of Basti. This therapy is called as Rasaayana Basti. Various types of Yaapana Basti are used as Rasaayana Basti to treat various degenerative disorders.
Aachaara Rasaayana: This is the behavioral method adopted regularly in day-to-day life to lead an ideal ethical way of living. The best results of any Rasaayana therapy can be achieved only when the Aachaara Rasaayana is followed during treatment. Aachaara Rasaayana advocates good conduct in personal life as well as in social life. The pious way to lead life, being truthful using soft language, no harsh words, maintaining mental balance, (Saatvika) self-controlled intake of food, love towards every being etc.
Regulating the self in many aspects, Yama, Niyama stages of Yoga are also examples of Aachaara Rasaayana, the rejuvenation by behavior. This keeps the mind cool and reduces the stress that is also a major cause of many diseases and of ageing.
Vaajeekaran`a: Having achieved better tissues with preparatory purification procedures, self-attentive control, valuable medicinal stimuli; it is expected to harvest benefits for the next generation. To promote the elective chance of conception when the tissues are of best capacity, medication for that is suggested. The Rasaayana improved tissues, when safely promoted to achieve conception by a couple; both enhancement of sexual pleasure and later progeny protection are possible. For the average health, eager individual / couple this is the most desired benefit out of the earlier efforts of Rasaayana. This is done after improvement of tissues, by Vaajeekaran`a stimulus. In total text, the emphasis is on the qualities in a child, so that health promotion can be extended to the next generation. Being capable in performance with desire is the instinct behind sexual union. So the scientific advice for achieving the same by specific food enrichment, by certain herbal and biological substances, is elaborated in Vaajeekaran`a branch. The summary positive health promoting advice, of all compendia, state in one voice that excess indulgence in sex is to be avoided by the health conscious. Those they by self-control, restrict the sexuality; live a long and healthy life. Even in plays and entertainment, one should never forget the scrutiny about beneficial effect or otherwise of every undertaking.
Sus`hruta Chi. Ch. 24.at stanzas 111; 112; and 121 categorically express this. The total guidance for health-achieving efforts is summarized after elaboration in earlier chapter. The individual, by his own will should protect himself from the temptation of unlimited sexual union. This is so advised, as the experience is that self-controlling persons age slowly.
Sexuality is one of the three legs of the tripod supporting life- (health). It is the basic instinct given by nature to every living being. Healthy sexuality is an extremely important part of a happy and healthy mind and body. Many compendia were written on this subject. The types of men and women according to their physical structure and psychological behavior, a good match to conjugal bliss, methods of romance and conjugation etc. have been elaborated in these compendia. Kamasootra Ananga Ranga, Panchasaayaka are some more popular treatises on the science of sexuality.
In ancient times, contrary to todays situation religion and science propagated to have a large number of children. Charaka attributes the significance of sex towards three human obligations for the species. They are obligations to parents and ancestors, to Rishis and to God. Today WHO defines sexual health as the integration of somatic, emotional, intellectual and social aspect of sexual well being, in ways that are positively enriching and that enhance personality, communication and love This definition perfectly matches with the Ayurvedicview behind sexuality.
Horse i.e. (Vaajee in Sanskrit) is the symbol of vigor and virility in Hindu tradition. Hence the treatment that makes one like a horse in terms of virility is called as Vaajeekaran`a. This is a type of Kaamya Rasaayana. Vajeekaran`a is used to improve the quality and quantity of S`hukra Dhaatu, the tissue responsible for reproduction and to increase the libido. Many dietary preparations, medicinal, herbal and Herbo-mineral compounds and Basti preparations are mentioned for the Vaajeekaran`a therapy that is being used today successfully. Besides the conjugal bliss and progeny, the S`hukra Dhaatu that is the target of Vaajeekaran`a therapy is also responsible for the regeneration in the tissues. The healthy S`hukra Dhaatu recuperates the degeneration due to daily wear and tear Oja the purest extract processed out of S`hukra is the most vital factor for promotion of physical and mental health and immunity.
S`hukra is also responsible for mental factors like enthusiasm, happiness and elation that counteracts with depression and stress. Hence Vaajeekaran`a therapy is also used in psychosomatic disorders. Samkalpa i.e. desire or positive thought is the most important factoring Vaajeekaran`a, Charaka says, this highlights the importance of healthy mind in attaining longevity.
Whether ageing has a genetic origin is a million dollar question. However Ayurvedahas considered factors like race, mother, father while describing the types of Prakriti that are responsible for the quality of tissues. The Vaajeekaran`a drugs are advised for improving the quality of S`hukra in parents to overcome the Beeja (seed defect) Dosha i.e. the genetic defect. These references may prove useful in the research on the use of Vaajeekaran`a for longevity.
Sr. Scientist AyuSoft. Pune
Last updated on February 16th, 2021 at 09:37 am