What is a disease?
Our body communicates to us through symptoms such as pain, headaches, spasm, fever, skin rashes, fatigue, arrhythmia, low appetite, allergies, sleeplessness, low appetite, diarrhoea and vomiting. If you analyse these symptoms, they represent the actions of our body eliminating things it does not want.
Likewise, when there is a block or decreased functioning in any part of the waste removal system in our body, metabolic waste will accumulate. This accumulated metabolic waste, referred to as “Aama” in Ayurveda, becomes toxic and is the root cause for all known diseases. Aama in turn attracts and makes the body more vulnerable to all kinds of diseases.
Aama represents “Aa” which means “not” and “ma” means “me”. Aama is the poisonous substance that our body does not accept and wants to eliminate. If a disease does not originate from an accident or trauma, Ayurveda says that Aama is the source. The main quality of Aama is that it is sticky in nature. Imagine a combination of water and sugar , it creates a substance like glue. Aama is similar to glue. Some historians, who studied the agricultural evolution, state that in 10,000 BC the consumption of sugar was around 20 teaspoons/year. Today the consumption can reach upto 20 teaspoons/day vis-a-vis we have more Aama in our system compared to any other point of time in the history of humanity. This Aama has to be constantly eliminated effectively to maintain health and efficiency of body functioning.
Disease is the expression of the body eliminating Aama. When a person suffers with gout, they become less mobile and hence they think twice before consuming fried food. When a person contracts a cold, they stop consuming cold beverages and stop exposing themselves to cold wind. When a person is fatigues, they will find a way to stop the self-abuse that have been enduring. So the symptoms of disease represent an attempt by the body to heal. In Ayurveda, this concept is called “Prayaschita” which literally means “penalty for abuse”. Disease is a guide for healing and a signal that it is time to change in order to rebalance the body’s natural state.
“Niramaya” is a word used in Ayurveda for “optimal health” which literally means the state of a body which is free from all forms of Aama.
According to Ayurveda, all diseases can be classified into two categories: diseases caused by under nutrition and those caused by over nutrition. Among them, the diseases caused by over nutrition are more difficult to treat than those caused by under nutrition because eliminating waste is more difficult than consuming the appropriate diet. Elimination from the body is a finite process while consumption is infinite.
Some diseases can be due to a combination of both of the above. For example, a person can be obese and suffer from fatigue. A good statement describing this condition is that we are overfed but under nourished. Ayurveda says that it is the “Agni” (Agni is the Sanskrit word for metabolism/digestive fire) that gives the ability to convert food into energy. If the food we eat is only converting into fat, it is not ideal. This is why we need to look at the function of the gut.
What is the gut and why is it important?
In Ayurveda the gut is known as “Koshta” which means “the big channel through which life enters´. The gut is the channel where energy enters our body.
The gut surrounds of the organs of abdomen. It starts with the tongue and finishes at the anal canal.
The expression “gut feeling” is like a sixth sense and it comes from our stomach. Why does the gut feeling not come from the lung or the heart? It is because the gut has the maximum number of nerve cells after the brain, hence it is like our second brain.
The health of a person can be analysed by two states of the gut:
Dry: We experience dehydration and constipation as the sticky fat content is high and this can lead to allergies and inflammatory conditions.
Wet: we experience smooth bowel movements as the non-sticky fat, which enables free flow of metabolic energy, is predominant.