Tejinder Sodhi* and Rupali Sodhi*

* Corresponding authors


Ayurveda is a holistic science of balance and health. It not only deals with the prevention of diseases, promotion of health and longevity, but also cures disease. This system of medicine determines the quality and power of herbs according to the laws of nature; thus herbs can collectively or individually be used to match individual diseases or conditions. It should be noted that a majority of Ayurvedic herbs are well-researched and backed by research and clinical trials [1]. Ayurveda in veterinary medicine focuses on animal welfare, treatment, therapies, management, and surgery. Salihotra was the first to be credited as an animal healer and he wrote the Ayurvedic materia medica in veterinary medicine [2]. He also wrote Mrig (animal) and Hasti (elephant) Ayurvedic texts dedicated to animal welfare and treatment. The first recorded veterinary hospital was opened by King Ashoka in 1463 BC and used Ayurvedic botanicals [3]. Knowledge of basic philosophy and principles of Ayurveda is an essential tool that goes hand in hand with using Ayurvedic products. However, due to the abundance of scientific data on clinical research about Ayurvedic herbs, any clinician should be able to utilize the benefits for their animal patients.

Theory of Tridoshas

Body typing is a unique concept in Ayurvedic medicine, based on three primary constitutions known as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. These three are collectively referred to as the Doshas. Determining the constitution is a vital tool to uniquely approach patients, allowing the clinician to best tailor recommendations. It is believed that balancing the dosha doesn’t just improve the health of the individual being, but also the whole world that interacts with that being. Therefore, healing according to dosha is thought to heal not only the patient, but contributes to healing the world itself.

Kapha types tend to be calm, slower moving, and more relaxed compared to others in their species. They have a mesomorph body type. A breed it can be likened to would be an old, loyal, golden retriever.

Pitta types tend to be competitive, fast acting, and will take the lead in social settings most often. They tend toward endomorphic body types. They are also the type that are fastest toward dominant and protective aggression, not to be confused with fear-based aggression, which is considered more Vata. A pit bull or rottweiler is a good example.

Vata types tend to be outgoing albeit nervous types that have an ectomorph body type and tend toward fear and nervousness in new situations. Greyhounds, Afghans, and Whippets are all breeds that symbolize the Vata type.

Functions of the Tridosha

Maintaining balance within the tridosha is fundamental for optimal health. Together, the doshas govern all metabolic activities; anabolism (Kapha), catabolism (Vata), and metabolism (Pitta) [4]. Each dosha is enhanced by anything that is similar to it, be it food, emotions, or the season. Similarly, each dosha is decreased by things that are its opposite. For example, Vata is dry, light, and cold; so, any food, lifestyle, or behavior that increases these qualities will increase the activity of Vata within the body. Conversely, factors that are oily, heavy or hot will decrease Vata influence.

There can be up to ten different constitutions, depending on the combinations of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Doshas can be manifested in an individual in various combinations like Vata-Pitta, Pitta-Kapha, Kapha-Vata and so on, with one predominant Dosha governing it. The combination of the three dosha remains unchanged throughout an individual’s lifetime and can indicate lifelong inherent strengths and susceptibilities.

  • I) Disease and Classification of Disease

To understand disease, we must understand health. Health is constantly challenged by the external environment as well as the internal environment of the body. When these two are not in equilibrium, disease process starts. A state of health occurs where digestion is well balanced, and body types “Vata, Pitta, and Kapha” are in equilibrium and waste products (urine, feces, and sweat) are produced and eliminated at normal levels. Along with these processes, sensory organs work normally, and mind and consciousness are harmoniously working as a unit.

Along with other classifications, diseases are also classified according to the doshas Vata, Pitta or Kapha.

Kapha body types have tendency toward Kapha disease. Most Kapha diseases are related to recurring tonsillitis, sinusitis, and bronchitis and lung congestion. Kapha disorders originate at stomach.

Pitta types will have pitta type disease like bile and liver disorders, gall bladder diseases, GI ulcers and acid reflux as well as inflammatory bowel disease. Pitta disease originates in the small intestine.

Vata types are susceptible to gas, colic, lower back pain, arthritis, scratches and paralysis. These diseases of Vata originate at large intestine.

Any imbalance in the disease process affecting body will ultimately reflect on one’s mind and behavior as well. Vata imbalance creates fear, depression, and nervousness. Pitta imbalance will create anger, heat, and jealousy. Kapha produces greed, passiveness, and lassitude.

  • II) Diet

In veterinary medicine, dietary strategies are exceptionally useful. By assessing the constitution of the animal and understanding the impacts different foods have on the dosha, one can tailor their dietary recommendations to help achieve balance and thus cure disease. Dietary advice is tailored to balance the dosha of the patient, while also reducing the dosha of the disease manifesting, which is usually the same Dosha, though not always.

Vata promoting foods are dry and light such as dried fruits, apples, melons, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, ice cream, beef, peas and green salad. Those predominantly Vata should limit these foods, as there is already enough Vata activity in their natural being that foods which promote more Vata, will surely lead to imbalance and therefore disease. However, sweet fruits, avocadoes, coconut, brown rice, red cabbage, bananas, grapes, cherries, and oranges are good for Vata types.

Pitta promoting foods are spicy foods, peanut butter, sour fruits, bananas, papayas, tomatoes and garlic. Foods that inhibit Pitta are mangoes, oranges, pears, plums, sprouts, green salad, sunflower seeds, asparagus, and mushrooms.

Kapha promoting foods tend to be moist and cool such as bananas, melons, coconut, dates, papayas, pineapple, and dairy products. However, pomegranate, cranberry, basmati rice, sprouts, and chicken are also beneficial for Kapha constitution.

Seasonal variations should also be considered as well. In summer avoiding pitta aggravating foods like spices or pungent foods are beneficial. In autumn vata food should be avoided, e.g. dry fruits, high protein foods. In winter, avoid cold drinks, ice cream, cheese and yogurt. Certain foods are incompatible such as milk and fish, meat, milk, beef and yogurt as well as sour fruits and milk. So they should not be taken together.

  • III) Seasonal Variations of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha

The seasons are also considered in Ayurvedic treatments as each season naturally encourages a particular dosha. When in balance, you can see this play out naturally when a Pitta type, who runs warm, has a preference for fall and winter, which are Vata and Kapha times of year. The coolness of Vata and Kapha complement the individual’s hot tendency. Whereas, in the summer, this same individual may become irritable and agitated. This is true for animals as well, most notably in behavior changes and the occurrences of common cyclical conditions, such as rashes or otherwise inexplicable diarrhea for instance.

  • IV) Ayurvedic Materia Medica

Ayurvedic herbs are classified by energetics and effects on the dosha which are determined by a plant’s flavor, and its effects on, during, and after digestion. Today, research continues to elucidate the mechanisms and the value these traditional plants have as potential treatments and adjunct therapies.

Amla (Emblica officinalis)

Amla fruit (Emblica officinalis), also known as Indian gooseberry, is revered for its anti-aging and immune system enhancing properties. This plum-sized fruit contains up to 700 mg of vitamin C per berry [5]. The natural ascorbate is also synergistically enhanced by the bioflavonoids and polyphenols contained in each fruit. In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, amla has been particularly indicated for anemia, asthma, bleeding gums, diabetes [6], respiratory viruses [7], hyperlipidemia [8], and hypertension [9].

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Ashwagandha literally means “to impart the strength of a horse” and is used in Ayurveda as a daily rasayana, or anti-aging therapy. It is one of the most highly regarded and widely used Ayurvedic herbs and is believed to increase energy and overall health and longevity. Ashwagandha can be used on a long-term daily basis without the risk of side effects. Some select uses include that it supports the activity of lymphocyte and macrophages [10

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Jul 30, 2023 | Posted by in ANIMAL RADIOLOGY | Comments Off on Ayurveda

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