Each element is represented
in the human body. For instance, bones and teeth are earth, blood
and lymph are water, the metabolism is fire, oxygen is air, and
ether is the spaces found between matter, represented best by
vibration or sound.
These five elements pair
up to form three forces, or 'doshas', within the body:
Vata - made up of air
and ether. Responsible for such functions as the heart beat, locomotion
and the workings of the nervous system. Too much Vata can lead
to symptoms such as high blood pressure, while too little can
result in constipation.
Pitta - made up of
fire and water. Responsible for such functions as digestion and
temperature. Too much Pitta can lead to symptoms such as ulcers
and acne, while too little can result in indigestion.
Kapha - made up of water
and earth. Responsible for such functions as immunity. Too much
Kapha can lead to symptoms such as a runny nose or productive
cough, while too little can result in poor concentration.
An individual blend of doshas:
Each person has an individual
blend of the three doshas, with one or sometimes two doshas predominating.
Someone who is mainly a Vata type will be creative and nervous;
a Pitta type, confident and competitive; and a Kapha type will
be patient and possessive. A person's dosha balance can be upset
by a variety of factors including diet, stress, emotional upset
and the weather.
Doshas and their effect
An Ayurvedic practitioner aims
to balance the patient's doshas in order to increase their life
energy, or 'prana'. Only then is good health possible. We take
up prana from the food we eat and the air we breathe. Food can
affect a person's dosha levels because food is also made up of
the five basic elements and can be predominantly vata, pitta or
A range of therapies:
An Ayurvedic practitioner uses
a range of healing therapies to balance the doshas and bolster
- Herbal medicine
- Pancha karma - (lit. 'five
therapies') a specialised treatment consisting of five therapies
resulting in internal detoxification and balancing of the doshas
or the three energies (Vata, Pitta and Kapha)
- Sound therapy, or the use
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