Health industry has been a booming spectrum, most likely because of growing awareness about health and diseases among the public. The amount of knowledge about health and ill-health we are exposed to today is far ahead of the awareness public had a few decades ago. This, of course has both pros and cons. These apprehensions about one’s health can be en-cashed well by the money hungry industries. On the other hand, it can also help in early detection of health conditions one is susceptible to. So, let’s now see what Ayurveda has to say about ageing and corresponding health conditions.
Sequential decade-wise changes in the human body – This is a unique concept explained in the Ayurvedic classical text book called Sharangadhara samhita.
Here, there is an interesting scheme of loss of particular biological factors with each passing decade.
1. First decade of life- Here we lose our Baalya (childhood). This is so true. Isn’t it? How many of us have thought in this perspective? In second decade we land up in adolescence and hence it is true that we lose our childhood. In this decade drug suggested for rejuvenation is Vacha (Acorus Calamus Linn) and kaashmari (Gmelina Arborea Linn). Vacha has its proven benefits in improving speech and on the other hand, Kaashmari has its benefits with relation to liver functioning and digestion.
2. Second decade of life- Here we tend to lose our Vriddhi (Growth). This is again one of the most acknowledged facts. Physical growth of the human body technically reaches a completion stage by the age of 18-20 years where most of the height, secondary sexual characters and bone ossifications are almost done. In this decade, drugs suggested for Rejuvination are Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) and Balaa (Sida cordifolia Linn). Both these drugs are well-known for their nourishing properties which are required for growth of a human body.
3. Third decade of life- Between the age of 20-30 years we tend to lose our Chavi (roughly translated as beauty or glow). In this decade Amalaki (Emblica officinalis Gaertn) is the preferred rasayana drug. The reason is clear. Amalaki has rich antioxidant properties which helps in promoting complexion. Being rich in vitamin C, it helps in collagen synthesis and also plays a vital role in ultraviolet induced damage to the skin.
4. Fourth decade of life- Further between 30-40 years of life the entity which undergoes depletion is Medha (Intellect). Researchers have proven that memory and the capacity to grasp things around us has been declining in most of the individuals after mid 30s. Rasayana which is advised in this decade is Sankapushpi (Convolvulus Pluricaulis Chois) and Jyothishmati (Celastrus Panniculatus Willd). Both these herbs are proven beyond time by many studies to have Medhya properties i.e. in short they promote intellect.
5. Fifth decade of life- Here there is again a steady decrease in skin texture and quality. Wrinkles set in. Pigmentation issues starts arising. In this decade classics of Ayurveda advises use of two drugs i.e. Bhrngaraja (Eclipta Alba Hassk) and Somaraji (Centratherum Anthelminticum Kuntze). Well-known for treatment in skin related issues, these drugs make their mark in this decade.
6. Sixth decade of life-There is dimishing Drishti(vision) in this decade. Hence an important need to restore or slow the progress of eye damage. Drugs suggested in this span of life are cakshushya (Cassia Absus Linn) and Saptamruta lauha( an Ayurvedic formulation which is rich in iron and has triphala for better vision) .
7. Seventh decade of life- in this stage of life where a female could have attained menopause and males would be going through an andropause (yes u heard it right, andropause does exist and is not a myth), taking care is need of the hour. Herbs suggested in this decade are Aatmagupta (Mucuna prurita Hook) and Ashwagandha (Withenia somnifera). These two drugs are proven beyond doubt in the treatment of fertility and related issues.
8. Eighth decade of life- Here the entity what depletes is as expected, Vikrama. Here, vikrama can be approximately taken as physical strength or capacity to withstand physical stress.
9. Nineth decade of life- here Buddhi (wisdom) undergoes impairment.Buddhi here grossly means all mental capacities/brain functions like grasping, retention capacity, capacity to analyze things all attains a sharp decline.
10. Tenth decade of life- This is supposedly the last decade for a human being in this era i.e. the kaliyuga (as the maximum lifespan of an individual in kaliyuga is quoted as 100 years). Here, Karmendriya (i.e. the motor functions of a person is said to be declined completely. This might not suggest that the person would be completely bedridden, but might suggest the inability/difficulty for movement and performing actions in these terminal years of life).
It’s important to note here that herbs in the form of Rasayana aren’t advised in the last three decades because classics say; rejuvenators aren’t of much use in the last 30 years of life.
Now that we know the decade wise changes in a human body as per the classics, it’s also vital to know what next? It’s quite natural for any individual to ask the question how this piece of information helps me now.
Well, yes. It helps a great deal and this is what makes Ayurveda unique when compared to the other sciences. The key emphasis here laid by Ayurveda is on prevention. Decade wise changes are inevitable. It surely can’t be reversed. Ayurveda tells that ageing and its related changes can’t be treated if it occurs at the appropriate age when it has to appear (Kaalaja jara as popularly called- isn’t treatable). On the other hand, it’s possible to prevent ageing when it occurs earlier to what it has to appear (Akaalaja jara/Premature ageing- is treatable). So, here lies the good news and this is what is aimed by above concept.
In short, these herbs told above when consumed in the appropriate respective decades can help prevent premature ageing and in turn helps us maintain our bodies better (which is quiet important, as, Ayurveda believes, we need to keep our body fit and healthy in order to achieve chaturvidha purusharthas).
Sharangadhara samhita, Acharya Sharangadhara,