Ayurveda has eight main branches of treatment, one of which dwells in detail on rejuvenation therapies.
Its name, Rasayana Tantra, comes from the words Rasa and ayana. Rasa is the nourishing fluid that flows through the body and is related to blood plasma and the lymph. The word ayana denotes a pathway, passage or transit, in this context, of rasa within the body.
Broadly speaking, Rasayana deals with the bodily process of drawing the essence of food or other inputs like medicine and delivering it to the body through blood plasma and the lymph.
Rasayana thus includes foods that work as rejuvenating agents; therapies that help to heal the disease status; medicines that help people to recover from a diseased state; and remedies that delay ageing and promote longevity.
Who is eligible?
Rejuvenation is recommended for both, those who are healthy as well as those with health issues. In the case of healthy individuals, it helps to prevent the onset of diseases and promotes healthy ageing. At the same time, in people with certain health conditions, rejuvenation therapy is normally advised after they are given the disease-specific treatment and as part of maintenance, as it helps to rejuvenate the cells and tissues of the affected body part.
Aspects of rejuvenation
Different Rasayana therapies are designed specifically for different body parts and diseases. The choice of the medicine, the form of its usage (i.e., whether it is taken as a powder, decoction/ kashaya or other) and the route of its administration) all vary according to the problem. For example:
- Ajasrika Rasayana includes the foods that can be used daily, which are mainly milk, dairy products and honey.
- Achara Rasayana includes the code of conduct and is mainly advised for those who have psychosomatic diseases.
- Naimittika Rasayana is the rejuvenation for a specific disease and helps the person to gain immunity against a specific disease.
Popular herbs at play
Commonly known herbs such as tinospora (giloy), liquorice (yashtimadhu), ginger, turmeric, honey, long pepper, Indian gooseberry (amalaki) and ashwagandha are known for their rejuvenating properties. The physician decides the kind of rejuvenation therapy to use based on factors such as the season, purpose, the patient’s age and the disease. The duration and the dosage to be given are also planned accordingly. However, it is essential to take an Ayurveda expert’s advice before taking any therapeutic herbs.
Here are just a few clinical studies that have proven the effectiveness of rejuvenation therapies in certain diseases and conditions.
- Dementia causing anxiety and depression:
In 2018, researcher Kulatunga R.D.H from the Institute of Indigenous Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, evaluated the effect of rejuvenation therapy on anxiety and depression in senile dementia.Elderly people with dementia were treated with a rejuvenating medicine that is known to be `nootropic’ (i.e., a class of herbs which enhances cognition, mood, and memory). The study concluded that rejuvenation therapy helped the participants to overcome anxiety and depression.
- Improving IQ in children
In 2018, another group of researchers from the Government Ayurvedic College, Himachal Pradesh, evaluated the effect of rejuvenation therapy on the intelligence quotients of 37 children of varying IQ levels.The participating children were given a syrup prepared using four rejuvenating herbs for two months. The study concluded that the herbal syrup was beneficial more in the case of children with mild intellectual disabilities than in those with normal IQs. The researchers also suggested that their work needs further studies to be conducted on a wider sample group and for a longer duration before they can generalise their findings.
- Eczema and other skin diseases
In 2010, a study was conducted to evaluate the effect of rejuvenation in 38 people suffering from eczema (vicharchika in Ayurveda) by researchers from the Institute for Post-Graduate Teaching and Research in Ayurveda, Jamnagar.The participants were split into two groups where one group received rejuvenation and the other or control group did not. Participants were treated for 60 days with different rejuvenation strategies recommended in Ayurveda for skin diseases. Before that, the participants were given panchakarma or detoxification therapies.
At the end of the treatment the researchers found that the group that received rejuvenation therapy significantly addressed the recurrence of eczema (89.5%). The remission rate was better in the group that was treated with the rejuvenation (22.6%).
- Rheumatoid arthritis
In 2011, a clinical study was carried out among 73 people clinically diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (Amavata as per Ayurveda) by JS Ayurvedic College and PD Patel Ayurvedic Hospital, Nadiad. The study revealed that people who received the rejuvenation therapy reported 50% relief from pain and other symptoms.