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|by Dr. Ashwini Patil|
Ayurveda prescribes specific diet patterns in the diseased conditions which are known as Pathya. According to the principles of Ayurveda, derangement of the digestive power (Agni) occurs in many diseases which is the prime reason for the formation of vitiated dosha, Ama (toxic substances) and malformation of Dhatus (body tissues). Hence it is important to restore normalcy of the digestive power. This objective can be attained by using a properly managed diet regimen according to condition of doshas and type of the disease.
The word Pathya derives its origin from root word Patha which literally means a way or channel. In Shabdakalpadrumam it is said that pathya is beneficial for patients while apathya harms them. The food characteristics and properties will change according to season, place and person hence pathya also changes accordingly. Pathya not only advocates intake of wholesome food but also it directs to follow a certain regimen to fasten the process of recovery from the diseased state. In Charaka Samhita while explaining about Chikitsa, Charaka has used Pathya as a synonym for the chikitsa.
Sharangdhara explains about some pathya kalpana like manda, peya, vilepi, yavagu etc. These kalpanas are generally used in different diseases according to state of disease and capacity to digest the food in that disease. It also helps to maintain proper Agni (digestive fire) so as to digest food properly and give needed nutrition to tissues of body. It will also help to avoid formation of Ama which is often triggered when Agni (digestive fire) becomes low. Table 3.1 explains in short about pathya kalpana, their preparation method and uses in therapeutic diet.
Pathya Kalpana and Their Uses
In Yogaratnakara it is said that for the treatment of diseases etiology, drug treatment and Pathya are three important factors which should be studied thoroughly before starting the treatment. Judicious planning of treatment by proper understanding of these three factors always yields a successful eradication of disease. Yogaratnakara uses the metaphor of Ankura (seedling) is used for progressive form of disease. This Ankura will dry and be destroyed if it is not nourished by water; similarly disease will be destroyed if a patient does not consume Apathya ahara.
In all diseases apathya should be avoided because apathya is predisposing factor for various diseases and helps in fast progression of pathophysiology. As climbers and plants grow in rainy season similarly diseases will increase due to apathyas. Only pathya also can cure diseases but one who does not follow pathya cannot be cured by the use of hundreds of drugs.
All these benefits of pathya ahara can be ripped off with the help of Kritanna varga described in various ancient texts. Properties of these Kritanna differ from each other depending upon the method of preparation even if material used is the same. In case of manda, peya, yavagu and vilepi, the amount of water used for cooking and then amount of liquid and solid content is different for each of them. This determines qualities like heaviness or lightness of food for digestion etc. If all the Kritanna varga is used judiciously along with the pathya ahara then it will help to treat and nourish patient effectively.
These pathya ahara are described specific to a particular disease condition as well as there are some pathya mentioned which can be followed regularly for healthy individuals irrespective of disease condition. According to Bhavaprakasha taking ginger and salt before food is always good and it enhances agni. Taste, clears tongue and throat. Charaka and Vagbhata also describe some regularly consumable food articles. Rakta shali, Mudga, Rain water, Saindhava (rock salt), Jivanti, meat of aina, godha, rohita matsya, cow’s ghee, cow’s milk, Tila taila, ginger, grapes, pomegranate and sugar are considered as most conducive among food articles.
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