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Dhatu

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Dhātus (dhä·tōōs), n.pl. ( from Sanskrit धातु dhātu - layer, stratum, constituent part, ingredient, element, primitive matter ) in Ayurveda, the seven fundamental principles (elements) that support the basic structure (and functioning) of the body. Dhatu are basically the body tissues which are responsible for the functioning of the systems and organs and the structure of the body.

The most important elements that make up our body are the Dhatus. They are the tissues which form the body structure, nourish and sustain it. There are seven types of Dhatus.

They consist of:

  1. Rasa dhatu (Lymph)  : Water
  2. Rakta dhatu (Blood)  : Fire
  3. Mamsa dhatu (Muscles)  :Earth
  4. Medha dhatu (Fat)  :Earth
  5. Asthi dhatu (Bone) Air ans Space
  6. Majja dhatu (marrow (bone and spinal)) : Fire
  7. Shukra dhatu (Ovum in female)(Sperm in male)  : Water

Traditional texts often refer to the above as the Seven Dhātus (Saptadhātus). Ojas is known as the eighth Dhātu, or Mahādhātu (superior, or great dhātu).

  • Blood tissue includes blood vessels and all tissues connected with the blood system. like the three Doshas the seven Dhatus also composed of five elements and one or two elements dominate the dhatus.
  • The dhatus are formed as a result of the action of the digestive fire that breaks down the food in the stomach and gastro-intestinal tract.
  • The digestive enzymes break food down into two parts - the saar- which is nourishing ans mala - which is the waste product that need to be excreted. The saar is carried to different parts of the body by vyanvayu, where it nourishes and replenishes the Rasa and Rakta dhanu.
  • Conversion of food into the building blocks of the body, i.e., the dhatus, takes place in a definite order. FOOD IS FIRST Converted into Rasa dhatu, which then is transformed into rakta, then converted into mamasa, mamasa to med, med into asthi, asthi into majja and finally majja is converted and processed into shukra.
  • The by-products are tissues or substances that are either used in the body or expelled by it, once they have served their purpose.
  • The sequence of tissue formation is a series of processes each generating one of the tissue types and the raw material for the next product. Under this system, the product of the seven processes is most refined as its raw materials have already undergone a series of transformation. Many days go by processing of the first product to the last product in refined ojas.
  • The end product is dependent on the previous product. It is a chain effect. The first workshop produces plasma of the blood. The seventh workshop produces reproductive tissue. As per Charaka Samhita, it is a chain system, as well as a circuit system.

Wastes

A constant flow of nutrients, tissues and waste products move into , around and out of the body. The body expels three waste products - urine, sweat and feces. These substances also have important physiological functions as a part of a well, balanced healthy system. Urine helps the water balance. Sweat keeps the skin moist and supple, and feces gibe support to the colon and body.

Strength and Ojas

  • Good health and strong body are inseperable. A healthy body is a strong body. Hence strength refers to physical energy that helps to do tasks and lift heavy things. Good food and exercise nourish all muscles and make them stable and strong.

Sushrut has differentiated between Bala - strength and ojas - vitality. He states - physical energy is vitality - the power and capacity to endure and perform well. The quality of voice and glow of the skin are determined by the ojas. All external and internal parts of the body are able to perform their tasks well because of ojas.

  • Ojas - shukra is a very important and vital element of the body and is dominated by the qualities of the element water. The final product of ras, rakt, med, majja and other dhatus in the body is called ojas. It is mild in nature. Ojas is an elastic,oily, cold, white liquid and is located in the heart.
  • In the transformation of food from rasa to shukra dhatu, every step releases ojas. It is the essence of all the dhatus. Just as bees collect honey from flower, the digestive fires collect ojas from dhatus. Even though it permeates the entire body. Ojas is moist and has a reddish yelloish and whitish hue. It is of two types.
  1. Par - located in the heart, its normal amount is 8 points, its absence leads to death.
  2. Apar is spread over the entire body, its normal amount is amount is about a handful. A decrease in the 'Apar' ojas leads to lifelessness, indifference and reduced immunity.
  3. Ojas lends strength and radiance to the body. Being the essence of all dhatus its decline in the body leads to a corresponding decline in the ability of the dhatus to support the body, even when they are in balance. It keeps all dhatus steady and nourished. All physical, mental, sensory and motor functions are made possible by ojas in times of joy and sorrow. It is also source of will power, determination, patience and enthusiasm. It is the function of health and happiness. without ojas external medication is of no use. On losing ojas, one becomes immune to all treatment.


Symptoms of decfreases in Ojas

A timid and scared personality, dry and lustreless appearance, a general listlessness, weakness in the mind and body, worries and tension, painful and fatoigued organs, and loss of zest for life.


Causes of decrease

Anger, worrying, fear, sorrow and other psychological excitement, inadequate diet, excessive fasting, eating and drinking too many rough, dry and harsh foods, overcook, insomnia, emaciation due to sickness, excessive secretion of kapha, mala, blood and semen and external injury - all can lead to decline in ojas. The disease commonly known as 'Aids'results from a drastic reduction of ojas levels in the body.


Digestion and Metabolism

  • The protiens, carbohydrates, oils, vitamins etc, which are ingested as food nourish the dhatus and provide strength and colour,intelligence, longevity etc. But this is possible only when the ingested external elements are successfully converted into body elements. This entire process is called digestion and metabolism, and the substances that carry out these processes are refered to as agnis. Different enzymes are produced by these agnis in the stomach, liver and dhatu channels to carry out digestion.
  • The entire digestive system begins in the mouth. The food mixed with saliva and taste is perceived. Food then moves to the stomach where it turns watery foamy, soft and smooth due to the action of the stomach juice watery foamy,soft and smooth due to the action of the stomach juice which is liquid and oily. Here foamy kapha and sweet rasa are produced.
  • This half digested food reaches the intestines via duodenum. Here 'samaan vayu' and 'pachak pitta' act upon it, segregate the food into two parts (1) saar (2) Asaar or kitt. If samanavayu and pachak pitta are in now intensity, then the toxins are formed and the ras becomes sour and bitter. These toxins are the cause of disease.
  • The digested saar used for further nourishment and asaar which is not digested properly becomes the kitt(waste). It's solid part becomes stool, the liquid part becomes urine, and collects in the bowels. The agnis convert the form of five elements in the digested food to match the form fund in the body. This nourishes the earth element formed in the body.

This ahaar ras is circulated around the body as the ras dhatu through the srotas - channels. This nourishing ras in which are inherent building blocks of all dhatus, thus reaches all the parts of the body.

  • The digestive action of the agni - enzymes replenishes dhatus and produced ojas. Pitta plays a vital role in this entire digestive process. So ayurveda does not differentiate between pitta and agni.
  • Aama toxins - When the ahaar ras nutritive part of the ingested food is not properly digested due to decreased activity of agni or enzymes, it turns toxic and is called aama ras or toxins. This causes various ailments in the body. As toxins are not acceptable to the body, they accumulate in different body parts like lungs, heart and other organs. The four cavities that usually attract toxins are the brain, chest, abdomen and rectum of which, the abdomen is the most common site of aama ras accumulation. This leads to dyspepsia and other disorders.
  • Aama ras affects the agnis weakening the metabolic process and causing food to remain undigested, blocking the srotas - the body channels. This leads to blockage in the srotas due to sweat, urine etc. Weakness, heaviness, improper circulation of vayu, lazyness, increased salivation, phlegm formation, absence of elimination of stools, fatigue etc. are the symptoms of aama diseases. In a normal person, digestive powers keep gaining strength till the age of 60 and after 60 begind to decline. This prevents the body from getting all the nutrients that it needs. The body weakens and quantity of wastes increases. A person also experiences the draining of mental faculties. This is termed as old age. If the agnis - enzymes are strengthened, the ageing process will be arrested.


Health Horizons - Maintaining of wellness

  • Living is an art - says ayurveda. Ayurveda embodies the art of living. The primary aim of ayurveda is to protect health and maximise the joy of living. Secondary, prevention of diseases through systematic daily routine and promoting a spiritual life style is another aim.
  • The expertise and scope of ayurveda is quite vast. On the one hand it gives detailed information of how ailments occur and on the other hand prescribes natural solutions to them.
  • The sages charaka and sushruta formed guidelines for promoting health and addressed them as :- Maintaining of wellness -
  1. daily routine
  2. routine suited to seasons.

Sage sushruta explains the qualities of a healthy person.

  • The one whose three doshas, seven dhatus and elimination of the three wastes is in balance and also who has a balanced and contented mind and soul - is considered to be a healthy person. They proceeded saying - 'one who follows Swastha vritta would be- He lives a disease free and potent life of hundred years with full vigour in all his senses'.

So the wisdom lies in following the proper means for being healthy and happy - says ayurveda. The guidlines of swastha vritta - ' That one who wishes to attain health should be always careful and alert like - As the chief guards the security of the metropolis and as the charioteer takes utmost care of his chariot, likewise one has to take care of his health with wisdom and secure perfect health.

References

  1. Meaning of mudra mentioned in the above content is borrowed from wikipedia.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dh%C4%81tu_(Ayurveda)
  2. The above mentioned information is added from the book called "MUDRAS & HEALTH PERSPECTIVES" by "SUMAN.K.CHIPLUNKAR".