The 6 Stages of Disease and How to Heal Yourself with Ayurveda
Western medicine has a narrow view on disease, which is greatly based on diagnosis. A person either has a condition, or they do not. This limits preventative health measures, and does not provide much understanding of the mechanics behind disease manifestation. Eastern medicine, especially Ayurveda, breaks down how disease appears in precise stages. Knowing and understanding the Ayurvedic stages can give you a lot of power to prevent disease, stop it from progressing, and allows you to self-heal as well, with the right tools. Knowledge is the first tool.
Ayurvedic Medicine and Health
Ayurveda is one of the oldest healing sciences, which originated in India over 5,000 years ago. Its name means “The Science of Life” in Sanskrit. It is a whole-body science that directs most attention on disease prevention and health maintenance with diet, exercise, medicinal herbs, homeopathy, and emotional health.
A big factor used in Ayurveda health analysis is a person’s constitution. It is combined by five natural elements of water, air, fire, earth, and ether. Each element provides a specific effect in the physical body, and so does each food item, each thought, each action. The elements create three doshas or three unique energies: vata, pitta, and kapha.
- Vata combines air and ether, and its energy is dry, light, cold, and clear.
- Pitta combines fire and water, and it is oily, hot, mobile, and liquid.
- Kapha combines earth and water, and it is heavy, slow, dense, static, cloudy, and sticky.
These three play a big role in the first two of the six stages of disease if they become unbalanced.
Ayurvedic 6 Stages of Disease
In Ayurvedic medicine, each disease goes through six stages. They are: accumulation, provocation, spread, localization, manifestation, and differentiation or destruction. Understanding each will give you the power to stop the disease.
When one of the doshas becomes unbalanced, toxins, bacteria, parasites, or other destructive elements start accumulating in the body. All dosha imbalances start in the digestive tract. Vata imbalance starts in the colon, pitta in small intestine, and kapha in the stomach. At this stage, mild symptoms start to appear and are easily addressed.
In vata imbalance, the person can experience bloating and gas, constipation, cramps, cold spells, anxiety, and insomnia. In pitta imbalance, the symptoms are too much stomach acid, overheating, irritability, bitter taste in the mouth, and loose, bad-smelling stools. In kapha imbalance, the person may notice sluggish digestion, lethargy, palness, and heavy limbs and head.
When the mild symptoms are not addressed, the problem gets aggravated, and secondary more severe symptoms will start to appear. However, they are still in the (Gastrointestinal) GI tract and can be healed pretty easy.
Vata symptoms are body stiffness, tingling in hands or feet, facial tension, sound sensitivity, cold food intolerance, and muscle pain that comes and goes.
Pitta symptoms are sour taste in the mouth, increased thirst, anger, burning during urination, and cravings of alcohol.
Kapha symptoms are appetite loss, sticky skin, mental fog, oversleeping, white coating on the tongue, and feeling of heaviness.
Starting with the third stage of disease, it moves out of GI tract and requires more effort on healing and advice from a health professional or Ayurvedic practitioner.
If the symptoms are still not taken care of after two stages pass, the third stage is where the disease starts spreading. It is still possible to stop it, but now it is outside the GI tract. Food cravings and reactions also change at this stage.
- Vata symptoms can spread to skin, bones, ears, air passages, thighs, and pelvic region.
- Pitta symptoms can go in to the eyes, liver, brain, plasma, blood, heart, and spleen.
- Kapha symptoms can spread to lungs, joints, sinuses, pancreas, and tongue.
Localization (Sthana Samshraya)
Starting with the fourth stage of localization, all doshas will react in a similar manner no matter where the problem is. At this stage the disease finds the weak spot in the body and localizes itself there. This space is called Khavaigunya or “defective space.” Once localized, the disease will start disrupting cellular function, creating more serious issues. If the cells are strong enough to not be influenced, the disease will turn back and go to the GI tract again. If it is not strong, the localized disease will become evident.
At the fifth stage, the localized spot becomes overwhelmed and often requires prompt medical attention. A Western diagnosis is usually done at this stage. The disease can also start affecting other organs.
Differentiation or destruction (Bheda)
At this final stage, the disease starts to destroy tissue and do real harm to the body. It is the hardest to heal at this stage.
Knowing all the stages, however, can help you notice the disease in the first two stages when it is easier to treat.