Ayurveda ‘science of life’, forms one of the foundations of day to day life in Kerala. It helps us to have a holistic approach to keep our body, mind and soul together in perfect harmony. Ayurveda is more a way of life to keep one in harmony with nature than a healing method for ailments, and perceives the human body as an integrated whole, going well beyond providing symptomatic relief.
The universe is an interplay of the energies of the five elements- Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. The human body also consists of these five natural elements and functions with three properties or forces such as Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata is the energy of movement, Pitta the energy of digestion or metabolism and Kapha the energy of lubrication and structure. All people have vata, pitta and kapha, but one is usually primary, one secondary and the third least prominent. The cause of any disease in Ayurveda is viewed as the lack of proper cellular function because of an excess or deficiency of Vatham, Pitham or Kapham and/or the presence of toxins. So, any major changes in these properties would affect the health of the person. The properties inside the body could be affected by the external conditions such as climate, atmosphere, lifestyle etc.
One of these properties would be prominent in each substance. Trying to be in better external conditions and controlling the properties inside the body by removing or adding the elements, perfect health can be achieved. During the treatment, the excessive elements are removed. Food restrictions help the process. To supplement the elements, medicines in the form of decoctions, soups, pastes are given orally and medicines and oils are applied on the skin by continuous pouring or massage. Leaves, stems, flowers, fruits and roots of many plants, stones, metals, minerals, milk, butter etc are used to prepare the medicines and oils. This process is rejuvenating and it makes one much younger and healthier.
Our equable climate, natural abundance of forests and the cool monsoon season are best suited for Ayurveda's curative and restorative packages. Kerala is perhaps one of the few places on earth where a temperature of 24-28 degrees is maintained during a period of continuous rain. This prevalence of moisture in the air and on the surface of the skin makes it the ideal place for natural medicines to work at their highest levels of potency. The land is also blessed with numerous medicinal plants and provides the continuity and consistency of Ayurveda medicines needed for effective treatment procedures. The same herbs with the same potency are available year after year across every season. The rich alkaloid content of the soil enhances the intensity and potency of many Ayurvedic medicines when compared to places with different soil constitution.
Ashtangahridayam, the practical, user friendly interpretation of Ayurveda, compiled by the great Vagbata is seldom used anywhere in the world as it is extensively done in Kerala. The Vaidyars of Kerala are proficient in this most contemporary treatise of Ayurveda which many scholars consider an advancement over the earlier samhitas of Charaka and Sushruta, the pioneers of Ayurveda. It is in Kerala that Kashaya Chikitsa (treatment with concoction) has become a standardised protocol involving hundreds of Kashayams that were scientifically classified and organised according to various treatment needs. Keralite Vaidyars where the first to focus on the anti oxidant properties of Abayangam leading to the profusion of kizhis. The largest number of Ayurveda colleges and the largest number of practitioners in comparison to any place in the world has led to a tradition of Ayurveda research in a scientific manner in Kerala.