I got interested in the field of parallel medicine when my physician mentioned that he uses it too. He mentioned that the ancient Ayurveda was way more advanced than we know of today. In fact, unlike modern medicine, Ayurveda believes in early detection to intervene before the disease has manifested itself. And thus, it becomes easier and more effective to treat it with natural remedies that have no side effects.
One interesting thing I read in my little research about Ayurveda is the way it classifies the way a disease progresses in the body. A germ or any harmful substance or dosha can aggravate or cause vicious damage to the body – cells and organs.
According to Ayurveda, there are six steps or “sat-kriya-Kala” through which a disease enters and manifests itself within the human body. This process of pathogenesis is known as “Samprapti” in Ayurveda.
The main reason why Samprapti is relevant even today is that it helps to break down the entire process into chunks, and individually addressing each step can help with the treatment in case of an infection. It also makes the process of detection easier.
Let us understand the different steps involved here…
Sanchaya or accumulation is the first step involved in the process of disease progression. In this step, the “dosha” begins to accumulate at the site where it intends to grow, such as colon or the stomach or the intestines. The symptoms of the disease can begin to show at this step, but they are usually mild.
If the disease can be detected at this stage, the treatment becomes fairly easy.
To give an example, let’s consider a sanchaya or the ‘Kapha” in the stomach. In such a situation, the milder symptoms that can be generated at this stage are heaviness, indigestion, lethargy, paleness.
Prakopa or provocation is the second stage of the process where the symptoms of Sanchaya gets aggravated further. But, even in this phase, the disease is primarily in its site of origin in the digestive tract. As a result of this, it is possible to self treat oneself and flush out the toxins from the body through the GI tract.
In the case of the “prakopa” at the Kapha in the stomach, there could now be intensified symptoms such as a serious loss of appetite, white coating on the tongue, excessive sleep, dried buccal cavity.
Prasar means spread. This stage arises when the doshas continue to get further inflamed and do not leave the body. In such cases, they are spread through bodily fluids or other means to another site outside the GI tract. From this stage, the disease becomes difficult to be cured or treated. In the case of “Prasar” from the “Kapha” or stomach, the disease can now travel to the lungs, joints, brain, pancreas, etc.
4. Sthana Samshray
At this stage, the doshas find out a place or site which is already weak where it can start accumulating or depositing. This phase of localization is called Sthana Samshray. The dhatu or tissues which provide the weakest entry points for the disease is called the khavaigunya. The disease acts itself quickly upon such places to weaken it further by changing the nature of the dhatu and imposing more of its own character upon the place.
This fourth state of Samprapti is known as Sthana Samshraya. One important aspect to note at the fourth stage is that – each dhatu or peripheral tissues has its own Agni (literally means fire) or its self-defense mechanism. If the Agni of a dhatu is strong, it will not allow the dosha to invade into the dhatu. However, if the Agni is weak, then the dosha wins in the battle and starts the deposition or the samsara process.
Vyakti means manifestation. What it means is that in this stage, the dosha has not only entered the khavaigunya and affected it, but also it has begun to amalgamate with them in order to result in the typical manifestation of a disease. At this stage of Samprapti – the disease has begun to show itself. For example, in the case of Kapha from the stomach, it may begin to form congestion or swellings and additional secretions or change of color such as redness.
Bheda or destruction begins to appear at the final stage of Samprapti. At this stage, the dosha has brought about functional changes of the affected site or tissues and also structurally changed them. Surrounding areas or other allied systems, sites also begin to get affected at this step—the associated complications of disease onset at this stage. In the case of Kapha, at this stage, it may begin to form ulcers, tumours, lymphoma, cysts, etc.
The Samprapti process, also mentions about the body’s phenomenal inner intelligence…
In the first two stages, i.e., Sanchaya, and Prakopa, the body can detect the change caused by the first effect of the dosha. For example, if one feels heavy in the stomach or greasiness, they may want to eat lighter, easy to digest food. In other words, the appetite of the body changes to oppose the effect of the disease. If one pays close attention to what the body wants, it is possible to reverse the effect even before the disease has manifested completely. Once the disease has reached the last three stages, the body will be unable to cure itself and will need the intervention of a medical practitioner.
This step by step analysis in the Ayurveda has been mentioned in detail in the works of ancient Vaidya-s or doctors such as Sushruta and Charaka. Those legendary medical practitioners were the first stalwarts in studying medicine and the cause and effect of diseases in humankind, several thousand years back. The modern-day pathogenesis is very similar to the Samprapti written from ancient wisdom. That makes it so relevant even today.