What Is Ayurveda? Doshas, Dhatus, Malas

What Is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is an ancient natural healing system that has its origins in the Vedic culture of India as far back to some 5,000 years or more.

It is a holistic approach to health and wellness, intended to help people live long, healthy and well-balanced lives.

Translated from Sanskrit (the ancient Indic language of India, in which it is written) it means

  • Ayur – Life or Lifespan
  • Veda – Science or Knowledge

The Science of Life or the Knowledge of Life

The fundamental philosophy is that the body and mind are one and the same, therefore physical health can only be achieved with mental, emotional and spiritual health.

Ayurveda involves a wide variety of techniques to treat an ailment or disease, it also encourages holistic well-being. This may be achieved by various lifestyle changes :

  • Herbs
  • Yoga
  • Diet
  • Massage
  • Breathing exercises
  • Acupuncture, also called marmapuncture

There are specific actions and activities that are constantly at work in the human body, both functionally and structurally, from the most minute cellular level and internal tissue to the most outer levels.

These activities can be divided into three groups:


In Ayurvedic medicine, three energies are believed to circulate the body and govern its physiological activity.


In Sanskrit dhatu means support. The tissues form the infrastructure and structural element of the human body. It has seven different types.


Excretory waste.

1. Doshas:

Based on the Ayurveda philosophy, there is a direct relationship between the human body and the elements that define the natural universe i.e. air, earth, fire, water and space.

The doshas are biological or natural forces in the body. It is these factors that make up the body and are responsible for its functions and its substance.

They are actively involved in all the essentially vital bodily functions such as the formation of new structures and movement, excretion, digestion and respiration.

Doshas are made up of the same components as the universe:

  • Vata dosha – space and air
  • Pitta dosha – fire and water
  • Kapha dosha – earth and water

The doshas are not visible like blood or the skin, but their presence is felt through their activities. They will not grow as the body grows, neither are they excreted as body waste.

They are, nevertheless, functional in the human body from birth to death, and therefore are the source and origin of its physiological and constitutional energy.

2. Dhatus:

These are the seven fundamental and basic tissues of the body, which have a tendency to develop and grow as the body develops and grows. These tissues are groups of cells that have similar functions and structures. They are as follows:

  1. Rasa dhatu – plasma
  2. Rakta – blood
  3. Mamsa – muscle
  4. Meda – fat
  5. Asthi – bone
  6. Shukra – reproductive tissue
  7. Majja – bone marrow and nerve tissue

The dhatus develop and sustain the body structures.

3. Malas:

These are the elements which form excretory waste materials:

  • Urine
  • Fecal matter
  • Sweat

It is formed continuously as a result of the metabolic activity in the human body. Malas helps to clean the body as the waste material is eliminated.

The Science of Life in Equilibrium:

When malas, dhatus and doshas are in equilibrium the result is good health and contentment. When disturbances and imbalances occur the result is disease coupled with its symptoms.

This holistic system of medicine from India uses a constitutional model for every person as an indivisible, unique and complete being.

It’s aim is to provide guidance regarding food and lifestyle so that healthy people can stay healthy and persons with health challenges can improve their health.

As people start to live in a more complicated socio economic environment where they are perpetually exposed to changes i.e. diet, work, lifestyle, financial status, economy, society, relationships, emotions and weather.

It becomes more evident that any of these socio economic changes can easily tip the balance and jeopardize the individual state of mind, body and soul.

Ayurveda’s knowledge of life, the combination of mind, body, senses and soul helps the healing process and allows for harmony in the mind and body.

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