The word Rasayana is a combination of two separate words Rasa and ayana. The word Rasa in this context means the first liquid tissue which nourishes all the tissues in the body and Ayana is its circulation. This means that if rasa dhatu is produced in optimum quality and quantity, then naturally all the tissues in the body will be nourished properly. The method by which Rasa is carried to all the body tissues for biochemical metamorphosis is called as Rasakriya. Rasayana also means the purification of all tissues from Rasa to Shukra. It also aims at giving strength to senses, mind and intellect. Hence Rasayana or rejuvenation is such a form of treatment in which all the tissues are nourished and enhanced. The nourishment of vital tissues helps in stopping old age. Thus it is useful for enhancement of qualities of life, span of life, increased intellect and enhanced physical strength. It also enhances the immunity of an individual leading to health.History of Rasayana –
In ancient time the word Deha siddhi was used for rasayana, this also means making body strong that will last for ever. In alchemy or rasashastra the word Dhatu siddhi was used for making higher metal like gold from cheaper metal like iron. The concept is similar in both. In Rig-Veda, it has been mentioned that Gods were using rasayana and the main substance was herb or preparation known as Soma. For making this preparation, soma herb were taken and mixed with milk, ghee and honey. Then it was fermented and was consumed after filtering it. It is stated that those who use this preparation can resists fire, water and various weapons.
Why we become old ? Ageing is change in an organism over time. Aging refers to a multidimensional process of physical, psychological and social change. In biology, senescence is the state or process of ageing. Some researchers are treating ageing as a disease in gerontology. They have now discovered genes that have an effect on ageing. As the age advances, tissue loss (catabolism) is more than tissue gain (anabolism), hence strength and Ojas (immunity) starts decreasing. Vata increases and there is accumulation of waste products in the body.Theories of ageing –
a) Free radical theory -Oxygen radical is lost due to metabolic activity and there
is accumulation of waste products -free radicals. If these are not removed from
the body then early ageing starts.
b) Telomerase Theory – Telomerase are special types of chemicals that seem to have some ability to protect the chromosomes inside our cells. Every time our cells divide, the telomerase become shorter and less able to protect the chromosome. This may explain why the cells eventually become damaged and die.
c) Hayflick Limit Theory -Each healthy cell has limited span of life. Body cells may have a built-in genetic program (encoded program within DNA) that tells them not to reproduce anymore.
Life span The average life span or life expectancy of the individual varies according to availability of food, environment as well as his race, cast, nation, etc. However we can say that it is around 80 to 90 years. All body tissues, organs and channels are gifted with immunity, strength or reserve force. The total effect of all this is the Life span of that individual. If every individual observes rules and regulations (described in Swasthavritta) – daily regimen, seasonal regimen and ethical regimen, takes proper food, sleep and enjoys controlled sexual activity, he can enjoy long and healthy life. Praneshana (desire for good and long life) is one of the basic instincts of every individual, which has also been explained in Vedas and Upanishads. Various factors are related with longevity. Out of which food is the most important. Similarly exercise, good marriage and sexual life is also important. Life span may be related to the flexibility of the body's cells. Flexibility of body's cell does not mean flexibility of muscles like that of athletes. It is like vibration, a flexibility of something like that of a rubberized cell. Relax, breathe slowly and calmly, and try to reduce your stress levels. This way, the flexibility of your body's cell will be greater and your life span will be extended.Time factor –
The time period till today can be divided in four stages- At the beginning of Universe there was Kruta yuga (Satyayuga). This entire period comprises of 17002800 years. The lifespan in this period was 400 years. Then came the period of Treta yuga. This lasted for 12009600 years, and the lifespan was 300 years. Later on in Dwapara yuga started and this lasted for 8007400 years. During this period the Lifespan was 200 years. The present the time is called as Kali yuga. This time period is of 4003200 years, and the Lifespan is of 100 years.
Need for Rejuvenation Our life style has become very hectic. This is due to over exertion – physical as well as mental. Day by day people are feeling in secured which increase stress. The diet has also become faulty as many people are using fast food items. The timing of eating has become irregular due to change in the duties and more and more persons are using stale foods with preservatives. Due to availability of various gadgets in the kitchen, use of television, mobile phones and computers has resulted in lack of exercise. More and more people are becoming addicted to Alcohol, smoking, excessive sex, too much sleep and drugs. This all leads to low dhatu bala, low ojas, vitiation of all doshas; resulting in – premature aging, fatigue, debility, inability to adopt to stress, recurrent illness and depression. Anti-oxidants – Rasayana foods, herbs and regimens helps to reestablish this balance.Rasayana actions - Rasayana acts through various ways –
1. It provides nutrition to all the tissues. Nutrition is of two types. Macronutrients and micronutrients. a) Macro-nutrients- There are three primary macronutrients defined as being the classes of chemical compounds humans consume in the largest quantities and which provide bulk energy. These are protein containing amino acids; fats containing saturated and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats essential fatty acids and other fats like omega 3 etc.; and carbohydrates containing mostly starches and sugars. Ayurveda does not accept the theory of proximate principles of food and hence it may be said that if rasayana foods are taken they provide all necessary rasa, veerya, vipaka required for all the tissues. Once the primary rasa dhatu is prepared in best of its quality then naturally all further tissues also receives nutrition in its proper form. Each tissue requires different type of nutrition depending upon the Panchabhautik predominance. Rasayana herbs, foods and various procedures provide all these in correct quality and quantity.b) Micronutrients are nutrients required by humans and other living things throughout life in small quantities to orchestrate a whole range of physiological functions, but which the organism itself cannot produce. Average adult human body is made up of "50 million" (50 trillion) cells. These are extremely minute and hence they also require nutrition in minute form. They include dietary minerals in amounts generally less than 100 micrograms/day, various Vitamins and organic acids. Rasayana foods and herbs provide this nutrition (if the body has been purified by way of Panchakarma as pre-requisite of rasayana), so that all the cells receive correct type of micro-nutrients.
2.It improves micro-circulation. It includes smallest arterioles, meta arterioles, capillaries and venules. In many diseases there is obstruction in all these pathways and even if proper nutrients are given they do not reach the cells in the body and then there is cellular death. Specific rasayana herbs like guduchi or Tinospora cordifolia, improves this micro-circulation and improves the nutrition of the entire body and produces optimum quality tissues in the body.
3. It also increases the strength of Agni – Proper invigorated agni or digestive fire is responsible for good digestion and metabolism in the body. Herbs like ginger improves Jatharagni while those like guggulu and shilajeet improves dhatu agni or tissue fire.
4. It acts as antioxidants- Antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against the effects of free radicals which are produced due to oxidation. Free radicals are molecules produced when the body breaks down food. They can also be formed by environmental exposures like tobacco smoke and radiation. Free radicals can damage cells, and may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases. Most fruits and green herbs contain these qualities. Brahmi, ashwagandha, amalaki, shatavari all these herbs have excellent anti-oxidant properties.
5. It also provides Prana or life force - All green fresh foods contain this life force. When we store the foods and drink it starts loosing Prana. Please remember that refrigeration also reduces Prana. Fresh Rasayana foods has ample of Prana activity which is essential for providing nutrition to the tissues.
6. It works as adaptogenic – These substances increase resistance to stress, anxiety, trauma and fatigue. Many rasayana herbs act as adaptogenic. Yashtimadhu, ashwagandha have this property.
7. Works as amphoteric substance – An amphoteric species is a molecule or ion that can react as an acid as well as base. This word is derived from Greek word –amphoteroi –meaning both. In most of cancer or auto-immune disease conditions, the body becomes excessive acidic. During the treatment it is therefore necessary to maintain alkaline Ph of the body. Amphoteric herbs prepare built in buffer that helps the homeostasis in the body. For this purpose various rasayana mineral and metallic products can be used.
8. Acts as Alteratives or Bio purificatory – By this action, body is cleansed. Some herbs like sariva or manjishtha cleanses the blood and thereby act as rasayana. They help to normalize the physiology by gentle elimination process.
9. It acts as tonic - However the most important is that they won’t over tonify the body. Famous Ayurvedic rasayana product like chyavanaprasha is the best example of this action. Thus rasayana foods and herbs have different types of actions on the body and mind.