Disease Analysis At Physical and Mental Planes

Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Body and Mind are two sides of the same coin. The health of each other too depends on each other. Therefore, as long as there is a good synchronization between the body and mind, each one of you is healthy to optimum levels. 

In this article let us study the behavior of body and mind and synchronization of body and mind in terms of health, disease and treatment (healing).

Body, mind and health

If the body is healthy, the mind too is healthy because there is nothing bad or odd for the mind to think about. Similarly, if the mind is healthy, stress free and is enjoying in its zone of optimum happiness and bliss, the body too keeps healthy.

Defining health, Ayurveda states ‘One who has a balance and state of equilibrium of Doshas, Agni (metabolic status), Dhatus (tissues), Mala kriyas (timely excretion of waste materials) and pleasantness of Atma (soul, life element), Indriyas (sense organs and motor organs and their related functions) and Manas (mind) is said to be Swastha (healthy individual)’

Here we can see the synchronization and balance (equilibrium) of body components (doshas, dhatus, agni, mala) and mind (manas and related components i.e. atma and indriyas) has been mentioned for comprehensiveness of health.
Read related: What is Ayurveda? 5 dimensions of the ancient Indian health wisdom!

Body, mind and disease

Since the body and mind work as a single unit, they both impact each other even in diseased conditions.

Diseases occur on different planes –

  1. Shaareerika Vyadhi or Roga – When the diseases occur at the physical plane (shareera), they are called as Shaareerika Vyadhis or physical ailments (somatic disorders). This occurs due to contamination of doshas. These doshas in turn contaminate and damage the body tissues (dhatus) leading to manifestation of diseases. In the process the contamination of srotas (channels and duct systems of the body), disturbance of agni (metabolic errors) and mala sanga (improper elimination of body wastes) also take place. Each component disturbs the other in the manifestation of physical disorders.
  2. Maanasika Vyadhi or Roga – When the diseases occur at the mental plane (manas), they are called as Manasika Vyadhis or mental ailments (mental or psychological disorders). Here the Rajo guna and or Tamo gunas of the manas are disturbed due to many external factors which disturb the mind. Rajo and Tamo gunas are called as Manasika Doshas (contaminants or morbid factors of the mind). Excessive exposure to Arishad vargas (6 enemies of mind) i.e. kama (lust), krodha (anger), lobha (greed), moha (temptations), mada (pride) and matsarya (jealousy), emotional traumas, stress, depression anxiety etc on regular basis disturbs the rajo and or tamo gunas and damage the mind and cause mind related diseases.
  3. Shaareera-Maanasa Rogas or Vyadhis – When the diseases occur at both physical and mental planes, they are called as Shaareera-Maanasa Rogas or Psycho-somatic diseases (disorders).

Shareerika and Manasika Roga

Impact of Shaareerika and Maanasika Rogas on each other
The Shaareerika Rogas will have an impact on the manas (mind) and Maanasika Rogas will have an impact on the shareera (body). Even in modern day we can see that the physical diseases make an impact on mind and mental diseases make an impact on body.

In this perspective the –

  • Shaareerika rogas are those which first manifest at the physical plane and later affect the mental plane. If the Shaareerika Rogas are dealt with by giving timely attention and treatment at the beginning stages itself, it will not encroach to the mental plane.
  • Maanasika Rogas are those which first manifest at the mental plane and later affect the mental plane. If the Maanasika Rogas are comprehensively addressed with timely medicine and counseling the mental diseases will not afflict the physical plane.

Body and mind in disease manifestation

Predominance of body and mind components in manifestation of
diseases

When it comes to diseases, there are 3 categories of people –
a) Avara Satwa – Uttama Bala, Physically strong but mentally weak (body over mind people) people

  • These people are physically strong and have good endurance. According to Ayurveda, this indicates dhatu samya (proper formation and maintenance of body tissues which determine immunity of an individual).
  • These people, in spite of being physically strong are weak by mind.
  • They have intolerance to ailments and are easily ruffled with smallest of health issues.
  • The problem of these people is that they present their smallest health issues in an expansive way. They present a needle-head problem in mountainous and epic proportions.
  • They will not only disturb themselves but also disturb the attendants.
  • These people seek immediate medical attention for the smallest of problems.
  • They are also known to confuse the doctors by giving wrong impression of the disease and their sufferings. If the doctor strictly goes by the history, he will be compelled to prescribe strong medicines to a simple problem which might even worsen the condition. The doctor might also go on to make wrong diagnosis by seeing the patient’s panic.
  • These people are in seeking of immediate measures or medicines to get rid of their problems.

b) Pravara Satwa – Alpa Bala, Mentally strong but physically weak (Mind over body people) people

  • These people may be physically weak but are extremely strong by mind.
  • They have a good mental endurance.
  • These people control the body and body activities and the tough moments of life through their mind.
  • Their mind strength and courage is so contagious that they feel that even a health problem of bigger magnitude is a simple one.
  • They can tolerate extremes of pain and discomfort with ease.
  • These people too are problematic in one way. They do not announce that they have a health issue until the disease starts disturbing them to intolerable proportions.
  • They give tough time to the doctors because they present their serious illness casually. This forces the doctor (especially those who rely only on symptoms and history) to misread and misdiagnose the condition. The doctor is put into a position wherein he prescribes small quantity of medicines or medicines of lesser strength to a strong disease which has been misread as feeble or weak.
  • Chronic and stubborn conditions are exhibited casually as passing affairs.
  • These people are reluctant to take any medicines nor do they often follow serious instructions related to diet and lifestyle changes as they strongly believe that they don’t have a strong health issue and also that they would naturally get rid of the problem, just like that!

c) Pravara Satwa – Uttama Bala, Persons with optimum health, both physically and mentally strong
These people are healthy on most of the calendar days. They have both physical and mental endurance, especially those who have strict protocols of life in terms of food, lifestyle, exercise, stress and sleep management. Their immunity is high and they are well tolerable to seasonal and geographic changes.

The body and mind strength in moderation
Apart from these 3 categories of people, there are people who have physical and or mental health in moderation (madhyama shaareerika and or madhyama maanasika bala). The permutations and combinations of body-mind presentation in clinical cases when these people of moderate strength are involved should be understood in the same terms as explained in above 3 conditions. We may get combinations for analysis like –

  • Avara Satwa – Madhyama Bala – Weak minded people having moderate physical strength
  • Pravara Satwa – Madhyama Bala – Strong minded people having moderate physical strength
  • Madhyama Satwa – Alpa Bala – People with moderate mind strength and less physical strength
  • Madhyama Satwa – Uttama Bala – People with moderate mind strength and good physical strength
  • Madhyama Satwa – Madhyama Bala – People having both physical and mental strength in moderate proportions

These traits of people having moderate strength can be managed with minimum effort.

The compromised individuals
Avara Satwa – Alpa Bala – These are people with less mental and physical strength. In them the immunity, endurance, strength and integrity, everything would have been compromised. These conditions are difficult to manage.

All the above said conditions are either naturally in borne (inherited) or acquired (gained due to various influencing factors)

Body, mind and treatment

3. Body, mind and treatment
Ayurveda tells that the body and mind diseases should be dealt as a single unit. Ayurvedic treatment of ailments and the way it looks at the pathology is comprehensive.

While it is wise to deal with physical (shaareerika) and mind (maanasika) diseases at their respective planes, it is also good to analyze the disturbances occurring at the physical and mental planes in subtle levels after understanding the body and mind strengths as explained in the above said 2 sections. The quality and quantum of body and mind factors should be thoroughly analyzed before planning the treatment protocol.

Firstly it shall be diagnosed if the disease first manifested at the physical plane or mental plane.

Example, generalized long standing body pains may be –

  1. Due to some systemic diseases, neurological disease, arthritis, inflammation, sluggish liver and anemia and many other conditions
  2. Due to severe stress and depression, brain fatigue, excessive worries, sleeplessness etc. Both these conditions should be dealt in different ways.

But in either condition, especially in the second condition the medicines and treatment, lifestyle changes and diet so as to soothe the mind shall work well. It is very important to see if the pains first manifested due to the physical ailments (which have been already diagnosed, if not they should be diagnosed) at the physical plane or due to mental disturbances at the mental plane.

In condition 1, we shall address the issue with disease specific / disease modifying treatments (vyadhi pratyaneeka chikitsa) or dosha specific remedies (dosha pratyaneeka chikitsa) as per diagnosis. Along with these, the body cleansing measures (Panchakarma), strengthening medicines (balya), immune-modulators (rasayana), good exercises and lifestyle modulations etc shall be skillfully blended.

In condition 2, we shall predominantly address the sick mind by strategies like dhee (measures enhancing brain functioning and strengthening), dhairya (counseling) and aatmadi vijgnana (making the person to feel self-worthy and giving an intent to live happily), Yoga, meditation etc shall be planned.

  1. Secondly the permutations and combinations (quality and quantity) of the body and mind components shall be analyzed. Knowing if the subject is physically weak or mentally weak or physically and mentally weak will help in planning the treatment accordingly.
  2. Many times it is essential to have a comprehensive and integrated approach towards body-mind healing. The treatments and medication also helps us in proper diagnosis many times.

Example, when abhyanga (massage with medicated oils) and swedana (fomentation or steaming treatment) is administered for body pains, the person will get good sleep and get rid of stress and anxiety. This indicates that the sleeplessness and related stress were due to problems occurring in relation to sore muscles. This also suggests that the complaints had first occurred at the physical plane and later the mind was involved. This also helps a doctor to further investigate the condition so as to find out the disease or ailment which is causing the body pains and treat it with disease modifying remedies.
Read related: Does massage work? Utility Of Massage In Pain Management

On the other hand, if treatments like Shirodhara (stream pouring of medicated oils over the head for fixed time) etc relieves the body pains, it becomes clear that it was the stress and other mind related components which was responsible for body pains. It also suggests that the problems started initially at the mental plane and later the body was involved.
Read related: Shirodhara: Procedure, Benefits, Mode Of Action, Limitations

Roga Adhishtana

Roga Adhishtana – Seat Of Diseases, Ayurvedic Concept

Roga Adhishtana is the location wherein the disease is
manifested.
Read – Classification of Vyadhi (diseases) according to Ayurveda

The seat of diseases according to Ayurveda
Master Charaka tells that there are two places in the body where the diseases would manifest –

Sharirika Rogas – The diseases located at the physical level are called Sharirika Rogas.
Example – headache, back pain, abdominal pain, breathlessness, fever, diarrhea etc.

Manasika Rogas – The diseases located at the mental level are called as Manasika Rogas.
Example – insanity, mood disorders, anxiety, depression, stress etc
Read – Unmada-Insanity: Ayurvedic Understanding And Management

Mutual influence of physical and mental disorders

1. The physical disorders are caused by vitiated and imbalanced tridoshas i.e. vata, pitta and kapha. They initially manifest at physical level. In a later period of time, the physical disorders will also affect the mind. This especially happens when

Example, the fever is a physical disorder. When the temperature is very high, the patient may suffer from mental agitation. In Ayurveda fever is defined in terms of raised temperature not only at the physical level but also at the mind.
Read – Ayurveda Lifestyle and Diet For Fever – 45 Important Things To Know

Chronic crippling arthritis or hemiplegic which confines one to bed for long time, they can gradually influence on mind of the patient and gradually lead to depression.

2. The physical disorders are caused by imbalanced mind doshas which contaminate the raja and tama. They initially manifest at mental level. In a later period of time, the mental disorders will also affect the body. This especially happens when

  • the mental disorders are not treated properly,  
  • chronic
  • progressive
  • when the patient doesn’t have good mental tolerance

Example, insanity is a mental disorder. In the pathogenesis of the disease it is explained that initially the disease afflicts the mind, later the raja and tama qualities of the mind enhance and dominate the sattva quality of the mind.
Read – Mind – Qualities, Functions, Doshas As Per Ayurveda

Following this, the physical contaminants i.e. doshas – vata, pitta and kapha occupy the seat of intellect, heart (brain) and the channels related to the mind and cause insanity. Initially the mind and mind doshas are afflicted. Later the physical doshas too are disturbed and disturb the mind. This also points towards the involvement of the physical components in the mental disorders at some stage of the disease.

We have seen that patients of depression either eat more or less, they either gain weight or lose excessive weight and as a result many physical diseases are manifested due to overweight or underweight. Diarrhea is manifested when we are tensed or in grief. We see lot of physical diseases which are either manifested or triggered by mental worries and stress, including hear ailments, stress induced headache, irritable bowel syndrome, high blood pressure, diabetes etc. All these are examples of the impact of mind disorders over the physical plane.
Read – Stress Symptoms and Natural Measures for Stress Relief

Body and Mind – the seats of pleasure and health too
Master Charaka tells that the same seats of disease and pain are also the seats of health and happiness. Therefore the body and mind also form the seats for absence of disease and presence of health and pleasure.

Absence of disease and a state of balance of body parameters, including the doshas, tissues, excreta, mind, senses, cognition and a feeling of satisfaction in the soul is a reflection of the state of health. If the body and mind experiences disease, the same body and mind also experiences a state of health when that disease is removed from them. Similarly the mind which tells you that you are stressed, depressed, worried or at grief will also tell you about the satisfaction, bliss, pleasure and joy or the absence of stress etc.
Read – Depression Causes, Ayurvedic Treatment, Tips And Remedies

Master Charaka also tells that the three causes which are responsible for manifestation of diseases are also the causes for manifestation of health when they are balanced.

Three major factors responsible for manifestation of all diseases –

  • Deficit, excessive and perverted manifestations of seasons
  • Deficit, excessive and perverted contact of the sense organs with their objects
  • Deficit, excessive and perverted utilization of mental / intellectual property (mistakes done in a state of consciousness)

When the same factors are balanced, the person enjoys a state of health at both physical and mental planes.
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