The Journey

Embark on ‘The Journey by TAC,’ where captivating narratives unravel the rich history of various subjects from the healthcare and allied domains.

Journey To The Source: Exploring The Origins Of Ayurveda

Reading Time: 4 minutes Journey To The Source: Exploring The Origins Of Ayurveda Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word, where “Ayur” signifies Life, and “Veda” signifies Sciences. This medicine system has its roots in ancient India and originated about 3000 to 5000 years ago, prevailing to the present day. With a Rich history and traditional heritage, Ayurveda is often admired and esteemed for its holistic approach to health and well-being. Just imagine how they managed to find cures for all ailments without the help of modern Science! According to Hindu mythology, the origins of Ayurveda can be traced back to the Creator of the Universe- Lord Brahma, who passed on the knowledge to Dhanvantari, the physician of the Gods. Another legend suggests that Lord Brahma shared holistic healing knowledge with sages, who passed it down through generations, eventually reaching the common people through oral narratives and writings. Yet another legend claims that Lord Brahma transmitted this holistic wisdom to Lord Indra, who then passed it to Atreya, the author of the Rig Veda and the Atharva Veda. Agnivesa compiled this Vedic knowledge, and Charaka further refined it. This compilation is known as the Charaka Samhita, encompassing all aspects of Ayurvedic medicine. The founder of Ayurveda is Charaka also called Charaka Muni, an ancient scholar and physician who contributed notably to the Ayurveda field of medicine. His work, the Charaka Samhita, continues to be a vital reference for holistic medicine practitioners and has been translated into Tibetan, Greek, Chinese, Arabic, and Persian. Ancient Wisdom Scripted in the Vedas The Vedas, the earliest written scriptures in the Sanskrit language, contain profound knowledge. The Atharva Veda, in particular, imparts wisdom about the healthy lifestyle we ought to follow. Ayurveda, often referred to as the 5th Veda has its roots in these ancient texts. Within these historical scriptures, the teachings concerning the healing properties of various herbs and medicinal plants are conveyed through poetic verses known as “Shlokas.” Recognition of Ayurveda on Global Platform In fact, Nepal has embraced Ayurveda and issued a National Policy on Ayurveda and it is widely practised there. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized it as a traditional medicine system, acknowledging its significance alongside other conventional medical systems from different countries. This recognition highlights Ayurveda’s importance in the global healthcare landscape. Principles of Ayurveda The Core Elements: According to Ayurveda, the body has four basics : Dosha, Dhatu, Mala and Agni aka “Mool Siddhant” which form the  basic fundamentals of Ayurvedic treatment. 6 Pillars of Ayurveda: There are six pillars of Ayurveda i.e. right food, right exercise, right sleep, breathing & stress management, cleansing and self-awareness/self-reflectionIn essence, these principles are precisely what the doctor prescribes! Dietitians and physicians recommend this lifestyle to ensure our lives remain healthy and free from diseases. The regulatory principles of Ayurveda are “Vata” (wind), “Pitta” (bile) and “Kapha” (phlegm) aka “Tridoshas” which correspond to the three elements in the Universe : air, fire and water.   “Vata” – maintains the activities of the cells in our body, electrolyte balance, and eliminates waste products. “Pitta” – regulates body temperature, co-ordinates optic nerves, manages hunger and thirst “Kapha” – lubricates our joins for easy body movement Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of maintaining a perfect balance of these three doshas to prevent illness and promote overall well-being. However, it’s essential to note that Ayurvedic principles and practices are based on a holistic approach to health, and individualized recommendations may vary based on a person’s constitution (Prakriti) and current state of health (Vikriti). Ayurvedic medicines are renowned for their lack of side effects, as they are crafted from natural herbs, medicinal plants, and sometimes incorporate the essence of fruits, spices, animal extracts, and minerals. These remedies are complemented by adopting a wholesome diet, a balanced lifestyle, and regular exercise. Notably, Baba Ramdev, a Yoga guru, and his partner Acharya Balkrishna established Patanjali Ayurved in Haridwar, a company specializing in Ayurvedic medicines and food products. In an episode of The Kapil Sharma Show, Kapil Sharma shared that actor Akshay Kumar follows a practice of chewing each bite of his food around 40 to 42 times. This aligns with the golden rule of Ayurveda, where chewing each bite 32 times is recommended for better food absorption and easier digestion Kerala: The Ayurvedic Paradise Kerala, a state in Southern India, renowned for its geographical location and beauty and wide array of natural herbs/plants, is considered the Paradise of Ayurveda. It is said that a physician from Sindh province visited Kerala in search of natural herbs and trees, and since they were found in abundance, thence began the association of Kerala and Ayurveda. While Kerala is a prominent hub for Ayurveda, Ayurvedic practices and treatments are used in various states across India, and it’s also recognized as an alternative or complementary system of medicine in many parts of the country. There are many Ayurvedic centres/spas here, where people come to rejuvenate and enjoy Ayurvedic therapy. There are also the largest number of Ayurveda colleges and practitioners in Kerala, as compared to the rest of India or the world Conclusion: Our country has so much richness in terms of culture and medicine. We should acknowledge this and ensure that this heritage is preserved for the coming generations, so that they can also reap its benefits, like us.    To conclude with an Ayurvedic proverb “ When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use, when diet is correct, medicine is of no need”. Ms Rupal Sonpal

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Editorial, The Journey

The Journey of Tea from China to India

Reading Time: 5 minutes The Journey Of Tea From China To India Tea is our “go-to” beverage. It is a ‘pick me up’ drink in the mornings to get us moving, to enjoy on a rainy day, to de-stress with friends, to enjoy it whenever and wherever we desire. We cannot imagine our life without it. Let’s see how this humble drink has travelled the world over to find an important place in our kitchens and our hearts. What is the process of brewing Tea? The technique of brewing tea is to steep the tea leaves in water, then add sugar (optional), some milk(optional) and allow it to boil and then strain it into a teacup/ earthen glasses (kulhad) , glass glasses, paper cups, glass cups, steel cups, tea mugs, however, you like it. What are different types of tea? There are many varieties of tea: Black tea, Green tea, Herbal tea, Masala tea, White tea, Oolong tea, Yellow tea, Chamomile tea, Darjeeling tea, Earl Grey tea, Rooibos, Hibiscus tea, Peppermint tea, Assam tea, Fermented tea, Ceylon tea, Gunpowder tea, Bilouchun, Ginger tea, Flowering tea, Gyokuru, Matcha, Ginger tea, to name a few. And last but not least, Iced tea. History of tea Tea energises us and it has cognitive benefits on our memory and focuses our mind. Tea contains caffeine, theobromine, theophylline and L-theanine, which help stimulate our minds and relax us. Tea has a very interesting history. Chef Ranveer Brar, on one of the episodes of Kaun Banega  Crorepati, mentioned the origin of tea in China. Tea Plantation in China [Source: Wikimedia Commons] Chinese Connection:  A Chinese legend has it, that, in 2737 BC, the Chinese emperor Shen Nung (Shennong) was sitting beneath a tree and his servant was boiling drinking water when suddenly some leaves from the tree blew into the water changing its colour and taste / or another version which says that the Emperor was drinking boiled water and the leaves from the overhead tree blew into the water thereby changing its colour and taste. He took a sip and was surprised with the taste and quite enjoyed the infused water. Tea was considered more of a medicinal drink in those days. The Emperor used to experiment with different herbs and plants and discovered that tea worked as an antidote too.  If he chewed some poisonous leaves, he immediately chewed tea leaves to counter the poison Japanese Connection It was during the Tang dynasty that tea consumption became popular in Korea, Japan and Vietnam. During the Sui dynasty in China, the Buddhist monks, namely Saicho in 806 and Kukai, who travelled to China to learn about its culture, brought back tea seeds to Japan. The Emperor Saga encouraged the growth of these tea plants and thereafter Japan imported the tea seeds from China and made tea the drink of the royalty. The oldest book Kissa Yojoki- How To Stay Healthy by Drinking Tea, was written in 1211, It opens with the sentence “Tea is the ultimate mental and medical remedy and has the ability to make one’s life more full and complete”, and was written by Zen priest Eisai. How true it is to this day! Green tea was preferred by the Japanese gentry and priests. Korean Connection It was in 661 AD tea was offered to the spirit of King Suro, the founder of the Geumgwan Gaya kingdom and to the spirits of  Buddhist monks in the year 918 -1392 during the Goryeo dynasty in Korea. The “Day Tea Rite” was prevalent during the Joseon Dynasty, which was a daytime ceremony that took place commonly and the “Special Tea Rite” was for special occasions. Global Connection In the 13th century, the Ajuran empire in Somalia, Africa, had bilateral trade relations with the Ming Dynasty of China which introduced tea in Africa. Macau was a trading port in 1557 during the Portuguese era. The Portuguese priests and merchants were introduced to tea, then called ‘cha’ by the Chinese. In the early 17th century, a ship belonging to the Dutch East India Company transported green tea leaves from China to Amsterdam. France recognized tea in 1636 and it was popular in Paris around 1648. In the year 1662, King Charles II married Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza, an ardent tea lover, and thereafter tea was introduced in the royal court in England. The protests against tea during the American Revolution saw a sharp decline in tea drinking and a steep rise in coffee drinking as the Americans considered tea an “unpatriotic” drink. The 17th century saw the advent of tea in Russia when China gifted it to the Russian Czar Michael in 1618, who disliked it and therefore Russia could reap its benefits only in 1969. There was less intrigue in Germany and England. Captain Cook saw the Australian Aboriginals drinking an infusion of the plant leptospermum and named it ‘tea’ and today the plant is known as ‘ti tree’. The first commercial plantation was established in Bingil Bay in North Queensland by the Cutten brothers. Indian Connection The British introduced tea culture in India in 1836 and Ceylon in 1867. The British introduced India to tea and to break the Chinese monopoly, the British cultivated land in Darjeeling, Assam and Ceylon (then a part of India) by using Chinese tea seeds and practising Chinese cultivation methods thus making Assam a leading producer of tea. In the 1950’s, the Indian Tea Board popularized tea through an advertising campaign. Black tea was the foremost variety which was grown and exported too. India was the topmost tea producer for almost a century but in the 21st century, China has become the number one tea producer “Tea is the ultimate mental and medical remedy and has the ability to make one’s life more full and complete” Zen Priest Eisai Conclusion This is how one of our favourite beverages has reached us. One thing we need to remind ourselves is that whatever variety of tea we are fond of, it should be consumed in moderation.

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Editorial, The Journey

Pain Perception Across Time: A Historical Journey

Reading Time: 6 minutes Tracing the Threads of Pain Perception Through History: From Ancient Insights to Modern Understanding What is Pain Perception? Pain perception refers to the process by which the nervous system detects and interprets signals indicating potential or actual tissue damage, sending those signals to the brain, where they are then consciously experienced as pain. It’s a complex physiological and psychological phenomenon that involves the interaction of various sensory, neural, and cognitive processes. Pathway of Pain Perception: The pathway of pain perception involves a series of steps that lead from the initial stimulus (noxious stimuli) to the conscious perception of pain in the brain. Detection of Noxious Stimuli: Pain perception begins with the detection of noxious (harmful) stimuli, such as heat, pressure, or chemicals, by specialized nerve endings called nociceptors. These receptors are distributed throughout the body and are most densely found in the skin, muscles, and internal organs. Transmission of Pain Signals: When a noxious stimulus activates nociceptors, they generate electrical signals called action potentials. These signals travel along nerve fibres, known as nociceptive pathways, to the spinal cord and eventually to the brain. Processing in the Brain: In the brain, pain signals are processed in various regions, including the thalamus and the somatosensory cortex. The brain interprets the signals and creates a conscious experience of pain. Emotional centres in the brain, such as the limbic system, can also influence how pain is perceived and felt. Factors Affecting Pain Perception: Individual experiences of pain can vary greatly based on factors such as genetics, prior experiences, and psychological state. Modulation and Interpretation: Pain perception is not solely determined by the intensity of the noxious stimulus. It can be influenced by a variety of factors, including emotional state, cognitive processes, past experiences, cultural and social factors, and attention. For example, anxiety or fear can amplify the perception of pain, while distraction or relaxation techniques can lessen its intensity. Chronic Pain and Plasticity: In cases of chronic pain, the nervous system can undergo changes known as neuroplasticity, where the nerve pathways become sensitized or altered over time. This can result in heightened pain perception even in the absence of ongoing tissue damage. Individual Variation: Pain perception varies greatly among individuals. Some people might have a higher pain threshold (the level of stimulus needed to feel pain), while others might have a lower threshold. Factors like genetics, gender, age, and overall health can influence an individual’s pain perception. Understanding pain perception is important not only for basic scientific knowledge but also for improving pain management and treatment strategies. Healthcare professionals use this understanding to develop interventions that target the underlying mechanisms of pain perception, helping to alleviate pain and improve the quality of life for individuals experiencing pain conditions. A Historical Journey of Exploring Pain Perception: A Historical Journey of Exploring Pain Perception: The evolution of pain perception is an intricate and diverse journey that encompasses different societies, eras, and scientific advancements. Here, we’ll explore a concise synopsis of the history of pain perception: Ancient Beliefs & Theories In ancient civilizations, pain was often attributed to supernatural forces or deities as a form of punishment or divine intervention. Treatments often involved rituals, offerings, and sometimes even exorcisms to alleviate pain. Greek Influence: Hippocrates, a Greek physician in the 5th century BCE, described pain as an imbalance of bodily fluids (humours) and believed in a natural, rather than supernatural, explanation for pain. Ancient Beliefs & Theories In ancient civilizations, pain was often attributed to supernatural forces or deities as a form of punishment or divine intervention. Treatments often involved rituals, offerings, and sometimes even exorcisms to alleviate pain. Greek Influence: Hippocrates, a Greek physician in the 5th century BCE, described pain as an imbalance of bodily fluids (humours) and believed in a natural, rather than supernatural, explanation for pain. Middle Ages & Renaissance During the Middle Ages, pain was still often linked to supernatural explanations. The concept of pain was also intertwined with religious beliefs and notions of suffering. In the Renaissance era, advancements in anatomy and medicine began to provide more rational explanations for pain. However, pain was still understood in the context of broader philosophical and religious beliefs. Middle Ages & Renaissance During the Middle Ages, pain was still often linked to supernatural explanations. The concept of pain was also intertwined with religious beliefs and notions of suffering. In the Renaissance era, advancements in anatomy and medicine began to provide more rational explanations for pain. However, pain was still understood in the context of broader philosophical and religious beliefs. 17th to 19th Centuries The early modern period saw the development of more systematic approaches to understanding pain. René Descartes, a philosopher and mathematician, proposed the “pain pathway” theory, suggesting that pain signals travelled along specific nerves. The 19th century brought significant progress in understanding pain perception. The development of anaesthesia, such as ether and chloroform, marked a turning point in pain management and surgical procedures. 17th to 19th Centuries The early modern period saw the development of more systematic approaches to understanding pain. René Descartes, a philosopher and mathematician, proposed the “pain pathway” theory, suggesting that pain signals travelled along specific nerves. The 19th century brought significant progress in understanding pain perception. The development of anaesthesia, such as ether and chloroform, marked a turning point in pain management and surgical procedures. Viewpoint in 20th Century The Gate Control Theory of Pain Perception, proposed by Ronald Melzack and Patrick Wall in 1965, revolutionized our understanding of how pain is perceived. It introduced the idea that pain is influenced by both sensory and cognitive factors. The development of neuroimaging techniques, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), allowed researchers to study the brain’s responses to pain and further unravel the neural mechanisms involved. Viewpoint in 20th Century The Gate Control Theory of Pain Perception, proposed by Ronald Melzack and Patrick Wall in 1965, revolutionized our understanding of how pain is perceived. It introduced the idea that pain is influenced by both sensory and cognitive factors.

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