The shat kriya kal in Ayurveda or the better known as the six stages of disease process are described as follows
It is also known as the stage of accumulation. Sanchaya is the first phase of shat kriya kal or disease formation meaning 'stored'. It is commonly referred as the period of accumulation when Aama produced during the improper prapaka digestion that collects in the gastrointestinal tract of the body. This condition of disease manifestation is primarily associated with Kapha imbalance accumulates in the stomach. Ayurveda states that when aama results from Pitta imbalance it gets collected in the small intestine and it amasses in the colon when gets connected to a Vata dysfunction. The presence of the aama disturbs the proper functioning of the doshas creating mild symptoms that can be easily felt. Such symptoms signal physiological imbalance and people have a common tendency to ignore these symptoms as they disappear by themselves in a few hours. And this habit of ignoring them instead of recognizing and eliminating their root causes, people invite the disease process to gain a strong footing in the body. Ayurveda, these symptoms alert towards an imbalance in the body that is likely to occur.
It is the second stage of shat kriya kal in Ayurveda or popularly known as the second stage of disease process. It is translated as provocation or aggravation. Though the prakopa phase does not manifest the clearly differentiated clinical symptoms that allopathic medicine can recognize, the Ayurvedic physicians confirm the aggravated state of aama through pulse diagnosis. And accordingly, the Ayurvedic physician recommends some dietary and behavioural changes in order to reverse the prakopa stage.
It is the third stage of shat kriya kal in Ayurveda. This third phase of disease formation literally means to leave and spread. At this phase aama accumulates to such a degree that it finally starts to overflow in the gastrointestinal tract. The doshas transport along with the important nutrients to the dhatus. Its stickiness stops it from being transported back to the gastrointestinal tract. It is the stage of migration.
It is the fourth phase of shat kriya kal in Ayurveda. It is also known as the stage of disease augmentation. Sthana samshraya literally means taking shelter in a place. The aama that has migrated from the gastrointestinal tract enters and lodges in a defective and weak dhatu. Once the aama accumulates in an area of low immunity, its basic qualities overwhelm the dhatu and it causes dysfunction and structural damage of the body. It is the stage in which specific susceptibility to serious infections or degenerative diseases start. Several factors determine which specific dhatus are predisposed to accept and be damaged by aama. A combination of the common factors like effects from previous illnesses, seasonal changes, stress, effects from past diet and behavioural choices, radiation and chemical pollutants, etc. produces weakness which opens certain tissues to diseases.
It is the fifth stage of shat kriya kal in Ayurveda and it literally means something which can be seen. This stage is the one in which clearly differentiated symptoms first appear. It is the stage of symptom manifestation. The disease process overwhelms the ability of the body to maintain immunity and healthy functioning. At this stage, structural dysfunctions or damages have progressed to the point where the illness actually activates. The disease process manifests the symptoms that are used by the Western system for classification and diagnosis.
It is the sixth and final stage of shat kriya kal in Ayurveda. This final phase is also known as the stage of complications. Bheda literally means differentiation. Stage five that is Vyakta confirms general diagnosis and the sixth stage confirms differential diagnosis. This phase offers a detailed understanding of the group of symptoms that have surfaced the fact that all the doubts regarding the nature of the disease are eliminated. This sixth stage is characterized by severe impairment of dhatu function, serious damage to the shrotas (the vessels within each dhatu) and the complications that involves related dhatus. The entire disease process can be aggravated by the toxic side effects of the drugs that are used to cure it. At this final stage, many of the diseases become a bit difficult to treat completely.
Degenerative conditions and susceptibility to several infectious diseases do not develop overnight, it takes many years and the seeds of dysfunction occur as a result of inappropriate lifestyle and diet. Shat kriya kal or the six significant stages of disease formation in Ayurveda provides the knowledge of how illness originates and manifests step-by-step. Ayurveda uses these six stages to remove both the signs as well as the causes of the diseases.
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