The Sanskrit word ‘Prakriti’ denotes "nature". It’s the "natural tendency" of a person's constitution. Ayurveda system defined ‘deha prakriti’ as the somatic constitution (Code:VA-2888). It makes each person unique in terms of anatomical, physiological, and psychological characteristics. It is determined not just by an individual's genetic composition received from parents. But additional elements(epigenetic factors) also play significant role. These factors are dietary and lifestyle habits of the mother during pregnancy (matu aahara-vihara), time scale(kala), health status of uterus(garbhashaya), and basic elements(mahabhuta vikara).
In Ayurveda, people are classified based on the presence of three elements known as "dosha." These are biological, functional units that help to understand both normalcy (prakriti) and abnormalities (vikriti) in an individual. The three dosha are vata, the source of kinetic or movements; pitta represents the body's metabolism and transformation; and kapha as a source of potential energy represents the body's growth and maintenance. These physiological principles are closely related to the phenotype of an individual. This article describes the concept and practical utility of deha prakriti (somatic constitution) in healthcare.
|Section/Chapter/topic||Concepts / Deha Prakriti|
|Authors||Bhojani M.K.1, Tanwar Ankur kumar1|
1 Department of Sharir Kriya, A.I.I.A. , New Delhi, India2 Charak Samhita Research, Training and Development Centre, I.T.R.A., Jamnagar, India
|Correspondence email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Date of first publication:||December 17, 2021|
Prakriti is the concept of individuality. It is accepted by all ancient scholars to make it Universal theory (sarvtantra siddhanta). In one of the assessment factors (parikshya bhava), [Cha.Sa.Vimana sthana.8/94], prakriti is crucial for the development of the body, its appearance, behavior, and resistance power, such as immunity, health, and reproductive ability. The diet (ahara), should be taken by each individual according to his prakriti. Individual's digestion (agni) and gut pattern (koshtha) are influenced by prakriti. The knowledge of prakriti is also beneficial in choosing a suitable job, the field of work, friends, and the ideal life mate. This prakriti-based individualized health maintenance system of Ayurveda encapsulates the concept of new personalized medicine. Prakriti is the most important component that affects an individual's vulnerability to many diseases, as well as their prognosis, course, and consequences. Severe illness is caused by similar dosha in prakriti and samprapti (pathology). Individuals with a vata, pitta, or kapha dominance in prakriti are susceptible for vata, pitta, or kapha dominant illness, respectively. Individuals with vata prakriti have dry skin and hair, lean phenotypes, and are prone to fatigue, nervous system diseases, and insomnia, among other things. Pitta prakriti people have strong personalities and are prone to inflammatory ailments such as ulcers. Whereas kapha prakriti people have heavy bones, muscle, and fat and are more susceptible to respiratory disorders and obesity-related comorbid conditions. A physician must have a strong understanding of prakriti for successful healthcare management. Prakriti assessment is a component of the ten fold examination of the patient (dashavidha pariksha). Physicians diagnose the patient's state, which serves as the foundation for treatment.
The word prakriti is made up of three words. Prakriti = Pra+ Kri+Ti. The word ‘Pra’ is a prefix meaning “origin”; ‘Kri’ means to “to do” and ‘Ti’ denotes the root “klina” means “ to intensify”. Thus, prakriti is defined as the entity, which manifests at the time of origin. Prakriti is the amplified expression of dosha as seen in anatomical, physiological, or functional responses of the body's various subsystems.
Prakriti is the natural state or condition of anything, cause, and origin.
Prakriti is an expression of one’s constitution that is individual specific. It is the enumeration of both internal and exterior body features.
Swabhava [Chakrapani on Cha.Sa.Vimana Sthana 8/95], Pradhana, Shariraswarupa [Arunadatta on A.Hr. Sutra Sthana. 1/9-10], Mijaja, Lingam, Yoni, Amatya, Durgam, Guhye, Swarupa, Stri, natural disposition, temper, temperament, constitution, personality, nature, behavior, somatotype, phenotype, traits, supreme.
Prakriti is a set of characteristics that an individual develops from the embryological stage as a result of the effect of physiologically normal dosha, which then persists and appears as behavior throughout one's life [Rasa vaisheshika sutra 8]. Due to specific reasons, dosha becomes more intense during embryogenesis. This naturally amplified state of dosha is referred to as prakriti, and it lasts from birth to death.
People are born with different proportions of dosha which results in deha prakriti. This leads to a distinct psychosomatic manifestation. Each kind of prakriti has its own set of physical, physiological, behavioral, social, and mental traits. These features distinguish one person from another, causing individuality among living organisms.
Classification of Deha Prakriti
Vata, pitta, kapha, vata-kapha, vata-pitta, kapha-pitta, and samadoshaja prakriti (all three, i.e. vata-pitta-kapha) are the seven forms of prakriti. [Cha.Sa.Vimana sthana 8/95] Among these, three kinds have single dosha preponderance, three have two dosha predominance, and one has all three dosha balance. Vata, pitta, and kapha are the three phenotypic extremes among the seven constitution types, with varying illness susceptibilities. The doshaja prakriti is divided into the following categories.
01: Vatala (Code: VA-2889) or Vata dosha dominant prakriti
When the vata dosha is predominant in the constitution it is vatala. Vatala prakriti characteristics include a poorly developed body built, erratic appetite, irregular food, and bowel habits, quick physical activity, quick memory but low retention, dryness of skin and hair, and cold temperature intolerance. [Cha.Sa.Vimana Sthana.8/98]; [Su.Sa.Sharira Sthana 4/64]; [A.S.Sharira Sthana 8/7]; [A.Hr.Sharira Sthana 3/86]
02. Pittala (Code: VA-2890) or Pitta dosha dominant prakriti
When the pitta dosha is predominant in the constitution it is pittala. Attributes of pitta-specific characters in the body of pittala type of constitution are high frequency and intensity of appetite and thirst, a high tendency for perspiration, prominence of pimples, freckles and moles, easy irritation, early graying and falling of hair, and a high tolerance for cold temperatures. [Cha.Sa.Vimana Sthana 8/97]; [Su.Sa.Sharira sthana 4/68]; [A.S.Sharira Sthana 8/11]; [A.Hr.Sharira sthana 3/93]
03. Shleshma (Code: VA-2891) or kapha dosha dominant prakriti
When the kapha dosha is predominant in the constitution it is shleshmala. The characteristic features of shleshmala constitution are low appetite and digestion, are less mobile, have a good memory, oily skin, a fair complexion, have good disease resistance, and have a calm attitude.[Cha.Sa.Vimana sthana8/96; [Su.Sa.Sharira sthana 4/72]; [A.S.Sharira sthana 8/12]; [A.Hr.Sharira sthana 3/97].
04. Dwidoshaja prakriti
05.Sama doshaja prakriti
Prakriti is sama (equilibrium) when the three dosha are in proportion to each other. These individuals are healthy and continue to be so.
The five essential elements Akasha, Vayu, Agni, Aap, and Prithvi make up the human body, as well as three basic principles known as the tridosha. The body air principle known as vata is manifested from the Akasha and Vayu components. This principle is referred to as vata dosha in Sanskrit. The Agni and Aap elements come together in the body to form pitta dosha. The Prithvi and Aap components manifest as kapha. There are "five" varieties of prakriti based on the predominance of these panchabhautik components. Vayavya, Jaliya, and Agneya prakriti have characteristics that are similar to Vata, Kapha, and Pitta dominant prakriti, respectively. The stature of a person with a parthiva constitution is large, and he or she is firm, powerful, and muscular. The nabhasa constitution is characterized by piousness, longevity, and huge aural cavities. [Su.Sa.Sharira Sthana 4/79]
Prakriti classification as per era
Prakriti was categorized by Kashyapa based on time (kala). An individual's personality concerning his birth in a typical century or yuga. Kala is classified into two types: auspicious (shubha) and inauspicious(ashubha).
Prakriti is classified as follows:
- Prakriti of a person born in the Adiyuga, Devayuga is unknown because it is not mentioned anywhere.
- A person born in the Kritayuga has Narayana prakriti.
- A Tretayuga person's prakriti is of the Ardhanarayana type.
- A person born in the Dwaparayuga has a Kaisika prakriti.
- A person born in the Kaliyuga has PradnaptiPishitaprakriti.[Ka.Sa.Sharirasthana 1/2]
The description shows presence of physical and mental superpowers in initial yugas. These attributes declined in consecutive yugas. This led to an increase in disease incidence and a shorter life span. The person of kaliyuga is a human being today. Research in this aspect of prakriti is required to establish facts.
Formation of prakriti
Prakriti is formed by dosha dominance at the time of the gamete union. [Cha.Sa.Vimana sthana 8/95] It is an individual's basic constitution, which is determined from the time of conception and remains constant throughout life.[Su.Sa. Sharirasthana 4/78]
Determining factors of prakriti
Individuals from all ethnic groups are classified as belonging to one of the seven types of prakriti. It is influenced by genetic and environmental variables. Many other variables influence an individual's prakriti at the time of birth.[Cha. Sa. Vimana Sthana 8/95]
- Shukra-shonitaprakriti (sperm and ovum)
- Kala-prakriti is a type of kala-prakriti (time of conception or season)
- Garbhashayaprakriti (health status of uterus)
- Maturahar-viharprakriti (diet and lifestyle habits of mother) [Bh. Sa. Vimana sthana 4/12-15]
Prakriti is derived by both genetic (sperm and ovum) and epigenetic (uterus state, period of conception, availability of food, and mother's behaviors) variables throughout its formation.
Factors influencing the prakriti
Some factors are recognized as influencing or regulation factors of prakriti. [Cha. Sa. Indriya Sthana 1/5]
- Jatiprasakta (Race/caste/ Occupation): Caste/ Occupation have significant effect in shaping a man's fundamental constitution and personality.
- Kulaprasakta (family/ancestry): The temperament of a family's progeny is always influenced by the family's character and conduct.
- Desha-anupatini (geo-climatic factors): The habitat based on geo-climatic regions is categorized into three parts: anupa (marshy region), sadharana (normal region), and jangala (arid region). [Cha. Sa. Kalpa sthana 1/8] The majority of people living in an ecosystem have their prakriti aligned with the ecosystem's prakriti. As a result of the similar nature of prakriti, it is logical to conclude that persons living in marshy region are more likely to have Vata-Kapha dosha dominant prakriti.
- Kala-anupatini (time scale): Season (ritu) and time (time of conception) influence an individual's prakriti.
- Vaya-anupatini (age): The dosha dominance in individual's physiology is influenced by age. The dominance of dosha in each age group like – kapha in childhood, pitta in middle age, and vata in old age- are delineated. Age denotes the changeability of body constitution through time in terms of quantitative change.
- Pratyatmaniyata (individuality): Though the offspring's genomic constitution is established by the material of both parents' genomic constitutions, the offspring's genomic constitution is ultimately decided by gene splicing during meiosis 1 during fertilization. It gives babies a genome that is completely different from both parents. Individuality (pratyatmaniyata) is the variance that is unique in each person. It is the unique permutation and combination of panchamahabhuta. This may be inferred to be governed by Daiva (destiny) or purvajanmakrita samskara (past life deeds).
When any of the formative components is disrupted by inner and outside environmental variables, then prakriti spontaneously responds in the form of transient changes in the intensity of phenotypic expressions associated with vata, pitta or kapha dosha. The dosha balance is influenced by changes in the environment including diurnal & seasonal variations. This change is in the intensity (quantitative) of expression rather than a change in the nature of expression (qualitative). However, a dynamic equilibrium of its constituent dosha is always maintained. Dosha predominant features in the particular time of day, night and season are also observed in the person irrespective of the prakriti. But it doesn’t mean the prakriti of the person is changed. This is merely a transitory change in the periphery of the prakriti. Prakriti's core does not alter. Death is indicated by a change in prakriti's core.[Su.Sa.Sharira Sthana 4/77]
The dominance of dosha in determination of prakriti is normal up to a certain level. The dosha predominance of prakriti represented by specific qualities is never destructive to the own trait in any manner, but rather stands out as a distinct, recognizable quality of that person. But this predominance of dosha is always susceptible to abnormalities (vikriti) of corresponding dosha. The diet and lifestyle provoking similar dosha as that in prakriti makes the person susceptible to diseases of that dosha. Therefore, the prakriti having single dosha dominance (vataladya) is always prone to diseases. The inherent dosha dominance in prakriti up to a certain limit is not harmful. Just like the inherent toxin in animals is not harmful to the creature itself.[Su.Sa. Sharira sthana 4/78] [A. Hr. Sutra sthana 1/9]
Characteristic features of dosha specific prakriti
|S.No||Dosha predominance||Guna (property)||Characteristics|
|01||Vata (Code: VA-2889)||Ruksha (dry or ununctuous)||Dryness or ununctousness, thin built, short stature.
Unclear, unpleasant, feeble, stammering, broken, and hoarse voice, Easily awakening or keeping awake
|Laghu(light)||Thin, light weight built and fast gait,
Quick action, Fast eating habits, Fast spoken.
|Chala(mobile)||Unstable or highly flexible joints.
Unsteady gaze. Unsteady eyebrows, jaws, lips, tongue, head, shoulder, hands, and legs.
Prominent tendons and veins
|Sheeghra(swift)||Quick initiation of actions,
Quickly gets agitated, Less tolerance, less power and get frightened easily. quick comprehension and less memory.
|Sheeta(cold)||Intolerance to cold,
Always feeling coldness/shivering/stiffness.
|Parusha(rough)||Rough hair, nails, teeth, face, hands, and legs.|
|Vishada(non slime)||Easy cracks or less integrity in body structures,
Crackling sound during movements
|02||Pitta(Code: VA-2890)||Ushna(hot)||Intolerance to heat.
The tendency for frequent ulceration of the mouth, Redness of the face. Delicate body. Presence of moles, pimples, freckles, and marks. The early presence of wrinkles. Premature greying and baldness. Excessive hunger and thirst. Soft and brown hair in the face, head, and other parts of the body.
Strong digestive power. Intake of large quantities of food and drinks. Unable to handle difficult conditions. High frequency of intake.
Flexible joints. Profuse sweating. More stool formation. Excessive urination.
|Vishtra (fleshy smell)||Putrid/foul smell especially from axial, scalp, mouth, and head.|
|Amla (sour) and Katu(pungent)||Less semen. Less sexual desire and less progeny.|
|03||Kapha(Code: VA-2891)||Snigdha (unctuous)||Unctuous skin|
|Shalakshna(smooth)||Smooth and skin without moles, freckles, and dryness|
|Mridu(soft)||The pleasant and delicate body|
|Madhur(sweet)||Increase the quantity of semen, sexual desire, and progeny.|
|Sara(firm)||Firm, compact and steady body|
Slow actions, Slow spoken.
Don’t get agitated easily.
|Guru(heavy)||Stable gait, heavy weight|
|Sheeta(cold)||Less hunger and thirst.
|Achcha(clear)||Cheerful and pleasant appearance.
Softness in voice. Pleasant complexion
Concept of personalized medicine
Individual genetic and epigenetic distinctions are the foundation of individualized and entail prescribing patients individual-specific treatments based on their genetic makeup. Ayurveda concept of individuality is called ‘prakriti’ to provide tailored treatment based on the person's prakriti, which is a blend of the predominance of dosha-vata, pitta, and kapha. Prakriti is an important ayurvedic concept that describes an individualized approach to health and disease.
Applied aspect of prakriti
- Disease susceptibility or predictive medicine: Prakriti assessment aids in determining susceptibility to various diseases as well as preventing disease development from progression towards severity.
- Prophylaxis or preventive medicine: Prakriti determination aids in medicine's preventive element.
- Prognosis: In ancient Ayurvedic literature, the concept of curability or incurability of disease is described. It further depends on the individual's prakriti. Disease prognosis is widely recorded in the text and is dependent on etiological factors, dushya (pathology's substratum, dhatu), causative dosha, dosha of physical constitution, onset, and place or habitat. [Cha. Sa. Sutra Sthana 10/11]
- Selection of individualized treatment modalities or correct therapeutic agent.
- Selection of correct dietary and lifestyle habits.
- Assessment of drug response.
Prakriti will presumably contribute to public health programs aimed at preventing and combating communicable and non-communicable diseases.
Tool of prakriti assessment
The "prakriti" assessment entails phenotyping a person, based on a variety of factors such as physical type, eating and bowel habits, disease resistance and healing skills, memory retention, metabolism, and so on. It's a clinical examination using the three types of examination viz. inspection (darshan), palpation (sparshan), and interrogation (prashna). There are morphological (rachanaanusari), physiological (kriyaanusari), and psychological (manoanusari) aspects to it. The prakriti is determined by a combination of all these characteristics. Validated and standardized tools for prakriti assessment are available on the following links:
- CCRAS prakriti assessment scale(http://ccras.res.in/ccras_pas/)
- AYUSOFT-CDAC (https://www.cdac.in/index.aspx?id=hi_dss_ayusoft_n)
- CSIR-IGIB prakriti assessment questionnaire- Short and main.
New research group model
Age, sex, and ethnicity (to some extent) are used as universal variables in modern medical research (control groups). However, these group results cannot be extended to the entire human population because each of these groups has a varied level of illness susceptibility and medication response. Prakriti displays itself in all ethnic groups, hence ethnic groups aren't required for research. It has an impact on an individual's entire life span by linking their nature to environmental factors such as their lifestyle and diet. Prakriti is an example of a strategy that can be used uniformly across the entire population to divide a stratified population into manageable subgroups (rather than hundreds of ethnic groupings). Future research may employ prakriti-based grouping.
Future area of research
The concept of prakriti is utilized in the Ayurgenomics (Genome-wide analysis of Prakriti), Ayurnutrigenomics (Genome wise analysis of nutrition need), Ayurpharmacogenomics (Assessment of right drug for right people and response of the drug). Prakriti-based gut microbe stratification, Epigenetics, Predictive medicine (Newborn screening), System biology, Exercise physiology, Sports science, Sleep medicine, Circadian rhythm are key areas of research.
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Studies discovered gut microbial patterns linked to a variety of host characteristics such as geography, age, and food. A few bacterial taxa were found to be specifically enriched in certain prakriti in recent scientific research. Chauhan et al. and Chaudhari et al. detected extreme prakriti phenotypes (vata, pitta, and kapha) in a population from the VHDSS area in Pune and investigated if prakriti phenotyping can serve as a potential stratifier of the gut microbiota in that community and form the basis of personalized medicine.
Cosmetology and prakriti
The use of prakriti in cosmetic science aids in the selection of the appropriate cosmetic formulation; otherwise, cosmetic use at random can have a negative impact on beauty. The skin of healthy individuals with vata and pitta dominant prakriti was found to be dehydrated, but hydration was preserved in kapha dominant prakriti people.
Genomic and biochemical basis of constitutional
Individuals with the three most dissimilar constitutional types have notable variances in biochemical and hematological markers, as well as gene expression levels across the genome. The differences in hemoglobin levels between the prakriti are correlated with higher expression of genes that regulate hemoglobin levels, such as HBA1, HBB, and NOV, in pitta compared to vata and kapha. The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) gene polymorphism has been found to have a reasonable connection with prakriti type. Individuals with pitta prakriti are observed to have phosphoglucomutase 1 gene.
Risk factor (disease vulnerability) and prakriti
There is a close link between vata-kapha and kapha prakriti and risk factors (diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia), insulin resistance, and immune markers.There is a very strong link between prakriti (Kapha/KaphaPittaja) and type 2 diabetes.
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