What Happens When We Get Sick – 6 Stages of Illness

What Happens When We Get Sick? 


With proper diet and lifestyle, medicine is of no need. With improper diet and lifestyle, medicine is of no use (Ayurvedic Proverb)

When we get a cut we put a plaster on it, expect it to heal and it usually does.

Our body is always healing and protecting itself. But if our body is out of balance, eg. being stressed, tired or not eating well, or through our attitudes –our body can’t focus on healing itself as it would like because it is busy dealing with the stress etc.

These imbalances cause the body to be overwhelmed and can eventually lead to disease. Sometimes when we feel pain or discomfort somewhere in our body we ignore it and hope it will go away – and sometimes it does. But sometimes it shows up stronger or changes to another place and demands we take note of it.

Ayurvedic doctors treat illness holistically and  believe there are  6 stages of illness. Within each stage there are ways we can help our body to heal itself.

Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease (Hippocrates)


Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food (Hippocrates 460-377 BC)

Ayurveda – what is it?

Ayurveda is the science of life and has been in practice in the East for 5000 years – if we understand our body type and how to keep in balance, we will achieve longevity and good health and be able to give back to society. Ayurveda also says nature is our medicine bowl so we need to look after it.

In our busy lives it is easy to ignore small issues until they become more frequent and painful, then we go to the doctor to have the symptom ‘fixed’. However the Ayurvedic way, is to understand your body type holistically. You would take time to reflect on your recent eating habits, consider your overall lifestyle and take measures to rectify these.

What is Ayurveda? https://www.waihibeachwellness.co.nz/about/faq/

For an ayurvedic lifestyle plan please visit (as below)

All Treatments

The Six Stages of Disease

Any treatment that attends only to the symptoms is not a good therapy. The best treatment is one that balances the whole and does not create any other disorder. (Charaka Samhita)

Generally food, lifestyle and / or attitudes begin the disease process. And food is integral in all six stages of illness. These habitual imbalances foster diseases over weeks, months or even years. We can go along without symptoms for years, but one day our body will say ‘enough’. That is when the symptoms start giving us grief and it may be we do not understand why the symptom is there. We need to look at the cause – and understand why we have symptoms.

Doshic imbalances stand behind all disease. (There are 3 main doshas (body types): The main body types (doshas) Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The first step is to identify which combination we are to understand ourself and be able to know when we are in balance, out of balance and how to get back into balance)

Stage 1: Accumulation

During this first stage, our (body type) dosha is aggravated. For example, if you are a Vata and are eating lots of dry cold foods and iced drinks each day – this will cause Vata to increase more than the body can naturally expel or pacify it, and accumulation occurs.

If you are Kapha and you are eating lots of sweet foods and not exercising, this will cause Kapha to increase and accumulation to occur.

If you are Pitta  eating lots of salty, spicy, hot food, this will cause Pitta to increase and accumulation to occur.

There may be slight discomfort or no symptoms at all.

Your body will be trying to restore balance on its own. For example, if there is a beautiful cake in the house and you keep eating a piece over a few days, you will start to crave light spicy foods. This is your body’s way of saying you need to balance Kapha. The best way to help ourself is to listen to our  inner intelligence. If we do this, we have the ability to stop the disease process.

To improve our digestive system, it is beneficial to include all 6 tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, astringent, pungent tastes) into each meal. If we do this, we are discouraging cravings and weight imbalances. Ayurvedically, meat, fruit dairy, carbohydrates are mainly considered sweet. We also need sour, salty, bitter, astringent and pungent tastes. For each body type there are certain foods that help to balance our body type and keep us in balance. This is called pacifying our dosha (body type) with balancing food.

Early Symptoms of Imbalance

Vata body type  – A Vata body type person may experience anxiety, confusion, constipation, gas

Pitta body type – A Pitta body type person may experience irritability, alternating dry and loose stools, pressure or heat above the neck

Kapha body type – A Kapha body type person may experience sluggishness, congestion, bloating

Stage 2: Aggravation

If the disease process is not stopped in the first stage, it prepares to move into other parts of our body. With awareness it is still possible to reverse the disease process during the second stage by making appropriate lifestyle and dietary changes to return to a natural state of balance.

Breaking improper dietary habits through eating a lighter diet, drinking balancing herbal teas, or skipping an evening meal can be highly effective. Common ways to imbalance our body is for Vatas not to get enough rest; Pittas to drink alcohol and eat spicy foods and for Kaphas to stop exercising daily.

Stage 3: Spreading

During stage 3 the aggravated dosha spreads from its home seat and overflows into the general circulation of the body. Symptoms may appear elsewhere, but fluctuating and inconsistently. They may still not seem like major problems.

These first 3 stages relate to general imbalances rather than particular diseases and if dealt with before stage 4 it is a lot easier to regain balance. During the spreading phase, fasting and / or detoxing are effective. As is looking back over the past few months and seeing what caused the imbalances and immediately making changes.

Stage 4: Relocation

If not stopped by this stage it will spread to weak organs and systems within the body. Weaknesses can result from many things: genetics, trauma, unresolved emotions, energetic blockages, addictions, infections, external pathogens. The imbalance mixes with tissues in that area and creates functional imbalance at a much deeper cellular level.

If not treated here, it will develop into a full blown disease. An Ayurvedic doctor would treat with herbal medicines, dietary guidance, detoxification therapies and lifestyle changes – all geared towards pacifying imbalances, cleansing impurities from tissues , eliminating toxins and promoting balance.

Stage 5: Manifestation

Symptoms of the disease are clear. This is where most people visit the doctor for examination of symptoms to diagnose and treat the disease.

The excess dosha becomes further embedded within tissues during Manifestation stage. Using the same treatment methods as in stage 4 the disease process can still be successfully reversed.

Eating fresh, vibrant foods is essential during Manifestation stage. Emphasis on dosha balancing foods and smaller quantities.

Stage 6: Chronic

At the final stage the disease is fully manifested, with symptoms more severe. This stage is also known as ‘Differentiation’ because specialised features of disease become clear. For example, diabetes may be recognised at Stage 5 but in Stage 6 characteristics of Stage 2 Diabetes become obvious. Structural changes and complications to other organs take place in this stage. An Ayurvedic doctor says the entire disease process may be reversed with proper treatment and will power. Detoxification and purification, herbal medicines, dietary and lifestyle changes are incorporated for removal of excess doshas and then rejuvenation therapies using foods and herbs are used to rebuild and strengthen tissues.

Ayurvedic doctors say that tapping into the underlying current of healing potential with an open heart and ability in the belief to heal can help cure even the toughest illness.


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