Ayurveda is a preventative medicine. It works to keep a healthy person heathy and absent of disease. Ayurvedic medicine does not wait until symptoms arise before treating the patient. Rather, it teaches one to pay attention to simple and seemingly insignificant disturbances within the body. By recognizing and reversing early signs of imbalance and accumulation, diseases can be prevented. Ayurvedic medicine views disease as a build up of imbalance that systematically moves through stages of accumulation. Thus, Ayurveda has categorized stages of disease to identify where we can pay more attention.
Accumulation: In the first stage of the disease, one or more of the five elements begins to accumulate within the body or mind.
Aggravation: When the imbalanced element moves outside of its normal boundaries, it is believed to have entered the second stage of the disease.
Dissemination: The wandering elements move throughout the body, in essence, looking for weak points in which to settle.
Localization: The wandering elements settle in a different part of the body.
Manifestation: Recognizable symptoms manifest. This is often where Western medicine begins to treat symptoms. By this stage it can be hard to treat the root of the issues.
Disruption: A chronic disease condition arises.
To demonstrate the way in which the stages of disease operate, imagine a pot of water on a stove burner. As the water sits on the burner, it begins to boil (accumulation). If the heat is not turned down, the water may boil over (aggravation). As the water flows over the edge of the pot, it spreads all over the stove (dissemination). The water finds the lowest point on the stove and begins to collect there (localization). If left standing for a long period, the water will begin to rust and erode the stovetop (manifestation). Over time the water may actually render the stovetop inoperable (disruption). This same process can take place in the human body. Build up in the body left untreated may, in time, wreak havoc. For example, gurgling in stomach after eating (accumulation) may turn into bloating (aggravation). Constipation could then ensue (dissemination) followed by intestinal permeability (localization). If left untreated, undigested food particles may leak through the permeable intestines and flood the bloodstream, creating chronic inflammation,perhaps in the form of arthritis (manifestation). The untreated inflammation could cause the body to attack itself and create an autoimmune disease (disruption). This is one way disease could build up in the body as an example.
This is why Ayurveda focuses on fixing the root of diseases not just the end symptoms or disease. Through diet, lifestyle, and herbs we can stop disease when they begin at accumulation and aggravation.