My approach to hormones in ayurveda perspectiveHormones are chemical messengers released from endocrine glands that coordinate the activities of many different cells. Coordination is of multiple organs and systems (srotas) from Central Nervous System to Excretory System. Srotas has been defined as channels in which parinaman and abhivahan takes place. Three factors present in srotas viz: anupahat dhatushma, anupahat marut and anupahat srotas help to maintain sukha ayu, bala varna etc. The coordination between the srotas is brought about by nervous system and endocrine system. Both have the capacity to initiate and inhibit the action thus maintaining the coordination. Nervous system coordinates with help of nerve impulse whereas the endocrine coordinates with the help of hormones which are secreted within the interstitial fluid surrounding the secretory cells which through blood vessels reach the target organs where they carry-out the initiatory or inhibitory action.
Hormone release in the hypothalamus and pituitary is regulated by numerous stimuli and through feedback control by hormones produced by the target glands (thyroid, adrenal cortex and gonads). These integrated endocrine systems are called ‘axes.’ Caraka has explained integration (deham tantrayate samyak) with the help of vata and its five types. Although mulasthan of 5 types of vata have been explained at different sites in the body all are interrelated i.e. the reason why paraspara avaran has been mentioned.
A stressor is a chemical or biological agent, environmental condition, external stimulus or an event that causes stress to an organism. Stressors have physical, chemical and mental responses inside of the body. Physical stressors produce mechanical stresses on skin, bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves that cause tissue deformation and in extreme cases tissue failure. Chemical stresses also produce biomechanical responses associated with metabolism and tissue repair. Stressor stimulates the hypothalamus. Astangsangrahakar has mention dhi, dhriti, smriti, mano bhodhan as karma of udan i.e. to analyze the situation, for eg. If snake is far away from the body there is no fight or flight situation whereas if it is next to the body there is sudden fight or flight condition. It means udan vayu helps mana to get avabhodhan of the surrounding. It can be compared with analyzing the feedback signal received from various body organs and systems. The situation is analyzed and signal is sent to hypothalamus where pran vayu takes the decision for inhibitory or initiative action to be taken this is understood by the dharan karma of budhi and chitta i.e. mana. Hypothalamus secretes the corticotropin release factor (crf) which stimulates the pituitary gland to release adrenocorticotropic hormone ("ACTH"). Udan vayu by its prayatna and urja karma helps in the secretion. The release factor "ACTH" is taken to adrenal cortex with the help of vyan vayu. Vyan vayu is said to be shigrakari or fast acting i.e. within fraction of seconds ACTH reaches the adrenal cortex. Adrenal Cortex secretes various stress hormones which is stimulated by saman vayu. Mulasthan of saman vayu is in sweda, dosha, ambhuvaha srotas, it signals for the saman anayati karma i.e. to maintain homeostasis thereby releasing the hormones in blood stream. The stress hormone released in blood is again taken by vyan vayu to various organs like heart, intestine etc. to cause the flight-or-fight response. After the response the apan vayu comes into action to excrete the hormones and neutralized the effect.
Between this flow there is an alternate path that can be taken after the stressor is transferred to the hypothalamus (udan and pran karma), which leads to the sympathetic nervous system (vyan vayu). After which, the adrenal medulla secretes epinephrine (saman vayu) in blood and with the help of vyan vayu spreads throughout the body to cause the flight or fight response.
Prof. Dr. Satyendra Narayan Ojha ,
MD (KC), Ph.D.
Director , Yashawant ayurveda college , Post graduate teaching and research center ,
Kodoli ,Panhala , Kolhapur..