Ayurveda elaborates a six stage process of disease manifestation called shad kriya kal, in which detection and complication comprise the last two phases. Knowledge of the first four stages is unique to Ayurveda and permits the recognition and elimination of disease long before it progresses into clearly differentiated clinical symptoms. Ama’s toxicity and the dosha’s mobility constitute the key components in the disease process
Unlike the Western view on medical treatments, Ayurvedic treatment already starts in the early stages of the disease and is much more efficient than in a later stage.
Ayurveda distinguishes six stages in the development of a disease:
1- Stages of Accumulation (Sanchaya)
Illness begins in one of the three main dosha sites: stomach (Kapha), small intestine (Pitta), or the colon (Vayu). Excess Kapha in the stomach creates a blockage in the system that leads to lassitude, heaviness, pallor, bloating, and indigestion. Pitta accumulation creates burning sensation, fever, hyperacidity, bitter taste in the mouth, and anger. Excess Vayu created gas, distention, constipation, dryness, fear, fatigue, insomnia, and the desire for warm things. The value of monitoring these experiences within one’s body and mind leads to the earliest detection of an imbalance, while it is still in its hidden or incubatory stages.
2- Stage of Aggravation (Prakop)
As the imbalanced elements (humors) continue to increase, the symptoms mentioned above become more aggravated and will be noticed in other parts of the body as well. Kapha aggravation causes a loss of appetite, indigestion, nausea, excess saliva, heaviness in the heart and head, and over sleeping. The aggravated Pitta experience is one of increased acidity, burning sensation in the abdomen, lowered vitality or insomnia. Vata aggravation results in pain and spasm in the abdomen, gas and rumbling in the bowels, and light headedness.
3- Stage of Migration (Prasar)
Prasar literally means “to leave and spread.” Once the origin site is full with the excess humor, it will begin to overflow into the rest of the body, using different channels of transportation. The path of the overflow begins in the gastro-intestinal tract, then moves into the plasma and blood. Then the humors begin to seep into the organs, dhatus (tissue element), and malas (waste). Simultaneously, the symptoms at the origin site continue to grow worse.
4- Stage of Augmentation (Sthan Samshrya)
This is “taking shelter in a place.” The Doshas (humors) will move to wherever a weak site exists in the body. This is where and when specific disease begin to develop. Healing is still simple, even at this fourth stage of illness.
5- Stage of Manifestation (Vyakta)
Vyakt, “that which can be seen.” This is the first stage of the development of illness for which western science can detect signs of disease. Here, disease become fully developed, showing signs of clinical features. Names are given to imbalances of the humors, such as cancer, bronchitis, arthritis, etc.
6- Stage of Complication (Bheda)
The last stage, Bheda means differentiation. The symptoms become clear enough so that the elemental cause may be determined. While stage five confirms general diagnosis, stage six confirms differential diagnosis. This phase is characterised by severe impairment of dhatus function and serious damage to the shrotas (channels).