Theory of pain in traditional Indian medicine

Thousands of years old, Kalari Chikitsa and Ayurveda are traditional Indian medicine systems.

Traditional Indian medicine gives a guide for how pain manifests in your body, and how it can make you more susceptible to injuries.

As well as looking at the location of pain and cause of injury, traditional Indian medicine regards the type of pain you are suffering from. It classifies pain according to the balance of the Doshas, presence of Ama and state of Marma.

Pain caused by aggravated Doshas

According to Traditional Indian Medicine, your body is a manifestation of the five basic elements; Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. These elements come together in certain patterns known as Doshas.

Each Dosha has a primary function in the body:

Vata (Air and Ether)

Regulates movement and communication and relates to the nervous system.

Pitta (Fire and Water)

Regulates heat and digestion and relates to metabolism.

Kapha (Earth and Water)

Responsible for stability and moisture and relates to the structure of the body.

To maintain good health, these forces must be balanced within your body. It’s when one or more of these Doshas are out of balance that you can feel pain. In Ayurveda and Kalari Chikitsa, we balance the Doshas to prevent and treat pain.

There is no pain without Vata.
There is no inflammation without Pitta.
There is no stagnation without Kapha.

Though there can be more than one Dosha involved, Vata Dosha is always present when you’re in pain. As Vata is the controller of movement, it is responsible for moving Pitta and Kapha too.

The nature of pain when a Dosha is out of balance can be classified as:

Vata pain

  • Pain is throbbing, radiating with stiffness.
  • Pain is fluctuating and moves around the body.
  • Feels worse in cold, dry or windy weather.
  • Cold food and drinks exasperate the problem.

Pitta pain

  • Pain includes inflammation, swelling, redness and burning.
  • Pain is often sharp and precise.
  • Most common immediately following an injury due to the initial inflammation.
  • Feels worse in hot or humid weather.
  • Hot food and drinks, coffee and alcohol exasperate the problem.

Kapha pain

  • Pain is dull, constant, deep and lingering.
  • Swelling due to edema or water retention.
  • Feels worse in cold and wet weather.
  • A diet high in processed foods, wheat and dairy exasperate the problem.

The reason your Doshas go out of balance in the first place can be due to the presence of Ama (toxins) in the body.

Chronic pain caused by the build up of Ama (toxins)

According to Traditional Indian Medicine, the accumulation of toxins is a primary cause of chronic pain.

Poor diet, digestion and elimination can lead to the build-up of toxins in tissues. Toxins can then block the channels of circulation to affected areas, reducing the natural cleansing processes of the body and allowing more impurities to accumulate in the tissues.

These toxins become lodged inside the body and may remain there for many years. This gradually leads to stiffness in your body and finally to the onset of pain.

Ayurveda and Kalari Chikitsa can cleanse the body of toxins and impurities that are creating the imbalance at the basis of your condition.

Pain caused by injury to Marma

Marma (pressure points) are the vital energy points located throughout the body. They are often located at junction points, where two or more types of tissue meet such as muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, ligaments or bones.

If a Marma point is injured, the Doshas become unbalanced which can result in disease, pain and discomfort. Identifying and treating the injured Marma points brings the Doshas back into balance restoring the flow of energy in the body. This has the effect of boosting the body’s healing capacity.

Treatments for Marma injuries are a specialty of Kalari Chikitsa which was originally developed to heal the battle injuries of Kerala’s warriors. In this tradition, one must know how to harm a Marma to be able to heal it with a counter-application.

For more information about Kalari Chikitsa and Ayurveda for pain and injury management, see our treatments page or

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Kalari Ayurveda Centre provides the traditional Indian healing systems of Ayurveda and Kalari Chikitsa with experience, expertise and an emphasis on tradition.



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