When our vital energies are out of balance with our physical constitution for a lengthy period of time, disease can take root and spread. In Ayurvedic philosophy, an imbalance of vital energies (doshas) leads to the accumulation of waste products (ama). Over time, ama moves to areas of the body where we have genetic weaknesses. Once there, it begins the process that culminates with a serious disease.

Ayurveda categorizes the development of disease into six stages, called Kriyakala. Each stage provides an opportunity to halt and possibly reverse the spread of the disease. Naturally, the earlier a disease is detected, the easier it will be to neutralize it.

Sanchaya (accumulation) is the first stage of Kriyakala. Poor diet, negative thoughts and feelings, or an inappropriate lifestyle contribute to the build up of a doshic imbalance. Symptoms are vague and ill defined.

In the Prakopa (aggravation) stage, symptoms increase. The dosha imbalance overflows and the first signs of illness appear.

Prasara (dissemination) marks the spread of the disease to other parts of the body. Because the overflowing dosha (or combination of doshas) is spreading throughout the body, symptoms can occur sporadically and in different areas. This makes it difficult to diagnose the problem with traditional Western methods.

It is in the fourth stage, Sthana Samsraya (relocation), that the morbid dosha takes root in a particular organ and more serious symptoms appear.

By the fifth stage, Vyakti (manifestation), symptoms are fully present and the disease is recognizable.

In the sixth and final stage, Bheda (disruption), the disease has reached its most dangerous level. It may become chronic, incurable, or even cause complications and the development of secondary or tertiary illnesses.

The techniques of Ayurveda permit the Ayurvedic practitioner to detect and treat illness at the earliest stages, long before permanent damage is done. Even in the later stages, however, it is often still possible for Ayurvedic treatment(Panchakarma)to reverse the course of the disease and provide relief.