Ayurveda (Ayurvedic Medicine)

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Ayurveda is a system of natural healing and a science of prevention and natural cures for various diseases or ailments. It provides some useful tips to live longer and healthier as well. Ayurveda is the most ancient modality of healing systems in the whole world. Ayurvedic ancient texts state about its origin and antiquity. Ayurveda originated with the origin of plants and human beings. Therefore, it is considered the first medicinal modality that has been treated millions of patients since very ancient times. Nowadays, some of ancient textbooks are also available, which seem to be very old. Many scholars say that these books are older than 2000 years and some experts say that these texts might be older than 5000 to 10000 years.

Ayurveda is one of the oldest traditional healing and medical system used in the Indian subcontinent as part of essential medicine since ancient times. Ayurveda master known as Shusrata is considered the father of surgery. Ayurvedic medicine is also recognized by world health organization (WHO) as complementary and alternative medicine. Approximately, 90 percent of Indian people use ayurveda once in their life for treating their diseases. Around 10 billion people all around the world use ayurvedic medicine as home remedy and basic home cure for a number of common diseases, including common cold, cough, stomach pain, constipation, stress, memory loss, general weakness etc.

Ayurveda word was originated from the Sanskrit language, which means the conscience of living happily and healthily. In other words, ayurveda is the science of life. We can divide ayurveda word into two Sanskrit words – Ayur and Veda. Ayur adverts to the life and living. Veda refers to the branch of scientific knowledge or science. [1] In fact, ayurveda is the life science that includes everything that may concern to life, food, dietary habits, balanced nutrition, lifestyle, exercises, yoga, conductive and non-conductive things, health conditions and their treatments.

Definition of Ayurveda

Concisely, Ayurveda is a holistic health science of prevention, prognostics, diagnostics, causes, pathogenesis, diseases and their management or treatment.

Classical definition

“The science that deals with and explain the amicable (or favorable) & hostile (or unfavorable) conditions, pleasance (or happiness) & pain (or unhappiness) in the life and further preventive, conductive (or regime) and nonconductive (or restrictive) measures are provided for these is known as Ayurveda.” [2]

Ayurveda is a holistic system of health science and medicine

Ayurveda is only an ancient science, which had explained health in systematic and biological manners. There are following important points regarding to its contribution to health sciences:

  1. Surgery and surgical techniques such as plastic surgery is originated from ancient text of ayurveda, which is known as Sushruta Samhita.
  2. Ayurveda has provided a systematic description of health, diseases, causes and predisposing factors of diseases.
  3. Moreover, ayurveda is the only first science, which has also described about prognostics (early sign and symptoms of a disease about to happen), diagnostic signs and symptoms of disease, treatments and prevention techniques in details.
  4. There is an ayurvedic branch, which is known as rejuvenation science. It is only science, which believes that diseases can be cured before they occur. However, nowadays, new techniques of vaccination are developed for prevention of various diseases. Ayurveda has developed some natural medicines, which are not only prevent disease but also rejuvenate the body.
  5. Nowadays, ayurveda also treats or manages various diseases, which are declared incurable in other modalities of health sciences including western medicines. Various modern experts have said that sun of ayurveda rises when sun of all modalities of health sciences sets down.
  6. Many people are coming to India for ayurvedic treatment and find a cure for their diseases.

Ayurveda is a complete science

Ayurveda is a system Hindu traditional natural and holistic medicine. Ayurveda is the science and conscience of the life.

The ayurveda system uses the inherent principles of nature and it maintains proper health. It also conserves perfect equilibrium by keeping one’s body, mind and spirit in a harmony with nature.

Ayurveda plays an important role in one’s lifestyle. It guides on how to adjust the lifestyle based on the season change. It helps in keeping the calm, making good decision and improving the overall quality of life.

All sciences have their principles and techniques or formulas. It is also same with ayurvedic science. Ayurvedic science stands on principles of five-element theory, three humors theory and theory of seven body constructional elements. These three theories are same like mathematics and have perfect calculations. However, their mathematics or calculations are based on signs and symptoms related to three bodily humors and other principles.

Ayurvedic science has one unique theory that now can be compared with genetic theory of modern sciences. In this theory, ayurveda is saying that every person is unique and same medicine cannot work for the same disease on each person. We have to understand body constitution, major symptoms related to specific humor or the complexion of involved two or more humors. Then we can decide treatment method or medicines. By this, disease will surely treated safely and effectively.

History & Origin of Ayurveda

The science of ayurveda has been passed over verbally from one generation to the next generation since its origin. The actual time of its origin is unknown, but ayurvedic text and scholars believe that its origin was with the origin of human beings and subsequent progress in traditional and folk medicine led to the development of the Ayurveda as a complete science.

According to the Charaka Samhita, some intelligent scholars were gathered in the Himalayas. They have discussed their thoughts and experiences, thus innovated together the science of Ayurveda. The purpose of development of ayurveda was to have a healthy, long and disease free life.

There is no documentary proof of origin of ayurveda and mythology is given in Charaka Samhita about its origin, which cannot be explained in scientific language. However, ayurvedic science is too effective when all other systems fail to treat the diseases. There is a common quotation about the ayurveda:

“When the sun of the other healing systems sets down, the sun of ayurveda rises”

This quotation also indicates people’s mythology about ayurveda that ayurvedic medicines are only effective in chronic and hopeless diseases, which is not true. Many research studies found ayurveda equally effective in acute diseases as well.

No appropriate documentary reference is available that can provide the exact information about its origin, but some quotes of Ayurveda are found in Rig Veda, so its origin seems to be near about 5000 BC.

Relation of Ayurveda with ancient Vedic texts:

Some scholars believe that ayurveda is a sub part of developed from Atharvaved. Atharvaved is an ancient text in which there are so many ayurvedic preparations and techniques are given. However, one text of Brahma Samhita is missing, which is also the oldest one in which essence of ayurvedic medicine could be found.

Many scholars do not agree with considering ayurveda as a part of Atharvaved. They prefer to consider ayurveda as an independent science. Moreover, as per ancient ayurvedic texts, ayurveda is independent to Vedas. Ayurveda has its own history and antiquity. However, some excerpts of ayurvedic science are also present in all ancient Hindu texts or Vedas. This is just an indication of the presence of ayurvedic science in Vedic Period or before it.

Ayurveda – mother of all healing systems

Ayurveda is the main stream of Indian Medicine concerned with natural healing and healthy lifestyle. It is also reckoned as the mother of all healing systems and come into existence with the origin of human beings. It is developed through experience gained throughout the human history for treating, experimenting and researching various diseases with natural things. In the ancient era, herbs and natural substances were used to cure diseases, especially wounds caused due to any mechanical injury. Other diseases were rare and epidemics were common in which many people were dying. Due to these reasons, many wise people of that time were thinking for a cure. Humans were hunting for food in ancient era and living near to the nature. They found many useful things such as herbs, plants and even animal products that can be used in healing. With the passage of time, human beings were capable to discover many natural measures for treating and curing various diseases. They had tried and experimented many natural things, observed animals how they cure their diseases and developed a natural science of healing and life, which is later on known as ayurveda in Indian subcontinent.

Godliness of ayurveda

Ayurveda is SHASWATA and ANADHI. SHASWATA refers to availability all around the world and ANADHI means originated with the origin of the world and it will only disappear after the disappearance of the world.

However, ancient ayurvedic scholars believe that ayurvedic science came from the gods (BHAWANA). Actually, BHAWANAs are nothing, but just human beings who are blessed with intelligence to discover new things or can switch off and on their mind with the power of meditation techniques. They can use their mind as we switch on and off a bulb. When they need to think they can, but they also keep their mind silent and there are no conflicts and thoughts, so also known as “blessed one”.

Ayurveda originated with gradual progress in human discovery about health. However, written treatises are available for 1000 years about ayurveda.

Ashtang Ayurveda (Eight branches of ayurveda)

Ayurveda has eight branches or disciplines. These eight major branches are collectively known as Ashtang Ayurveda in ayurvedic terminology.

Kaya Chikitsa

Kaya Chikitsa refers to internal medicines or general medicine in ayurveda. It is a major branch of ayurvedic medicine deals with prognosis, diagnosis and treatment.

Sanskrit word Kaya denotes to the body or metabolism in the body and Chikitsa words indicates towards the diagnosis and treatment. It is a main discipline of ayurveda. It includes diagnosis techniques, bio-cleansing or detoxification (Panchakarma), herbs and ayurvedic medicines, so it is a complete health science.

Kaumar Bhritya

Kaumar Bhritya deals with health and diseases of children and obstetrics diseases. It can be divided into two parts as per modern sciences. One is Paediatrics and another is Obstetrics. In ancient times, ayurveda had put these two branches of medical science in a single discipline because both concerned with children.

According to ayurveda, Kaumar means child of age 0 to 16 and Bhritya refers to care and hygiene. Kaumarbhritya is the science that provides preventive and curative measures from the fertilization of eggs to the development and growth of children up to the age of 16. It is the backbone of ayurveda and human sciences. Ayurvedic scholars believe that care during this period is the backbone of the whole life of an individual.

Bhoot Vidya

Bhoot Vidya is the science of mental life, mind and its characteristics. It is the branch of ayurvedic sciences dealing with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. The methods used in Bhoot Vidya are related to correcting emotions, mental beliefs, eradicating illusions and providing calmness to the mind through herbal smokes.

In modern, it can be correlated with Psychiatry, Psychology and psychotherapy.

Shalakya tantra

Shalakya tantra deals with the ear, nose, throat and eye. Therefore, it belongs to Otorhinolaryngology and Ophthalmology, as per modern medical science.

Shalya tantra

Shalya tantra is the branch of ayurvedic science that treats and manages injuries and diseases by operative procedures. It is correlated with modern surgery.

Agad Tantra

Agad Tantra is the branch of ayurvedic pharmacology that deals with the effects and nature and treatment of poisons. It also deals with the laws and principles of medical practice and laws of medical sciences that lead courts to make appropriate decisions. It also includes forensic techniques and scientific tests used in the investigation of crimes.

In modern sciences, Agad tantra relates to the Toxicology, medical jurisprudence and forensic sciences.

Rasayana

Rasayana is the branch of ayurvedic sciences deals with the rejuvenation of the body, prevention from the diseases, and ways for long and healthy life. It includes ayurvedic nutrition, ayurvedic supplements, ayurvedic medicines used in old age for prevention from diseases, detoxification and immunology.

In modern, it can be correlated with dietetics, immunology, geriatrics and preventive and social medicines.

Vajikarana

Vajikarna is the science of aphrodisiacs. It includes aphrodisiacs herbal and ayurvedic medicines for improving physical strength.

Ayurvedic dietetics

For preservation of health, ayurveda recommends diet and food according to the body type, season and health conditions. It is also known as ayurvedic diet therapy. Modern dietetics has been motivated by ayurvedic dietetics for last 2 decades. Nowadays, modern science also understands the importance of food and diet in management of ailments.

Ayurvedic Medicines

Ayurvedic medicines include ayurvedic herbs, ayurvedic herbal formulations, traditional formulations and methods of drug manufacturing. Ayurvedic medicines are categorized as under:

  1. Arista (liquid medicines prepared through the process of fermentation)
  2. Asava (liquid medicines prepared through the process of fermentation)
  3. Bhasma (prepared with techniques of oxidation and calcification)
  4. Churna (Herbal powders or herbal formulations consisting of one or more than one herbs)
  5. Ghrita (Medicated clarified butter or Ghee)
  6. Guda (Medicated sugary preparations)
  7. Guggulu (Guggul is used as a main ingredient)
  8. Gutika (tablets in Kerala ayurveda)
  9. Kasaya (Prepared decoctions uses in Kerala ayurveda)
  10. Kwatha (herbal decoctions)
  11. Lauha (medicine containing oxidized iron as main ingredient)
  12. Lehyam (confections)
  13. Lepa (local application of herbal paste)
  14. Mahlam (ayurvedic ointments)
  15. Pisti (medicines prepared by grinding with rose water or herbal decoction etc)
  16. Rasa (medicine containing metals)
  17. Rasayana (Medicines used for rejuvenation)
  18. Satva (herbal extract)
  19. Taila (Medicated oils)
  20. Vati (traditional ayurvedic tablets)

Oldest Text of Ayurveda

The earliest scripts about ayurveda were written on Bhojapatra and Taalpatra. Therefore, it was difficult to preserve these perishable materials for longer periods. Then people commenced to write ayurvedic verses and scripts on copper sheets and stones. Some scripts of ayurveda were also included in the oldest ancient book named as Atharvaveda. It indicates the origin of ayurveda before the Vedic period.

Charaka Samhita

Ayurveda has been first compiled in the Agnivesha tantra by Agnivesha. The antiquity of this book is considered close to the Vedic period. This book was later on revised by Maharishi Charaka and gained fame on his name. It is now known as Charaka Samhita.

Shusruta Saṃhita

Shusruta Samhita was compiled by Maharishi Shusruta. It is related to the surgical treatment of the diseases. Various instruments used in modern surgery are borrowed from Shusruta Samhita.

References

  1. Sanskrit Dictionary
  2. Charaka Samhita, Sutrasthana, Chapter 1, Verse 41
  3. Shusrata Samhita

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