Ayurvedic medicine doctrine described the body as having a system of canals radiating outward from the navel to all parts of the body, which carried “rasos” (vital juices). Besides blood, the vital juices included “oyas” (fiery vital juices created by the heart).
History of ayurvedic medicine
Ayurvedic medicine discipline developed in India from approximately 3000 B.C. to 977 A.D. The initial impetus may have been the conquest of India by Aryan tribes who brought with them medical knowledge such as catheterization of wounds.
However, a highly developed civilization already existed in India at the time. The interaction of the two cultures sparked a period of great creativity and interest in medicine.
Cultural beliefs of ayurvedic medicine included a belief in a world spirit, the Brahma, and a belief in reincarnation. All living things had souls and could be reincarnated into higher or lower forms, depending on their karma (whether they had been good or evil in their previous life). Karma was inescapable, but good karma could be generated by prayer, sacrifice and good deeds. Bad karma was sometimes punished in life by Vedic gods such as Rudra, who caused pain, and Agni, who caused fever.
How Ayurvedic medicine make a diagnosis
Ayurvedic medicine divided illnesses into the specializations of internal ayurvedic medicine, ayurvedic surgery, head and neck diseases, ayurvedic toxicology, seizures caused by evil spirits or mental illness, ayurvedic pediatrics, ayurvedic geriatric and ayurvedic aphrodisiacs.
Ayurvedic physicians took their patients’ pulses and examined their urine and feces. They tended to be concerned with the functioning of the patient’s whole body rather than focusing on a single organ or disease condition.
Reflecting the importance of Yogic philosophy which focuses on the breath. Ayurvedic medicine also placed importance on “winds” breathed into the body. The five types of winds energized and drove all the body’s functions, including the processing of food, production of speech, movement of arms and legs, and elimination from the body (including childbirth). When the winds failed, bad juices called “dosas” filled the body and caused illness.
Knowing better the ayurvedic medicine treatment
Ayurvedic physicians had an extensive repertoire of drugs and herbal medications in addition to surgical methodologies such as:
- cataract surgery,
- cosmetic surgery (recreating noses using skin from the cheek),
- lithotomy (bladder surgery),
- abdominal surgery (for which they used the mandibles of ants to clamp the incision shut).
In addition, patients were given advice regarding diet from the extensive ayurvedic medicine materia medica which covered not only plants and minerals but the healing properties of foods including different types of rice, corn, fish, meat, fruits, vegetables, and even different types of water.
The Ayurvedic physicians also utilized the urine (mutra) of different animals such as: cows, goats, sheep, buffalo, elephants and horses. Each of which was prescribed for treating specific illnesses.
Ayurvedic medicine Materia Medica and Important Texts
The oldest text of Ayurvedic medicine materia medica, the Rasa Vaisesika, dates back to approximately the 5th century A.D.
Other important Ayurvedic medicine medical texts included the Atharvaveda, the Charaka Samhita and the Susruta Samhita.
The Ayurvedic physicians made use of an extensive collection of medications and herbs. Some of ayurvedic medicines, such as the famous plant called “soma,” are no longer in existence today.
Plants and minerals were collected and tested and their effects meticulously described. For example, gold, when processed correctly, was considered an aphrodisiac with curative properties for eyes, skin, and aging. Tin was considered good for parasitic infections, anemia and asthma.
The Ayurvedic medicine materia medica also utilized milk from goats, sheep, camel, buffalo and elephants, ascribing special curative qualities to each. Curative effects of different types of foods, diets, and even different types of water were also described in Ayurvedic medicine texts.
Bibliography about what is Ayurvedic medicine
- Dash, Vaidya Bhagwan and Vaidya Lalitesh Kashyap, Materia Medica of Ayurveda. Based on the Saukhyam of Todarananda. New Delhi : Concept Publishing Inc., 1980.
- Thorwald, Jugen, Science and the Secrets of Early Medicine : Egypt – Mesopotamia – India – China – Mexico – Peru. Translated by Richard and Clara Winston. New York : Harcourt Brace and World Inc., 1963.