Ayurvedic medicine is a system
of traditional medicine native to the Indian subcontinent and a form of alternative
medicine. Ayurveda is a discipline of the upaveda or "auxiliary knowledge". It is
treated as a supplement or appendix of the Vedas themselves, usually either the
Rigveda or the Atharvaveda. The samhita of the Atharvaveda itself contains 114 hymns
or incantations for the magical cure of diseases.
There are various legendary
accounts of the "origin of ayurveda", e.g. that the science was received by Dhanvantari
(or Divodasa) from Brahma Tradition also holds that a lost text written by the sage
Agnivesh, a student of the sage Bharadwaja, influenced the writings of ayurveda.
There are three principal early texts on Ayurveda, all dating to the early centuries
of the Common Era. These are the Charaka Samhita, the Sushruta Samhita and the medical
portions of the Bower Manuscript (a.k.a.. the Bheda Samhita). The relative chronology
of these texts is not entirely clear. The Charaka Samhita is often cited as primary;
although it survives in a recension of about the 4th or 5th century, it may be based
on an original written between 100 BCE and 100 CE, which would have predated the
other two texts.
The Sushruta Samhita was written
in the 3rd or 4th century. The Bower Manuscript is of particular interest because
in this case the manuscript itself is ancient, dated to the early 6th century.The
earliest surviving mention of the name Sushruta is from the Bower Manuscript.The
medical portions of the Bower Manuscript constitutes a collection of recipes which
are connected to numerous ancient authorities, and may be based on an older medical
tradition practiced during the Maurya period, antedating both the Charaka and the
Sushruta Samhitas. The Bower Manuscript is also of special interest to historians
due to the presence of Indian medicine and its concepts in Central Asian Buddhism.
A. F. R. Hoernle in his 1897 edition identified the scribe of the medical portions
of the manuscript as a native of India, using a northern variant of the Gupta script,
who had migrated and become a Buddhist monk in a monastery in Kucha. The Chinese
pilgrim Fa Hsien (ca. 337–422 AD) wrote about the health care system of the Gupta
empire (320–550) and described the institutional approach of Indian medicine, also
visible in the works of Charaka, who mentions a clinic and how it should be equipped.
As a traditional medicine,
many ayurveda products have not been tested in rigorous scientific studies and clinical
trials. In India, research in ayurveda is undertaken by the statutory body of the
Central Government, the Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha (CCRAS),
through a national network of research institutes. A systematic review of ayurveda
treatments for rheumatoid arthritis concluded that there was insufficient evidence,
as most of the trials were not done properly, and the one high-quality trial showed
no benefits.A review of ayurveda and cardiovascular disease concluded that the evidence
for ayurveda was not convincing, though some herbs seemed promising. Two varieties
of Salvia have been tested in small trials; one trial provided evidence that Salvia
lavandulifolia (Spanish sage) may improve word recall in young adults,and another
provided evidence that Salvia officinalis (Common sage) may improve symptoms in
Alzheimer's patients.Many plants used as rasayana (rejuvenation) medications are
potent antioxidants.Neem appears to have beneficial pharmacological properties.Turmeric
and curcumin have shown effectiveness in preventing cancer in vitro, however according
to Cancer Research UK, "there is no evidence that Ayurvedic herbal medicines can
prevent, treat or cure cancer in humans"
Treatments in Ayurveda
1. Thalapothichil :
A paste made of embilica officionalis
and other herbs with buttermilk is applied all over the head.This treatment is indicated
for insomnia ,stress relief and certain mental ailments
2. Tarpanam :
Medicated decoction and ghee
are retained around the eyes within a border made of medicated herbal dough.This
is a treatment that strengthens the optical nerves, prevents cataract and gives
a cooling effect to the eyes. Duration: 20 to 30 minutes. Snehapanam In this treatment,
medicated ghee or oil is given internally in gradually increasing quantities for
a period of 8 to 12 days.It is indicated for osteo-arthritis, leukaemia, psoriasis
3. Vasthi :
This is a herbal enema in
which a decoction of oils and medicines is administered through the rectum for evacuation
of the bowels. This is a purgative treatment that is done for a period of 25 days
for patients suffering from arthritis, paralysis, hemiplegia, gastric problems and
4. Pizhichil :
Warm medicated oil is poured
continuously on the person’s body for 45 to 60 minutes.This Dhara is usually done
in four to five postures Indication. Effective for rejuvenation, improving blood
circulation, reducing pain and inflammation. Advised in Paralysis, low back ache,
neck pain and arthritis.
REJUVENATING MASSAGE Abhyangam
means massage. Warm Medicated oil is gently applied all over the body. Then gentle
to moderate pressure with hands and fingers are used for an effective massage. Massage
is done in four to five standard positions. Indication. Advised for pain and stiffness.Boosts
energy levels,rejuvenate and relaxes the muscles. Enhance skin tone,and induces
6. Karaskara Ksheera Dhara:
Karaskara ksheeram - is a
herbal decoction prepared in milk.Warm Karaskara ksheeram is poured in a continuous
stream all over the body. Dhara is usually done in four to five postures. Indication.
Effective treatment to improve peripheral blood circulation, reducing pain, numbness,
burning sensation and inflammation. This line of treatment combined with specific
externally used oils has an added effect for Rheumatoid arthritis, diabetic neuropathy,
eczema and psoriasis.
7. Dhanyamla Dhara:
Dhara is a process of pouring
warm medicated oil or a herbal decoction over the body. Dhanyamlam - is an infusion
(decoction)prepared with some cereals (dhanyam) and acidic fruits like citrus fruits.
Njavara rice, horse gram, millet, sliced citrus fruits, dried ginger etc. The above
prepared decoction (Dhanyamlam) is poured in a continuous stream over the body.
Indication. For rejuvenation, improving blood circulation and in reducing pain and
Udwarthanam is a focus massage
with medicated oil or herbal powder using upward strokes. Indication- To reduce
cellulite, rejuvenate the muscles, to improve the circulation and for fat reduction.
9. Kadee vasthi:
A circular receptacle made
out of black gram dough is fixed on the lower back .Lukewarm medicated oil is slowly
poured in to it. The oil in the receptacle is kept warm by transfering the oil gently
heated in a water bath through out the procedure. Indication- For pain, stiffness,
degenerative changes (osteoarthritis), Sciatica,Disc prolapse and lumbar spine injuries
10. Thakra Dhara:
In thakradhara, medicated
butter milk is poured continuously on the forehead as a continuous stream in between
the temples. Indication -For skin diseases like psoriasis, insomnia, and stress.Helps
to improve concentration.
11. Njavara Kizhi:
involves fomentation of the
body with boluses of specially cooked rice.A particular kind of rice known for its
medicinal and nourishment value is cooked in milk along with suitable herbal decoction).
These boluses are tied up in linen bags as kizhis. Indication. Very effective for
rejuvenation, nourishment.Reduces pain and inflammation. Advised in paralysis, low
back ache, neck pain and arthritis.
In shirodhara, medicated oil
is poured gently on the forehead as a continuous stream in between the temples.
Indication -Insomnia, migraine, fascial palsy, parkinsonism, poor memory,hearing
impairment, tinnitus, vertigo, Ménière's disease and stress. Helps to improve concentration.
of medicated oils or herbal juices (prepared in the form of nasal drops) through
nostrils is termed as Nasyam.This is one of the Pancha karma procedure for detoxification.
Nasyam is advised either in the morning on an empty stomach or in the evening. During
the sessions of Nasyam, shower (bathing of head), exposure to sunlight and dust
should be avoided. Indication - facial paralysis, sinusitis,migraine, Cervical spondylosis
and arthritis. Duration-15 to 20 minutes to complete the procedure.
14. janu vasti:
A circular receptacle made
out of black gram dough is fixed on or behind the knee joint.Lukewarm medicated
oil is slowly poured in to it. The oil in the receptacle is kept warm by transfering
the oil gently heated in a water bath through out the procedure. Indication – For
pain, stiffness, degenerative changes (osteoarthritis), tendon tear, and injury
in the knee joint.
15. Siro Vasthi:
Lukewarm herbal oil is poured
into an open cap fitted on the head for 15 to 60 minutes per day. Indication-This
procedure is advised for facial palsy, migraine, dryness of mouth, throat and nostrils,
insomnia, cervical spondylosis, Parkinson's disease etc. Duration. 7 to 9 days
16. Ela Kizhi:
Minced herbal leaves, coconut
gratings and lemon,are warmed in medicated oil and bundled into boluses in cotton
cloth.These bundles are steamed and the fomentation is patted rhythmically all over
the body for sudation. Indication-Advised in hemiplegia,pain in,neck,back and joints.
45 to 60 minutes session.
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