Ayurveda or ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to the Indian subcontinent and a form of alternative medicine. The oldest known ayurvedic texts are the Suśruta Saṃhitā and the Charaka Saṃhitā. These Classical Sanskrit encyclopedias of medicine are among the foundational and formally compiled works of ayurveda.
By the medieval period, ayurvedic practitioners developed a number of medicinal preparations and surgical procedures for the treatment of various ailments. Current practices derived from ayurvedic medicine are regarded as part of complementary and alternative medicine, and, along with siddha and Traditional Chinese medicine, form the basis for systems medicine.
Today, Ayurveda is at the forefront of mind-body medicines. Ayurveda has spread far beyond its traditional base and is gaining attention throughout the world. Ayurveda with its understanding of life and consciousness becomes the medicine of the future.
Ayurveda literally means knowledge of life. Its basic principles are believed to be remembered by Brahma, the Creator himself. This wisdom in turn was handed down through mythological figures to the great seers. The written text of Ayurveda date back to many millennia and the incredibly complex and advanced concepts that embody them still form the basis of various medical systems of today. As a science of life Ayurveda attempts to set out good and bad practices of life by outlining the cause of happy and unhappy life. It also elaborates guidelines for providing a balance to often hectic and unhealthy lifestyles of modern world.
Ayurveda mainly comprises of eight clinical specialties. They are: - General medicine ( Kaaya cikitsaa), Pediatrics (Baala cikitsaa), Psychiatry (Bhoota vidyaa), Treatment of head and neck (S`aalakya tantra), Surgery (S`alya tantra), Toxicology (Agada tantra), Rejuvenation therapy (Rasayana tantra) and Reproductive medicine (Vajeekarana cikitsaa).
Rasaayana and vajeekarana therapies have special relevance in the modern era. As the life has been polluted and distorted in the sphere of our daily existence every natural blessings are far away from us. The line of treatment proposed as Rasaayana finds a favorable viable solution to health problems especially from a psychosomatic perspective. It cleanses the body totally, regains the active mind to its best possible working level, giving a feeling of rejuvenation. One may easily surrender oneself to the exotic divinity of the treatment.
Vajeekarana therapy is an important treatment to pull out the latent energy to create a new lineage of life. The medicines of Ayurveda touches strongly to alleviate the existing or possible hindrances whether rooted in the mind or body.
Ayurveda paved the way for surgical innovations including organ transplantation. Classical ayurvedic treatises provide us authentic descriptions of operative surgery and of the blunt and sharp instruments used for it. Sus`ruta, the author of Sus`ruta samhitaa, is hailed as the father of plastic surgery. His compendium stresses the need of keenness and observation to carry out various procedures on human body.
Caraka Samhitaa, Sus`ruta Samhitaa, Asht`aan'ga sangraha and Asht`aan'ga Hr`daya are renowned Ayurvedic treatises. Madhava Nidaana, Bhaavaprakaas`a, S`aarn'gadhara Samhitaa etc. also command popularity among physicians. Of these Maadhava Nidaana is a handbook of pathology while all the others are encyclopedic works on medicine and surgery. Books like Cakradatta, Yoga Ratnaakara and Bhaishajya Ratnavali are mainly books dealing exclusively with therapeutics. All these books are written in Sanskrit and various commentaries and translations of these books are also available. There is an array of books written in vernacular too.
Panchakarma is the essence of Ayurvedic treatment. It became popular due to the magical results it can bring out even on otherwise incurable diseases. Purifying the body and regaining the normal rhythm through a healthy line of treatment stipulated by regimens, that attends on the body as a whole is a rare concept of medication and that is the main strength of Panchakarma. Emesis, Purgation, Oil enema, Decoction enema and Errhines form the five operative procedures of Panchakarma.
India, the land of Ayurveda, strictly adopts a scientific academic method to teach Ayurveda. The Central Council of Indian Medicine, constituted by the Government of India, monitors the quality and standard of Ayurvedic education and practice.
World Health Organisation on Ayurveda
Ayurveda is not only a system of medicine, but also a way of living. It is used to both prevent and cure diseases. The most commonly reported reasons for using traditional and complementary/alternative medicine such as Ayurveda are that it is more affordable, more closely corresponds to the patient's ideology, and is less paternalistic than allopathic medicine. Regardless of why an individual uses it, traditional and complementary/alternative medicine provides an important health care service to persons both with and without geographic or financial access to allopathic medicine.Traditional and complementary/alternative medicine has demonstrated efficacy in areas such as mental health, disease prevention, treatment of non-communicable diseases, and improvement of the quality of life for persons living with chronic diseases as well as for the ageing population. Although further research, clinical trials, and evaluations are needed, traditional and complementary/alternative medicine has shown great potential to meet a broad spectrum of health care needs. In some countries, the legal standing of complementary/alternative medicine is equivalent to that of allopathic medicine, many practitioners are certified in both complementary/alternative medicine and allopathic medicine, and the primary care provider for many patients is a complementary/alternative practitioner.
Legal Status of Traditional Medicine and Complementary/Alternative Medicine:
A Worldwide Review-
World Health Organization 2001 Report .
World Health Organization: Benchmarks for Training in Ayurveda: http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/documents/s17552en/s17552en.pdf