Ayurvedic Medicine

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Transcript Ayurvedic Medicine

Ayurvedic Medicine
Eileen Ethier
• Broad system of medical doctrine and
• Preventative and Curative Aspects
• Advice on aspects of daily life
– Cleaning teeth
– Diet
– Exercise and regimen
• Ayurveda can be translated from
Sanskrit as the “knowledge or science
of life.”
• It is called ‘ayurveda’ because it tells us
(vedayati) which substances,qualities,
and actions are life enhancing and
(aursuya) which are not.
• Ayurvedic medicine focuses on
achieving optimal health through the
integration of mind and body with nature
• Designed for the needs of each
individual and include:
• yoga, meditation & breathing exercises
• diet
• internal cleansings
• herbal preparations
• aromatherapy
• massage
Practitioners are also familiar with:
Gem therapy
Sound therapy
Color therapy
• Ayurveda is possibly the oldest medical
system in the world
• It originated in the Indus River Valley
approximately 5,000 years ago
Indus Age
Population was nature-oriented
Agriculture provided a stable economy
Trade flourished
Merchant class ruled
Urbanized & sophisticated culture
City-states shared a pictographic script
& system of weights and measures
Indus Age
• Well developed sewage system and
bathing facilities led to sanitary
conditions and literature of the time
reveals a strong emphasis on hygiene
• During this time the wise sages
gathered in the foothills of the
Himalayas and directed their attention
to disease and its consequences for
Indus Age
• They left civilization to gain the peace
and serenity they needed for their group
meditation and to attain the knowledge
they sought
• This is where Ayurveda began
Vedic Age
Early Aryans were semi-nomadic
Kept large herds of cattle
Engaged in agriculture
Religion was nature based
No temples, prayers consisted of
• No awareness of caste
Vedic Age
• People rather than land were
considered the society’s strength
• Warriors ruled society and priests
performed rituals for protection
• The first of the four Vedas, the Rig Veda
was believed to have been composed
during this time
The Vedas
Described the origin of the universe
Described the natural world
Described the human race
Described the social order
Rig Veda
• Collection of more than 1,000 poetic
• Provides the basic concepts for all the
other Vedas
• Contains most aspects of Vedic science
– Yoga
– Meditation
– Mantra
– Ayurveda
Other Vedas
• Sama Veda - puts musical chant to the
Rig Veda hymns
• Yazur Veda - deals with yoga rituals and
sacrifices for purifying the mind and
awakening consciousness
• Atharva Veda - literature containing
chants and incantations to ward off evil,
misfortune, and disease
All Vedas Have Two Parts
• The mantra - consists of prayer and
praise to the Absolute
• The brahmana - a set of detailed
directions to follow in the ceremonies at
which the mantras were used
Other Components of Vedas
• Anranyakas - secret & mystical
explanations of the rituals
• The Upanishads - the basic
philosophical tenets of Ayurveda
Earliest Texts
• Caraka Samhita
– English translation is over 1,000 pages
• Susruta Samhita
– English translation is over 1,700 pages
• Bhela Samhita
– Not yet translated
• The Sanskrit word samhita means
Basic Tenets of Chraka
• Chraka contains classifications of
• Sections related to:
– herbs
– nutrition
– embryology & anatomy
Basic Tenets of Susruta
• Susruta contain descriptive surgical
– eye surgery
– removal of foreign bodies
– plastic surgery on the face
Eight Specialties in the
Internal medicine
Psychological medicine
General & Specialized Surgery
Eugenics and Aphrodisiacs
Indicators of Good Health
• All 3 doshas are in balance
• All bodily tissues are functioning
• All 5 senses are functioning normally
• Normal elimination of waste products
• The channels of the body are
• Perfect harmony of min, body and
consciousnes, individual is happy
• Chraka - Associated with Northwest
• Susruta - Composed in Benares
• Exact date of compositions not known
• May date back to the time of Buddha
(4th century BC)
• Sanskrit texts available today represent
work of the latter Ist millennium AD
• Chraka & Susruta considered
cornerstone texts of Ayurveda
• The texts explicitly state that they have
been edited, supplemented,and partially
rewritten by later authors
• Chraka popular in Northern India
• Susruta popular in Southern India
• Reasons - geographical distribution of
surviving manuscripts, and by the
location of surviving living traditions of
orally transmitted medical literature
Medicines found in Samhitas
• An array of animal vegetable, and
mineral substances
– Animal - the urine, milk, flesh, fat, and
blood of several animals such as horses,
goats, elephants, camels, cows, and sheep
– Plants - the seeds, flowers, fruit, tree bark,
and leaves
– Mineral - various gems, silver, copper, salt,
clay, tin , lead, gold, and sulphur
Chraka Oath of Initiation
• Comparable to Hippocratic Oath
• Rite of Initiation
– live a celibate life
– speak the truth
– eat a vegetarian diet
– total confidentiality of privileged information
– work night & day for relief of his patients
– Be free of envy and never carry firearms
Chraka Oath of Initiation
• Rite of Initiation
– complete subjugation to his teacher, except
where this would be in conflict with higher
ethical values
– never desert or take sexual advantage of
– with hold treatment from enemies of the
king, generally wicked people & women
unattended by husbands or guardians
– visited patients’ homes with an
Theoretical Foundation
• Based on a doctrine of 3 bodily humors
– wind
– bile
– phlegm
• Theory is comparable to Hippocrates
and Galen
• Medicines are mainly herbal
Emphasis on Moderation
Intake of food
Dosage of Medicines
It is important to stay within the limits of
reasonable measure and balance
In Practice
• Diagnostic & practical aspects
depended on through knowledge of
Sanskrit texts
• Memorization of large amounts of
material and verse associated with the 3
• Examining patient and their symptoms
recalled verses that encapsulated the
condition confronting him
In Practice
• These triggered further recollection of
verses and presented a prognosis and
• A wide range of substances,qualities,
and actions offered the Ayurvedic
physician an excellent combination of
freedom to act and structure within
which to exercise choice
In Practice
• To be good at Ayurveda required years
of training
• Required native intelligence and
• Physicians were judged by reputation
• Sanskrit literature contains satrical
passage about ill-qualified practioners
Susruta Samhita & Surgery
• Extensive chapters on surgery
• Describes how surgeons should be
• Tells exactly how to perform operations
• Claims surgery is most effective of 8
branches of medical knowledge
• Little evidence of these practices
persisted beyond the time of the text
Decline of Surgery
• Some may have existed as caste skills,
separated from mainstream Ayurvedic
• Surgical instruments did not survive
• Later literature shows no evidence of
procedures performed by Susruta
• Caste taboos forbidding physical
Decline of Surgery
• Examination of pulse and urine gained
• Massage therapies gained popularity
• Evidence seems to indicate that early
surgical practices were an isolated
The Practice of Ayurveda
• A good physician tries to first discover a
patient’s strengths before looking for
weakness, hoping to use the former to
counteract the later
• All physicians must constantly radiated
curative energy toward their patients
• Faith & hope must be continually
reinforced by physician
• Ayurvedic medicine takes into
consideration the different mind/body
types based on the three doshas within
the body
• Vatta - principle of movement
• Pitta -heat & metabolism
• Kapha - structure & solidity
Ayurvedic Assessment
• Assessment of patient
• Assessment of disease
• Areas examined
– pulse
– site of disease
– digestion
– general metabolism
– eyes & tongue
– tactile response
Other Considerations
Dietary habits
The season
Ayuvedic Practices Forbidden
• Ruling Medieval class forbid Ayurvedic
medical practices
• Alternate systems replaced Ayurveda
• Further declined when Moslems
• Censored by British rulers
• Revitalization when British left
• Maharishi Mahesh Yogi promoted global
Contemporary Ayurveda
• There are 5 leading journals in India
• There are 120 teaching institutes
• There are 246,800 registered Ayurvedic
• There are 4,769 licensed pharmacies
manufacturing Ayurvedic medicines
• On the surface the future seems bright,
Critical Appraisal
• A true revival of Ayurveda is impeded by
Western scientific paradigms which
forces Asian societies to accept modern
science and technology as the
universal, well established system.
Therefore they must legitimate their
practice in terms of Western standards.