Ayurvedic medicine is considered complementary and alternative medicine in the West but in India, where this science evolved more than 5000 years ago, it is also called 'traditional medicine'. The science is based upon the five elements of nature, air, fire, earth, sky (space) and water which are also found in the human body in the form of the three doshas, vata, pitta and kapha. It stresses a balance between these three doshas for a harmonious functioning of the body.
Ayurvedic treatments focus on proper digestion and excretion thus mainitaining a healthy metabolism essential for good health of a person. Yoga, massage and meditation are also included in the treatments of this branch of medicine to bring the mind and soul in unison with the body for ideal health.
There are eight discrete disciplines or Ayurvedic treatment, collectively called the 'ashtangas' or Devangari. These are as follows;
- Eye and ENT (shalakya tantra)
- Pediatrics (kaumarabhrtyam)
- Internal medicine (kaaya-chikitsa)
- Surgery (shalya-chikitsa)
- Toxicology (agadatantram)
- Preventive medicine (rasayana)
- Demonic possession or Psychiatry (bhuta vidya)
- Aphrodisiacs/improving health of progeny (vajikaranam)
For diagnosis of any disease in Ayurveda, the Ayurvedic doctor will prefer to know certain aspects of the patient which are age, body constitution and measurements, physical fitness, digestive capability, mental stability and diet suitability; any abnormality in any of these is noted. He makes use of all his five senses to confirm a diagnosis. He tries to find out how, when and where the disease took its root in the patient; he then checks out the prodromal symptoms of the disease, its full blown picture, its pathological changes and the effects the treatment can have on the patient.
After making the diagnosis, the doctor begins the particular treatment.
Ayurveda stresses on the use of medicinal plants for treatment. There are several such plants noted in Ayurveda having excellent medicinal properties. Some of these are commonly found in homes like cinnamon and cardamom. When required, minerals like sulphur, lead, copper sulphate, arsenic and gold are also used. The use of minerals mixed with herbal plants is called 'rasa shastra'. Some animal products may be utilized in Ayurvedic treatments like the fat, milk, gallstones and bones. Alcohol is used for narcosis during surgery but opium is found to be more effective for it. Tar and oil are used to stop superficial bleeding . For heavier bleeding, methods like ligation or cauterization can be used. Oils are used in many ways e.g. for daily consumption with food, for smearing, anointing, applications to infected areas or for head and body massage.
Yoga and its different postures help in proper circulation of blood in the body and bring peace to the mind.
Meditation focuses on the inner self of the patient bringing about peace and harmony to the mind to which the body naturally adjusts leading to the needed ideal health. It brings about inner awareness due to which the person realizes his own hidden depths and gets encouraged to explore them attaining great creativity and advances in his life which naturally give him happiness of achievement and self worth.
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