Skip to main content
Select Source:

Ayurvedic Medicine

Ayurvedic medicine

Definition

Ayurvedic medicine is a system of healing that originated in ancient India. In Sanskrit, ayur means life or living, and veda means knowledge, so Ayurveda has been defined as the "knowledge of living" or the "science of longevity." Ayurvedic medicine utilizes diet, detoxification and purification techniques, herbal and mineral remedies, yoga , breathing exercises, meditation , and massage therapy as holistic healing methods. Ayurvedic medicine is widely practiced in modern India and has been steadily gaining followers in the West.

Origins

Ayurvedic medicine originated in the early civilizations of India some 3,000-5,000 years ago. It is mentioned in the Vedas, the ancient religious and philosophical texts that are the oldest surviving literature in the world, which makes Ayurvedic medicine the oldest surviving healing system. According to the texts, Ayurveda was conceived by enlightened wise men as a system of living harmoniously and maintaining the body so that mental and spiritual awareness could be possible. Medical historians believe that Ayurvedic ideas were transported from ancient India to China and were instrumental in the development of Chinese medicine.

Today, Ayurvedic medicine is used by 80% of the population in India. Aided by the efforts of Deepak Chopra and the Maharishi, it has become an increasingly accepted alternative medical treatment in America

during the last two decades. Chopra is an M.D. who has written several bestsellers based on Ayurvedic ideas. He also helped develop the Center for Mind/Body Medicine in La Jolla, California, a major Ayurvedic center that trains physicians in Ayurvedic principles, produces herbal remedies, and conducts research and documentation of its healing techniques.

Benefits

According to the original texts, the goal of Ayurveda is prevention as well as promotion of the body's own capacity for maintenance and balance. Ayurvedic treatment is non-invasive and non-toxic, so it can be used safely as an alternative therapy or alongside conventional therapies. Ayurvedic physicians claim that their methods can also help stress-related, metabolic, and chronic conditions. Ayurveda has been used to treat acne, allergies, asthma , anxiety, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome , colds, colitis, constipation, depression , diabetes, flu, heart disease, hypertension , immune problems, inflammation, insomnia , nervous disorders, obesity, skin problems, and ulcers.

Ayurvedic physicians seek to discover the roots of a disease before it gets so advanced that more radical treatments

are necessary. Thus, Ayurveda seems to be limited in treating severely advanced conditions, traumatic injuries, acute pain , and conditions and injuries requiring invasive surgery. Ayurvedic techniques have also been used alongside chemotherapy and surgery to assist patients in recovery and healing.

Description

Key ideas

To understand Ayurvedic treatment, it is necessary to have an idea how the Ayurvedic system views the body. The basic life force in the body is prana, which is also found in the elements and is similar to the Chinese notion of chi. As Swami Vishnudevananda, a yogi and expert, put it, "Prana is in the air, but is not the oxygen, nor any of its chemical constituents. It is in food, water, and in the sunlight, yet it is not vitamin, heat, or lightrays. Food, water, air, etc., are only the media through which the prana is carried."

In Ayurveda, there are five basic elements that contain prana: earth, water, fire, air, and ether. These elements interact and are further organized in the human body as three main categories or basic physiological principles in the body that govern all bodily functions known as the doshas. The three doshas are vata, pitta, and kapha. Each person has a unique blend of the three doshas, known as the person's prakriti, which is why Ayurvedic treatment is always individualized. In Ayurveda, disease is viewed as a state of imbalance in one or more of a person's doshas, and an Ayurvedic physician strives to adjust and balance them, using a variety of techniques.

The vata dosha is associated with air and ether, and in the body promotes movement and lightness. Vata people are generally thin and light physically, dry-skinned, and very energetic and mentally restless. When vata is out of balance, there are often nervous problems, hyperactivity, sleeplessness, lower back pains, and headaches.

Pitta is associated with fire and water. In the body, it is responsible for metabolism and digestion. Pitta characteristics are medium-built bodies, fair skin, strong digestion, and good mental concentration. Pitta imbalances show up as anger and aggression and stress-related conditions like gastritis , ulcers, liver problems, and hypertension.

The kapha dosha is associated with water and earth. People characterized as kapha are generally large or heavy with more oily complexions. They tend to be slow, calm, and peaceful. Kapha disorders manifest emotionally as greed and possessiveness, and physically as obesity, fatigue, bronchitis , and sinus problems.

Diagnosis

In Ayurvedic medicine, disease is always seen as an imbalance in the dosha system, so the diagnostic process strives to determine which doshas are underactive or over-active in a body. Diagnosis is often taken over a course of days in order for the Ayurvedic physician to most accurately determine what parts of the body are being affected. To diagnose problems, Ayurvedic physicians often use long questionnaires and interviews to determine a person's dosha patterns and physical and psychological histories. Ayurvedic physicians also intricately observe the pulse, tongue, face, lips, eyes, and fingernails for abnormalities or patterns that they believe can indicate deeper problems in the internal systems. Some Ayurvedic physicians also use laboratory tests to assist in diagnosis.

Treatment

Ayurvedic treatment seeks to re-establish balance and harmony in the body's systems. Usually the first method of

AYURVEDIC BODY TYPES
Vata Pitta Kapha
Physical characteristics Thin Average build Large build
Prominent features Fair, thin hair Wavy, thick hair
Cool, dry skin Warm, moist skin Pale, cool, oily skin
Constipation Ulcers, heartburn, and hemorrhoids Obesity, allergies, and sinus problems
Cramps Acne High cholesterol
Emotional characteristics Moody Intense Relaxed
Vivacious Quick tempered Not easily angered
Imaginative Intelligent Affectionate
Enthusiastic Loving Tolerant
Intuitive Articulate Compassionate
Behavioral characteristics Unscheduled sleep and meal times Orderly Slow, graceful
Nervous disorders Structured sleep and meal times Long sleeper and slow eater
Anxiety Perfectionist Procrastination

treatment involves some sort of detoxification and cleansing of the body, in the belief that accumulated toxins must be removed before any other methods of treatment will be effective. Methods of detoxification include therapeutic vomiting , laxatives, medicated enemas, fasting , and cleansing of the sinuses. Many Ayurvedic clinics combine all of these cleansing methods into intensive sessions known as panchakarma. Panchakarma can take several days or even weeks and they are more than elimination therapies. They also include herbalized oil massage and herbalized heat treatments. After purification, Ayurvedic physicians use herbal and mineral remedies to balance the body as well. Ayurvedic medicine contains a vast knowledge of the use of herbs for specific health problems.

Ayurvedic medicine also emphasizes how people live their lives from day to day, believing that proper lifestyles and routines accentuate balance, rest, diet, and prevention. Ayurveda recommends yoga as a form of exercise to build strength and health, and also advises massage therapy and self-massage as ways of increasing circulation and reducing stress . Yogic breathing techniques and meditation are also part of a healthy Ayurvedic regimen, to reduce stress and improve mental energy.

Of all treatments, though, diet is one of the most basic and widely used therapies in the Ayurvedic system. An Ayurvedic diet can be a very well planned and individualized regimen. According to Ayurveda, there are six basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. Certain tastes and foods can either calm or aggravate a particular dosha. For instance, sweet, sour, and salty decrease vata problems and increase kapha. Sour, salty, and pungent can increase pitta. After an Ayurvedic physician determines a person's dosha profile, he or she will recommend a specific diet to correct imbalances and increase health. The Ayurvedic diet emphasizes primarily vegetarian foods of high quality and freshness, tailored to the season and time of day. Cooling foods are eaten in the summer and heating ones in the winter, always within a person's dosha requirements. In daily routine, the heaviest meal of the day should be lunch, and dinner should be eaten well before bedtime, to allow for complete digestion. Also, eating meals in a calm manner with proper chewing and state of mind is important, as is combining foods properly and avoiding overeating.

Cost

Costs of Ayurvedic treatments can vary, with initial consultations running anywhere from $40 to over $100, with follow-up visits costing less. Herbal treatments may cost from $10 to $50 per month, and are often available from health food or bulk herb stores. Some clinics offer panchakarma, the intensive Ayurvedic detoxification treatment, which can include overnight stays for up to several weeks. The prices for these programs can vary significantly, depending on the services and length of stay. Insurance reimbursement may depend on whether the primary physician is a licensed M.D.

Preparations

Ayurveda is a mind/body system of health that contains some ideas foreign to the Western scientific model. Those people considering Ayurveda should approach it with an open mind and willingness to experiment. Also, because Ayurveda is a whole-body system of healing and health, patience and discipline are helpful, as some conditions and diseases are believed to be brought on by years of bad health habits and require time and effort to correct. Finally, the Ayurvedic philosophy believes that each person has the ability to heal themselves, so those considering Ayurveda should be prepared to bring responsibility and participation into the treatment.

Precautions

An Ayurvedic practitioner should always be consulted, particularly when using herbal preparations. Care should be taken to ensure that a trained practitioner prepares individualized remedies. In 2002, a New York City hospital emergency department cautioned other hospitals when they encountered a case of a patient who came in with severe abdominal pain, occasional vomiting, and eventually seizures. She had suffered severe lead toxicity from an ayurvedic compound.

Side effects

During Ayurvedic detoxification programs, some people report fatigue, muscle soreness, and general sickness. Also, as Ayurveda seeks to release mental stresses and psychological problems from the patient, some people can experience mental disturbances and depression during treatment, and psychological counseling may be part of a sound program.

DEEPAK CHOPRA 1946


Deepak Chopra was born in India and studied medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Science. He left his home for the United States in 1970 and completed residencies in internal medicine and endocrinology. He went on to teaching posts at major medical institutionsTufts University and Boston University schools of medicinewhile establishing a very successful private practice. By the time he was thirty-five, Chopra had become chief of staff at New England Memorial Hospital.

Disturbed by Western medicine's reliance on medication, he began a search for alternatives and discovered one in the teachings of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an Indian spiritualist who had gained a cult following in the late sixties teaching Transcendental Meditation (TM). Chopra began practicing TM fervently and eventually met the Maharishi. In 1985 Chopra established the Ayurvedic Health Center for Stress Management and Behavioral Medicine in Lancaster, Massachusetts, where he began his practice of integrating the best aspects of Eastern and Western medicine.

In 1993, he published Creating Affluence: Wealth Consciousness in the Field of All Possibilities, and the enormously successful best seller, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind. In the latter he presents his most radical thesis: that aging is not the inevitable deterioration of organs and mind that we have been traditionally taught to think of it as. It is a process that can be influenced, slowed down, and even reversed with the correct kinds of therapies, almost all of which are self-administered or self-taught. He teaches that applying a regimen of nutritional balance, meditation, and emotional clarity characterized by such factors as learning to easily and quickly express anger, for instance, can lead to increased lifespans of up to 120 years.

Research & general acceptance

Because Ayurveda had been outside the Western scientific system for years, research in the United States is new. Another difficulty in documentation arises because Ayurvedic treatment is very individualized; two people with the same disease but different dosha patterns might be treated differently. Much more scientific research has been conducted over the past several decades in India. Much research in the United States is being supported by the Maharishi Ayur-Ved organization, which studies the Ayurvedic products it sells and its clinical practices.

In 2002, India took steps to make some of its most important ayurvedic knowledge more widely available. Many outside groups had begun to exploit the ancient holistic practice's remedies and companies were duplicating processes and formulas, but calling them their own. The Indian government appointed a task force in January 2000 to promote and develop traditional medicines and to prevent piracy of the country's traditional medical knowledge. The task force developed a digital library with international and Indian languages describing about 35,000 ayurvedic herbal processes and formulations to cure all kinds of diseases. The library became available in early 2003 on the Internet.

Some Ayurvedic herbal mixtures have been proven to have high antioxidant properties, much stronger than vitamins A, C, and E, and some have also been shown in laboratory tests to reduce or eliminate tumors in mice and to inhibit cancer growth in human lung tumor cells. In a 1987 study at MIT, an Ayurvedic herbal remedy was shown to significantly reduce colon cancer in rats. Another study was performed in the Netherlands with Maharishi Ayur-Ved products. A group of patients with chronic illnesses, including asthma, chronic bronchitis, hypertension, eczema, psoriasis , constipation, rheumatoid arthritis , headaches, and non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus , were given Ayurvedic treatment. Strong results were observed, with nearly 80% of the patients improving and some chronic conditions being completely cured.

Other studies have shown that Ayurvedic therapies can significantly lower cholesterol and blood pressure in stress-related problems. Diabetes, acne, and allergies have also been successfully treated with Ayurvedic remedies. Ayurvedic products have been shown to increase short-term memory and reduce headaches. Also, Ayurvedic remedies have been used successfully to support the healing process of patients undergoing chemotherapy, as these remedies have been demonstrated to increase immune system activity. The herb gotu kola has been reported to relieve anxiety and enhance memory.

Training & certification

In the United States, there is no standardized program for the certification of Ayurvedic practitioners. Many practitioners have primary degrees, either as M.D.s, homeopaths, or naturopathic physicians, with additional training in Ayurveda.

Resources

BOOKS

Gerson, Scott M.D. Ayurveda: The Ancient Indian Healing Art. Boston: Element Books, 1993.

Lad, Dr. Vasant. Ayurveda: The Science of Self-Healing. Wisconsin: Lotus Press, 1984.

Lad, Dr. Vasant. The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies. Minneapolis: Three Rivers Press, 1999.

Tiwari, Maya. Ayurveda: A Life of Balance. Vermont: Healing Arts Press, 1995.

PERIODICALS

"India to Publish Ayurvedic Tracts on the Internet in Six Languages." Nutraceuticals International (May 2002).

Mandile, Maria Noel. "Gotu Kola: This Ayurvedic Herb May Reduce Your Anxiety Without the Side Effects of Drugs." Natural Health (MayJune 2002): 34.

Traub SJ, et al. "85 Lead Toxicity Due to use of an Ayurvedic Compound." Journal of Toxicology: Clinical Toxicology (April 2002): 322.

ORGANIZATIONS

American Institute of Vedic Studiess. P.O. Box 8357, Santa Fe, NM 87504. (505) 983-9385.

Ayurveda Holistic Center. Bayville, Long Island, NY. (516) 759-7731 [email protected] <http://www.Ayurvedahc.com>.

The Ayurvedic Institute. 11311 Menaul, NE Albuquerque, New Mexico 87112. (505) 291-9698. [email protected] <http://www.Ayurveda.com>

Ayurvedic and Naturopathic Medical Clinic. 10025 NE 4th Street, Bellevue, WA 98004. (206) 453-8022.

Bastyr University of Natural Health Sciences. 144 N.E. 54th Street, Seattle, WA 98105. (206) 523-9585.

Center for Mind/Body Medicine. P.O. Box 1048, La Jolla, CA 92038. (619) 794-2425.

The College of Maharishi Ayur-Ved, Maharishi International University. 1000 4th Street, Fairfield, IA 52557. (515) 472-7000.

National Institute of Ayurvedic Medicine. (914) 278-8700. [email protected] <http://www.niam.com>

The Rocky Mountain Institute of Yoga and Ayurveda. P.O. Box 1091, Boulder, CO 80306. (303) 443-6923.

OTHER

"Inside Ayurveda: An Independent Journal of Ayurvedic Health Care." P.O. Box 3021, Quincy, CA 95971. <http://www.insideayurveda.com.>

Douglas Dupler

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ayurvedic Medicine." Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Ayurvedic Medicine." Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 20, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ayurvedic-medicine

"Ayurvedic Medicine." Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. . Retrieved September 20, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ayurvedic-medicine

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Ayurvedic Medicine

Ayurvedic Medicine

Definition

Ayurvedic medicine is a system of healing that originated in ancient India. In Sanskrit, ayur means life or living, and veda means knowledge, so Ayurveda has been defined as the "knowledge of living" or the "science of longevity." Ayurvedic medicine utilizes diet, detoxification and purification techniques, herbal and mineral remedies, yoga, breathing exercises, meditation, and massage therapy as holistic healing methods. Ayurvedic medicine is widely practiced in modern India and has been steadily gaining followers in the West.

Purpose

According to the original texts, the goal of Ayurveda is prevention as well as promotion of the body's own capacity for maintenance and balance. Ayurvedic treatment is non-invasive and non-toxic, so it can be used safely as an alternative therapy or along-side conventional therapies. Ayurvedic physicians claim that their methods can also help stress-related, metabolic, and chronic conditions. Ayurveda has been used to treat acne, allergies, asthma, anxiety, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, colds, colitis, constipation, depression, diabetes, flu, heart disease, hypertension, immune problems, inflammation, insomnia, nervous disorders, obesity, skin problems, and ulcers.

Ayurvedic physicians seek to discover the roots of a disease before it gets so advanced that more radical treatments are necessary. Thus, Ayurveda seems to be limited in treating severely advanced conditions, traumatic injuries, acute pain, and conditions and injuries requiring invasive surgery. Ayurvedic techniques have also been used alongside chemotherapy and surgery to assist patients in recovery and healing.

Description

Origins

Ayurvedic medicine originated in the early civilizations of India some 3,000-5,000 years ago. It is mentioned in the Vedas, the ancient religious and philosophical texts that are the oldest surviving literature in the world, which makes Ayurvedic medicine the oldest surviving healing system. According to the texts, Ayurveda was conceived by enlightened wise men as a system of living harmoniously and maintaining the body so that mental and spiritual awareness could be possible. Medical historians believe that Ayurvedic ideas were transported from ancient India to China and were instrumental in the development of Chinese medicine.

Today, Ayurvedic medicine is used by 80% of the population in India. Aided by the efforts of Deepak Chopra and the Maharishi, it has become an increasingly accepted alternative medical treatment in America during the last two decades. Chopra is an M.D. who has written several bestsellers based on Ayurvedic ideas. He also helped develop the Center for Mind/Body Medicine in La Jolla, California, a major Ayurvedic center that trains physicians in Ayurvedic principles, produces herbal remedies, and conducts research and documentation of its healing techniques.

Key ideas

To understand Ayurvedic treatment, it is necessary to have an idea how the Ayurvedic system views the body. The basic life force in the body is prana, which is also found in the elements and is similar to the Chinese notion of chi. As Swami Vishnudevananda, a yogi and expert, put it, "Prana is in the air, but is not the oxygen, nor any of its chemical constituents. It is in food, water, and in the sunlight, yet it is not vitamin, heat, or light-rays. Food, water, air, etc., are only the media through which the prana is carried."

In Ayurveda, there are five basic elements that contain prana: earth, water, fire, air, and ether. These elements interact and are further organized in the human body as three main categories or basic physiological principles in the body that govern all bodily functions known as the doshas. The three doshas are vata, pitta, and kapha. Each person has a unique blend of the three doshas, known as the person's prakriti, which is why Ayurvedic treatment is always individualized. In Ayurveda, disease is viewed as a state of imbalance in one or more of a person's doshas, and an Ayurvedic physician strives to adjust and balance them, using a variety of techniques.

DEEPAK CHOPRA (1946)

Deepak Chopra was born in India and studied medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Science. He left his home for the United States in 1970 and completed residencies in internal medicine and endocrinology. He went on to teaching posts at major medical institutionsTufts University and Boston University schools of medicinewhile establishing a very successful private practice. By the time he was thirty-five, Chopra had become chief of staff at New England Memorial Hospital.

Disturbed by Western medicine's reliance on medication, he began a search for alternatives and discovered one in the teachings of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an Indian spiritualist who had gained a cult following in the late sixties teaching Transcendental Meditation (TM). Chopra began practicing TM fervently and eventually met the Maharishi. In 1985 Chopra established the Ayurvedic Health Center for Stress Management and Behavioral Medicine in Lancaster, Massachusetts, where he began his practice of integrating the best aspects of Eastern and Western medicine.

In 1993, he published Creating Affluence: Wealth Consciousness in the Field of All Possibilities, and the enormously successful best seller, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind. In the latter he presents his most radical thesis: that aging is not the inevitable deterioration of organs and mind that we have been traditionally taught to think of it as. It is a process that can be influenced, slowed down, and even reversed with the correct kinds of therapies, almost all of which are self-administered or self-taught. He teaches that applying a regimen of nutritional balance, meditation, and emotional clarity characterized by such factors as learning to easily and quickly express anger, for instance, can lead to increased lifespans of up to 120 years.

The vata dosha is associated with air and ether, and in the body promotes movement and lightness. Vata people are generally thin and light physically, dry-skinned, and very energetic and mentally restless. When vata is out of balance, there are often nervous problems, hyperactivity, sleeplessness, lower back pains, and headaches.

Ayurvedic Body Types
Vata Pitta Kapha
Physical
characteristics
Thin.
Prominent
features.
Cool, dry
skin.
Constipation.
Cramps.
Average
build. Fair,
thin hair.
Warm, moist
skin. Ulcers,
heartburn,
and hemor-
rhoids. Acne.
Large build.
Wavy, thick
hair. Pale, cool,
oily skin.
Obesity, aller-
gies, and sinus
problems. High
cholesterol.
Emotional
characteristics
Moody.
Vivacious.
Imaginative.
Enthusiastic.
Intuitive.
Intense.
Quick tem-
pered.
Intelligent.
Loving.
Articulate.
Relaxed. Not
easily angered.
Affectionate.
Tolerant.
Compassionate.
Behavioral
characteristics
Unscheduled
sleep and
meal times.
Nervous dis-
orders.
Anxiety.
Orderly.
Structured
sleep and
meal times.
Perfectionist.
Slow, graceful.
Long sleeper
and slow eater.
Procrastination.

Pitta is associated with fire and water. In the body, it is responsible for metabolism and digestion. Pitta characteristics are medium-built bodies, fair skin, strong digestion, and good mental concentration. Pitta imbalances show up as anger and aggression and stress-related conditions like gastritis, ulcers, liver problems, and hypertension.

The kapha dosha is associated with water and earth. People characterized as kapha are generally large or heavy with more oily complexions. They tend to be slow, calm, and peaceful. Kapha disorders manifest emotionally as greed and possessiveness, and physically as obesity, fatigue, bronchitis, and sinus problems.

Diagnosis

In Ayurvedic medicine, disease is always seen as an imbalance in the dosha system, so the diagnostic process strives to determine which doshas are underactive or overactive in a body. Diagnosis is often taken over a course of days in order for the Ayurvedic physician to most accurately determine what parts of the body are being affected. To diagnose problems, Ayurvedic physicians often use long questionnaires and interviews to determine a person's dosha patterns and physical and psychological histories. Ayurvedic physicians also intricately observe the pulse, tongue, face, lips, eyes, and fingernails for abnormalities or patterns that they believe can indicate deeper problems in the internal systems. Some Ayurvedic physicians also use laboratory tests to assist in diagnosis.

Treatment

Ayurvedic treatment seeks to re-establish balance and harmony in the body's systems. Usually the first method of treatment involves some sort of detoxification and cleansing of the body, in the belief that accumulated toxins must be removed before any other methods of treatment will be effective. Methods of detoxification include therapeutic vomiting, laxatives, medicated enemas, fasting, and cleansing of the sinuses. Many Ayurvedic clinics combine all of these cleansing methods into intensive sessions known as panchakarma. Panchakarma can take several days or even weeks and they are more than elimination therapies. They also include herbalized oil massage and herbalized heat treatments. After purification, Ayurvedic physicians use herbal and mineral remedies to balance the body as well. Ayurvedic medicine contains a vast knowledge of the use of herbs for specific health problems.

KEY TERMS

Dosha One of three constitutional types, either vata, pitta, or kapha, found in Ayurvedic medicine.

Meditation Technique of calming the mind.

Panchakarma Intensive Ayurvedic cleansing and detoxification program.

Prakriti An individual's unique dosha pattern.

Prana Basic life energy found in the elements.

Yoga System of body and breathing exercises.

Ayurvedic medicine also emphasizes how people live their lives from day to day, believing that proper lifestyles and routines accentuate balance, rest, diet, and prevention. Ayurveda recommends yoga as a form of exercise to build strength and health, and also advises massage therapy and self-massage as ways of increasing circulation and reducing stress. Yogic breathing techniques and meditation are also part of a healthy Ayurvedic regimen, to reduce stress and improve mental energy.

Of all treatments, though, diet is one of the most basic and widely used therapy in the Ayurvedic system. An Ayurvedic diet can be a very well planned and individualized regimen. According to Ayurveda, there are six basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. Certain tastes and foods can either calm or aggravate a particular dosha. For instance, sweet, sour, and salty decrease vata problems and increase kapha. Sour, salty, and pungent can increase pitta. After an Ayurvedic physician determines a person's dosha profile, they will recommend a specific diet to correct imbalances and increase health. The Ayurvedic diet emphasizes primarily vegetarian foods of high quality and freshness, tailored to the season and time of day. Cooling foods are eaten in the summer and heating ones in the winter, always within a person's dosha requirements. In daily routine, the heaviest meal of the day should be lunch, and dinner should eaten well before bedtime, to allow for complete digestion. Also, eating meals in a calm manner with proper chewing and state of mind is important, as is combining foods properly and avoiding overeating.

Cost

Costs of Ayurvedic treatments can vary, with initial consultations running anywhere from $40 to over $100, with follow-up visits costing less. Herbal treatments may cost from $10 to $50 per month, and are often available from health food or bulk herb stores. Some clinics offer panchakarma, the intensive Ayurvedic detoxification treatment, which can include overnight stays for up to several weeks. The prices for these programs can vary significantly, depending on the services and length of stay. Insurance reimbursement may depend on whether the primary physician is a licensed M.D.

Preparations

Ayurveda is a mind/body system of health that contains some ideas foreign to the Western scientific model. Those people considering Ayurveda should approach it with an open mind and willingness to experiment. Also, because Ayurveda is a whole-body system of healing and health, patience and discipline are helpful, as some conditions and diseases are believed to be brought on by years of bad health habits and require time and effort to correct. Finally, the Ayurvedic philosophy believes that each person has the ability to heal themselves, so those considering Ayurveda should be prepared to bring responsibility and participation into the treatment.

Precautions

An Ayurvedic practitioner should always be consulted.

Side effects

During Ayurvedic detoxification programs, some people report fatigue, muscle soreness, and general sickness. Also, as Ayurveda seeks to release mental stresses and psychological problems from the patient, some people can experience mental disturbances and depression during treatment, and psychological counseling may be part of a sound program.

Research and general acceptance

Because Ayurveda had been outside the Western scientific system for years, research in the United States is new. Another difficulty in documentation arises because Ayurvedic treatment is very individualized; two people with the same disease but different dosha patterns might be treated differently. Much more scientific research has been conducted over the past several decades in India. Much research in the United States is being supported by the Maharishi Ayur-Ved organization, which studies the Ayurvedic products it sells and its clinical practices.

Some Ayurvedic herbal mixtures have been proven to have high antioxidant properties, much stronger than vitamins A, C, and E, and some have also been shown in laboratory tests to reduce or eliminate tumors in mice and to inhibit cancer growth in human lung tumor cells. In a 1987 study at MIT, an Ayurvedic herbal remedy was shown to significantly reduce colon cancer in rats. Another study was performed in the Netherlands with Maharishi Ayur-Ved products. A group of patients with chronic illnesses, including asthma, chronic bronchitis, hypertension, eczema, psoriasis, constipation, rheumatoid arthritis, headaches, and non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, were given Ayurvedic treatment. Strong results were observed, with nearly 80% of the patients improving and some chronic conditions being completely cured.

Other studies have shown that Ayurvedic therapies can significantly lower cholesterol and blood pressure in stress-related problems. Diabetes, acne, and allergies have also been successfully treated with Ayurvedic remedies. Ayurvedic products have been shown to increase short-term memory and reduce headaches. Also, Ayurvedic remedies have been used successfully to support the healing process of patients undergoing chemotherapy, as these remedies have been demonstrated to increase immune system activity.

Resources

BOOKS

Lad, Dr. Vasant. The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies. Minneapolis: Three Rivers Press, 1999.

ORGANIZATIONS

American Institute of Vedic Studies. P.O. Box 8357, Santa Fe, NM 87504. (505) 983-9385

Ayurveda Holistic Center. Bayville, Long Island, NY. (516)759-7731 [email protected] http://www.Ayurvedahc.com.

Ayurvedic and Naturopathic Medical Clinic. 10025 NE 4th Street, Bellevue, WA 98004. (206)453-8022.

Ayurvedic Institute. 11311 Menaul, NE Albuquerque, New Mexico 87112. (505) 291-9698. [email protected] http://www.Ayurveda.com.

Bastyr University of Natural Health Sciences. 144 N.E. 54th Street, Seattle, WA 98105. (206) 523-9585.

Center for Mind/Body Medicine. P.O. Box 1048, La Jolla, CA 92038. (619)794-2425.

College of Maharishi Ayur-Ved, Maharishi International University. 1000 4th Street, Fairfield, IA 52557. (515) 472-7000.

National Institute of Ayurvedic Medicine. (914) 278-8700. [email protected] http://www.niam.com.

Rocky Mountain Institute of Yoga and Ayurveda. P.O. Box 1091, Boulder, CO 80306. (303) 443-6923.

OTHER

"Inside Ayurveda: An Independent Journal of Ayurvedic Health Care." P.O. Box 3021, Quincy, CA 95971. http://www.insideayurveda.com.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ayurvedic Medicine." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Ayurvedic Medicine." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 20, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ayurvedic-medicine-0

"Ayurvedic Medicine." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Retrieved September 20, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ayurvedic-medicine-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Ayurveda

Ayurveda the traditional Hindu system of medicine, which is based on the idea of balance in bodily systems and uses diet, herbal treatment, and yogic breathing.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ayurveda." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Ayurveda." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 20, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ayurveda

"Ayurveda." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved September 20, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ayurveda

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Ayurveda

Ayurveda System of medicine practised by the ancient Hindus and derived from the Vedas. It is still practised in India.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ayurveda." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Ayurveda." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 20, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ayurveda

"Ayurveda." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved September 20, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ayurveda

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Ayurveda

ĀYURVEDA

ĀYURVEDA Āyurveda, the Vedic system of medicine, views health as harmony between body, mind, and spirit. Its two most famous texts belong to the schools of Charaka and Sushruta. According to Charaka, health and disease are not predetermined, and life may be prolonged by human effort. Sushruta defines the purpose of medicine as curing the diseases of the sick, protecting the healthy, and prolonging life. The beginnings of medicine may be traced to the Rig Veda, since it speaks of the bhishaj, or physician, in connection with setting a broken bone. From other references the bhishaj or vaidya emerges as a healer of disease and an expert in herbs. The twin gods Āshvins are particularly associated with the healing of blindness, lameness, and leprosy. Soma is another healing deity.

According to the Charaka tradition, there existed six schools of medicine, founded by the disciples of the sage Punarvasu Ātreya. Each of these disciples—Agnivesha, Bhela, Jatūkarna, Parāshara, Hārīta, and Kshārapāni—composed a Samhitā. Of these, the one composed by Agnivesha was supposed to be the best. The Agnivesha Samhitā was later revised by Charaka, and it came to be known as Charaka Samhitā. Āyurveda is traditionally divided into eight branches which, in Charaka's scheme, are: sūtra-sthāna, general principles; nidāna-sthāna, pathology; vimāna-sthāna, diagnostics; sharīra-sthāna, physiology and anatomy; indriya-sthāna, prognosis; chikitsā-sthāna, therapeutics; kalpa-sthāna, pharmaceutics; and siddhi-sthāna, successful treatment.

In the Charaka school, the first teacher was Bhāradvāja. In the Sushruta school, the first person to expound Āyurvedic knowledge was Dhanvantari, who then taught it to Divodāsa. The Charaka and Sushruta Samhitās are compendiums of two traditions, rather than texts authored by single authors. A third tradition is that of the Kāshyapas. The beginnings of these traditions must go back to the second millennium b.c., if not earlier, because of the parallel information obtained in the Vedic Samhitās and the description in the Mahābhārata. There is much that is common in the texts, except that the Sushruta Samhitā is richer in the field of surgery. Part of the original Charaka Samhitā is lost, and the current version has several chapters by the Kashmiri scholar Dridhabala.

An attempt to reconcile the texts of Charaka and Sushruta was made by Vāgbhata the Elder in the second century b.c. in his Ashtānga Sangraha. The works of Charaka, Sushruta, and the Elder Vāgbhata are considered canonical and are reverentially called the Vriddha Trayi, "the triad of ancients." Later, Vāgbhata the Younger wrote the Ashtānga Hridaya Samhitā, which is a lucid presentation of the Āyurveda giving due place to the surgical techniques of Sushruta. In the eighth century, Mādhav wrote his Nidāna.

The Principal Ideas

The idea that breath ( prāna) is central to health occurs very early in the Vedic literature. In Āyurveda, which is one of the secondary sciences associated with the Atharva Veda, health is seen as balance of the three doshas, or primary forces of prāna or vāta (air), agni or pitta (fire), and soma or kapha (water). Vāta was taken to represent the principle of motion, development in general, and the functions of the nervous system in particular. Pitta signifies the function of metabolism, including digestion and the formation of blood, and various secretions and excretions that are either the means or the end product of body processes. Kapha represents functions of cooling, preservation, and heat regulation. The imbalance of these elements leads to illness. The predominance of one or the other dosha leads not only to different physiological but also to different psychological types. Just as the body mirrors the entire universe in a recursive fashion, the three doshas are defined recursively within the body.

Each of the doshas is recognized to be of five kinds. Vāta appears as prāna (governing respiration), udāna (for uttering sounds and speaking), samāna (for separating the digested juice), vyāna (carrying fluids including blood to all parts of the body), and apāna (expelling waste products). Pitta appears as pāchaka (digest and impart heat), ranjaka (impart redness to the chyle and blood), sādhaka (increase the power of the brain), ālochaka (strengthen vision), and bhrājaka (improve complexion). Kapha appears as kledaka (moisten food), avalambaka (impart energy and strength), bodhaka (enable tasting), tarpaka (govern the eye and other sensory organs), and shleshmaka (act as lubricant).

Every substance (animal, vegetable, or mineral) is a dravya with the following properties in different proportions: rasa, guna, vīrya, vipāka, and prabhāva. The gunas are qualities such as heat, cold, heaviness, and lightness, in a total of twenty types. Of the twenty gunas, heat (ushna) and cold (shīta) are the most prominent. Vīrya is generative energy that may also be hot or cold.

Vipāka may be understood as the biochemical transformation of food, whereas prabhāva is the subtle effect of the substance on the body. Food is converted into rasa by the digestive action of jātharāgni, or the fire in the stomach. Rasas are six in number: madhura, āmla, lavana, tikta, katu, and kashāya. Each rasa—which is recognized by taste—is a result of the predominance of two elements. Knowledge of the rasas is important in therapeutics.

The five elements in various proportions are said to form seven kinds of tissue (dhātu). These are: rasa (plasma), rakta (blood), māmsa (flesh), medas (fat), asthi (bone), majjā (marrow), and shukra (semen). The activity of the dhātu is represented by ojas (vitality) or bala (strength). Ojas is mediated through an oily, white fluid that permeates the whole body. The functions of the vital organs like the heart, brain, spleen, and liver are explained on the basis of the flow and exchange of tissues. The heart is considered the chief receptacle of the three chief fluids of the body: rasa, rakta, and ojas.

The body has 107 vital points or marmas, which are points of vulnerability where important vessels, nerves, muscles, and organs are situated.

Physiological References in the Vedic Texts

The Garbha Upanishad describes the body as consisting of five elements (with further groups of five as in the Sānkhya system of philosophy), supported on six (the sweet, sour, salt, bitter, acid, and harsh juices of food), endowed with six qualities, made up of seven tissues, three doshas, and twice-begotten (through father and mother). It further adds that the head has four skull bones, with sixteen sockets on each side. It says that the body has 107 joints, 180 sutures, 900 sinews, 700 veins, 500 muscles, 360 bones, and 45 million hairs.

In Chhandogya Upanishad, organisms are divided into three classes based on their origin: born alive (from a womb), born from an egg, and born from a germ.

Training a Vaidya

The Āyurvedic physician was trained in eight branches of medicine: kāyāchikitsā (internal medicine), shalyachikitsā (surgery, including anatomy), shālākyachikitsā (eye, ear, nose, and throat diseases), kaumārabhritya (pediatrics), bhūtavidyā (psychiatry, or demonology), agada tantra (toxicology), rasāyana (science of rejuvenation), and vājīkarana (the science of fertility).

Apart from learning these, the student of Āyurveda was expected to know ten arts that were indispensable in the preparation and application of medicines: distillation, operative skills, cooking, horticulture, metallurgy, sugar manufacture, pharmacy, analysis and separation of minerals, compounding of metals, and preparation of alkalis. The teaching of various subjects was done during the instruction of relevant clinical subjects. For example, teaching of anatomy was a part of the teaching of surgery, embryology was a part of training in pediatrics and obstetrics, and the knowledge of physiology and pathology was interwoven in the teaching of all the clinical disciplines.

The initiation ceremony of the Charaka physician was called upanayana, and it involved the teacher leading the student three times around the sacred fire. This ceremony made the student thrice-born (trija), distinguished from the twice-born (dvija) nonphysicians.

At the closing of the initiation, the guru gave a solemn address to the students in which the guru directed the students to a life of chastity, honesty, and vegetarianism. The student was to strive with all his being for the health of the sick. He was not to betray patients for his own advantage. He was to dress modestly and avoid strong drink. He was to be collected and self-controlled, measured in speech at all times. He was to constantly improve his knowledge and technical skill. In the home of the patient he was to be courteous and modest, directing all attention to the patient's welfare. He was not to divulge any knowledge about the patient and his family. If the patient was incurable, he was to keep this to himself if it was likely to harm the patient or others.

The normal length of the student's training appears to have been seven years. Before graduation, the student was to pass a test. But the physician was to continue to learn through texts, direct observation (pratyaksha), and through inference (anumāna). In addition, the vaidyas attended meetings where knowledge was exchanged. The doctors were also enjoined to gain knowledge of unusual remedies from herdsmen and forest-dwellers. The vaidya was assisted by nurses (parichāraka). Sushruta describes the ideal nurse as devoted, friendly, watchful, not inclined to disgust, and knowledgeable.

There is reference to free hospitals in ancient India. They were called Bhaishajya Griha, Ārogya Shālā, or ChikitsāShālā. The best account of the workings of such a free hospital has come down to us from the Indianized Khmer kingdom of Cambodia.

Dissection and Surgery

Sushruta laid great emphasis on direct observation and learning through dissection (avagharshana). Sushruta classified surgical operations into eight categories: incision (chhedana), excision (bhedana), scarification (lekhana), puncturing (vedhana), probing (eshana), extraction (āharana), evacuation and drainage (vishrāvana), and suturing (sīvana). Sushruta lists 101 blunt and 20 sharp instruments that were used in surgery—instructing that these should be made of steel and kept in a portable case with a separate compartment for each instrument—and describes fourteen types of bandages. Surgical operations on all parts of the body were described, including laparotomy, craniotomy, cesarian section, plastic repair of the torn ear lobe, cheiloplasty, rhinoplasty, excision of cataract, tonsillectomy, excision of laryngeal polyps, excision of anal fistule, repair of hernias and prolapse of rectum, lithotomy, amputation of bones, and many neurosurgical procedures.

Medications were used for preoperative preparation, and medicated oils were used for the dressing of wounds. Ice, caustics, and cautery were used for hemostasis. Medicated wines were used before and after surgery to assuage pain. A drug called sammohini was used to make the patient unconscious before a major operation; another drug, sanjīvani, was employed to resuscitate the patient after operation or shock.

Diagnosis

It was enjoined that diagnosis be made using all five senses together with interrogation. The diagnosis was based on: cause (nidāna); premonitory indications (pūrvarūpa); symptoms (rūpa); therapeutic tests (upashaya); and the natural course of development of the disease (samprāpti). Sushruta declares that the physician (bhishaj), the drug (dravya), the nurse (parichāraka), and the patient (rogī) are the four pillars on which rest the success of the treatment.

Different methods of treatment, based on the diagnosis of the patient, were outlined. The drugs were classified into 75 types according to their therapeutic effect. For successful treatment, the following ten factors were to be kept in mind: the organism (sharīra); its maintenance (vritti); the cause of disease (hetu); the nature of disease (vyādhi); action or treatment (karma); effects or results (kārya); time (kāla); the agent or the physician (kartā); the means and instruments (karana); and the decision on the line of treatment (vidhi vinishchaya).

Sushruta considers the head as the center of the senses and describes cranial nerves associated with specific sensory function. Based on the derangement of the doshas, he classifies a total of 1,120 diseases. Charaka, on the other hand, considers the diseases to be innumerable. The dosha-type diseases are called nija, whereas those with an external basis are called āgantuka. The microbial origin of disease and the infective nature of diseases such as fevers, leprosy, and tuberculosis was known. According to Sushruta, all forms of leprosy, some other skin conditions, tuberculosis, ophthalmic and epidemic diseases are borne by air and water and may be transmitted from one person to another. These diseases are not only due to the derangement of vāta, pitta, and kapha, but are also of parasitic origin. He adds: "There are fine organisms that circulate in the blood and are invisible to the naked eye which give rise to many diseases."

One of the most impressive innovations arising out of later Āyurveda is that of inoculation against smallpox. It is believed that this treatment arose before 1000 a.d. From there it spread to China, western Asia, and Africa, and finally, in the early eighteenth century, to Europe and North America. The Indian treatment was described by John Z. Holwell in 1767 to the College of Physicians in London in a report titled "An account of the manner of inoculating for the smallpox in the East Indies." It not only described the system in great detail, it also provided the rationale behind it.

It appears that the idea of inoculation derived from agada-tantra, one of the eight branches of traditional Āyurveda that deals with poisons and toxins in small dosages, and application of specific concoctions to punctures in the skin for treatment of certain skin diseases (Sushruta Samhitā in Chikitsāsthāna 9.10). The Charaka Samhita speaks of how deadly poisons can be converted into excellent medicince and how two toxins can be antagonistic to each other.

An Āyurvedic classification, based on etiological factors, divided disease into seven categories: hereditary conditions based on the diseased germ cells (ādibala); congenital dis ease (janmabala); diseases due to the disturbance of the humors (doshabala); injuries and traumas (sanghātabala); seasonal diseases (kālabala); random diseases (daivabala); and natural conditions such as aging (svabhāvabala).

Menstrual disturbances, diseases of the female genital tract, and their treatments were classified. The clinical course and the various stages of labor, the management of puerperium, miscarriage and abortion, and difficult labor were discussed in detail. The different malpositions of the fetus were well understood. Many diseases of children were described.

The diseases of the head and the nervous system were given in detail. Among the nervous disorders described are convulsions, apoplectic fits, hysteric fits, tetanus, dorsal bending, hemiplegia, total paralysis, facial paralysis, lockjaw, stiff neck, paralysis of the tongue, sciatica, St. Vitus's dance, paralysis agitans, and fainting. Four kinds of epilepsy were described; it included an instruction that, once the attack was over, the patient should not be rebuked but should be cheered with friendly talk. Sushruta devoted one complete chapter to interpretation of dreams, believing that the dreams of the patient, together with other omens, can be an indication to the outcome of the treatment.

Āyurveda was also applied to animal welfare. Texts on veterinary science describe the application of the science to different animals. Refuges and homes for sick and aged animals and birds were endowed.

Indian medical texts had currency in lands far beyond India. A fourth-century medical manuscript from Chinese Turkistan, known as the Bower Manuscript, is based on Indian texts. Burzuya, the court physician to the Persian emperor Khusrau Anushirvan (sixth century), visited India, bringing back Indian texts and physicians. The Weber Manuscript is a translation into Kuchean of a collection of Sanskrit medical recipes. The ninth-century Arabic medical compendium by Tabari mentions the texts of Charaka, Sushruta, Vāgbhata, and Mādhava. In the eighth century, Amritahridaya, a large text in four parts, was translated into Tibetan. It embodies the teachings of Buddha Bhaishajyaguru. From Tibetan this text was translated into Mongolian and later into Russian, achieving great popularity. Other Āyurvedic texts were also translated into Tibetan; these included the Ashvaāyurveda (the horse ayurveda) of Shālihotra. In the late twentieth century, Āyurveda became increasingly popular in India and the West.

Subhash Kak

See alsoAshvamedha ; Upanishadic Philosophy ; Yoga

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Das, Bhagwan. Fundamentals of Ayurvedic Medicine. Delhi: Konark Publishers, 1992.

Filliozat, Jean. The Classical Doctrine of Indian Medicine. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1964.

Keswani, N. H., ed. The Science of Medicine and Physiological Concepts in Ancient and Medieval India. New Delhi: All India Institute of Medical Sciences, 1974.

Ray, P., and H. R. Gupta. Caraka Samhita. New Delhi: Indian National Science Academy, 1980.

Sharma, Priyavrat. Caraka-Samhitā. Varanasi: Chaukhambha Orientalia, 1981. ——. Suśruta Samhitā. Varanasi: Chaukhambha Visvabharati, 2001.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ayurveda." Encyclopedia of India. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Ayurveda." Encyclopedia of India. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 20, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ayurveda

"Ayurveda." Encyclopedia of India. . Retrieved September 20, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ayurveda

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.