Ayurveda

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Alternative medical systems - edit
NCCAM classifications [1]

1. Alternative Medical Systems

2. Mind-Body Intervention

3. Biologically Based Therapy

4. Manipulative and body-based methods

5. Energy Therapy

See also
Alternative medicine
Shirodhara, one of the techniques of Ayurveda
Shirodhara, one of the techniques of Ayurveda

Ayurveda (Devanagari: आयुर्वेद ) or Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient system of health care that is native to the Indian subcontinent. The word "Ayurveda" is a tatpurusha compound of the word āyus meaning "life" or "life principle", and the word veda, which refers to a system of "knowledge". Thus "Ayurveda" roughly translates as the "knowledge of life". According to Charaka, "life" itself is defined as the "combination of the body, sense organs, mind and soul, the factor responsible for preventing decay and death, which sustains the body over time, and guides the processes of rebirth" [1]. According to this perspective, Ayurveda is concerned with measures to protect "ayus", which includes healthy living along with therapeutic measures that relate to physical, mental, social and spiritual harmony. Ayurveda is also one among the few traditional systems of medicine to contain a sophisticated system of surgery (which is referred to as "salya-chikitsa").

According to the Ayurvedavatarana (the "descent of Ayurveda"), the origin of Ayurveda is stated to be a divine revelation of the ancient Indian creator god Lord Brahma.[2] as he awoke to recreate the universe. This knowledge was passed directly to Daksha Prajapati in the form of shloka sung by Lord Brahma.[3], and this was in turn was passed down through a successive chain of deities to Lord Indra, the protector of dharma. According to this account, the first human exponent of Ayurveda was Bharadvaja, who learned it directly from Indra. Bharadvaja in turn taught Ayurveda to a group of assembled sages, who then passed down different aspects of this knowledge to their students. According to tradition, Ayurveda was first described in text form by Agnivesha, in his book the Agnivesh tantra. The book was later redacted by Charaka, and became known as the Charaka Samhitā.[4] Another early text of Ayurveda is the Sushruta Samhitā, which in addition to the Charaka Samhitā, served as the textual material in the ancient Universities of Takshashila and Nalanda.[5] These texts are believed to have been written around the beginning of the Common Era, and is based on a holistic approach rooted in the philosophy of the Vedas and Vedic culture.

Contents

[edit] History

A statue of the Hindu God, Brahma. Hinduism believes in the divine origin of Ayurveda
A statue of the Hindu God, Brahma. Hinduism believes in the divine origin of Ayurveda
Dhanvantari, the God of Ayurveda
Dhanvantari, the God of Ayurveda
Nagarjuna, a follower of Buddha, was a well known herbologist, known for inventing various new drugs for the treatment of ailments
Nagarjuna, a follower of Buddha, was a well known herbologist, known for inventing various new drugs for the treatment of ailments

Documented references to the precise timing of the origins of Ayurveda are not available. The age of Ayurveda has been established on the basis of correlating the evidence with other disciplines as well as circumstantial evidence. Ayurveda is said to have been first compiled as a text by Agnivesha, in his book Agnivesh tantra, which was written during Vedic times.[citation needed] The book was later revised by Charaka, and renamed to Charaka Samhitā (encyclopedia of the physician Charaka).[6] Other early texts of Ayurveda include the Charaka Samhitā and the Sushruta Samhitā[5] The system was orally transferred via the Gurukul system until a script came into existence.

The earliest scripts would have been written on perishable materials such as Taalpatra and Bhojapatra, which could not be readily preserved.[citation needed] The script was later written on stone and copper sheets.[citation needed] Verses dealing with Ayurveda are included in the Atharvaveda, which implies that some form of Ayurveda is as old as the Vedas.[7] Ayurvedic practices have also evolved over time, and some practices may be considered innovations upon earlier Vedic practices, such as the advances made during the Buddhist period in India.[citation needed]

Hinduism attributes the genesis of Ayurveda to several theories in which the knowledge is believed to have been passed on from being to being, initially, through its realization by the divine sages, and gradually into the human sphere by a complex system of mnemonics. Details of Ayurvedic traditions vary between writers, as is expected when oral traditions are transcribed from multiple sources. The earliest authors of Ayurvedic manuscripts recorded divergent forms of the tradition.

[edit] Development

Ayurvedic practice was flourishing during the time of Buddha (around 520 BC) , and in this period the Ayurvedic practitioners were commonly using Mercuric-sulphur combination based medicines.[8] In this period mercury, sulphur and other metals were used in conjunction with herbs to prepare the different medications.[citation needed] An important Ayurvedic practitioner of this period was Nagarjuna, a Buddhist herbologist, famous for inventing various new drugs for the treatment of ailments.[citation needed] Nagarjuna was accompanied by Surananda, Nagbodhi, Yashodhana, Nityanatha, Govinda, Anantdev, Vagbhatta etc. The knowledge of Ayurveda progressed a lot during this period, including development of newer and more effective medicines, and is therefore termed as the Golden Period of Ayurveda.[citation needed]

After emerging victorious at the Kalinga War, Emperor Ashoka (304 BC-232 BC) influenced by the Buddhist teachings, banned any bloodshed in his kingdom in 250 BC. Therefore many Ayurveda practitioners, who were practicing surgery along with medicine, left the surgical intervention and adopted totally new medicinal treatments. In this period, Ayurveda again evolved and flourished with the invention of new drugs, new methodology and new innovations. The practice of the accompanying surgery slowly died out during this period.[citation needed]

During the regime of Chandragupta Maurya (375-415 AD), Ayurveda was part of mainstream Indian medical techniques, and continued to be so until the invasion of the English.

Chakrapani Dutta (DuttaSharma) was a Vaid Brahman of Bengal who wrote books on Ayurveda such as "Chakradutta" and others. Chakrapani Dutta was the Rajavaidya of Great King Laxman Sen {some says rajVaid of King Nayapala (1038 - 1055)}. It is believed by some practitioners that Chakradutta is the essence of Ayurveda.

Ayurveda has always been preserved by the people of India as a traditional "science of life", despite increasing adoption of European medical techniques during the time of British rule. For several decades the reputation and skills of the various Ayurvedic schools declined markedly as Western medicine and Western-style hospitals were built. However, beginning in the 1970s, a gradual recognition of value of Ayurveda returned, and today Ayurvedic hospitals and practitioners are flourishing throughout all of India. As well, the production and marketing of Ayurvedic herbal medicines has dramatically increased, as well as scientific documentation of benefits. Today, Ayurvedic medicines are available throughout the world.

See also: The Eight Armed Ayurveda

[edit] Gurukul system of Ayurveda

In the earlier days of its conception, the system of Ayurvedic medicine was orally transferred via the Gurukul system until a written script came into existence.

In this system, the Guru gave a solemn address where he directed the students to a life of chastity, honesty, and vegetarianism. The student was to strive with all his being to heal the sick. He was not to betray patients for his own advantage. He was required to dress modestly and avoid alcohol or drugs. He was to be collected and self-controlled, measured in speech at all times. He was to constantly improve his knowledge and technical skill. At the patient's home, 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 practitioners also gained knowledge of unusual remedies from laypeople who were outside the Ayurvedic community such as hillsmen, herdsmen, and forest-dwellers.

See also: Teachings of Ayurveda

[edit] Traditions of Ayurveda

Three traditions of Ayurveda exist today — two of them based on the compendia of Charka and Sushruta Samhitās, and a third tradition known as Kāshyapas. However, Ayurvedic remedies prior to these traditions also exist, as mentioned in the earlier Vedic literature (2nd millennium BC). Both the Sushruta and the Charaka Samhitās are the product of several scholars, having been revised and supplemented over a period of several hundred years. The scholar Vāgbhata, who lived in Sindh at the beginning of the 7th century AD, wrote a synthesis of earlier Ayurvedic materials in a collection of verses called the Ashtānga Hridayam. Another work associated with the same author, the Ashtānga Samgraha, contains much of the same material in a more diffuse form, written in a mixture of prose and verse. The relationship between these two works, and a third intermediate compilation, is still a topic of active research. The works of Charaka, Sushruta, and Vāgbhata are considered canonical and reverentially called the Vriddha Trayi, "The Triad of Ancients"; or Brhat Trayi, "The Greater Triad." In the early 8th century, Mādhav wrote his Nidāna, a work on etiology, which soon assumed a position of authority. In the 79 chapters of this book, he lists diseases along with their causes, symptoms, and complications.

[edit] Post Brhat Trayi period

The Brhat Trayi (literally "the three great compositions") is a classic Ayurvedic literary work, which was composed, compiled, and edited by Vagbhatta II, under the title Ashtānga Samgraha. At one time, it was believed that those who read and fully understood the contents of Vriddha Trayi and the Brhat Trayi, were good practitioners of Ayurveda. Legends concerning the origins of the text refer to the Ayurvedic practitioner Vāgbhata who lived during the time of the epic Mahabharata and was the chief physician of king Yudhisthir. Most believe that the author of the Ashtānga Samgraha was born before 200 AD and is properly known as Vāgbhata the 1st. Another man named Vāgbhata (who was born about 100 BC) recomposed the text, including the writings of Charaka, Sushruta under a new title Astang Hridaya.

Mythology also refers to another Ayurvedic physician known as Vangsen. Myths place him in ancient Bengal where he wrote a classic Ayurvedic book, simply called Vangsen. The book is written in easy and understandable language and adds many new chapters to the previous texts.

After Vangsen, a scholar by the name of Madhavacharya composed the book, Madhav Nidan. He is thought to have been the prime minister for the Emperor of Vijaynagara. Madhav Nidan is widely considered the best Ayurvedic book for the diagnosis of some diseases known during that period.

After Madhav Nidan, the next in line of famous Ayurvedic books Bhav Prakash was written during the time that the Portuguese first came to India in 1498 by a man named Bhav Mishra of Madras. The period in which he wrote can be pinpointed accurately because in the Bhav Prakash, he described the symptoms of a disease called "Firang" (Gonorrhoea and Syphilis), which was introduced to the subcontinent through contact with Europeans. ("Firangi" was a Persian-derived pejorative for Europeans in India, who brought the diseases with them). Bhav Mishra's other contribution to Ayurvedic medicine was the introduction of pulse examination / pulse diagnosis.

Many writers after Bhav Mishra contributed to Ayurvedic literature. Among them Sharangdhar, Chakra Dutta, Vaidya Vinod, Vaidya Vamanotsava, Bhaisajya Ratnawali, and the Lolimb Raj, who wrote the Vaidya Jeevan in verse form. The first lines of the verses of the Vaidya Jeevan are addressed to the author's "beloved", while the rest of the verse has contains information about curing diseases.

About 200 years ago, Pranacharya Shri Sadanand Sharma wrote the Ras Tarangini, which was the "base book" for modernizing Ayurveda practices. In this book, advances in chemistry are included. The book describes the use of many chemical substances as medicine and their successful uses. Upon considering the advice of this book, Ayurvedic practitioners began to process the traditional herbs in sulphate, nitrate, muriate, phosphate and nitromuriate forms. Sarpagandha [Latin: Rauwolfia Serpentina] Muriate, Sarpagandha Sulphate, Sarpagandha Phosphate, Sarpagandha Nitrate, Sarpagandha nitromuriate and many others have been prepared and tested on patients. The Ras Tarangini mentions "Shankhadrav", which is a medicine used internally and externally in many disease conditions. Shankhadrav-based herbal medicine, invented by an Indian physician, is regarded by the National Innovation Foundation, Ahmedabad, India.

[edit] Medications

Ayurvedic practitioners believe that the tulsi (holy basil) plant has medicinal qualities
Ayurvedic practitioners believe that the tulsi (holy basil) plant has medicinal qualities

Ayurveda operates on the precept that various materials of vegetable, animal, and mineral origin have some medicinal value. The medicinal properties of these materials have been documented by the practitioners and have been used for centuries to cure illness and/or help maintain good health. Ayurvedic medicaments are made from herbs or mixtures of herbs, either alone or in combination with minerals, metals and other ingredients of animal origin. The metals, animals and minerals are purified by individual processes before being used for medicinal purposes.

Writers and compilers of Ayurvedic literature such as Charaka, Sushruta, Vagabhatta, Bhav Mishra, Shaligram and others have written about the qualities, characteristics and medicinal uses of the herbs, mineral, metals, chemicals, animal parts, cooked food articles, natural foods, fruits etc. Among them, the Bhav Prakash Nighantu, written by Bhav Mishra, is known for its detail .The composition of the Nighantu part (Ayurvedic Materia Medica) of the Bhav Prakash is part of the classical book. The details of the medicinal herbs are given according to the nature, effects, and curative properties as observed by the Ayurvedic practitioners.

Ayurvedic literature has been written by several authors in languages such as Sanskrit, Hindi, and more recently, in English.The Shaligram Nighantu was written in Sanskrit. The Banaushadhi Chandrodaya was written in Hindi.The Indian Materia Medica was written in English.

See also: List of herbs and minerals in Ayurveda

[edit] Panchakarma and Ayurvedic Massage

Panchakarma (the five actions or modalities) is a collection of purification techniques that Ayurveda prescribes for some diseases and for periodic cleansing. A course of Pancharkarma typically includes a short-term dietary prescription, massage, herbs, and may include purgatives, sweat baths, medicated enemas, and nasal cleansing.

Ayurvedic massage is a form of treatment for various age related and other common disorders. Some of the advantages which can be cited are pain relief, improved circulation, stress relief, better sleep, flexibility, athletic performance and emotional benefits[citation needed]. Massage therapy can soothe pain, relax stiff muscles, and reduce the swelling that accompanies arthritis[citation needed]. Advocates claim that, with ayurvedic massage, deep-seated toxins in the joints and tissues are loosened and released into the system for elimination through natural toxin-release processes.[9]

See also: Panchakarma

[edit] Current Status

In the early 20th century, Ayurvedic physicians began to organize into professional associations and to promote their case for national recognition and funding.[citation needed] This began to become a reality after Indian independence in 1947.[citation needed]

Ayurveda is now a statutory, recognised medical system of health care like other medical systems existed in India. The Central Council of Indian Medicine {CCIM} governs and recommends policies for the research and development of the system. An Encyclopedia on Ayurveda - Ayushveda.com[2] has been developed to promote the knowledge of Ayurveda worldwide.

In certain states in India, Charak Samhita and Sushruta Samhita are included in the curriculum of modern medical courses (M.B.B.S).

[edit] Ayurvedic institutions and practitioners

Ayurvedic practitioners have been appointed as Honorary Ayurvedic Physician to the President of India. Every year on the occasion of Dhanvantari jayanti, a prestigious Dhanvantari Award is conferred on a famous personality of Medical Sciences including Ayurveda. Today, Kerala is one of the states in India that promotes research and practices of Ayurveda. This has been attributed to its well established Ayurveda centers and Ayurveda pharmaceutical companies, as also the presence of medicinal herbs and plants on the Western Ghats mountain range that runs through the state. There are many Ayurvedic centers (known as Vaidya shalas) all over Kerala.

[edit] Practice in the west

As a result of strong regulations in medical practice in Europe and America, the most commonly practiced Ayurvedic treatments in the west are massage, dietary and herbal advice.

In the United States, the National Institute of Ayurvedic Medicine (established by Scott Gerson) is an example of a research institute that has carried out research into Ayurvedic practices.[10] Gerson has published part of his work on the antifungal activities of certain Ayurvedic plants in medical journals.[11]

Several Pharmecutical companies and Academic Institutions in the west have come into conflict with Indian academic institutions and traditional Ayurvedic practitioners over the intellectual property rights of herbal products researched by the western agencies. The Ayurvedic practitioners have known about the efficacy of such products for centuries and so contend that they carry precedence with regards to patent rights on such products.

On December 1993, the University of Mississippi Medical Center had a patent issued to them by U.S patents and trademarks office on the use of turmeric (U.S. patent No. 5,401,504) for healing. The patent was contested by India's "Council for Scientific and Industrial Research" (C.S.I.R) on the grounds that traditional Ayurvedic practitioners were already aware of the healing properties of the substance and have been for centuries, making this patent a case of bio-piracy.[12]

After a complex legal battle, the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office ruled on August 14, 1997 that the patent was invalid because it was not a novel invention, giving the intellectual property rights to the principle back to the traditional practitioners of Ayurveda. R. A. Mashelkar, director-general of the CSIR, was satisfied with the result, saying:

"This success will enhance the confidence of the people and help remove fears about India's helplessness on preventing bio-piracy and appropriation of inventions based on traditional knowledge[12]"

The turmeric patent was just one of the hundreds that the several academic organizations and Pharmecutical companies in the west have claimed by ignoring Ayurvedic knowledge. Vandana Shiva, a global campaigner for a fair and honest Intellectual Property Rights system, says patents on herbal products derived from Neem, Amla, Jar Amla, Anar, Salai, Dudhi, Gulmendhi, Bagbherenda, Karela, Erand, Rangoon-kibel, Vilayetishisham and Chamkura also need to be revoked.[12]

Seven American and four Japanese firms have filed for grant of patents on formulations containing extracts of the herb Ashwagandha. Fruits, leaves and seeds of the Indian medicinal plant withania somnifera have been traditionally used for the Ayurvedic system as aphrodisiacs, diuretics and for treating memory loss. The Japanese patent applications are related to the use of the herb as a skin ointment and for promoting reproductive fertility. The U.S based company Natreon has also obtained a patent for an Ashwagandha extract. Another US establishment, the New England Deaconess Hospital, has taken a patent on an Ashwagandha formulation claimed to alleviate symptoms associated with arthritis. It is clear that the Ashwagandha plant is catching the attention of scientists and more patents related to Ashwagandha are being filed or granted by different patent offices since 1996.[13]

[edit] Scientific Criticism of Ayurveda

[edit] Scientific studies and standards

Critics object to the lack of rigorous scientific studies and clinical trials of many ayurvedic products (although see Research and innovations in Ayurveda for details of the evidence which is available). The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine states that "most clinical trials of Ayurvedic approaches have been small, had problems with research designs, lacked appropriate control groups, or had other issues that affected how meaningful the results were."[14]

In India, scientific research in Ayurveda is largely undertaken by the statutory body of the Federal Government, the Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha (CCRAS), through a national network of research institutes.[15] A large number of non-governmental organisations are also conducting research work on different aspects of Ayurveda[3]. However, "even staunch advocates of Ayurveda like cardiologist Dr. M.S. Valiathan...admit that 'clinical studies that would satisfy the liberal criteria of WHO World Health Organisation have been alarmingly few from India, in spite of patients crowding in Ayurvedic hospitals"'.[14]

[edit] Safety concerns

There is evidence that using some ayurvedic medicine, especially those involving herbs, metals, minerals, or other materials involves potentially serious risks, including toxicity.[16][2][17]

A research study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association[18] found significant levels of toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic in 20% of Ayurvedic preparations that were made in South Asia for sale in America. The Journal found that, if taken according to the manufacturers' instructions, this 20% of remedies "could result in heavy metal intakes above published regulatory standards"[18] Similar studies have been performed in India, and have confirmed these results. In response to the study, some practitioners of Ayurveda claimed that "heavy metals are integral to some formulations and have been used for centuries. There is no point of doing trials as they have been used safely and have mention in our ancient texts."[19]

[edit] "Miracle Cures"

Some critics also question the safety of those Ayurvedic drugs that are said to provide "miraculous cures". The critics argue that simply following age-old Ayurvedic formulas is no guarantee of safety and the fundamental processes and concepts on which these ancient processes are based must be exposed to serious scientific scrutiny.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] Partial bibliography

  • Ayurveda: Science of Self Healing, Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-00-4
  • Ayurvedic Healing: A Comprehensive Guide, Dr. David Frawley, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-97-7
  • Ayurveda: Nature's Medicine, Dr. David Frawley and Dr. Subhash Ranade, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-95-0
  • Ayurveda Encyclopedia, Swami Sadashiva Tirtha, D.Sc., Ayurveda Holistic Center Press, Bayville, New York ISBN 0-9658042-2-4
  • Ayurveda: Life, Health, and Longevity, Robert Svoboda, Ayurvedic Press ISBN 1-883725-09-7
  • Yoga and Ayurveda: Self-Healing and Self-Realization, Dr. David Frawley, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-81-0
  • The Ayurvedic Cookbook, Amadea Morningstar and Urmila Desai, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-06-3
  • Ayurveda and Marma Therapy, Dr. David Frawley, Dr. Subhash Ranade, Dr. Avinash Lele, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-940985-59-4
  • Ayurveda and Panchakarma, Dr. Sunil Joshi, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-37-3
  • Ayurvedic Guide to Diet and Weight Loss, Dr. Scott Gerson, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-910261-29-6
  • "An Elementary Textbook of Ayurveda:Medicine with a Six Thousand Year Old Tradition", Frank John Ninivaggi M. D., International Universities/Psychosocial Press, Madison: CT, 2001.

The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, Dr. David Frawley and Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-24-8

  • Healing systems, alternative and choices,Dr. O.P. Jaggi, Orient Paperbacks, New Delhi ISBN 81-222-0233-0
  • Electro-tridosha-gram, an Invention in Ayurved, The Moral Weekly newspaper, KANPUR, India,
  • Useful Technology to detect the effects of Panchakarma in Human body, ETG, Scientific Journal of Panchakarma, July 2005 issue, Quarterly magazine, published by NAPAR from Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, India
  • Ayurved ki Nai Shodha, Electro-tridosha-graphy, MYSTIC INDIA, Monthly magazine, January 2006, published from New Delhi, India
  • SUSHRUTA SAMHITA by SUSHRUTA, Ayurvedic classical book, relevant chapters,
  • CHARAK SAMHITA by Charaka, Originally written in Sansakrit language, Hindi and English Language translation is available, relevant chapters/ Sri Satguru Publiactions (Delhi)
  • Ras Chkitsa Hindi Language, by Dr. Prabhakar Chatterjee, 1956, Chowkhamnba, Banaras, India
  • Kalyan Arogya-Ank, Hindi monthly Magazine, January-February 2001 issue, Gita Press, Gorakhpur, UP, India
  • Bharatiya Ras Shashtra, Hindi Language, by Acharya Vaidya Pt. Vishwa Nath Dwivedi, 1977, Baidyanath Ayurved Bhavan Prakashan, Jhansi, UP, India
  • Ayurvedic Tongue Diagnosis by Walter Kacera, 2006, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, WI, USA ISBN 0-940985-77-2
  • Encyclopaedia of Ayurveda/ Prof. P. H. Kulkarni ( 2 Vols. SET) / Indian Medical Science Series No. 153-154
  • Know Ayurveda(Questions Answered) / Prof. Dr. P. H. Kulakarni/ Sri Satguru Publications(Delhi)

[edit] External links