The History of Indian Ayurvedic Herbal Medicine


Posted by Mia Ponzo | Posted in Complementary Alternative Medicine, Information About Herbs, Natural Health | Posted on 17-02-2014

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Indian Ayurvedic Medicine

Herbal medicine, as we said, has been around since the beginning of time, and Indian Ayurvedic Medicine (Ayurveda means the “science of life”) has been around for ages as well, in fact something like 5000 years ago (some estimates go back as far as 10,000 years ago!). The practice was even documented historically from as far back as 2000 years ago in written form, but it has been around for literally thousands of years longer than the written word. In fact, it is said in the ancient writings to come from divine revelation and what the people called “the universal religion”, which is an interesting term. They also say that the energy that is harnessed for healing is “universal energy”. So, in Ayurveda, it is believed that at one time in the far, far past, all human beings were of one religion! They were also firm believers in the astrological significance of things, including how it relates to one’s health. Now, Ayurveda actually encompasses many, many different healing practices, including hands on healing, gem therapy, yoga, color therapy, universal energy, the charkas, herbal medicine and much, much more, but we will concentrate on the herbal aspects for the most part here. While the concentration on natural, non-invasive healing methods is inherent in Ayurveda, there is also a system of Ayurvedic surgery, which has carried from its beginnings in ancient times, right up to the present. Now, whether it’s true or not is unsure, but many of the old epic writings talk clearly about intricate surgeries, even including eyeball and head transplants! And, if you can believe it, all of this was written during and prior to the 6th Century BC! Thus, it is very likely, if not certain, that modern day surgical practices were taken from the ancient protocols of Indian Ayurvedic medicine.  Also, there are writings that go into great detail on topics that are only still just coming to light in modern times, for example, on embryology and the other minute workings of the human body.

Traditional Systems of Medicine

Traditional Systems of Medicine

Back in 1500 BC Ayurvedic medicine was so important and so well known that people would go to India, to one of the two great Ayurvedic schools of that time, to learn about it, people who were literally from all over the world, far and wide. In fact, it is said by some that every single subsequent medical practice in any country either ancient or modern originated from the practice of Ayurvedic. Nowadays Ayurveda is only known in India, and, unlike Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda is not popular world-wide, although there are a very few places where people have opened Ayurvedic healing centers outside of India, although there are some in America and Europe.  It is still very important, particularly in India, and that is probably due to the fact that it works. What was good back in ancient times is still good right up to the present. In fact, we even have at least one very professional, clinical Ayurvedic center here in Kuwait.

Ayurveda is based on several things, and takes into consideration a variety of important observations. Then, once the body, system, or situation is completely understood, can a complete system of healing be prescribed, which might include dietary changes, courses of specialized massage with special herbal oils, and herb blends to be taken internally, and more depending on the diagnosis. In Ayurveda every aspect of the human being is taken into consideration, including the body, the mind, and the soul.

Textbook of Ayurveda

Textbook of Ayurveda, Volume One: Fundamental Principles

The most basic delineation in Ayurvedic medicine is the three basic body types, including Vata – Air (also called prana), Pitta – Fire (also called Agni), and Kapha – water and earth (also called Soma), which are supposed to be completely balanced in order to have good health. So, if they aren’t balanced, for some reason, (which is discovered during the initial and subsequent visits with the Ayurvedic doctor through a variety of tests, including interviewing for symptoms, pulse taking, examining the tongue, and more) steps are taken to get them balanced again right away. In Ayurveda, it is believed that the body becomes balanced and unbalanced through the stomach, and thus, the healing mechanisms are aimed mostly to the digestive system. So, when the Ayurvedic doctor determines the root cause of the disease that the patient is suffering from, the causes can be easily balanced. No two people, even those who suffer from exactly the same disease will have the same treatment. Everything will depend totally on the individual makeup of that particular person.

In Indian Ayurvedic medicine it is said that there are six “tastes”, which are each made up of two elements, and include sweet (earth and water- ex. milk, rice, dates), salty (water and fire- ex. salt, kelp), bitter (air and ether- ex. dandelion root, bitter melon), sour (earth and fire- ex. yogurt, lemon, tamarind), pungent (fire and air- ex. onion, radish, ginger, chili), and astringent (air and earth- ex. apple, pomegranate, plantain). It is also important to consider if the food is heating or cooling, for example, sweet, bitter and astringent are cooling, and sour, salty and pungent are heating. In Ayurveda both raw and cooked foods are utilized, depending on what the problem is and what is required to cure it. It also depends on the type of food itself.

Textbook of Ayurveda 2

Textbook of Ayurveda, Volume Two: A Complete Guide to Clinical Assessment

Over the centuries since writing was invented, there have been literally thousands of texts written on Ayurvedic healing and the use of herbs and other healing substances. As of the turn of the turn of the century (1900 AD) over 1800 healing substances had been identified and written about. This tradition carries on today, and the same substances that were used from ancient times are still being used right now, with very, very little change. That is because they didn’t need to change anything. Those ancient writers and practitioners, who claimed to have gotten their information through divine inspiration, were right on the mark from the beginning, as was witnessed by the interest in scholars from the many different countries that flocked to India back in ancient times, to learn all about this medical wisdom. Now, as before, Ayurveda is picking up popularity worldwide, which seems to be a good, beneficial thing. So, if you are suffering from a medical problem, that no allopathic doctor knows how to treat, take it to the Ayurvedic doctors. It is very likely that they will be able to help you!

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