In Latin ‘Acus’ means needle and ‘Punctura’ means penetration or prick. Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese art of Healing. Acupuncture also known as needling is the insertion of fine steel, silver or gold needles into selected areas of the skin as a remedy for disease. There are more than 1,000 Acupuncture points in the human body located along 12 main pathways or channels in each half of the body and two channels in the mid-line of the body. To treat a given case, an acupuncturist has to select about 8-12 points out of these 1,000.
It was through pain and suffering of war that Acupuncture was discovered. Some believe that Acupuncture originated in theIndusValleycivilization and then spread toCentral Asia,Egypt,Chinaand other countries of the orient. Others believe that it spread to the oriental countries fromIndiathrough Buddhist monks. The Chinese claim it to be their own science originated about 5,000 years ago. Chinese have nursed it and brought it to its present level of popularity and scientific acceptance.
The ‘Huang Di Nei Jing’ is the foundation stone of traditional Chinese medicine. It is said to be the oldest medical text in the world. A special section of it, called Ling Shu is devoted to Acupuncture and moxibustion (a method of Acupuncture without needles). The Chinese traditionally consider it more as a preventive science than a curative science
According to Chinese philosophy, the human body is governed by ‘Chi’ which is continuously circulating along the acupuncture channels. CHI or life energy is one of the most fundamental concepts of Chinese thinking. It is described as a basis of every living and non living entity of ‘Brahmand’ (cosmos), its nearest equivalent in Hindu Philosophy is PRANA. The CHI consists of two dynamically opposite yet harmonising energies called YIN and YANG. YIN signifies the female and negative energy, while YANG signifies the male and positive energy. In health, YIN and YANG are in perfect balance; any imbalance between the two cause diseases. Through needling, the acupuncturist balances the energies effecting a cure. The energy or CHI circulating through the entire body regulates the circulation of the blood ingestion and the auto protection of the organism. It also flows along the meridian. The meridians are passages or channels in the body where the vital energy CHI circulates. The acupuncture points are locations where the Channels come to the surface and are easily accessible to needling, moxibustion and pressure.
Allopathy is the system of medical practice which treats disease by the use of remedies which produce effects different from those produced by the disease under treatment.
The term “allopathy” (Greek word – allo-means “different” and pathos means “suffering”) was coined in 1842 by C.F.S. Hahnemann to designate the usual practice of medicine (allopathy) as opposed to homeopathy.
Allopathic system believes diseases as the sum total of structural and functional changes in the body. They try to find out specific remedies for specific diseases named and classified according to nosological schema. To ascertain the action of the drugs, they depend animal and laboratory experimentations.
The Birth of Modern Medicine
In the 17th century William Harvey, using careful experimental methods, demonstrated the circulation of the blood, a concept that met with considerable early resistance. The introduction of quinine marked a triumph over malaria, one of the oldest plagues of mankind. The invention of the compound microscope led to the discovery of minute forms of life, and the discovery of the capillary system of the blood filled the final gap inHarvey’s explanation of blood circulation.
In the 18th century the heart drug digitalis was introduced, scurvy was controlled, surgery was transformed into an experimental science, and reforms were instituted in mental institutions. In addition, Edward Jenner introduced vaccination to prevent smallpox, laying the groundwork for the science of immunization.
The 19th century saw the beginnings of modern medicine when Pasteur , Koch , Ehrlich and Semmelweis proved the relationships between germs and disease . Other invaluable developments included the use of disinfection and the consequent improvement in medical, particularly obstetrical, care; the use of inoculation; the introduction of anesthetics in surgery (see anesthesia); and a revival of better public health and sanitary measures. A significant decline in maternal and infant mortality followed.
Medicine in the 20th century received its impetus from Gerhard Domagk who discovered the first antibiotic, sulfanilamide, and the groundbreaking advancements in the use of penicillin. Further progress has been characterized by the rise of chemotherapy, especially the use of new antibiotics; increased understanding of the mechanisms of the immune system (see immunology) and the increased prophylactic use of vaccination; utilization of knowledge of the endocrine system to treat diseases resulting from hormone imbalance, such as the use of insulin to treat diabetes; and increased understanding of nutrition and the role of vitamins in health.
In Mar., 1953, atCambridge Univ.,England, Francis Crick, age 35, and James Watson, age 24, announced “We have discovered the secret of life.” Indeed, they had unraveled the chemical structure of the fundamental molecule of heredity, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), giving science and medicine the basis for molecular genetics and leading to a continuing revolution in modern medicine.
Much medical research is now directed toward such problems as cancer, heart disease, AIDS, reemerging infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and dengue fever, and organ transplantation. Currently, the largest worldwide study is the Human Genome Project, which will identify all hereditary traits and body functions controlled by specific areas on the chromosomes. Gene therapy, the replacement of faulty genes, offers possible abatement of hereditary diseases. Genetic engineering has led to the development of important pharmaceutical products and the use of monoclonal antibodies, offering promising new approaches to cancer treatment. The discovery of growth factors has opened up the possibility of growth and regeneration of nerve tissues.
With the surge of general and specialized medical knowledge, the educational requirements of the medical profession have increased. In addition to the four-year medical course and the general hospital internship required almost everywhere, additional years of study in a specialized field are usually required. Similar progress and increased requirements in education are reflected in ancillary professions such as nursing.
Life is a combination of the body, senses, the mind and the atma (soul). They cannot be separated from each other and none can be neglected. From this combination ensues ‘Ayur’- the span of life. Ayurveda- the science of life is the knowledge of this association and of how to maintain it as long as possible. Ayus- means life which is a proper combination of body, mind, sense organs and the soul. Veda- means knowledge. This system of medicine evolved around 600 BC inIndia. Ayurveda is known to promote positive health, natural beauty and long life.
Ayurveda believes that human beings and nature should be in perfect harmony and that disease occurs when the equilibrium between these two is disrupted. Restoration of this fundamental balance, through the use of nature and its products is the main goal of this medical system. The concept is not just on curing bodily ailments but also on preventing it.
Ayurvedic treatments are person specific rather than disorder specific. The age of the patient, the climate in which he lives, his cultural and social surroundings and his bodily constitution are taken into account before offering a prognosis. Touch, Inspection and interrogation are the main tools of diagnosis. Then the physician emphasizes a regimen of diet with the use of herbal medicines. Herbs are used to eliminate excesses and strengthen deficiencies. Their primary action is to stimulate particular organic functions. Thus Ayurveda aims to solve many health problems; only through the adjustment of diet-so there are no distressing side effects. Such an approach has proven effective over the centuries and has today become an internationally acclaimed form of healing, rejuvenation and healthy living.
Indian medicine is described as having a divine origin in the different ancient medical texts. Different authors have given different versions of the story. These stories may have been circulated to make the system more acceptable to the people in ancient times. In all these Samhitas or medical texts, ‘Brahma’ the omniscient Hindu god is said to have originated Ayurveda before the creation of man, for their protection. Brahma first taught Ayurveda to the twin physicians of the gods; the Aswins, and they passed it on to Indra (lord of the sky) and from Indra it was passed on to the different sages who in turn passed it on to their sons and disciples. Thus Ayurveda – the science of longevity spread.
Historically, the origin of Indian medicine can be traced to the Vedic periods or Vedas – especially to ‘Atharva Veda’ which mentions 2 systems of medicine; first, the system predominantly of charms and magico-religious medicine; second, the system of drugs used on an empirical basis. The change in the outlook of medicine from the magico-religious to the physical causation and theories could be the result of the philosophical concepts of the ‘Nyaya Vaisesika’ and the ‘Samkhya’ on which the theoretical structure of the Ayurdeva came to be based.
The ‘Atharva Veda’ consists pre-dominantly of Bhutavidya (Psychiatry) and Sarpavidya (agada or toxicology). Besides the above two, Rasayana (geriatrics or the science of rejuvenation) and Vajikarana (virilisation therapy) are also traceable in the ‘Brahmanas’ and the ‘Upanishads’. The Ayurveda contains besides the above four divisions, another four namely ‘Salya’ (surgery), ‘Salyaka’ (ENT and ophthalmology), ‘Kaya-Chikitsa’ (internal medicine) and ‘Kaumara- Bhrtya’ (paediatrics). The knowledge about these latter four divisions did exist before, but it became systemic with the origin of Astanga Ayurveda (Eight-divisional Ayurveda) roughly between 800-600BC.
Another school of thought expressed lately is that, Ayurveda, in its eight Specialities, the ‘Ashtangas’ was not a direct outcome of the earlier Vedic medicine but must have existed even before the Vedas. The medical knowledge and experience of the Vedic times must have served as a background on which the new knowledge exotic in origin was planted, leading to the synthesis of the two.
Influence of the Indian schools of philosophy
The theory of ‘Pramanus’ which came to be known as the ‘Vaisesika’ (‘Vaisesa’ means peculiarity) theory was propounded by Kanada in the sixth century BC. According to Kanada, everything in the Universe is made up of ‘Pramanus’; the real entities which are obtained when a thing is divided and sub-divided until further division is not possible. ‘Pramanus’ combine together in various fashions and it is by their combination that they give rise to the Universe and all its contents.
According to ‘Vaisesika theory’, whatever is in the Universe can be broadly placed under six categories (Padarthas), one of these categories is substance (dravya), which can be sub divided into nine entities, five of which are earth (Kshiti), water (apa), fire (teja), air (vayu) and ether (akasa). It is these five types of substance which supplied the ‘Panchabhuta’ or the five concepts of matter and this forms the basis of the Indian medical system of Ayurveda.
Vaisesika philosophy describes the manner in which combinations of different types of ‘Pramanus’ occur, producing the various substances that we see around us. These combinations can cause even chemical reactions under the influence of ‘Teja’ (fire). This chemical reaction provided the basis for the concept of digestion and metabolism of food and its conversion into ‘dhatus’ and ‘doshas’ of the body, upon which was built the theory of ‘Tridosha’. Thus the contribution of Vaisesika to the systematization and development of Ayurveda is fundamental.
Another sage, Gotama Aksapada composed ‘Nyaya Sutra’ which explains all the knowledge needed to establish the identity of a fact or substance. According to ‘Nyaya’, there are four methods of establishing the true identity of a fact, a phenomenon or an object. They are perception (pratyaksa), inference (anumana), comparison (uhamana) and testimony (aptavakya). These four methods of Nyaya based on the physical experience of things, have been made use of extensively in the study of action of various drugs included in Indian medicine. Thus the contribution of the Nyaya system of philosophy to Ayurvedic medicine in establishing scientific methodology is as great as the contribution of the Vaisesika to Ayurveda.
The contribution of the ‘Samkhya’ philosophy to the fundamental basis of Ayurvedic medicine is not as much as those of the Nyaya and the Vaisesika, but its basic tenets are woven in different forms around Ayurvedic medicine. According to the Samkhya theory expounded by Kapila around the 6th century BC, the universe evolved out of an un-manifested, undifferentiated, infinite and eternal primordial ground termed ‘Prakriti’. This is made up of three basic entities called ‘gunas’. There are three gunas. The first guna ‘Tamas’ or matter, has the property of inertia. The second, ‘rajas’ or energy, has the property of overcoming resistance. The third, ‘Sattva’ oressence, has the property to manifest itself to the senses. According to Samkhya, gunas are always uniting, separating and uniting again so that cosmic evolution is a two fold process, creative as well as destructive.
Some of the terms used in these systems of philosophy have been modified in Ayurvedic treatises. It is to the influence of these schools of philosophy that Indian medicine is indebted, which led medical men to gradually substitute causation of disease from spiritual agencies of animism to physical attribute.
Naturopathy is the system of healing in which diseases are cured by means of all natural and rational remedies such as light, water, air, heat, exercise, diet and other physiological measures. Naturopathy is built upon the dictum of Hippocrates, the father of medicine, who declared “Nature cures; not the physicians”.
The origins of the practice can be traced back over two thousand years to the time of Hippocrates. Hippocrates and his colleagues considered disease to be an effect of some imbalance in the elements like air, water and other natural factors such as food.
An unhealthy lifestyle can cause many diseases. So it is better to avoid a diet high in fat, salt and refined Carbohydrates, smoking, excess consumption of alcohol and high stress levels. Naturopathy advocates a new life style with corrective habits such as exercise, a good diet and a moderate approach towards all things. Naturopathic life style should be viewed as a method of disease prevention. In Naturopathy, the fundamental healing force is considered to be nature itself that is the power of the individual to defeat disease.
Naturopathy is primarily and fundamentally drugless and blood-less yet in its broader aspects it does admit the use of both natural medicine and surgery when their use is constructive. The techniques employed in nature cure vary with the experience of its practitioner.
Naturopathy helps to prevent many common diseases such as headaches, the common cold, hypertension, peptic ulcers and many of the disorders associated with ageing, including diabetes. It aims at educating people about adopting the type of lifestyle which is conducive to good health.
Siddha is one of the oldest systems of medicine practiced inIndia. This system was developed in the state of Tamil Nadu inIndia. It is supposed to have been conceived by the Siddhas or evolved souls lived in the past. The word ‘Siddha’ comes from ‘Siddhi’ which means an object to be attained or perfection of heavenly bliss.
Siddhas or Siddhars have their own manuscripts or basic works, written in secret code. Some of the treasured treatises on medicine are poems in palm leaf manuscripts which are now preserved in the Saraswathi Mahal Library, Tanjavur in Tamil Nadu. They were the pioneers in the use of metals and minerals in the treatment of diseases.
The systems of Siddha and Ayurveda are very much similar. In both systems, the basis of treatment is the three element theory or ‘tridosha’ (three humours). The three humours are Vatha (air), Pitta (bile) and Kapha (phlegm). It is believed that without these humours an individual cannot exist and imbalance of these may cause diseases. There are number of medicines common to both Siddha and Ayurveda. In both systems medicines are prescribed to set right the imbalance in the three life factors.
In Siddha, diseases are diagnosed mainly with the help of signs and symptoms of diseases. Other factors that help to diagnose diseases are touch, examining the pulse, tongue, colour, speech, eyes, faeces and urine.
The main aim of Siddha is to assure a healthy life to man kind.
Unani system of Medicine (Unanipathy) which originated in Greece is based on the principles propounded by Galen (a Greek practitioner). After him, many Arab and Persian scholars enriched the system. Among them Abu Sina, an Arab philosopher and Physicist who wrote ‘Kitab-al-shifa’ or ‘Avicenna’ was noteworthy. This system earlier known as ‘Galenic’, later became Unani (Arabic name for Greek) system of medicine.
This system has a long and impressive record inIndia. It was introduced in India around 10th century A.D with the spread of Islamic civilization.
Unani Medicine established that disease was a natural process and that symptoms were the reactions of the body to the disease. It believes in the humoral theory which presupposes the presence of 4 humours -Dam (blood), Balgham (phlegm), Safra( Yellow bile) and Sauda (black bile) in the body. Each humour has its own temperament – blood is hot and moist, phlegm cold and moist, yellow bile hot and dry and black bile cold and dry. According to Unani, if the four main humours and the four primary qualities were all in a state of mutual equilibrium, one is considered healthy.
The diagnosis of diseases in Unani system of medicine is through examination of pulse, urine and stool. This system observes the influence of surroundings and ecological conditions such as air, food, drinks, body movement and repose, psychic movement and repose, sleep and wakefulness and excretion and retention on the state of health. This influence causes a dominance of one of the four humours in every human body. Unani believes that it is this dominance which gives a man his individual habit and complexion i.e his temperament.