Reader & HOD, Department of Homoeopathic Pharmacy,
SVR Homeopathic Medical College,
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 the IndusValley civilization and then spread to Central Asia, Egypt, China and other countries of the orient. Others believe that it spread to the oriental countries from India through 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.
CHANNELS IN ACUPUNCTURE
There are 14 main channels (meridian) running vertically up and down the surface of the body. Out of this, there are 12 organ channels in each half of the body (i.e. paired) and two midline (unpaired). These are connected by collaterals running horizontally and obliquely. In this net work vital energy circulates in a definite time-sequence.
There are two categories of organs associated with the 12 organ channels.
‘Zang’ or solid organs having assimilative and storage functions. These are the heart, lungs, spleen, liver and kidneys.
‘Fu’ or hollow organs having eliminative functions. These are the stomach, large intestine, small intestine, Urinary bladder and gall bladder.
The 12 paired channels originate in these organs and are named after them. All channels originating from the Zang organs are YIN (negative) and those originating from the Fu organs are Yang (positive).
Chart showing cycle of CHI flow, Polarity and time of optimum flow.
TIME OF OPTIMUM FLOW
3a.m to 5.a.m
5a.m to 7 a.m.
7a.m to 9a.m
9a.m to 11a.m
11a.m to 1p.m
1p.m to 3p.m
3p.m to 5p.m
5p.m to 7p.m
7p.m to 9p.m
9p.m to 11p.m
11p.m to 1a.m
1a.m to 3a.m
In the upper limbs there are three YIN channels starting from the chest and ending at the finger tips. They are the lung, pericardium and heart channels and three Yang channels, namely the large intestine, triple warmer and small intestine starting from the back of the fingers and ending on the face.
Three other Yang Channels, the stomach, gall bladder and urinary bladder, start from the face, extended along the trunk, back and sides of the leg to end at the toes. Three other Yin channels, the liver, spleen and kidney start from the toes, run over the medial (inside) aspect of the leg and thigh and end at the chest.
Two mid line meridians are the ‘Conception vessel meridian’ (Ren Mai) and the ‘Governing vessel meridian’ (Du mai). The conception vessel runs from the mid point of the perineum over the abdomen, navel and the chest and ends at the root of the tongue. The governing vessel starts from behind the anus, runs over the Sacrum, spinal column, nape of the neck passes over the head and front of the face, and ends in the mouth behind the upper lip.
The starting and end points of the meridians or channels on the fingers and toes are called ‘Jing-Well points’. They are very useful pressure points in the emergencies and fainting attacks since changes of energy polarity occur here.
MATERIALS OF ACUPUNCTURE
In ancient China, needles fashioned out of bamboo, animal horns and a variety of metals were used. Later silver and gold needles were in vogue. Nowadays the most commonly used needles are made of high tensile stainless steel with handles of silver. Some use steel needles with handles of copper gold or plastic (disposable).
There are several shapes and sizes of needles. Fili-form, press needles, cosmetic needle, triangular needle, hot needle, plum-blossom needle etc.
- Fili-form needles (a) : The most commonly used needles come in lengths varying from 0.5 inch to 8 inches and thickness of 26 to 32 gauge. One inch long and 30-gauge thick needles are in maximum use, mainly for body acupuncture.
- Fili-form needles with double spiral handles (b) : are used for scalp acupuncture (Head needle -therapy). By and large, they are 11/2″ long and 28-gauge thick.
- Hot Needle: (c) A thick 18 gauge needle to treat conditions like ganglion and cystic goiter. It is heated over a lighter or a spirit lamp and suddenly poked in the above named swellings and then bandaged.
- Triangular Needle (d) : A thick sharp-edged triangular needle for letting out blood at certain specific regions.
- Press (intra-dermal) needles (e): They are small button shaped needles with a point projecting from the center. In chronic stubborn diseases they are especially implanted in the ear and left in place for a few days with adhesive plaster.
- Cosmetic needles (f): Thin, comma shaped needles for cosmetic problems like wrinkles, pimples, freckles etc.
- Plum-Blossom Needle :(g) (5-7 star needle) This is a specially designed instrument which has 5-7 needles fixed at equal distances on a plastic head which in turn is attached to a long flexible handle.
- Glass cups for cupping Therapy
- Moxa sticks, ginger, moxa powder for Moxibustion
- Lighter, spirit, cotton etc.
- Electro stimulator: This apparatus is used to stimulate acupuncture needles with electricity. Various sophisticated models are available through out the world.
Acupuncture believes that imbalance of the CHI or energy in the different meridians causes diseases. So it is important to locate where the meridians with excess or depletion of energy are.
In Acupuncture, successful diagnosis of a given disease is done by reading pulse. Whereas Western medicine recognizes only one type of pulse, Chinese medicine has 12 types of pulses. These pulses are felt in both radial arteries with three fingers next to each other and at the same time two different pressure strengths. Thus the states of 12 different organs are ascertained by taking the pulse.
Technique of Acupuncture
Hold the needle between the thumb and index finger. Bring the tip pf the needle near the acupuncture point and use it rapidly for piercing the skin. After crossing the skin the needle can be passed further with a firm rotation and pressure over it and if the needle has gone more deep it can be withdrawn. After inserting the needle it should be manipulate by hand until Te-chi is achived. (When the tip of the needle is inserted to correct depth a sensation of pain, sourness, numbness, heaviness, fullness and distension may be experienced).
FIVE ELEMENT THEORY
According to Indian Philosophy, every thing in this Universe belongs to any of the five elements, fire, water, earth, sky and air. This is the theory of ‘Panchamahaboot’.
The traditional Chinese Philosophy has a similar theory, except that the five elements are wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Each Yin organ is coupled to a Yang organ and they are identified with one of the five elements.
THE TABLE SHOWING CHINESE FIVE ELEMENT THEORY
S.I & T.W
H & P
GB – Gall bladder; LIV – Liver
SI – Small intestine, TW – Triple warmer; H – Heart, P – Pericardium
LI – Large intestine
UB – Urinary bladder
The Chinese believe that all these five elements are related in the destructive cycle called ‘ko’ as well as the generative cycle called ‘sheng’.
In the diagram, the five cornered star represents the ‘ko’ cycle or destructive cycle and the outer continuous circle represents the ‘sheng’ cycle or constructive cycle.
In the ‘Ko’ cycle, the destructive pattern of the elements are shown. Fire destroys metal, metal destroys wood, wood destroys earth, and the earth destroys water.
In the ‘Sheng’ cycle, the constructive patterns of the elements are shown. Wood is fueled by fire which in turn yields earth. Metal can be mined from earth and when heated it liquefies. Water nourishes plants and it yields wood, and the constructive cycle thus continues.
CHI can follow only the direction of the arrows and this fact has to be remembered during treatment whenever it is decided to divert energy from a channel showing excess to a channel which is deficient. Deficient channel should be properly needled to draw energy from the excess channel.
CHI or energy also follows a particular time sequence of maximum flow. In Acupuncture, each organ meridian has been allotted two hours of maximum energy flow.
For example, most of the acute asthma attacks occur between 3a.m to 5a.m. which is the time of optimum activity of the lung meridian. In disturbances of the liver function, sleeplessness or migraine headache occurs between 1a.m and 3a.m.
This two hour periodicity of optimum activity represents the best time for taking acupuncture action on the concerned meridian.
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 in Harvey’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, at Cambridge 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.
AYURVEDA – The Indian system of nature cure
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 in India. 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.
BASICS OF AYURVEDA
In Ayurveda, living beings are supposed to be created and composed of five eternal substance( basic elements- Panchama Boothas) namely space, air, fire, water and earth and three humors (Tridosha) and seven basic tissues (Saptadhatus). Disease is understood as an imbalance between the body’s three humors. The three humors are Vata (nerve energy), Pitta (catabolic fire energy) and Kapha (anabolic nutritive energy). Vata consists of the predominance of air (Vayu) and space (Akasa), Pitta consists of the predominance of agni (fire) and Kapha is predominant of water. These three humors are present in tissues (dhatus) and doshas (morbid substance).
The seven basic tissues or Sapta Dhatu are Rasa (Plasma), Rakta (Blood), Mamsa (Muscle tissue), Medas (Adipose tissue), Asthi (Bones), Majja (Bone), Shukra (Semen). As soon as food is taken, it is digested and Saara (nutrient) and Mala (excreta) are produced. Saara consists of nutrients of the seven tissues. Mala means sweat, urine, faeces, nasal discharge, eye and ear discharges and so on. The three humors move from one part of the body to another part and produces sound health, happiness, good complexion, resistance against disease and decay and physical strength. But if they are excited or vitiated they not only produce disease but also degeneration of the body.
The activities and movements of the body and basic emotion are governed by Vata. The main functions are to give motion to the body and the conduction of impulses from sensory organs and separation of rasa (nutrient), Kitta (excreta or waste products in the intestine) from the body, the secretion and evacuation of urine and semen. It is responsible for speech, tactile sensation, hearing and basic emotions. It is also responsible for the formation and development of foetus in intrauterine life. When Vata is deranged or vitiated, it produces psychosomatic disorder and thereby loss of weight, loss of biological and physical strength causing congenital deformities.
Types and Sites of Vata:
According to the functions and the site of activity, Vata is of 5 types.
Prana Vayu is located in the head, nose, tongue and the chest. Its most important function is to control the mind and the respiratory activity. Udana Vayu is situated in umbilical region, chest and neck and is responsible for the Vocal functions. Samana Vayu is situated in the stomach and duodenum is responsible for the digestion of food material and separation of waste products. The regulation of body temperature, composition of body fluids and movement of Kapha and Pitta are also its important functions.
Vyana Vayu is mainly situated in the heart and travels all over the body, regulates the circulation of blood and also the movement of the body. Apana Vayu is mainly situated in the intestines, rectum and the urinary bladder. Its main functions are secretion and evacuation of urine, semen, regulation of menstrual flow and expulsion of foetus and faeces.
The Pitta is blue and yellow in colour, liquid, light, viscous, acrid, sour in taste, fleshy and unpleasant in smell, hot to touch. It is the byproduct of blood. It imparts colour to the blood, promotes digestion, vision and is responsible for intellectual functions in the body. It is mainly responsible for the production of body heat, appetite, thirst, complexion, intelligence and courage.
Types and Sites of Pitta :
Five types of Pitta have been described in Ayurvedic classics.
The Pachaka Pitta is situated in between the stomach and duodenum. This may be compared to hepatic bile or bile with pancreatic juice. When it is aggravated it produces burning sensation, increase appetite, thirst, and insomnia and is responsible for the yellowness of urine, faeces, eyes and skin.
The Ranjaka Pitta is situated in the liver and spleen. Its main function is to impact colour to the plasma for the formation of blood in the liver and spleen.
Sadhaka Pitta is situated in the heart. It is responsible for memory, intelligence and enthusiasm. It mainly controls higher mental facilities.
The Alochaka Pitta is in the eyes. Its function is to catch the image of the external objects.
The Bhrajaka Pitta is situated in the skin over the entire body. Its main function is to impart colour to the skin and to maintain the body temperature.
The Kapha is the watery element responsible for good and adverse effects in the body. It is white in colour, heavy, viscous, slimy, sweet in taste, soft to touch, stable and sturdy in form. The normal functions are
- Binds various structures of the body and the joints.
- It promotes unctuousness (Unpleasantly flattering, oily, having a greasy or soapy feel)
- It is responsible for stability, sturdiness and physical strength
- It promotes healing, tissue building and bodily resistance
- It imparts forbearance, fortitude and intelligence
Types and sites of Kapha
There are 5 types of Kapha:
- Kledaka Kapha :- It is situated in the stomach. Its main function is to moisten the food material, breaking it up and aiding digestion in the stomach.
- Avalambaka Kapha :- It is situated in the Sacroiliac joint (trika) and heart. Its important function is to support the trika and nourish, lubricate and protect the heart.
- Bodhaka Kapha :- It is situated in the root of the tongue and pharynx. Its main function is to enable the perception of taste.
- Tarpaka Kapha :- It is present in the head. Its important functions are to nourish and oleate the sense organs. It also helps the brain and the 5 sensory organs to perform their respective functions.
- Sleshmaka Kapha :- It is located in the joints of the body. Oily and viscous in nature, it lubricates, protects and keeps the joints firm and united
BRANCHES OF AYURVEDA
There are 8 branches in Ayurveda (‘Ashtanga Ayurveda’):-
- 1. Kayachikitsa (Internal Medicine) – It deals with the diseases which are caused by the impairment of digestion and metabolism. ‘Kaya’ means agni (Digestive fire) or the enzymes responsible for the digestion as well as metabolism.
- 2. Koumara Brutya (Paediatrics)
- 3. Bhoota Vaidya (Psychiatry)
- 4. Agadatantra (Toxicology)
- 5. Shalakya Tantra (ENT and Ophthalmology)
- 6. Shalya Tantra (Surgery)
- 7. Rasayana (Geriatrics) – Science of Rejuvenation. It deals with health and care of old people.
- 8. Vajeekarana (Virilisation Therapy)
It is a massive treatise on ancient Indian medicine. It contains 8 divisions (Astanga Sthanas): Sutra, Nidana, Vimana, Sarira, Endriya, Chikitsa, Kalpa and Siddha-Sthanas. Each division is further divided into numerous chapters. It describes not only the existing knowledge about medicine in all aspects but also the logic and philosophy behind the medical system.
The present manuscript of Charaka Samhita has a long history behind it. It was originally composed by Agnivesa, one of the six students of sage Atreya and embodied the latter’s teachings. Charaka is one of the best known and the most popular name, in Ayurvedic medicine. During the 7th, 8th and 9th centuries when Arabic scholarship was at its height, Charaka was a revered authority in the Saracen and Latin worlds of medicine. Between the eleventh and sixteenth centuries, Charaka was referred to as a great medical authority. Charaka may have lived between the second century BC to second century AD.
During the ninth Century AD, ‘Charaka Samhita’ was again edited and reconstructed by a Kashmiri Pandit named Dridhabala, a resident of Panjore, situated 7 miles north of Srinagar. He added 17 chapters in the section on Therapeutics (Chikitsa-sthana) and also the two complete sections on Pharmaceutics (Kalpa sthana) and success in treatment (siddhi sthana) by collecting his data from various treatises on the Ayurvedic science. The present form which Charaka Samhita has was given to it by Dridhabala. It was first translated from Sanskrit into English by A.C Kaviratna in 1897.
Charaka Samhita deals elaborately with subjects such as foetal generation and development, anatomy of the human body, function and malfunction of the body depending upon the equilibrium or otherwise of the 3 humours of the body; Vata, pitta, and Kapha. It describes etiology, classification, pathology, diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of various diseases and the science of rejuvenation of the body. It discusses elaborately the etiology of diseases on the basis of Tridosha theory. It gives a detailed description of the various diseases including those of the eyes, the female genital organs, normal and abnormal deliveries and diseases of children. Charaka’s materia- Medica, consists chiefly of Vegetable products though animal and earthy products are also included in it. All these drugs are classified into 50 groups on the basis of their action on the body.
This Vast treatise also gives an idea of the various categories of doctors specializing in different medical subjects, the physicians and their fees, nursing care, centers of medical learning, schools of philosophy such as ‘Nyaya’ and ‘Vaisesika’ which formed the fundamental basis of medical theories, medical botany and classification of the animal kingdom, particularly in regard to properties of their flesh etc. It also describes various customs, tradition, legends, routine of daily life, habits of smoking and drinking, dress and clothing of the people of that era.
Commentary on Charaka Samhita by Chakrapanidatta called ‘Charaka-tatparya-tika’ or ‘Ayurveda Dipika’ written in the 11th cent AD (1066AD) is very famous. Other commentaries are by Patanjali (not available), Hair Chandras in AD 111 ( not available), Japjjatas ‘Nirantar-Pad-Vyakha’, Shiva Das’s ‘Charaka-tattva-Pradipika’ and Ganga Dhar’s ‘Jalpa-Kalpa-taru’ in AD 1879.
This is the main source of knowledge about surgery in ancient India. Susrutha’s original version ‘Salya Tantra’ was later revised and supplemented by another Susrutha (the younger). It came to be known as ‘Susrutha Samhita’. Susrutha’s Salya tantra consisted of only 5 divisions. Sutra, nidana, Sarira, Chikitsa and Kalpa. Later additions of ‘Uttara Tantra’ consisting of 3 divisions called Salyaka (diseases of eye, ear, nose and throat) Bhuta Vidya and Kaumara Bhrtya (diseases peculiar to infants and women) were done by the younger Susrutha to make 8 divisions in the present ‘Susrutha Samhita’.
Susrutha of ‘Salya-tantra’ was a great surgeon, a teacher of repute and an admirable author. He made great improvements in the general techniques of surgery and performed many new and major operations. He also described a variety of surgical instruments. His technique of dissection is unique, practical and revealing of the structure of the body. His operations for making a new nose or ear lobe of lithotomy, of taking out the dead foetus and abdominal operations are classical marvels.
Of the commentaries on ‘Susrutha Samhita’, the most renowned is that of Dalhana called ‘Nibandha Samgraha’ written in the twelfth cent AD. Susrutha Samhita was translated into English in part only by U.C Datta (1883), A Chattopadhyay (1891), Hoernle (1897). K.L Bhisagaratna transalated it in full between the years 1908 and 1917.
Other Medical Texts
The other Samhitas (medical texts) in Ayurveda are ‘Bhela Samhita’, Kasyapa Samhita which deals in childrens diseases, ‘Astanga Samgraha’ and ‘Astanga Hridya Samhita’ by Vagbhata, ‘Chikitsa- Kalika’ by Tishtacharya, ‘Madhavanidana’ or ‘Nidana’ by Madhavakara, ‘Kalyana Karaka’ by Ugradilyacharya, a Jain scholar, ‘Siddha Yoga’ by Vrinda. Vangasena and Chakrapanidatta composed their own treatises on the lines of Vrinda’s ‘Siddha Yoga’, Nadipriksha( Pulse examination) was first mentioned in ‘Sarangadhara Samhita’ by Sarangadhara
FORMS OF DRUGS
In Ayurveda, there are thousands of drugs including herbs, minerals and biological products to be used singly or in the form of compounds. These drugs are used in the form of
- Paste – prepared by grinding the fresh vegetable on stone with pressure.
- Powder (churnas) – prepared from dry drugs and usually stored in glass bottles.
- Expressed juice (Swarasa) – It is prepared by grinding the fresh vegetables on mortar with a pestle and then expressing the juice by straining through a cloth.
- Cold infusion (Sheeta Kashaya) – To one part of powdered herb, 6 parts of water is added in the night and strained in the morning and used.
- Infusion (Phanta) – It is prepared by adding one part of powdered herb and 8 parts of hot water, kept at room temperature for some time and strained over a cloth.
- Decoction (Quatha or Kashayam) – One part of Vegetable substance is boiled with 16 parts of water and reduced to 1/4th. This can be used upto 12 hrs.
- Decoctions in Milk (Ksheera Paka) – To 1 part of drug, 8 parts milk and 32 parts of water are added, boiled and reduced to 8 parts. It can be used up to 12 hrs.
- Extracts – The decoctions are boiled to thick paste and are used with sugar.
- Pills – These are Vatika and Gutikas.
- Boluses – Modaka are prepared by adding powder to cold syrup and stirred till firmly mixed.
- Asavas and Arishtas (Medicated spirited liquid) – These are prepared by fermentation. These drugs are usually kept in water and earthen jars for some days or months. These can be kept for a longer period.
- Ghrita (Medicated ghee) – It is nothing but clarified butter gently heated in an earthen pot or pan. Then medicated fluids or pastes are added to it till the water parts evaporate and it is free from froth.
Therapy or treatment is that which serves as an equipment for a physician to maintain the equilibrium of disturbed dosha. In this point of view treatment methods are divided into three types i.e., Daivavyapasrayam (Spiritual therapy), Yuktivyapasrayam (Therapy based on reasoning) and Satvavajayam (Psychic therapy).
Treatment methods are again classified into two: (a) Preventive measures and (b) Curative measures
Preventive measures of Ayurveda
The specialty of Indian Medicine lies in the prevention of the disease. Preventive measures consist of mainly three aspects.
- Swastavritta (Personal hygiene) consists of Dinacharya (daily routine of life) including tooth brushing, mouth wash, bath, exercise, meals and sleep etc, Ritucharya which deals with the regimens and diet to be followed in the different seasons of the year, Sadvritta deals with the social behaviour and different conducts of an individual in detail.
- Rasayana and Vajeekarana – Use of rejuvenative and virilising agents to prevent ageing, impact longevity, immunity against diseases and to improve mental faculties. Vajeekarana drugs are special in nature used as aphrodisiac and fertility improving agents.
- Practice of yoga – It is necessary to adopt Yoga therapy in order to keep the body and mind hale and healthy and to prevent diseases.
Curative Measures of
Curative measures are:
- Internal Medicine
- External Medicine
- Surgical Treatment
1. Internal Medicine
It is a major discipline in the practice of Ayurveda. The 2 aspects of Internal medicine are (a) Internal purification (b) curative treatment
Internal Purification or Sodhana consists of the 5 fold purificatory measures known as ‘Panchakarma’. This includes Vamana, Virechana, Vasti, Nasya and Rakthamoksha (blood letting). This therapy has to be done before the administration of drug therapy, rejuvenation therapy and surgery. Ayurveda is of the firm opinion that no drug therapy will yield the desired results without purifying the body properly.
Curative treatment consists of drugs, diet and exercise.
2. External Medicine
It includes Oleation (Snehanam), Sudation (Swedana), bath, medicated gargles, application of paste, powders and other physiotherapeutic measures as an adjunct to internal medicines. These treatments are very popular and are in vogue even today.
3. Surgical Intervention
Ayurveda is the first in the world to practice different types of operations and sixty types of treatment of wounds, classification and treatment of fractures and plastic surgery. The earliest Sanskrit treatises on Ayurveda were the ‘Samhitas’ of the great ancient physicians Bhela, Charaka and Susrutha which date from around the Christian era. The Indian surgeons of that era excelled in operations and their achievements in plastic surgery had no parallels anywhere in the world. Susrutha is called the father of plastic surgery. Sources of the pre-Christian era, such as the Epic ‘Ramayana’, mention remarkable feats of surgery having taken place in the past. Thus we have reference to the transplantation of an eyeball. The legendary ‘Jivaka’ a famous physician during the time of Buddha is also reported to have performed remarkable cures involving deep surgery. The circulation of blood was first explained in Ayurvedic system of medicine 4000 years ago, although William Harvey got the credit later on. Even in the 18th century, the Indian art of Rhinoplasty (plastic surgery performed on the nose) was studied by European surgeons
Homeopathy is a system of medicine, in which a drug and a disease that produce similar symptoms cancel each other out in some way thereby restoring the patients to, health. This principle of ‘Like can cure Like’ forms the basis of Homeopathy. It is named after the Greek words, ‘ Homeo’ meaning similar and ‘Pathos’ meaning suffering or treatment by the same. This system of healing was founded by a German doctor, Samuel Christian Hahnemann (1755). In 1810, he set out the principles of Homeopathy in his book ‘ The Organon of Rationale Medicine’.
Homeopathy though developed abroad, has become an integral part of the Indian way of life. It is popular among the people partly due to its remarkable healing capacity and partly because of the belief that its remedies are so refined that they don’t cause any harmful results.
In Homeopathy remedy is chosen based on the symptoms as well the character and temperament of the patient. In short two persons with same illness may be offered different remedies based on their individual nature.
The principle of ‘like can cure like’ (an illness should be treated by a substance capable of producing similar symptoms to those being suffered by the patient) dates back to the Greek physician Hippocrates (460-377 B.C) in the 5th century B.C. He was the first person to think that disease was the result of natural forces, not divine influences. He believed that careful observation of the symptoms specific to an individual and the person’s reactions and his own powers of healing should be taken into account before reaching a diagnosis and choosing a cure. Hippocrates known as the ‘father of Medicine’ had a collection of several hundred remedies. One of the best examples he provided of the principle of ‘like curing like’ was using the root of Veratrum album (white hellebore) in the treatment of cholera. In large doses this highly poisonous root causes violent purging that leads to severe dehydration, causing the same symptoms of cholera.
In the early 16th century, Swiss doctor Paracelus (1493-1541) found out that the causes of diseases were linked to external forces such as contaminated food and drink. He also believed that a poisonous substance that causes disease could also cure the disease’ if given in very small doses and that physicians should take into account the body’s own natural ability to heal itself. Here again the principle of ‘Homeopathy’ was advocated. But it did not gain popularity for another 300 years, until Homeopathy came into being.
In 1790, while translating ’A treatise on Materia Medica’ by Dr. William Cullen, Hahnemann came across a passage about Peruvian bark or Cinchona. It stated that quinine which is a substance purified from the bark of the cinchona tree, was a good treatment for malaria because of its astringent qualities. This made no sense to Hahnemann who, as a chemist was aware that there were other much more powerful astringents that had no effect on malaria. Deciding to investigate further, he dosed himself with quinine and recorded his reactions in great detail. He had begun to develop the symptoms of malaria one after another, despite the fact that he actually did not have the disease. The symptoms recurred every time he took a dose of quinine and lasted for several hours. If he did not take any quinine, he had no symptoms. He repeated the doses of quinine, which he called ‘provings’ on people he knew well, noting the reactions in great detail. He then repeated the process using other substances such as arsenic and belladonna under strict conditions. The ‘provers’ were not allowed to eat or drink anything that might confuse the results such as alcohol, tea, coffee and salty or spicy foods. The provers response varied some showed a few mild symptoms to a particular substance, while others experienced vigorous reactions with a variety of symptoms.
The symptoms that were most commonly found for each substance he called first line or keynote symptoms. Second line symptoms were less common and third line symptoms were rare. The combination of symptoms made up a ‘drug picture’ for each substance. He continued to conduct experiments for 6 years, testing a wide range of substances. He compiled the ‘drug pictures’ he had collected from his careful research, and started to test each substance on the sick to see whether they benefited from it. The patients were physically examined and thoroughly questioned about their symptoms, i.e., their general health, the way they lived and their outlook on life and what factors made them better or worse. Thus he builds up a symptoms picture of each patient. Then he matched the individuals’ symptoms picture to the ‘drug picture’ of various substances. When he established the closest match, he would prescribe a remedy. He found that the closer the match, the more successful the treatment. Thus a new system of medicine ‘Homeopathy’ was discovered.
In 1776, Hanhemann published his book ‘A new principle for ascertaining the curative powers of drugs and some examination of previous Principles’, his first work on Homeopathy. In this book, he explained the key principle that, a drug taken in small amounts will cure the same symptoms it causes in large amounts.
In 1831, there was a cholera outbreak in central Europe. Hahnemann’s treatment with ‘Camphor’ was very successful. Dr Frederick Foster Hervey Quin, follower of Hahnemann was one of many people cured of cholera by ‘Camphor’. This enhanced his respect for Homeopathy that in 1832 he set up a Homeopathic practice in London, where he later started the first Homeopathic hospital in 1849.
Homeopathy was established in the US during the 1820’s and gained a widespread following. Dr. Constantine Hering (1800-80) and Dr. James Tyler Kent (1849-1916) were two important American homeopaths who continued Hahnemann’s work in proving remedies and also introduced new ideas and practices to homeopathy.
The ‘Laws of cure’, devised by Dr. Hering explains how disease is cured in homeopathy. There are three basic laws of cure: symptoms move from the top of the body downwards; from the inside out and from the most important organs to the least important. Hering also believed that a cure occurred in reverse order to the onset of symptoms. For example, a person generally feels better emotionally before the physical symptoms disappear.
Dr. Kent observed that certain people reacted to certain remedies more strongly than to others. He maintained that people with similar body shapes and personalities tended to suffer from the same types of disease. He grouped people according to ‘Constitutional types’. For example, Natrum Mur types tended to be pear-shaped, had a dark complexion, were fastidious, kept to themselves, craved salt and suffered from constipation. High potency remedies were prescribed according to the patients’ constitutional type and physical symptoms; this came to be known as Classical Homeopathy.
Towards the end of the 19th century, Richard Hughes (1836-1902) an English homeopath questioned the theory of constitutional prescribing by Dr. Kent and insisted that only the physical symptoms of the patients should be taken into account while prescribing a remedy. He also advocated using lower potencies. This led to a split in Homeopathy, between the followers of Dr. Kent, who used high potencies and believed that a persons emotional characteristics and their physical symptoms should be taken into account and the followers of Dr. Hughes. This internal split, suppressed the practice of this system of medicine for sometime. But later Homeopathy experienced resurgence throughout the world and Classical Homeopathy gained widespread recognition.
Treatment and Remedies
In Homeopathy, illness is classified as acute or chronic. In an acute illness, such as cold, a person becomes ill rapidly and after sometime it subsides with or without treatment. But in chronic cases, a person suffers from continuous or recurrent illness, for example arthritis. The general trend of health is downwards.
Homeopath prescribes medicines on the basis of the symptoms and the constitutional type of the patient. A Homeopath decide the patients constitutional type by assessing a person’s character and temperament, their fears, food preferences and general factors such as weather, temperature, seasons and time of the day which may worsen or improve physical condition. Knowing the strength and weaknesses of an individual (i.e. his vital force) enables the Homeopath to prescribe the best remedy.
Homeopathic remedies help to speed up recovery, by stimulating the vital force, and strengthening it. The remedies energize the vital force to rid the body of disease, helping it to return to its healthy state.
Homeopathy medicines are made from plant, animal and mineral extracts and diluted in varying degrees in order to avoid unpleasant side effects. The remedies range from toxic substances such as snake venom and mercury to common foods such as oats and onions. These are available as lactose tablets, pillules, powder and granules.
The actual process of making remedies is very precise. For remedies derived from soluble substances, such as animal or plant extracts the raw material is dissolved in an alcohol /water mixture that contains approximately 90 percent pure alcohol and 10 percent distilled water (this ratio may vary depending on the substance). This mixture is left to stand for 2-4 weeks, shaken occasionally and then strained through a press. The resulting liquid is known as the mother tincture or tincture. Insoluble substances, such as gold, calcium carbonate and graphites, must first be made soluble by a process known as ‘trituration’, in which they are ground continually until they become soluble. They are then diluted and used in the same way as naturally soluble substances. The remedies are so diluted that they no longer contain a single molecule of the original substance used to make them and yet they remain extremely effective.
To produce different remedy potencies, the mother tincture is diluted in an alcohol/water mixture according to one of two scales, the decimal and centesimal (c). Between every stage of dilution the diluted tincture is shaken vigorously. In the decimal scale the dilution factor is 1:10 and in the centesimal it is 1:100. To produce a 1c potency of the Alluim cepa, for example, one drop of the mother tincture is added to 99 drops of an alcohol /water mixture and shaken. To produce 2c potency, one drop of the 1c mixture is added to 99 drops of an alcohol/water mixture and succussed. The number of a homeopathic remedy shows how many times it has been diluted and succussed, for example- 6c has been diluted and shaken 6 times. Beyond 12 c potency, a homeopathic remedy is highly unlikely to retain a molecule of the original substance.
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”. Naturopathy is a combination of different methods of natural healing. It is also a way of life. It is known by different names – Nature Cure, the natural methods, the New science of healing and Healing from within. Fasting to relieve the symptoms of an upset stomach, using water as a healing aid or eating a sensible balanced diet to maintain good health are all examples of Naturopathy.
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.
The basis of the modern practice can be traced back to the beginning of the19th century and to people such as Preissnitz a therapist in Germany, who used the beneficial effects of water as a therapy (hydrotherapy). It is an important aspect of Naturopathy. Towards the end of the 19th century in Bavaria, Father Kneipp, a monk, who was obviously a Naturopath, treated an American Benedictine by the name of Lust. As a result of his recovery, Lust stayed with Kneipp to study his particular methods of healing and upon returning to the United States he established his own form of natural medicine which he called Naturopathy. Thus at the beginning of the 19th century, Naturopathy began to be formally recognised. The blend of therapies employed by Lust included nutrition and natural diet, Homeopathy, herbal medicine, Hydrotherapy, Chiropractic and the management of stress. The term ‘Naturopathy’ was created by Dr.Scheel of New York city.
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.
The treatment methods of naturopathy are so many that a practitioner can become a specialist in any one particular area.
- Treatment based on Nutrition and diet. A nutritionist recommends a healthy diet for each person which may include the use of vitamin and mineral supplements for deficiencies.
- Counseling and lifestyle alteration which may be of particular value in relieving psychological behavioral and emotional problems as well as physical ailments. The treatment may include hypnotherapy, relaxation techniques and the use of imagery with suggested adjustments in daily living. Other helpful measures may include colour, music and dance therapy.
- Methods to control and reduce stress including exercise, relaxation techniques, modification of diet and the use of supplements particularly to support the adrenal gland.
- Detoxification-The use of short periods of fasting or controlled diets and supplements to aid the natural processes by which the body rids itself of toxic substances.
- Herbal medicine- using plants and their natural products for healing.
- Homeopathy – a healing method based on the principle of ‘like cures like’.
- Hydrotherapy using water as a healing agent.
- Physical therapies including massage, Chiropractic, Osteopathy and Cranial osteopathy, therapeutic exercises and soft tissue manipulation such as rolfing.
- Acupuncture and other oriental therapies
- Exercise forms a part of almost all methods of treatment.
SIDDHA System of
Siddha is one of the oldest systems of medicine practiced in India. This system was developed in the state of Tamil Nadu in India. It is supposed to have been conceived by the Siddhas or evolved souls (numbering 18) who 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 were great doctors of medicine, philosophers, and men with deep knowledge of anatomy and chemistry and savants noted for their wide travel, simple living and high thinking. The Siddhas 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.
Siddhars or Siddhas
Siddhars had an unparallel knowledge of medicine. They had the knowledge of processes like the calcination of the mercury minerals and metals and transmuting them for use as medicines even in the remote past when chemical technology was not fully developed.
Siddhas are said to have supernatural powers. They were capable of performing alchemy-the act of converting base metal into gold. Their ability includes the art of making dead persons enter the body of the living for a few minutes, to give expression to certain ideas. Being men of vision who know the past, the present and the future, the Siddhas are supposed to be capable of living and dying at will. They are reputed to have used certain herbal leaves to intoxicate themselves and get into a trance or hypnotic state.
It is on record that the Siddhas who lived in Kanjamalai converted base metal into gold and experts certified that the gold made by the Siddhas with their miraculous powers contained seven parts of Gold as against ten parts of gold recovered in gold mines.
Certain Siddhas have powers even to nullify the fatal effects of snake poison.
The use of ‘Yantras’ for curing diseases is widespread. These are certain mystic magical diagrams engraved on the arm or with the chain around the neck. A special prayer is held to instill divine powers into it. The Yantra is then assumed to be able to protect the worshippers from evil and to bestow on him health and wealth.
The first two of the 18 Siddhas, Nandi Thevar and Agasthya are said to have found out the medicinal value of herbs by a process of trial and error. And when the herbs turned out to cure diseases, the Siddhas planted the seedlings of the herbs in high altitudes and other inaccessible places. Bogar was another famous Siddhar who used chemicals for treating diseases.
Folklore belief is that there is no disease which cannot be cured by them. They are credited with the ability to confer longevity and eternal youth.
Medicines in Siddha
In Siddha medicines are based mostly on herbs and metallurgy. Metals are converted by them into medicinal compounds in powder form or solid components of high potency. Some Siddhas make use of a saltish substance (‘muppu’ or universal salt), to prepare medicines. This universal salt is capable of rejuvenating the entire human system. Siddhas dealt with metals, salts, minerals and animal products.
Fractures of the bone are set right by traditional bone -setters, who have learnt the art orally from generation to generation. It is a separate science prescribed by the Siddhars. It is known as ‘Varma Treatment’ by them. It deals with the various kinds of fractures and their cure.
There are about 64 types of medicines in Siddha. The common preparations are Bhasma (calcined metals and minerals), Churna (powders), Kashaya (decoctions), Lehya (confections), Ghrita (ghee) and Taila (oil).
Oil is used for external application by Siddhas. Bathing regularly after being anointed in the oil (in which the essence of the herb ‘Karisilanganni’ is added) is an antidote to skin diseases. For body pain, Marma Thailam, an oily preparation from herbs is applied to the body before going to bed. After a hot bath in the following morning, symptoms of relief are said to be marked.
Herbs are used to treat Asthma. According to mythology, some of the herbs are stated to have the power to transform old men into youth.
Powdered gold, silver and other metals extracts from pearls and corals, and juices of herbs are made use of by the manufactures of Siddha medicines. Even today, people are said to consume ‘Thanga Bhasmam’ or powdered gold to get over the handicaps of old age.
Cooked raw flour mixed with turmeric powder is boiled and used as bandage material to cure abscess formed in any part of the body.
Piles and eczema are cured by the Siddhas.
The Siddha system included not only medicine and alchemy but also yoga and philosophy. Siddha science acknowledges 64 kinds of yoga.
Some common home remedies
- A few drops of castor oil are let into the nose to cure cold.
- For various bodily ailments, gingerly oil is boiled with small quantities of chillies and turmeric and the body is anointed with this liquid compound and given a warm bath.
- Boiled nutmeg is powdered and consumed with a plantain -fruit to stop dysentery.
- The skin of the fox is heated in the oven and devoured with honey to relieve whooping cough.
- For sore-throat, leaves of the drumstick tree are powdered, the juice extracted and applied to the throat along with ‘chunam’ -the lime consumed with betel leaves.
- Ginger, turmeric, onion, mustard, nutmeg, cloves and other spices are consumed along with food for their medicinal properties.
- The water content of rice kept overnight is drunk with salt, turmeric and asafoetida every three hours as a tonic.
- The stem of the banana plant is used for urinary troubles and prostrate enlargements.
- Cow-dung is used as a disinfectant in house holds.
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 in India. It was introduced in India around 10th century A.D with the spread of Islamic civilization. Now Unanipathy has become a part of Indian system of Medicine and India is one of the leading countries so far as its practice is concerned. It is very much similar to our Ayurveda.
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.
In short, Unanipathy aims at maintaining proper health by conserving symmetry in the different spheres of a man’s life. Unani practitioners not only cure bodily diseases but also act as an ethical instructor.
Regimental Therapy – It includes venesection, cupping, diaphoresis, diuresis, turkish bath, massage, cauterisation, purging, emesis, exercise and leeching.
Dietotherapy – It deals with certain ailments by administration of specific diets or by regulating the quantity and quality of food.
Pharmacotherapy – It deals with the use of naturally occurring drugs mostly herbal drugs of animal and mineral origin. Single drugs or their combination in raw form are preferred over compound formulations.
Unanipathy has shown remarkable results in curing diseases like Arthritis, Leucoderma, Jaundice, Bronchial Asthma, Filariasis and several other acute and chronic diseases where other systems do not give the desired level of positive response. The Unani system is a secular system in character and is popular among the masses.
SOME OTHER THERAPIES
Aromatherapy is a holistic healing process for the body and mind with the use of fragrances. The basis of this therapy lies in the essential oils contained in plant materials. These can be found in leaves, flowers, roots, seeds, bark and resin. These oils are highly concentrated and when extracted, can either be used in a pure form or diluted and blended with other oils to produce the required strength.
Essential oils are medicinal and fragrant and travel through the blood stream reacting with hormones and enzymes. When the fragrance is inhaled the nerve ends in the nose transmit pleasurable signals to the brain which reacts to the positive power of the fragrant aroma inducing pleasant memories, restoring emotional balance and encouraging relaxation and energisation. Many of these fragrant oils have antiseptic and antitoxic qualities and often act as an antidote to viral infections, inflammations, aches and pains.
The origin of Aromatherapy cannot be traced to any particular era or civilization. But the virtues of fragrance were known even in the earliest civilizations. In India and Egypt the art of distillation of essential oils were known as early as 1500 B.C. There are many legends that arise from nearly every land that proclaim the sanctity of one fragrance or another.
The Aroma – therapist adopts the virtue of the fragrance of natural substances, extracts it into oil or synthetically reproduces it, and uses it for healing and health maintenance. In other words, the aim of the Aroma therapist is to capture the effects of the scents of the world-both conscious and unconscious and to blend them together in such a way that their effect is directed to a specific purpose.
This therapy is used not only for the treatment of physical illnesses but also used to improve the mental and even the spiritual conditions as well.
Applications of Aromatherapy
It is mainly divided into two
- External Application.
Inhalation is of two types (a) direct inhalation and (b) indirect inhalation. In the case of direct inhalation Aromatherapy remedy is applied directly to the effected area. But in indirect inhalation the person’s surroundings are treated with the chosen scent.
Inhalation is the more widely used method of delivering scent. In earlier days, the herb was burned and the fumes inhaled by the ailing individual for relief. Today, there are many other alternative methods to accomplish inhalation therapy, like use of oil diffusers, potpourri cookers, vaporizers, inhaling the fragrance directly from the bottle or soaking cotton balls etc. Oil diffuser is a machine specially designed as a system of delivering fragrances from an oil or oil blend into the air. Vaporizer is a device used for converting liquid to gaseous form for inhalation. Potpourri is a combination of different aromatic substances generally heated to infuse the air with a pleasing aromatic blend.
External application is also employed in both the healing and the magical facets of Aromatherapy. External application include Massage therapy, Aromatic bath etc. Thus through external application, the individual is actually taking in the healing properties of the essential blend through the skin. For massage therapy, appropriate oil must be produced. This is done by diluting the oil remedy with carrier oil. Carrier oils are oils of low scent or no scent used to dilute more pungently aromatic oils or blends.
There are different methods for preparing Aromatic baths. Of these two easiest and least complicated methods in the preparatory stages is narrated below.
One is to introduce the essential oil or oil blend into a small amount of Epsom salts and to dissolve the salts into a tube of hot or warm water. Another method of creating an aromatic bath is to introduce the essential oil (blend) directly into the bath water.
Precautions to be taken by the Aroma therapist:
Do not apply the remedy to an area where the skin is broken
See that the oil is not an irritant and the subject displays no negative reaction
Aroma therapist must know well the properties of the remedy and the sensitivities of the client.
In Aromatherapy, depending on the nature of ailments different methods are chosen. The ultimate purpose of Aromatherapy is to deliver the virtues of the scent to the client in a way that will most benefit his or her condition.
Chiropractic is used to relieve pain by manipulation to correct any problem that is present in the joints and muscles, especially the spine. The word ‘Chiropractic’ originated from two Greek words ‘Kheir’ which means ‘hands’ and ‘praktikos’ which means ‘practical’. A school of Chiropractic was established in about 1895 by a healer called Daniel Palmer (1845-1913).
Some times a slight displacement of the opposing articular surfaces may occur in the vertebrae. It is very probable that it will give rise to disease and illness in any part of the body. The most common external causes of vertebral lesion are occupation, habits, injuries, age and exhaustion.
Chiropractic treatment heals the abnormality in the spine. The theory evolved is that what when any part of the spine is dislocated, irrespective of the cause of the dislocation, the nerves leading from the backbone are trapped and prevented from transmitting the appropriate healthy signals from the brain to the organ involved and vice versa. As time passes, the trapped nerve causes an irritation, poisons, begin to accumulate and illness is the result. Subluxation of the vertebrae – spinal lesion may be discovered by palpation of the spinal column and may be corrected by manipulation.
The first principle of Chiropractic is that any interference with the nerve supply which has its source in the spinal cord and brain may effect any part of the body through the moving ramification of the nervous system. The interference comes in the form of lesion in the spine.
Chiropractic is used in cases of spinal disorders, head aches, neck problem etc. At birth, if the use of forceps is necessary, it may result in neck injury and it may cause headaches and neck problem as he or she grows to maturity. In the case of children, some slight accident that occurred in their early years may result in back pain in the later years. In all these cases Chiropractic is effective.
Chiropractor initially observes the patient and study the nature of the problem. X-rays are frequently used by chiropractors since they can show signs of bone disease, fractures or arthritis as well as the spines condition. After all these examination, Chiropractor will make a decision as to whether the patient will benefit from this therapy of not.
In this therapy, Chiropractors use their hands in a skilful way to effect the different manipulative techniques. He also uses applications of ice or heat to relieve the injury.
If it is decided that manipulation is necessary to treat a painful lumbar joint, the patient is made to lie on his or her side on a specially designed couch. The upper and lower spine will then be rotated manually but in opposite ways. This manipulation will have the effect of partially locking the joint that is being treated, and the upper leg is usually flexed to aid the procedure. The vertebra that is immediately below or above the joint will then be felt by the Chiropractor, and the combination of how the patient is lying, coupled with gentle pressure applied by the Chiropractor’s hand, will move the joint to its furthest extent of normal movement. Then a very quick push applied on the vertebra, results in its movements being extended further than normal ensuring full use of the joint. The muscles that surrounded the joint being suddenly stretched, has the effect of relaxing the muscles of the spine that work up on the joint. This alternation should cause the joint to be able to be used more naturally and should not be a painful procedure.
There can be a variety of effects felt after treatment-some patients may feel sore or stiff, or may ache some time after the treatment, while others will experience the lifting of pain at once. In some cases there may be a need for multiple treatments perhaps four or more, before improvement is felt.
Hydrotherapy is the use of water to heal and ease a variety of ailments. Hydrotherapy is the most beneficial system of restoring normal functions in the body. It is employed to help balance metabolism.
Scientists have revealed the wonderful palliative and curative virtues of water. No other therapeutic agent possesses so many admirable qualities as does water. Being a universal solvent its use internally in the form of enema or drinking water aids greatly in the elimination of waste products, (auto-intoxication) which readily accumulate in the body under certain conditions causing more or less pronounced injury.
Hippocrates the father of medicine had an excellent understanding of the physiological properties of water, both hot and cold which he employed in the treatment of fevers, ulcers, hemorrhage and a variety of maladies both medical and surgical.
Hydrotherapy is perhaps the oldest of all therapeutic methods. Pain and various other symptoms can be mitigated by accurately adopted Hydropathic prescriptions.
Hydrotherapy is used as a technique of physiotherapy for people recovering from serious injuries and with problems of muscle wastage. It is also used for people with joint problems and those with severe physical disabilities.
There are different ways of treatment in Hydrotherapy. They are
Cold baths, improve blood flow to internal tissues and organs. It help to reduce swelling. This method is not advisable for people with serious conditions or for the elderly or very young.
Sitz baths are given as treatment for painful conditions with broken skin, such as piles or anal fissure, and also for ailments affecting the urinary and genital organs.
For this, the person first sits in the warm water, which covers the lower abdomen and hips, with the feet in the cold water compartment. After three minutes, the patient sits in the cold water with the feet in the warm compartment.
Steam baths are used to encourage sweating and the opening of skin pores. It has a cleansing and refreshing effect.
There are many nerve endings on the skin surface which react to the stimulation given. If water of a different temperature is applied to the skin, it will either conduct heat to it or absorb heat from it. These have an influence on the nervous system and hormonal system. Water that is of the same temperature as the body has a marked relaxing and sedative effect on the nervous system. This is used in states of stress to calm the patient. This is called ‘neutral bath’.
For this patient is placed in a tub of water, the temperature of which is maintained between 33.5o C and 35.6o C (92oF to 96oF). Half an hour of immersion in a bath like this will have a sedative, or even soporific, effect.
Hot and Cold sprays
Hot and Cold Sprays of water may be given for a number of disorders but are not recommended for those with serious illness, elderly people or young children.
Flotation involves lying face up in an enclosed, dark tank of warm, heavily salted water. It refreshes and relaxes the patient.
A cold pack is really a warm pack-the name comes from the cold nature of the initial application.
A large piece of cotton material, a large piece of flannel or woolen material, a rubber sheet-to protect the bed; a hot water bottle, safety pins are the materials required for a cold pack.
First, soak the cotton material in very cold water, wring it out well and place it on the flannel that is spread out on the rubber sheet on the bed. Lay the person who is having the treatment on top of the damp material, fold it round his trunk and cover him up at once with the flannel material. Firmly place it with the help of pins.
Now pull up the top bed covers and provide a hot water bottle. The initial cold application produces a reaction that draws fresh blood to the surface of the body; this warmth, being well insulated, is retained by the damp material. The cold pack turns into a warm pack, which is gradually, over a period of six to eight-hours, bakes itself dry.
If a feeling of damp coldness is felt, the wet material may be inadequately wrung out, or the insulation materials too loose.
Wrapping is used for feverish condition, backache and bronchitis. A cold wet sheet that has been squeezed out is wrapped around the person, followed by a dry sheet and warm blanket. These are left in place until the inner sheet has dried and the covering.
Magneto therapy is a system of treating patients with the use of magnets. Not only the magnet but even magnetized water has been found to have very favourably acted on human diseases and have worked as a beneficial medicine in many cases.
A magnet has many healing properties. It not only attracts iron but also attracts all martial humors that are in the human system of blood; phlegm, black bile and yellow bile, of which the body in ancient medicine was thought to be composed. The magnet is useful in internal and external diseases.
In Science, Magneto therapy is based on natural force like electricity and in Arts; it involves the selection of magnets of different strengths to the different parts to relieve different ailments of the body.
Magneto therapy is used as complementary or supplementary to another system of medicine as and when needed. It has proved beneficial in certain diseases, especially in rheumatic and muscular aches and pains, as it has the power of draining pains out of the body.
The practice of Osteopathy is a scientific adjustment by mechanical manipulations of the joints, muscles, tissues and viscera to promote the circulation and allow the vital fluids to circulate without interruption. It stipulates that disease is caused by abnormal changes in the tissues of ligaments, muscles and organs as well as in the position and mobility of the bones wherever situated in the body. The practice of Osteopathy is done by a Osteopath and is based upon a thorough knowledge of anatomy, physiology and hygiene.
Osteopathy involves the treatment of vertebral column, joint, bone, muscle and tissue in the whole body. Structural derangement or lesion is considered the most important underlying cause of disease. A lesion may be in bony, muscular, ligamentous, facial, or other tissues. It results in lack of normal movement in surrounding tissues allowing blood and lymph to stagnate, causing acidosis, irritating nerves which pass that way and through them affecting the functions of various organs including blood vessels.
The theory evolved was that if there was a displacement of the spine the Osteopathic lesion would prevent the free flow of blood through the body and the specific organs. If the life-force inside people; the blood, was impeded this would cause an alteration of functioning elsewhere which in turn would cause disease or allow the body to become diseased.
Osteopathy states that the body is a vital and physical mechanism, subject to derangement, structural alteration and functional changes. Osteopathy includes preventive, palliative and curative measures.
Osteopath first observes the patient and studies the nature of the problem. An Osteopath thoroughly examines the patient and observes how he sits, stands or lies down and also the manner in which the body is bent to the side, back or front. The practitioner will also feel the muscles, soft tissues and ligaments to detect if there is any tension present, so that the Osteopath is able to take note of the extent and ability of the joint to function. X-rays are also checked when needed to determine the extent of any problem. After all these examinations, osteopath will take a decision as to whether the patient will benefit from this therapy or not.
This therapy is done by manipulating the joints which will lessen any tenseness present in the muscles and also improve its ability to work correctly to its maximum extent. In addition to manipulation, other methods such as massage can also be used. Muscles can be freed from tension if the tissue is massaged and this will also stimulate the flow of blood. Techniques of learning to relax, how to stand and sit correctly and additional exercises are suggested by the Osteopath.
Another form of therapy, which is known as Cranial Osteopathy is used for patients suffering from pain in the face or head. This is effected by the Osteopath using slight pressure on these areas including the upper part of the neck. If there is any tautness or tenseness present, the position is maintained while the problem improves. It is now common practice for doctors to recommend patients to use Osteopathy.
‘Reiki’ is a Japanese word meaning life energy. It is a complementary therapy and one of the many facets of alternative medicine available today. It is a method of natural healing. This therapy was discovered by Dr. Mikao Usui, a Japanese theologist. In this therapy, hands are used as the instruments of healing. This therapy is performed by either a Reiki master or a Reiki practitioner.
Reiki is centered upon universal life energy. Reiki energy is regarded as life energy at its most effective. It has a divine quality and it gives a feeling of detachment from the world so that problems doesn’t effect the user. Those who use Reiki regularly, often find they are more joyful, lively and their own inbuilt energy is enhanced. Body organs such as the skin and protective systems such as the immune system are improved. Deep relaxation is the main factor in Reiki therapy and this is very much dependent upon the divine quality attributed to the energy.
Effects of Reiki
It enables the universal energy to be received.
It creates a feeling of deep relaxation.
It removes energy blockages, allowing a flow of life energy throughout the body.
It removes toxins of various sorts.
When each Reiki therapy session is complete the whole body may be energized via the root Chakra.
Preparation before Reiki
Remove Jewellery – Before Reiki, Jewellery must be removed, so as to enable the free flow of life energy.
Wash hands- Washing hands makes the hands pleasant to feel, for the recipient of Reiki.
Say a prayer- This is in order to concentrate upon and acknowledge your aims.
If there are any physical blemishes such as burns, the hands should be held a few inches above the skin at this area. If the person is suffering from any illness, he should seek advice from a doctor as to whether they can undergo Reiki therapy.
The extent of each session of Reiki will vary depending upon circumstances and the individual receiving treatment. In the case of a small child or an elderly person, time limit of the therapy should be limited to 15 to 20 minutes.
Positions for Treatment
Reiki can be done on various parts of the body like head, chest and abdomen, back etc. There are various basic positions or arrangements in which hands are placed in different parts of the body.
Reiki on the head is useful in case of cold, sinusitis, eye complaints, allergies, fatigue, headaches, asthma and circulatory problems. In the case of Reiki on the head, the hands are placed on either side of the nose, with the palms covering the eyes, the thumbs rest by the bridge of the nose and finger-tips cover the cheeks and reach the upper lip. In the second arrangement for the head, the hands are placed over the ears, with the fingertips extending down the jaw line to the neck, encompassing the ears of course which includes the semicircular canals, responsible for balance.
Reiki on the back is useful in cases of lung and heart diseases, muscular tension, head aches and related condition. There are a number of arrangements which can be adopted on the back and lower back. In one of this arrangement, the hands are placed across the shoulder blades at mid to upper point, to influence the intestines, lung, heart and various muscles in the neck and shoulder region. If the hands are placed lower down the back, around the midriff (on the lower ribs) this position will accommodate the kidneys and adrenal glands.
In addition to these specific positions, there are many other Reiki positions in different parts of the body to deal with multitude of complaints.
Long-term whole body Reiki can be adopted not only to counteract a particular symptom, but also to treat the whole body to achieve relaxation. Relaxation is possible with the removal of block ages in energy flow and dispersal of toxins. Reiki also facilitates faster recovery from illness. This therapy can be used advantageously with other therapies like Gem therapy, Aromatherapy, Homeopathy, Yoga etc.