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Ayurveda Health Care Disciplines

Understanding the eight branches or areas of Ayurveda

Eight Branches of Ayurveda

It is astounding and inspiring to discover just how complete the Ayurvedic system is. Further, we see how it has continued in pieces, to develop into today's methods of medicine.

There were eight branches of medicine that one can recognise in ancient Indian times.

Internal Medicine (Kayachikitsa)

This is related to the soul, mind and body. It was recognized that there was a psychosomatic relationship, and that sometimes the mind caused illness in the body and vice versa. The seven body constitutions and seven mental constitutions (discussed in article one) were delineated here- Vayu (air), Pitta (fire), Kapha (water), Vayu/Pitta, Vayu/Kapha, Pitta/Kapha.

The idea of finding the cause of an illness is still a mystery to modern science, but it was the main goal of Ayurveda. Six stages of the development of disease were known then (aggravation, accumulation, overflow, relocation, builds up in a new site, and manifestation into a recognizable disease). It is fascinating to note that modern technical equipment and diagnosis can only detect a disease during the fifth and sixth stages of illness.

Ayurvedic physicians can nip an illness in the bud by using the more insightful methods of diagnosis. Health is seen as a balance of the biological humors, whereas disease is an imbalance of the humors. Ayurveda brings balance through supplying the deficient humors and reducing the excess ones. Only as a last resort do they rely on surgery.

Modern medicine is just beginning to realize the need to supply rather than remove; but they still do not know how or what to supply.

Additionally, there are over 2,000 medicinal plants classified in India's materia medica; plus a unique method of completely removing toxins from the body, known as pancha karma (five actions). This is a method of reversing the disease path from its manifestation stage, back into the blood stream and eventually into the gastrointestinal tract.

This is achieved through special diets, oil massage and steam therapy. From here, they are removed from their sites of original development through special forms of emesis, purgation and enema. Lastly, another unique aspect of Ayurveda is rejuvenation. Rebuilding the body's cells and tissues after the toxins are removed.

Ears Nose and Throat (Shalakya Tantra)

Approximately 72 diseases of the eye are discussed by Sushrut, including surgical procedures for cataracts, pterygium and for diseases of the ears, nose and throat.

Toxicology (Agada Tantra)

Discussed here is air and water pollution, toxins in animals, minerals and vegetables, epidemics, etc.

Pediatrics (Kaumarabhritya)

Here, prenatal and postnatal care of the baby and mother is addressed. Topics include how to conceive how to choose the child's gender, their intelligence and constitution, childhood diseases, and midwifery.

Surgery (Shalyatantra)

Over 2,000 years ago, sophisticated methods of surgery were known. This information spread to Egypt, Greece, Rome, and eventually throughout the world. Although China maintained this wisdom, the dark ages of the Western world lost this information. Topics of intestinal obstructions, bladder stones, and the use of dead bodies for dissection and learning were taught and practiced.

Psychiatry (Bhuta Vidya)

There is a whole branch of Ayurveda that specifically deals with the diseases of the mind. In addition to herbs and diet, yogic therapies (die. meditation, breathing, mantras, etc.) were employed.

Aphrodisiacs (Vajikarana)

This section deals with two aspects, infertility (for those who want children) and spiritual development (for those who want to transmute this sexual energy into spiritual energy).

Rejuvenation (rasayana)

Prevention and longevity are the topics discussed in this branch of Ayurveda. Charaka states that the methods of longevity include ethics and virtuous living.

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