[ Agada Tantra | Kaumara Bhritya | Graha Chikitsa | Rasayana Chikitsa | Kayachikitsa | Shalakya Tantra | Shalya Chikitsa | Vrishya Chikitsa ]
1. Agada Tantra
Ayurveda is oldest science known to mankind and mainly aims at maintenance of health. According to Ayurvedic science from the time of birth to death, doshas influence the health status and physical constitution of a person, either positively or negatively. Ayurvedic science is so elaborate and vast that it is divided into eight branches of Ayurveda known as Ashtang Ayurveda and each branches is specialized in a particular treatment.
Agada tantra or toxicology is a branch of Ashtang Ayurveda, which includes the science of poisons. Damstra chikitsa branch of ayurveda deals with various methods of cleaning the poisons out of the body as well as recommends antidotes for particular poisons. It deals with a wide range of natural toxins originating from wild lives like animals, birds, insects etc., plants including herbs (belladonna, aconite etc.), vegetables, minerals (leads, mercury, arsenal etc.) and artificial poisons prepared from poisonous drugs. This branch also deals with air and water pollution, which are basically the causes of various dangerous epidemics.
The three samhitas described about this branch of toxicology, which also include description, and disadvantages of food of opposite qualities, drugs and food causing chronic poisoning symptoms. In ayurveda certain poisons are used as medicines after proper processing and quantification. Precious stones like diamond, ruby and poisonous minerals like lead and mercury were in use for this purpose. This branch also has information regarding fatal doses of various poisons, which are resorted to in a view to administer those into an enemys body system.
2. Kaumara Bhritya (Bala Chikitsa)
It is the branch of Ashtang Ayurveda that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases related to Pregnancy, childbirth (delivery) and diseases of children (Pediatrics). This branch of kaumarabhritya deals comprehensively about prenatal, postnatal baby care and gynecology. With the view to achieve its ultimate aim of creating a healthy and disease free society Ayurveda strives to make the baby from the time of its conception upto the time of its growth into an adult.
Kaumarabhritya has recognized that the mental and physical state of the mother has direct links with the health of the child. It has recommended particular diet, regimen, nutrition and conduct for women during and after delivery. It is important for the mother to attain perfect health so that she can feed her child. So advanced was this science that thousands of years back Charaka described the growth and progress of fetus in minute detail. Even it mentioned about a technique called punsanvan vidhi for having a child of ones desired gender, intelligence and constitution.
This branch meticulously dealt with the problem of infertility and its causes and treatment methods. Apart from that kaumarbhritya deals with various disorders concerning childrens health such as gastrointestinal diseases, teething disorder, rickets other than midwifery. The branch of Pediatrics is mainly concerned with children. The diseases suffered by them and the various methods of treatment given for curing.
3. Graha Chikitsa
It is a branch of Ayurvedic treatment, which is mainly concerned with the diseases acquired or inherited from apparently unknown causes. This branch of Ayurveda specifically deals with the diseases of mind or psychic conditions, which can be caused by super natural forces or invasion of some evil spirit. Different experts have explained the word bhuta differently. Some experts say that bhuta means ghosts and similar bad spirits who cause abnormal psychological conditions. Others say bhuta represents microscopic organisms such as virus, bacteria that are not visible to naked eye.
In modern terminology it can be considered as idiopathic diseases in which the exact cause of disease is unknown. The concept of Ayurveda also believes in the past karma or deeds as a causative factor of certain diseases. Bhuta Vidya deals with the causes, which are directly not visible and have no direct explanation in terms of tridosha. In most cases illness is caused by the disturbance of mind, where rajas (passion) and tamas (ignorance) are supposed to be the contributing factors. These problems can be related to modern psychiatry.
According to Ayurveda, diseases are caused by affliction due to Deva, Asura, Gandharva, Yaksha, Rakshasa, Pitara, Pishacha, Naga and other demons or evil spirit. The exact patho- physiology of these disorders is to be extensively researched. Bhuta Vidya mention use of various disinfectant plants under the title of `Graha vidya dravya` for fumigation to make the atmosphere germ free. In addition to this herbs, diet, use of mantras and yogic therapies like meditation and pranavama to pacify the psychological disturbances of a patient. This branch of Ayurvedic science mainly tries to explore the unknown and the hidden facts of particular diseases.
4. Rasayana Chikitsa (Jara Chikitsa)
It is the branch of Ayurvedic science that deals with various aspects of preventive health care. Rasayana Chikitsa includes longevity, improved memory, health, youthfulness, glow, complexion, generosity, and strength of body and senses. Rasayana improves the metabolic activities and results in best possible bio- transformation leading to health. Jara Cikitsa or Rasayana Tantra is the rejuvenating therapy, which promotes rejuvenation in a healthy person and cures the disease of a diseased person.
This branch of Ashtang Ayurveda aims at achieving a long and healthy life. The philosophy of Ayurveda is to establish good health rather than just curing diseases. Rasayana is an active step towards achieving this. It prescribes treatment for repairing wear and tear of the body due to aging or diseases. It rejuvenates the tissues of the body to give a young look. Rasayana means that physical, mental and spiritual aid to the human body, which brings the body out of its condition of natural or man made loss. It claims that it retards the process of aging.
Rasayana-chikitsa basically boosts the ojas (vital force of life) and the immune system. It helps a person to maintain good health or to establish impaired or lost physical or mental health. Ojas gives a bright look, sharp memory, high performance and every expected pleasure. To achieve this state of health, intermittent regeneration of dhatu (body tissues) is recommended by ayurveda.
Rasayana chikitsa is the optimal way to achieve this. The Jara chikitsa regime comprises of a very strict diet. Amalaki, haritaki, trifala, brungaraj, ashwagandha, punarnava, chitraka are some examples of herbs that are called rasayanakar. The Rasayana medicines are believed to have aphrodisiac qualities. In short Rasayana chikitsa is rejuvenation and provides a long, disease free and vigorous life to the person who undergoes this therapy seriously it helps to bring life back to normal.
Kayachikitsa is the branch of Ayurveda that deals with general medicine. The total treatment procedure is called Kaya Chikitsa (internal medicine), where kaya means body and chikitsa means treatment. The Charaka Samhita is the most important scripture on kayachikitsa. It discussed the basic principles of treatment, various types of therapies and purification or detoxification methods. This natural alternative medicine recognizes that the body of a person is the product of the constant psychosomatic interactions.
The imbalances in the three doshas of vata-pitta-kapha occur sometimes by the mind and sometimes by the bodys dhatu (tissues) and mala (toxin deposits). Hence, the kayachikitsa branch of this system of herbal and holistic medicine, delves deep into ascertaining the root cause of the illness. The entire Ayurvedic therapeutics is based on the concept of Agni. The concept of Kaya (Agni) is unique and is responsible for bio- transformation.
As it is known that energy can neither be created nor it can be destroyed. In human body Kaya provides the necessary energy for all bodily activities. The energy changes its form from one form to another and our body derives energy from the food we eat and the air we breathe. The biological system transforms this energy to the energy, which is utilized by the cells.
The section of Nidana Sthana of Charaka Samhita deals with etiology, pathogenesis and diagnosis of an illness. Six stages of the development of disease are enumerated as aggravation, accumulation, overflow, relocation, build up in a new site and manifestation into a recognizable disease. In kayachikitsa there is always an opportunity to stop the disease at each stage preventing its full manifestation.
One of the significant methods of treatment under kayachikitsa is panchakarma. This is a method of reversing the disease path from its manifestation stage back into to its site of original development through special forms of emesis, purgation and enema etc.
Another unique aspect of kayachikitsa is rejuvenation called kaya kalpa. The term kaya kalpa means renewal of body. According to Ayurveda the human body is made of seven types of dhatu or tissues-structures they are as follows: plasma, blood, muscle, fat, bone, marrow and reproductive fluids.
To prolong the youthfulness of the body kayachikitsa applies several physical and mental disciplinary methods with special medicinal preparations, to rebuild the bodys cells and tissues after the initial process of detoxification, through panchakarma. Kaya Chikitsa deals with the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of general diseases like skin disorders, diabetes, tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis and such other disorders.
6. Shalakya Tantra
This branch of Ayurveda deals in details with the etiology, diagnosis, prognosis, prevention and treatment of diseases of head, ear, nose, eye and throat. This branch of Ayurvedic science is called Shalakya due to excessive use of Shalaka, which means a rod or probe. Ancient Ayurvedic texts such as Sushrut Samhita and Ashtang Hridya has described treatment of different types of conjunctivitis and glaucoma, along with surgical procedure of the removal of cataract and cosmetic surgery such as rhinoplasty and auroplasty (repair of traumatized nose and ear).
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. Problems like wax in ear, dryness of eyes etc have also been dealt. Apart from these complicated methods of treatment the three samhitas - Charaka, Susruta and Astanga Hridaya, recommended simple home remedies for minor problems like dryness of eye, migraine and mouth ulcers etc. which are being successfully administered even today.
7. Shalya Chikitsa
In the ancient India Ayurveda pioneered surgery. Shalya Chikitsa is a significant branch of Ayurvedic science. The name of the sage-physician Susruta is synonymous with surgery. From his treatise Susruta Samhita we come to know that thousand of years ago sophisticated methods of surgery were practiced in India.
Topics of intestinal obstructions, bladder stones, and the use of dead bodies for dissection and learning were taught and practiced in ancient India. The original text of Susruta discusses in detail about an exhaustive range of surgical methods including about how to deal with various types of tumors, internal and external injuries, fracture of bones, complications during pregnancy and delivery, and obstruction in intestinal loop. Susruta was the first surgeon to develop cosmetic surgery. His surgical treatment for trichiasis can be to some of the modern operative techniques used for this eye disease.
The use of various surgical instruments is also described in the Susruta Samhita for the treatment. The instruments described were made from stone, wood and other such natural materials. The treatment of Shalya Tantra was popular because this could give fast relief as compared to the slow process of recovery from medicines or herbs. A disease, which requires instant treatment in those cases shalyachikitsa was the best method.
Charaka the best-known physician of Ayurvedic medicine also recommended for Shalya Tantra in treatment of certain diseases, which required immediate attention like hemorrhoids. The long foreign rule in India and lack of promotion stalled the progress of Ayurvedic surgery in the middle of the second millennium. This is the branch of Ayurveda, which deals with the treatment of Agni.
8. Vrishya Chikitsa
Ayurveda in this branch of science explains the art of producing healthy progeny for the creation of a better society. Hence, deals with various diseases like infertility and conditions relating to weak shukra dhatu or the vital reproductive fluids of the body. Apart from prescribing a lot of effective formulations to provide nutrition to enhance the quality of these vital body fluids it specifically emphasized to lead a highly disciplined life.
Charaka states the use of aphrodisiacs as mentioned in ayurvedic therapies enhance ones potency. Vajikarana means the medicine or therapy by which the man becomes capable of copulating with the woman. It also helps in nourishing the body of the person.
This branch of ayurveda highlighted that celibacy is essential for good health. It helps increase the will power, intellect and memory in addition to a healthy body. The shukra dhatu has a direct link with ojas or the immunity of the body. Hence, vajikaran prescribed the therapeutic use of various aphrodisiacs and tonic preparations for enhancing the vigor and reproductive capabilities of men that also strengthens other body tissues (dhatus) like muscles, fats, bones and blood.
Vajikarana is mainly concerned with therapies concerning specific remedies for male infertility and impotence as well as female infertility. They serve as good aphrodisiacs and induce an immediate sense of pleasurable excitement, along with increased fertile seminal secretions even in an ageing person.