Ayurveda is a branch of medicine that covers the entire gamut of human health. It is not just the ancient medicines and herbal remedies; the science of Ayurveda includes everything that has to deal with the overall well-being of a person. From cough to virility, Ayurveda has solutions for it all.
The literal meaning of Ayurveda is ‘science of life,’ it is an all-embracing healing system using ancient remedies and therapeutic practices. In fact, it is the only science that uniquely considers the mental and physical build of an individual and provides treatment centered on the principle: ‘ One man’s food is another man’s poison.’ This sweeping science of life is further cataloged into 8 main branches, unitedly defined as Ashtang Ayurveda.
These 8 branches of Ayurveda are:
1. Kaya Chikitsa
Kaya means ‘agni’, and Chikitsa means ‘treatment.’ It is a branch that deals with the purification and detoxification of the body. There is a digestive fire in our body that transmutes food into energy, which is required for the efficient functioning of the human body. The improper functions of this agni or digestive fire lead to ailments like nausea, diarrhea, or other minor health issues that emerge as an alteration to the lifestyle.
This branch uses general medication and treatment to cure the ailment. The treatments are based on the premise that the body has the ability to heal itself given it is provided with what it needs. In this type of Ayurvedic treatment, ‘The Shat Kriyas’ is used for the purpose of cleaning and rejuvenating the body from the inside out.
2. Baala Chikitsa
Baala Chikitsa, as the name suggests, is associated with the treatment of children. This branch is also known as Kaumarbhritya. Children or infants cannot communicate their health problems like adults, and thus, have to be administered medicines that their bodies can easily accept. As a result, a unique branch of Ayurveda called Baala Chikitsa is dedicated to the treatment of children.
The branch deals in treating a wide array of illnesses related to children, such as teeth problems, digestive issues, and bone health, including the ones during pregnancy and birth. The branch covers various aspects of pediatrics and gynecology. It also suggests some general methods for healing diseases, such as the use of quality breast milk, free from germs, for breastfeeding children.
3. Graha Chikitsa
Graha Chikista is concerned with the treatment of psychological and mental diseases emanating from psychosomatic origins. This type of psychological disorder does not display any discernible signs but has adverse effects on the person’s mental health. The ancient people believed that the lives of humans are negatively affected by unknown factors, which are called ‘grahas’ or demons. Due to the influence of such negative energies, various mental illnesses such as lunacy epilepsy take place. However, owing to its mythological roots, the branch is not adequately practiced or given validation to this day.
This psychic branch of Ayurveda focuses on the use of herbs and their soothing positive effects on mental health. The treatment methods of this field incorporate the use of certain mantras (suggested according to the psychological health requirement), breathing techniques, herbs, nutritious diets, and other yogic techniques.
4. Shalakya Chikitsa
Shalakya Chikitsa is the same as a surgical treatment that has helped in healing wounds for thousands of years. This field is comprehensively mentioned in the works of the ancient physician ‘Sushruta’, who is remembered as a renowned physician and is regarded as the father of plastic surgery.
This field of Ayurveda deals with healing diseases that emerge from external sources. This treatment was enormously used during the war times when the militants were injured by the attack of arrows, swords, and other sharp weapons. Shalakya Chikitsa includes surgically treating diseases such as cataracts, abdominal injuries, urinary stones, fistula, etc.
5. Damstra Chikitsa
This field of Ayurveda is concerned with the prevention and treatment of the different toxins in the body. It is also known as Toxicology since it cures diseases caused by bites or poisoning by insects, birds, plants, reptiles, worms, etc. The branch also focuses on the contamination in the environmental elements such as air or water pollution, as a poisonous environment leads to mass epidemics. Ayurveda believes that it is not the purity of the human body but the removal of toxins from the air, water, and earth that would lead to a better quality of life.
6. Jara Chikitsa
‘Jara’ means aging, so this field deals with treating the ailments associated with aging. The branch includes treatment that prevents the process of aging or slows it down to some extent. It is also referred to as Rasayana activity, which has to deal with looking or being younger. The treatments have the potential to prohibit aging symptoms and revitalize overall bodily health. The main focus in this field is to prevent the body from resorting to the various signs of aging. Jara Chikitsa involves the use of Ayurvedic oils, herbs, and nutritious foods to maintain robust health and natural glow.
7. Vajikaran Chikitsa
This branch of Ayurveda is related to sexual health, virility, and offspring. Ayurveda accords that sex is an integral part of human life. Vajikaran Chikitsa is concerned with the health of reproductive organs and treatment for related illnesses.
The field explicitly focuses on virility, strength, potency, pleasure, herbal medicines, and treatments. All the treatments and medication are designed to ensure the proper functioning of reproductive organs and fertility. There are various herbs suggested in Vajikaran Chikitsa, such as Ashwagandha, Satavari, and Musali, to treat a variety of male and female sexual dysfunctions such as infertility, erectile dysfunction, low sperm count, etc.
8. Urdhvanga Roga Chikitsa
The word ‘Urdhava’ means upward, and ‘anga’ means limb, so the term ‘Urdhavanga’ covers the treatment related to the upper limb. This field deals with the treatment of body parts above the neck region. Urdhavanaga Chikitsa manages the diagnosis, prevention, and cure of diseases in the upper region of the body, such as the nose, ears, brain, nervous system, throat, etc. The branch is also known as Shalakya Tantra as it employs an instrument called ‘Shalako,’ to treat the various deformities, especially the ones in the eye, throat, ear, etc.
Knowing the eight branches of Ayurveda, the fact that most of our modern-day treatment finds its roots in our ancient medicinal science is astonishing. The healing therapies gaining popularity nowadays were in practice even before Einstein discovered his theory of relativity. Ayurveda is more than sufficient to advocate the excellence of ancient medicine and its efficiency in treating the human race.