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Traditional Medicine >> Ayurveda

Ayurveda or Ayurvedic medicine is one of the world’s oldest medical system and also an ancient system of health care that is native to the Indian subcontinent. It is presently in daily use by millions of people in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and indirectly through it being the major influence on Unani, Chinese and Tibetan Medicine. The word "Ayurveda" is a tatpurusha compound of the word āyus meaning "life" or "life principle", and the word veda, which refers to a system of "knowledge". Thus "Ayurveda" roughly translates as the "knowledge of life". According to Charaka Samhita, "life" itself is defined as the "combination of the body, sense organs, mind and soul, the factor responsible for preventing decay and death, which sustains the body over time, and guides the processes of rebirth". According to this perspective, Ayurveda is concerned with measures to protect "ayus", which includes healthy living along with therapeutic measures that relate to physical, mental, social and spiritual harmony. Ayurveda is also one among the few traditional systems of medicine to contain a sophisticated system of surgery (which is referred to as "salya-chikitsa").

Herbalism is a traditional medicinal or folk medicine practice based on the use of plants and plant extracts. Sometimes the scope of herbal medicine is extended to include fungi and bee products, as well as minerals, shells and certain animal parts.

Mother Nature has devised a marvelous system of nutrition and nurture for us. Tonic herbs strengthen and improve specific organs, systems, weaknesses or the body as a whole. They are generally gentle herbs that are used to stimulate and increase the function of organs that are not operating at their highest level and to prevent a decline in the function of organs. Many plants synthesize substances that are useful to the maintenance of health in humans and other animals. These include aromatic substances, most of which are phenols or their oxygen-substituted derivatives such as tannins. Many are secondary metabolites, of which at least 12,000 have been isolated a number estimated to be less than 10% of the total. In many cases, these substances (particularly the alkaloids) serve as plant defense mechanisms against predation by microorganisms, insects, and herbivores. Many of the herbs and spices used by humans to season food yield useful medicinal compounds.

 
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Bioinformatics Centre
Jamnalal Bajaj Tropical Disease Research Centre
Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Sevagram - 442 102
 
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