Children we are so crazy about west that we do not see the hidden treasure of Bharat. Ayurveda is one such treasure. It is very unfortunate that though Ayurveda originated in India over 5,000 years ago, it is more popular in West.
Ayurveda which literally means, ‘The knowledge for long life’, is a time-tested health care science. It is a Sanskrit word derived from two roots, Ayus and Vid meaning life and knowledge respectively. The Sushruta Samhita and Charaka Samhita are considered as an encyclopedias of medicine and are regarded as the foundational works of Ayurveda. Over the following centuries, Ayurvedic practitioners developed a number of medicinal preparations and surgical procedures for the treatment of various ailments. Kerala, the southern State of Bharat, is popular worldwide for its booming Ayurvedic treatment centres.
Ayurveda emphasises in restoring the balance of Vata, Pitta and Kapha in the body through diet, lifestyle, exercise and body cleansing, and on the health of the mind, body and spirit. It is now very popular in treating problems such as obesity, skin and body purification, stress management, spondylitis, arthritis, psoriasis, insomnia, constipation, Parkinson’s disease, frozen shoulder, Tennis elbow, etc.
Some of the popular Ayurvedic treatment methods are: Abhyangam, Dhara, Sirovasthy, Pizhichil, Virechanam and Kayavasthy.
Ayurveda and medicinal plants are synonymous. In rural India, 70 per cent of the population depends on tradition medicines or Ayurveda. Many medicinal herbs and spices are used in Indian style of cooking , such as onion, garlic ginger, turmeric, clove, cardamom, ajwain, black pepper etc. Ayurvedic medicines uses all of these either in diet or in the form of medication. Some of these medicinal plants have also been featured on Indian postage stamps also. As per the National Medicinal Plants Board, India has 15 agroclimatic zones and 17,000-18,000 species of flowering plants. Out of these 6,000-7,000 species are estimated to have medicinal usage. About 960 species of medicinal plants are estimated to be in trade of which 178 species have annual consumption levels in excess of 100 metric tones. Infact India is largest producer of medicinal plants.
However this 5000 old time-tested, traditional medical science was relegated as allopathy took centre-stage in recent years. This change in status of Ayurveda can be attributed to the invasion of the country by the British. Although Britishers were driven out of the country in 1947, the western influence on the medical system of the country continued to prevail. The government of India noticed this. In March 1955, the Department of Indian Systems of Medicine and Homoeopathy (ISM &H) was created. Leter on this was renamed as Ayush (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, Homoeopathy) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Today almost all State governments have a department of Ayush pushing traditional Indian systems of medicine to the main stream. Most importantly there are 252 Ayurveda medical colleges (public and private) in the country today imparting under graduate and post graduate education to thousands of students. Ayurveda is slowly and steadly coming back to its pre-eminent position.