Ayruveda, the traditional system of Indian medicine, deals with knowledge about life dealing with body and mind. In the term Ayurveda ayus means jivita or life and Veda denotes knowledge, more precisely science. Thus, Ayurveda is the science of life. The philosophy of Ayurveda is based on the theory of origin of universe from five elements called Panchmahabhutas, namely, Akasha (space or ether), Vayu (air), Aap (water), Agni or Tejas (fire), Prithvi (earth) and that all objects and living bodies are composed of Panchamahabhutas. The human body matrix is governed by single or combination of Panchamahabhutas, giving rise to Tridoshas (humours), namely,
Regulation of food intake is required to maintain perfect balance of these three doshas which leads to good health and longevity. Any imbalance due to internal or external factors leads to ailments and calls for their diagnosis and treatment. To combat imbalances of tridoshas internal structural, anatomy, pathology etc. of a human body is thoroughly studied in Ayurveda. To fight illness or for restoring balance of tridoshas, a wide range of therapeutic measures based on herbs, animals and minerals; adopting processes such as plastering, fumigation, decoctions, timing of medicines, surgeries etc. form the basis of Ayurvedic treatment. In the process of restoring of tridosha, proper regulation of plant food and herbal drugs supply constitutes a major and perennial source of human medicine. Hence, plants were studied in a scientific way based on principles of Ayurveda and findings were noted as Vrikshayurveda. Because the structure of any branch of knowledge is built upon small number of basic principles and one basic principle of nature is related to another basic principle due to inner harmony of the nature. Hence, two sciences can be united on the basis of fundamental principles. Ayurveda is based on the principles of nature and Vrikshayurveda is based on principles of Ayurveda and nature therefore they go hand in hand with same basic principles. Moreover, the aim of Ayurveda is to achieve a happy, healthy and peaceful life form humans and that of Vrikshayurveda is to provide the same to the plants.
Literature about medication can be divided into two groups: first, Vedic comprising Rig Veda (Aushadhdi sukta of tenth mandala) and Atharva Veda (book 8, hymn 7- bhaishjyam, ayusham and oshadhayah) in which numerous verses provide references of plants being used for healing. But both are without proper approach to healing. But in Atharva Veda different herbs and plants are named, classified and praised only for medicinal properties of healing on which Ayurveda is based. Details are also available in the upanga of Atharva Veda, called Ayurveda.
The second group of literature comprises compilation of various specialized treatises on Ayurveda beginning with Charaka Samhita and Sushurt Samhita. The survey of literature on Ayurveda reveals that these two treatises appear to be the base or Pole star to later Ayurvedic samhitas, nighantus, rasgrahthas and other related treatises. To name a few, the Sarngadhara-samhitta of Sarngadhara, Yogaratnakara and Bhdvaprakaia of Bhavamishra Dhanvanjtari-nighantu, Madanapalanighantu, Rajanighantu, Dravyaguna-sangraha, Rajavallabha-nighantu, Sodhalanighantu, etc.
Physician might had realized that out of three, earth (minerals), animals and plants, omnipresent plants can easily fulfill requirement of balanced diet and medicine to keep the body healthy, as they are available in large number as well in different varieties. Hence, a physician is advised to take up the treatment using drugs. Drugs (aushadha) are material aids to the treatment of diseases. Ayurveda classifies drugs of plant origin as well as other also into two types: those giving strength, and those curing diseases. Sushruta enumerates the specific physical properties of five elements in drugs and their physiological actions when taken. The properties of a substance, namely, Rasa (taste), Guna (quality), Virya (potency), Vipaka (assimilability), and Prabhdva (inherent nature or action ), may vary in different samples but its real character remains unchanged even after drying, pulverizing, and other operations. Drugs are also classified in tridoshas prior to its administration for cure of disease.
Rasa pacifies disturbed humours, Guna causes a particular effect when used either internally or externally, Virya induces physiological actions, Vipaka causes digestion of drugs, and Prabhava is a peculiar active force producing a characteristic physiological effect. These five drug properties are further subdivided for specific use.
The five properties of herbal or plant drug encompass the entire group of Dravya-guna vidyan (Ayurvedic pharmacology). All the pharmacopeias contain information about large number of plants and most of them are scientifically identified to be correct.
|No||Ayurvedic treaty||No of plants||Scientifically identified|
Information Available in Dravya-guna vidyan and its Application in Treatment
|No||Ayurvedic property||Arjun (Terminalia arjuna)||Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum)|
|1||Rasa (taste)||Kashaya (astringent)||Katu (bitter)|
|2||Guna (quality)||Ruksha (unctuous)||Laghu (light)|
|3||Virya (potency)||Sheeta (cold)||Ushana (hot)|
|4||Vipaka (assimilability)||Katu (bitter)||Katu (bitter)|
|5||Prabhdva (action)||Hridya, Pittahara||Pitta vardhak|
Based on this information Arjun (Terminalia arjuna) is administered for treatment of chest diseases, cardiac disorders, lipid imbalances, etc. and Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) for influenza, genitourinary diseases and fear-psychosis, etc.
Once again this section also lacks in details of agricultural science but application of botanical and medical science knowledge to the field of agriculture was being tried by other group of scholars.