Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ancient Medicine in Sri Lanka

The word medicinal herbs often leads us to think of some miraculous and supernatural cure. Our ancient literature has references not only to plants reputed to cure difficult and incurable diseases, but also to plants possessing many magical properties. For example, we read that a certain root chewed increases longevity or that a few drops of juice put in the mouth of a dying patient revives him.

In ancient times a medicine prescribed by a hermit earned more favour and became more famous than the one based on some test or experience. As times passed, and man started doing everything on the basis of reasoning several of the earlier beliefs seemed unsound and it happened that the use of medicinal herbs declined.

Today, the importance and efficiency of medicinal herbs is the subject of discussion, both in the developed and developing countries. In New York a general practitioner, Dr. Robert Giller says "We are learning that chemical pollution of foods and the environment may contribute to cancer, and this has been one of the factors responsible for a return to more therapies rather than loading up on synthetic chemicals, for minor aches and pains."

Most of the traditional physicians run their dispensaries in their homes and the medicines are prepared by the physicians themselves. The therapeutic scope of Ayurveda is very wide. It follows the classified pattern of taking into consideration the history of the patient which is very important for the diagnosis of the disease.

In Ayurveda the environmental factors are considered as a main cause of the imbalance of the three doshas. The "Tridosas" being the very soul of Ayurveda, all theories and principles are built around and based upon them. Thus the early morning hours are what are known as Watakala. The year is divided into six seasons. Food, clothing, and the mode of living during these seasons are clearly shown.

Ayurveda Acharyas insist on psychi-health and mental purification, and with the practical guidance they give for the conduct of daily life, such rules would make people healthy in body and mind. The importance of attending to nature's calls like hunger, thirst, defaecation , sleep etc., are taught clearly.

More than any other medical "pathy" Ayurveda has paid attention to this vital aspect of physiology. The therapeutic scope of Ayurveda helps to offer an appropriate rehabilitative measure to achieve equilibrium in the whole being. The prescriptions and hereditary formulae are composed of local herbs.

The physician is equally concerned with health problems, both physical and mental. The unique method of Ayurvedic treat merit is that it treats the whole person, while Western medicine treats only the disease.