Ayurveda (ayu—life; veda—knowledge of) or ayurvedic medicine is a comprehensive system of medicine, more than 5,000 years old and based on a holistic approach rooted in Vedic culture. The two early texts of Ayurveda are the Charaka Samhita and the Sushruta Samhita are compendiums of two traditions. A third tradition is that of the Kashyapas. Some plant remedies of ayurveda are also mentioned in the earlier Vedic literature of around 2nd millennium BC. Both the Sushruta and Charaka Samhitās are the product of several editorial hands, having been revised and supplemented over a period of several hundred years.
Traditional Ayurveda speaks of eight branches: kayachikitsa (internal medicine), shalyachikitsa (surgery including anatomy), shalakyachikitsa (eye, ear, nose, and throat diseases), kaumarabhritya (pediatrics), bhatavidya (psychiatry, or demonology), and agada tantra (toxicology), rasayana (science of rejuvenation), and vajakarana (the science of fertility). According to Ayurveda five elements (Panchamahabhuta) combine in different proportions to form the material world. Each element possesses different amounts of the above-mentioned gunas; thus each element has its unique qualitative nature. The elements are: Akasha – aether, Vayu or Pavan – air or wind, Agni or Tejas – fire, Ap or Jala – water and Prithvi or Bhumi – earth. The 3 main doshas are – Vata (resembles the classical element air), Pitta (fire) and Kapha (water). All bodily processes are believed to be governed by a balance of the 3 doshas. Whichever dosha appears to dominate a person’s behavior and physique is called his constitution type. Each constitution type has particular strengths and susceptibilities.
Today, Ayurveda is gaining lots of interest and prominence all around the globe. Patients – illness of disease or disorders are classified by body types, or prakriti, which are determined by proportions of the three doshas. Treatment is aimed at restoring harmony or balance to the mind-body system. Many plants traditionally used for thousands of years in Ayurveda have undergone Western-based medical research, which has identified the active compounds and measured their effects in humans.
Acupuncture (from Lat. acus, “needle” (noun), and pungere, “prick” (verb) or in Standard Mandarin, zhan jau, is one of the main branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine (others being herbal medicine and tui na). It is a therapeutic technique from that framework intended to restore health and well-being. The technique involves the insertion of needles into “acupuncture points” on the body by trained practitioners. Acupuncture treats the human body as a whole that involves several “systems of function” that are in many cases associated with (but not identified on a one-to-one basis with) physical organs. Disease is understood as a loss of homeostasis among the several systems of function, and treatment of disease is attempted by modifying the activity of one or more systems of function through the activity of needles, pressure, heat, etc. on sensitive parts of the body of small volume traditionally called “acupuncture points” in English, or “xue” (cavities) in Chinese. Treatment of acupuncture points may be performed along the twelve main or eight extra meridians, located throughout the body. Ten of the main meridians are named after organs of the body (Heart, Liver, etc.), and the other two are named after so called body functions (Heart Protector or Pericardium, and San Jiao). The two most important of the eight “extra” meridians are situated on the midline of the anterior and posterior aspects of the trunk and head.
Acupressure is a traditional Chinese medicine bodywork technique based on the same ideas as acupuncture. It involves placing physical pressure, by hand, elbow, or with the aid of various devices, on different pressure points on the surface of the body (which may be far distant from the symptom, related by what is called the meridian system) to bring about relief through greater balance and circulation of fluids (blood, lymph) and metabolic energies in the body (heat, qi). It is intended to help balance the systems of the body in order to treat chronic and acute injuries or disease.
Naturopathic medicine is the practice of attempting to improve the health of patients through the application of natural remedies. It is based on six tenets or principles: The healing power of nature, Identify and treat the cause, First do no harm, Treat the whole person, The physician as teacher, and Prevention.
The healing power of nature, has two aspects: one, basically the body has the ability to heal itself and it is the naturopathic doctor’s role to facilitate this natural process, and second that the nature heals. This includes getting enough sleep, exercising, feeding the body nutritional food and, if needed, additional earth food such as herbs and algae which is a living food. The `identify and treat the cause’ principle states that the underlying root causes of disease must be removed for complete healing to take place. These root causes can exist at many levels: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. It is the naturopath’s role to identify this root cause, in addition to alleviating suffering by treating symptoms. The process of healing includes the manifestations of symptoms, so that any therapy that interferes with this natural healing process by masking symptoms is considered suppressive and should be avoided (First do no harm principle). One of the biggest tenants of naturopathy – Treat the whole person – is the belief that conventional medicine does not treat the “whole person”, and that naturopathy goes beyond treatment of symptoms and treats the entire body, as well as the spirit and mind. It is the role of the naturopath to educate an individual in their practices and encourage that individual to “take responsibility for their own health”. This cooperative relationship between doctor and patient is essential to healing – The healer is the teacher. The ultimate goal of the naturopathic physician is prevention. The emphasis is on building health not fighting illness. This is done by fostering healthy lifestyles
Homeopathy calls for treating “like with like”, a doctrine referred to as the “Law of Similars”. The practitioner considers the totality of symptoms of a given case, and then chooses as a remedy a substance that has been reported in a homeopathic proving to produce a similar set of symptoms in healthy subjects. The remedial substance is usually given in extremely low concentrations. Dilutions are performed according to a procedure known as potentization. Today, about 3000 remedies are used in homeopathy, of which approximately 300 are used based on comprehensive Materia Medica information,