South Africa – land of prospects
South Africa is one of the most developed countries in Africa continent which is drawing people from all over the world with its essence.
This country has a huge historical importance when it comes to trace the ancient sources of knowledge.
This is the sacred land which was chosen by the first ever human form of life, Australopithecus homosepian, to be his home. That is why, when we start tracing history of medicinal knowledge, our first step is Southern African Countries, one of those is South Africa.
Importance of South Africa in medicinal science is still untouched.
This is the country where we can see all the latest techniques in the field of Medicine.
Although Modern Medicine is the most established one, South African people still believe in their ancient instincts when it comes to medicinal knowledge.
This sacred land provided a good soil for all cultural roots to grow deep.
Every South African has a modern face with a heart which still has great faith in his heritage. That is why; Traditional Medicinal Knowledge is still alive & growing strong in South Africa.
Sustained growth of economy & researches provide a good base for growth of all new technologies & sciences including our Traditional Medicinal Systems which are unfortunately called & used as Alternative Medicines.
In this great effort of establishment of our Traditional Medicinal Wisdoms, Ayurveda is also offering its sincere contribution.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is ancient Medicinal system of India. Archeological references of Ayurveda date back approx. 5000 yrs B.C.
Word Ayurveda is made of two words.
Ayu means life. Ayu is defined as a combination of body, senses, mind & spirit.
Veda means knowledge. It provides knowledge about taking care of body, senses, mind & spirit.
It has a scientific & systematic approach. It aims for two goals: Prevention of health of healthy people & complete cure of health problems of patients which also include prognostic guidance too.
It provides tailor-made health management to prevent health problems of individuals & to cure the diseases of individuals with natural medicines.
Ayurveda as an organized science with eight well researched branches i.e. Ashtanga Ayurveda
Ayurveda is a fully grown Traditional Medicinal Science which has eight different branches dealing with eight different subjects in Medicine. That is why it is also called as ‘Ashtanga Ayurveda’.
Eight branches of Ayurveda are as follows;
Kaya chikitsa- This is clinical medicine of Ayurveda which tells us about appearance of disease in six steps & how to control the disease on the specific step with the help of accurate diagnosis & treatment. As a complete health science of those times, it explains about etiological factors, pathological process, symptoms, signs, complications, prognosis, treatment & prophylactic care for diseases of all thirteen systems in body.
Balaroga- This is Pediatrics of Ayurveda which tells us about taking care of children from newborns till 12 yrs. This branch explains about etiological factors, pathological process, symptoms, signs, complications, prognosis, treatment & prophylactic care for pediatric diseases & also for taking care of children from spirits.
Graha chikitsa- This branch deals with Psychiatric disorders & disorders due to spiritual possessions. It also contains information about rituals & charms.
Urdhavanga chikitsa- This is the branch dealing with etiological factors, pathological process, symptoms, signs, complications, prognosis, treatment & prophylactic care for all the diseases of organs above the sternal notch (ENT)
Shalyachikitsa- This is the surgical branch of Ayurveda which explains about surgical tools & methods of surgery. Cataract surgery explained by Surgical Expert of Ayurveda named Sushruta, is still used for reference in Modern Ophthalmic surgeries. He was also the inventor of successful plastic surgeries in hose times.
Danshtra or Agadtantra- This is the Toxicology of Ayurveda. The Greeks were first to translate & introduce this Ayurvedic Toxicology to the west.
Jarachikitsa or Rasayan chikitsa- This is the branch dealing with geriatric disease management & rejuvenation therapies.
Vajikaranchikitsa- This is the branch dealing with etiological factors, pathological process, symptoms, signs, complications, prognosis, treatment & prophylactic care for sexual health problems & Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
Interesting Features of Ayurveda:
• One of the oldest Traditional Medicinal Systems on Earth dating back to 5000 B.C.
• An organized science with eight well researched branches having expertise & scripts specialized in it from thousands of years.
• Ayurveda is based on Indian Philosophy which gives this Medicinal Science a spiritual aspect.
• Ancient wisdom with ancient techniques & equipments which amaze us with the technical accuracy for that time.
• Ayurveda also had fully developed branches dealing with wellbeing of animals & plants but few scripts are only found after destruction of ancient universities because of invasions.
• Well-organized written documentation is present which is one of the oldest scripts of Medicinal Knowledge.
• Thorough knowledge about diseases like TB, Leprosy, Sexually Transmitted Diseases etc, can be seen which was the complete health solution at that time.
• Ayurveda has a well-developed branch called Agadtantra which is ancient Toxicology & according to references from history of Ayurveda, Toxicology was introduced to the West by Ayurveda.
• Very first technique of Cataract & Plastic Surgery is explained by Ayurvedic Surgical Expert, Maharshi Sushruta.
• Maharshi Sushruta also explained a full technique of Human Body Dissection which adds an attribute to Ayurveda which is a well researched Ayurvedic Anatomy. He also explained about bones, muscles, organs, seven basic layers of skin, all the number of channels in body like arteries, veins, nerves & lymphatics & has explained differential study of all these channels.
• Ayurvedic texts explain about a disease called Pratilom Rajyakshma which is very much similar to AIDS.
• Nadipariksha or diagnosis of disease or imbalances in body is a unique feature of Ayurveda.
• Ancient Ayurvedic Texts have amazing explanation about personal & social behaviour of Ayurvedic Practitioner, how to manage relations with patients, society & Royal people, how to use herbs wisely without wasting them, how to prognose & manage patients of serious complications & also about various other duties of Ayurvedic Practitioners. Although that was a complete data about Medical Ethics for that time, these Ethics are timeless Ethical Guide for Ayurvedic Practitioner in any time.
• According to Ayurveda, expression of the Universal substance in every body may contain same ingredients but permutations & combinations of these factors make every individual a unique physical & mental constitution which is called as Prakruti.
• Ayurveda is a unique Medicinal Science which has the concept of Health Maintenance of healthy people & just to assist their own immunity with changes in diet, behaviour & medicines if required.
• Ayurveda tells to follow a specific daily routine (Dinacharya), seasonal routine (Rutucharya) & Ethical Routine (Sadvritta) which has the same philosophy but a tailor-made solution for individual health management.
• Ayurvedic Pathology explains a six step pathological process of disease & also guides Practitioners by explanation of various signs like changes in eyes, tongue, pulse, skin & changes in stools-urine etc. That helps practitioner to control the disease at earliest possible step with correct diagnosis & selection of treatments.
• Panchakarma or Five Cleansing Techniques for internal purification of body is special feature of Ayurveda.
• Prophylactic Treatments as compulsory part of Treatment is another unique feature of Ayurveda. It has a wide range of rejuvenating therapies which include diets & medicines too.
• Ayurveda texts explain about all the factors we consume as food which includes water, milk, grains etc. It also guides about wise ways to prepare & eat that food to add a good spiritual value to it. This dietary wisdom which also thinks about spiritual aspect of food is another unique feature of Ayurveda.
• As Ayurveda believes in expression of constitution at exact time of conception it guides women to follow a good diet, behavior & ethical routine to provide their children a good base for life from the very first moment of their life i.e. conception. Mothers are asked to follow this routine even three months before they decide for having a child. This philosophy is called as ‘Garbhasanskar’ or ‘Providing good environment for wellbeing of foetus’.
• Ayurvedic Pharmacology & Pharmacy is an amazing Chemical Laboratory in itself. It gives wonderful explanation about various ancient equipments used to purify minerals & metals & to convert Precious Stones, Semiprecious Stones & hard metals in to nonpoisonous, easily digestible & medicinal form with the help of special Furnaces. Thorough technical information of setting up a furnace suitable for material is explained.
• Ayurvedic Phytomedicine gives thorough information about all plants used in medicines. This information includes classification of these plants, morphological features of plant & pharmacognotical knowledge of that plant. Because of this guidance, Ayurvedic Doctors can recognize the herb they want & also know that plant in botanical & pharmacological point of view.
• Modern Ayurvedic syllabus encompasses all the subjects like modern Anatomy, physiology, biochemistry etc which enables Ayurvedic Doctors to practice with a sense of present time.
Ayurveda - a comprehensive option for health management for future South Africa
Ayurveda can be helpful in many ways for the modern South Africa.
I am listing these ways as follows:
1. Comprehensive preventive medicine for a wide geographical & geological diversity of South Africa
This country is one of the most versatile lands with rich geographical diversity & geological wealth. Richness of its soil has attracted visionaries from all over the world since 400 yrs.
This geographical & geological versatility creates need of a Medicinal Science which will be a complete knowledge to guide people how to cope with this geodiversity.
Ayurveda provides a detailed guidance to live a holistically healthy life in any climate on this Earth. We definitely need a preventive measure to avoid health disturbances due to seasonal climatic changes & geographical climatic changes here.
2. An alternative medicine with tailor-made holistic health guidance suitable for multiracial social structure
South African Society is a unique blend of modern face with deep faith in heritage.
We have accepted all the changes of this new era but still deep inside there is heart which seeks for blessings of their ancestors & ancient wisdom for almost all problems.
Urban areas demand a good traditional medicine which will have evidence based knowledge than rural areas where cultural command is stronger than modern lifestyle.
Today all countries in the world are facing the change in their social structures due to immigrants coming for various purposes. But very few of them accepted & provided these different people a good platform to flourish. That is the reason why ‘Racial diversity’ is the unique feature of South African Society.
In these modern times where whole world is coming close due to fast growth of Information Technology & transport, the concept of Global Village is definitely around the corner. We can’t avoid a multiracial & multilinguistic society but we can teach our future generation to adapt themselves to this condition with open eyes & open minds.
That is why; this country is doing great efforts to protect their cultural roots by maintaining the multiracial form.
It creates a need of a well-developed medicinal knowledge which will provide individual guidance to manage holistic health. Although other Alternative Medicines provide this guidance, Ayurveda is the best option with knowledge of preventive medicine & diseases management which will be tailor-made therapy for every individual.
South Africans have a great respect for traditional medicinal system but need evidence-based knowledge due to fast modernization & inquisitive awareness of new generation towards health. Ayurveda is the best option for South Africans who are seeking for ancient wisdom which is proven by thorough research.
3. A complete medicinal system which will provide a preventive as well as therapeutic treatment with holistic approach
Although Ayurveda is one of the best ancient medicinal systems, it needs a flexible form which will be suitable for modern man.
We all know the power of marketing. If we want Ayurveda to be accepted by modern South African people, we need a good support of well-equipped clinics with latest technologies. For example, although successfully cured patients are the best evidences to prove success of treatment, we need equipments which will prove this success microbiologically & even in other investigative formats.
South African cities are business hubs with all the cutting edge development. This provides all the modern equipment for establishing Ayurveda with a modern form.
4. A wonderful stress-buster for the fast developing urban areas
Fast development & westernization of our cities is a universal problem. That puts a lot of pressure on our minds to stay in the cutting edge competition while maintaining integrity of our minds. In South Africa, although we strive for cutting edge modern lives but have a great passion for culture & traditions in our hearts. We can get what we need in the form of Ayurveda, a complete holistic guidance which can give us a range of stress-buster therapies like various types of massages with medicated oils, medicinal steams, cleansing of our internal systems & health maintenance with tailor-made diet routines, daily activity routines & natural medicinal support.
For people who cannot afford Spa Treatments, they can seek for Ayurvedic Practitioners who can provide them all these facilities.
5. A strong philosophy to guide people for wise use of abundant herbal treasure in a unique way which is Ayurvedic pharmacognosy
Very few countries have a rich & diverse geographical & geological abundance like South Africa. That is why; South African Flora & Fauna is well-known for its variety & uniqueness. This country has a contribution of 30000 species of higher plants among which 3000 species are used for medicinal purposes.
Almost 350 species are most commonly used & traded worldwide.
This proves that majority of South Africans believe in medicinal properties of plants.
Ayurvedic knowledge of herbal medicine is easily accepted by Indians there. South African Indians who immigrated there for various purposes since historical times have cherished & protected their cultural roots for more than 150 yrs now. Ayurveda is preferred by majority South African Indians as first choice of alternative medicine.
They introduced this Ancient Indian Medicine to South Africans. Although they knew about Ayurveda, it was not quite attractive medicinal knowledge for them due to their strong faith in their ancestral wisdom.
Since the modern world started seeking for herbal knowledge, Modern South Africans have increased curiosity for this known but still Indian form of medinical knowledge for them.
Ayurveda has its unique phyto- pharmaceutical knowledge in form of Dravyagunavidyan.
This makes Ayurveda a good option of Alternative Medicine for South Africans who look for logic & research based knowledge about herbs.
Study of South African Medicinal Plants in Ayurvedic perspective:
It might be question in many minds, ‘Can we use our local plants by using Ayurvedic Philosophy?’ Answer is yes!
In my efforts to give a logical answer to this question, I am going ahead on a wonderful journey where I can provide valuable information to all our people and our pharmaceutical industry with a precise Ayurvedic logic.
In that journey, I came across with a beautiful plant and that is Aloe ferox, our indigenous Aloe species.
Aloes have been used in Ayurveda since thousands of years and we also use these amazing herbs in our Traditional African Remedies. I had a question in my mind – can Aloe ferox show all the arrays of pharmacognostic uses the way Kumari, Indian sister of this species, shows. That was when, my book ‘ Aloe ferox – In view of Ayurveda’ was born.
I have tried to offer 14 new medicinal uses of this plant in Ayurvedic perspective. This book will also introduce you to Ayurveda in simple terms so that you can apply this great science in your daily life.
Ayurveda has so much to offer for modern South Africa.
As a Health Science which is originated for wellbeing of mankind, it is beyond any limitation of place, climate, gender, race, religion, language, status etc.
We need to open our minds for at least having a look on this science.
I am sure you will be amazed to see the treasure of knowledge called Ayurveda!!
Are you ready, people?