India has a rich, centuries old heritage of medical and health knowledge. Various traditional systems of health care have been in use and even today these are being extensively used. The Department of AYUSH deals with these traditional and alternate systems of medicine namely Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy i.e., the systems which originated in India as well as outside but got adopted and adapted here in the course of time.
The Ministry of AYUSH is formed in 9th November 2014 for providing more healthcare to the public. The Department of Indian Medicine and Homeopathy (ISM&H) was created in March 1995 and renamed as Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) in November 2003, with a view to providing focused attention to development of Education and Research in Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy systems.
The strength of the AYUSH system lies in promotive, preventive and rehabilitative health care, diseases and health conditions relating to women and children, mental health, stress management, problems relating to older person, non-communicable diseases etc. While AYUSH should contribute to the overall health sector by meeting National health outcome Goals.
Ayurveda (Ayu + Veda) means the Science of Life. The documentation of Ayurveda is referred to in Vedas (5000 BC). The origin of Ayurveda or the Indian Science of Life is linked with the origin of Universe and developed from out of the various Vedic hymns describing fundamentals/philosophies about the world and life, diseases and natural medicines. Around 1000 B.C, the knowledge of Ayurveda was comprehensively documented in Charak Samhita and Sushruta Samhita. According to Ayurveda, health is considered a pre-requisite for achieving the goals of life, i.e., Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha (salvation). Ayurveda takes an integrated view of the physical, mental, spiritual and social aspects of human beings, each impinging on the others.
The philosophy of Ayurveda is based on the theory of Panchmahabhutas (five element theory) of which all the objects and living bodies are composed of. The combination of these five elements are represented in the form of Tridosha viz., Vata (Ether+ Air), Pitta (Fire) and Kaph (Water + Earth). These three Doshas are physiological entities in living beings. These are also known as three humours. The mental, spiritual and physical attributes are described as Satva, Rajas and Tamas.
The doctrine of Ayurveda aims to keep these structural and functional entities in a functional state of equilibrium which signifies good health (Swastha). Any imbalance due to internal or external factors causes disease and restoring the equilibrium through various techniques, procedures, regimen, diet and medicine constitute the treatment.
Ayurveda considers the human being as a microcosm (Yatha pinde tatha brahmande), a replica of macrocosm (Universe).
Yoga is primarily a way of life propounded by Patanjali in a systematic form. It consists of eight components, namely, restraint, observance of austerity, physical postures, breathing exercise, restraining of sense organs, contemplation, meditation and samadhi.
These steps in the practice of Yoga have potential for improvement of social and personal behaviour, improvement of physical health by encouraging better circulation of oxygenated blood in the body, restraining the sense organs and thereby inducing tranquility and serenity of mind. The practice of Yoga prevents psychosomatic disorders/diseases and improves individual resistance and ability to endure stressful situations. Meditation, one of the eight components, if regularly practised, has the capacity to reduce wholesome bodily responses to a bare minimum so that the mind can be directed to perform more fruitful functions.
Though Yoga is primarily a way of life, yet its promotive, preventive and curative interventions are efficacious. A number of postures are described in Yogic works to improve health, to prevent diseases and to cure illness.
The physical postures are required to be chosen judiciously and have to be practised in the right way to derive the benefits of prevention of disease, promotion of health and for therapeutic purposes.
Naturopathy is not only a system of treatment but also a way of life. It is often referred to as a drugless treatment of diseases. It is based mainly on the ancient practice of the application of the simple laws of nature. The system is closely allied to Ayurveda as far as its fundamental principles are concerned.
The Unani system of medicine, as its name indicates, was first developed in Greece. The Arabs and Persians introduced this system of medicine in India sometime around the 11th century. Today, India is one of the leading countries in so far as the practice of Unani medicine is concerned. It has the largest number of Unani educational, research and health care institutions. This is also an herbal-based medicine system.
The Unani System emphasises the use of naturally occurring, mostly herbal medicine and uses also medicines of animal, marine and mineral origin.
Homoeopathy is a specialized method of drug therapy of curing natural diseases by administration of drugs, which have been experimentally proved to possess the power of producing similar artificial symptoms on healthy human beings.
Physicians from the time of Hippocrates (around 400 B.C.) observed that certain substances could produce symptoms that they were used to treat.
However, it was a German doctor, Dr. Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann (1755 -1843) who examined this observation more thoroughly, discovering the fundamental principles of what was to become Homoeopathy.
Homoeopathy simply means treating diseases with remedies, usually prescribed in minute doses, which are capable of producing symptoms similar to the disease when taken by healthy people. Homoeopathy is a rapidly growing system. In India it is recognized as one of the National systems of medicine. Due to its low cost and low side effects, it is becoming very popular day by day and has a great potential to provide health care to the large number of poor population.
Siddha system of medicine is the most primitive medical system. This system was formulated and established about more than 25000 years back by the emminent powers called Siddhars and hence the name Siddha Medicine .The medicines were prepared by the various research work done by the Siddhars on herbs,minerals and animals. Siddha medical system doesn't consider treatment and prevention separately. The main aim of this system is prevention of disease, as it is well said that "Prevention is better than cure!".