Material MedicaThe material medica of Ayurveda is very extensive. Herbal, animal and mineral substances were used as medicine. Various methods and instruments were used to prepare drugs and to isolate active principle from organic material. Weighing balances and measuring jars were used to take exact quantity of materials for preparation of medicines. Apart from oral there were other methods of administration of drugs like external applications, vasti-injection through rectum or urethra, Dhumapana – inhalation, Nasya karma – snuffing and Dhupana – fumigation of wounds and ulcers.
Animal MedicineAyurveda not only dealt with diseases of human being but also that of animal kingdom and plants. Alleviating the sufferings of all living being was the goal of Ayurveda. Gouthama’s ‘Gavayurveda’ is a book, which deals only with medical aspects of cows. ‘Salihotra Samhita’ is a very old and famous text on horses. ‘Aswavaidyakam’ of Jaya Dutta Suri and ‘Aswasastram’ of Nakula were based this text. The former is a voluminous text with 68 chapters and deals with the classification of horses and their characters, salient features, diseases and treatment. In Nakula’s text (‘Aswasastram’) many information regarding various aspects of horses are compiled together. It contains on the anatomical structure of horses, which reveals the sound knowledge that was available at that time. Elephants were used for carrying loads and in war. ‘Hastyayurveda’ written by Palakapya is a text on treatment of elephants.VrikshayurvedaThis gives us information about plants. We get information on this branch of Ayurveda scattered in many textbooks. A chapter in Sarangadhara’s medical text ‘Upavana Vinodam’ deals with this branch. Susrutha Samhita, Upasakaram of Sankara Misra, Brahat Samhita and Manu Samhita also contain knowledge regarding botanical sciences. In these books there are references of creating new species of plants with required characters. It is really surprising that our ancestors had thought two thousand years ago of the genetic techniques practiced by botanists today.
Siddha MedicineThe Siddha system of medicine is the system of medicine popular in South India especially in Tamil Nadu state. According to mythological sources sage Agasthya is considered as the originator of Siddha medicine. The science of chemistry was well developed in the Siddha system. They used many metallic compounds including mercury and arsenic effectively in practice. Mercury was used in the treatment of venereal diseases and arsenic in the treatment of leprosy. ‘Siddhanar Krithikal’ written by Siddhars in Tamil is a treasure house of knowledge of medicine, chemistry and related subjects. There are more than 500 medical works containing over 3000 valuable formulae. Composed of five lakh stanzas. These books written thousand of years before Christ, reveal the depth of knowledge Indians had in chemistry.