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Herbs in jars being used in Ayurvedic practices

The Asian countries have thrived in their discoveries of nature since time immemorial. They have studied the botany of their surroundings and have devised cures for various health conditions. Before modern medicine was born, the ancient civilizations trusted their health experts and the power of nature to heal their bodies. Two such systems are the Indian Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

India and China are geographical neighbors who also share common intellectual pursuits, be it for their intensely detailed religious practices, or diverse language systems. They share common scientific understandings dating back many centuries, and are known for their use of herbs, concoctions, and extracts in treating diseases.

The Chinese believe in the balance of the Qi, the vital life force that apparently surges through the body. Disturbance in this balance results in illness and disease. The familiar concept of yin and yang play a role in bringing normality to the body. The internal body organs are compared to the five elements of nature namely, earth, fire, wood, air, and water. Traditional medicine targeted these specific organs which were believed to be the hotbeds of possible imbalance. Treatments like massage, acupuncture, cupping, and burning herbs at the site of infection are important practices in this school of thought.

Traditional Chinese herbs being prepared for use in curing a specific illness Image source: wikimedia commonswikimedia commons

Ayurveda, on the other hand, is deeply rooted in the Hindu faith and mythology. It employs the instructions provided in the texts and is a system based on curing the imbalance in the doshas, which are the three governing forces within the body. Two of the doshas correspond to the sun and the wind, and the third is the response of the bodily fluids to the others. Treatment methods involve the five senses and must be carried out by an expert only.

The traditional medicine systems of Ayurveda and Chinese medicine are not too far separated from each other except through the origins and faith. They are similar in the core concept of balance and harmony within the human body. Ayurveda is well-received in the west, while Chinese medicine remains predominantly indigenous. In the modern world, allopathy is preferred to these systems because of it grants immediate relief. Gaining expertise in the ancient medical practice is a life-long process unlike with modern medicine.

Keywords: Medicine, Oriental, Chinese, Indian, Ayurveda, TCM


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