Cannabis in Āyurveda (Indian medicine)

Cannabis in Āyurveda (Indian medicine)

Āyurveda (which means ‘the knowledge/science of the span of life’) is the traditional system of Indian medicine. Its origins can be traced to the early centuries BCE, when Buddhist monks and other ascetics first began properly investigating the internal workings of the human body (Zysk 2000:27–37). The three foundational authorities of Āyurveda are Caraka, Suśruta and Vāghbaṭa, who are known as the ‘the great three’ of Indian medicine. The medical texts of Caraka and Suśruta were first compiled in the early centuries BCE, while Vāghbaṭa flourished around 600 CE (Wujastyk 1998:104–5, 238). Thousands of Āyurvedic texts have since been written, most drawing extensively on the three foundational Āyurvedic authorities. Āyurvedic treatments Āyurvedic treatment of a patient centres around a diagnostic system that prioritises the predominant constitutional type (prakṛti) of the person, of which there are three, known as dośas (humours): vāta (air/wind), kapha (water/solid/phlegm) or pitta (fire/choler). Treatments are specific, according to which dośa predominates in the patient, and also take account of the season of the year. The dośas interact with the seven basic constituents (dhātus) of the body: chyle, blood, flesh, fat, bone, marrow and semen. In the stomach digested food turns to chyle, which sequentially transforms into the other six constituents. The dośas also interact with the body’s waste products. Āyurvedic practice employs a range of treatments, including herbal formulas, bodily exercise, diet, enemas, massage, bloodletting, leeching, ointments, douches, sweating and surgery. Traditional Āyurvedic herbal treatments typically employs multiple plant formulas, sometimes comprising dozens of plants. (From…

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