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Ayurveda > Ashtang Ayurved

By Dr. Satish Kulkarni

The famous ayurvedic sage Charak rishi talks about eight specialized branches of treatment designed to treat all known human illnesses. To make it easier to understand we can divide ayurvedic treatment in eight different parts according to Charak sanhita, a scientific creation of Charak rishi.

They are:

  1. Kaya chikitsa (Internal medicine)
  2. Shalya tantra (Surgery)
  3. Shalakya tantra (Ophthalmology and few problems related to cranial nerves)
  4. Kaumar bhrutya tantra (Pediatrics)
  5. Vish tantra or Agad tantra (Toxicology)
  6. Bhut vidya (Psychiatry)
  7. Rasayana chikitsa ( Rejuvenation)
  8. Vajikaran ( Aphrodisiac)
We can say, that these are the eight main branches of specialization, which were known to ancient Indian ayurvedic scientists. Out of these eight branches Kaya chikitsa tops the list:

Kaya chikitsa:
Kaya means the living human body, which includes body and mind both. It includes both, the visible body as well as the subtle body. Our body is a unique creation of nature. When the panch mahabhoota (five universal elements) come together they create a body which is governed by three dosha (basic body constituents) viz. Vaat-Pitta-Kafa.

Our health solely depends on equilibrium of these three giants. Imbalance between these constituents leads to accumulation of ama (toxins) into dhatu (body tissues) and mala (body wastes) channels. This further leads to illness.

So we can say Kaya chikitsa is that branch of ashtang ayurveda, which deals with treating this imbalance in dosha, as well as its ill effects on dhatu and mala chain.

Kaya chikitsa delves into ascertaining the root cause of diseases. Kaya chikitsa is that branch of ashtang ayurveda, which suggests directive principles of diagnosis and treatment for diseased body mind apparatus. Kaya chikitsa helps in bringing human life back to normal.

Ayurvedic schools of medicine, like Charak, Atreya and few others have discussed basic principles of kaya chikitsa in details, elaborating various types of therapies. They have explained the role of cleansing methods (i.e. pancha karma (five main radical treatments) for aggrieved dosha) in addition to shaman (soothing treatment).

The importance of Charak sanhita lies in the fact that it has discussed diagnosis part of disease in addition to treatment. Detailed account of various methods of diagnosis helps ayurvedic practitioners in diagnosing disease properly before choosing line of treatment. Charaka elaborates various stages of disease and symptoms observed during these stages. Thus it’s a valuable guidance for Nidaan (accurate diagnosis) and Chikitsa (comprehensive management) of disease.

Charaka describes diseases like madhu-meh (diabetes mellitus), raja-yakshma (tuberculosis), tamak-shwas (asthama) and sandhigat-vaat (arthritic conditions).

In chapter Nidaan-sthana, Charaka talks about etiology, pathogenesis and diagnosis of an illness.

One of the significant methods of treatment is panch-karma (five main procedures) which Charaka includes in kaya chititsa. This treatment is thorough cleansing of aggrieved dosha and bringing body back to normal.
Another unique subject which kaya chikitsa talks about is kaya kalpa, which in literary sense means renewal of body. According to ayurveda the human body is made up of three dosha, seven dhatu and three mala. Kaya kalpa helps in rebuilding degenerated/ malnourished/ marasmic body cells/ tissues after initial process of cleansing through panch karma.

To summarize, Ashtang ayurveda means eight specialized branches developed to treat human body in case of disease. Kaya chikitsa is one of the above eight branches which includes diagnosis and treatment choice of disease in addition to attempt for ‘renewal’ of body. It’s like pouring new life into old body vessel after bringing it out of its state of illness.


Ayurvedic Milestones
Ayurvedic Thought
 Vaat, Pitta, Kafa, Dosh
 Dhatu, Mala, Fire
Pathology - Ama
 Ashtang Ayurved
 Agad Tantra
 Kaumar Bhrutya Tantra
 Shalya Tantra
 Shalakya tantra

Actual Case Notes
 Asthmatic Bronchitis
 Bleeding per anum
 Hair Loss
 Pregnancy Care
 Senile Debility
 Solution To Baldness
 Vaat Related Fever

Academic References
Ayurvedic Herbs


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