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Indian medicine has a long history. Its earliest concepts are set out in the sacred writings called the Vedasespecially in the metrical passages of the Atharvaveda, which may possibly date as far back as the 2nd millennium bce.


Unwritten history is not easy to interpret, and, although much may be learned from a study of the drawings, bony remains, and surgical tools of early humans, it is difficult to reconstruct their mental attitude toward the problems of disease and death.

It seems probable that, as soon as they reached the stage of reasoning, they discovered by the process of trial and error which plants might be used as foods, which of them were poisonous, and which of them had some medicinal value. Folk medicine or domestic medicine, consisting largely in the use of vegetable products, or herbsoriginated in this fashion and still persists.

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But that is not the whole story. Humans did not at first regard death and disease as natural phenomena. Common maladies, such as colds or constipationwere accepted as part of existence and dealt with by means of such herbal remedies as were available.

Introduction and background

Serious and disabling diseases, however, were placed in a very different category. These were of supernatural origin. They might be the result of a spell cast upon the victim by some enemy, visitation by a malevolent demon, or the work of an offended god who had either projected some object—a dart, a stone, a worm—into the body of the victim or had abstracted something, usually the soul of the patient.

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The treatment then applied was to lure the errant soul back to its proper habitat within the body or to extract the evil intruder, be it dart or demon, by counterspells, incantations, potions, suction, or other means.

One curious method of providing the disease with means of escape from the body was by making a hole, 2. Trepanned skulls of prehistoric date have been found in Britain, France, and other parts of Europe and in Peru.

The practice still exists among some tribal people in parts of Algeria, in Melanesia, and perhaps elsewhere, though it is fast becoming extinct. Magic and religion played a large part in the medicine of prehistoric or early human society.


Administration of a vegetable drug or remedy by mouth was accompanied by incantations, dancing, grimaces, and all the tricks of the magician. The use of charms and talismans, still prevalent in modern times, God of surgery of ancient origin. Apart from the treatment of wounds and broken bonesthe folklore of medicine is probably the most ancient aspect of the art of healing, for primitive physicians showed their wisdom by treating the whole person, soul as well as body. Treatments and medicines that produced no physical effects on the body could nevertheless make a patient feel better when both healer and patient believed in their efficacy.

This so-called placebo effect is applicable even in modern clinical medicine. The establishment of the calendar and the invention of writing marked the dawn of recorded history. The clues to early knowledge are few, consisting only of clay tablets bearing cuneiform s and seals that were used by physicians of ancient Mesopotamia. In the Louvre Museum in France, a stone pillar is preserved on which is inscribed the Code of Hammurabiwho was a Babylonian king of the 18th century bce. This code includes laws relating to the practice of medicine, and the penalties for failure were severe.

Know all about sushruta, the first ever plastic surgeon who was indian

Greek historian Herodotus stated that every Babylonian was an amateur physician, since it was the custom to lay the sick in the street so that anyone passing by might offer advice. Divinationfrom the inspection of the liver of a sacrificed animal, was widely practiced to foretell the course of a disease. Little else is known regarding Babylonian medicine, and the name of not a God of surgery physician has survived. When the medicine of ancient Egypt is examined, the picture becomes clearer.

Surer knowledge comes from the study of Egyptian papyri, especially the Ebers papyrus and Edwin Smith papyrus discovered in the 19th century. The former is a list of remedies, with appropriate spells or incantations, while the latter is a surgical treatise on the treatment of wounds and other injuries. Contrary to what might be expected, the widespread practice of embalming the dead body did not stimulate study of human anatomy.

The preservation of mummies has, however, revealed some of the diseases suffered at that time, including arthritistuberculosis of the bone, gouttooth decaybladder stones, and gallstones ; there is evidence too of the parasitic disease schistosomiasiswhich remains a scourge still.

Sushruta was an indian physician, who wrote one of the world's earliest works on medicine and surgery and is therefore regarded as the 'father of indian medicine' and 'father of plastic surgery.'

There seems to have been no syphilis or rickets. The search for information on ancient medicine le naturally from the papyri of Egypt to Hebrew literature.

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Though the Bible contains little on the medical practices of ancient Israel, it is a mine of information on social and personal hygiene. The Jews were indeed pioneers in matters of public health. Fast Facts. Videos Images. Additional Info. Table Of Contents. While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions.

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Various individuals have advanced the surgical art and, as a result, have been called the father of surgery by various sources.


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