Saturday, March 20, 2010

History of Medicine in India

History of Medicine in India
As with the other ancient civilizations, there is much controversy concerning the early dating of Indian cultures in general and the development of surgery in particular.

In about 1500 BC, the Aryan invaded the Indian subcontinent from Central Asia and brought with them the Sanskrit language.

The earliest writings on Indian medicine are to be found in the Vedas the books of knowledge which were believed to be of divine origin.

Here we can read of sages who would carry bags of healing herbs and who would care for the injured, remove arrows and spears from the wounded and who would employ a plant named after the god Soma, which would relieve pain.

In addition, they would cauterize wounds and snake bites and might even have developed a catheter in order to relieve retention of urine and which would ‘open the flow of urine again like a dam before a lake’.

The earliest Indian surgical author was Susruta. It will probably never be ascertained whether he was an actual historical personage or a name to which collected works of surgical literature are attributed.

The time of his existence is also vague, but it was some time after Christ.

His works were translated into Arabic around AD 800 and are often quoted in the writings of Rhazes.

It is a quite evident that Hindu surgery at this time had reached a high state of excellence.

For example, there is a detailed description of the operation for removal of a cataract in which the opaque lens of the eye is mobilized and then pushed downwards into the lower part of the globe in order to allow restoration of vision.

Susruta also describes what must have been the earliest plastic surgical procedure, the restoration of an amputated nose by means of a skin graft turned down upon the forehead.

Removal of the nose was a punishment for adultery in those days, so there was no shortage of patients for this procedure.
History of Medicine in India
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