Indian Systems of Medicines (AYUSH- Important) (Download PDF)


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The National Health Policy 2017 provides for access and choice to the patients by promoting different systems of medicine, an enabling regulatory framework and encouraging cross referrals across these systems. National Policy on Indian Systems of Medicine and Homeopathy 2002 also envisages integration of AYUSH with the healthcare delivery system.

Indian Systems of Medicines

Indian Systems of Medicines

Indian Systems of Medicines

  • National Health Mission (NHM) provides technical and financial support to the States to strengthen health systems and ‘Mainstream AYUSH. NHM Implementation Framework envisages co-location of AYUSH services in health facilities.
  • Directorate General of Health Services, issued Standard Treatment Guidelines for different conditions.

What Are Indian Systems of Medicine?

Traditional Systems of medicines play important role in meeting the global health care needs. The system of medicines considered to be Indian in origin or which got assimilated in to Indian culture are known as Indian Systems of Medicine. India has the unique distinction of having six recognized systems of medicine in this category. They are:

  • Ayurveda, Siddha
  • Unani and Yoga
  • Naturopathy and Homoeopathy- Homoeopathy came to India in 18th Century.


  • Ayurveda has roots in folk medicine
  • Has a well-defined conceptual framework consistent throughout the ages
  • Perhaps highly evolved and far ahead of its time- advocating an integrated approach towards matters of health and disease.
  • Another distinguishing feature of Ayurveda is that unlike other medical systems, it first provided philosophical framework that determined the therapeutic practice with good effects.
  • Philosophical base partly derived from ‘Samkhya’ and ‘Nyaya vaisheshika’ streams of Indian philosophy. Literally means the Science of life.
  • Fundamental and applied principles of Ayurveda organized and enunciated around 1500 BC
  • Atharvaveda, the last of Vedas, which forms the backbone of Indian civilization, contains 114 hymns related to formulations for the treatment of different diseases.
  • Has two major schools and eight specializations:

    • ‘Dhanvantri Sampradaya’ (Sampradaya means tradition) for medicine: Charaka Samhita is the text for the school of Medicine
    • School of surgeons referred in literature as ‘Atreya Sampradaya’: Sushruta Samhita is text for the school of Surgery
  • After India gained Independence from the British rule in 1947 the systems got official recognition and became part of the National Health care network to provide health care to the country’s citizen.
  • Research council named Central Council for Research in Indian Medicine, Homoeopathy and Yoga (CCRIMH) established in 1971 was bifurcated to create three separate councils -Central Council for Research in Ayurveda & Siddha (CCRAS), Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine (CCRUM), Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy (CCRH) and Central Council for Research in Naturopathy and Yoga (CCRNY).
  • National Institute of Ayurveda (NIA) established at Jaipur in Rajasthan state. Subsequently Rajasthan Ayurved University- Jodhpur was established.

Siddha System of Medicine

  • Siddha system of medicine practiced in some parts of South India especially in the state of Tamilnadu has close affinity to Ayurveda.
  • The term ‘Siddha’ comes from ‘Siddhi’- which means achievement.

Unani System of Medicine

  • Unani medicine has its origin in Greece established by the great physician and philosopher- Hippocrates (460–377 BC).
  • Development took place in Egypt and Persia
  • The Arabian scholars and physicians under the patronage of Islamic rulers played great role in the development of this system.
  • Arabs introduced Unani medicine in India around 1350 AD. The first known Hakim (Physician) was Zia Mohd Masood Rasheed Zangi.
  • After Independence Unani received Government support through various agencies involved in the development of ISM.
  • More than 30 colleges offering degree course in Unani medicine, number of physician turn out is around 20,000, around 177 hospitals practice this form.
  • National Institute of Unani Medicine established at Bangalore in 1983 in collaboration with the Govt. of Karnataka

Homeopathy System of Medicine

  • Originated in Germany in 1794
  • Based on the principle of The Law of Similars- substance capable of producing a disease is administered to the patient, but in a very minute dose, to cure the similar disease.
  • Homeopaths understand that the body, mind and emotions are not independent and distinct, but are fully integrated in health, diseases and treatment
  • Homeopathy is amongst the youngest and latest medicines calling for more research and promotion.
  • Homeopaths use remedies prepared from natural sources that fit a patient’s physical, mental, social and spiritual aspects to stimulate body’s own healing powers
  • Manufacturing of Homeopathic medicines recognized and regulated by Drugs and Cosmetic Act, 1940 and the Drugs and Cosmetic Rule, 1945.
  • Homeopathy recognized as one of the National system of medicine through the Homeopathy Central Council Act, 1973.
  • The teaching and training in Homeopathy in India are identical with other medical systems. Registration with State or Central Register of Homeopathy is essential to get legal protection to practice Homeopathy.


  • Yoga originated in India about several thousand years ago.
  • Founders were great Saints and Sages.
  • Yoga is one of the six systems of Vedic philosophy
  • Maharishi Patanjali, is “The Father of Yoga”- compiled and refined various aspects of Yoga systematically in his “Yoga Sutras” (aphorisms).
  • Advocated eight folds path of Yoga, popularly known as “Ashtanga Yoga” for all-round development of human beings- Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.
  • Components advocate certain restraints and observances, physical discipline, breath regulations, restraining the sense organs, contemplation, meditation, and samadhi.
  • Potential for improvement health by enhancing circulation of oxygenated blood in the body, retraining the sense organs thereby inducing tranquility and serenity of mind.


  • Art and science of healthy living and a drugless system of healing
  • Based on morbid matter theory and concept of vital force in old texts.
  • Revival of Naturopathy in India started with translation of Germany’s Louis Kuhne’s book “New Science of Healing” by Shri D. Venkat Chelapati Sharma in Telgu in 1894.
  • Shri Shroti Kishan Swaroop of Bijnor translated this book into Hindi and Urdu languages in 1904.
  • Gandhiji was influenced by the book “Return to Nature” written by Adolf Just and was a firm believer of Naturopathy.
  • Wrote several articles in favour of Naturopathy in his newspaper Harijan but did several experiments on himself, his family members, and members of his Ashram.
  • Gandhiji stayed at the Nature Cure Clinic of Dr. Dinshaw Mehta in Pune during 1934 to 1944.
  • Government established National Institute of Naturopathy in 1986 at the Nature Cure Clinic.
  • Indian Naturopathy movement started mainly in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bengal, Maharashtra, and Gujarat.
  • Modern Naturopathy movement was started in Germany and other western countries with Water Cure (Hydrotherapy) therapy.
  • Credit of making Water Cure world famous goes to Vincent Priessnitz (1799 - 1851), who was a farmer. Later on Louis Kuhne propounded the “Principle of Unity of Disease and Treatment” providing a theoretical base to this method.
  • Naturopathy is recognized as an independent System of Medicine.
  • There are 12 Degree Colleges, Affiliated to Universities imparting five and a half years degree course of Bachelor of Naturopathy & Yogic Sciences (BNYS).

Central Council for Research in Yoga & Naturopathy (CCRYN)

  • Government recognized the need of systematic research for development of Indian Systems of Medicine including Homeopathy established the Central Council for Research in Indian Medicine and Homeopathy in 1969
  • An autonomous body under the Ministry of Health & family welfare for scientific research in Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, Yoga & Naturopathy
  • Composite Council dissolved to form independent Research Councils- one each for Ayurveda and Siddha, Unani, Homeopathy and Yoga & Naturopathy.
  • Central Council for Research in Yoga & Naturopathy established as Registered Society on 30th March, 1978, functioning as an autonomous organization under the newly created Ministry of AYUSH
  • Involved in various activities related to the development of these systems- research, education, training, and propagation.


  • “Sowa-Rigpa” or Amchi system of medicine is oldest, living, and well documented medical tradition.
  • Popularly practiced in Tibet, Mongolia, Bhutan, some parts of China, Nepal, Himalayan regions of India and few parts of former Soviet Union etc.
  • Some scholars believe that it originated from India; some say China and others consider it from Tibet. Majority of theory and practice similar to “Ayurveda”.
  • The first Ayurveda influence came to Tibet during 3rd century AD but became popular only after 7th centuries with the approach of Buddhism.
  • Long association with India resulted in translation and preservation of Indian literature in Tibetan language- including around twenty-five texts related to medicine in both canonical and non-canonical forms of Tibetan literatures. “Sowa-Rigpa” or science of healing one of the classic examples.
  • Gyud-Zi (four tantra) is the fundamental textbook of this medicine
  • This system has been practiced in Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Darjeeling (West Bengal), Lahoul & Spiti (Himanchal Pradesh), and Ladakh region of Jammu& Kashmir etc.

- Published/Last Modified on: September 6, 2017


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