An ancient form of treatment in ayurvedic science called and was known as ‘Shalya Chikitsa’. Ayurveda, the oldest form of treatment was practiced more than thousands of years ago using the sophisticated procedures of surgery. Shalya chikitsa is one of the eight main branches of Ayurveda treatment and deals with general surgery. As far as surgery goes, Ayurveda was more advanced than modern-day surgery. They are based on the extensive knowledge of the human anatomy and the composition of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc.
Susruta, Father of Ayurvedic Surgery
Ayurvedic scholar and expert Susruta has written extensively about the surgical treatment in Susrut Samhita. Thus surgical methods were practiced and taught by Ayurvedic scholars in ancient India. He has explained in detail in his book about the wide range of surgical methods that are inclusive. It elaborately describes the use of surgery in the case of bladder stones, obstruction in the intestinal loop, and complications in delivery. It explains the surgical procedures to be followed in detail in treating the disorders like tumors, fractures, hemorrhages, injuries, and deliveries.
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Susrut Samhita contains exhaustive information on how to treat the tumors, fracture of bones, internal and external injuries, and many more. The surgical method of treating the eye disease ‘trichiasis’ is said to be similar to the surgical techniques of modern medical science. Susruta is also the pioneer in cosmetic surgery in Ayurveda.
Apart from Susruta, Charaka was also a well-known Ayurvedic physician who recommended the use of Shalya Tantra or Shalya Chikitsa to treat some of the diseases that required urgent attention. Hemorrhoids are a good example of such a condition.
Use of Shalya
Shalya chikitsa becomes the only choice when the condition of the diseased body no longer responds to medicinal treatments and needs urgent intervention to save the organ or life. Shalya Tantra provides fast relief from the disease and also will be extremely beneficial where Kaya chikitsa, the general medicine does not produce the desired effect.
Examples of such cases are
- Arbuda, the abscesses, and cysts,
- Ashmari, presence of stones,
- Gud-bransh, the prolapsed rectum,
- Mul-vyadhi, hemorrhoids, retention of urine, Mutravaodh
- Breast diseases namely, stanarog.
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Shalya Tantra Procedures
The treatment procedures on Shalya Tantra for intestinal obstruction and renal disorders are complicated. Eye disorders were also treated using Shalya Tantra, especially for Trichiasis. Cosmetic surgery used to be very advanced in the ancient times of Shalya Tantra. Sterilization of the instruments used for surgery used to be of utmost importance. It includes the use of jaloka, leech in treating skin diseases which are now being followed in the modern medical system. The use of medicated thread called ‘kshar sutra’ also found a major place that was used to avoid infection of the body and to aid in fast recovery. Detailed information on how to protect the treated body from infections is also found in Shalya Tantra.
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Instruments used in Shalya Tantra
The surgical instruments used in Shalya Tantra were made out of wood, metals, stone and animal bones, etc., and proper use and sterilization of the instruments in boiling water is also explained in detail.