Roots of Sri Lankan Traditional Medicine
Wide in scope and rich in diversity, Sri Lankan traditional medicine is a combination of the indigenous medicine of the country (Deshiya chikitsa) and Ayurveda received from India. It draws upon Siddha medicine (from South India) and Unani medicine (from the Middle East). While the different systems of medicine all come together to form the body of knowledge that we today refer to as “Sri Lankan Traditional Medicine”, they have also kept their own identity.
Ayurveda is infused with theories and principles and the three indigenous systems are sources of practical medical wisdom for our daily lives. They consist mainly of recipes - in verse, memorized and handed down from one generation to another. Such recipes are also found in ola leaf manuscripts. (Ex. Gedi Vana Vedapotha)
The healing power of traditional medicine can be explored at several levels. At a profound level is the recognition that human beings need tranquility and balance to stay well. Nature provides us with all that we require to heal ourselves and traditional medicine shows us the way we can connect with the natural elements and heal ourselves.
According to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, human beings and the universe are made up of the same five elements or Pancha Maha Bhuta. Akasha (air/ether),Vayo (air),Thejo (fire), Apo (water) and Pruthuvi (earth). These common factors create harmony between man and the universe. The same way the Wind, the Sun and the Moon keep the balance in the universe, the Tridosha- Vata,Pitta, Kapha, keep the balance in our bodies.
Prakurti takes an important place in the principles of Ayurveda as it determines the way of treatment of each individual. Accordingly, each treatment plan is unique. The method of examination and diagnosis is also unique and attempts to find the underlying causes of illness that has arisen. The following three main examination methods can be followed.
- Trividha Pariksha (Three methods)
- Ashtavidha Pariksha (Eight methods)
- Dashavidha Pariksha (Ten methods)
Treatments in Sri Lankan traditional medicine is generally based on the principle of pacification and nourishment and has three stages. Purva karma (preparing the body for the pacification through minor purifications therapies), Pradhana Karma (administering one or more major pacification methods) and Paschath Karma (nourishment - example - rejuvenation). The range of therapies leading to the main purification are themselves healing techniques and help to gather toxins in one point in the body so it can be easily expelled.
Sri Lanka’s traditional medicine is increasingly attracting international attention for its holistic healing powers. As a result, operators in both Wellness Tourism and Ayurvedic and Herbal products industries in Sri Lanka are in for a great time.