Notes on Sushruta

Considered the father of Indian medicine, Sushruta was born near Bihar. He, and many sages who lived and practised medicine using local and empirical knowledge they gathered over time, are today considered masters of ayurveda. Although there is very little evidence to prove otherwise, Sushrata was probably the first man to practice surgery, rhinoplasty or nose job, and cataract surgery.

The Sushruta Samhita contains 184 chapters and description of 1120 illnesses, 700 medicinal plants, a detailed study on Anatomy, 64 preparations from mineral sources and 57 preparations based on animal sources. These specialize in pediatrics, geriatrics, diseases of the ear, nose, throat and eye, toxicology, aphrodisiacs and psychiatry. He was the first person in medical history to document the medical knowledge available during his time. A lot of his writings are yet to be researched on.

Traditional cataract surgery was performed with a special tool called the Jabamukhi Salaka, a curved needle used to loosen the lens and push the cataract out of the field of vision. The eye would later be soaked with warm butter and then bandaged. Greek philosophers and scientists travelled to India to learn these surgeries. The removal of cataract by surgery was also introduced into China from India. Modern medicos should read these ancient texts and learn from them. Empirical knowledge has it’s own space in scientific progress. Who knows? Using these age old techniques, we can make medicine more affordable and simple for masses.

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