Of the eight branches of the ancient science of life known as Ayurveda, Shalakya Tantra is the branch that treats diseases above the neck. In Sanskrit, the word shalaka means a rod or a probe. So Shalakya Tantra, refers to any treatment that is done using rods or probes in order to apply medication to the affected parts of the body. In South India, the branch is also known by the name Urdhwangchikitsa. The word can be broken into two parts – Urdhwang which means the body parts above the shoulder and Chikitsa which signifies treatment.
The great classical texts of Ayurveda, the Susrut Samhita, Charak Samhita and Ashtanga Hrudaya all deal with Shalakya Tantra. 72 diseases pertaining to the eyes, are listed in Shalakya Tantra along with 25 different kinds of ailments for the ears. The nose can be affected by as many as 18 diseases, while the lips are easily susceptible to 11 types of diseases. Other ailments mentioned in the classics include disease of the lymph glands, 23 diseases of the teeth, 6 diseases of the tongue, 8 diseases of the palate, 18 diseases of the throat-pharynx-larynx and 8 diseases of the oral cavity. Shalakya Tantra is not only concerned with the immediate treatment of the ailments, but also with the follow-up treatment, in order to ensure that the disease is uprooted and its cause permanently eliminated for long lasting relief
A Range of Treatment
The structure of the eye is described in detail in the Ayurvedic Classics, and surgical procedures for cataracts, conjunctivitis, pterygium, and glaucoma were carried out by our ancient ayurvedic practitioners. Surgeries such as rhinoplasty and auraplasty have also been mentioned in the ancient texts. In modern times, Kerala, the lush green state in the south western tip of India, is famed for its many eminent vaidyars or physicians, who are skilled in the use of probes and in the treatments prescribed in Shalakya Tantra. With increasing levels of sound pollution and more and more cases of deafness becoming common, prevention and management of various ear diseases like deafness, tinnitus and wax removal is of utmost importance, and can be done through Karnapurana, Karnadhoopana and Karnaprakshaalana treatments .
The oral cavity is a perfect breeding place for germs. Infections and the prevention, protection and curing of various oral cavity disorders like stomatitis, foul breath, periodontitis, dental caries, gingivitis, tonsillitis, pharyngitis and laryngitis are possible with specific treatments like Gandoosha and Kavalagraha. Pollution plays a very pivotal role in the manifestation of various allergic disorders of the nose. Nasya and Dhumapana procedures are excellent options for the prevention and management of various nasal disorders like rhinitis and sinusitis. Shalakya Tantra also offers effective treatment for various types of headaches like migraine, trigeminal neuralgia and refractive headaches through Shodhana and treatments like Shirodhara, Shiropichu, and Shirobasti, along with internal medicines. If you are suffering from certain common problems like excess deposit of wax in the ear, dryness of the eyes, throat infection and migraine, then the simple home remedies mentioned in shalakya tantra will prove useful. These home remedies have been widely used, tested and proven effective. To put it in a nutshell, Shalakya Tantra deals with diseases of the nose, ear, eye, lips and throat, and finds a parallel in the modern disciplines of ophthalmology, ENT and dentistry.