8 Branches of Ayurveda (Ashtanga Ayurveda Explained)

8 Branches of Ayurveda

Ayurveda consists of two words- Ayuh, meaning Life, and Veda, meaning Science or Knowledge. In totality, Ayurveda means the Science of Life that amalgamates various aspects of life, whether physical, psychological, spiritual, or social. This form of healing finds a place in Hindu religious texts and has continued to spread its roots across the globe through the years. It is considered a gift from God passed on to us by saints and holy men. 

Ayurveda is an encyclopedia of healing through various therapies and remedies using multiple resources in “Mother Nature.” It believes in the well-being of humanity and the environment. 

Humans are distinct in behavior, lifestyle, body structure, and mental setup; therefore, the same medicine is not recommended to all individuals. This exclusive science of life is categorized into 8 branches of Ayurveda. Each of these branches is specialized in itself. 

What is Ashtanga Ayurveda?

Ashtanga Ayurveda, also known as the “Eight Branches of Ayurveda,” refers to the comprehensive and holistic approach of Ayurvedic medicine, which encompasses eight principal components or branches. These eight branches collectively provide a well-rounded framework for understanding and promoting health and well-being.

Ashtanga Ayurveda Shloka

“स्वस्थस्य स्वास्थ्य रक्षणं आतुरस्य विकार प्रशमनं च।

आतुरस्य स्वास्थ्य उपकारणं अतुरस्य विकार प्रशमनं च॥”


“Svasthasya svāsthya rakṣaṇaṁ āturasya vikāra praśamanaṁ ca,

Āturasya svāsthya upakāraṇaṁ āturasya vikāra praśamanaṁ ca.”


“Ayurveda is for the preservation of health in the healthy and for the alleviation of disorders in the diseased.”

This shloka encapsulates the essence of Ayurveda, emphasizing its dual purpose: maintaining the well-being of the healthy and treating illnesses in those who are diseased. It underscores the holistic approach of Ayurveda in promoting and restoring health.

Read: Patanjali Yoga Sutras- The Doorway to Liberation and Nirvana

List of 8 Ayurveda Branches

Ayurveda has eight significant disciplines. They are collectively known as Ashtang Ayurveda or the Eight Branches of Ayurveda medicine. 

1. Kaya Chikitsa (General Medicine)

2. Balachikitsa (Pediatrics)

3. Graha Chikitsa (Psychiatry)

4. Shalakya Tantra (ENT and Ophthalmology)

5. Shalya Tantra (Surgery)

6. Agada Tantra (Damshtra Chikitsa)

7. Jara Chikitsa

8. Vajikarana Tantra (Vrsha Chikitsa)

Branches of Ayurveda 

We have explained the branches of ayurvedic medicine in detail below:

1. Kaya Chikitsa (General Medicine)

The first branch of Ayurveda, known as “Kaya Chikitsa” or “General Medicine,” is the foundational branch that encompasses a wide range of healthcare practices. 

It primarily focuses on the overall well-being of an individual, encompassing the following aspects:


In Kaya Chikitsa, practitioners use a combination of techniques to diagnose health issues. This includes assessing a person’s constitution (Prakriti), the balance of doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha), pulse diagnosis (Nadi Pariksha), observation of physical and mental symptoms, and other diagnostic tools.


Once a diagnosis is made, Kaya Chikitsa employs a holistic approach to treatment. It emphasizes the use of natural remedies, which may include herbal medicines, dietary modifications, lifestyle changes, and detoxification techniques. The goal is to restore balance in the doshas and promote overall health.


Prevention is a crucial aspect of Kaya Chikitsa. Practitioners work with patients to identify factors that may lead to disease or imbalance in the body. They provide guidance on maintaining a balanced lifestyle, dietary habits, and routines to prevent illness.

Management of Chronic Conditions: 

Kaya Chikitsa is also concerned with the management of chronic health conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, and hypertension. It offers Ayurvedic treatment protocols that aim to alleviate symptoms, slow disease progression, and improve the patient’s quality of life.

Mental Health

Mental health is an integral part of general well-being, and Kaya Chikitsa recognizes this. It addresses conditions like anxiety, depression, and stress through a combination of herbal remedies, meditation, and lifestyle recommendations.

Holistic Approach: 

One of the fundamental principles of Ayurveda, including Kaya Chikitsa, is the recognition that the mind, body, and spirit are interconnected. Therefore, treatment approaches consider the overall balance and harmony of these aspects in a person’s life.

Kaya Chikitsa practitioners may work in clinics, hospitals, or wellness centers, offering personalized health assessments and treatment plans. They tailor their recommendations to each individual’s unique constitution and health needs. 

The ultimate goal of Kaya Chikitsa, as with all Ayurvedic branches, is to promote not only the absence of disease but also the attainment of optimal health and vitality through natural and holistic means.

Read: Yamas and Niyamas of Yoga (According to Patanjali)

2. Balachikitsa (Pediatrics)

The second branch of Ayurveda, known as “Balachikitsa,” is dedicated to the health and well-being of children, infants, and adolescents. 

This branch of Ayurveda is essentially Ayurvedic pediatrics and encompasses a range of practices and principles specific to the care of young individuals. 

Child-Specific Care: 

Balachikitsa recognizes that children have unique healthcare needs, both in terms of physical and mental development. It focuses on providing specialized care to address these needs.

Growth and Development: 

This branch closely monitors and supports the normal growth and development of children. Ayurvedic practitioners in this field assess factors like height, weight, mental development, and physical milestones to ensure that children are thriving.

Diet and Nutrition: 

Balachikitsa places a significant emphasis on the diet and nutrition of children. It provides guidance on suitable foods, meal timings, and dietary practices that promote healthy growth and development.

Prevention and Immunization: 

Just like in general medicine, prevention is a key aspect of Balachikitsa. Ayurvedic pediatricians offer advice on immunizations, vaccinations, and strategies to prevent common childhood illnesses.

Treatment of Pediatric Conditions: 

Balachikitsa practitioners are trained to diagnose and treat various pediatric health conditions using Ayurvedic principles. This includes illnesses such as respiratory infections, digestive disorders, skin conditions, and more.

Mental and Emotional Well-being: 

Balachikitsa also addresses the mental and emotional well-being of children. It provides strategies to support mental health, emotional stability, and overall happiness in young individuals.

Customized Approach: 

Just like in other branches of Ayurveda, Balachikitsa takes an individualized approach. It considers a child’s unique constitution (Prakriti) and any imbalances in the doshas to tailor treatment and dietary recommendations.

Pediatric Medications: 

Ayurvedic formulations for children are typically milder and safer than those for adults. Balachikitsa practitioners prescribe herbal remedies and therapies that are suitable for the young age group.

Holistic Care: 

Balachikitsa branch of Ayurveda acknowledges the interconnectedness of physical, mental, and emotional health in children. Therefore, it seeks to provide holistic care that supports all aspects of a child’s well-being.

Ayurvedic pediatricians often work closely with parents and caregivers to ensure that children receive the best care possible. Their goal is to help children grow into healthy, balanced, and emotionally resilient individuals by using the principles and practices of Ayurveda.

3. Graha Chikitsa (Psychiatry)

The third branch of Ayurveda, known as “Graha Chikitsa,” is the specialized field of Ayurvedic psychiatry and psychology. It focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental health disorders and psychological issues using Ayurvedic principles and holistic approaches. Here’s an explanation of this branch:

Mental Health Assessment: 

Graha Chikitsa practitioners assess the mental health of individuals using Ayurvedic diagnostic techniques. This includes evaluating a person’s constitution (Prakriti) and assessing imbalances in the doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) to understand the root causes of mental health problems.

Psychological Disorders: 

Graha Chikitsa deals with a wide range of psychological disorders, including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and others. Ayurvedic psychiatrists use natural remedies and therapies to manage and treat these conditions.

Holistic Approach: 

This branch takes a holistic approach to mental health by considering the interconnectedness of the mind, body, and spirit. Treatment plans often involve lifestyle modifications, dietary changes, yoga, meditation, and herbal medications to restore mental balance.

Herbal Remedies: 

Ayurvedic herbs and formulations are an essential part of Graha Chikitsa. Practitioners prescribe specific herbs and combinations to address imbalances in the mind and nervous system. These herbs are believed to have a calming and balancing effect on the mind.

Diet and Lifestyle: 

Diet and lifestyle play a significant role in mental health according to Ayurveda. Graha Chikitsa offers dietary recommendations and lifestyle modifications that can help improve mental well-being and prevent psychological disorders.

Stress Management: 

Graha Chikitsa emphasizes stress management techniques, as chronic stress is a common contributor to mental health issues. Yoga, meditation, and relaxation techniques are often integrated into treatment plans.

Counseling and Therapy: 

Ayurvedic psychiatrists may offer counseling and therapy sessions to address psychological issues. These sessions often combine Ayurvedic principles with modern therapeutic approaches to provide comprehensive care.


Just as in other branches of Ayurveda, prevention is a key aspect of Graha Chikitsa. Practitioners educate individuals on how to maintain mental balance, reduce stress, and prevent the development of mental health disorders.

Personalized Care: 

Treatment plans in Graha Chikitsa are personalized to suit the individual’s unique constitution and specific mental health concerns. What works for one person may not be suitable for another, so tailoring treatment is essential.

Graha Chikitsa practitioners work in collaboration with other healthcare professionals, including psychologists and psychiatrists, to provide comprehensive mental healthcare. The approach of this branch is to address the root causes of mental health issues rather than just treating symptoms, with a focus on promoting overall mental well-being and balance.

Read: What is Gara Visha in Ayurveda? Causes, Reasons, More

4. Shalakya Tantra (ENT and Ophthalmology)

The fourth branch of Ayurveda, known as “Shalakya Tantra,” is a specialized field that deals with disorders related to the eyes, ears, nose, and throat (ENT). It combines the principles of Ayurveda with specific diagnostic and treatment methods for conditions affecting these sensory organs. 

Eye Care (Netra Roga): 

Shalakya Tantra encompasses the diagnosis and treatment of various eye conditions, such as cataracts, glaucoma, conjunctivitis, and vision impairments. Ayurvedic practitioners use herbal eye drops, poultices, and dietary recommendations to manage and treat eye disorders.

Ear Care (Karna Roga): 

This branch addresses issues related to the ears, including hearing problems, ear infections, and tinnitus. Ayurvedic treatments may involve ear drops, herbal oils, and cleansing techniques to maintain ear health.

Nose and Sinus Care (Nasa Roga): 

Shalakya Tantra deals with conditions affecting the nose and sinuses, including allergies, sinusitis, nasal polyps, and nasal congestion. Treatments may involve nasal irrigation (Nasya), herbal nasal drops, and steam inhalation to alleviate these issues.

Throat and Oral Care (Mukha Roga): 

Conditions like sore throat, tonsillitis, gum diseases, and oral ulcers are addressed in this segment. Ayurvedic remedies may include herbal gargles, mouth rinses, and dietary guidelines for oral health.

Preventive Care: 

Shalakya Tantra also focuses on preventive care for these sensory organs. Practitioners offer advice on maintaining eye, ear, nose, and throat health through lifestyle modifications, dietary practices, and hygiene measures.

Surgical Procedures: 

In cases where Ayurvedic treatments alone are insufficient, Shalakya Tantra practitioners may perform surgical procedures, such as cataract removal, nasal polyp excision, and ear wax removal. These surgeries are often minimally invasive and are conducted with the principles of Ayurveda in mind.

Herbal Medications: 

Herbal remedies and formulations are commonly used in Shalakya Tantra to address various ENT conditions. These herbs are chosen based on their properties and their ability to balance the doshas.

Personalized Treatment Plans: 

Like in other branches of Ayurveda, Shalakya Tantra provides personalized treatment plans based on an individual’s constitution (Prakriti) and the specific condition they are experiencing.

Integration with Modern Medicine: 

In many cases, Ayurvedic ENT specialists work alongside modern medical professionals, such as otolaryngologists, to provide comprehensive care. This integrated approach ensures that patients receive the most appropriate and effective treatment for their conditions.

Shalakya Tantra practitioners play a crucial role in preserving and improving the health of the sensory organs. Their treatments not only aim to alleviate symptoms but also to address the root causes of ENT disorders and promote long-term well-being.

5. Shalya Tantra (Surgery)

The fifth branch of Ayurveda, known as “Shalya Tantra,” is dedicated to the field of surgery and surgical techniques. It encompasses various surgical procedures and treatments to address a wide range of health issues, including both internal and external conditions. 

Surgical Procedures: 

Shalya Tantra primarily deals with surgical interventions. In ancient times, these surgical procedures were often performed using specialized instruments and techniques unique to Ayurveda. While modern medicine has evolved, Ayurvedic surgical methods are still practiced, especially for conditions amenable to these approaches.

External and Internal Conditions: 

Shalya Tantra covers a broad spectrum of health problems, including external conditions like wounds, abscesses, fractures, and skin diseases, as well as internal conditions like tumors, cysts, and gastrointestinal disorders that may require surgery.

Minimally Invasive Techniques: 

Ayurvedic surgery includes minimally invasive techniques such as the removal of cysts or tumors, drainage of abscesses, and procedures for fistulas. These methods are designed to minimize pain and recovery time.

Preoperative and Postoperative Care: 

Shalya Tantra practitioners provide comprehensive care, including preoperative and postoperative care. This involves preparing patients for surgery, ensuring their well-being during the procedure, and managing their recovery afterward.

Herbal Medications: 

Herbal remedies are often integrated into surgical treatments to aid in wound healing, reduce inflammation, and prevent infections. These herbal preparations may be used before and after surgery.


Accurate diagnosis is essential in Shalya Tantra. Practitioners use various diagnostic methods, including physical examination, imaging techniques, and Ayurvedic diagnostic tools, to assess the patient’s condition and determine the necessity of surgery.


In some cases, Ayurvedic detoxification therapies (Panchakarma) may be recommended before surgery to prepare the body for the procedure and enhance its ability to heal.

Surgery in Modern Medicine: 

While Ayurvedic surgical techniques are still practiced, modern medicine has significantly advanced surgical procedures. In many cases, Ayurvedic surgeons work in conjunction with modern medical professionals to provide the most appropriate and effective surgical care for patients.

Personalized Treatment Plans: 

As in other branches of Ayurveda, Shalya Tantra emphasizes personalized treatment plans tailored to each patient’s unique constitution (Prakriti) and the specific condition they are dealing with.

It’s important to note that while Shalya Tantra has its own set of surgical techniques, Ayurvedic surgeons also consider the patient’s overall health and well-being. They aim not only to address the immediate surgical issue but also to promote holistic health and recovery. 

Additionally, patients may be advised on lifestyle modifications and dietary changes to support their healing process and prevent future health problems.

Read: What is The Best Time to Meditate? Morning, Evening, Night?

6. Agada Tantra (Damshtra Chikitsa)

The sixth branch of Ayurveda, known as “Agada Tantra,” focuses on the treatment of toxicology and poisoning. This branch deals with identifying and managing the toxic effects of substances on the human body, as well as providing remedies and treatments to counteract poisoning. 

Identification of Toxins: 

Agada Tantra practitioners are trained to identify various toxic substances, including natural toxins, chemical toxins, and poisonous creatures such as snakes and insects. They use traditional Ayurvedic methods and knowledge to recognize toxic agents.

Treatment of Poisoning: 

When an individual is exposed to toxins, Agada Tantra offers treatment strategies to mitigate the toxic effects. This may include the use of specific antidotes, herbal remedies, and detoxification therapies to eliminate toxins from the body.

Herbal Antidotes: 

Agada Tantra relies heavily on the use of herbal antidotes to counteract the effects of toxins. Ayurvedic herbs and formulations are carefully chosen based on their properties and effectiveness in neutralizing toxins.

Detoxification (Shodhana): 

Detoxification techniques, such as Panchakarma therapies, are employed to eliminate toxins from the body. This helps in preventing further harm and promoting overall health.

Preventive Measures: 

Agada Tantra not only deals with the treatment of poisoning but also emphasizes preventive measures. It provides guidelines on how to avoid exposure to toxins and how to maintain a toxin-free environment.

Venomous Bites and Stings: 

This branch includes the treatment of venomous bites and stings, such as snakebites, scorpion stings, and insect bites. Ayurvedic remedies and therapies are used to manage the effects of these envenomations.

Environmental Toxins: 

Agada Tantra addresses the impact of environmental toxins and pollutants on health. It offers recommendations for minimizing exposure to these toxins and advises on practices to support the body’s natural detoxification processes.

Customized Treatment: 

Treatment plans in Agada Tantra are customized based on the type of toxin, the severity of poisoning, and the individual’s constitution (Prakriti). This ensures that the most appropriate remedies and therapies are administered.

Integration with Modern Medicine: 

In cases of severe poisoning or toxic exposures, Agada Tantra practitioners may work in collaboration with modern medical professionals, such as toxicologists and emergency room physicians, to provide comprehensive care.

Research and Education: 

Agada Tantra also involves ongoing research into toxicology and poisoning management. Practitioners in this field often educate communities about the dangers of toxins and ways to prevent poisoning incidents.

Agada Tantra plays a critical role in public health, as it addresses the potential risks of poisoning and provides methods to counteract them. Its holistic approach not only treats the immediate effects of toxins but also promotes overall well-being by advocating for a toxin-free lifestyle and environment.

7. Jara Chikitsa

The seventh branch of Ayurveda, known as “Rasayana Tantra,” is focused on the principles of rejuvenation, longevity, and enhancing overall vitality. It encompasses practices, therapies, and dietary guidelines that are aimed at promoting a long and healthy life. 

Rejuvenation and Longevity: 

Rasayana Tantra seeks to enhance the quality and duration of life. It is concerned with not only extending lifespan but also improving the overall well-being and vitality of an individual.


This branch addresses the process of aging and provides strategies to slow it down. Rasayana therapies aim to delay the physical and mental effects of aging, such as wrinkles, gray hair, memory loss, and reduced physical strength.

Holistic Approach: 

Rasayana Tantra takes a holistic approach to rejuvenation. It considers the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of an individual’s health and well-being.

Dietary Recommendations: 

Diet plays a significant role in Rasayana Tantra. It provides guidelines on the types of foods, herbs, and nutrients that promote longevity and vitality. Nutrient-dense foods, antioxidants, and herbs are often recommended.

Herbal Formulations: 

Ayurvedic herbal formulations known as “Rasayanas” are central to this branch. These herbal compounds are believed to have rejuvenating properties and are used to enhance physical and mental health.


Before rejuvenation can occur, Rasayana Tantra often recommends detoxification therapies (Panchakarma) to remove accumulated toxins from the body. This prepares the body for the absorption of Rasayana herbs and nutrients.

Stress Management: 

Stress is considered a significant factor in premature aging. Rasayana Tantra emphasizes stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, and relaxation practices to promote mental well-being.

Lifestyle Recommendations: 

Practitioners of this branch offer lifestyle advice that includes daily routines, exercise, and sleep patterns that support longevity and rejuvenation.

Preventive Medicine: 

Rasayana Tantra isn’t just about reversing the effects of aging but also about preventing age-related diseases. It focuses on maintaining optimal health throughout one’s life.

Individualized Plans: 

Treatment plans in Rasayana Tantra are tailored to the individual’s constitution (Prakriti) and specific health needs. What works for one person may not be suitable for another.

Mental Rejuvenation: 

Mental health is a vital component of Rasayana Tantra. It includes practices to sharpen cognitive abilities, improve memory, and enhance emotional well-being.

Spiritual Growth: 

In some interpretations of Rasayana Tantra, spiritual growth and self-realization are integral to the rejuvenation process. This involves practices to enhance consciousness and connect with one’s inner self.

Read: 4 Paths of Yoga: Bhakti, Karma, Jnana, Raja (With Principles)

8. Vajikarana Tantra (Vrsha Chikitsa)

The eighth branch of Ayurveda, known as “Vajikarana Tantra,” is dedicated to the field of aphrodisiacs, reproductive medicine, and sexual health. It focuses on promoting and enhancing sexual potency, fertility, and overall sexual well-being. 

Aphrodisiacs and Sexual Health: 

Vajikarana Tantra is concerned with improving sexual health and enhancing sexual desire, performance, and satisfaction. It acknowledges the importance of a healthy and fulfilling sexual life for overall well-being.

Balancing Sexual Function: 

This branch helps balance sexual function by addressing both physical and psychological factors that can affect sexual health. It offers remedies and therapies to treat sexual disorders such as erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and low libido.

Herbal Aphrodisiacs: 

Vajikarana Tantra employs a wide range of herbal aphrodisiacs and formulations that are believed to enhance sexual potency and stamina. These herbs are chosen based on their properties and effects on the reproductive system.

Fertility Enhancement: 

It provides treatments and recommendations for couples struggling with infertility issues. Ayurvedic therapies aim to improve reproductive health in both men and women, increasing the chances of conception.

Stress and Anxiety Management: 

Stress and psychological factors can significantly impact sexual health. Vajikarana Tantra emphasizes stress management techniques, including yoga and meditation, to address these issues.

Dietary Guidelines: 

Diet plays a crucial role in sexual health. Ayurvedic practitioners in this field offer dietary recommendations that promote reproductive health and hormonal balance.

Lifestyle Practices: 

Lifestyle practices that support sexual health and vitality are an integral part of Vajikarana Tantra. These practices include daily routines, exercise, and sleep patterns that contribute to overall well-being.

Personalized Approaches: 

Treatment plans in Vajikarana Tantra are personalized to address an individual’s unique constitution (Prakriti), any doshic imbalances, and specific sexual health concerns.

Tantric Principles: 

In some interpretations of Vajikarana Tantra, there is a connection with tantric principles that aim to harmonize sexual energy and spiritual growth. This involves practices to enhance intimacy and connection between partners.

Preventive Measures: 

Vajikarana Tantra also focuses on preventive measures to maintain sexual health and vitality throughout one’s life, not just as a remedy for existing issues.

Integration with Modern Medicine: 

In cases where medical conditions are involved, Ayurvedic practitioners in this field may collaborate with modern medical professionals, such as urologists and gynecologists, to provide comprehensive care.

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Ashtanga Ayurveda FAQs

1. What is the primary focus of Balachikitsa?

Balachikitsa specializes in the health and well-being of children and adolescents, addressing both physical and mental health issues specific to this age group.

2. What conditions does Shalakya Tantra address?

Shalakya Tantra deals with disorders related to the eyes, ears, nose, and throat (ENT), including conditions like cataracts, hearing problems, and sinus issues.

3. Which branch of Ayurveda deals with mental disorders?

Graha Chikitsa is the branch of Ayurveda that deals with mental disorders and psychiatric conditions.

4. What is the main focus of Agada Tantra?

Agada Tantra specializes in the treatment of toxicology and poisoning, including identifying toxins, providing remedies, and detoxification techniques.

5. Are the Ayurveda branches integrated into modern healthcare?

Yes, in some cases, Ayurvedic practices from these branches are integrated with modern medicine to provide comprehensive healthcare solutions.

6. Do Ayurvedic practitioners consider an individual’s constitution when prescribing treatments?

Yes, Ayurvedic treatments are typically personalized based on an individual’s constitution (Prakriti) and specific health concerns.

7. What are the preventive aspects of these branches of Ayurveda?

Ayurveda places significant emphasis on preventive measures, including lifestyle modifications, dietary guidelines, and stress management, to maintain health and well-being.


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