Herbs and Diseases in the Vedas


Compiled by London Swaminathan
Post No. 1142; Dated 1st July 2014.

N.B. If you want to reproduce this article, please email me for permission. You must get written permission from me for each and every article separately. swami_48@yahoo.com

Please read my earlier post “107 Miracle Herbs in the Hindu Vedas” – posted on 16th September 2013.

Rig Veda is the oldest religious scripture in the world. It is not only a religious book but also an encyclopaedia of Hindu culture. We get a picture of India that existed several thousand years ago. Since it is mainly religious, we can’t expect everything under the sun in this book. But from the diseases and medicines mentioned in it, we get a glimpse of the health problems and solutions in ancient India. Of the four Vedas, Atharvaveda (AV) gives us more information in the field of health problems.


Vedas mention about 75 plants. But not all of them are herbs. They mentioned herbs as ‘Oshadi’ in general.
The medical science has advanced to a high degree in the Vedic period and we hear about Asvins fixing an iron leg (artificial leg) to a lady who lost her legs. They are the Doctors of the Gods and the friends of the sick and the unfortunate. Later literature confirmed several transplant operations in Susruta’s books and Tamil literature, where a Pandya king was given an artificial Golden Hand. Several eye transplants are described in the religious Hindu and Buddhist literature.

Lord Shiva himself is called the medicine and the doctor (Beshajam & Bhishak) in the Vedas.
Vedas mentioned mainly the heart and lung diseases. Other two diseases mentioned are leprosy and jaundice. But the Vedas are not medical books, so what we get is an incomplete picture.


Heart Diseases in the Vedas
Hrdayaamaya – Heart problem—is mentioned in the Atharvaveda in connection with Yaksma and with Balaasa. Balaasa is consumption (pulmonary tuberclosis) in the later medical books. Source: Vedic index, page 507
Hrdu is another word with unknown meaning. It is found in Atharvaveda 1-25-2.3. Weber thinks it is cramps ( I think it is angina).
Hariman – Jaundice is found in both RV 1-50-2 and AV 1-22-1, 9-8-9, 19-44-2. It means yellowness.

I add the following information from “Common Life in the Rgveda and Atharvaveda” by Chhanda Chakraborty, 1997

Female diseases of the uterus is are referred to in RV 10-162-1
Obstruction to pregnancy and death of the foetus are also mentioned 10-162-3
The word Visuuci in RV 10-74-2 as an adjective to ‘amiva’ (sickness) seems to denote infectious diseases.
Deformities like blindness and lameness have occasionally mentioned. There are also references which say that their vision was restored.

RV refers to a poison named Vandana (7-50-2) grown in the joints of the trees. In the same passage, a poison is said to cause inflammation of the knees and heels (may be arthritis).
Oshadi, which means a medicinal herb, is mentioned in the following places in the Rig Veda:–
1-166-5; 3-34-10; 4-33-7; 5-41-8; 6-21-9; 7-4-5; 8-27-2, 10-145-1
At some places (10-145-1), it is stated to possess wonderful power e.g. bringing people under control.

Sunshine (1-5011), water (7-50-4) and fire (7-50-2) are occasionally stated to cure some diseases, especially caused by poison.

Ajaka (RV 7-50-1) – the disease is stated to be caused by poison.
Harimana (1-50-11) – Sayana describes it as causing the body to be haridvarna. In this context ‘harit’ perhaps means pale yellow. It may mean jaundice. Sunshine is stated to cure the disease.
Hrdroga (1-5011) – heart disease, but nature of the sickness is not explained.
Sriipada (7-50-4) Details are NOT available in Sayana’s commentary or in the text.
Yaksma 1-122-9 probably consumption (TB); Chest disease.
Arthritis? 7-50-2 – inflammation of the knee and heels
Tenth Mandala of RV 10-85-31, 10-97-12, 10-137-4, 10-163.1 gives details of health problems
Atharvaveda has a long list of ailments. Nearly 40 complaints are listed by the author with references. I just give the names of the diseases below:


Ajnaataarus (wounds and sours), aksata-vrana (tumour), aksi roga (eye disease), alaji (optical isease), apacit (Scrofula), Apasmaara (Mania, epilepsy), Arista (epilepsy), aasarika (severe pain on different limbs), Aasraava (according to Sayana mutraatisara=diabetes; atisara=diarrhoea, nadivranaadi=ulcer;raktasraava=hemorrhage)
Asthibhanga (fracture); Balaasa (precise meaning is not found in the Vedas. But Ayurveda use this to mention kapha, salesman(phlegm)
Gandamaalaa (Scrofula); Graahi (fit caused by a demoness); Hrdyota (Heart Disease); Jalodara (dropsy); Jaayaanya (boil or wound); Kamilaka (see pandu roga)
Kaasa (cough); Ksetriga (congenital disease); Lohita (flow of blood); Mutramocana (release of obstructed urine); Pakshahata (paralysis)
Pandu (jaundice); Prstaamaya (pain in ribs); Raajayakshma (venereal disease)
Siroroga (head ache); Slesmapaatana (Expectoration); Suula (Rheumatism)
Svetakushta (leucoderma); Samskndha, viskandha (Sayana says emaciation of the body and loss of movement. Some others expalain it as rheumatism)
Takman (fever); Trsnaa(excessive thirst); Vidratha (abcess); Visara, Visarika (severe pain in Limbs); Vrana (wound).

This list may not be useful to everyone. But it gives us some idea about the health problems faced by the ancient society and their purpose to list them in the Vedas. When they talk about the diseases caused by ‘demons’ etc, they mean only bacteria and other germs. Like they explained the eclipse as snakes devouring sun and moon ( by Rahu, Ketu) to a layman, they explained that some diseases were caused by demons. Hindu astrologers knew very well the movements of the planets and calculated the exact time of eclipses, but yet described it for a layman with snake story. Even now doctors do not explain everything to a layman; they simply give the medicine and cure it. This was the approach of the ancient communities.
For those who need the complete references regarding plants and diseases, please refer to the Vedic Index by Keith and MacDonnell and Rgveda and Atharvaveda by Chhanda Chakraborty.

107 Miracle Herbs in the Hindu Vedas


Ayurveda is one of the oldest, probably the oldest, medical systems in the world. We have proof for it in the oldest religious book- the Rig Veda. Though the Vedas speak about different herbs indifferent places, the most famous hymn is the ‘THE HEALING PLANTS’ hymn in Rig Veda (10-97). Western World is using Indian herbs in their popular medicines for jaundice (Eclipta alba= Karisalankanni) and heart problem (Rawolfia serpentine= Sarpagandhi).

The hymns about herbs indicate the beliefs of Vedic society. They believed that the herbs and the amulets made out of them can do wonders. The herbs will cure all the diseases, flush out the poison from the blood and even attract men towards wives. They associated all herbs with soma plant and moon. They attributed magical and divine qualities to herbs. Ancient Hindus were botanists and environmentalists. They studied their surroundings well. They used plants as similes in poems. Hundreds and hundreds of plant names are in Tamil and Sanskrit literature.

The Vedic hymn in Tenth Mandala (10-97) mentions 107 herbs. Unfortunately we don’t know the names of those 107 herbs; but we do come across hundreds of herbs in the Ayurvedic books of Charaka and Susrutha. Here is the oldest medical hymn in the world:

1.The tawny plants were born in the ancient times, three ages before the gods; now I will meditate upon their hundred and seven forms.

2.Mothers, you have a hundred forms and a thousand growths. You have a hundred ways of working, make this man whole for me.

Please note the word “ancient”, “three ages before the Gods”. Vedas are the oldest religious books in the world. They talk about ‘ ancient ‘ times! I have already written a post “how old is Indian civilisation?”. Also note the numbers 100, 1000. We were the ones who taught the world decimal system; without decimal system no worthy calculations can be done. I am skipping a few lines in the hymn.

susrutha statue in Haridwar

Picture of Susruthar Statue in Haridwar.

5.In the sacred fig tree is your home; in the tree of leaves your dwelling place has been made. You will surely win a cow as your share if you win a man (if you cure this man)

Please note Brahmins use Peepal tree (Aswaththa; Ficus religiosa) from the days of Indus/Sarasvathy civilization until today. All Homams, Havans, Yagas and Yagnas done by Brahmins on day to day basis use only Fig tree sticks.

19.You plants whose king is Soma, spread out over the earth as you were sent by Brihaspati: unite your power in this plant.

20. Do not harm the man who digs you up, nor him for whom nor I dig you up; let all our two footed and four footed creatures be without sickness.

Please note the Vedic priests pray not only for human beings but also for animals! How kind they were!

All the Hindu fire ceremonies use at least nine different types of herbs (wooden sticks) in the fire. No proper scientific study has been done so far. Because of our carelessness we even lost the full knowledge of the 107 herbs.

Miracle Herbs in Atharva Veda

Of the four Vedas, Atharvana Veda is the most useful Veda. It contains verses for marriage, birth and death. It contains talismans for good sex life and herbs for healthy life. Now I will give the details about the herbs:

AV Kanda 2

Jangida mani

For the sake of a long life and for the sake of happiness, I wear an amulet (mani) made of jangida. It will increase my strength and will dry up all manner of ill health (The jangida was a plant that was cultivated so that charms and amulets could be made out of it).

AV Kanda 3

Parna mani

This powerful parna mani (amulet) has come so that it may destroy enemies through its powers. This amulet is like the strength of the gods of the gods and the juice of all herbs. May it energise me.

This sukta is about an amulet made out of the leaves of the palasha tree.

“O, parna mani! You are a leaf, but you are the protector of my body. May you increase my valour. I will wear your energy on my person for an entire year.


AV Kanda 4

Prayer for removing poison (from the tip of arrow)

O poison! The celestial bird Garuda drank you up and you could do no harm. You could not make him mad or unconscious; you were like food for him.

O poisonous plant! What has the one who dug you up out of the ground achieved? What has the mountain on which you grew achieved? Their efforts have all come to nought.

The juice of the herb named varana nullifies all poison. This juice is like amrita itself and with its help, I purge you of all poison.

O poisonous plant that has led to the unconsciousness! I will fling you aside like an arrow. The juice of my herb will banish you the way a useless utensil is discarded. I repulse the poison with this herb.

AV Kanda 5

The herb Kushta

“ O, herb who are named Kushta! You grow on the mountains. Descend here from the mountains so that you may cure disease.

Heaven is thrice removed from earth. The divine asvaththa tree grows in heaven. It is there that the gods obtained the immortal kushta plant.

Oh, kushta plant! Make this patient sit up. Make him healthy and remove his ailment.

You were born from the gods. The soma herb is your friend. You are like the breath of life; you cure diseases of the eye. Grant this patient happiness.

You were born in the Himalayas. You bring welfare to mankind. Justly is your praise is chanted. You cure diseases of the eye and the head. You purge the body of bad blood and increase one’s strength. You have the power of healing.

Shilachi or Laksha

The night is your mother. The sky is your father and your grandfather is the sun himself. You are known as Shilachi. You are the sister of the gods.

(Shilachi was a medicinal plant, chiefly used to repair fractures. It is subsequently referred to as Arundhati).

He who drinks your juice lives. You are the one who protects men. You are the one who nourishes and cures.

Like a man embracing a woman, you climb round every tree. You are the one who grants victory and a long life. You are also known as Sparani.

You are to be found in the trees bhadra, plaksha, asvaththa, khadira (acacia) and dhava. You are to be found in the parna (palasha) and the nyagrodha (fig tree). You are the plant that heals all wounds. Come to me.

AV Kanda 6

Hair growing herb Revati

O Revati herb! Great are your healing powers great is your strength.make us well. Grant us an abundance of hair. Make our hair luxuriant. (We are not able to identify revati now).

AV Kanda 7

A wife’s prayer

“ I dig up this herb from the ground. This herb will attract his attention towards me. This is the herb that protects one from all misfortunes and prevents one from falling prey to temptation. It will bring him back to me and it will grant happiness.

“This herb is named asuri. It is this herb that gave Indra the power to rule over gods. I use it to obtain power over my husband so that I may always be loved by him.

“O,herb! You obtain your serenity from the moon and your energy from the sun. The other gods bestow divine qualities on you. It is for that reason that I praise you.


AV Kanda 8

Heaven and earth will elevate you. The god who is the preserver will elevate you. All the herbs, led by their king Soma, will grant you protection. They will make you rise above earth.

There are 650 English and Tamil articles in my blogs on similar subjects. Enjoy reading! Contact swami_48@yahoo.com