PROPHYLAXIS OF ANIMAL DISEASES

As in Ayurvedic human medicine, prevention occupied an important place in veterinary medicine in ancient India. Prevention was based on general hygiene and food hygiene. Texts insist on the cleanliness of animals, giving details of the location and maintenance of stalls and stables, the qualities and defects of different sorts of feed, and husbandry rules to be observed. The texts also stress the importance of moderation in feeding domestic animals, and enumerate the disadvantages of overfeeding. Ancient Sanskrit texts on veterinary medicine discuss every variety of edible products and indicate their different properties, which were suitable for animals of a given ‘temperament’, comportment and state of health, taking into account the climatic conditions, time of the day, etc. For example, a feed which may be given safely to a healthy animal may complicate a diseased state. The feeding of grass was ruled out, as it weakened the vitality of horses. However, barley, beans and butter were particularly recommended for mares during pregnancy. Sea salt should be added to feed in the case of diseases caused by ‘wind’ disorders and venous diseases, or for a horse with sleeping difficulties. However, sea salt was not recommended for very old or very young horses, etc. (4,24). In addition, as in Âyurveda, the veterinary tradition of India placed an emphasis on procedures which would enhance the general state of health, notably the administration of tonics and stimulants (rasâyana), and aphrodisiacs (vâjîkarana). The latter, containing various constituents which have been the object of little study to date, augmented the strength of enfeebled animals and those of poor virility. Sanskrit texts provide various recipes for potions enabling a stallion to mate repeatedly. The rasâyana (‘elixirs of long life’) were prescribed to strengthen animals and were recommended for preventing all sorts of illnesses. For example, a mixture based on aconite and three peppers was recommended for extending the life span of horses. The following plants were main constituents of such elixirs: Asparagus racemosus Willd., Emblica officinalis Gaertn., Terminalia bellerica Roxb., Terminalia chebula Retz., Tinospora cordifolia (Willd.) Miers and Zingiber officinale Rosc. Buffalo horn was also a valued ingredient. 

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