In Ayurveda the term Asthi is mainly used to denote bones. The main function of bones in the body is to provide support and protection to other soft tissues. Bones also provide attachments to the skeletal muscles so that they can function.
Synonyms : Asthi, Keekasa (Vertebra) , Kulya
The bone is a hard tissue and hence though essentially made up of all the five existents, bone is considered to be predominant in earth and air.
Earth contributes the hardness of the one and air contributes its dryness.
According to Ayurveda bone is generated from medas (fat) by desiccation. This drying is caused by the dhaatvagni (tissue fire) of fat and the action of vata.
Hair and Nails are considered as Mala (wastes) produced from bone.
Teeth are considered as subsidiary tissue (upadhatu) of the bone.
Asthi-vyaakhyaa (Definition of Bone)
Bones are defines in Ayurveda according to their structure, function and genesis.
आस्यते इति अस्थि | तस्मात् चिर विनष्टेषु त्वक् मांसेषु शरीरिणां | अस्थीनि न विनश्यन्ति साराण्येतानि देहिनां || (सु.शा. 5/22)
Even when other tissues like flesh and integument are decayed, the bones are not destroyed for a very long period.
अस्थि देह धारणं मज्ज: पुष्टिं च (करोति) | (सु. सू. 15/7)
Bones provide support to other structures of the body and also provide nutrition to the marrow.
Asthi samkhya (Enumeration of Bones)
- According to Vedas there are 360 bones in the body.
त्रीणि सषष्टिनि शतान्यस्थ्नां सह दन्तोलूखलनखेन || (च.शा. 7/6)
- Charaka samhita, kashyapa samhita and both vaghbatas follow that 360 bones.
- The teeth (32) and nails (20) are also counted here as bones.
त्रीणि सषष्ठान्यस्थिशतानि वेदवादिनो भाषन्ते ; शल्यतन्त्रे तु त्रीण्येव शतानि | (सु.शा.5/18)
- But according to science of Shalyatantra, 300 bones as exemplified by sushruta samhita.
- According to modern anatomy the total number of bones in the body is 206.
|Extremities (Limbs) (30x4)||120||120||120|
|Head and Neck||63||100||29|
Importance of Bones (अस्थि महत्व) -
The Asthi is the pitruja bhava avayava and formed by the pruthvi and apa mahabhoota.
The shape of the body is the articulation of bony frame work, this bony network supports the body just like trees stand on support of their inner wood.
- The flesh bound to the bones by means of ligaments and vessels.
- To provide attachments for muscles, ligaments, tendons and fascia.
- Protects the vital organs like brain, spinal cord, bladder and lungs.
- It is the store house of calcium and bone marrow.
- Long bones act as levers for the movement and locomotion.
Types of Bones (अस्थि प्रकार)
एतानि पञ्च्विधानि भवन्ति ; तद्यथा - कपालरुचकतरुणवलयनलकसज्ञानि | (सु.शा 5/20)
According to Acharya Sushruta the bones are classified into five types :
- Kapala-asthi (Flat bones)
- Ruchaka-asthi (Teeth)
- Taruna-asthi (cartilage)
- Valaya-asthi (ring bones) and
- Nalaka-asthi (long bones)
- Kapalasthi (कपालास्थि) -
The bones are flat and thin in shape, such bones are called as Kapalasthi.
तेषां जानु नितम्ब अंस गण्ड तालु शङ्ख शिरःसु कपालानि | (सु.शा 5/20)
जानु(Patella), नितम्ब(Pelvic bone), अंस(Scapula), गण्ड(zygomatic bone), तालु(Palatine bone), शङ्ख(temporal bone) and शिरस i.e bones of skull like frontal and parietal bones come under this category.
2. Ruchakasthi (रुचकास्थि) -
दशनास्तु रुचकानि | (सु.शा.5/20)
Both Sushruta and Bhavaprakasha have considered ruchaka variety of bone as teeth.
These helps to taste and cut the food such bones are called as Ruchakasthi.
Note - Modern anatomy does not consider teeth as bones because of structural difference. The term ruchaka means that which is having shining.
3. Tarunasthi (तरुणास्थि) -
The bones which are soft and elastic in nature, such bones are called as Tarunasthi. These are almost Cartilages.
घ्राणकर्ण ग्रीवक्षिकोषेषु तरुणानि | (सु.शा. 5/20)
Cartilages are found in घ्राणNose), कर्ण(Ear), ग्रीवा(Neck), अक्षिकोषेषु(Tarsal palate of eyelid) etc.
Note - Cartilages are not considered as bones by Modern anatomists because they lack ossification.
4. Valayasthi (वलयास्थि) -
The semicircular and circular bones are called as Valayasthi.
पार्श्वपृष्ठोरःसु वलयानि | (सु.शा. 5/20)
The ribs are ring bones. Even vertebrae can be considered as rings as they have the slot for the spinal cord.
5. Nalakasthi (नलकास्थि ) -
शेषानि नलकसज्ञानि | (सु.शा. 5/20)
The other long and short bones are known as Nalalsthi.
Eg : Humerus and femur etc.
Structure of Bone :
As already been discussed that the bones are stable, hard and supporting tissue of the body.
Classical Ayurveda considers bone to be a parental tissue dictated by parental genes.