Medicine (bhesajja) is a substance applied or ingested to cure sickness. The Buddha was knowledgeable in drugs and remedies and skilled in prescribing medicines (Vin.I,198-250).
In the Vinaya he recommended over forty different kinds of medicines, some made from plants and animal products and others from minerals. Some of the medicines he recommended have been shown by modern research to have therapeutic value. What medicine is to health the Dhamma is to happiness and freedom and thus it is not surprising that the Dhamma is often compared to a potent restorative medicine. ‘The Buddha is like a skilled physician in that he is able to heal the sickness of the defilements. The Dhamma is like a rightly applied medicine, and the Sangha, with their defilements cured, is like those restored to health by that medicine’ (Pj.21).
- Asceticism and Healing in Ancient India: Medicine in the Buddhist Monastery, Kenneth Zysk, 1989.