Ayurvedam had developed along two scientific streams- "Sasthrakriya" (surgery) and "Chikilsa" (Treatment).The surgeons are called "Dhanwanthareeyans" and the physicians , "Bharadwajeeyans" The luminaries of that period were Sushruthan for Salyackikilsa (surgery) and Charakan for Kaya Chikilsa (Medicines). However , in brief, the origin of Ashtavaidyas can be taken as from Vagbhata who tried to integrate these two branches. Ashtangahredayam and Samgraham are the two texts complete in all respects written by Vagbhata and practiced by all AshtangaAyurvedavaidyas in Kerala.
Ashtavaidyas are the practitioners of Ayurveda , having expertise in all the eight branches of medicines. The eight branches are Kaya Chikitsa (Gen. Medicine), BalaChikitsa (Paediatrics) ,GrahaChikitsa (Psychiatry), OordhwangaChikitsa (ENT, Neurology, Dentistry, Ophthalmology), SalyaChiktsa (Surgery), DhamshtraChikitsa (Toxicology), JaraChikitsa (Geriatrics) and VrishaChikitsa (Gynaecology and Rejuvanative therapy). Ashtangahridaya/ Ashtangasamgraha written by the sage Vagbada are the two most popular medical texts containing a complete knowledge of these eight branches. The term Ashtavaidyan is derived from the term Ashtangavaidyan; ashta means eight, anga means branch and vaidya means physician. In the past, there were about eighteen families belonging to this blessed group of physicians . Now only few of them are in the field .PulamantholeMooss, ThaikkatMooss, ElayidathThekkatMooss, AlathurNambi ,VayaskaraMooss, OlassaMooss, CheerattamannuMooss and Vaidyamadham are the prominent among them. All Ashtavaidyas belong to Dhanwanthareeya Group. While Vaidyamadham alone represents the Bharadwajeeyans. . Lord Dakshinamoorthy (form of Lord Siva in meditation) is the Paradevatha (Presiding Deity of the family) of Vaidyamadhamwhere as Lord Dhanwanthary (another form of Mahavishnu) is the paradevata of other Ashtavaidyas generally.