Ashtavaidyas are the practitioners of Ayurveda , having expertise in all the eight branches of medicines. The eight branches are Kaya Chikitsa (Gen. Medicine), Bala Chikitsa (Paediatrics) , Graha Chikitsa (Psychiatry), Oordhwanga Chikitsa (ENT, Neurology, Dentistry, Ophthalmology), Salya Chiktsa (Surgery), Dhamshtra Chikitsa (Toxicology), Jara Chikitsa (Geriatrics) and Vrisha Chikitsa (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 . Pulamanthole Mooss, Thaikkat Mooss, Elayidath Thekkat Mooss, Alathur Nambi , Vayaskara Mooss, Olassa Mooss, Cheerattamannu Mooss 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 Diety of the family) of Vaidyamadham where as Lord Dhanwanthary (another form of Mahavishnu) is the paradevata of other Ashtavaidyas generally.