Ayurvedic Medicine is the major indigenous medical tradition of India
and Nepal, where it is today a government-supported health care system
whose methods are often practiced in conjunction with those of modern
medicine, i.e., as a highly effective form of complementary or integrative
Its origins can be traced back not only to the herbal medicine practiced
among the early Vedic Aryans, whose cultural descendants wrote the
first Ayurvedic medical texts many centuries later, but also to the
discovery and use of healing plants by various groups of ethnically
diverse people who lived in prehistoric India before that time, including
the Munda and the inhabitants of the Harappan civilisation.
The word Ayurveda comes from the Sanskrit word Ayur (often
translated as “life,” but referring also to the entire process of life coming
into existence) and veda (systematic knowledge). If we go back to the
Vedic roots of Ayurveda and Yoga, we can see that these early sources are
holistic in using methods of healing for all levels of being: physical,
emotional, mental, spiritual, and social.
The preventative health/ home health care aspects of Ayurveda are really
quite simple: once a person masters a basic understanding of the three
doshas, and learns the rudiments of healthy diet and lifestyle, he/she can
follow these principles at home, often to great benefit.
The medical aspects of Ayurveda are more complex, and as in any
medical system, require several years of study.
Ayurveda as a developed medical system, which describes specific
diseases, their symptoms, causes, patterns of development, and
treatments, probably did not arise prior to 500 bce. It is practically and
philosophically closely linked to Yoga; both systems are based to some
extent on an ancient philosophical system known as Samkhya, and both
share common Vedic roots.
Classical Ayurvedic Medicine contained the following branches:
· kayachikitsa (internal medicine)
· shalakya tantra (ear, nose, and throat)
· bhutavidya (psychiatry)
· vishagara-vairodh tantra (toxicology)
· vajikarana (fertility and conception)
· kaumara britya (gynecology and pediatrics)
· shalya tantra (surgery)
· rasayana (rejuvenation and longevity)