Skip to main content

Ayurveda: Introduction & Treatments

  • Synopsis: Information regarding traditional Ayurveda alternative medicine and complementary therapies for health and illness.

Definition: Defining the Meaning of Ayurveda

Ayurveda, or Ayurvedic medicine, is a system of Hindu traditional medicine native to the Indian subcontinent. Practices derived from Ayurvedic traditions are a type of alternative medicine. Ayurveda is a discipline of the upaveda or auxiliary knowledge in Vedic tradition. The origins of Ayurveda are also found in the Atharvaveda, which contains 114 hymns and incantations described as magical cures for disease. Ayurvedic practices include the use of herbal medicines, mineral or metal supplementation (rasa shastra), surgical techniques, opium, and application of oil by massages.

Main Document

What is Ayurveda

Ayurveda is India's traditional, natural system of medicine that has been practiced for more than 5,000 years and is native to India, and practiced in other parts of the world as a form of alternative medicine. Evolving throughout its history, Ayurveda remains an influential system of medicine in South Asia.

In the United States, Ayurvedic medicine is considered a type of CAM and a whole medical system. As with other such systems, it is based on theories of health and illness and on ways to prevent, manage, or treat health problems.

Today Ayurveda has been enjoying a major resurgence in both its native land of India and throughout the world. Tibetan medicine and Traditional Chinese medicine both have their roots in Ayurveda.

The earliest literature of Ayurveda appeared during the Vedic period in India.

The Sushruta Samhita and the Charaka Samhita were influential works on traditional medicine during this era. Ayurvedic practitioners also identified a number of medicinal preparations and surgical procedures for curing various ailments and diseases.

Ayurveda defines mental health as a state of mental, intellectual and spiritual well-being.

"A complete and foolproof definition and interpretation of the mind is impossible to provide... Yet ayurveda has attempted to examine every detail of the mind's attributes with fair success. Ayurveda emphasizes prevention of disease, rejuvenation of our body systems, and extension of life span.

In Ayurveda, symptoms and diseases that could be categorized as mental thoughts or feelings are just as important as symptoms and diseases of the physical body.

Ayurveda seeks to remove the root causes of mental illness in a holistic way. Its focus is on prevention through correct diet, exercise, meditation and cultivation of the right attitude. It offers a complex array of therapeutic techniques and natural medicines to restore balance and harmony.

These various views are considered complementary rather than contradictory.

The mind is functionally divided into ahankara (ego), ichha (desire, will) and buddhi.

Ichha, directed by ahankara, controls the mind.

Buddhi, or the intellect, takes the decisions.

The three gunas (sattva, rajas, tamas) are connected to tridosha in ayurveda.

Ayurveda classifies herbs with a stabilizing effect on the mind as 'medhya rasayanas'. These herbs promote the intellect and deeply nourish the neurological tissues.

Ayurvedic treatments rely heavily on herbs and other plants, including oils and common spices. Currently, more than 600 herbal formulas and 250 single plant drugs are included in the "pharmacy" of Ayurvedic treatments. Historically, Ayurvedic medicine has grouped plant compounds into categories according to their effects (for example, healing, promoting vitality, or relieving pain). Health officials in India and other countries have taken steps to address some concerns about these medications. Concerns relate to toxicity, formulations, interactions, and scientific evidence.

Laboratory and clinical studies on Ayurvedic herbal preparations and other therapies have shown them to have a range of potentially beneficial effects for preventing and treating certain cancers, treating infectious disease, treating diabetes, promoting health, and treating aging.

Quick Facts: Quick Ayurveda

Ayurveda is an ancient health care tradition that has been practiced in India for at least 5,000 years. The word comes from the Sanskrit terms ayur (life) and veda (knowledge).



Latest Ayurveda Publications

Full List of Ayurveda Documents (5 Items)




Newsletter

     What will I receive?
Finance icons
Information
for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Programs include grants, home ownership, vehicle modification loans, personal loans and scholarships.



Citation