What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda originated in India more than 5000 years ago and is recognized as an alternative method of medicine. The classical text of Ayurveda is the Sushruta Samhita which was written by the residing physician in the kingdom of Varanasi called Sushruta during the Vedic times. The classical texts in Ayurveda were divided into 8 components covering good health for a long life, medicine, surgery and sexual pleasure.
There are three principal early texts on Ayurveda, the Charaka Samhita, the Sushruta Samhita and the Bhela Samhita. The Sushruta Samhita is based on an original from the 6th century BCE and was updated by the Buddhist scholar Nagarjuna in the 2nd century CE. The Charaka Samhita, written by Charaka, and the Bhela Samhita, attributed to Atreya Punarvasu are also dated to the 6th century BCE.
The word Ayurveda means “life” and “knowledge” Ayurveda names seven basic tissues (dhatu), which are plasma (rasa), blood (rakta), muscles (māmsa), fat (meda), bone (asthi), marrow (majja), and semen (shukra). This classical medicine is based on the five classical elements – Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Ether. Ayurveda also names three elemental substances, the doshas (called Vata, Pitta and Kapha), and states that a balance of the doshas results in health, while imbalance results in disease.
Ayurveda believes that good health is when the physical body, emotions, doshas, and spirit are in alignment. It propounds a diet, sleep, exercise (Yoga), and breathing (Pranayama) along with the use of natural food and herbs for optimum health. Plant-based treatments in Ayurveda may be derived from roots, leaves, fruits, bark, or seeds such as cardamom. Some of the medicinal plant names used in Ayurveda is described in the Atharva Veda (one of the 4 main Vedas that forms the basis of Hinduism).
Ayurveda is one of the few systems of medicine developed in ancient times that is still widely practiced in modern times. Beginning in the 1960s, Ayurveda has been known as an alternative medicine in the Western world.