Ayurveda ( the 'science of life') is a system of traditional medicine native to India, and practiced in other parts of the world as a form of alternative medicine. In Sanskrit, the word Ayurveda comprises the words āyus, meaning 'life' and veda, meaning 'science'. Evolving throughout its history, Ayurveda remains an influential system of medicine in South Asia. 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 believes in 'five great elements' (earth, water, fire, air and space) forming the universe, including the human body. Blood, flesh, fat, bone, marrow, chyle, and semen are the seven primary constituent elements of the body. Ayurveda stresses a balance of three substances: wind/spirit/air, phlegm, and bile, each representing divine forces. The doctrine of these three Dosas —vata (wind/spirit/air), pitta (bile) and kapha (phlegm)—is important. Traditional beliefs hold that humans posses a unique constellation of Dosas. In Ayurveda, the human body has 20 Guna meaning quality. Surgery and surgical instruments are employed. It is believed that building a healthy metabolic system, attaining good digestion, and proper excretion leads to vitality. Ayurveda also focuses on exercise, yoga, meditation, and massage.
The concept of Panchakarma is believed to eliminate toxic elements from the body. Eight disciplines of Ayurveda treatment, called Ashtanga , are given below.
- Surgery (Shalya-chkitsa).
- Treatment of diseases above the clavicle (Salakyam).
- Internal medicine (Kaya-chikitsa).
- Demonic possession (Bhuta vidya): Ayurveda believes in demonic intervention and—as a form of traditional medicine—identifies a number of ways to counter the supposed effect of these interferences. Bhuta vidya has been called psychiatry.
- Paediatrics (Kaumarabhrtyam).
- Toxicology (Agadatantram).
- Prevention and building immunity (rasayanam).
- Aphrodisiacs (Vajikaranam).