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Ayurveda or ayurvedic medicine is a type of traditional medicine that had been established 5,000 years ago in India, and subscribes to the holistic approach to health. The word ayurveda is a combination of the Sanskrit work ayur, meaning life and veda, which is science or knowledge. Ayurveda is thus the science of life. The philosophy of Ayurvedic techniques emphasizes the maintenance of the balance between the body, spirit and mind to ward off sickness and increase well-being. When an imbalance occurs among these three factors, it is thought that it manifests in the physical body as illness.
Aims of Ayurveda
One of the primary aims of Ayurveda is the cleansing of the body to prevent illness and establish harmony and balance. Much of the techniques used had been handed down in oral tradition until it was written down, about 2,000 years ago in the texts of Caraka Samhita and Susruta Samhita. The texts covered pathology, diagnosis, treatment, pediatrics, lifestyle, medical ethics, philosophy and surgery. Ayurveda as traditionally practiced included some surgical procedures, which has not been accepted in the Western world. Some therapies have gained popularity however, such as the use of herbs, metals, massage and other techniques, although their
efficacy has not been proven in clinical studies.
Ayurdeva Discovery and Success
In India today, Ayurveda remains the primary type of health care implemented in about 70% of its rural population, although Western medicine has become more widely used in the urban areas. There are many colleges that teach Ayurvedic medicine and many major cities have Ayurvedic hospitals. The practice has also spread outside India in past centuries including Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Tibet and Bangladesh. More recently, Ayurvedic medicine was introduced in the U.S. and has become popular in the late 20th Century. In a 2004 survey of the National Center for Health Statistics and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), more than 700,000 people have used Ayurvedic medicine at one point, and about 150,000 had used it within the past year.
The human constitution (prakriti) is thought to be composed of three called by their Sanskrit names: vata, pitta, and kapha. The prakriti remains unchanged over a person’s lifetime. The doshas are made up for two or five elements including space, air, fire, water, and earth, which are believed to relate to how a body functions. Any imbalance in the elements will manifest in a specific way depending on the dosha and the source of the imbalance. An experience Ayurvedic practitioner will be able to tell which element is out of whack and what dosha is affected and provide the treatment to restore the balance and thus ward off the onset of
diseases of the body, mind and spirit.