Ayurveda (Sanskrit Āyurveda आयुर्वेद, "life-knowledge"; English pronunciation /ˌaɪ.ərˈveɪdə/) or Ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to the Indian subcontinent and a form of alternative medicine. The oldest known ayurvedic texts are the Suśrutha Saṃhitā and the Charaka Saṃhitā. These Classical Sanskrit texts are among the foundational and formally compiled works of ayurveda.


By the medieval period, ayurvedic practitioners developed a number of medicinal preparations and surgical procedures for the treatment of various ailments. Current practices derived (or reportedly derived) from ayurvedic medicine are regarded as part of complementary and alternative medicine, and, along with siddha and Traditional Chinese medicine, form the basis for systems medicine.

Eight components of Ayurveda

In classical Sanskrit literature, Ayurveda was called "the science of eight components" (Sanskrit aṣṭāṅga अष्टांग), a classification that became canonical for ayurveda. They are:
(General medicine) – Kāya-chikitsā: "cure of diseases affecting the body"
(Pediatrics) – Kaumāra-bhṛtya: "treatment of children"
(Surgery) – Śhalya-chikitsā: "removal of any substance which has entered the body (as extraction of darts, of splinters, etc.)"
(Ophthalmology / ENT) – Śālākya-tantra: "cure of diseases of the eye or ear etc. by sharp instruments"[dubious – discuss]
(Demonology / exorcism / psychiatry) – Bhūta(past)-vidyā: "treatment of mental diseases supposed to be produced by past experiences"
(Toxicology) – Agada-tantra: "doctrine of antidotes"
(Elixirs) – Rasayana-tantra: "doctrine of Rasayana"
(Aphrodisiacs) – Vājīkaraṇa tantra


Ayurvedic practitioners approach diagnosis by using five senses. Hearing is used to observe the condition of breathing and speech. The study of the lethal points or marman marma is of special importance. Ayurvedic doctors regard physical and mental existence together with personality as a unit, each element having the capacity to influence the others. One of the fundamental aspects of ayurvedic medicine is to take this into account during diagnosis and therapy. Concepts of Dinacharya are followed in Ayurveda. Practices like Oil pulling are practised.
Hygiene is a central practice of ayurvedic medicine. Hygienic living involves regular bathing, cleansing of teeth, skin care, and eye washing.

Head massage is used to apply oils.
Ayurveda stresses the use of plant-based medicines and treatments. Hundreds of plant-based medicines are employed, including cardamom and cinnamon. Some animal products may also be used, for example milk, bones, and gallstones. In addition, fats are used both for consumption and for external use. Minerals, including sulphur, arsenic, lead, copper sulfate and gold are also consumed as prescribed. This practice of adding minerals to herbal medicine is known as rasa shastra.
In some cases, alcohol was used as a narcotic for the patient undergoing an operation. The advent of Islam introduced opium as a narcotic. Both oil and tar were used to stop bleeding. Traumatic bleeding was said to be stopped by four different methods: ligation of the blood vessel; cauterisation by heat; using different herbal or animal preparations locally which could facilitate clotting; and different medical preparations which could constrict the bleeding or oozing vessels. Various oils could be used in a number of ways, including regular consumption as a part of food, anointing, smearing, head massage, and prescribed application to affected areas.
While two of the eight branches of classical Ayurveda deal with surgery ( Śalya-cikitsā, Śālākya-tantra), contemporary Ayurvedic theory tends to emphasise that building a healthy metabolic system, attaining good digestion, and proper excretion lead to vitality. Ayurveda also focuses on exercise, yoga, and meditation. In ayurveda, liquids may be poured on the patient's forehead, a technique which is called Shirodhara. To maintain health, a Sattvic diet is prescribed to the patient.

Sourced from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayurveda

Coppied and Edited by Judd Bryant.