Ayurvedic medicine, also called “Ayurveda”, is a medical system originated in India several thousand years ago. The term “Ayurveda” combines the Sanskrit words Ayur (Life) and Veda (Science or knowledge). Thus, Ayurveda literally means “The science of life

The main therapeutic philosophy of Ayurveda is to balance the Body, Mind, & Spirit (Holistic medicine), and the main method of balancing these 3 elements is through “Detoxification

Ayurveda original texts have been written in Sanskrit more than 2000 years ago, and they include two main texts: “Caraka Samhita” and “Sushruta Samhita”. These texts describe the 8 Ayurveda medical subspecialties: Internal medicine, Surgery, Treatment of head and neck disease, Gynecology, obstetrics, & pediatrics, Toxicology,  Psychiatry, Care of the elderly and rejuvenation, and Sexual vitality 

Up to 80% of the Indian population today uses Ayurvedic medicine alone or combined with conventional (Western) medicine. It is also practiced in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Pakistan

The main medical concepts of Ayurveda can be summarized as the following:

1. All things in the universe, living or non-living are connected

2. All humans are composed of elements from the universe (e.g., minerals)  

3. Health is preserved as long as the mind & body are in harmony, and disease arises when they are NOT in harmony

4. Constitution (Prakriti): this concept states that each person has its own unique physical and psychological combination   

5. The human body is controlled by 3 main life-forces (Doshas), which controls body activities. Each Dosha is made-up of 2 or more of the basic 5 elements: Earth (e.g., minerals & salts), Water (Fluids), Fire (Metabolism), Air (Gases), and Ether (Electromagnetic energies)

Each dosha has a particular relationship to body function, and each person has his/her unique dosha combination, with predominate dosha is usually found. The doshas are (In original Sanskrit):

Vata dosha: combine the elements of Ether + Air; this dosha is connected to the “Nervous system”, where it manifests as Neurological and Skin problems. Also, it controls breathing, heart, and cell division. It is aggravated by: staying up late in the night, fear, and grief (e.g., all are Cortisol-related)  

Pitta dosha: combine the elements of Fire + Water; this dosha is connected to the “Venous system”, where it manifests as Hormonal and GI problems. It manifests as hypertension, digestive conditions, and infectious diseases

Kapha dosha: combine the elements of Earth + Water; this dosha is connected to the “Arterial system”, where it manifests as Strength and Immunity. It manifests as cancer, diabetes mellitus, asthma, and obesity (e.g., Autoimmune disorders). It is aggravated by: greed, eating sweets, and sleeping during the daytime

The main practice of Ayurveda to determine and re-balance the doshas through:

1. Detoxification (Panchakarma): intended to clean the body from “Ama”, which are undigested food that sticks to tissues causing diseases

2. Reducing symptoms: via exercises, massage, oils, sunlight exposure, and herbs with honey

3. Increase body resistance: done via several herbs, vitamins, & proteins.  Ayurvedic treatments rely heavily on herbs including oils and common spices. There are more than 600 herbal formulas and 250 single plant drugs are included in the “Ayurvedic pharmacy” currently

4. Spiritual healing & nutrition: through life modification


Selected references

1. Rao R. History of Ayurveda. 2010; Chaukhamba Orientalia; 1st edition


2. Mishra LC. Scientific basis for Ayurvedic therapies. 2003; CRC Press; 1st edition


3. Ranade S. Ayurvedic Panchakarma. 2003; Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratisthan; 1st edition