Ayurveda (Devanagari : the ‘science of life’) is a system of traditional medicine native to the Indian Subcontinent. In Sanskrit, the word Ayurveda consists of the words Äyus, meaning ‘life’, and veda, meaning ‘related to knowledge’ or ‘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 is grounded in a metaphysics of the ‘5 Great Elements’ – earth, water, fire, air and ether – all of which compose the Universe, including the human body. Chyle (called Rasa dhatu), blood (called Rakta dhatu), flesh (called Mamsa dhatu), fat (called Medha dhatu), bone (called Asthi dhatu), marrow (called Majja dhatu), and semen or female reproductive tissue (called Shukla dhatu) are held to be the seven primary constituent elements of the body.
Ayurveda incorporates an entire system of dietary recommendations. Ayurvedic dietetics comprise a host of recommendations, ranging from preparation and consumption of food, to healthy routines for day and night, sexual life, and rules for ethical conduct. In contrast to contemporary practitioners of New Age Ayurveda, older Ayurvedic authors tended to be religiously neutral. Even Buddhist authors refrained from trying to convert the patient to follow their particular religious ways
Academic institutions related to traditional medicine in India have contributed to Ayurveda’s international visibility. Ayurveda gained recognition in the Western world as medical scholars, notably Frank John Ninivaggi MD of Yale University School of Medicine, researched and outlined its various postulates in one major textbook suitable to Western academic science.In the United States of America, the NIH NCCAM expends some of its $123 million budget on Ayurvedic medicine research.