Ayurveda comes from two Sanskrit words, ayu and veda, meaning life and knowledge, respectively. The conspicuous use of the word ‘veda’ emphasizes its early status and role in the Hindu civilization and religion. It is a comprehensive system of medicine, more than 5,000 years old and based on a holistic approach rooted in Vedic culture. Its two early texts Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita have given rise to its two main schools. Traditional Ayurveda speaks of eight branches, dealing with all aspects of human anatomy and health.
Traditionally, a student of Ayurveda was not only required to know about these branches, but also to know the methods of preparation of various medicines, which were mainly extracted from plants and other natural sources, although many chemical compositions did play their part. The Ayurvedic idea is that the organism adapts to the environment and its food, climate etc. This principle of adaptation is called satyma. Through introducing small amounts of a food or medicine, the organism can adapt to it and learn to resist it. It could be said that the simple essence of Ayurveda is knowledge and awareness of the qualities of nature – called gurvadi gunah. By understanding the qualities inherent in the environment, in foodstuffs, in activities, etc., one gains an appreciation of their effects on the individual constitution through the principle of similarities; i.e., that similarities cause increase while dissimilarities cause decrease. The human body is further controlled by the Five Elements, and the three Doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Historically, Ayurveda has had a very hallowed and respected tradition in India. As a comprehensive system of medication which is purely based on biotic medication and with least side effects, Ayurveda is gaining a lot of popularity in India and in the West. Research is being continuously conducted, new products and product lines are being commercially launched, and new institutions and specialty clinics are being opened. This section provides links about various Ayurvedic clinics, and provides other information regarding this hallowed system.