Āyurveda is the world's oldest, continuously practiced health care system. Mastered and refined in India, it has influenced health care across the globe for thousands of years.

Āyurveda is the original system of holistic, sustainable health care. Its foundations are rooted in natural law. Its complex, scientific framework is a functional, interconnected paradigm that is yet to be understood in Western medicine.

Āyurveda's purpose is to create health, identify the root cause of disease and ultimately cure it. The knowledge, wisdom and science of Āyurveda has been time-tested and documented extensively for over 2,000 years, primarily in the language of Sanskrit. It demonstrates efficacy through frameworks of its paradigm using holistic and reductionist methods.

The names “Āyurveda” and “Traditional Āyurvedic Medicine” can be used interchangeably. They can also be used to denote the specific purposes of promoting health and curing disease. Here, we use the specific meanings of these terms to provide a clearer picture.


Āyurveda is a systematic, scientific body of knowledge which encompasses holistic, sustainable medicine, disease prevention and complete health care. It promotes harmonious function at individual, community and global levels.

It includes instructions from pre-pregnancy planning to inevitable death and is considered the longest, continuously practiced health care system known today.

From a very practical perspective, Āyurveda can be considered a life-long owner’s manual. Following its instructions, one can promote their capacity to experience a long, happy and meaningful life.

Facts about Āyurveda

  • An estimated 600 million people use Āyurveda today in India alone.
  • The world's Father of Surgery, named Suśhruta, was an Āyurvedic Doctor. He is the author of the oldest surviving literature on surgery.
  • Āyurveda has fostered development of medical systems including Tibetan Medicine, modern Unani and ancient Greek medicine.

Traditional Āyurvedic Medicine (TAM)

Traditional Āyurvedic Medicine is

  • A large, complex body of knowledge based on constant, natural laws
  • Extensive instructions for holistic, personalized health care, disease management, regenerative treatment principles and health promotion
  • Health care with the primary goal to live the healthiest life possible in both quantity and quality

Purpose and Goals

प्रयोजनं चास्य स्वस्थस्य स्वास्थ्यरक्षणमातुरस्य विकारप्रशमनं च || च​. सू. ३०।२६
Prayōjanaṃ chāsya svasthasya svāsthya-rakṣhaṇamāturasya vikāra-praśamanaṃ cha || Ca. Sū. 30/26

The goals of Āyurveda are to protect health and cure disease.

For Healthy Living

For Professional Practice

Background and History

Excerpted from Foundations of Āyurveda, Volume 1: Essentials of Professional Āyurveda

The true historical origins of Āyurveda may never be fully known. The science is estimated to be at least several thousand years old based on surviving historical records. Proving a definitive start date should be considered nearly impossible since it is fairly certain that the oldest original records do not exist today.

The delicate, paper palm leaves on which the knowledge was originally transcribed have life spans of a few hundred years in the most optimal conditions. Additionally, the effort required to continuously maintain information is intense and requires a stable society capable of prioritizing and maintaining these types of activities.

Throughout its older periods of history, Āyurveda was said to be passed down through two main methods – smṛti (memory) and śhruti (recitation). According to its own account, Āyurveda claims to have been recalled or remembered through the process of smṛti because the nature of the knowledge is timeless, universal and has always been inherent in nature.

This knowledge was then passed down through śhruti, or the oral tradition. The entire body of knowledge had to be recited and completely memorized before one could be considered competent in the subject.

More recently, in the last 2,000 to 3,000 years, Āyurveda has also been recorded in written manuscript form. The oldest surviving classical works, the Charaka Saṃhitā and Suśhruta Saṃhitā, provide records of a large part of the science.

Precise dates of origin for these manuscripts cannot be reliably determined. It is likely that many additional texts were also recorded around the same time periods but only a small portion of these are available today. The majority of works were either lost partially or completely, or destroyed over time.

Excerpted from Foundations of Āyurveda, Volume 2: Core Principles and the Human Body in Āyurveda (Siddhānta & Śārīra)

The evolution of Āyurveda over millennia has been influenced by philosophies, religions, cultures, political, social and other factors. Although the classical authorities like Charaka clearly state that Āyurveda is anādi (eternal), history and remaining evidence today tell a bigger story. Records of continual development of Āyurveda make it clear that the practical application of the science has most definitely evolved and adapted to meet changing demands over time.

From its earliest records, Āyurveda has drawn parts of its knowledge and understanding of the life from six philosophical schools, collectively known as the ṣhaḍ darśhana. These philosophies were recorded in the last section of the Vedas called the Upaniṣhads. This knowledge was the prevalent foundation for philosophical and scientific thought during Charaka and Suśhruta's time, around 1,000 to 500 BCE.

Advancing Traditional Āyurvedic Medicine (TAM) in the West



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