What Is Ayurveda? In Detail

As with other traditional therapies, Ayurveda, the ancient form of herbal healing, is currently seeing a renaissance around the world, a renewed interest as more holistic approaches to health and wellness are sought. 

Ayurveda – meaning ‘science of long life’ in Sanskrit – is considered the world’s oldest surviving complete medical system, referenced in 5,000-year-old texts in India. 

In the 1970s, the World Health Organisation (WHO) formally recognized the role of alternative systems of Ayurveda supplements and medicine in different countries, including Ayurveda.

The Fundamentals

Balance is at the heart of Ayurveda. It focuses on establishing and sustaining a balance between mind, body, spirit, and environment to promote active long-term wellbeing. Therefore, rather than focusing on individual symptoms of illness or one-dimensional solutions, Ayurveda concentrates on establishing and sustaining the balance of life energies for the long term. 

Overall, it is a gentler, holistic system of healthcare and wellness. While diet and nutrition play a major role, Ayurveda also encompasses internal medicines and external rituals such as oil and steam treatments, herbal pastes, physical activity, and mindful therapies. Plant-based treatments in Ayurveda can be derived from roots, leaves, fruits, bark, or seeds. 

Similar to the classical Greek concept, Ayurveda theory espouses the existence of five great elements or building blocks of nature – space, air, fire, water, and earth.

 Based on these five elements, Ayurveda identifies the existence of life energies or functional principles that are present in everyone, known as ‘doshas’, and there are three types – ‘Vata’, ‘pitta’ and ‘Kapha’.