Image for Ayurveda
Ayurveda
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • Abhyanga, Ayurvedaha, Ayurvedic herbs, Ayurvedie, dosha, kapha, Maharishi Ayur-Veda, panchakarma, pitta, prakriti, prana, pranayama, rasayana, science of life, tridosha, vata, vikriti, yoga.

Background

  • Ayurveda, which originated in ancient India more than 5,000 years ago, is probably the world's oldest system of natural medicine. When translated, its name means "science of life," and it stems from the ancient body of spiritual teachings known as the Vedas. Some medical historians believe that Ayurveda was also the original basis for Chinese medicine.
  • Ayurveda is an integrated system of specific theories and techniques that use diet, herbs, exercise, meditation, yoga, and massage or bodywork. The goal of Ayurveda is to achieve optimal health on all levels: physical, psychological, and spiritual.
  • In India, Ayurveda involves the eight main branches of medicine: pediatrics, gynecology, obstetrics, ophthalmology, geriatrics, otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat), general medicine, and surgery. An estimated 80% of the Indian population uses Ayurveda, although it is often used in combination with conventional medicine. There are more than 250,000 Ayurvedic practitioners in India, and some hospitals are based solely on this approach to medicine.
  • Ayurveda made its way to the West mainly through Europe, where it still has a strong presence today. However, in modern times and particularly in western countries, the practice of Ayurveda is less focused on its spiritual roots than on its use as a form of complementary or alternative medicine.
  • Further content available for subscribers only.

Theory

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Evidence

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Safety

Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Author Information

  • Content available for subscribers only.

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  • Content available for subscribers only.
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.