Ayurveda is a system of traditional medicine native to India and a form of alternative medicine. The earliest literature on Indian medical practice appeared during the Vedic period in India. The Susruta Sanhita and the Charaka Sanhita were influential works on traditional medicine during this era. Over the following centuries, ayurvedic practitioners developed a number of medicinal preparations and surgical procedures for the treatment of various ailments. Western medicine has ayurveda classified as a system of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) that is used to complement, rather than replace, the treatment regimen and relationship that exists between a patient and their existing physician.
Ayurveda is grounded in the physics of the "five elements" i.e. Prithvi (earth), Jala (water), Agni (fire), Vaayu (air) and Akasha (ether). All of which compose the Universe, including the human body. Chyle or plasma (called rasa dhatu), blood (rakta dhatu), flesh (mamsa dhatu), fat (medha dhatu), bone (asthi dhatu), marrow (majja dhatu), and semen or female reproductive tissue (shukra dhatu) are held to be the seven primary constituent elements i.e saptadhatu of the body. Ayurveda deals elaborately with measures of healthful living during the entire span of life and its various phases. Ayurveda stresses a balance of three elemental energies which are vata (air & space – "wind"), pittha (fire & water – "bile") and kapha (water & earth – "phlegm"). According to Ayurveda, these three regulatory principles - Doshas are important for health, because when they are in a more balanced state, the body will function to its fullest, and when imbalanced, the body will be affected negatively in certain ways. Ayurveda holds that each human possesses a unique combination of doshas. In ayurveda, the human body perceives attributes of experiences as 20 Guna meaning qualities. Surgery and surgical instruments are employed. It is believed that building a healthy metabolic system, attaining good digestion and proper excretion leads to vitality. Ayurveda also focuses on exercise, yoga, meditation, and massage. Thus, body, mind, and spirit/consciousness need to be addressed both individually and in unison for health to ensue.
Eight disciplines of ayurveda treatment, called ashtangas are given below:
1. Internal medicine (Kaaya-chikitsa)
2. Paediatrics (Kaumarabhrtyam)
3. Surgery (Shalya-chikitsa)
4. Eye and ENT (Shalakya tantra)
5. Demonic possession (Bhuta vidya): Bhuta vidya has been called psychiatry.
6. Toxicology (Agadatantram)
7. Prevention diseases and improving immunity and rejuvenation (rasayana)
8. Aphrodisiacs and improving health of progeny (Vajikaranam)
In Hindu mythology, the origin of Ayurvedic medicine is attributed to the physician of the gods, Dhanvantari.