The foundation of Ayurveda lies within a focus on disease prevention, and for those that are in a diseased state, to minimise pain and suffering, and optimising the quality of life in all aspects.
Ayurvedic Medicine has a very rich history dating back many thousands of years. The exact date of where it began is unknown, much due to the fact that the Indian tradition was originally an oral one, rather than through the use of writings and texts, and through the fact that India was occupied by foreign invaders for approximately 1000 years (which included the active suppression of Ayurveda, most notably by the British), first by the moguls and then through the British, much had been lost.
However, there are several texts that have survived. Most notably of these is the Charaka Samhita (approx. 3500 years old), which for the first time described eight disciplines of Ayurveda:
- General Medicine - which carefully described the causes, symptoms, methods of healing and interventions (therapeutic) for the majority of all diseases.
- Paediatrics - obstetrics and paediatrics.
- Psychiatry - dealing with the science of mental illness and psychological disturbances.
- Ear, Nose And Throat (Opthalmology) - dealing with these areas (including surgery).
- Surgery - dealing with all areas of treating organs with pathological disturbances.
- Toxicology - dealing with poisons, environmental pollutants and poisoned organisms.
- Geriatrics - dealing with the science of rejuvenation.
- Reproductive Medicine - dealing with the science of procreational medicine.
Ayurveda traditionally also incorporated spirituality and yogic practices as part of its umbrella.
It was only in 1947, with the gaining of Independence from the British Empire, that the Indian Government was able to put Ayurvedic Medicine back in its rightful place as a nationally recognised system of health - which still exists today. Since this time, there has been an influx of new scientific research, study and development to re-discover all that Ayurveda has to offer and its effectiveness. This groundbreaking and fundamental work has been done both by Indian and Western scholars, researchers and practitioners.