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Ayurveda or Ayurvedic Medicine is an Indian system of alternative medicine dating back to the ancient times. The word Ayurveda is a combination of two words – Ayus meaning “life” or “life principle” and Veda meaning a system of “knowledge”. Hence it explains Ayurveda as the “knowledge of life”.
According to Charaka, one of the founders of Ayurveda, life is a combination of different components namely, body, mind, sense organs and soul. These four factors are responsible for the prevention of decay and death of the body which sustains the body for longer time and helps in the process of rebirth. Charaka Samhita says - “health and disease are not predetermined and life may be prolonged by human effort”.
The treatment in Ayurvedic medicine is based on various ingredients of vegetable, animal, and mineral origin which are of medicinal value. The medicinal properties of these materials have been documented by the practitioners and have been used for centuries to cure illness and/or help maintain good health.
Ayurvedic medicines are prepared by using various herbs or mixtures of herbs, either alone or in combination with minerals, metals and other ingredients of animal origin. The ingredients like metals, animals and minerals are purified by individual processes before being used for medicinal purposes.
Today, this system of medicine has gained a lot of popularity both in India abroad. For further use and development of the theories and practices of Ayurveda, several institutions and organizations have been set up in India as well as in abroad for carrying out research and development works in the field.