Originating from the two Sanskrit words, ayus (life) and veda (science), Ayurveda is an ancient healing system originating in the Indian subcontinent that relies on herbs for maintaining good health. Historical records suggest that the journey of Ayurveda began in India more than 5,000 years ago, and this traditional system of healing has influenced both Unani humor therapy conceptualized by Hippocrates and ancient Chinese remedies.
The science and practice of Ayurveda are narrated in ancient texts, of which the Charaka Samhita is the principal resource. The Charaka Samhita refers to a large collection of Hindu sacred texts called the Vedas. Written in the Indus Valley area around 1000 BC in Sanskrit, the Charaka Samhita is a treatise on general medicine. This strongly suggests the probability that Ayurveda, though of pan Indo-European origins, had begun to evolve into a distinct entity within the Indian subcontinent by the first millennium BC.
Vedic philosophy believes that human beings are all a part of nature. Just as animals and plants are interdependent on each other to create balance within their beings, there is a concurrent and inherent connection between the universe and human beings. Unlike the animal kingdom, human beings live in a more complex, natural world where they are perpetually exposed to environmental changes. Changes in weather, society, economy, lifestyle, diet, work, financial status, emotions and relationships can easily tip the balance and negatively influence an individual's state of mind, body and soul.
According to Ayurvedic texts, the human body comprises three body states which include Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata consists of the elements air and ether, which give us movement and activity. Pitta includes the elements fire and water, which are responsible for heat, appetite and digestion, and Kapha is characterized by the elements earth and water, which are responsible for water and other bodily fluids. When the three body states are in perfect harmony, the individual enjoys good health, whereas an imbalance in the states causes disease. Ayurveda seeks to address this state of imbalance through a process of holistic healing.
Herbs are at the heart of Ayurvedic medication. Whole flowers, roots, stems and leaves are manually processed in various ways to discover their optimal potential. Over 15,000 herbs are mentioned in the scriptures of which only around 850 are commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine today. One of the most commonly used herbs in Ayurveda is Neem. Described as sarva roga nivarini or that which keeps all diseases at bay, Neem supports the body's natural defense system. Apart from Neem, Ginger, Amla and Ashvagandha, among others, feature highly in the list of important plants in this traditional medicinal system.
Historical records suggest that Ayurvedic medicine has paved the way for various branches of medicine practiced today. Susruta Samhita, another revered Ayurvedic text, mentions nine branches in Ayurveda-general medicine, surgery, ear, nose and throat (ENT) and eye disease, toxicology, psychiatry, pediatrics, gynecology, sexology and virility. Some texts also reveal that ancient natural healers delved into plastic surgery.
Drawing from this incredible history, Himalaya's mission is to contemporize Ayurveda and develop safe and effective products to improve quality of life.