Ayurveda – Origins and Principles

Ayurveda is a form of medicine which finds its origins some 5000 years ago in India, where it is practiced as a traditional system of medicine.

The word Ayurveda means “science of life”.

The earliest mention of Ayurveda in literary history is during the Vedic period in India. Practitioners or doctors base their practice on texts known as “The Charaka Samhita” and the “Sage Charaka”.

Ayurveda practitioners also identified a number of medicinal preparations and surgical procedures for curing various ailments and diseases.

This system believes that the human body is made up of five elements – Air, Space/Wind, Fire, Water, and Earth, which in biological form make up the three regulatory “principles”, known as “doshas”. These are Vata (Air and Space/Wind), Pitta (Fire and Water) and Kapha (Earth and Water).

Doshas control different processes in the body. Vata, movement and essential body processes (e.g. cell division). Pitta, hormonal and digestive system. Kapha, immunity and growth.

According to Ayurvedic principles, by understanding oneself, by identifying one’s own constitution, and by recognizing sources of doshic aggravation, one can not only follow the proper guidelines to cleanse, purify, and prevent disease, but also uplift oneself into a realm of awareness previously unknown.

Dr. Vasant D. Lad, Deepak Chopra’s advisor


The state of the doshas affect our mind-body-spirit. Ayurveda focuses heavily on lifestyle and nutrition to bring these principles into balance and prevent or cure disease.

A person’s constitution is determined by the predominance of certain doshas.

Ayurveda therapy can include a range of methods to help a person heal and enhance their general wellness, such as:

→medicinal and nutritional herbs
→therapeutic oils

For a more in-depth look at the origins and development of Ayurveda, Origin and Development of Ayurveda (A Brief History) by V Narayanaswamy, a former professor at the College of Indian Medicine in Madras, India. This article was published in the Ancient Science of Life Volume 1 No1 printed in July 1981.