Ayurvedic medicine

What it is

Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient Indian system founded on the concept that health is achieved when the mind, body and spirit are in balance. The term Ayurveda comes from the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (knowledge). According to Ayurvedic theory, everyone is a combination of five elements: air, water, fire, earth and space. These elements form three energies or life forces called doshas: vata, kapha and pitta.

Ayurvedic practitioners use a wide range of therapies, including nutritional and herbal medicine, massage, meditation and yoga.

What to expect

An Ayurvedic practitioner takes a case history and assesses vital force and balance in the body, often by looking at your tongue and by taking your pulse. 


There is good evidence for the effectiveness of some treatments that are part of Ayurvedic medicine, such as massage, meditation and yoga. There is limited clinical evidence on the herbal remedies and certain diets used by Ayurvedic therapists. 

This information was last reviewed in May 2018
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