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Ayurveda is an ancient medicine native to and still widely practiced in India. Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit word meaning science of life.1 The ancient science was originally transmitted orally, but later was transcribed into a series of spiritual texts, called the Vedas. 1 Since then, the practice of Ayurveda has grown and spread to the West and throughout the world, where it is now widely recognized as complementary and alternative medicine (commonly referred to as CAM). 1

Ayurveda is based on the idea that three basic physical constitutions (doshas) and three mental states (gunas) form the foundation of human health. Dosha types correspond to elements and energies found in nature.1,3

A primary concept of Ayurveda is achieving balance of doshas in the body, with illness seen as an imbalance. Much like Western medicine, students of Ayurveda pick an area to specialize in—including internal medicine. A major difference between the two disciplines, however, centers around the concept of curing, suggesting a permanent state of health, versus healing, or reaching a state of balance. Achieving a cure is considered successful disease treatment in Western medicine. In Ayurveda successful treatment is achieved by understanding the rhythmic physiological changes (due to age, season and weather, time of day, and metabolism) and making adjustments to reach harmonious balance.1


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