Posted November 13, 2011on:
Ayurveda (Sanskrit: आयुर्वेद; Āyurveda, “the complete knowledge for long life”; /ˌaɪ.ərˈveɪdə/) or ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to India and a form of alternative medicine. In Sanskrit, words āyus, meaning “longevity”, and veda, meaning “knowledge” or “science”. The earliest literature on Indian medical practice appeared during the Vedic period in India, i.e., in the mid-second millennium BCE. The Suśruta Saṃhitā and the Caraka Saṃhitā are encyclopedias of medicine compiled from various sources from the mid-first millennium BCE to about 500 CE. They are among the foundational works of Ayurveda. Over the following centuries, ayurvedic practitioners developed a number of medicinal preparations and surgical procedures for the treatment of various ailments.
Safety concerns have been raised about Ayurveda, with two U.S. studies finding about 20% of Ayurvedic treatments tested contained toxic levels of heavy metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic. Other concerns include the use of herbs that contain toxic compounds and the lack of quality control in Ayurvedic facilities.
Various modern Ayurvedic schools of thought, both in India and around the world, seek to refine and develop Ayurveda as a modern natural medical science, by subjecting it to a modicum of scientific analysis, and distancing from its religious and folkloric roots. The methods and pharmacopeia of Ayurveda are the subject of ongoing scientific scrutiny, with both positive and negative outcomes.
The Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha (CCRAS), established in 1978, by Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, coordinates and promotes research in the fields of Ayurveda and Siddha medicine. Also, the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM), a statutory body established in 1971 under AYUSH, monitors higher education in areas of Indian medicine, including Siddha. To fight biopiracy and unethical patents, the Government of India, in 2001, set up the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library as a repository of 223,000 formulations of various systems of Indian medicine, such as Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha.