The History of Ayurveda Health

Reposted from the Spiritual Sunflower wordpress blog, originally posted on June 4th, 2019

This written piece was a part of my junior thesis project at Florida Southern College. It explores the relationship between Ayurveda health and modern western medicine.


Ayurveda is the world’s oldest form of holistic health and has a unique history that has fascinated many and assimilated into a variety of cultures over the centuries.

The word “Ayurveda” actually means “the science or knowledge of life” in Sanskrit. Erik Goldman at Holistic Primary Care explains its main principle is that each individual’s mind and body are connected, and in order to be healthy and prevent illness one must be balanced.


It is believed by Ayurvedic practitioners and philosophers, like Amala Guga from the University of Minnesota, that Ayurveda is an eternal science, that originated within Brahma, or the universal consciousness. According to the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA), from Brahma the practice was passed down through meditation to ancient Indian mystics.

Guga’s research shows that Ayurveda was originally shared as an oral tradition, until the sacred texts known as the Vedas were written approximately 5,000 years ago.

The origins of Ayurveda stretch as far back as 3300 BCE, during the Bronze Age civilization in what is known today as Pakistan. Many of the foods and spices associated with Ayurvedic diets were prepared during this time period, such as rice, beans, ginger and turmeric, according to NAMA.

Eckhart Tolle, author of A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose explores how the “hippie movement” of the 1970’s left behind an opening for ancient Eastern wisdom and spiritually to become a part of the west.

“The hippie movement represented a loosening of the hither to rigid egoic structures in the psyche of humanity,” Tolle said.

According to Tolle, this ancient knowledge plays a crucial role in awakening the world to the many benefits and life changing beliefs ancient Eastern tradition holds.


Stories of Ayurveda explain that the Hindu god Brahma first created Ayurveda. According to Copper H20, the tradition of passing down Ayurvedic knowledge from gods to sages began with one of Brahma’s distant nephews, whose student composed the first medicinal Ayurveda text.

From there, the philosophy of Ayurveda unfolded between 500 and 1000 BCE. During this time period people who called themselves Arya recorded the studies of Ayurveda in Sanskrit, known as the Vedas.

“They hold Hinduism’s sacred scriptures, which are said to be records of revelations discovered by ancient seers and sages,” wrote Copper H20, a company which hand makes copper water bottles for Ayurveda practitioners.

NAMA explains that the Vedas’ purpose is to honor the elements of life that are in all living beings, specifically fire, wind, water and Mother earth. These teachings also go into detail about herbs used in Ayurveda.

“Ayurvedic theory states that all areas of life impact one’s health, so it follows that the Vedas cover a wide variety of topics, including health and healthcare techniques, astrology, spirituality, government and politics, art, and human behavior,” Guga said.


Ayurveda’s philosophy further solidified with science and research in 600 BCE, even spreading to China and Greece in 700 CE, according to research conducted by the Copper H20 team. But with foreign invasion, beginning in 1200 CE with Islamic forces and then Britain in the 1600s, the principles and practice of Ayurveda was at risk of being smothered.

“The British rulers prohibited Ayurveda and promoted the practice of Western medicine,” researchers at Copper H20 said.

History shows that a change in India’s political landscape and nationalist movement in the 19th century began to reawaken people’s interest in Ayurveda. Since gaining independence in the 20th century, India has been restoring Ayurveda practices, the government even acknowledging it as medicine and creating schools, hospitals and putting policies in place so Ayurvedic medicine is now regulated by law.

According to Dr. David Fowley at Vedanet, Ayurveda’s system of “positive health for disease prevention and promotion of longevity” has allowed it to be molded over the centuries to address the needs of society for both physical and mental well-being.

This revival of Ayurvedic medicine began over thirty years ago, and India’s gurus continue to spread the practice of Ayurveda every day.

“Since then numerous books have come out on Ayurveda in many different languages, with Ayurvedic clinics and treatment centers becoming available in most major cities on all continents,” said Fowley.


 Florida Southern College student, Catie Moat, practices yoga on Lake Hollingsworth.

Ayurveda is considered a form of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). These practices are used in addition to or even instead of traditional therapies, and help promote positive health habits and longevity.

According to WebMD, about 40 percent of adults in the United States practice some form of alternative medicine. Other forms include yoga, meditation, aromatherapy, holistic medicine and acupuncture.

“Deep breathing, yoga and also massage therapy, anything that kind of gives you a minute to get out of the busy and be in your own mind, even if your thoughts are going a mile a minute, to be able to sit and just be is really beneficial to recenter yourself and then move forward with a clear mind,” Abigail Elias, assistant director of wellness at Florida Southern, said.

Many of these CAM therapies are a work in progress, meaning there are still questions about whether some things truly work in the intention they are used for and if practices are safe. CAM therapies also work together, for example yoga is recommended for exercise in Ayurveda, and people even combine therapies like meditation and aromatherapy to set the tone for their practice.

“Ayurveda can have positive effects when used as a complementary therapy in combination with standard, conventional medical care,” said researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

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