“Ayurveda is a traditional system of medicine and health care which originated in the Indian subcontinent. The term Ayurveda denotes “knowledge of life”. It is a compound of two words, “ayu” (life) and “veda” (knowledge). The discipline encompasses the physical, psychological, spiritual and social dimensions of life, deals with dynamic concepts of well-being, harmony, health promotion and longevity, and concerns itself with healthy, beneficial and advantageous aspects of human life as well as its unhealthy, deleterious and disadvantageous aspects”

(WHO, 2022)

“The traditional Hindu system of medicine, which is based on the idea of balance in bodily systems and uses diet, herbal treatment and yogic breathing”

“A form of alternative medicine that is the traditional system of medicine of India and seeks to treat and integrate body, mind, and spirit using a comprehensive holistic approach especially by emphasising diet, herbal remedies, exercise, meditation, breathing, and physical therapy”

Ayurveda means “science of life‟. The principal objectives of Ayurveda are maintenance and promotion of health, prevention of disease and cure of sickness. Ayurveda is a famous practice in North India. It is a system of traditional Indian medicine, based on 5 elements – space, air, fire, water and earth; and treatment concept based on balance of the three elemental substances. These elemental substances combine in the human body to form three life forces or energies, the Doshas. The Doshas consist of Vata (Kinetic energy), Pitta (Thermal energy), and Kapha (Potential energy) that governs physiological and psychological functions of the body. An equal balance of the 3 doshas leads to health, while imbalance in them leads to disease. Ayurveda emphasises on Dietary Principles (Ahara Niyma), Daily regimen (Dincharya), Seasonal regimen (Ritucharya), Good conduct/social behaviour (Sadavritta), the use of plant-based medicines and treatments.

(Variables definition, National Health Morbidity Survey, 2015)


Traditional Indian Medicine is based on knowledge inherited from generation to generation of Indian origin. Ayurveda, one of the Indian traditional systems of medicine, originated in India and has an old history since the 2nd Century BC [1]. The recorded history of ayurveda in the Indian subcontinent can be traced back 3500 years, and the available references imply that the oral tradition of Ayurveda has been practised, anciently. [4]

The term Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (science or knowledge) translated to ‘science of life’. [1]


Ayurveda, an ancient system of healing, has its roots in Hindu philosophical teachings from the schools of Vaisheshika and Nyaya, which were established during the same period. Vaisheshika, an ancient school of Hindu philosophical teachings focused on inferences and perceptions related to a patient’s condition, while Nyaya, the school of logic emphasised the need for extensive knowledge of the patient and the disease before proceeding with treatment. 

The school of Vaisheshika classified object attributes into six types, including substance (Dravya), particularity (Vishesha), generality (Samanya), quality (Guna), and activity (Karma). The nyaya-vaisesika school was later established, which helped disseminate the knowledge of Ayurveda. It is believed that Ayurveda’s origin is divine, passed on from the Hindu God, Brahma (Hindu mythological God of Creation), to sages and sages’ disciples for the well-being of mankind.

The knowledge was then passed on through various writings and oral narrations, including the use of poems called “Shlokas.” This poem contains information about the healing properties of the herbs which were used by sages to describe the use of medicinal plants. The Hindu system of healing is based on four eminent compilations of knowledge called Vedas, including Yajur Veda, Rig Veda, Sam Veda, and Atharva Veda. [1]

The Vedas – Ancient literature

Vedas– the recording of ancient sacred text that describes medicinally useful plants and surgical procedures. The practice of Ayurveda is based upon the knowledge gained from these Vedas. [1] The Vedas are the oldest (5000-1000 BCE) indian literature which have references regarding plants and natural resources for various treatments. [6]

Samhitas Period

The compilation of knowledge from The Vedas by Agnivesha (name of a legendary sage who compiled the knowledge from The Vedas into a treatise) was later then edited by Charaka and other scholars. This edited compilation is now known as “Charaka Samhita” comprehensively describing all aspects of Ayurvedic medicine. During this “Samhitas” period, Ayurveda was established as a full-fledged medical system. 

Two  “Samhitas” were written during this period :

Sushruta Samhita :  Science of Surgery  credited to Sushruta, the surgeon

Charaka Samhita : Comprehensive text on ancient Indian medicine credited to Charaka, the writer. 

Both of these legendary works are still used by traditional medicine practitioners. [6]

Translations and versions of these ancient texts are available in various languages, including Tibetan, Greek, Chinese, Arabic, and Persian. Other related compilations, such as Nighantu Granthas, Madhava Nidana, and Bhava Prakasha, were also contributed by various scholars. [6]

Concept of Ayurveda

Ayurveda primary goals are promoting and maintaining good health, preventing diseases and curing sickness. [1] Ayurveda’s fundamental approach to health and illness is holistic, considering a person’s body-mind composition, behaviour, way of life, and interactions with the environment. [4]

Pancha Mahābhūta – the five elements

Ayurveda believes that the entire universe, including the human body, is composed of 5 basic elements – space, air, fire, water and earth, referred to as Pancha Mahābhūta. According to Ayurveda these elements combine in varying proportions to form the three essential bodily humors. [1]

Doṣa (Pronounced as Dosha) – Essential bodily humors

Doṣa  refers to biological factors that arise from the harmonious interaction of the five fundamental elements (Mahābhūta) within  a living organism. Any disruptions to the functions forms the onset of disease. Doṣa can be categorised into three types: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Tridoshas is a collective term used to refer to the three  essential bodily humors, Vata dosha, Pitta dosha and Kapha dosha.[1]

Vāta : maintains functional balance through motion

Pitta  :maintains functional balance through transformation

Kapha : maintains functional balance through accumulation [4]. 

For a healthy state of health, the three doshas need to be balanced. Any imbalance between those three will cause illness or disease[1]. 

Current scenario

Ayurveda has various forms, peculiarities, and specialities that differ from practitioner to practitioner, region to region and country to country. [5]

In the 20th century, Ayurveda education and practice began to spread globally. Currently, Ayurveda is regulated and practised to varying degrees by Member of States in WHO regions. Ayurveda was practised in 93 Member States in 2012. Among these, 32 Member of States recognized the presence of Ayurveda providers practising in their country while 16 Member of States has established frameworks to regulate Ayurveda practitioners. 5 Member of States had included health insurance coverage for ayurvedic practices. [5]

Ayurveda is the predominant traditional medicine system in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. These countries train university-qualified Ayurveda practitioners, who are licensed to undertake clinical practice and research and are extensively involved in the delivery of public health care.[5]

Ayurveda in Malaysia

In Malaysia, Ayurvedic medicine is regulated by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Traditional and Complementary Medicine Council (TCMC). In 2017, MOH introduced guidelines for the registration of Ayurvedic products and practitioners in Malaysia.[3]

The guidelines require Ayurvedic practitioners to be registered with the TCMC as a control measure to make sure the practitioners adhere to a set of standards and guidelines for practice. The guidelines also require all Ayurvedic products to be registered with the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) before they can be marketed and sold in Malaysia. The aim is to ensure that only safe and effective Ayurvedic products are available in Malaysia and the Ayurvedic practitioners are properly trained and qualified to provide high-quality care to their patients [2].



[1] Jaiswal YS, Williams LL. A glimpse of Ayurveda–The forgotten history and principles of Indian traditional medicine. Journal of traditional and complementary medicine. 2017 Jan 1;7(1):50-3.
[2]Traditional and Complementary Medicine Council. Guidelines for Ayurvedic Practice in Malaysia. 2017. Available from: https://www.moh.gov.my/moh/resources/Penerbitan/Garis%20Panduan/Garis%20Panduan%20Perubatan%20Tradisional%20Dan%20Komplementari/Garis%20Panduan%20Amalan%20Ayurveda%20di%20Malaysia.pdf
[3]Ministry of Health Malaysia. Guidelines for Registration of Ayurvedic Products and Practitioners in Malaysia. 2017. Available from: https://www.pharmacy.gov.my/v2/sites/default/files/document-upload/guidelines/Guidelines%20Ayurvedic%20Registration%20.pdf
[4] World Health Organization. WHO benchmarks for the practice of Ayurveda. Available at: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240042711
[5] WHO global report on traditional and complementary medicine 2019. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2019 (https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/312342) https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/312342/9789241515436-eng.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
[6] Mukherjee PK, Harwansh RK, Bahadur S, Banerjee S, Kar A, Chanda J, Biswas S, Ahmmed SM, Katiyar CK. Development of Ayurveda–tradition to trend. Journal of ethnopharmacology. 2017 Feb 2;197:10-24. Available at: https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S0378874116307826?token=265CD1D5598A931AC1E9340D3818B98E765C9082B2328C976F9083A420DFB31869A2AB40A32236F8C2E27FAF22CAD362&originRegion=eu-west-1&originCreation=20230323072704

in this scope
Country Scenario
T&CM Modalities
Malaysia T&CM Consumer Guideline