Ayurveda is India’s traditional, natural system of medicine that has been practiced for more than 5,000 years. Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that literally translates as "science of life" or "practices of longevity." Ayurveda was the system of health care conceived and developed by the seers (rishis) and natural scientists through centuries of observations, experiments, discussions, and meditations. For several thousand years their teachings were passed on orally from teacher to student; about the fifth to sixth century BC, elaborately detailed texts were written in Sanskrit, the ancient language of India. For many years, Ayurveda flourished and was used by rich and poor alike in India and Southeast Asia.
Manuscript page from Atharva-Veda, earliest Indian text (approx. 1500 BC) with much medical information, one of several Vedas (meaning "knowledge"), upon which Ayurvedic medical practice is based on. Ayurvedic manuals were written by Charaka, Sushruta, and Vagbhata and give detailed descriptions of the various practices. Charaka listed 500 remedies, and Sushruta listed over 700 vegetable medicines.