The Growth of Ayurveda in India

The Growth of Ayurveda in India

Last updated: Feb, 2024
The Growth of Ayurveda in India

Ayurveda, an ancient health system originating from India, has a longstanding history. It revolves around using plants and herbs to maintain health and prevent illnesses. Beyond a mere medicinal approach, Ayurveda embodies a lifestyle that enables individuals to nurture themselves by aligning with the natural rhythms of existence.

In today's complicated healthcare world, Ayurveda stands out because it is simple and good for the environment. The remedies and practices of Ayurveda are deeply rooted in Indian homes and have been passed down through generations. They work well for people locally and globally.

Ayurveda transcends historical significance, and it holds contemporary relevance. In our hectic lives marked by stress and a growing emphasis on holistic well-being, Ayurveda serves as a timeless guide to maintaining balance. It delves beyond mere symptoms, addressing the underlying causes of illness by considering the interconnected aspects of the body, mind, and spirit.

In the evolving landscape of preventive and personalized healthcare, Ayurveda assumes heightened relevance. The utilization of plants for medicinal purposes aligns seamlessly with the global inclination toward seeking natural and sustainable healthcare alternatives.

Evolution of Ayurveda

 Ayurveda, a timeless gift from ancient India, traces its roots back to thousands of years. It emerges from the sacred texts known as the Vedas, where sages sought profound insights into life's mysteries. The term ‘Ayurveda’ signifies the knowledge (Veda) of life (Ayur). In these ancient scrolls, holistic principles intertwined with practical wisdom unveil a comprehensive healthcare system. The foundational principles of Ayurveda can be traced back to the Vedas, the oldest sacred texts of Hinduism, which were composed over 5,000 years ago. The major Ayurvedic texts, such as the Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita, were written 2,000–2,500 years ago.

The legendary sage Charaka, often called the ‘Father of Ayurveda,' penned the foundational text, the Charaka Samhita. This ancient tome, along with other classics such as the Sushruta Samhita, laid down the principles of Ayurveda—emphasizing balance in bodily elements, personalized healing, and the use of herbs for medicinal purposes.

Through centuries, Ayurveda encountered challenges, enduring foreign invasions and colonial rule, momentarily dimming its prominence. However, resilient like the Indian spirit, Ayurveda experienced a renaissance in the post-independence era, receiving renewed governmental support and witnessing a global resurgence of interest in holistic living. As awareness increased, Ayurveda gained recognition for its holistic approach, emphasizing the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit. Today, Ayurveda transcends its historical roots, emerging as a living tradition with a global impact on wellness practices. It serves as a profound bridge, connecting ancient wisdom with contemporary health pursuits worldwide.

On November 9, 2014, the government took a significant stride in promoting traditional Ayurveda by establishing the Ministry of AYUSH. This visionary move aimed to revitalize the profound knowledge embedded in ancient systems of medicine, ensuring optimal development and widespread propagation of AYUSH healthcare systems. Before this, the responsibility for their development rested with the Department of Indian System of Medicine and Homoeopathy (ISM&H), established in 1995. Later, in November 2003, it underwent a transformation, becoming the Department of Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy (AYUSH). This renaming underscored a dedicated focus on advancing education and research in Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy, aligning with the government's commitment to promoting traditional Ayurvedic practices and the 'Make in India' brand.

The establishment of the Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy) in India reflects a strategic commitment to promoting and preserving the country's traditional healthcare systems. The primary objectives and vision behind setting up the Ministry of AYUSH are as follows:

  • Systematic Development: The Ministry aims to systematically develop and propagate traditional systems of medicine, including Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy. This involves consolidating efforts to enhance the accessibility, acceptance, and integration of these systems into mainstream healthcare.
  • Holistic Healthcare: The vision includes promoting holistic healthcare by recognizing the interconnectedness of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. As a holistic system, Ayurveda aligns with this vision, emphasizing preventive and curative measures encompassing lifestyle, diet, and mental health.
  • Research and Education: The Ministry focuses on advancing research and education in traditional systems. This involves fostering academic institutions, research centers, and educational programs dedicated to Ayurveda and allied disciplines, ensuring a robust foundation for the future.
  • Global Recognition: With an eye on the global stage, the Ministry seeks to establish India as a leader in traditional medicine. This involves promoting 'Make in India' brands and facilitating international collaboration to exchange knowledge, research, and best practices.
  • Cultural Heritage: The Ministry acknowledges the cultural and historical significance of traditional medicine in India. Preserving and promoting these ancient practices contribute to the country's rich cultural heritage, fostering a sense of pride and identity.

Overall, the Ministry of AYUSH envisions a harmonious integration of traditional systems with modern healthcare, fostering wellness, preventing illnesses, and contributing to the cultural and health legacy of India.

Ayurveda and Its Benefits Over Other Medicines

Ayurveda stands out among other forms of medicine due to its holistic approach and emphasis on personalized treatments. Unlike modern allopathic medicine, which often focuses on treating symptoms, Ayurveda aims to address the root causes of diseases and imbalances in the body. By considering an individual's unique constitution (dosha), lifestyle, and environment, Ayurveda offers tailored treatments and lifestyle recommendations that promote overall well-being and prevent future ailments.

Another key benefit of Ayurveda is its reliance on natural remedies derived from herbs, plants, and minerals. Ayurvedic medicines are typically prepared using combined ingredients that synergistically restore balance and promote healing. These natural remedies are generally considered safe and have minimal side effects compared to synthetic drugs commonly used in modern medicine. Ayurveda also emphasizes the importance of a healthy lifestyle, including proper nutrition, regular exercise, stress management, and mindful living, contributing to long-term well-being.

Moreover, Ayurveda recognizes the interconnectedness of the mind, body, and spirit and emphasizes the role of mental and emotional health in overall well-being. Ayurvedic treatments often include yoga, meditation, and massage, which promote relaxation, stress reduction, and emotional balance.

Several key benefits and notable statistics highlight Ayurveda's advantages over conventional medicines:

Holistic approach: Ayurveda addresses the root causes of diseases and imbalances in the body rather than merely treating symptoms. It recognizes the interconnectedness of the mind, body, and spirit, emphasizing a holistic approach to health.

Customized treatments: Ayurveda customizes treatments to individual constitutions (dosha), lifestyle, and environmental factors. This approach contributes to more effective and targeted interventions.

Natural remedies: Ayurvedic medicines predominantly use natural ingredients derived from herbs, plants, and minerals. This reliance on nature's bounty minimizes side effects compared to synthetic drugs commonly used in modern medicine.

Long-term well-being: Ayurveda promotes a healthy lifestyle, including proper nutrition, regular exercise, stress management, and mindfulness. These practices contribute to long-term well-being, preventing ailments, and maintaining balance.

Consumer preference for natural products: Ayurvedic skincare, beauty, and personal care products have witnessed a surge in demand globally due to consumers' preference for natural and sustainable alternatives.

Quality assurance for global exports: Thirty-one Ayurvedic drug manufacturers have been granted World Health Organization-Good Manufacturing Practices (WHO-GMP) Certificates of Pharmaceutical Product (COPP) to ensure adherence to global quality standards and facilitate the export of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, and homeopathy drugs.

Growing Demand for Ayurvedic Products

In India, Ayurveda is a part of traditional medicine, followed by ~80% of the population. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the demand for Ayurvedic products in India and globally. Ayurvedic skincare, beauty, and personal care products have gained popularity due to their natural ingredients and holistic approach to skincare. Consumers are becoming more conscious of the harmful effects of synthetic chemicals in conventional beauty products and seeking safer and more sustainable alternatives. Ayurvedic products, with their use of natural ingredients and traditional formulations, offer a compelling choice for those seeking natural and effective skincare solutions.

Ayurvedic dietary supplements and herbal remedies have also witnessed a surge in demand. With a heightened focus on health consciousness and a proactive approach to well-being, individuals increasingly embrace Ayurvedic supplements to enhance their overall health. Ayurvedic herbs and formulations have been trusted for addressing diverse ailments and fostering vitality for centuries. The surge in interest in Ayurvedic dietary supplements is driven by a growing recognition of the advantages offered by natural remedies, coupled with a preference for personalized and holistic healthcare solutions.

 Additionally, Ayurvedic lifestyle products such as incense, essential oils, and Ayurvedic home decor have gained popularity for their ability to create a harmonious and balanced living environment. These products, often infused with Ayurvedic principles and aromas, contribute to a sense of well-being and promote a holistic lifestyle.

Ayurveda is also experiencing a resurgence in popularity driven by a growing interest in self-care. However, recent research by Mintel reveals that despite this resurgence, one in five Indian consumers still perceives Ayurvedic beauty practices as old-fashioned.

The findings highlight the dichotomy between Ayurveda's surging global appeal and the lingering perception of traditional beauty practices being outdated among a segment of Indian consumers. As the beauty and personal care industry continues to evolve, there exists a strategic opportunity to bridge this perception gap and expand the acceptance of Ayurvedic practices, particularly in facial care, leveraging the rich heritage and efficacy of Ayurveda in contemporary beauty regimens.

According to the research report on the AYUSH sector by the Forum on Indian Traditional Medicine (FITM) under the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), the market size of the AYUSH industry was $18.1 billion (Rs. 1.5 lakh crore) in 2020, compared to $2.85 billion (Rs. 23,532 Crore) in 2014-15 thereby growing at an impressive CAGR of approximately 31.47%.