Ayurveda is a system of medicine with historical roots in the Indian subcontinent. Globalized and modernized practices derived from Ayurveda traditions are a type of alternative medicine. In countries beyond India, Ayurveda therapies and practices have been integrated in general wellness applications and in some cases in medical use.

The main classical Ayurveda texts begin with accounts of the transmission of medical knowledge from the Gods to sages, and then to human physicians. In Sushruta Samhita (Sushruta Compendium), Sushruta wrote that Dhanvantari, Hindu god of Ayurveda, incarnated himself as a king of Varanasi and taught medicine to a group of physicians, including Sushruta. Ayurveda therapies have varied and evolved over more than two millennia. Therapies are typically based on complex herbal compounds, minerals and metal substances (perhaps under the influence of early Indian alchemy or rasa shastra). Ancient Ayurveda texts also taught surgical techniques, including rhinoplasty, kidney stone extractions, sutures, and the extraction of foreign objects.

The earliest classical Sanskrit works on Ayurveda describe medicine as being divided into eight components. This characterization of the physicians' art, "the medicine that has eight components"

  • Kayachikitsa: general medicine, medicine of the body
  • Kaumarabhritya: the treatment of children, pediatrics
  • Shalyatantra: surgical techniques and the extraction of foreign objects
  • Shālakyatantra: treatment of ailments affecting ears, eyes, nose, mouth, etc. ("ENT")
  • Bhuta Vidya: pacification of possessing spirits, and the people whose minds are affected by such possession
  • Agadatantra: toxicology
  • Rasāyantantra: rejuvenation and tonics for increasing lifespan, intellect and strength
  • Vajikaraṇatantra: aphrodisiacs and treatments for increasing the volume and viability of semen and sexual pleasure.