Ayurveda (Sanskrit: आयुर्वेद; Āyurveda, "the knowledge for long life"; /ˌaɪ.ərˈveɪdə/) or ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to India and a form of alternative medicine.
Ayurveda stresses the use of plant-based medicines and treatments. Hundreds of plant-based medicines are employed, including cardamom and cinnamon. Some animal products may also be used, for example milk, bones, and gallstones. In addition, fats are used both for consumption and for external use. Minerals, including sulfur, arsenic, lead, copper sulfate and gold are also consumed as prescribed. This practice of adding minerals to herbal medicine is known as rasa shastra.
The Sri Lankan tradition of Ayurveda is very similar to the Indian tradition. Practitioners of Ayurveda in Sri Lanka refer to texts on the subject written in Sanskrit, which are common to both countries. However, they do differ in some aspects, particularly in the herbs used.
The Sri Lankan government has established a Ministry of Indigenous Medicine (established in 1980) to revive and regulate the practice of this indigenous medical science within the country The Institute of Indigenous Medicine (affiliated to the University of Colombo currently offers undergraduate, postgraduate, and MD degrees in the practice of Ayurveda Medicine and Surgery, and similar degrees in unani medicine.
There are currently 62 Ayurvedic Hospitals and 208 central dispensaries in the public system, and they served almost 3 million people (approximately 11% of Sri Lanka's total population) in 2010. In total there are currently approximately 20,000 registered practitioners of Ayurveda in the country.
Many Sri Lankan hotels and resorts offer Ayurveda themed packages, where guests are treated to a wide array of Ayurveda treatments during their stay.