Ayurveda is a holistic medical approach practised in India for more than 4000 years. Susruta, an ayurvedic healer who lived approx. 100 a.d., is viewed today as the Father of Surgery. Ayurvedic medicine is still practised in India alongside traditional western medicine. It is taught at university and applied in hospitals.

A holistic approach towards treatment of disease is in many ways beneficial. Treament should not only deal with warning symptoms, but should also eliminate the causes of disease. The result should be a lasting improvement of well-being.

The aim of Ayurvedic medicine therefore, is to reduce all disease-causing factors of life (wrong diet, strenuous working methods and way of life) so that the body gets a chance to heal itself. Pharmaceutical preparations can aid in this process.

The Ayurvedic discipline describes many medicinal plants. In India some of these plants are used to make tablets, capsules or powders, according to modern pharmaceutical procedures, e.g. Mucuna pruriens (Cowhage bean).

Compared to synthetic drugs, herbal preparations are made of a complex mixture of substances. Some of the substances help to reduce side effects and increase the desired effects, thus minimizing the applied dosage.

Why this is so is not wholly understood. One possible explanation could lie within the evolutionary context, where plants and animals have common ancestors. Thus the mixture of a plant extract could be a "system" that in evolutionary terms is "known" to the body and can be integrated much better by the organism.