The origins of Ayurveda have been traced back to 5,000BCE and earlier, when they originated as an oral tradition. Some of the concepts of Ayurveda have been discovered since the times of  Indus Valley Civilization in the Indian sub continent. The first recorded forms of Ayurveda as medical texts are evolved from the Vedas. Ayurveda is a discipline of the  “ upaveda” or "auxiliary knowledge" in Vedic tradition. The origins of Ayurveda are also found in Atharvaveda. which contains 114 hymns and incantations described as magical cures for disease. There are various legendary accounts of the origin of Ayurveda, e.g. that it was received by  Dhanvantari  (or Divodasa) from Brahma. Tradition also holds that the writings of Ayurveda were influenced by a lost text by the sage  Agnivesa.

There are three principal early texts on Ayurveda  viz.  the Charaka Samhita, the Sushruta Samhita and the Bhela Samhita. The Sushruta Samhita is based on an original from the 6th century BCE, and was updated by the Buddhist scholar Nagarjuna in the 2nd century BCE. The Charaka Samhita, written by Charaka, and the Bhela Samhita, attributed to Atreya Punarvasu, are also dated to the 6th century BCE. The Charaka Samhita was also updated by Dridhabala during the early centuries of the Common Era.

The Bower Manuscript is also of special interest to historians due to its inclusion of excerpts from the Bheda Samhita and its description of concepts in Central Asian Buddhism. In 1987, A. F. R. Hoernle identified the scribe of the medical portions of the manuscript to be a native of India using a northern variant of the Gupta script, who had migrated and become a Buddhist monk in a monastery in Kucha. The Chinese pilgrim Fa Hsien (c. 337–422 AD) wrote about the healthcare system of the Gupta empire (320–550) and described the institutional approach of Indian medicine. This is also visible in the works of Charaka, who describes about hospital and how it should be equipped.