The term Ayurveda means "knowledge" (Veda) concerning maintenance of "life"(Ayu). The origin of this knowledge is already evident in Atharvaveda ( the contents of which can be dated between circa 1500-1000 BC). Atharvaveda is one of the four ancient time immortal Hindu scriptures (viz.Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda and Atharvaveda). The treatment of diseases (chikitsa) in the Atharvaveda is largely religious and ritualistic, emphasizing such practices as the sacred chanting of Mantras and Hymns, Penances (Niyam), Amulets (Mani), Fire sacrifices (Havans), Upvas (Vedic fasting) and prayashchit (Purification rites), but Atharvaveda also contains material about Human Body Anatomy, Physiology, Herbal Formulations, and Classification of diseases. Those trained in this knowledge are known as "Vaidya". Mythologically this knowledge was first revealed to Brahma (Hindu God of creation) in Meditation and then he gave it to Prajapati, who in-turn passed in tradition to Ashwini kumars and Indra. Surgery (shilya) was revealed by Indra to Divodasa, the king of Kasi who was also known as incarnation of Divine Dhanvantari, culminating finally in the classical Sushruta tradition of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery.
Ayurvedic text were translated into Greek by Cindos (300BC), Tibetan and Chinese (300AD), Persian (700AD) and Arabic (800AD).
It is important to realize that Ayurveda is not confined to Herbal medicine only, it tackles the whole subject of life in its various ramifications. Such as Poonarjanma (rebirth), Renunciation, Salvation (moksha), Soul (Atma), etc.