Ayurveda Facilities in Sri Lanka

Current Scenario of Ayurveda and Traditional Medicine in Sri Lanka by Pathirage Kamal Perera1

Traditional medicine has been practiced in Sri Lanka for 3,000 years. At present, there are four systems of traditional medical systems in Sri Lanka viz. Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Deshiya Chikitsa (Sri Lankan traditional treatment).

The most important among them is Ayurveda, which also forms part of the National Health Services provided by the Government of Sri Lanka, which includes a separate ministry for Indigenous Medicine.

At present, Ayurveda serves a large proportion of the population with one Ayurvedic physician per 3,000 people in Sri Lanka.

About 60% to 70% of the rural population relies on traditional and natural medicine for their primary health care; accordingly Herbal drugs are essential components of the Traditional Medical System in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is identified as one of the most biologically diverse countries in Asia, with about 20% of the area under forest. It has the highest species diversity per unit area in Asia, and is one of the mega biodiversity hot spots. Therefore it is an aspect of the health care system to rationally utilize medicinal plants for curative purposes, and with proper maintenance of biodiversity.

The Government of Sri Lanka has taken several initiatives to develop technology for the effective conservation, and efficient utilization, of medicinal plants; accordingly research and developmental activities are coordinated through the Department of Ayurveda, Bandaranayake Memorial Ayurvedic Research Institute, and the Institute of Indigenous Medicine – University of Colombo.

However due to lack of funding, and some problems and constraints concerning the dissemination of knowledge about herbal medical systems and its applications to cure illnesses, has not been effectively promoted by Sri Lanka.

If this was to happen successfully, Sri Lanka could gain a very significant competitive edge in the global market, especially in the herbal medical drugs, beauty care, and nutraceuticals industries.

There is considerable scope for Sri Lanka to achieve a higher rank in global markets, through exports of quality products from medicinal and aromatic plants.

Unfortunately Sri Lanka seems to be lagging behind in the advancement of technology and standardization procedures in herbal products; accordingly it is ranked lower in the herbal medicine global market share, while China (for example) occupies nearly 30% of this global market.

Therefore Sri Lanka needs to focus on quality assurance with multidisciplinary researches with in the country and collaborative works with other high tech user countries.

Furthermore, good laboratory practices (GLP) and good manufacturing practices (GMPs) are also needed to promote good quality medicinal products in Sri Lanka.

Without overcoming these obstacles, the current scenario is not sufficient to increase the global market share of herbal drug industry and herbal medical practice for Sri Lanka.


1Department of Ayurveda Pharmacology and Pharmaceutics, Institute of Indigenous Medicine, University of Colombo, Rajagiriya, Sri Lanka

 Pathirage Kamal Perera, Current scenario of herbal medicine in Sri Lanka, Conference proceedings ASSOCHAM , 4th annual Herbal International Summit cum Exhibition on Medicinal & Aromatic Products, Spices and finished products(hi-MAPS) at NSIC, Okhla Industrial Estate, New Delhi on 14 -15 April, 2012