List of Best Ayurvedic herbs with their health benefits
About Dr. Ritika Shah:
Dr. Ritika Shah is an Ayurveda Consultant. She has done her graduation & MD in Ayurveda. She has completely dedicated herself to this ancient science of healing. Her goal is to create awareness about Ayurveda & help people adopt its concepts for a healthy lifestyle. She has worked on various research projects based on Ayurveda formulations and has a keen interest in the rare formulations of ancient science. She has immense faith in Ayurveda but is also well updated with the latest development in medical science.
List of Best Ayurvedic herbs with their health benefits
- Yashtimadhu: The Sweet Herb
- Amla: The superfruit you need
- Guduchi: The Ambrosia of nature
- Shatavari: The Queen of Herbs
- Triphala: The triad of well being
- Ashwagandha: The Mighty Adoptogen
- Turmeric: The healing spice
- Manjistha: The powerhouse of skincare
All about Liquorice: The Sweet Herb
Yashtimadhu is commonly known as Liquorice. It treats wide range of diseases. It has a pleasant scent and good taste and is commonly used as flavouring agent. Most of the sweetness comes from a substance called glycyrrhizin which is generally 30 to 50 times sweeter than sugar. The roots are found to be the most potent. Due to its sweet taste it is added to various ayurvedic formulations to mask the bitter taste.
Liquorice is a go-to herb for respiratory disorders. In Ayurveda, it is an important herb which has an effect on Pranavaha strotas (Respiratory system). It is used to treat asthma, cough, cold, sore throat and other respiratory ailments. Its antioxidant and soothing properties help to reduce inflammation specifically in the bronchial tubes. It also thins and loosens the mucus inside the airways, eases coughing and congestion. Ancient sages claimed that intake of liquorice prevents hoarseness of voice and gives melodious voice as sweet as the herb.
Yashtimadhu has anti-bacterial properties. This helps to reduce the growth of bacteria which causes cavities, combats bad breath, reduces plaque and keeps the gums and teeth healthy and strong. It simulates saliva production and helps to cleanse and remineralize teeth. Hence, it is a common ingredient in oral care products like toothpaste and mouthwash. It pacifies pitta in the body. It balances the pitta located at different sites in the body. A balanced Pachak Pitta helps in good digestion, Alochak Pitta keeps eyesight healthy and Bhrajak Pitta gives good complexion, lustrous and healthy skin and hair.
Apply Yashtimadhu paste along with Kumkumadi Oil as a face mask, leave it on for 15 mins and clean it with lukewarm water for instant glow and even skin tone. Yastimadhu is one herb which can be taken since birth to death. It is given to children for healthy body development, enhancing memory and is one of the ingredients in swarnaprash. It also helps adolescents with hormonal imbalance and other pitta related issues. It is one the best Rasayan (Rejuvenating) herb, making it an excellent herb for Geriatric health problems.
All about Amalaki: The superfruit you need
Medicinal plants are nature's gift to human beings to promote a disease-free healthy life. Amla, also known as Indian Gooseberry, is a potent herb in Ayurveda and is considered as Superfruit. The Amla tree, Phyllanthus Emblica belonging to family Euphorbiacea is native to India and Nepal. Not every fruit can be termed as Super.
Superfruits are fruits which are packed with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins & minerals, and other nutrients that can help you live longer, look better and even prevent disease. Amla is a powerhouse of nutrients and hence this wonder berry is nothing less than a superfruit. It is a rich source of Vitamin C (20 times more than Orange).
The vitamin C naturally found within the amla fruit is proved to be absorbed faster than any synthetic vitamin supplement and is stabilized by the presence of natural tannins, which help amla to maintain its vitamin content even through/after processing. Amla is one of the rare fruits which possess 5 different tastes known as Panchrasa viz. sweet, sour, pungent, bitter, astringent except salty. It balances all three doshas Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Usually all sour foods increase Pitta but due to its cold property and sweet after taste it pacifies pitta.
Its Panchrasa properties improves digestion whereas high fiber content prevents constipation. Due to its pitta balancing properties, it is a great herb to improve eye sight as eyes are the site of Alochak Pitta (One of the types of Pitta). As a rich source of Vitamin C along with detoxifying properties and pitta pacifying effect, it clears acne, reduces skin irritation and blemishes. It is the most popular ingredient used in various Hair Care products as Amla makes hair silky, dense and prevents greying of hair.
Amla is considered as best Rasayan herb (Rejuvenators). It is age sustain action. Studies prove its immune-stimulating activity, anti-oxidant and anti-ageing properties. It improves digestion, boosts immunity, improves memory and tones up the functions of organs of the body. Hence, it is the main ingredient of Chyanvanprash. Amla helps to boost metabolism and aids weight loss.
It also has hypoglycaemic activity and hence is a great herb for Diabetes patients. It also lowers cholesterol and supports the cardiac system. Amla can be consumed in various forms. Drinking fresh juice of amla is the best but if you can’t handle the sour taste or is not easily available, you can also use dried amla powder regularly with the dose of 5-10gms per day.
All about Guduchi - The Ambrosia of nature
Guduchi is one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurveda. Guduchi is also known as ‘Amrita’ meaning Ambrosia which denotes immortality. Botanically, it is called as Tinospora Cordifolia and belongs to Menispermaceae family. It’s a woody climbing shrub usually grown on a Neem or Mango tree. Guduchi grown on a Neem tree is said to be the best. The Heart-leaved Moonseed is simple to grow without any fertilisers and pesticides. A large variety of chemical constituents have now been isolated from Tinospora cordifolia and the leaves have been found to be abundant in protein and fairly high in calcium and phosphorous.
Tridoshic Healing - Guduchi balances all three doshas. Guduchi balances the Tridoshas and helps in free flow of energy. It boosts energy levels throughout the body, mind and soul which are transmuted and distributed to the chakras and helps to cleanse the Chakras.
Balances Pitta - Guduchi is a great herb to balance pitta. It removes aggravated pitta without supressing its normal function. Its bitter and astringent properties help to balance the pitta. It is a great anti-pyretic and can be used in all kinds of fever. It has a broad spectrum of antibacterial properties.
It was traditionally given in malaria and acts as natural anti-viral. It protects the liver and treats jaundice. Its anti-inflammatory properties help to relieve symptoms of gout and Rheumatic conditions.
Immunity Booster - Guduchi is a powerhouse of antioxidants which fight free-radicals, keep cells healthy and prevents diseases. It improves the immune system and the body resistance against infections. It removes toxins, purifies blood, fights bacteria that causes diseases and also combats urinary tract infections. It supports the respiratory system and prevents cough, cold, asthma etc. Rejuvenator & Adaptogen – Ayurveda considers Guduchi as Rasayana which promotes strength, intellect, prevents diseases and prolongs life. It’s Rasayana properties help in degenerative disorders like arthritis, infertility etc. Studies have also shown significant anticancerous properties and have shown significant reduction in tumours.
Fresh Guduchi leaves and stem is used in many formulations while dry extract of Guduchi (Guduchi satva) is equally potent and convenient to consume regularly with the dose of 4-12gms daily.
All about the queen of herbs: Shatavari
Shatavari is a nourishing tonic especially for women. In Ayurveda, it has been used to treat all major ailments of woman from menarche to menopause. Shatavari means ‘one with hundred roots’ or ‘which can cure hundred ailments’. Hence, it is known as Queen of Herbs.
Shatavari is scientifically termed as Asparagus Racemosus and belongs to Lily family. It is a thorny climbing herb with tuberous finger-like roots. It is commonly used in food. Its high fiber and folate content improves digestion by increasing the activity of digestive enzymes lipase and amylase.
It has naturally occurring Folate (also known as Vitamin B9) which is essential for Red Blood Cell formation and healthy metabolism. It is essential during pregnancy for healthy brain development of foetus and also prevents birth defects. It is good for post-partum problems and lactating mothers. Its galactagogic activity promotes lactation (flow of breast milk) and supports mammary glands. It is safe to take during pregnancy and breast feeding. Shatavari has natural steroidal saponins that acts as an Oestrogen regulator.
Hence, it is useful for female reproductive health. It helps to regulate menstrual cycles, manage PMS symptoms, alleviate menstrual cramps and control menorrhagia. It also helps with fluid retention and bloating often suffered before a period. It is also a potent aphrodisiac for women as well as men. Even though this herb is known to treat diseases related to female reproductive system but it can also be used in males. In males, it increases sperm count and mobility. It is a miracle herb for male & female infertility.
It balances Vata-Pitta dosha which helps in the regulation of hormones in the body. Research studies prove its immunomodulatory activity and helps boosts immune system of the body. It also reduces anxiety and calms the mind. It contains phytosterols, saponins, flavonoids, polyphenols and ascorbic acid that increase the excretion of bad cholesterol and improves good cholesterol.
Regular intake of dry shatavari extract (3-6gm) with one cup of cow’s milk or one table spoon of cow’s ghee is ideal for lactating mothers. Fresh shatavari juice can also used.
The Triad of well being: Triphala
Triphala has been used to treat wide range of health conditions for centuries in Ayurveda. Triphala is a mixture of three myrobalan or dried fruits (Tri- three and phala - fruit) of herbs viz Amla, Haritaki and Bibhitaki in equal proportion. It is rich in anti-oxidants and is considered the best combination to balance the Tridosha (Vata, Pitta & Kapha) in the body. Haritaki balances the Vata, Amla balances the Pitta while Bibhitaki balances Kapha.
VATA - Triphala is used extensively in Ayurveda to support gastrointestinal system which is the site of Vata. It balances the Apana vata. It removes and prevents the formation of ama (toxins) which helps in optimum absorption of nutrients. It acts as a mild laxative and treats constipation due to vata-anuloman properties of Haritaki. It helps to eliminate toxins out of the body.
PITTA - Triphala is being used in various gastric disorders including intestinal inflammation. It has significant acid lowering, cooling, and anti-ulcer properties. It is a rich source of tannins which prevents ulcer development in the gut and protects the liver due to its protein precipitating and vasoconstriction effects. Eyes are the sight of Alochak Pitta and triphala is an effective formulation to improve eyesight in the form of Triphala Ghrita, Sukshma Triphala, and Triphala Anjana.
KAPHA – Triphala is commonly used in Kapha disorders. It has hypoglycaemic and hypolipidemic effects (Medohara property) and hence is used to treat Obesity, Diabetes, lower Triglycerides and reduces fatigue due to aggravated Kapha. Its anti-microbial property is great for Oral health and dental disorders. Triphala decoction can be used as mouthwash which reduces dental plaque, bad breath and gingivitis.
RASAYAN – Triphala is a Rasayan. It nourishes all the seven dhatus and Ojas in the body. It also strengthens immunity due to presence of active anti-oxidants and immune-stimulators. Hence, it is a tonic for the whole body and fit for regular use.
All about Ashwagandha: The Mighty Adoptogen
Adaptogens are regulators which support body’s ability to cope with stress. A herb which down regulates or up regulates cellular process to regulate metabolism and bring balance in the body is known as Adaptogen. Ashwagandha is one of the best adaptogen and is extensively used all over the globe. It helps to balance the doshas or physiological functions in the body and helps the body to cope with physical and emotional stress. Hence, it is also known as ‘Indian Ginseng’. The botanical name of this herb is Withania Somnifera (Somnifera in Latin means ‘Sleep Inducing’) belonging to Solanaceae family. Its bioactive is most potent in the roots.
Ashwagandha acts as a General Tonic. It increases energy levels, nourishes the tissues and supports the Immune system of the body. It promotes healthy weight gain during the growth phase of the body. It also promotes healthy levels of creatinine kinase, which reduces muscle damage which occur during exercise or physical exertion. Ashwagandha is used as a Vaccine adjuvant is patented by USA, to subside the side effects of vaccines in children.
Ashwagandha has calming effect on the body and acts as a Stress Reliever. It’s a Neuro-supportive herb. It supports stable and calm mood, and it helps to regulate the natural cortisol rhythm. Several studies have been conducted and found that Ashwagandha promotes healthy sleep and effectively treats Insomnia.
Ashwagandha is one of the most potent Aphrodisiac with its popular mention in the Kamasutra. In Ayurveda, it used to treat Male infertility. It increases levels of testosterone and stimulates spermatogenesis which increases the sperm count. It has been used to treat various diseases of reproductive system in both males and females.
Ashwagandha has miraculous results in arthritis. Its Asthi-poshak and Vata-Shaman property nourishes the bones and reduces pain in Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis. Its antiinflammatory property reduces swelling in Rheumatoid arthritis. Studies show that it lowers the levels of C-reactive protein, a systemic marker for the body’s inflammatory response.
Dry Ashwagandha extract (dose can vary from 2gm to 8gm) can be consumed regularly along with Cow’s ghee, Cow’s milk or warm water.
All about Turmeric: The healing spice
Haridra, commonly known as Turmeric, is the King of Spices. It has been traditionally used as a spice in Indian cuisine and widely used as medicinal herb in Ayurveda. It has been proved to have numerous health benefits which makes it a household healing ingredient in India. Curcuma longa belongs to the Ginger family, Zingiberaceae widely grown in Southern Asia. Rhizome is the part used of the plant. A yellow coloured, lipophilic polyphenol substance known as Curcumin along with various other curcuminoids is the main active compound in Turmeric. Another lesser known active is Turmerone. Turmerone is the aromatic compound found in turmeric also has various medicinal properties and enhances the absorption of curcumin. Traditionally, black pepper is added to Turmeric for higher absorption of curcumin. (As less as 1:100 proportion)
Turmeric balances all three Doshas. The Tikta (Bitter) and Katu (Pungent) taste and dry and light quality it balances Kapha. The bitter taste balances pitta in the body and the Ushna Virya (hot potency) balances Vata kapha.
Turmeric Latte or Golden Milk is a traditional drink which has become popular all over the world. It helps to improve digestion, immunity and strengthens musculo-skeletal system. Curcumin in turmeric is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Turmeric is very beneficial to alleviate pain and swelling in Rheumatoid arthritis and Osteoarthritis. Curcumin is also proved to help in treating Diabetes Mellitus.
Turmeric has anti-septic properties and accelerates healing of cuts and wounds. It immediately stops oozing of blood and also prevents infections when dabbed on a fresh cut.
The powerhouse of skincare in Ayurveda: Manjistha
Manjistha is an ideal herb for healthy skin, in Ayurveda. Manjistha i.e Rubia cordifolia (Rubia means red), this red colour alludes blood and this red herb has been used as a blood purifier (RaktaShodhak) in Ayurveda since thousands of years.
Manjistha balances Pitta in the body. It helps in smooth functioning of all Pitta activities and is a boon to women’s health. It treats hormonal imbalances and supports the female reproductive system. It also helps to relieve menstrual pain. It also ensures good digestion and prevents premature ageing. It also regulates blood pressure, blood vessel constriction and helps protect from blood clot formation.
Manjistha helps to balance our lymphatic system. Our lymphatic system drains the wastes from our body and regulates our immune system. This herb helps to destroy toxic cells and boosts the health of other cells. It also aids in flushing out unneeded toxins in our body.
Manjistha is widely used for skin care due to its blood purifying property. Ancient sages mentioned this herb in the Varnya group of herbs while categorising all the herbs. Varnya means herb which enhances complexion. The abundance of antioxidants in this herb can help to reduce wrinkles, fine lines and give the skin an overall youthful appearance. It also treats hyper-pigmentation and keeps the skin healthy and spot free. It relieves itching and soothes the skin in eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis. It also treats skin allergies.
This red herb was used as a dye in ancient times. Even today, an Australian clothing brand, “Kitx” uses Ayurvedic recipes to dye fabrics, infusing garments with anti-bacterial properties. They call it as “conscious, healing” fashion, Manjistha has been used in the collection to create a passionate red colour that’s beautiful and comes with healing properties. Manjistha can be used internally as well as externally. Internally, Manjistha can be taken 1-3 grams daily. Manjistha powder can be mixed with almond milk, honey, sandalwood powder and added in face packs and scrubs for an instant skin glow.
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