Ayurveda has described around ten thousand herbs in its major books. These herbs are readily available in surrounding but some of the herbs are quite esoteric and certain herbs have become extinct after their conception as medicinal plants. However, keeping its tradition of the search for knowledge Ayurvedic practitioners have introduced replacements and alternatives to these rare or extinct herbs. Also, with discovery and knowledge of new diseases, Ayurveda has formulated livelier herbal formulations for treatment of even arcane disease. An example I frequently like to cite is that of “Syphilis”. Syphilis was a disease previously unknown in Indian subcontinent until it was introduced by Westerns. Bhavprakash in his book written in the 16th century describes the cause and treatment of Ayurveda. Practices and evolutionary nature of Ayurveda thus have emboldened its claim as a holistic treatment approach even more.
The herbal tradition of Ayurveda comes from the properties of herb and the properties that it exacerbates or reduces when it is introduced in the human system. Some of these herbs can be known as used exclusively as a treatment of minor ailments at home. The herbs presented here are for general information on Ayurveda and are not to be taken as a medical advice. If you have any symptoms please contact your doctor or an Ayurvedic doctor.
1. Ashwagandha an Ayurvedic Herbs
The potent medicine of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) or Indian ginseng has been used in Ayurvedic herbal practice since 2500 BC when “Charak” – The Ayurvedic Physician described it in his book. Ashwagandha literally translates to “The Horse Smell”, since its root gives off a distinctive smell of the horse. The use of Ashwagandha since the ancient times has been as an aphrodisiac and as an adaptogenic (anti-stress). A recent 2012 randomized control trial showed that Ashwagandha decreased stress by a significant level and was also found to reduce circulating cortisol level. The side effect profile was in-par with that of placebo.
Ashwagandha can be consumed as powder, a capsule or as tablets. Traditionally, Ashwagandha was consumed along with milk but recent data suggest it is equally effective when consumed with water or milk from herbal source.
2. Licorice an Ayurvedic Herbs
Licorice or Yasthimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra) traditionally has been used for problems like heart burns, acidity, abdominal ulcers, hoarseness of voice and asthma. Present studies asses its effectiveness in a sore throat, cough, asthma, as potent anti-oxidant, anti-viral. Studies also show that glycyrrhizin the chemical found in licorice breaks down in the gut and as an anti-inflammatory effect similar to hydrocortisone. So it is a good analgesic as well. This supplemented with its mucosal protective effect puts it above analgesics – which has a propensity for causing ulcers in your belly. Licorice can be consumed safely for 4-6 weeks as tea or powder. Take 1-4 gram of powdered root and add it to the tea you consume. It should not be taken by hypertensive and those who have heart-related problems.
3. Holy basil an Ayurvedic Herbs
Holy basil or Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) is found in the garden of every Indian household. Not only is the basil protective against every form of bad karma but also has been used – since the beginning of written history – as a way of treating multiple diseases. Clinical research points out its effectiveness in type 2 Diabetes mellitus, improvement in BMI and lipid profile and reduction in blood pressure. Research also points out on its immunomodulatory effects ranging from increased exercise tolerance to improved rates of survival in conditions like encephalitis (compared to steroids). The traditional use of Tulsi has been for the diseases of the respiratory system because of its high volatile oil content.
The tulsi leaves can be consumed as a cooling aid during hot summer, or mixed and infused with tea or can be blended into a refreshing juice. Not only is that beneficial in the sweltering summer heat but the drink adds to your overall health and longevity.
The concept of Ayurveda is living in concordance with nature – this includes living according to “Prakriti”. So next time you have minor ailments try adding the herbal supplements to your daily lifestyle. These supplements not only heal but are rather complementary and promotive of body’s own rhythm, rate, and curative mechanisms. Ayurvedic medicine used in moderation is free of adverse effects and promotes healing.