The Modern Indian's Guide to the 15 most used Ayurvedic Herbs & their benefits

Ayurveda is one of the oldest and comprehensive systems of healing and healthcare known to humanity. The ayurvedic practice is around five thousand years old and works on three basic principles or doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha), which are derived from the five elements of the world. According to Ayurveda, these principles are the regulatory factors for the fundamental physiological processes in living beings and diseases occur due to imbalance in the factors. The traditional medical system seeks to normalize body functions with varied techniques including food and activity, Panchakarma purification treatments, surgical methods, and internal herbal preparations. Therefore, herbs are a vital part of the Ayurveda and its treatment processes.

Importance of Ayurvedic herbs

Right from the ancient times, Ayurvedic herbs offered a solution to all kinds of diseases, some of which were considered impossible to treat by other fields of medical sciences. They are derived from a plant source, where the leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, roots, bark and resin are used to prepare medicines. These herbal medicines have the potential to maintain a balance between the mind and the spirit. Some of the commonly used Ayurvedic herbs and their importance are mentioned as follows. 

 

Ajwain

Ajwain is a member of the Apiaceae family and is related to carrot, cumin, coriander, anise, asafoetida, etc. Ancient Egyptian civilizations used it as a medicine as well as a culinary spice. In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, it is known to treat asthma, persistent coughs, flatulence, and indigestion.

Benefits of Ajwain -

 

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is highly regarded in the traditional Ayurvedic medicine system. It is a small and woody shrub of the Solanaceae family that is found in India as well as in Africa and a few parts of the Mediterranean continent. Ashwagandha gets its name from two Sanskrit words – Ashva, meaning horse and Gandha meaning smell. Its roots have a strong aroma that is described as “horse-like” and is also said to bestow upon its user the vitality and strength of a horse. 

It is commonly used as an adaptogen to help the body cope up with stress and increase its energy and vitality. It also assists the body in preserving and sustaining adequate energy levels throughout the day while promoting restful sleep at night. Traditionally, the roots and berries of the Ashwagandha plant are used for preparing Ayurvedic remedies.

Benefits of Ashwagandha -

 

Brahmi

Brahmi also called Bacopa monnieri, herb of grace, thyme-leaved gratiola, is one of the best Ayurvedic herbs that has been in use from ancient times to treat neurological disorders. It can be found in wet and tropical environments and can also be used as an Ayurvedic remedy for improving memory, reducing anxiety and treating epilepsy. Certain researches have pointed out that it may be effective in boosting brain function as well. The leaves of the plant are considered as highly sattvic or pure and were eaten by yogis to assist in meditation in olden times.

Benefits of Brahmi -

 

Cardamom

Cardamom is one of the ancient spices of the world. It grows wildly in the Western Ghats of Southern India and in Guatemala, which is the largest producer and exporter of this spice. It has a strong aroma like that of cloves and is used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine.

Benefits of Cardamom -

 

Cumin

Native to the Mediterranean and Southwest Asia, cumin is a spice that comes from the Cuminum cyminum plant. It is quite popular in many food cultures and is used as whole dried seeds or ground powder, especially in Indian, Mexican, African and Asian cuisine. In the Middle Ages, when spices were relatively rare, cumin was believed to promote love and fidelity. People would carry it in their pockets and bring it to weddings. Apart from this, cumin has been widely used as a medicine to treat different ailments in many parts of the world for many years.

Benefits of Cumin -

 

Licorice

Licorice has been around as a common ingredient in many natural medicines. The ancient Greeks used it for treating cough, and it was also found among the many treasures in the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb. Licorice comes from the juice of the roots of the plant Glycyrrhiza Glabra. It is also used as a sweetener in candies and beverages.

Benefits of Licorice -

 

Manjistha

Manjistha is a perennial climber that detoxifies the body by purifying the lymph and blood. The lymphatic system drains out wastes from the body and regulates the immune system. As lymph is pumped through muscle contractions, sedentary lifestyles may result in improper functioning of the lymphatic system giving rise to increased toxic levels in skin, joints, muscles and other tissues. Manjistha is a potent lymph mover that calms aggravated Pitta and breaks up congested Kapha. Many pitta-aggravated imbalances in the body, especially the ones related to the blood, may be supported by Manjistha. It is an effective Ayurvedic medicine to clean the liver, regulate kidney functions and clear acne.

 

Neem

The word “Neem” is derived from the Sanskrit Nimba – which means the bestower of good health. Through the ages, the neem tree has been revered by Indians for its miraculous healing powers. Its medicinal properties are well documented in ancient Sanskrit texts, and it's estimated that it is used in one form or another in almost 75% of Ayurvedic compositions.

Benefits of Neem -

 

Shatavari

Shatavari or Asparagus racemosus is an adaptogenic herb that promotes fertility and offers a myriad of health benefits, particularly for the female reproductive system. It is high in saponins, compounds with antioxidant abilities.

Benefits of Shatavari -

 

Turmeric

Turmeric is one of the most popular and widely researched Ayurvedic spices in the world. It is native to South Asia, particularly India, but is also cultivated in other warm regions of the world. The Latin name for turmeric is “Curcuma longa”, derived from “Kurkum”, which is the Arabic name of the plant.

Turmeric, belonging to the Zingiberaceae family, goes by many names in Sanskrit, such as Kanchani or the Golden Goddess, Haridra or the yellow one, Gauri or the one who has a shining face.

Benefits of Turmeric -

 

Haritaki

Historically, the use of Haritaki for healing and higher consciousness of mind for thousands of years has been documented in India, Nepal, Thailand and many other regions of southeast Asia. Due to its potential to increase energy, intelligence, and awareness, it was referred to as the “King of Herbs” in the Ayurvedic and Siddha healing systems of India.

Haritaki was so popular in the Buddhist culture that it was referred to as “The Supreme Nectar That Illuminates the Mind”. For medicinal purposes, the dried fruit of the tree is used. Haritaki has a bitter taste and is rich in vitamin C and substances with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Benefits of Haritaki -

 

Guduchi

Guduchi or Tinospora cordifolia is one of the highly revered herbs in Ayurveda for its rejuvenating, detoxifying, immune-boosting, and anti-rheumatic properties. The name “Guduchi” means the one who protects. Originating in India, the herb can also be found in Sri Lanka and Burma.

According to Ayurveda, guduchi is considered to be one of the three amrit (nectar or ambrosia) plants, the other two being garlic and haritaki. Generally, the roots, stem, and leaves of the guduchi plant are used for medicinal purposes, but the bitter starch of the plant holds the most importance.

Benefits of Guduchi -

 

Amalaki

Amalaki is considered as a powerful rejuvenating herb in Ayurveda. It is commonly known as Indian gooseberry or amla, and is used as an Ayurvedic herb for hair growth and to boost the immune system of the body. Amalaki is native to tropical Southeastern Asia and can be found in different regions of India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Malaysia, and the Mascarene Islands. In Sanskrit, Amalaki means “the sustainer”.

Benefits of Amalaki -

 

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera or Ghrita Kumara in Sanskrit was considered as the “plant of immortality” by the Egyptians. Aloe was recognized in ancient Indian, Greek, Chinese and Roman civilizations for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

Benefits of Aloe Vera -

 

Guggulu

Guggulu or Commiphora mukul is a potent purifying herb, which comes from the flowering Mukul myrrh tree found in arid climates in India. Ancient Ayurvedic texts have mentions of Guggulu as a purifying herb that protects from diseases. For thousands of years, it has been in use to cure sinuses, treat obesity, soothe inflamed joints and relieve chronic skin disorders. It is also prescribed as a recommended treatment for the obstruction of channels caused due to lack of exercise and excessive consumption of fatty foods.

Benefits of Guggulu -

 

Triphala

Triphala is an Ayurvedic medicine composed of three medicinal fruits, namely amla (Emblica officinalis), bibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica), and haritaki (Terminalia chebula). It has been an important part of Ayurvedic practice for thousands of years. Its uses have been mentioned in the Sushrut Samhita, which dates back to 1500 BC.

Benefits of Triphala -

Pure Triphala blended with musta, lashuna, yashtimadhu, maricha, and pippali can be found in Alsactil herbal tablets that work naturally to provide relief from hyperacidity, flatulence, gastric ulcer, heartburn, etc.


 

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