Hello yogis and healthy folks!
Hope you are all enjoying warmer weather and spending lots of time outside. It is still a little chilly in NYC but last weekend I was lucky enough to go to the Ayurvedic Institute in a sunny Albuquerque, NM. The trip was for a workshop on 15 most powerful ayurvedic herbs led by the legend of ayurvedic world – Dr Vasant Lad.
I got to stay at an amazing Casa Paz Y Amor, go running close to the mountains, meet the founder and the R&D head of Banyan Botanicals, and to learn the secrets of longevity and youthfulness from Vasant Lad himself.
You have probably heard about Gotu Kola and Ginkgo Biloba healing properties. Chinese herbal supplements are pretty wide-spread in the North America and a lot of people take advantage of the available natural alternatives to the traditional medicine. Ayurvedic herbal formulations seem to be less common in the West even though they are as powerful as the Chinese ones.
Today I want to share 5 of the most powerful and useful ayurvedic herbs that are widely available in most health stores, including Whole Foods but are not as recognized yet by an average shopper.
Shatavari – a perfect female tonic. Shatavari is a rejuvenating herb that cools the body and strengthens and nourishes the tissues. It is used to treat hyperacidity, gastric and peptic ulcers, stomach collics, inflammations, and can be helpful during morning sickness. The most important and most frequent use of Shatavari is to alleviate menstrual cramps and PMS and to maintain a healthy production of female hormones. It rejuvenates female reproductive system and maybe translated from Sanskrit as “100 spouses” implying its role in promoting fertility and vitality. As a nutritive tonic it encourages the healthy production of milk in lactating mothers and is useful for supporting the menopausal transition. Shatavari supports a healthy immune system and assists in both physical and digestion. It can be taken on its own or as a part of a formula.
Triphala – a beautiful balancing formula for detoxification and rejuvenation. Triphala is recommended and used more than any other Ayurvedic herbal formulation. Popular for its unique ability to gently cleanse and detoxify the system while simultaneously replenishing and nourishing it, this traditional formula supports the proper functions of the digestive, circulatory, respiratory and genitourinary systems. Translated as “three fruits”, it is composed of the dried fruits of amalaki, bibhitaki and haritaki. Containing five of the six tastes (all but salty), Triphala readily removes excess vata, pitta and kapha from the body, bringing balance and proper functioning to the system. It is commonly taken as a daily supplement to help maintain balance of the doshas.
Brahmi – Those familiar with “the doctrine of signatures” may not find it surprising that a plant with a leaf that resembles a cerebellum, would have a special affinity for the brain. Brahmi is a renowned mental rejuvenating herb traditionally used to promote the intellect, enhance mental performance and support proper function of the nervous system. The leaves are highly sattvic (pure, harmonious) and historically have been eaten by yogis to assist in meditation. Brahmi is said to improve concentration, memory and alertness. It is a natural blood purifier and helps support clear, healthy skin. Brahmi is also famous for promoting healthy, lustrous hair and is often applied as an oil for this purpose. The herb is cooling and relaxing, making it an excellent tonic for pitta. It also calms vata in the mind and reduces excess kapha in the body. A truly amazing herb that lives up to its name, which means “the energy of universal consciousness”
Ashwagandha – Ashwagandha is one of the most highly regarded and commonly used adaptogens in the Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia. Maximizing the body’s ability to resist stress, it enables the body to reserve and sustain vital energy throughout the day while promoting sound, restful sleep at night. It is considered one of the best herbs for calming vata and for revitalizing the male reproductive system. Used by both men and women, it maintains proper nourishment of the tissues, particularly muscle and bone, while supporting proper function of the adrenals. This potent herb is used to promote muscle strength and to support comfortable joint movement. It is also used to maintain a healthy libido, for it is said to bestow upon its user the vitality and strength of a horse. As a rejuvenative, Ashwagandha is particularly useful to seniors and for anyone that would benefit from a nourishing, natural source of energy.
Neem – Traditional skin purifier and often used to naturally control blood sugar levels. Neem is widely used in Ayurveda because of its effectiveness in dealing with nearly all types of pitta and kapha imbalances. Bitter and very cooling, it is usually combined with other herbs to offset its vata-aggravating qualities. Neem has traditionally been used to purify the blood, cleanse the liver and support the immune system. It is also commonly used to support healthy skin and to maintain healthy blood glucose levels. As a powerful blood purifier that helps to remove toxins from the blood, lymph and liver supporting vibrant, Neem helps to maintain healthy glowing complexion.
Let me know if you have any question about the herbs! A very interesting interview with the founder of Banyan Botanicals is coming soon! Stay tuned!