Ayurveda is the most ancient Indian system of traditional medicine and is popular today as one of the principle alternative and complementary medicine system. A large part of the Ayurvedic medicines is based on the indigenous herbs found in India.
According to Ayurveda, herbs maintain the proper functioning of the body systems. Herbs have a diverse chemical constitution; they are effective in small doses and have fewer side effects. Herbs have been used both internally and externally; internal forms including intake of tinctures, flower essences, encapsulated herbs, fresh herbs, and essential oil dilutions and external forms of treatment include topical usage of herbs and essential oil blends, salves, liniments and lotions.
Commonly known as Indian gooseberry or amla, Embelica officinalis literally means sour. It is primarily sour, bitter, astringent with sweet taste. It is known to have a cooling action. It is known to affect all body tissues especially blood and muscles and circulation, digestion and elimination of waste from the body.
According to Ayurveda, it increases the Agni without aggravating pitta. Its effect is satvik which has an overall effect on consciousness and well-being of the body. It relieves vata (through its sour taste), pitta (through its sweet taste and cold energy) and kapha (by its astringent taste and dry nature).
Constituents of amla are Vitamin C, bioflavonoids and cytokinins.
It is known to possess antacid, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, alterative, adaptogen, digestive, laxative, hepatoprotective, astringent, haemostatic, antioxidant, cardiotonic, nutritive, ophthalmic, tonic and aphrodisiac.
The therapeutic uses of amla are:
- Gastrointestinal disorders such as constipation, ulcer, acidity, gastritis, colitis, hepatitis, hemorrhoids. It acts as a laxative in larger doses.
- Preventing heart conditions. it reduces cholesterol level and heals arterial damage.
- It is an antioxidant and general tonic for debility and weakness.
- It is used in the treatment of diabetes.
- It is effectively used against anemia
- It Is used in the treatment of hair loss and early greyness of hair.
Winter cherry or ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) literally means the smell of horse. It is frequently referred to as Indian ginseng owing to its rejuvenating property.
Ashwagandha has bitter, pungent and sweet taste; and warm potency. It is known to increase sexual desire, increases strength, improves quality and quantity of semen, useful in management of white discoloration of the skin, useful in management of edematous conditions and other nutritive conditions.
As per Ayurveda, it is known to pacify kapha and vata dosha. The most commonly used forms of ashwagandha in Ayurvedic medicines are powder, extract, decoction, medicated ghee, medicated wine etc.
Ashwagandha has been therapeutically used in:
- Normalize physiological function working on the neuroendocrine system.
- It is effective for insomnia and helps the body in stress related conditions.
- Lowering blood pressure
- Effectively used in the prevention of ulcers
- Used in arthritis for painful, dry, swollen and inflamed joints.
- Used for improving immune system
- Stabilizing blood sugar levels
- Lowering cholesterol
- In anemia to increase hemoglobin
Ashwagandha is known to be responsible for a healthy immune system, physical strength, lustrous complexion, clarity of mind and sense of well-being.
‘Herb of grace’ or Brahmi, Bacopa monnieri is a native to India and has been greatly used in Ayurvedic medicine as a brain and mental tonic.
Brahmi has been used in Ayurveda in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, insanity, insomnia, anxiety and other mental illness. It has been described by Charak as an anti-ageing plant. Brahmi has been widely used in the effective blood circulation and in promoting efficient function of the liver, lungs and kidneys.
It has been used traditionally in Ayurveda in the treatment of various skin problems such as psoriasis, eczema, abscess, and ulceration. It is also known to stimulate skin cell generation and cell growth.
The chemicals Bacosides A and B found in Brahmi are known to repair and regenerate the brain cells responsible for the functioning and maintenance of information and intellect.
Traditionally, Brahmi is known to check ageing process, improves complexion, sweetness of voice and also as an antioxidant.
Therapeutic uses of brahmi in traditional medicine system are:
- Memory enhancer
- Mental and physical fatigue
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Increased sex drive
- Cough and hoarseness
- Inflammatory conditions
- High cholesterol levels
Yashthimadhu or licorice, Glycirrhiza glabra literally means sweet root. It has been used in Ayurveda since ancient times for a variety of ailments.
Ayurveda classifies it as atonic herb which is known to balance all three doshas, Vata, Kapha and Pitta. It has powerful effect on all tissue levels and is beneficial to all the seven dhatus in the body maintaining the proper equilibrium for proper functioning of the body.
It has been used both as a medicine and as a flavoring herb and is known to heal sore throat and improve voice quality. In Ayurveda it has been used for various conditions such as cough, sore throat, poisonous bites, food poisoning, arthritic pains, and liver and stomach disorders.
It is known to have a cooling effect on the eye, enhance luster of hair and make them darker in color, and improve complexion and body strength.
Therapeutically it is advocated to be used in:
- Treatment of erectile disorders and premature ejaculation
- Treatment of mouth ulcers, bad odors, coating and rawness of tongue caused by inflammation.
- Pain and antibacterial
- The two chemicals, licoricidin and licorisoflavan A found in licorice are known to be effective in the treatment of tooth decay gum diseases.
- Treatment of various digestive complaints such as stomach ulcers, heartburn, colic and inflammation of gastric lining (chronic gastritis)
- Treatment of sore throat, bronchitis, cough
- It is also used for osteoarthritis, liver disorders, tuberculosis, malaria and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Convolvulus pluricaulis, shankhapushpi is an indigenous herb of India and mentioned in Ayurvedic scriptures for its mental stimulation and rejuvenation therapy. In Ayurveda, it is claimed to be pungent and astringent in taste, and one that alleviates all three doshas, Kapha, Pitta and Vata.
In Ayurvedic literature it is documented to be used as brain tonic in hypotensive syndromes. It has been traditionally used to treat nervous debility, insomnia, fatigue, low energy level, and as a brain tonic.
According to Ayurvedic classics, it is a medhya Rasayana herb, which prevents the effects, ageing, development of intelligence and increase in body resistance against infection and diseases. It is used as a tonic, alterative and febrifuge.
Therapeutically it is known to be effective in:
- Insomnia and delirium
- Chronic cough and asthma
- Bowel disorders such as dysentery
- Anxiety, stress and mental fatigue
- Syphilis and scrophula
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