Originated in India some 5000 years back, Ayurveda is the “Science of Life” that not only deals with curing diseases but works in the direction of maintaining overall good health. The literal meaning of “Ayurveda” is “Ayu(r)” meaning life span and “Veda ” meaning the study of the science of increasing the lifespan and maintaining a healthy mind, body and soul. Ayurveda is in fact the oldest form of practised medical science. It not just cures the disease but eliminates the root cause, preventing the recurrence.
Ayurveda is deeply connected with the nature and life cycle. The human body or everything living is made of the 5 essential elements known as the “Panchabhuta” – space, air, water, fire and earth. According to Ayurvedic ideology and beliefs, to maintain a healthy mind, body and soul, it is important to maintain a balance between these elements. Also, the science of Ayurveda functions on the basic principles of “Swasthasya swasthya rakshanam”. This means focusing on maintaining the overall health of not just the body but also the mind and soul. And according to Ayurvedic beliefs, this can be achieved by maintaining a balance of the three “Doshas” – Vatta, Pitta and Kapha.
The fundamentals of Ayurveda can be applicable at all ages of life and hence can be adopted at any point of time. The Ayurvedic philosophy says that a human’s mind, body and soul are interconnected. And any sort of imbalance between the functioning of any of the three can lead to several diseases. Since the science of Ayurveda is rooted in nature, the medical practices of Ayurveda also believe in healing with the help of nature. So here are 10 powerful Ayurvedic herbs and spices with health benefits that will help you stay healthy and fit.
Ashwagandha is extensively used in Ayurvedic medicines in different forms. It is a small plant, native to India and North America. The medicinal properties of Ashwagandha majorly help in relieving stress very effectively. According to Ayurvedic experts and after much research done, it has been concluded that Ashwagandha helps in reducing the levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress.
Ashwagandha is also believed to extensively reduce anxiety levels and promotes peaceful sleep in people suffering from anxiety disorders. This herb also helps in lowering blood sugar levels and enhancing memory and male fertility. Another important quality of Ashwagandha is it boosts the immune system and helps fight the disease at the primary level.
Also, known as olibanum or frankincense, Boswellia is made from the resin of the Boswellia Serrata tree. According to the research, it is suggested that Boswellia majorly helps in controlling the release of leukotrienes, a compound that causes inflammation. Ayurvedic science also believes that Boswellia effectively reduces pain, improves mobility, especially in people suffering from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
This herb also helps in improving digestion in people suffering from ulcerative colitis and breathing in people dealing with chronic asthma.
Commonly known as Indian Gooseberry, Amla is majorly used in several Ayurvedic medicines. While the medicinal properties of Amla are extensively used in different forms. One of the major uses of Amla is to create herbal medicine named Triphala. Triphala is most beneficial in treating constipation.
Amla along with other preparations is also useful to reduce flatulence in the gastrointestinal. Also according to Ayurvedic beliefs, Amla in combination with other Ayurvedic herbs is also useful in treating inflammation associated with arthritis. Studies also suggest that it has anti-cancer properties that limit the growth rate of specific cancer types.
Scientifically known as Bacopa Monnieri, Brahmi in Ayurvedic science is known to have anti-inflammatory properties. According to the research, Brahmi is beneficial in improving learning abilities, increasing attention span, enhancing memory and information processing. This herb also helps in reducing the symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). It controls impulsivity, restlessness and improves the ability of self-control. According to the experts, Brahmi also has adaptogenic properties, which helps in reducing anxiety and stress.
A native spice of Southwest Asia and the Mediterranean, Cumin is made from the seeds of the Cuminum cyminum plant. Cumin is commonly used in Indian food and is known for its earthy and spicy flavour. Apart from the taste, Cumin also has some medicinal properties like improving the digestive system. It helps in releasing bile from the liver that eases the digestion of fats and improves digestion.
According to the studies and research done, Cumin is known to reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and also lower abdominal pain and bloating. This herb is also widely used in Ayurvedic remedies to lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity and protect against type 2 diabetes. Cumin also increases HDL (good cholesterol), reduces LDL (bad cholesterol) and protects against heart diseases. This Ayurvedic spice also has antimicrobial properties that lower the risk of foodborne infections.
Commonly used in Indian food, Turmeric has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. According to Ayurvedic experts, Turmeric improves blood flow and protects against heart diseases. Turmeric compounds are known to increase brain levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which helps in treating Alzheimer’s and depression.
Native to Europe and Asia, Licorice Root is derived from the Glycyrrhiza glabra plant and holds an important place in Ayurvedic medicines. It is believed that Licorice Roots help in reducing inflammation and fight against bacteria and viruses. It helps in relieving sore throat, curing oral problems and protecting against dental cavities.
This Ayurvedic herb also helps in managing and reducing heartburn, nausea, bloating, belching, stomach ulcers, skin rashes, itching and redness or swelling in the skin.
Commonly famous as “The herb of longevity” is one of the most important herbs used in Ayurvedic medicines. According to the research and studies, Gotu Kola is known to help in reviving memory, especially after having a stroke. The herb also helps in reducing stress levels and dealing with anxiety and depression.
Some studies and research also suggest that Gotu Kola helps in preventing stretch marks, reduces varicose veins, heals wounds faster and deals with symptoms of eczema and psoriasis.
Scientifically known as Momordica Charantia, Bitter Melon is a tropical vine, related to squash, cucumber, zucchini and pumpkin. Bitter Melon is commonly used in Asian cuisine as a basic staple. According to the studies and research, Bitter Melon has antioxidants properties that lower blood sugar levels and improve the secretion of insulin that keeps diabetes under control
The medicinal properties of this herb also keep the LDL (bad cholesterol) in check, lowering the risk of heart diseases.
Also commonly known as “Queen of Spices”, Cardamom has been an integral part of Ayurvedic medicines since ancient times. According to studies and research, Cardamom helps in reducing blood pressure.
Ayurvedic experts also suggest that this herb helps in protecting against Helicobacter pylori bacteria, a common cause of stomach ulcers. It is also believed that using Cardamom as Ayurvedic medicine can reduce the size of gastric ulcers by 50%.
According to Ayurvedic science, herbs and spices have a multitude of benefits in maintaining the balance between the mind, body and soul. These Ayurvedic remedies and herbs can be used either internally or applied externally on the skin or through aromatherapy, depending upon the type of herb and treatment. Some of the common health benefits of consuming Ayurvedic herbs and spices are:
- Reduces weight
- Helps fight against cancer.
- Detoxifies the body
- Purifies the blood.
- Improves digestion.
- Helps maintain glowing-looking skin.
- Improves overall vitality
- Boost mental health
- Boosts immune system
- Fights inflammation
- Reduces anxiety and stress.
Spices and herbs have long been an essential part of ancient Indian Ayurvedic medicine. A growing measure of scientific research validates its proposed medical benefits. However, it is advised to always consult an Ayurvedic specialist or experts before taking any herbs or Ayurvedic medicine. Only the experts can understand and diagnose your situation properly and accordingly suggest the right remedy for you.