An Introduction to Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices
Updated: May 15, 2022
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You may have inadvertently heard of Ayurveda through TV ads or bus posters and related them to yoga and meditation – like most people do with every other alternative healing modality.
However, Ayurveda is an entire system of healing and medicine on its own.
It is a practice that deals with the science of life and healthy living. The core of the science is basically how to maintain a level of internal balance that radiates externally. Every other teaching, practice, and procedure within Ayurveda is directly connected to this core. It is concerned with a balanced internal system, considering it essential to achieving external peace and stability.
Due to the emphasis placed on maintaining internal balance, the main components of Ayurvedic medicine are therapies – both physical and mental. They are said to connect with our internal self and solve problems at their deepest core, thereby effecting external healing. Components of Ayurveda include mental exercises like yoga and meditation, as well as physical-centric activities like special diets, enemas, laxatives, and medical oils.
The connection between the mind, body, and the spirit is a point of focus in Ayurvedic medicine. Numerous Ayurvedic texts and teachings have commented on how the body cannot flourish properly without the mind, and how the mind can barely be stable without properly channeling the right spirit. Ayurveda therefore focuses more on the prevention of diseases, rather than treatment.
Early Ayurvedic Medicines dated as far back as 2000 years ago in ancient India, mostly included complex herbal compounds, metal substances, and minerals – as expected. Some of their relatively advanced practices at the time also included surgical procedures like kidney stone extraction, foreign object extraction, rhinoplasty, and many suture techniques.
This article comments on the medicinal aspect of Ayurveda. Till present day, early Ayurvedic herbs continue to be developed and used by many people, for healing, domestic, and beauty purposes. These herbs and spices are said to have healing effects on the body, which further calm the mind and help their users in channeling the core of their minds with more focus. It explores some of these herbs and spices, and their benefits, as proven by many modern scientific studies. Let’s take a look at a few.
Unsurprisingly, the source of the Ashwagandha herb can be traced back to India and parts of North Africa. Its root and berries are the specific parts used in creating effective Ayurvedic remedies. Managing stress is one of its major benefits, which it achieves by reducing cortisol levels upon being applied. Similarly, it also helps in reducing anxiety levels, which in turn improves sleep patterns for its users. While some may argue that a seemingly minor problem such as the lack of sleep shouldn’t be instrumental in your overall health. However, insufficient sleep is a root cause of many other more severe problems, so it should be addressed as swiftly as possible to prevent more serious issues from surfacing.
Additional benefits of Ashwagandha include memory improvement, fertility in men, muscle growth (in every gender-type), and lowering of sugar levels (which is extremely important in this day and age). Some studies have also shown that Ashwagandha also contains properties that boost the immune system and help reduce inflammation.
Just like the Ashwagandha, Boswellia is also one of the most common Ayurvedic herbs. It also originates from India and is sometimes referred by other names, including the “Indian frankincense”, or “Olibanum”. Boswellia will simply do in this article. Specifically, the herb is prepared by using parts of the Boswellia Serrata tree.
Boswellia is one of the Ayurvedic herbs with the most benefits. Some research has suggested that it helps prevent the release of certain compounds within the body such as leukotriene. When this compound is not released, the chances of inflammation are reduced drastically.
The benefits of this herb are quite numerous and wide-ranging, so to keep things simple, Boswellia has the following amazing benefits:
Treats conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
General pain reduction
Improvement in mobility levels
Improvement in digestion
Improved breathing for chronic asthma patients
Unlike the Ashwagandha and Boswellia, Brahmi is a rather specific herb in its range of effective remedies. It is a staple herb, which makes its consumption easier. Brahmi works just as effectively as contemporary drugs of modern medicine. Brahmi has a number of healing properties that are primarily related with our mental state. They include the following:
Improved learning rates
General information processing
Effective counter to Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) – which a lot of people around the world could definitely use. It does this by reducing the most dominant ADHD symptoms: poor self-control, restlessness, impulsivity, and inattention.
Cumin is an Ayurvedic spice, different from the herbs we explored above. Its origin has been traced all the way to the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia. It is a special Ayurvedic spice with a nutty, earthy, and spicy flavor. It helps with speeding up digestion and reduces the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome such as Bloating and Abdominal pain.
Cumin also deals with one of the most nagging diseases disturbing the world today – type 2 diabetes. It improves insulin sensitivity, lowers blood sugar levels, and helps prevent heart disease.
Crossing over to the beauty side, Amla is one of the most reliable Ayurvedic beauty herbs developed over the decades. Also referred to as the “Indian gooseberry”, Amla is an herbal compound that serves great anti-aging purposes. It preserves your skin, promotes skin health, and gives your skin a smooth, glowing and radiant appearance. When used consistently, it also protects the skin from the unpleasant effects of high stress levels.
Tulsi is a rather multi-purpose Ayurvedic herb. It combines both medicinal and cosmetic/ beauty properties. It is an herb that helps with the general health of the skin by reducing the possibility of blocked pores and fights against the visible signs of aging, including wrinkles and unwanted lines. It improves skin beauty by giving it a smoother texture, which is sure to give you a more youthful and vibrant appearance.
Ayurveda and the Herbs
Again, the core of Ayurveda as a science is balancing the mind, body and spirit; therefore, its teachings and solutions are directed towards prevention as best as possible before the consideration of a cure. This however does not reduce its focus on healing, as many of its herbs are remedies to existing ailments and diseases. In fact, the herbs and spices aspect remain the most developed and scientifically backed area of Ayurvedic medicine. So, with science and nature on their side, Ayurveda’s herbs and spices can only help you.
Why not give the Ayurveda way of life a try?!