Ayurvedic Herbs & Supplements
There are many herbs and supplements used in Ayurveda, and this is a brief overview of some of those most commonly used to both maintain health and treat many common ailments. All of these herbs are readily available in many health food shops, and online.
Ayurvedic treatments work on the body as a whole, and are not necessarily a ‘quick fix’. They look at treating the cause of illness rather than just the symptoms, and so can have great and lasting benefits for health and well-being.
It is recommended that you consult an Ayurvedic doctor if you are unsure whether it is safe to consume any of these herbs. However, they are generally considered to be safe to use in the correct doses, with few side-effects. There are occasional contraindications that should be looked at if you are taking any existing medication or have any medical issues. As with anything, if you have a particularly bad reaction, you should cease consuming them.
It is recommended that you only begin taking one new herb or supplement at a time, as it is much easier to assess the effects on the body and mind. The exception would be Tulsi, which is safe to consume and so beneficial that I would recommend everyone to use it.
I’ll begin with a herb that is revered in India, the ‘queen of herbs’, Tulsi. Tulsi is known as ‘holy basil’ and is also referred to as ‘the mother medicine of nature’. The word Tulsi means ‘the incomparable one’.
Tulsi is an adaptogen which means that it can help to bring balance to the body. It helps to reduce inflammation, and can give relief to sufferers of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. It can also help to treat and prevent fever, and is antimicrobial, so good for coughs, colds and other illnesses. Tulsi also helps to balance blood sugar, so is useful for people with diabetes, and can help to cleanse the kidneys and reduce the accumulation of uric acid, to help with gout. These are only a few of the benefits of this amazing plant, and if there is only one herb that you begin to consume from this list, I would recommend this one.
Tulsi can easily be consumed in the form of tea, and is often used with other herbs and spices to achieve different flavours and benefits. It can be used very well as a base tea, and this is an easy way to incorporate it into your lifestyle. Two brands that are readily available in the UK are Organic India and Pukka, and they can usually be purchased from health food shops or easily found online.
Ashwagandha translates as ‘smell of the horse’, and is another herb that is highly regarded. Its benefits include, relieving stress, increasing energy levels, and improving concentration. Although it is beneficial to both genders, ashwagandha is thought to be especially useful for men, as it can improve fertility and boost and regulate testosterone levels.
The stress relief aspect of the herb comes from its ability to reduce cortisol levels, and it is also touted to help with depression and mental health issues.
Ashwagandha is usually consumed in powder form in fairly small doses. It can be mixed with juice or smoothies, or capsules. It is thought to have very few side-effects, but it can increase pitta and heat in the body. To alleviate this, it can be consumed with milk or taken on and off.
Shatavari is for women what Ashwagandha is for men, and can be used to help with a variety of women’s health issues relating to reproductive processes throughout the person’s whole life. It can moderate oestrogen levels and help to regulate menstruation, reducing mood swings and alleviating menstrual cramps and heavy bleeding. Shatavari is also helpful in the production of breast milk and is a safe way to increase the quality and volume of milk. It is also good for hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause.
Shatavari also has general benefits for everyone including being high in antioxidants and helping with gastric issues. It is a diuretic, so can help to reduce or eliminate kidney stones, and is also a general immune-system booster.
Triphala means ‘three fruits’ in India, and is especially useful for issues relating to digestion. The three fruits; amla, black Myrobalan, and haritaki, work synergistically in powdered form to help with weight loss, improve digestion, reduce inflammation, and improve issues related to anxiety and stress. It is also thought to help with cancer and blood pressure.
Triphala is a safe and effective way to improve digestion and elimination.
When mixed with boiling water, triphala has a very strong taste, and can be difficult to consume for some, but it can be taken in capsule form. Triphala can be consumed daily and is thought to be suitable for all constitutions.
This is just a selection of the more commonly used herbs and supplements used in Ayurvedic medicine. If you have any questions about how to use any of them, please contact us.
We believe that these supplements are safe and effective to use, and this is borne out by thousands of years of use within the Ayurvedic system. However, there are contraindications for certain medical conditions and pregnancy, so please consult a trained professional if you have any reservations.