HERBS CONTAIN LIFE FORCE OR PRANA
In Ayurveda, herbs follow similar rules as those of food. By applying the rules of the six tastes to herbal intake we are stimulating different pranas (energies) that control different actions in the body. If we use food or herbs, it is the prana that they carry which creates the therapeutic action in our body.
Plants contain the nourishing power of the sun. They convert light into life through photosynthesis. They provide us not only with a nutritive value, but they also contain the light and love from the stars and the cosmos.
Plants give us physical and psychological nourishment. When we use plants correctly we become one with its energy. They vitalise our nervous system and improve our perception. Each plant is a like a mantra, that help us realise our true potential.
Herbs are derived from various parts of plants. Herbs are special foods, that eliminate excesses and strengthen deficiencies. Unlike synthetic drugs, they are mild and have no side effects when used correctly. Even if herbs are misused, the liver is quickly able to eliminate any residues from the system.
To use herbs effectively it is necessary to know the unique constitution of a person as well as the specific nature of the disease. Therefore it is not recommended to take herbs without the guide of a qualified Ayurvedic Practitioner or Doctor.
The same disease may occur in people with different constitutions, and should therefore be treated with different herbs. The same treatment cannot be applied to those with different constitution. Therefore, simply knowing that certain herbs works on certain diseases may not lead to a cure.
Another important aspect about the use or therapeutic effect of herbs is that they are most effective when combined. It is rare to find herbs sold alone in Ayurvedic pharmacies. There are some exceptions, like Amalaki and Shatavari.
Herbs are known to be much safer and stronger therapeutically when combined with other herbs that promote and harmonise their respective action.
Ayurveda also has many ways to increase the potency of herbs and formulas. This results in a much greater therapeutic effect than just taking one herb alone. For this reason Ayurvedic herbs are generally prescribed in combinations or formulas.
Amlaki is probably the single most often mentioned herb in the Charaka Samhita (ancient Ayurvedic texts). It is reputed to be a powerful rejuvenating herb and is used in many Ayurvedic rejuvenation formulas, the most famous of which is Chyavanprash.
Amalaki is particularly useful for pitta constitutions, as it has a cold potency, but it will not aggravate the other doshas. The fruit is reputed to have the highest content of vitamin C of any natural occurring substance in nature. It promotes Ojas (immunity) and the reproductive fluids, and is useful in the treatment of ulcers and hyperacidity.
Amla is good for almost everyone on a regular basis and it is safe to consume on a long-term basis. The only alternative that could possibly be better than Amla for a daily herbal supplement is the Triphala formula, of which Amla constitutes one third.
Shatavari is considered to be the best general tonic for women in Ayurveda. Shatavari contains hormones called phytoestrogens that normalize estrogen levels in women. These hormones play an important role in preserving a woman’s long-term health, preventing breast cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis.
The naturally occurring hormones are at a very low level making it a safe hormonal supplement for all women throughout their lives. It helps to regulate the menstrual cycle and is particularly useful for women during menopause.
Shatavari is excellent in treating general indigestion and has also been proven effective in killing the candida bacteria and other digestive bacteria that can cause gas, bloating, and colic pain.
Triphala is the best known and most used formula in Ayurveda. It has all the properties of its three ingredients: amla, haritaki and bibhitaki. The advantage of this formula is that it is milder in action and more balanced than any of the three alone.
Used regularly it is good for gentle, slow detoxification of the digestive tract and then the deep tissues. It also has the ability to normalize all three constitutions with continual use. The overall tonic effect of the these three fruits has been known for thousands of years in India and other Asian countries
Prolonged use of triphala is safe and non-habit-forming. It rejuvenates the intestines, tissues and cells of the body. It is known to promote the absorption of the B vitamins and vitamins contained in our food. Triphala calms the apana prana and so helps in the absorption of prana in the colon.
Shilajit os one of the prime Ayurvedic compounds for rejuvenating the body. While it is considered to be a mineral and the by-product of certain stones in the Himalayas, there is now strong evidence to show that shilajit is of vegetable origin. It has a special effect on the kidneys, urinary system, and reproductive organs. It is included in many different formulas as it is said to enhance the effect of any herb with which it is combined.
It is used in Ayurveda to treat diabetes and all debilitating urinary problems. It is used in consumptive type diseases, to treat asthma, the kidneys, hemorrhoids, anemia, epilepsy, skin diseases, and parasitic infections. It is also used to treat impotency and infertility, and as such it is considered to be an aphrodisiac. A person must use shilajit for a minimum of one month before starting to realize their regenerating effects.
Ginger has a long history of medical use; it is perhaps one of the most used plants in the history of mankind. It is good for most diseases except in high pitta type problems such as inflammations, ulcers, etc. Ginger will normally not aggravate pitta in small doses or when used in cooking due to its sweet long-term action. This gives it a rejuvenating and nourishing effect on the body.
Sunthi is the dry variety of finger and is slightly different in action than fresh finger. The dry form is hotter and dryer than the fresh form, thus for reducing kapha and as a stimulant it is superior. The fresh form (ardraka) is better for colds, flu’s, coughs, and for vata type problems.
Fresh ginger is an excellent remedy for all cold symptoms and for sore throats. Whenever I have the beginnings of a sore throat I just cut a piece of fresh ginger and pop it into my mouth and suck on it until the irritation is gone from the throat. I do this as many times as needed until all symptoms have vanished. Ginger infusions are a great beverage for kapha persons, and with a little licorice it makes an excellent drink for vata and pita persons.
Licorice has long history as a rejuvenating herb in Ayurveda. It has a harmonizing action in the body and in herbal formulas. It is a very good lung tonic and known to be effective in fighting bronchitis. It is considered to be an immunostimulant and in Ayurveda it is known to promote peace of mind.
Licorice has the ability to reduce infection and fight viral growth. It also promotes the growth of naturally occurring antibodies in the body. Strong anti-ulcer actions and an overall soothing effect on the digestive system have been documented.
The majority of people can benefit from the regular use of licorice. The exceptions are those with high kapha and persons with hypertension. It is an excellent rejuvenating herb for pitta and vata persons.
When taking Ayurvedic herbs, it is important to use high quality herbal extracts from a reputable manufacturer that have been tested for heavy metals. Unfortunately some cheap Ayurvedic formulas you find online may not be ideal for consumption. Beware!