In the ancient science of Ayurveda, herbs and spices are viewed as the spiritual essence – the Kundalini – of plants. Plants and herbs carry in their cells the wisdom of cosmic intelligence and the healing vibrations of nature.
Since ancient times, humans and plants have had a very spiritual connection – plants capture solar energy and convert it into nutrients that humans can digest.
Health benefits of Ayurvedic herbs and spices
According to Ayurvedic herbology, herbs and spices have a multitude of benefits for the mind, body, and spirit. They can be used internally or externally (through the skin) or even used as aromatherapy. The health benefits of consuming Ayurvedic herbs and spices are:
- Aid weight loss
- Help fight cancer
- Detoxify the body and purify the blood
- Improve digestion and other bodily functions
- Help retain glowing and youthful looking skin
- Improve overall vitality
- Boost mental health
Here are ten herbs and spices you must incorporate in your daily routine for a healthy lifestyle. These herbs can be used with other Ayurvedic approaches which may also include modifying one’s diet, lifestyle choices and activity levels.
1. Ajwain – DIGESTION
Ajwain is a strong digestive and nerve stimulant. It functions as a weight loss herb by drawing out deep-seated toxins from the body. Ajwain also heals painful joints – it is an excellent herb to address vata issues.
Ajwain can be taken as a tea to assist with weight loss: simply boil 1 tsp of ajwain seeds in 16 ounces of water and consume instead of your green tea.
2. Ashwagandha – VITALITY
One of the best anti-aging herbs, Ashwagandha enhances vitality. This herb is crucial for people suffering from too much stress or who are overworked.
Take 1/2 teaspoon cooked in milk (sweeten with 1 tsp of raw honey).
Note that Ayurvedic herbs are able to go deeper into the tissues and cells when taken with healthy fat (such as ghee, butter or raw whole milk).
3. Brahmi – BRAIN TONIC
Brahmi is the best herb for the brain and nervous system. Brahmi also balances the left and right hemispheres of the brain and decalcifies the pineal gland. It is tridoshic (good for all three doshas), but is especially beneficial for balancing high pitta conditions. Brahmi removes toxins and blockages from the nervous system. It helps with depression, enhances intelligence and improves memory and concentration. It also happens to be great for hair growth!
Consume Brahmi every morning to rejuvenate the body and mind. Boil Brahmi leaves in water (drink as a tea) or boil it in milk or make Brahmi ghee. It can also be used as a medicated oil for hair and the nutrients will seep into the brain cells via the crown chakra.
4. Cardamom – TRANQUILIZER
Cardamom is a natural tranquilizer, bringing clarity and joy to the heart and mind. It neutralizes the acidity of coffee and caffeine – it also neutralizes the mucus-forming properties in milk. Cardamom removes excess kapha from stomach and lungs.
For the best results, add some cardamom pods or powder to coffee as you are brewing it or boil cardamom in warm milk and drink before bed.
5. Cumin – ASSIMILATION
Cumin enhances the digestive system and metabolism. It helps the body in nutrient absorption. Cumin can be especially useful for new moms as it cleanses the reproductive organs and improves milk secretion.
Use cumin while cooking to assist in the assimilation of micronutrients.
6. Licorice – REJUVENATOR
Licorice is a rejuvenating herb that is commonly used in, both, the East and West. It rejuvenates all systems of the body, soothes the throat and reduces acidity. It calms the mind and nurtures the spirit.
Add licorice root to hot tea as a sweetener instead of honey or sugar. You could also boil powdered licorice root in milk decoction and consume before bed.
7. Manjistha – PURIFYING
Manjistha is probably the best blood purifying herb in Ayurvedic medicine. It is anti-inflammatory and clears acne. Manjistha cleans the blood and liver, lowering pitta disorders in the skin and helps clear acne. It cools and detoxifies the blood, cleanses and regulates liver and kidney functions.
Take this herb in capsule form (two capsules in the morning, and two capsules at night) if you have any pitta related skin disorders. Alternatively, you can take it with warm milk before bed. Manjistha can also be used as an external application for face packs or in case of skin diseases.
8. Neem – DETOX
Neem is one of the most powerful blood purifiers and detoxifiers in Ayurvedic herbology. It is ideal for wound healing and curing skin diseases and damage, especially from the sun. Neem is useful for all pitta disorders, such as skin and eyes. It works wonders for eczema and psoriasis skin flare-ups. It is also useful for joint and muscle pain.
Use neem on the skin in medicated oil.
9. Shatavari – FEMALE VITALITY
Shatavari is the best Ayurvedic root to rejuvenate women (as Ashwagandha is for men). Shatavari even translates to ‘she who possesses a thousand husbands!’ In other parlance, it also refers to hundreds of tubers collectively seen in its roots. It nourishes and cleanses the blood and the female reproductive organs.
Shatavari is readily available to consume in pill and powder form or it can be taken in ghee or cooked in milk, which is the preferred form.
COURTESY OF: SRISRI RAVI SHANKAR