Chyawanprash: A Traditional Indian Bioactive Health Supplement -- Published online by the National Center for Biotechnology Information on the 26th April 2019
"Natural health products with medicinal value are gaining importance in clinical research as they offer better alternatives, owing to fewer side-effects and cost-effectiveness than conventional synthetic nutraceuticals. Among the vast library of such products, Chyawanprash is immensely valuable in terms of therapeutics and global trade. This review underscores the plethora of ancient therapeutic claims of CP, coupled with their validation by available scientific evidence. Reported evidence supports its multifaceted preventive, promotive, and curative health benefits; proving it to be an ancient elixir with a modern cure. CP is an Ayurvedic superfood and healer par excellence that strengthens the immune system and revitalizes the psychosomatic system, a superior, nutritious, and safe health tonic that is beneficial for all age groups and genders alike."
When television advertisements gained a great deal of popularity, one of the products that was showcased regularly was the Chyawanprash. The frame showed a traditional Indian joint family with grandparents, parents and school going children. While the elders were busy with the newspaper and giving off retired life vibes, the busy mother would be dolling out spoonfuls of Chyawanprash for everyone around. The message focused on the fact that it was the best health concoction for all age groups.
A lot of us would have wondered how this black, sticky, sweet/sour paste got its name. The story goes that the divine twins of ancient medicine (the Ashwini brothers) first concocted a mix of different medicinal herbs, fruits and spices and offered it to Chyawan Rishi for him to regain his youth. It is said that this was done at the sage’s ashram .The first documented recipe thereafter bore the name Chayawanprash.
It has since been considered to be the mother of all health elixirs comprising all sorts of roots, shoots, herbs, seeds and fresh ingredients. One of the most prominent ingredients in the Chyawanprash is the Amla or the Indian Goosberry. It has more Vitamin C than citrus fruits and is vital to combat respiratory illnesses, prevent muscular spasms and boost immunity.
As the story goes, this jam like health mix was concocted, for us humans, to remain ever youthful and full of vigour. The need to stay young has caused man to move mountains and look for ways to drink from the fountain of youth. A chyawanprash well made, adhering to the recipe contained in ancient Ayurvedic texts promises to have anti-ageing effects when taken regularly.
The ratio of ingredients have to be used in the right balance to imbibe the benefits. The ghee and sesame oil are the agents which help in getting the various herbs absorbed into the system whereas the natural honey or jaggery helps in balancing the intensity of some of the spices. Amla also helps in cleansing the liver, spleen and lungs.
Chyawanprash aids in the production of white blood cells and keeps haemoglobin levels stable. The chyawanprash made on a wood fire with a combination of over 40 different herbs helps the body combat anything from fungal infections, respiratory allergies and skin and hair problems.
There was some amount of negative press abroad when Chyawanprash was banned due to some brands adding spurious ingredients to cut costs and make money. This not only is a money scam but has dangerous effects on the body, which can affect the physical and cognitive functions.
Unfortunately due to the lure of ill gotten gains, an ancient formula had to come under the scanner. The Chyawanprash recipe is nothing short of a precious gift for all mankind. Misusing it is equal to digging one’s own grave.
The ingredients in a Chyawanprash are of various kinds. They are cooling as well as generate heat within the body. That is why a balance done by qualified ayurvedic experts is necessary in making Chyawanprash. The balance of hot and cold, fiery and calm has to be well rounded so as to not give any discomfort during digestion.
Chyawanprash can be had either in the morning or evening or both times, if so prescribed. For children, it is best to have a small spoonful once a day. It can be mixed with desi cow milk or just eaten off the spoon. Some folks like to spread it on bread for breakfast but that does not conform to traditional practices so the efficacy of that might not be as potent.
The Chyawanprash also helps dispel lethargy or listlessness of the brain and body. It is also known to be a stimulant and contains mild aphrodisiac benefits.
What is important to understand is that while a herbal product like this can go a long way in adding power packed nutrients for health, it must be accompanied by an active lifestyle. The Rishis practiced asanas for hours and the chanting of mantras also required a great deal of lung power. In addition to that their mode of transport was mainly by foot.