The change in the medium of communication from the native tongue to English brought with it a disconnect from native wisdom - the important health aspects of our native herbs and their potent benefits in combating diseases and illnesses.
This article takes a look at some of the main herbs, widely used in Ayurveda that were a part of our wild landscape. Today we don’t know how to identify these plants even if these were to spring up in our backyard. Education cannot be limited to academics or lifestyle necessities alone. As people of this land, we need to understand the healing powers of our native medicinal plants before going off on a search for a rare tonic located in a far flung corner of the globe.
All these herbs are capable of arresting and reversing free radical damage which happens in the human body. Let’s start by looking at Ashwagandha, Shatavari , Giloy, Triphala and Brahmi.
Withania Somnifera is the botanical name for Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha powder or capsules have been marketed by various herbal brands that people all over the world have suddenly started popping in Ashwagandha pill during the pandemic, in recent times.
The 'King' of all Indian natural herbs, Ashwagandha calms the nervous system and is believed to reduce anxiety or stress. It boosts vigor and energy levels and rejuvenates the mind and body.
Ashwagandha is a centuries old herb, which has been traditionally used in India for its adaptogenic properties - which means that it is known to relieve stress and anxiety. It enhances energy levels and vigour. It is also believed to boost the male reproductive system by improving sperm quality and testosterone levels. In Ayurveda it is considered as a Rasayana and a rejuvenator showing anti-tumor, neuroregenerative, anti-arthritic properties.
The Ashwagandha powder is actually the root of the plant which is dried and powdered. It is also known as winter cherry because of the small red berries that it produces. It has a popcorn-like texture when roasted and is a delicious vegetarian side for lunch. Because of it’s intense smell which is likened to the earthy aroma of a horse, the name; Asva (horse ) gandha (smell) came to stay.
Taking a small dosage every day is believed to have a positive impact on the neuro system because Ashwagandha is classified as an adaptogen which means it can help the body manage stress.
Research shows that 8-12 weeks of usage shows a significant improvement in lowering blood sugar and cortisol levels and enhancing brain function. Ashwagandha benefits also include nourishing the skin and hair from itchy allergies and topical irritants.
It also responds well to the addition of spices which help in better absorption into the system. A herbal ghee infused with a medley of spices and Ashwagandha is a good way of imbibing the benefits.
To read about the Herbal Ghee that we make at TBOF as per the traditional process as prescribed by Ayurveda click here.
Commonly known as the Asparagus fern, this is a plant which used to grow rampantly throughout India. Known for its spiky green needle like leaves, small white flowers and reddish black berries, this plant was often uprooted while weeding. As a result it is actually under the endangered list.
The leaves do tend to poke and are uncomfortable to work around, this could be a major reason.
The 'Queen' of all Indian natural herbs, Shatavari nourishes and protects the female reproductive system and balances hormones. It protects the digestive system and builds immunity.
Since centuries, Shatavari has been used for its numerous medicinal properties. The name of the herb itself translates to ‘a hundred roots’. Traditionally, Shatavari is used to build the female reproductive system - it is known to relieve menstrual cramps, hot flashes or PMS discomfort. It works on balancing hormones and also provides relief when managing conditions like insomnia, mood swings, anxiety, bloating etc. Shatavari is also believed to enhance milk production for breastfeeding mothers.
One of the best highlighted benefits of Shatavari are the presence of steroidal saponins which help in regulating estrogen. The Shatavari roots are long and tubular. It is dried and powdered for herbal medicine. Known to be highly beneficial in fertility issues as well as with ailments related to the female reproductive system.
Furthermore Shatavari is rich in copper, manganese, Vitamin A and Ascorbic acid. It also contains essential fatty acids like gamma-linolenic acid which is beneficial for heart health, brain function and aches and pains arising from arthritis. Ghee infused with Shatavari is an excellent way to absorb the benefits of this herb.
All parts of the Giloy plant has medicinal uses. Native to India, this creeper with large heart shaped leaves can be seen winding its way up around the trunks of native trees.
An infusion made with the stems is said to be laden with anti-inflammatory properties. Giloy powder made from the root is used as a cure for urinary tract problems as well as curing respiratory illnesses.
In Sanskrit, Giloy is known as the root of immortality because of its immense health properties. Giloy powder boiled in water is a highly recommended cure for fevers, colds, coughs, asthma etc That’s not all, from anti-aging properties to improving vision, Giloy juice is a much needed addition for our regular intake.
Also known as Indian Pennywort, Brahmi plants are found in central and southern India as well as in the Australian continent. The leaves are eaten as a chutney or fresh as a salad. It is one of the most extensively used ingredients in Ayurvedic medicine.
Brahmi is a brain booster. It enhances memory and concentration. Overtime, it exerts a positive effect on learning and intelligence. It works on one’s cognitive ability. Studies have shown its anti-oxidant and adaptogenic effect on the central nervous system; In Ayurveda, Brahmi has been used in the treatment of conditions like asthma, bronchitis, dyspepsia, urinary disorders etc.
Brahmi-amla hair oil is well known since the 19th century with every herbal oil ad slogan talking about the benefits of these two ingredients.
Consumption of Brahmi is linked to reduced ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyper disorder), prevention of anxiety and stress as well as boosted brain function.
It is an effective herb to be taken continuously as a short term treatment. Brahmi infused ghee is done with adhering to a specific technique, time frame and method. Brahmi herbal ghee is a great way to reap the benefits of this powerful herb.
Tripahala as the name suggests is not one but a combination of three ingredients called myrobalans. The myrobalans used here are Amlaki, bibhitaki and haritaki. All three of these fruits have amazing antioxidant properties. The fruits are de-seeded and combined together to make the Triphala herbal concoction.
It is believed that it is effective in its “in vitro antiproliferative activity against cancer cells”
Triphala contains many compounds including gallic acid, chebulagic acid and chebulinic acid.
The individual benefits of these fruits are heightened when they are mixed together and combat a range of mental and physical health ailments pertaining to all parts of the body. From insulin dependency, to throat, digestion and immune system strengthening, triphala is a powerful player in the herbal medicine treatment.
In the urban scenario, it is difficult to process so much information and find ways to introduce these herbs in the right ratio, best suited for our individual needs. A common edible medium which is used for adding these highly medicinal herbs into our diet is - 'consciously made ghee'. Ghee which is made in adherence to traditional practices promotes gut health and complete well-being. Herbal ghee is an added boost on the wellness trail.