Nutritional value, benefits and uses of Ayurvedic Herbs

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Amalaki

amalaki

Amalaki or Phyllanthus emblica, also known as Emblica officinalis, emblic, emblic myrobalan, myrobalan, Indian gooseberry, Malacca tree, or amla  from Sanskrit amalika, is a deciduous tree of the family Phyllanthaceae. It is known for its edible fruit of the same name. The tree is small to medium in size, reaching 1–8 m (3 ft 3 in–26 ft 3 in) in height. The branchlets aren’t glabrous or finely pubescent, 10–20 cm (3.9–7.9 in) long, usually deciduous.

Nutritional Value: Although these fruits are reputed to contain high amounts of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), up to 445 mg per 100 g, the specific contents are disputed, and the overall antioxidant strength of amla may derive instead from its high density of ellagitannins such as emblicanin A (37%), emblicanin B (33%), punigluconin (12%) and pedunculagin (14%). It also contains punicafolin and phyllanemblinin A, phyllanemblin other polyphenols: flavonoids, kaempferol, ellagic acid and gallic acid.

Health Benefits: As the principal ingredient in Chyawanprash, the pillar Ayurvedic antioxidant superfood, Amalaki boasts a catalogue of benefits, including:

  1. Rejuvenate for the liver
  2. Helps balance blood sugar
  3. Supports a healthy reproductive system
  4. Promotes stable and healthy energy levels
  5. Protector and tonic for the heart by supporting healthy cholesterol levels and integrity and cleanliness of the arterial walls
  6. Cleanses and nourishes the blood
  7. Awakens Digestion
  8. Promotes healthy hair
  9. Tonic for a clear mind
  10. Corrects the flow of vata
  11. Protects and tonifies the eyes

Dosage: If you’re taking an Amalaki powder, mix 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon into warm water once or twice daily or as directed by your health provider.Amalaki is well known among Ayurvedic practitioners for being the only food that contains five of the six essential tastes (Rasas): sour, sweet, bitter, pungent, and astringent. It lacks only the salty taste. This is a valuable property because in Ayurveda, a balanced diet needs to contain all six tastes at every meal to create optimal health.

 

Ashwagandha

ash

Ashwagandha or Withania somnifera, or Indian ginseng, poison gooseberry, or winter cherry, is a plant in the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Several other species in the genus Withania are morphologically similar. It is used as a herb in Ayurvedic medicine. This species is a short, tender perennial shrub growing 35–75 cm (14–30 in) tall. Tomentose branches extend radially from a central stem. Leaves are dull green, elliptic, usually up to 10 – 12 cm. long. The flowers are small, green and bell-shaped. The ripe fruit is orange-red.

Nutritional Value: Ashwagandha contains many useful medicinal chemicals, including withanolides (steroidal lactones), alkaloids, choline, fatty acids, amino acids, and a variety of sugars. While the leaves and fruit have valuable therapeutic properties, the root of the Ashwagandha plant is the part most commonly used in Western herbal remedies. 

Health Benefits: Medical researchers have been studying Ashwagandha for years with great interest and have completed more than 200 studies on the healing benefits of this botanical.

Some key examples of the healing effects of Ashwagandha are:

  1. Protects the immune system
  2. Helps combat the effects of stress
  3. Improves learning, memory, and reaction time
  4. Reduces anxiety and depression without causing drowsiness
  5. Helps reduce brain-cell degeneration
  6. Stabilizes blood sugar
  7. Helps lower cholesterol
  8. Offers anti-inflammatory benefits
  9. Contains anti-malarial properties
  10. Enhances sexual potency for both men and women
  11. As adaptogen to help the body cope with external stresses such as toxins in the environment and internal stresses such as anxiety and insomnia.

Dosage: The typical recommended dose is 600 to 1,000 mg. twice daily. For people who suffer from insomnia and anxiety, having a cup of hot milk that contains a teaspoon of powdered Ashwagandha before bedtime is beneficial.

Always consult with your healthcare practitioner before using supplements if you have any health conditions. Ashwagandha is not recommended for women who are pregnant.

 

Brahmi

brahmi

Brahmi or Bacopa monnieri (waterhyssop, thyme-leafed gratiola, water hyssop, herb of grace, Indian pennywort) is a perennial, creeping herb native to the wetlands of southern India, Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia, and North and South America. Bacopa is a medicinal herb used in Ayurveda, where it is also known as “Brahmi,” after Brahmā, the creator God of the Hindu pantheon.The leaves of this plant are succulent, oblong and 4–6 mm (0.16–0.24 in) thick. Leaves are oblanceolate and are arranged oppositely on the stem.

Nutritional Value: The best characterized compounds in Bacopa monnieri are dammarane-type triterpenoid saponins known as bacosides, with jujubogenin or pseudo-jujubogenin moieties as aglycone units.Bacosides comprise a family of 12 known analogs.Other saponins called bacopasides I–XII have been identified more recently.The alkaloids brahmine, nicotine, and herpestine have been catalogued, along with D-mannitol, apigenin, hersaponin, monnierasides I–III, cucurbitacin and plantainoside B and bacosides.

Health Benefits:

  1. Supports the Brain
  2. Promotes Liver Health
  3. Brahmi extracts may be effective for protecting newborn brains against hypoglycemia-induced brain damage.
  4. Positively Impacts Opioid (like morphine and oxycodone, for pain management) Dependence
  5. Fights Systemic Redness (from irritation or illness) and Swelling
  6. Encourages Normal Blood Pressure
  7. Strong Antioxidant Activity
  8. It is fresh and organic at its best for absorbing pollutant from the ground and reverse it to make it healthier to consume.

Dosage: An ayurvedic practitioner can advise you on the appropriate anupan (carrier) for your herbs. A typical dose of brahmi powder is ¼ – ½ teaspoon, once or twice daily, or as directed by your healthcare practitioner.

 

Cinnamon

cinnamon

Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savoury foods. The term “cinnamon” also refers to its mid-brown colour. While Cinnamomum verum is sometimes considered to be “true cinnamon”; most cinnamon in international commerce is derived from related species, which are also referred to as “cassia” to distinguish them from “true cinnamon”.

Nutritional Value: Ten grams (about 2 teaspoons) of ground cinnamon contain: Energy: 103.4 kJ (24.7 kcal)  Fat: 0.12 g  Carbohydrates: 8.06 g (of which – fibres: 5.31 g, sugars: 0.2 g) Protein: 0.4 g. Cinnamon is a spice that contains several bioactive agents.

Cinnamaldehydes give cinnamon its aroma, Coumarins (a toxin) contribute to taste, and several compounds including MethylHydroxyChalcone polymers (MHCPs) contribute to its systemic insulin sensitizing benefits.Beyond the three unique compounds listed, cinnamon also contains tannins, flavonoids, glycosides, terpenoids and anthraquinones.

Health Benefits:

  1. Cinnamon is high in a Substance with Powerful Medicinal Properties.
  2. Cinnamon is loaded with Antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
  3. Cinnamon Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties.
  4. Cinnamon May Cut the Risk of Heart Disease.
  5. Cinnamon Can Improve Sensitivity to the Hormone Insulin
  6. Cinnamon Lowers Blood Sugar Levels and Has a Powerful Anti-Diabetic Effect.
  7. Cinnamon May Have Beneficial Effects on Neurodegenerative Diseases.
  8. Cinnamon May Be Protective Against Cancer.
  9. Cinnamon Helps Fight Bacterial and Fungal Infections.
  10. Cinnamon May Help Fight The HIV Virus.

Dosage: The standard dose for anti-diabetic purposes is 1-6g of cinnamon daily, taken with carbohydrate containing meals.    

 

Ginger

ginger-cinamon

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a flowering plant, in the family Zingiberaceae whose rhizome, ginger root or simply ginger, is widely used as a spice or a folk medicine.It is a herbaceous perennial which grows annual stems about a meter tall bearing narrow green leaves and yellow flowers. Ginger is in the family Zingiberaceae and is closely related to turmeric, Curcuma longa, and cardamom, Elettaria cardamomum. Ginger originated in the lush tropical jungles in Southern Asia

Nutritional Value: Carbohydrates 71.62 g, Sugars 3.39 g, Dietary fiber 14.1 g, Fat 4.24 g,Protein 8.98 g, Vitamins:Thiamine (B1) (4%) 0.046 mg, Riboflavin (B2) (14%) 0.17 mg,Niacin (B3) (64%) 9.62 mg, Pantothenic acid (B5)(10%) 0.477 mg, Vitamin B6 (48%) 0.626 mg, Folate (B9)(3%)13 μg, Vitamin C (1%) 0.7 mg. Minerals: Calcium (11%) 114 mg, Iron (152%) 19.8 mg, Magnesium (60%) 214 mg, Manganese (1586%) 33.3 mg, Phosphorus (24%)168 mg, Potassium (28%) 1320 mg, Sodium (2%) 27 mg, Zinc (38%) 3.64 mg.

Health Benefits: (1) It has an anti-blood-clotting ability, yet when they’re eaten together they’re a powerful mainstay against heart attacks and stroke. (2) Ginger has been used for thousands of years as an effective digestive aid and natural remedy for nausea.(3) Ayurvedic medicine has praised ginger’s ability to boost the immune system before recorded history. It believes that because ginger is so effective at warming the body, it can help break down the accumulation of toxins in your organs. It’s also known to cleanse the lymphatic system, our body’s sewage system.(4)antibacterial benefit of the ginger extract.(5) most effective at killing fungus.(6)ginger can cure stomach ulcers.(7)ginger is known for its anti-pain property.(8)Ginger treatment of cultured ovarian cancer cells induced profound growth inhibition in all cell lines tested.(9)ginger not only helps prevent and reverse diabetes itself — it protects against and improves diabetic complications like diabetic retinopathy.

Dosage: Ginger is a spice that has traditionally been treated as medicine in both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, doses of 1-3g can reduce nausea and ease digestion quite effectively; superloading the powdered rhizome (vertical root) at 10-15g daily might increase Testosterone.

 

Gotu kola

gotukola

Gotu kola or Centella asiatica, commonly known as centella, is a small, herbaceous, frost-tender perennial plant of the family Mackinlayaceae or subfamily Mackinlayoideae of family Apiaceae, and is native to wetlands in Asia. It is used as a medicinal herb in Ayurvedic medicine, traditional African medicine, and traditional Chinese medicine. It is also known as the Asiatic pennywort or Indian pennywort in English, among various other names in other languages.

Nutritional Value: Centella has large amounts of pentacyclic triterpenoids including asiaticoside, brahmoside, asiatic acid, and brahmic acid (madecassic acid). Other constituents include centellose, centelloside, and madecassoside.

Health Benefits:

Anti-inflammatory, Analgesic, Adaptogenic, Anti-carcinogenic, Anti-ulcerogenic, Mildly antibacterial, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-viral, Antiseptic, Anxiolytic (treats anxiety), Cerebral tonic, Circulatory stimulant, Emmenagogue, Febrifuge (reduces fever), Diuretic, Laxative, Nervine, Vulnerary (treats and heals wounds)

Dosage: Dosages of gotu kola in crude form range from 1.5 to 4 g/day. Various extracts standardized to asiaticoside content also are available and have been studied in clinical trials in venous insufficiency and wound healing at doses of 30 to 90 mg/day. Wound-healing studies have involved topical application of a hydrogel ointment containing a titrated extract of C. asiatica (TECA). Commercial manufacturers have numerous dosage regimens listed for gotu kola.

Precautions:Avoid use if hypersensitive to any of the ingredients of C. asiatica or gotu kola. Avoid use during pregnancy and lactation, because gotu kola may have emmenagogue effects.Avoid use if you have history with cancer/tumor.

 

Mucuna pruriens

mucuna

Mucuna pruriens, is a genus of around 100 accepted species of climbing vines and shrubs of the family Fabaceae, found worldwide in the woodlands of tropical areas. As a tropical legume also known as velvet bean, has been used by ancient healers and is making waves in the scientific community. Ayurvedic herbal medicine has relied on Mucuna pruriens since 500 BC to support ailments such as snakebite, intestinal disorders, sexual response, and melancholy mood.

Nutritional Value: Mucuna pruriens has significant antioxidant action that works in tandem with L-dopa to promote brain health.When L-dopa crosses the blood-brain barrier, it helps to increase brain levels of dopamine, an essential neurotransmitter associated with regulating mood and cognition. Research also suggests that antioxidants are helpful for defending against oxidative damage by free radicals.

Health Benefits: (1) Research suggests Mucuna pruriens protects the brain by keeping cognitive and neural functions in check, even encouraging neural activity. (2)Mucuna has an added benefit in that it fights systemic redness in the brain, which is often a factor in brain degradation from its anti-oxidants. (3)Supplementation with Mucuna significantly eased stress. (4)Mucuna pruriens has a rich history of use for promoting mental health.

Dosage: Supplement-wise, 5g of Mucuna Prurients dried powder or doses upwards of it should be a good starting point.

 

Rhodiola rosea

ne-sticker-powder-mix-rhodiola-rosea

Rhodiola rosea is a herb in the rhodiola genera (Crassulaceae family) which has traditional usage as an anti-fatigue agent and Adaptogen compound.Rhodiola rosea is also a Traditional Chinese Medicine and Scandinavian herb touted to promote physical/cognitive vitality.

Nutritional Value: Rhodiola roots contain phenols, rosavin, rosin, rosarin, organic acids, terpenoids,phenolcarbonic acids and their derivatives, flavanoids, anthraquinones, and alkaloids. There are also many other constituent phenolic anti-oxidants, including proanthocyanidins, quercetin, gallic acid, chlorogenic acid and kaempferol.

Health Benefits: (1) rhodiola appears to be able to significantly reduce the effects of prolonged and minor physical exhaustion that results in fatigue.(2)Studies using proofreading tests have demonstrated that Rhodiola rosea enhances memorisation and concentration ability over prolonged periods. It increases the bioelectrical activity of the brain which improves memory and brain energy. (3)Rhodiola has been shown to increase antitumor activity by increasing the body’s resistance to toxins. (4)Rhodiola both stimulates and protects the immune system by reinstating homeostasis (metabolic balance) in the body. It also increases the natural killer cells (NK) in the stomach and spleen. (5)Many other benefits from the use of Rhodiola has been found including its ability to improve hearing, to regulate blood sugar levels for diabetics and protect the liver from environmental toxins. It has been shown to activate the lipolytic processes (fat breakdown) and mobilise lipids from adipose tissue to the natural fat burning system of your body for weight reduction. It can also clinically enhance thyroid function without causing hyperthyroidism, enhance thymus gland function and protect or delay involution that occurs with ageing. It can also improve your adrenal gland reserves without causing hypertrophy. Throughout the years it has shown to substantially improve erectile dysfunction and/or premature ejaculation in men and normalises their prostatic fluid.

Dosage: Usage of rhodiola as a daily preventative against fatigue has been reported to be effective in doses as low as 50mg. Acute usage of rhodiola for fatigue and anti-stress has been noted to be taken in the 288-680mg range.As rhodiola has been shown to have a bell-curve response before, it is recommended to not exceed the aforementioned 680mg dosage as higher doses may be ineffective.

 

Triphala

triphala

Triphala (/triːˈfɑːlə/ or /triːˈfælə/;  triphalā [trɪˈpʰɐlaː], “three fruits”) is an Ayurvedic herbal rasayana formula consisting of equal parts of three myrobalans, taken without seed: Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Bibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica), and Haritaki (Terminalia chebula).

Nutritional Value: The active constituents are unknown. Triphala contains several compounds that have been proposed to be responsible for its claimed health benefits, including gallic acid, chebulagic acid, and chebulinic acid.

Health Benefits:

1.Triphala is a powerful source of anti-oxidants

  1. It helps to calm Kapha and Pitta
  2. It is used regularly in patients having pre diabetes
  3. It is also used in the treatment for diabetes, due to its rich anti-oxidant property
  4. Water decoction/Kashaya prepared with Triphala powder is used to treat non healing

    wounds.

  1. It is extremely beneficial in skin diseases
  2. It is good for improving eye sight and to treat computer vision syndrome
  3. It helps to improve taste
  4. It is also used in the treatment of chronic fever
  5. Triphala churna is useful to relieve laziness
  6. Triphala for weight loss –It is also used in the treatment of obesity

There are no known side effects of Triphala. It is used as a daily tonic by many, due to its rich anti-oxidant activity.

Dosage: Triphala churna dosage is – 1 – 3 grams with honey, or warm water, before food.

If you are taking Triphala to improve taste, or to treat oral ulcers, then it makes sense to take it in churna (powder) form.

 

Tulasi

tulasi

Tulasi or Ocimum tenuiflorum,also known as Ocimum sanctum, holy basil, also spelled thulasi, or tulsi is an aromatic plant in the family Lamiaceae which is native to the Indian subcontinent and widespread as a cultivated plant throughout the Southeast Asian tropics.It is an erect, many branched subshrub, 30–60 cm (12–24 in) tall with hairy stems and simple phyllotaxic green or purple leaves that are strongly scented.

The tulsi or holy basil is an important symbol in the Hindu religious tradition and is worshiped in the morning and evening by Hindus at large. The holy basil is also a herbal remedy for a lot of common ailments in the ancient Indian Ayurvedic system of healthcare.

Nutritional Value: Some of the main chemical constituents of tulsi are: oleanolic acid, ursolic acid, rosmarinic acid, eugenol, carvacrol, linalool, β-caryophyllene (about 8%), β-elemene (c.11.0%), and germacrene D (about 2%).Isolated O. sanctum extracts have some antibacterial activity against E. coli, S. aureus and P. aeruginosa.

Health Benefits:

(1) Healing Power: The tulsi plant has many medicinal properties. The leaves are a nerve tonic

    and also sharpen memory.

(2) Fever & Common Cold: its leaves are specific for many fevers.

(3) Tulsi is an important constituent of many Ayurvedic cough syrups and expectorants. It helps

     to mobilize mucus in bronchitis and asthma.

(4) The herb is useful in the treatment of respiratory system disorder.

(5) It has strengthening effect on the kidney.

(6) It has a beneficial effect in cardiac disease and the weakness resulting from them. It

     reduces the level of blood cholesterol.

(7) Regarded as an ‘adaptogen’ or anti-stress agent.

(8) Help in mouth infections, heart disorder, teeth disorder,eyes disorder, headaches, etc.

Dosage:   Powder of leaves – 3-5gm; Seed powder 3-6gm.

 

Turmeric

turmenic

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae.It is native to southwest India, requiring temperatures between 20 and 30 °C (68 and 86 °F) and a considerable amount of annual rainfall to thrive.[4] Plants are gathered annually for their rhizomes and propagated from some of those rhizomes in the following season.

Nutritional Value: The most important chemical components of turmeric are a group of compounds called curcuminoids, which include curcumin (diferuloylmethane), demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin. The best-studied compound is curcumin which constitutes 3.14% (on average) of powdered turmeric.However, there are big variations in curcumin content in the different lines of the species Curcuma longa (1–3189 mg/100g).In addition, other important volatile oils include turmerone, atlantone, and zingiberene. Somemgeneral constituents are sugars, proteins, and resins.

Health Benefits: (1) Turmeric Contains Bioactive Compounds With Powerful Medicinal Properties. (2)Curcumin/turmeric is a Natural Anti-Inflammatory Compound. (3) Turmeric Dramatically Increases The Antioxidant Capacity of The Body. (4)Curcumin Boosts Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, Linked to Improved Brain Function and a Lower Risk of Diseases. (5)Curcumin Leads to Various Improvements That Should Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease. (6)Turmeric Can Help Prevent (And Perhaps Even Treat) Cancer. (7)Curcumin May be Useful in Preventing and Treating Alzheimer’s Disease. (8)Arthritis Patients Respond Very Well to Curcumin Supplementation. (9)Studies Show That Curcumin Has Incredible Benefits Against Depression. (10)Curcumin May Help Delay Aging and Fight Age-Related Chronic Diseases.

Dosage: Standardized powder (curcumin) is 400 – 600 mg, 3 times a day for adult.