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 Ayurveda has the oldest, most developed herbal system in the world – it has been in continuous use for at least 5,000 years. The ancient Vedic seers in India compiled and classified the medicinal and healing properties of hundreds of herbs into an herbal healing system that can be accessed and utilized by anyone in our contemporary lives. It is still today the primary system of medical treatment used in modern day India.

Each and every herb in Ayurvedic herbology has a multitude of benefits – for the mind, body, and spirit. Herbs can be used internally or externally (through the skin) – or even used as aromatherapy.

Similar to Chinese philosophy, Ayurveda is based on the idea that the human body is made up of the five elements:  earth, air, fire, water and ether.

Ayurveda’s approach to health takes into account individual body types, called “doshas”, all of which have specific correlating elements.

1) Vata – air and ether

2) Pitta – fire

3) Kapha – water and earth

Your dosha is your own unique, inherent physical constitution given to you at birth.  There are typically three different body type categories or doshas that people fall into.

“Ayurveda states that a balance of the three elemental substances, the doshas, equals health, while imbalance equals disease.”

Vata type people are energetic, slim, have fast metabolisms and visible veins.

Pitta types are passionate, tend to run hot and have good muscle development.

Kapha constitutions are characterized by people who gain weight easily, have thick smooth skin and are very grounded by nature with slow metabolisms.

Understanding your prakriti or body type is important for tailoring a dosha-balancing diet with a list of foods and ayurvedic herbs recommended for your unique constitution.  This is considered a preventative approach to health as it helps you achieve greater balance in your daily life.

Using Ayurvedic Herbs

There are many medicinal herbs as well as spices, within the Ayurvedic system, that are used to maintain and influence a person’s natural body type.  On this page we will be primarily focusing on the super tonics referred to as the “rasayanas”, similar to the Chinese tonic herbs.

These are our favorite top tonic adaptogens that have been used for thousands of years in herbal preparations to help nourish and revitalize specific systems of the body.

Top Ayurvedic Herbs List

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  1. Ashwagandha Root – VITALITY

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), one of the top tonics in Ayurveda, is a rejuvenative yang tonic and “energizer” for the entire body with similar effects to that of ginseng.  It is often seen as a male reproductive aphrodisiac, but is generally revitalizing for both men and women alike.

The root is highly prized for its nourishing effects on the nervous system and brain cell function, helping to relieve physical fatigue, nervous exhaustion, anxiety as well as depression.  It is currently being researched as an alternative treatment for those with degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.  Ashwagandha is a powerful immune system restorative that exhibits anti-inflammatory actions that are specific for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.  It is consumed as tea, powder, tablet or extract and is a common ingredient in many energizing Ayurvedic formulas.

  1. Gotu Kola – BRAIN TONIC

Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) is also known as “brahmi” in Northern India and although it has similar properties to that of Bacopa monnieri (also called brahmi), it is not the same plant.  Gotu kola leaves can be used fresh or are dried to make tea or powdered capsules.

Gotu kola is commonly used with other herbs, like ginkgo, for its profound effects as a “brain tonic”, increasing cognitive function, mental alertness and is especially great at enhancing memory.  Gotu kola also works as a replenishing Ayurvedic herb for the central nervous system and is an excellent herbal remedy for treating anxiety related stress and nervous disorders.  It is good for Vata, Pitta and Kapha doshas.

  1. Amla (Amalaki) – DIGESTIVE AND BOWEL TONIC

Although considered an “Ayurvedic herb”, amla is actually a tree fruit that acts as a powerful antioxidant to rejuvenate immune response and detoxify the body.  Also called Indian gooseberry or amalaki it works primarily as a digestive and bowel tonic, improving “digestive fire”. Amla Acts as a rejuvenative for the entire digestive tract, cleansing the colon and supporting healthy bowel movements.  In addition, amla fruit helps to stimulate the production and regeneration of red blood cells and is beneficial to many of the primary organs of the body.  Amla or amalaki fruit is a great source of vitamin C. Alma is perfect for overall immune health.  It is specific for soothing pain caused from inflammation of the joints.

  1. Shatavari Root – FEMALE VITALITY

Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) is viewed as one of the most important Ayurvedic herbs for women of all ages.  It is great for female menstruation and reproductive health and is likewise a nourishing tonic for women experiencing menopause with effects at relieving hot flashes.

Shatavari helps to regulate the hormones, nourish the blood and enhance fertility.  Although it is often considered a women’s herb, it can also be used by men as a sexual tonic for treating impotency and as an anti-inflammatory for the reproductive glands, like the prostate. It is consumed as a tea, powder or extract and is found in many herbal formulations specific to women’s health issues.

  1. Mucuna – FOR THE REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM

Mucuna (Mucuna pruriens) or kapikacchu is a velvety bean that contains many beneficial substances including L-dopa, which increases dopamine concentrations, which may be helpful for nervous system disorders such as Parkinson’s. It also helps to replenish natural dopamine levels that are deficient in those recovering from addictive drugs, stimulants and/or tobacco use.

 Mucuna is an aphrodisiac and nutritive tonic for the reproductive system that helps to promote fertility in both, men and women, increasing male sperm count and testosterone levels and regulating ovulation cycles in women.  It deeply nourishes all tissues and fluids of the entire body and is particularly beneficial to the Vata body type, but is also balancing for Pitta and Kapha.  Mucuna is often used as a powder but is also available as a liquid extract and can be mixed with water or blended with other herbs.

  1. Turmeric – THE SPICE OF LIFE

Turmeric purifies the blood and the channels of the body. It improves the skin’s complexion, bringing circulation and nutrition to the skin. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory and is a perfect remedy to treat acne-prone skin. Turmeric balances all the doshas, but it balances Pitta the most because of its blood-cleansing and liver-cleansing properties. Try to incorporate turmeric into your daily life in literally any way you can. Ideally use 1 tsp per day in some form: whether in capsule form, on the skin, or in the diet. If you consume turmeric on a regular basis, you will notice your health improve in a multitude of areas.

  1. Bacopa – BRAIN TONIC

Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri), also called “brahmi” in Southern India, is a tonic and sedative that improves mental tranquility, reduces anxiety, enhances memory and ability to concentrate.  Bacopa monnieri is balancing to all three body types: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

Bacopa powder has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to support brain and nervous system functions.  It is also traditionally infused into a base of sesame oil and used with massage to calm and soothe the nerves.  It is great for increasing natural energy and is known for its ability to reduce stress related constipation.  In addition to being a potent brain tonic, Indian research has shown that bacopa has antioxidant properties and may help to inhibit tumor growth. It is also particularly effective at improving cardiovascular health, purifying the blood and supporting liver vitality.

  1. Shilajit – IMPROVE THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

Shilajit is a mineral-rich substance, rather than an herb, but is classified as one of the top Ayurvedic herbs, translated as the “conqueror of mountains and destroyer of weakness.” It is much respected in the Ayurvedic world and commonly used as an ingredient in herbal preparations, often combined with ashwagandha as an adaptogen tonic.

It activates the body’s ability to break down and utilize minerals and comes from the carbons of a completely ancient ecosystem with qualities not found in any other superfoods.  Shilajit strengthens the immune system, purifies the blood and is helpful for removing excess Kapha from the body.  It is specifically cleansing to the urinary tract and the lungs and helps to balance all three body constitutions.

  1. Tribulus – VITALITY

Tribulus (Tribulus terrestris), also called gokshura in Ayurveda is a fairly new herb identified for its health enhancing effects on physical and sexual strength. Helpful for building all the tissues, especially reproductive tissue, supports the functions of adrenal system and is an excellent herbal supplement for those suffering from adrenal burnout or fatigue. Most revered by men for its ability to increase free testosterone levels.

Commonly used by bodybuilders to promote muscle growth, it encourages healthy hormonal balance and may additionally be of benefit to menopausal women for relieving hot flashes.

  1. Ajwain – WEIGHT LOSS

Ajwain also known as Trachyspermum ammi or bishop’s weed is one of the most useful Ayurveda herb for the digestive system. It removes unwanted gases from the digestive system and corrects the reproductive organs. Ajwain is one of the best analgesic herbs and helps a lot painful menstrual cycle. It is also very useful in dental problems.

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.

HOW TO USE AYURVEDIC HERBS

Ayurvedic herbs are infused in teas, used as powders, blended into herbal formulas and taken as liquid tinctured extracts, capsules or tablets. Many of these herbs are blended together with various Ayurvedic herbs and digestive spices to increase their effectiveness.

You can add them to herbal tea recipes or with other top superfoods in protein bars, shakes and even desserts. When preparing them as herbal tea infusions or decoctions they can be incorporated as a liquid base for soups and blended drinks.

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   Ayurveda has the oldest, most developed herbal system in the world - it has been in continuous use for at least 5,000 years. The ancient Vedic seers in India compiled and classified the medicinal and healing properties of hundreds of herbs into an herbal healing system that can be...