An Introduction to Ancient Ayurvedic Herbs

by Melissa Chichester

Considered one of the oldest health and wellness practices in the world, Ayurvedic therapies are rooted in ancient healing traditions that originated in India. “The science of life and longevity” is the translation of the Sanskrit word Ayurveda, and this form of traditional care is still practiced there today. A combination of herbal compounds, meditation, and cleansing, Ayurveda focuses on the health system as a whole: body, mind, and spirit. While Western medicine tends to treat specific health issues individually, the holistic Ayurvedic system seeks to create balance in the whole being.

The Three Doshas

In Ayurveda, human anatomy begins with the five elements (air, space, water, fire, and earth). The interaction between these elements in the body form the three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. All three doshas are present in all people, but the amount varies depending on lifestyle, diet, and genetics. Those practicing Ayurveda believe health and wellness is contingent on maintaining balanced doshas, and that the proportions are impacted by an individual’s behavior and physical attributes. For example, an individual with a Vata dosha type is believed to be prone to dry skin and hair, have a slim body, and experience forgetfulness. By contacting an Ayurveda practitioner, you can learn your body type based on these doshas.

In Ayurveda, human anatomy begins with the five elements (air, space, water, fire, and earth).

The Ayurvedic Daily Routine

At the center of the Ayurvedic routine is living in harmony with nature, and this requires the practitioner to maintain a disciplined daily routine that’s in sync with the rhythms of the earth. Stress, lack of sleep, and inconsistent eating habits all interfere with this routine. While some parts of the daily routine you may already be familiar with, like waking up early, bathing, and going to bed at a suitable time, Ayurveda also incorporates massage, meditation, and spiritual reading just before bedtime. These routines vary based on your dosha and the seasons.

Five Ayurvedic Herbs

In Ayurveda, herbs are used to support health and wellness in many ways, from drinking teas and tonics, to use in beauty treatments, and simply enjoying an uplifted mood from their aromatic scents. Here are five of the most popular Ayurvedic herbs:

Ashwagandha

With a name meaning “the sweat or strength of ten horses,” ashwagandha was used by Indian shamans. Sometimes known as “winter cherry” or “Indian ginseng,” Ashwagandha supplements support well-being and occasional stress.*

Turmeric

Turmeric is a common spice used in Indian cuisine, particularly in curry sauce. In recent years turmeric has experienced popularity due to its potential antioxidant proprties, and it supports joint comfort and mobility.*

Triphala

Triphala is an herbal formula that contains three different fruits: amalaki, bahera, and haritaki. Traditionally, this herb is used for digestive support.* Triphala is so highly regarded in Ayurveda that it is the subject of a popular folklore saying: “No mother? Do not worry so long as you have triphala.”

Holy Basil

Known for its spicy, herbaceous fragrance, use as an essential oil, and popularity in tea form, holy basil supplements help with occasional stress.* Holy basil is also considered a sacred spiritual plant, an incarnation of the Hindu goddess, Tulsi.

Licorice Root

Ancient Ayurvedic texts reference licorice root as “Yashtimadhu,” meaning “sweet root.” Licorice root is regarded for its joyful fragrance and taste. In Ayurveda, licorice root is used as sweetener replacing honey or sugar, and it is used to improve the taste of tea and milk.

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