The ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda is based on ancient Indian writings that rely on nature’s goodness and holistic approaches to mental and physical health. One of the oldest medical systems in the world, Ayurveda remains relevant till date and its teachings are now being embraced across the world, not just in India. Ayurvedic medicine still remains India’s preferred and go-to healthcare system for several ailments ranging from minor pains to chronic diseases. The ancient practice has also been incorporated by other cultures all over the world with the West finding new research-based evidence of its efficacy.
Ayurveda makes use of substances readily available in nature such as plants, minerals, herbs, and spices. It promotes the wellness of living beings through the use of natural remedies, polyherbal formulations, and lifestyle practices that reinforce our connection and balance with the rhythms of the natural world.
Ayurvedic Herbs with Science Backed Health Benefits
Also known as Indian Ginseng, Ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years as an effective treatment for various kinds of ailments. The Sanskrit word ‘Ashwagandha’ literally translates as “the smell of a horse” and it was believed that ingesting Ashwagandha would make one as strong as a horse.
An adaptogenic herb used to combat stress and enhance wellbeing, Ashwagandha has been scientifically proven to be loaded with health benefits. This is mostly on account of its impressive nutritional profile. Ashwagandha contains antioxidants, flavonoids, amino acids, neurotransmitters, etc. This makes it highly beneficial for a range of ailments. Below are some of the main health benefits of Ashwagandha:
- The flavonoids present in Ashwagandha can stabilise blood sugar levels.
- It boosts brain power thanks to its high antioxidant value, which is effective in fighting free radical damage.
- Its adaptogenic effects are beneficial for stabilising thyroid levels.
Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil, is one of the most revered herbs in Ayurveda and it has been used to treat numerous ailments. Also called ‘the queen of herbs’, Tulsi leaves offer several nutritional and therapeutic benefits.
Tulsi leaves are rich in vitamins A, C and K and minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and potassium. They also contain a good amount of protein and fibre. Here are some of the medicinal benefits of Tulsi:
- Tulsi has been known to reduce fever owing to its antibacterial and antiviral properties, which are known to help fight off infections.
- The phytochemicals found in Tulsi are known to be effective in fighting free radical damage, which is linked to ageing and several cancers of the body.
- Its high antioxidant property is also known to boost cardiovascular health, thus, promoting heart health.
- Its anti-inflammatory properties are known to reduce inflammation and blood pressure.
Known as the ‘herb of longevity’, Gotu Kola is a species of the parsley family. The herbaceous, perennial plant has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine.
Gotu Kola leaves are commonly consumed as fresh greens in several parts of Asia, where the herb is found naturally growing wild. Scientific evidence has shown that Gotu Kola is rich in antioxidants, has antimicrobial and neuro-protecting properties, along with other therapeutic compounds.
Here are some of the health benefits of Gotu Kola:
- Its neuro-protecting properties are known to boost memory and enhance brain and cognitive function.
- Its high antioxidant value is known to be beneficial for healing wounds and burns.
- It is a rich source of vitamins and anti-inflammatory compounds, which are known to be beneficial for treating skin conditions like psoriasis.
- It has anti-inflammatory properties which are also known to be effective in treating arthritis and joint pain.
The ancient teachings of Ayurveda have promoted the use of the above herbs for a wide range of diseases and problems. In recent times, these herbs have been studied extensively and their benefits have been backed by scientific research, owing to the presence of various organic compounds and properties that have potential therapeutic applications. These Ayurvedic herbs are even being investigated as potential alternatives to conventional medicines as they are less likely to pose any risk of side effects.
However, caution should still be taken while consuming these herbs. One way is to slowly introduce these herbs into your diet, starting with small doses. It should be noted that Ayurveda takes on a holistic approach, which means that other factors such as a proper diet, good sleep, and adequate exercise should be given importance too.