Ayurveda is an ancient holistic system of medicine from the Vedic culture. Called “the mother of healing”, Ayurveda uses many methods to maintain and restore health, vigor and vitality.
In Ayurveda, sustaining a healthy balanced state is both a means and an end. It is recognized that the mind, body, and consciousness are connected and must work together to achieve equilibrium or heal. Ayurveda boasts the most developed herbal system in the world. Hundreds of medicinal herbs have been compiled and classified over 5000 years by their healing potential for the mind, body, and spirit into an accessible system.
Some of our favorite medicinal plants from the Ayurvedic tradition are:
• Turmeric root
• Neem leaf
• Licorice root
• Ginger root
Turmeric (Curcuma Longa) is a root, or rhizome, which has over 200 known medicinal constituents. Called the “Spice of Life” in Ayurveda, it benefits all 3 Ayurvedic constitutional types, known as doshas, making it good for anyone. It is credited with boosting the cleansing action of the liver, and bringing circulation and nourishment to the skin.
Research shows that curcumin, an important phytochemical constituent of turmeric, is anti-inflammatory. With curcumin, compounds in the muscles that are typically associated with damage and inflammation—such as concentrations of plasma creatine kinase and inflammatory cytokines—are reduced, and muscle regenerates and recovers from exercise, trauma, and damage at an accelerated and improved rate.
The active constituents in turmeric are not well absorbed, but traditionally turmeric is combined with fat or black pepper to increase bioavailability. Recently, potentiated turmeric extracts and microencapsulation technologies became available, making some modern extracts significantly more effective than simple turmeric powder. One of these microencapsulated turmeric extracts can be found in Flora’s eagerly anticipated Omega Sport+ Oil, which will be launched this fall.
Leaves from the neem tree are used internally and externally. Topically, it assists with sanitizing and healing wounds. It can also fight or deter parasites and insects. In Ayurvedic herbology, neem purifies blood, prevents and heals gum disease, and detoxifies the mouth and skin. In a six week clinical trial, neem use reduced plaque and harmful oral bacteria, supporting its traditional use for oral care. Neem can be found in Auromère Ayurvedic Toothpastes, available in Canada through Flora.
Licorice is considered rejuvenating to all body systems. Practitioners often suggest licorice to nourish the body, calm the mind, and nurture the spirit. Licorice is delightful as a hot tea, and can lend sweetness to herb blends. Many Flora tea blends contain licorice, including our Green Tea Chai (US/CA)
Zingiber officinale, commonly known as ginger, has been the subject of studies for its potential to support digestive health. This root is best known for its warming qualities and its ability to calm an upset stomach. Its major pharmacologically-active component, gingerol, blocks specific serotonin receptors in the digestive tract related to nausea. Ginger is often included in synergistic blends as it enhances the effect of other herbs. Ginger is available in Flora’s sweet and spicy Double Ginger Tea (US/CA).
Be sure to read part 2 in this series for more on Ayurvedic herbalism. Do you have favorite spices or herbs from the Ayurvedic tradition? We would love to hear from you below!
J Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Jan;90(1):99-103. Evaluation of antiplaque activity of Azadirachta indica leaf extract gel–a 6-week clinical study.
Six Ayurvedic Herbs Every Doctor Should Know, Thursday, 02 June 2011, Omar Cruz – Vol.12, No. 2 Summer, 2011