Ayurvedic medicine is a holistic wellness system practiced in India for over 5000 years. Some favorite Ayurvedic principals include:
• Know and embrace your essence and constitution
• What heals, also prevents
• Live in tune with nature
• Connect with your body through exercise
• Purify and cleanse
• Think right, sleep well
• Herbs work more powerfully in synergy
Sustaining balance in one’s energy, personality, and physical body is considered vital, and attainable if one harnesses the healing powers in oneself and nature. To this end, Ayurveda has developed a deep herbal knowledge. Eating colorful, flavorful food, spices, and herbs is the tradition, and is wise. We now know that spices like cumin and black pepper can enhance the digestive system, assist in the assimilation of micronutrients, and boost the effect of other herbs and spices consumed at the same time, and that the active constituents in many Ayurvedic herbs are fat soluble, and thus better able to enter tissues and cells when eaten during meals that contain fat. Consuming many anti-inflammatory, nutritious, and anti-microbial herbs together is delicious illness prevention.
In addition to their use in cooking, synergistic blends of herbs, spices, and oils can be given as directed medical treatment, either topically, or more recently, in capsule form.
Some classic Ayurvedic treatments include:
• Holy Basil
• Sesame oil
Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum), also known as Tulsi, is a classic Ayurvedic herb with multiple traditional uses. It contains many essential oils, polyphenols and flavonoids. This plant is highly revered and considered holy. It is known to be adaptogenic and to significantly reduce measures of stress. It is used as a decongestant and antispasmodic, particularly useful for the lungs. Recent human trials have proven it helps labored breathing and increases lung capacity. It contains compounds like eugenol and caryophyllene, which have shown extensive antimicrobial and antifungal activity against E. coli and Candida, and it has other anti-inflammatory, nervine, antipyretic, and analgesic actions.
Holy Basil is available in tea (US)/(CA) and capsules (CA).
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is used for many purposes. Studies suggest it mimics GABA in our brains and may suppress stress-induced changes of dopamine receptors, which may contribute to chronic anxious behaviors, making it useful to support healthy sleep patterns and help relieve mental stress.* Ashwagandha is also revitalizing and shown to increase muscle strength and increases production of T4 and T3 thyroid hormones.
Sesame oil is considered sacred in many parts of India, and Ayurvedic herb treatments are often prepared in this delicious oil. It can be eaten, rubbed into the skin or used for massage, introduced into the nasal passages for sinus relief, or used for oral care. The oil has sesamol, sesamolin and sesamin components and is rich in antioxidants. Antibacterial and antifungal properties of the oil may help treat bad breath, plaque, gingivitis and dental cavities. One study proved that 45 days of methodical oil pulling with sesame oil significantly decreased plaque and gingivitis.
Flora carefully produces raw sesame oil (US), a gently toasted sesame oil (US), and a hydrotherm™ oil made from lightly salted, toasted seeds (US).
What is your experience with Ayurveda? Have you ever tried oil pulling? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!
Indian Herbal Remedies, C.P. Khare. Rational Western Therapy, Ayurvedic and Other Traditional Usage, Botany. Springer.
Padalia RC, Verma RS. Nat Prod Res. 2011;25(6):569-75. Godhwani S, et al. J Ethnopharmacol. 1987;21:153-63
Panda S, Kar A. J Pharm Pharmacol. 1998 Sep;50(9):1065-8