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12 Powerful Ayurvedic Herbs And Spices With Health Benefits

While pharmaceutical drugs remain a popular option for treating disease, people are increasingly looking for alternatives.

Ancient ayurvedic texts have been studied extensively. This has allowed researchers to come up with natural remedies that use ayurvedic herbs to treat diseases.

There are a lot of herbs and spices that form part of ayurvedic medicine. 

Many of these are already used in our kitchens today. Many people do not realize what health benefits may come with the use of these conventional household products. 

There is no need to see an ayurvedic practitioner taking advantage of this medicinal practice. Simply adding some of the ayurvedic preparations to a person’s daily meal plan can already be helpful. 

We look at the most common ayurvedic herbs and spices in this post. We look at how an ayurvedic herb can be integrated into a person’s diet. We also consider how each of these can form part of herbal medicine when looking for a natural alternative to pharmaceutical drugs. 

Ashwagandha

When looking at ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha has become one of the most recognized options. It is often added to modern health supplements to help reduce the effects of stress on the body.

Ashwagandha is mostly known for its adaptogenic properties. It is a powerful adaptogen that helps the body when responding to stressors. 

When the body is under stress, it released a hormone known as cortisol. This is often referred to as the stress hormone. The adrenal glands make this hormone. It circulates through the body. A high level of cortisol is released when the body has a weak response to stress. 

The use of Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce cortisol levels. This is especially useful for people who experience chronic stress. When stress is constant, there is a continuous release of cortisol in the body. 

Ashwagandha has been proven to produce additional benefits. In some studies, it has been shown that the use of this ayurvedic herb may reduce anxiety symptoms in some people. Additionally, people with an anxiety disorder may experience better sleep. Improved sleep further helps in the management of stress. Sleep deficiency is also known to contribute to worse anxiety symptoms. Thus, by enhancing sleep, anxiety is further improved. 

More benefits can be obtained by using Ashwagandha:

  • The herb may help to promote improvements in muscle growth

  • Some people report improved memory functioning with the use of the herb. 

  • Male fertility could potentially be improved. 

  • The herb may help to reduce levels of blood sugar

  • There may also be a reduction in inflammatory triggers in the body. 

Boswellia

Boswellia is another relatively popular ayurvedic herb. It is often referred to as Indian Frankincense. The herb is also known as olibanum. Resin from a tree named Boswellia serrata is used in ayurvedic medication. The wood has a spicy aroma. 

The anti-inflammatory effects of Boswellia are the main reason most studies look at the herb. There are a few studies that have shown that the use of the herb may reduce inflammation. Studies have shown that chemicals in Boswellia cause a reduction in leukotrienes. These are the compounds that cause inflammation in the body. 

One study compared the use of Boswellia against the effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These are pharmaceutical drugs often provided to patients with inflammatory conditions.

They do, however, cause several unpleasant side-effects. Boswellia had similar effects on inflammation compared to the NSAIDs. There was a much better safety profile observed when Boswellia was used. 

Boswellia may also help people who experience pain. The reduction in inflammation, along with pain reduction, makes this a great option for people with arthritis and related conditions. Some people find that it also helps with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease. 

Additional benefits that people may gain when they use this as part of a traditional medicine practice:

  • Improve digestive health and reduces symptoms of ulcerative colitis. 

  • Improve symptoms associated with Chron’s disease. 

  • Improves breathing in patients diagnosed with chronic asthma.

  • May help to improve mobility in people with arthritis. 

  • It improves oral health and reduces the risk of infections in the oral cavity. 

  • The herb may also be helpful for people with gingivitis. 

Amla (Emblica Officinalis or Indian Gooseberry)

Amla is another ayurvedic herb that is commonly referred to as the Indian Gooseberry. The scientific name for the herb is Emblica Officinalis. It is often used in ayurvedic preparations and other herbs that also form part of this traditional medicine practice. 

There are quite a few uses for the Amla medicinal herb. Some people combine it with other herbs and create a formula known as Triphala. This preparation is used to help in the treatment of constipation. It functions as a natural option for people who need a laxative. 

It has been found that the preparation is good for reducing flatulence in the gastrointestinal tract as well. Some people report improvements in abdominal pain when they use this specific ayurvedic formula. 

There are a few other reasons why people turn to Amla, as well as the Triphala preparation. It seems like the combination of Amla with certain ingredients that also form part of this traditional medicinal system helps with inflammation. In particular, studies show that the preparation of eases inflammation associated with arthritis. 

Some studies also point to anti-cancer properties presented by the herbal remedy. It could assist in limiting the growth rate of specific cancer types. 

Bibhitaki (Terminalia Bellirica)

Bibhitaki is another useful herb that forms part of herbal medicine used in ayurvedic practices. The herb is known as Terminalia bellirica scientifically. It is a natural extract that is mostly used in a special preparation that is used to treat a variety of ailments. 

Much like the Amla plant, Bibhitaki is also used in preparation for the formula known as Triphala. The herb contributes to the overall effects that the Triphala formula can provide. 

The benefits that a person may experience when Bibhitaki is used in the Triphala formula is quite similar. This includes anti-inflammatory benefits. People with arthritis may find that the herb reduces discomfort, pain, and inflammation. The combination has also been shown to provide useful benefits for people with constipation. The use of the formula may also help with inflammation that affects the gums. 

Haritaki

Haritaki is another herb that forms part of the previously mentioned ayurvedic preparation known as Triphala. Haritaki is also called Terminalia chebula.

It is a tree that is native to both India and the southern regions of Asia. The dried fruit of the tree is used in herbal medicine practices. The plant extract is often called chebulic myrobalan. The fruit is also sometimes called the Indian Hog plum or the Indian Walnut. 

There are a few varieties of the plant. The tree forms part of the Combretaceae family. The dried fruit is used for many purposes. It has been shown that it may help with the treatment of certain bone and skin diseases. The fruit also helps to improve the well-being of vital organs. Some people use it as a natural remedy for heart disease

The bark of the tree is also used in the preparation of skin treatments. Vascular disorders are sometimes treated with branches from the tree. The leaves of the Haritaki tree has been shown as a useful option for treating visceral diseases. 

When used in the Triphala preparation, it contributes to a reduction in inflammation, while also helping to relieve constipation in the user. The preparation also acts as an herbal medicine for a person with a gastrointestinal disorder.

Brahmi

The next ayurvedic herb is known as Brahmi. In supplements, it is often rather called Bacopa monieri. It is often considered a staple herb when looking at ayurvedic medicine practices. Several studies have been done on this particular herb. It is linked to quite a large list of potential health benefits. 

Many people use Bacopa monieri as a way to improve their mental health. Studies have already confirmed that the plant holds potential as a cognitive enhancement substance. The following benefits may be experienced:

  • Improvement in attention and focus

  • Better information processing

  • Improved memory function and learning

Some people have also found that the herb reduces symptoms associated with ADHD. This condition is also known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It causes poor self-control, impulsivity, and inattention. The use of Brahmi as an ayurvedic herb may reduce these symptoms. 

Brahmi also holds powerful anti-inflammatory properties. This helps people who experience inflammation due to conditions like arthritis. Studies have shown that the use of Brahmi provides similar anti-inflammatory benefits compared to NSAIDs.

The herb does not have the same side-effects as an NSAID. This makes it a safer option for people looking to experience a relief of inflammation and discomfort. 

Brahmi is also considered an adaptogen. This means the use of the herb is good for people with chronic stress. The adaptogen properties help to reduce levels of cortisol in the user’s body. In turn, this can help to reduce stress. It is also useful for fighting against anxiety symptoms. There are a few studies that specifically point out the potential of Brahmi as a herb for anxiety. 

Cumin

Cumin is a rather popular spice. It is used in quite a large number of dishes. The spice is native to the southwestern region of Asia, as well as the Mediterranean regions. The spice is extracted from the Cuminum cyminum plant. The seeds, in particular, are used to prepare cumin as a spice. The spice is known for its earthy and nutty taste. It also has a spicy flavor. 

Cumin has several benefits that it may offer the human body. It has been shown that the spice is great for the gastrointestinal tract. It improves digestive enzyme activity. It also seems to help the liver release bile. The result is a faster digestion process. The use of cumin may also ease the effects that fat digestion has on the gut. 

The effects of cumin in the digestive system also seem to be helpful for people with irritable bowel syndrome. Some studies show improvements in IBS symptoms when people are provided with cumin. Bloating is significantly reduced among these individuals. There was also an improvement in abdominal pain associated with IBS. 

Other benefits that cumin may also provide include:

  • May protect a person against the development of type 2 diabetes

  • The spice may help to keep blood sugar levels low. 

  • It may also be useful for enhancing insulin sensitivity in the human body. 

  • The spice may protect a person against heart disease. 

  • There may be a reduction in LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. 

  • The spice may elevate levels of HDL cholesterol

The antimicrobial properties of cumin should also be mentioned. This is a helpful way of reducing foodborne infections in the human body. The spice helps to fight against bacterial infestations in food. 

Turmeric

One of the most commonly mentioned spices would be turmeric when it comes to looking at ayurvedic herbology. This spice is used in curries, stews, and a lot of other recipes. Turmeric is known to add an earthy taste to meals. It is often used with other herbal remedies for specific health benefits. 

Turmeric contains a chemical that provides several health benefits. The chemical is known as curcumin. Many turmeric supplements contain concentrated curcumin as the active ingredient. This is because turmeric itself contains very little curcumin. This is often not enough to provide a person with the claimed benefits. 

The most researched benefits of turmeric and curcumin would be the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It seems like curcumin may be more effective than common drugs used to treat inflammation. The great thing is curcumin does not cause serious side-effects. It is considered a much safer option than pharmaceutical drugs. 

The antioxidant activity protects the body against free radical damage. The oxidative stress caused by free radicals contributes to cancer, inflammation, and heart disease. By protecting the body against free radicals, the risk of these problems is reduced. 

Furthermore, turmeric also holds benefits for the blood circulatory system. Studies have shown that curcumin may help to boost blood flow. 

Licorice Root

Licorice root also forms part of ayurvedic medicine. This is a root extract. The licorice root plant is native to both Asia and Europe. It is extracted from a plant known as the Glycyrrhiza glabra. It is also considered an important part of ayurvedic medicine. 

Licorice root has many beneficial properties that can help the human body. It has been shown that the root extract has potent anti-inflammatory properties. This is useful for people with inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis.

Furthermore, the plant extract also has antiviral and antibacterial properties. This helps to protect the body against viral and bacterial infections. 

People have found that licorice root effectively reduces soreness in the throat. This herbal medicine is also good for oral health. It protects the mouth against Candida. It is also an effective way of protecting against dental cavities. 

Gotu Kola

Gotu Kola is also known as Centella Asiatica. It is often referred to as the herb of longevity. The plant is both odorless and tasteless. It has green leaves that have a fan shape. The plants grow around areas with water. They can also grow in water. 

Studies show that Gotu Kola is useful for people with anxiety disorders. The plant provides a reduction in anxiety and stress levels. It also reduces symptoms associated with depression. The herb is also useful for improving wound healing times, treating psoriasis, and helping with eczema symptoms. 

Bitter Melon

Bitter Melon is a type of tropical vine. It is related to pumpkin, cucumber, and zucchini. This is a staple food in several Asian dishes. Bitter Melon is known for being rich in antioxidants. There are also many important nutrients found in the food. 

There is evidence that shows bitter Melon is helpful for people with diabetes. The food seems to lower blood sugar levels. It also helps to improve insulin secretion. This further contributes to stabilized blood sugar levels. 

Cardamom

Another beneficial spice is Cardamom, also known as Elettaria cardamomum. It is an ancient ayurvedic medicinal spice. There are several benefits associated with this spice. 

Cardamom helps to reduce a person’s blood pressure levels. It is useful for individuals with hypertension. It also seems that using essential oils with Cardamom is beneficial. It helps the lungs improve oxygen uptake. 

Furthermore, Cardamom is also effective at protecting against a specific bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori. It is the bacteria that causes most stomach ulcers. 

Conclusion

Ayurvedic medicine is continuing to grow in popularity. Several ayurvedic herbs form part of this ancient medicinal practice. Some of these are already used in dishes we eat on a daily basis. The use of a specific ayurvedic herb may bring along several potential health benefits. We shared common options that are used in ayurvedic preparations. We also looked at the health benefits that these herbs might provide. 

Sources

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  2. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/ayurvedic-medicine-in-depth
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  4. Kalaiselvan S, Rasool MK. The anti-inflammatory effect of triphala in arthritic-induced rats. Pharm Biol. 2015;53(1):51-60. doi:10.3109/13880209.2014.910237
  5. Vadde R, Radhakrishnan S, Reddivari L, Vanamala JK. Triphala Extract Suppresses Proliferation and Induces Apoptosis in Human Colon Cancer Stem Cells via Suppressing c-Myc/Cyclin D1 and Elevation of Bax/Bcl-2 Ratio. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:649263. doi:10.1155/2015/649263
  6. Ratha KK, Joshi GC. Haritaki (Chebulic myrobalan) and its varieties. Ayu. 2013;34(3):331-334. doi:10.4103/0974-8520.123139
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814608002483
  7. Agah S, Taleb AM, Moeini R, Gorji N, Nikbakht H. Cumin extract for symptom control in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a case series. Middle East J Dig Dis. 2013;5(4):217-222.
  8. Jurenka JS. Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of Curcuma longa: a review of preclinical and clinical research [published correction appears in Altern Med Rev. 2009 Sep;14(3):277]. Altern Med Rev. 2009;14(2):141-153.
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