These seem­ingly mag­i­cal botan­i­cals have been an in­te­gral part of Ayurvedic heal­ing for thou­sands of years—here’s how they work and what they can do for you

Amazing Wellness - - CONTENTS - Vera Tweed

Th­ese seem­ingly mag­i­cal botan­i­cals are stand­outs in Ayurvedic medicine—find out what they can do for you.

Ayurveda, In­dia’s tra­di­tional sys­tem of heal­ing, uses more than 5,000 herbs. Some of th­ese are es­pe­cially ver­sa­tile and well-matched for re­solv­ing com­mon prob­lems we en­counter to­day, and have be­come pop­u­lar reme­dies and pre­ven­tive sup­ple­ments for a va­ri­ety of con­di­tions.

“Ayurveda is about bal­ance,” says Viren­der Sodhi, ND, founder of the Ayurvedic and Natur­o­pathic Med­i­cal Clinic in Belle­vue, Wash. “Bal­ance in sleep, bal­ance in food, bal­ance in ex­er­cise, ac­tiv­ity, sex­ual ac­tiv­ity, all those things, and when you have cre­ated a bal­ance, ev­ery­thing func­tions prop­erly in the body.”

The first doc­tor to be cer­ti­fied both in natur­o­pathic medicine in the U.S. and in Ayurvedic medicine in In­dia, Sodhi has treated thou­sands of pa­tients us­ing th­ese prin­ci­ples, pro­duc­ing some re­mark­able re­sults. One pa­tient ar­rived while wait­ing for a heart trans­plant, and af­ter a six-month reg­i­men of an Ayurvedic heart for­mula, with ar­juna as the main herb, the pa­tient no longer needed the trans­plant. An­other had ar­ter­ies that were 60 to 70 per­cent blocked, as a re­sult of fi­bro­mus­cu­lar dys­pla­sia. Af­ter a year of tak­ing ar­juna plus a com­bi­na­tion of cur­cumin and CoQ10, she un­der­went a CAT scan that found her ar­ter­ies were clear. Oth­ers have cor­rected un­der­ly­ing im­bal­ances that led to high blood pres­sure, and no longer need med­i­ca­tion for hy­per­ten­sion; some re­solved other chronic con­di­tions.

Many Ayurvedic herbs have some sim­i­lar mech­a­nisms of ac­tion, such as re­duc­ing harm­ful chronic in­flam­ma­tion, but each also has unique qual­i­ties. To har­ness their power in dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions, th­ese are Sodhi’s top herbal picks:

Es­pe­cially help­ful for anx­i­ety, stress, and adrenal dys­func­tion, ash­wa­gandha can be an al­ter­na­tive to an­tianx­i­ety and an­tide­pres­sant med­i­ca­tions. It low­ers in ated lev­els of the stress hor­mone cor­ti­sol, and en­hances nat­u­ral lev­els of testos­terone and DHEA, hor­mones that help main­tain over­all strength and mus­cle mass. It also calms harm­ful lev­els of in am­ma­tion.


Also called Ter­mi­na­lia ar­juna, this herb re­lieves angina, the chest pain re­lated to heart dis­ease, by re­lax­ing and widen­ing blood ves­sels in a sim­i­lar way to ni­tro­glyc­erin. It also strength­ens blood ves­sels and makes them more elas­tic, and en­hances col­la­gen lev­els. Ar­juna can be taken to treat or lower the risk of de­vel­op­ing heart dis­ease.


Best known as a pow­er­ful nat­u­ral rem­edy for chronic in am­ma­tion, cur­cumin (an ex­tract of turmeric) re­lieves arthri­tis and other pain, cleans ar­ter­ies, re­lieves de­pres­sion, helps with in­di­ges­tion, and may re­lieve symp­toms of PMS and many in am­ma­tory con­di­tions, such as Crohn’s dis­ease and ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis. It’s also used to re­duce can­cer risk and en­hance can­cer treat­ment.


A clas­sic Ayurvedic com­bi­na­tion of three In­dian herbs (har­i­taki, ba­hera, and amla, some­times spelled slightly

dif­fer­ently), triphala is used to en­hance di­ges­tion and reg­u­lar­ity, and helps good bac­te­ria to our­ish in the gut.


One of the herbs in triphala, amla is also used on its own for re­ju­ve­na­tion, es­pe­cially in cases of ane­mia or a weak im­mune sys­tem. It can be help­ful for fre­quent colds or u, on­go­ing cough, bron­chi­tis, or up­per-res­pi­ra­tory tract in­fec­tions. Amla is also used in con­junc­tion with chemo­ther­apy or ra­di­a­tion treat­ment for can­cer.


Also known as In­dian frank­in­cense, boswellia is an anti- in am­ma­tory herb used to re­lieve pain and other symp­toms of arthri­tis and other “-itis” con­di­tions, as well as for asthma, hay fever, sore throat, men­strual cramps, stom­ach pain, and even pim­ples. It can be com­bined with other Ayurvedic herbs.


Al­though it can be used by both men and women to strengthen the re­pro­duc­tive sys­tem, shatavari is best known as a fe­male tonic that bal­ances hor­mones. herb en­hances fer­til­ity, re­duces vagi­nal dry­ness when menopausal symp­toms be­gin and af­ter menopause, and re­duces hot ashes. e


As a tea, holy basil is a tra­di­tional In­dian rem­edy for colds and u, and is also used to re­lieve other res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tions, asthma, and sea­sonal al­ler­gies, and to coun­ter­act stress and anx­i­ety.

e herb is of­ten found in com­bi­na­tion herbal for­mu­las.


A rem­edy for fun­gal, bac­te­rial, and vi­ral in­fec­tions, neem is es­pe­cially use­ful in pre­vent­ing and treat­ing shin­gles and the as­so­ci­ated nerve pain, as well as ring­worm. It should al­ways be taken with food, as it low­ers blood sugar, and can drive lev­els too low if taken on an empty stom­ach.


Less com­mon in the United States than the other herbs, rau­wolfia is a nat­u­ral rem­edy for high blood pres­sure. Stiff or hard­ened blood ves­sels make blood pres­sure rise, and rau­wolfia works by mak­ing blood ves­sel walls more elas­tic, thereby restor­ing healthy blood ow and pres­sure.


A go-to herbal rem­edy for el­e­vated blood sugar and di­a­betes, gym­nema sylvestre can also treat poly­cys­tic ovary syn­drome. It re­duces in­sulin re­sis­tance and im­proves me­tab­o­lism of sugar and starch, and can help with weight loss.

A rem­edy for fun­gal, bac­te­rial, and vi­ral in­fec­tions, neem is es­pe­cially use­ful in pre­vent­ing and treat­ing shin­gles and the as­so­ci­ated nerve pain.

Amaz­ing Well­ness con­tribut­ing ed­i­tor Vera Tweed is the for­mer ed­i­tor in chief of GreatLife mag­a­zine and the au­thor of nu­mer­ous books, in­clud­ing Hor­mone Har­mony.

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