Boost health with herbs

Business Standard - - ECONOMY - HAR­ISH MO­HAN Founder, Sip­wise Bev­er­ages Vado­dara, Gu­jarat

In­dia is one of those coun­tries where herbs have been used ex­ten­sively as ther­a­peu­tic tools in all walks of life. We've grown up with ours grand­moth­ers pre­scrib­ing medic­i­nal herbs for all kinds of ill­nesses. As chil­dren, we were never sure about any­thing that looked green and leafy as far as taste was con­cerned, but we were sure that it would even­tu­ally work to­wards the bet­ter­ment of our health.

As In­dia con­tin­ues to de­velop, var­i­ous new al­ter­na­tive medicines and ther­a­pies have be­come pop­u­lar and main­stream. Rise in dis­pos­able in­come al­lows to­day's con­sumer to be health con­scious and get the best care pos­si­ble. But this pros­per­ity and rise in our in­comes has also come at a cost. In a re­cent sur­vey, peo­ple in In­dian cities ranked high in terms of the abil­ity to feel stressed. Stress is one of the big­gest silent killers of the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion with its ef­fects lead­ing to other prom­i­nent dis­eases re­spon­si­ble for fa­tal­i­ties like heart at­tack and stroke. Re­mem­ber the funny sen­sa­tion in the chest as you get stuck in a traf­fic jam or get re­minded of an im­pend­ing dead­line? That sen­sa­tion is cor­ti­sol build­ing up in your body. Cor­ti­sol, along with adren­a­line, are two of the 'bad' hor­mones pro­duced by our en­docrine sys­tem, mostly as a fight or flight re­sponse to stress in our mod­ern day to day lives. Is there a so­lu­tion that our an­cient sages and grand­moth­ers had fore­seen for this mod­ern day killer called stress?

In­deed, there is. The an­swer lies in na­ture.

Herbs like brahmi and ash­wa­gandha were known as med­h­yarasayana, a drug known to im­prove mem­ory and in­tel­lect. To­gether, they act as a nerve tonic and serve the func­tion of both stim­u­lat­ing as well as calm­ing our ner­vous sys­tem. Ash­wa­gandha de­rives its name from a horse and this an­cient herb was of­ten pre­scribed to pro­vide strength. It is known to re­duce the level of cor­ti­sol in the body and in­crease the pro­duc­tion of other hor­mones in the body, thereby main­tain­ing hor­monal bal­ance. It is also known to add vi­tal­ity to one's life. A re­cent clin­i­cal trial stud­ied the ef­fects of ash­wa­gandha on mus­cle mass and strength in young men who do re­sis­tance train­ing, and the re­sult was that it lead to an in­crease in mus­cle mass and strength. It is also a re­me­dial cure for in­som­nia. Over­all, ash­wa­gandha is an adap­to­gen, stress buster and a revi­tiliser.

Brahmi, known sci­en­tif­i­cally as Ba­co­paMonieri and botan­i­cally as cen­tel­laasi­at­ica, is a won­der herb known to stim­u­late mem­ory and cog­ni­tive abil­ity. It also im­proves be­havioural al­ter­ation and pre­vent ox­ida­tive dam­age. Some­times, there are ben­e­fits to old wine be­ing pack­aged in a new bot­tle. In to­day's time, the avail­abil­ity of ayurvedic cig­a­rettes, herb cool­ers and in­fused teas mean that herbs can be smoked, brewed or blended for to­day's gen­er­a­tion of mil­len­ni­als, mak­ing them ap­peal­ing and trendy. The ad­di­tion of herbs into our diet through th­ese mech­a­nisms can help us live a calm and bal­anced life.

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