One important aspect of Ayurvedic medicine is the use of herbal remedies and natural health supplements.
Although western medicine has generally ignored these remedies as “folk medicine”, practitioners of Ayurveda have been refining their use of herbs and supplements since 1500 BC.
As time goes on, western doctors are beginning to realize that there is some benefit in these herbs; turmeric, as an example, has been proven by western science to have definite beneficial properties.
Here’s a brief overview of some of the most common herbs and supplements used in Ayurveda.
Some Common Medicinal Herbs, Spices, and Foods
- Aloe vera: Aloe vera has been used in Asia for many years to cure a variety of ailments. Although westerners know aloe vera mostly as an additive in lotions and other skin care products, Ayurvedic practitioners also use aloe vera to treat spleen and liver disorders, cysts, certain fevers, and as a mild laxative.
- Indian dill: Dill has many health benefits. As an antioxidant, it protects against free radicals and thus prevents cancer. Like garlic, dill has bacteria-fighting properties, and promotes heart health.
- Neem: Neem is a fast-growing evergreen tree that grows in India, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and elsewhere throughout Southeast Asia. Used primarily to treat scabies, neem is also used to fight other parasites, as well, including intestinal worms, head lice, and as a spray to protect cats and dogs from fleas. Typically, Ayurvedic doctors will boil neem leaves with ginger to create a tea for their patients.
- Bacopa: Bacopa resembles a water lily, and has been used for several thousand years as a “brain tonic” that enhances memory, learning, and concentration. Studies have also shown bacopa to function as an antioxidant, ward off parasites, and even reverse amnesia.
- Red pepper: One of the most famous spices used in Ayurveda, red pepper is used to fight indigestion, sleepiness, and to heal wounds.
- Camphor: The strong-smelling camphor is used in Ayurveda in low quantities to treat low blood pressure and asthma.
- Cucumber: As a cooling food, cucumber is useful as a diuretic. As such, cucumber has been used in Ayurveda for ages to treat kidney stones.
- Cumin: One of the most popular spices in Indian food, cumin also has many beneficial properties. Used to soothe stomach problems, cumin seeds are said to help with digestion, especially with gas and inflammation of the bowels.
- Fennel: In Ayurveda, fennel is used to treat weak eyesight, nausea, and various respiratory problems, including cough and bronchitis.
- Jasmine: The fragrant jasmine is used to treat oral problems, and jasmine oil is used to heal wounds and improve skin conditions.
- Walnut: Ayurvedic medicine uses walnuts to treat cardiac problems; reduce uric acid, gout, and rheumatoid arthritis; and to treat certain sexually transmitted diseases. Walnut also contains a high concentration of Omega-3 fatty acids, an essential amino acid that has been shown reduce heart problems and improve brain function.
By no means is this list extensive, but it does provide a snapshot of how much knowledge Ayurvedic practitioners have gathered about common herbs, spices, and foods, and their uses as health remedies.
Without doubt, as western science explores these further, they will discover these foods do indeed have the beneficial properties that Ayurveda has known about for millennia.