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Ayurvedic Treatments Based on Herbal Medicines

Ayurvedic treatment using herbal medications

Ayurvedic Treatments Based on Herbal Medicines

The use of medicinal herbs, herbal extracts and spices, is very well known in Ayurveda for a long time. Around 90% of the medicines used in Ayurveda are plant-based. When compared to other available drugs in the market, these herbal remedies show a low side effect on the body and are safe to use. 

They effectively increase the body’s immunity against the onslaught of diseases and improve the quality of life. A large number of herbal medicines include the foods we eat, thus proving the adage that ‘That which heals also prevents’. 

For example, turmeric that has anti-inflammatory properties is widely used in the preparation of food, thus helping to maintain good health. 

Today, science has recognized the importance of these herbs as the source of potent chemical compounds that can be used as drugs against a large number of diseases. A lot of research is being carried out that aims to isolate and purify the chemicals in these herbs. 

However, it should be noted that these drugs (need to be taken under the guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner) have multiple effects and are usually combined with other herbs to maximize their benefits. It is seen that the polyherbal combinations show a higher effect than the use of single herbs. 

Plant-based medicines play a vital role in the Ayurvedic treatment strategies. They bring about a balance between the doshas of the body and achieve a harmony of the body and mind with the surrounding nature. They invigorate the whole body, rather than simply focusing on the individual organs. 

Broadly, Ayurvedic practitioners believe that every plant and its parts can act as a medicine, and one only needs to investigate the beneficial properties of these plant parts! 

Ayurveda further states that the efficacy of each herbal drug is determined by different properties that help its use in therapy. These properties include: 
  • Taste – based on the 6 tastes that Ayurveda states as essential – i.e. sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. 
  • Heating or cooling effect on the body 
  • Post digestive effect 
  • Special properties or characteristics - These are determined according to the twenty features, which include: slow/sharp, cold/hot, oily/dry, slimy/rough, dense/liquid, soft/hard, static/mobile, subtle/gross, cloudy/clear, and heavy/light.

Herbs for each dosha

Vata Dosha

This dosha has qualities of being - dry, cold, light, mobile, subtle, rough, hard, erratic, dispersing and clear. It is the primary dosha amongst all tridoshas and needs to be balanced at all times. 

In an imbalanced condition, it will cause cold, dryness, tremors, abdominal distention, constipation, weakness, insomnia and numerous other neurological complaints, and lack of stamina. 

Herbs for Pacifying Vata Dosha 

Herbs that reduce excess Vata are nutritive tonics, warming, demulcent with a pleasantly sweet, salty and sour taste and have a heat-inducing quality. 

Some of these herbs and spices include ginger, garlic, cinnamon, flaxseeds, turmeric, sesame seeds, Brahmi, ashwagandha etc.

Ayurvedic Treatments Based on Herbal Medicines

Additionally, these people need to consumed stews and hot soups, ghee, olives, nuts, eggs, or fluids at the room temperature. 

Sweets and Dairy products also pacify the Vata dosha and must be consumed in moderation.

Herbs that Aggravate Vata Dosha

Herbs that worsen Vata are bitter, astringent and pungent. 

These include cold or carbonated drinks, uncooked or raw vegetables and fruits, frozen foods, and leftovers.

Pitta Dosha

This dosha has qualities that are described as hot, sharp, fluid, light, oily, soft, and mobile. 

In an imbalanced condition, it will cause a jaundiced appearance or a yellowish tone to the skin, eyes, urine and faeces. 

This may be associated further by an increase in hunger and dryness, hot flushes, irritation, burning sensations and inflammations. 

Herbs for Pacifying Pitta Dosha 

Herbs that decrease Pitta are drying, calming and cooling, with bitter, astringent and sweet flavours. 

One of the best herbs which can calm the pita dosha is mint and its different varieties like spearmint, peppermint and field mint. 

Ayurvedic Treatments Based on Herbal Medicines

In addition, coriander, fennel, cardamom and Shatavari (belongs to the wild asparagus family) also pacify the pitta dosha. 
Additionally, milk, ghee and butter are pitta pacifying foods. Consume sweet fruits compared to sour ones.

Herbs that Aggravate Pitta Dosha

On the other hand, the herbs that increase the effect of Pitta have a warm moist nature with pungent, sour or salty tastes. 

These include chilli peppers, cayenne, sour fruits and fermented foods.
Ayurvedic Treatments Based on Herbal Medicines
Chilli Peppers

Besides, caffeine, smoking, eating fried and processed foods, overworking and less sleep can aggravate the Pitta dosha. 

Kapha Dosha

This dosha has qualities that are described as cold, wet, heavy, slow, dull, smooth, and cloudy. 

In a disturbing condition, it will decrease the process of digestion, excessive production of phlegm and mucus, cold, and a feeling of general lethargy. 

Herbs for Pacifying Kapha Dosha

Herbs that reduce excess Kapha possess properties that include light, drying, warming and eliminative with pungent, bitter and astringent tastes. 

Turmeric is a very effective detoxifying herb, which can help in calming the Kapha dosha. 

Some other herbs that can balance the Kapha dosha include cloves, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne pepper, liquorice, Tulsi, etc.

Ayurvedic Treatments Based on Herbal Medicines

Herbs that Aggravate Pitta Dosha

Foods that intensify Kapha are sweet, salty and sour. 

These include fruits and vegetables such as bananas, mangoes, figs, dates, avocado, potatoes, parsnips, raw tomatoes etc. 

Besides, eating processed and canned foods, oily foods, alcohol and red meat can aggravate the Kapha dosha.

If you are really interested to know more about Ayurvedic Herbs and their uses, do check out this book by Dr. Vasant Lad.

General Effects/ Benefits of Ayurvedic Herbs:

  • The Ayurvedic herbs are holistic and have a natural method of healing. 
  • They aid in proper absorption and digestion. 
  • They increase the energy levels of the body, decreases lethargy and acts as an appetizer. 
  • They are not disease-specific but act as preventive medicine. 
  • They invigorate the entire immune system of the body. 
  • The practitioner prescribes Ayurvedic medicines for an individual based on factors like age, gender, his /her dosha, the strength of body tissues and digestive fire (Agni) and level of ama (toxins) in their body. 
  • Herbal remedies are nutritive, thus rendering them harmless and non-toxic. 
  • Ayurvedic medicines do not show any side effects. 
  • Ayurvedic treatment is non-invasive and non-toxic, so it can be used safely as an alternative therapy or in combination with conventional therapies. 
The Ayurvedic medication and prescription of herbs is a well-defined and deeply-studied science, which requires an in-depth knowledge of plants and their effect on human physiology, biochemistry, and psychology. These herbs should only be consumed under the guidance of a qualified practitioner. 

It must be noted that the Ayurvedic herbal medicines are more effective if they are combined with the other Ayurvedic treatment strategies like diet, lifestyle changes and Yoga. They must not be consumed by pregnant women, children or nursing mothers unless they are approved by the medical professionals. 

Ayurveda does not promote the concept of plant-based allopathy, i.e., herbs or herbal drugs must not be consumed without determining the root cause of the imbalanced or diseased condition.

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