7 Powerful Ayurvedic Herbal Plants you must include in your daily skin, hair and diet regime
- 26 November 2021
Known for centuries, ancient Ayurvedic Herbs are extensively used by practitioners in their holistic healing approach to help cleanse our body, defend us against diseases and help balance our body, mind and spirit. These herbs find diverse applications including in nutrition, YOGA and meditation, Aromatherapy, massage, and therapeutic oils.
1. Aswagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal)
Also known as Winter Cherry, Aswagandha is anti-diabetic, anti-pyretic (fever), anti-microbial and anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-malarial as well as immunomodulator, cardio-protective, neuro-protective, hepato (liver)-protective and adaptogenic (helps cope with stress).
The Herb has tremendous rejuvenating properties and helps cure fatigue, stress, weakness, tumors, shortness of breath, and sleeplessness. Aswagandha acts as a stress buster and helps promote sound, healthy sleep. The herb is also known for its nourishing and rejuvenating properties for hair and skin. This well-known herb also helps alleviate vata and kapha, enhance strength, rejuvenate and increase sperm count.
However, dried mature roots of the herb are used extensively in Ayurveda and the benefits of Aswagandha leaves are still debated.
2. Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia)
Popularly known as ‘Giloy’ (i.e. one which protects the body), Guduchi is another common and valued herb and is being used in therapeutics since long in AYUSH systems. Its hepato (liver)-protective properties are well established and it is known for its immense therapeutic applications, in particular the support to human immune system.
Known as the root of immortality, it is considered as one of the most divine herbs and is a Hindu mythological term referring to heavenly elixir known to save from old age. It is widely used for its tonic, anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, anti-allergic, anti-diabetic and anti-spasmodic properties and is well-known for its benefits in recovering from Dengue. It is also useful in managing stress and anxiety and has a cooling effect on mind.
However, it should not be confused with similar looking plants such as Tinospora crispa which may be harmful.
- Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum Linn.)
The ‘queen of herbs’ Tulsi or Basil, finds multiple uses including religious and medicinal besides being also used for essential oils. Commonly used as herbal tea, it has tremendous anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It is believed to help provide relief from cough/ cold, fever, skin allergy, indigestion, loss of appetite, graying of hair, ulcer and wounds, ear ache, among others. The juice of Tulsi is also helpful for respiratory problems such as sinusitis.
It is rich in Vitamin C and Zinc and is a natural immunity booster. It is also rich in antioxidants and has anti-ageing properties. All parts of the holy plant act as adaptogen and help manage stress and anxiety with its anti-depressant and anti-anxiety properties. Dried Tulsi leaves have also been mixed with stored grains to repel insects.
- AMLA (Phyllanthus emblica L.)
Amla, popularly referred to as ‘Indian Gooseberry’, is a rich natural source of vitamin C and when consumed on a regular basis, helps enhance the body’s disease-fighting ability or immunity.
Amla possesses anti-diabetic, hypolipedemic, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, hepatoprotective and anti-emetic properties and this super fruit is considered as one of the best among rejuvenating and anti-aging drugs.
It is also a Tridoshahara and helps pacify all doshas. Besides being good for eyes (Chakshushya), it is also good for hair (Keshya). Amla further helps in relieving various stomach, liver and skin related issues.
- Brahmi (Bacopa Monnieri)
Considered Nature’s tonic for brain, Brahmi enhance cognitive ability, memory and learning skills and helps reduce neuro developmental disorders, including hyper activity and attention deficit disorder in kids.
A powerful antioxidant, it is further beneficial to relieve tension, manage depression and reduce anxiety & stress levels.
Other uses include in treatment of ulcer, high blood pressure, anemia, asthma, bronchitis, dyspepsia, urinary disorders with further evidence of anti-cancerous properties.
- Haridra (Curcuma Longa) or Haldi
Haldi or Turmeric is well known for its multiple benefits for being hepato-protective, blood-purifier, anti-oxidant, and anti-allergic. It is helpful in treating high cholesterol, diabetes, seasonal allergies and influenza, skin diseases and wounds.
Turmeric is hot in nature and its excessive use must be avoided, especially in summers. It is also known to cause sudden drop in blood sugar if taken with other medicines.
- Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis)
Known as Kumari in ancient Ayurveda, Aloe Vera has tremendous soothing, cooling and moisturizing properties which renders it effective in treatment of various skin, hair and scalp related issues, burns, wounds, ulcers and anal fissures.
It is also known to help in several spleen, liver, digestive and stomach related issues. Taken with antibiotics, non-steroidal anti inflammation drugs and chemotherapy, it helps reduce drug induced gastritis and other adverse effects. It is further helpful in treatment of diabetes, arthritis, and eye disease.
Aloe Vera is not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and may cause adverse reactions in individuals allergic to the plant.
While there are hundreds of such herbs with proven and multiple benefits, benefits of a few have been outlined in this article. It must be noted that while these herbs have tremendous health benefits, they should be used and consumed only in consultation and as prescribed by a certified AYUSH practitioner to avoid any adverse effects.
Source: Inputs from UM AYUSH Experts; Videos and Publications of Ministry of AYUSH, GoI