Ayurveda is a form of traditional medicine from India that has been practised for thousands of years and it works on the three basic principles of doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha).
Ayurvedic herbs and spices are a vital part of this approach to health. They’re thought to protect your body from disease, improve digestion and mental function among other benefits.
Here are ten top herbs in Ayurveda along with their uses and properties.
Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, is a small woody plant native to India and North Africa that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Its root and berries are commonly prescribed by practitioners of the ancient health system.
The root of the ashwagandha plant contains properties that reduce levels of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is known as a stress hormone produced by adrenal glands and it circulates throughout the body all time, but when we're stressed our bodies produce more than normal.
Those who are under constant stress may experience spikes of cortisol, a hormone released by the adrenal cortex in response to fear or alarm. Cortisol is thought to alleviate anxiety and improve sleep quality when it's present at normal levels.
Promote thyroid health
Ashwagandha is considered the best herb for calming vata.
Improve sleep patterns
Enhance your memory and cognition
Decreases stress and calm your body
Can help enhance memory and cognition.
Ashwagandha is one of the most powerful anti-aging herbs.
Enhances vitality in people who are stressed or overworked.
Brahmi also called a "Bacopa Monnieri" is an Ayurvedic herb that has been used for centuries in India. It is believed to lower inflammation, improve brain function, and reduce symptoms of ADHD. Brahmi is thought to work by reducing the activity of certain chemicals in the brain that are responsible for causing inflammation and other symptoms.
Brahmi is a traditional ayurvedic herb that works as a brain tonic and enhances memory, concentration, and intelligence. Brahmi also improves nervous system function, reduces stress and depression, and even helps protect the body from diseases.
Reduces stress and depression
It is one of the most revered Ayurvedic herbs for its ability to relieve stress.
Works as a brain tonic
Calm your mind
Enhance memory, concentration, and intelligence
Improve nervous system function
Reduce hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, and other symptoms of ADHD.
It has antioxidant properties that help fight cancer cells.
Boswellia serrata, known as Sallaki in Sanskrit and Indian frankincense, is a tree that thrives in Africa, India, and Pakistan. Its resin has anti-inflammatory properties and is harvested from late summer through early fall.
Boswellia is a traditional ayurvedic spice that may reduce joint pain, enhance oral health, improve digestion, as well as increase breathing capacity in people with chronic asthma.
Scientists have found that boswellia works by reducing inflammation and suppressing the immune system. It also has antioxidant properties that fight free radicals and prevent cell damage.
Diarrhea and dysentery
skin and blood diseases
Stimulation of the liver
Asthma, cough and bronchitis
Fever relief as an antipyretic
Vaginal discharge, irregular menses and syphilitic diseases
Cumin, an ancient spice widely used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines, may help control symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), lower the risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease, reduce food-related infections and perhaps even boost your mood.
Research suggests that cumin may increase the activity of digestive enzymes and facilitate the release of bile from the liver, accelerating digestion and easing fat absorption.
In addition to its culinary uses, cumin has many health benefits. It is a potent antimicrobial agent and can help kill harmful bacteria in the body. Cumin is also anti-carcinogenic, meaning it can help protect against cancer.
Additionally, cumin is anti-mutagenic and can help prevent mutations that could lead to cancer. Finally, cumin has been shown to be effective in treating diabetes by helping to regulate blood sugar levels.
immunomodulatory (changes the body’s immune system)
estrogenic and anti-osteoporotic
The yellow color of curry comes from turmeric, which is related to ginger. Studies show that curcumin, the main active compound in turmeric, may help reduce inflammation and improve heart health when taken regularly in large amounts.
Because it has a bitter, pungent taste and is light in nature, turmeric balances all three doshas (body humours): the Tikta (Bitter) and Katu (Pungent) tastes balance Kapha the "coldest" dosha; Ushna Virya or hot potency helps to neutralize Vata.
Turmeric may help protect against heart disease
May help preserve brain function
increasing brain levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor
According to the ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda, Manjistha is a medicinal vine that offers several health benefits. For example, it purifies blood and eliminates wastes from the body allowing for better immune system regulation.
It can help purify the blood.
It has cleansing properties that can help eliminate toxins and waste from the body.
Manjistha can help reduce Pitta and Kapha.
Manjistha is one of the best Ayurvedic herbs for liver and kidney detoxification, as well as treatment of acne.
7. Licorice root
Licorice root, an Ayurvedic spice used as both a food and medicine in ancient cultures, may reduce inflammation and protect against various infections. It also treats digestive problems.
Protect against dental cavities and Candida infections
help reduce inflammation and fight viruses and bacteria
offer relief from a sore throat.
8. Bitter melon
Bitter melon, a tropical vine related to squash and zucchini, has been studied for its effects on the secretion of insulin and blood sugar control.
Although there is some evidence that bitter melon may reduce bad cholesterol, more research is needed to form a definitive conclusion.
Helpful for people with diabetes
Helps to improve insulin secretion
May lower triglyceride and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels
Another spice with healing properties is cardamom, or Elettaria cardamomum. Long used in Ayurvedic medicine, this spice has several benefits associated with it.
Cardamom is a spice used in traditional Indian medicine. It may reduce blood pressure, improve breathing, and aid the healing of stomach ulcers.
Protecting against a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori
Reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension.
Inhaling the vapor of cardamom essential oil may help increase oxygen uptake during exercise.
10. Gotu kola
Gotu Kola is also called Centella Asiatica. It's often referred to as the herb of longevity because its leaves are believed by many cultures around the world to have powerful healing properties.
Reduces symptoms associated with depression
Gotu kola supplements may improve people’s memory after a stroke.
The plant has been found to reduce anxiety and stress.
The use of medicinal herbs is growing in popularity. Ayurvedic medicine, based on ancient practices, uses many of these herbs.
Ayurvedic herbs can promote a variety of health benefits. We shared common options that are used in ayruvedic preparations, and the health benefits these herbs might provide when brought into your daily routine.