With several recorded evidences in the recent past where Ayurveda has been able to cure several chronic ailments of people who were literally written off by Allopathy, this ancient science of the Vedic era has slowly and gradually but surely started catching grounds of credibility. However, the roadblock is that due to lack of understanding of how Ayurvedic medicines work, either people show apprehensions while approaching this wonderful science and get devoid of its immense benefits or they blindly follow it, thinking that anything that is labelled as Ayurvedic is fine for them leading to further imbalances. This blog will explain the broad working of some of the widely used Ayurvedic medicines to impart basic knowledge of :-
- how they work,
- what actions they perform in the body which cannot be performed by allopathic medicines which is why they can cure chronic ailments,
- how their consumption during different times of the day can have different effects,
- how their indiscreet use can lead to imbalances instead of curing and that is why anything herbal/ayurvedic doesn’t mean that it is good for everyone.
*** All ayurvedic medicines work on the principle of six tastes that effect the fundamental forces of Ayurveda called as Vata, pitta and kapha (VPK) governing various mechanisms of our body. And that is why to understand this blog, you must click here to know about VPK and functioning of six tastes through these youtube videos. You may also pick up a copy of THE ROOT CAUSE book.
*** Please note that the aim of sharing this knowledge is not to self-medicate unless one has gained holistic expertise of this science.
Here we go… To begin with let us pick up basic herbs and then we shall move to their concoctions. So lets begin with Brahmi- called as King of Herbs.
Brahmi is a combination of bitter, astringent and mildly sweet tastes. Its bitterness is vasodilating (i.e. it dilates blood vessels). Now let us see how this herb works when consumed in different times of the day:-
- So when consumed in daytime, this herb’s vasodilation pushes more of blood towards the lower body and also towards the core. Its astringency constricts cells and takes blood deeper to those areas which were not receiving blood earlier due to swollen cells of the blood vessels, which were blocking the blood flow there and its sweetness nourishes the cells. Thus brahmi ensures that blood alongwith nutrition (sweetness) reaches deep parts of the body which were not receiving blood earlier and thus removes deep seated vata (it is like water will be able to reach deeper parts of a choked pipe only once the choking of the pipe is removed and it is astringency which removes this choking). So when consumed in daytime it helps to remove deep seated vata of the lower body like inflamed liver.
- On the other side if this herb is taken in the night time before sleeping, it will retain more blood towards the core of the upper body especially brain (as now gravity will not pull the blood towards lower body) and that is how it will remove deep seated vata of the brain (i.e. prana vata) thus pacifying/curing vata diseases of the brain like epilepsy, depression, Alzheimer, Parkinson’s, dementia, stress, anxiety, vata hypertension, epilepsy, ADHD etc. Overall since this medicine settles prana vata and since aggravated prana vata is the triggering factor of most of the diseases in the world, this herb is a wonderful medicine to restore the last blood flow from the brain. The reason that this medicine is called as Brahmi is because by pacifying ones prana vata, it calms down ones mind and takes it towards brahm- the ultimate bliss/happiness.
***** Thus, it is extremely important to understand the time of administering these herbs and/or their concoctions. So a person with vata disease of the brain, whose digestive/elimination process is fit should never be given this medicine in the daytime while he/she is in upright position as this will further reduce blood from the brain and increase more vata. Conversely a person with vata issues in the lower body but having kapha mind (as seen in many people having CKD), would need this herb/its concoction, in the morning hours. Yes a person exhibiting traits of vata mind as well as vata in the lower body, may need it in night as well daytime but its extremely important to judge this part else the person may develop more imbalances than before the treatment. It has to be remembered that when we settle vata of one place, we increase it somewhere else. This is the reason that excess use of this herb/concoction can create dryness of the eyes/mouth/nose/headaches as even if taken in night, it pulls blood from peripherals (face etc.) to the core (brain is located in the core).
Do check out this blog to understand the importance of Prana vata which is settled by Brahmi⇒ IMBALANCED PRANA VATA- THE ROOT CAUSE OF MOST OF THE DISEASES/CHAOS AND SATTVIC FOODS/LIFESTYLE -THE ONLY WAY TO PREVENT
Again rated as the king of the herbs, this medicine’s bitterness mimics Gaba, the calming neurotransmitter primarily found in brain, thereby reducing master pitta and that is why this herb calms down an anxious mind. Once pitta goes down in the nervous system (channels), the body is able to repair itself faster reducing dryness, emaciation of tissues and thus pacifying vata. It’s like insulation around a wire cannot repair unless current moving through it becomes so low that insulation doesn’t get burnt. However, this herb is astringent also and that is why it can increase vata in an already vata person creating even more anxiety than earlier including other side effects of high astringency like pitta in peripherals (that is why Ashwagandha is said to be warming). Moreover too much of Gaba (more than required) meaning very less of pitta can create issues like slowing down of blood circulation and improper breakdown of food and thus would increase even more vata in the long run. This is seen in those people who indiscreetly use Ashwagandha or Gaba (synthetically produced drug available on the counter) without knowing their constitution (prakriti) and current state of health (vikruti) and end up developing poor jatharagni (digestive fire) and/or bodyaches and/or anxiety.
Pearl is simply calcium carbonate (CaCO3) a very important ingredient in many Ayurvedic medicines which is used by even modern science to reduce or neutralize acidity in the body that gets produced due to excess pitta as a result of consumption of excess pungency/sourness not in line with one’s constitution/weather/location etc. Even conch and corals are primarily made up of CaCO3 and are used in formulations for reducing acidity.
*** Astrologically pearl represents moon and is recommended to be worn by those who are high on Pitta (Sun) to calm down their acidity.
Again primarily bitter in nature, this herb mimics Dopamine, a neurotransmitter found primarily in brain which becomes short in supply when enough blood doesn’t reach the brain (high prana vata) leading to issues like Parkinson’s. And this is why this herb is used to calm down a hyperactive mind. But yes it is not a permanent solution. The permanent solution lies in increasing blood flow to the brain through Brahmi and its concoctions.
This herb’s alkaloids (which impart its bitterness) work as beta blockers and thus reduce heart beats. The herb is also astringent in nature. Thus together these two tastes along with milk push more sweetness (of milk) through blood towards heart and remove deep seated vata of the heart. This is a wonderful herb for those having weak heart (vata ridden characterized by palpitations). However its wrong to use this herb for too long to control high BP. This is because slower heart rate will reduce vata from the heart but increase vata in peripherals leading to several health issues in the long run.
*** check out this blog..
ARISTHTAS AND SAVAS
Alcohol is bitter and therefore vasodilating and that is why in order to push the qualities of herb/s deeper into the targeted areas, Ayurveda uses Arishtas and Savas which have self generated alcohol (around 5 percent). Again depending upon where vata is sitting, these formulations should be used in daytime or nighttime.
This fruit is bitter (vasodilating), highly astringent, sweet and slightly pungent but cold in nature. Because of its tastes, its effects are similar to that of Brahmi. So while Brahmi is called so as it imparts Brahm Gyan (the ultimate knowledge of God Brahama, Woodapple is offered to Lord Shiva as it cools down the person by calming deep seated vata and pitta). Again like Brahmi, the time of its consumption has its effect either on the brain or on the digestive system.
And now lets discuss about the concoctions prepared by mixing these herbs. Please note before proceeding that composition of formulations may vary (though minutely) from one brand to another though the main herbs and overall principle remains same. Also to keep the blog short and crisp, the main ingredients of the formulations are being discussed.
This medicine is primarily composed of finely grounded pearl with rose water. So while pearl neutralizes acids in the body, the sourness (which was either the cause of acidity or got produced due to acids in the body) gets balanced by astringency of rose. Rose is cold too and hence pacifies pitta, which might have been the reason or result of sourness. Easy to guess that this medicine is excellent for conditions like GERD, pitta headaches and other inflammatory diseases etc.
Medha means wisdom and wisdom can be there only in a settled mind (not very high on vata). And that is why medha vati is used for settling diseases arising out of ones aggravated Vata like dementia, insomnia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, anxiety, vata depression. The formulation is primarily composed of Brahmi, Ashwagandha, Shankhpushpi, Jatmanashi, Serpentine, Praval and Mukta Pishti and fennel. When the brain doesn’t get enough blood, apart from its decay, it is also unable to effectively produce those chemicals (primarily neurotransmitters) which are required for the body to function normally. So while Brahmi reduces prana vata by gradually restoring blood supply to the brain, it also acts a carrier due to its bitterness (vasodilation) and astringency and pushes the qualities of other herbs/medicines of the concoction into the brain. Here, serpentine being a silicate of magnesium and other important minerals like iron etc. helps in pushing essential minerals to the emaciated brain and helps in calming down the overworked nerves especially due to magnesium. Jatamansi being bitter, astringent and sweet works similar to Brahmi and aids it in doing the job of settling overall pitta. Shankhpushpi is bitter and cooling and further helps to calm down the mind. Fennel’s job is to digest ama (toxins) stuck in vata ridden places.
*** Since Bael fruit also has similar properties as Brahmi, Manas Mitra another ayurvedic formulation uses Beal instead of brahmi to give a similar effect to mind as medha vati does. Certain brands also add Licorice in these medicines in very small quantities to fight inflammation as licorice mimics anabolic steroids of the body.
It has similar ingredients to that of Medha Vati however here Mutka Pishti is in higher ratio. This is because high pitta and its side effects get pacified by Mukta pishti and that is why this medicine is used to treat hypertension due to a high VP mind. Some brands use Sarpagandha too in this formulation to further calm down the mind. Certain brands also add Arjuna bark to strengthen a weak heart since mind and heart are closely connected.
This famous medicine is a combination of three fruits. The Astringent and pungent tastes of fruits Haritaki and Vibhataki help to burn toxins/fat and neutralize excess sourness in the body and Amalki neutralizes acidity in the body due to excess sourness. This is a wonderful medicine for removing excess plump from the body but the issue is that it is good for those with kapha mind but not for vata minds as it increases vata due to astringency and pungency. So those who put on weight due to vata pushing kapha phenomenon cannot afford to take this medicine as it will create issues like headaches, insomnia etc.
Another formulation that uses three fruits (ginger, black pepper and pippali) whose aftertaste is primarily pungent (and very mildly astringent) is a wonderful medicine for scraping off, excess fat/calcified cholesterol/toxins from the body.
- All medicines work on the basic principle of six tastes and therefore a person who has complete understanding of six tastes can create most of the medicines even at home by using various food items.
- Most of the medicines having bitter taste including Arishtas and Savas, work through vasodilation using gravity and therefore their time of consumption (while in upright or lying down position) have different effects on different parts of the body and that is why this aspect (time of their consumption) is extremely important while prescribing them in absence of which it can create even more imbalances instead of repairing the existing ones.
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