4 Essential Ayurvedic Ingredients for Boosting Immunity
Ayurveda looks to food as a way to both nourish our bodies and provide immunity-enhancing, invigorating herbs and spices. This gives reason why each and every Ayurvedic dish is cooked with intention and the highest quality ingredients. What we consume (and how we consume it) is vital to our wellbeing. Food truly is medicine.
Within the ancient science, there are a variety of Ayurvedic herbs and spices—four of which we highlight below—that have long been touted for their incredible ability to boost or repair the immune system. While it is important to always honor and care for our immunity, it can be crucial to do so during times that leave us particularly vulnerable.
Indian Gooseberry—also known as Amla—is an incredibly effective healer in Ayurveda. Medical experts have been referred to it as "the most important medicinal plant in the Indian traditional system of medicine." A round bright green fruit with glossy skin, Indian Gooseberry is rich in vitamin C (it has approximately twenty times the vitamin C of lemons), polyphenols, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants including beta carotene, gallic acid, and ellagic acid. Practitioners have long used Indian Gooseberry to treat fevers, colds, and digestive issues. It's been known to ease inflammation and various diseases.
This essential Ayurvedic health supplement relies on the amla fruit for a good source of its healing and immunity-boosting power. Chyawanprash is a concentrated blend of about fifty botanicals, herbs, and minerals that traditionally comes in a jam-like consistency. nutrient-rich herbs and minerals. The dried extracts of rich botanicals, such as brahmi, arjun, ashwagandha, and saffron, are mixed with ghee, honey, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, and other spices, which give this sticky, rich substance a spicy, sweet flavor. Chyawanprash is touted to help invigorate our ojas—the digestive fire—and support overall vitality.
Holy Basil—also known as Tulsi—is a north star in Ayurvedic herbs and a respected ally to our immune system. (The ancient system of medicine calls it "the queen of herbs.") A beautiful leafy green and blossoming herb that is native to southeast Asia, Tulsi has rich levels of vitamins A and C, as well as essential minerals zinc, iron, and magnesium. Research shows that Tulsi "has been found to protect organs and tissues against chemical stress from industrial pollutants and heavy metals, and physical stress from prolonged physical exertion, ischemia, physical restraint and exposure to cold and excessive noise," while also helping to bolster cognitive and immune function.
An evergreen plant indigenous to India and an all-purpose Ayurvedic remedy, Neem—also known as Azadirachta Indica—is one of our favorite botanicals at UMA. (We incorporate this beneficial oil in a bounty of our products, including our Beauty Boosting Navel Therapy Oil.) Traditionally crushed into a paste and applied directly to the skin, Neem works as an effective way to ease aggravated skin and heal sores, burns, and lacerations. When taken internally, the plant can also help to detoxify the blood and help the body fight off infection.