The Foundational Ingredients All Ayurvedics Love
Potent. Beloved. Humble. These amazing ingredients are foundational to every Ayurvedic's practice.
Neem leaves, an evergreen plant indigenous to India, are an all-purpose Ayurvedic remedy. They were traditionally crushed into a paste and applied directly to the skin for its multitude of skin protective effects. It can work as an antifungal, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory agent, as well as combat eczema and acne. Neem leaves are high in fatty acids and help to reduce pain and redness. This is particularly helpful in regards to sores, burns or lacerations. As an antibacterial and antiseptic agent, neem leaves also prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria.
This age-old Ayurvedic remedy is named after Brahman, one of the highest states of consciousness. Brahmi is known as a powerful brain tonic in Ayurvedic medicine used to combat stress, improve focus and concentration, and jog the memory. It also supports relaxation, calms emotions and helps with restful sleep. In addition, brahmi is very useful in clearing the skin and enabling smooth operation of the joints. Massaging it into the scalp can support healthy hair growth as well as a sharp alertness.
Ghee is clarified butter originating from ancient India and is essential in supporting the digestive fire, or agni. A staple in both Ayurvedic medicine and Indian cooking, ghee is used to calm the mind, promote a healthy digestive tract, and boost the immune system. Its oily nature is crucial for hydration and for balancing Vata and Pitta doshas. Rich in vitamins A, E, D, and K, ghee can also promote bone and brain health, as well as foster overall wellness.
Holy basil, also known as tulsi, is considered sacred by many in India and is grown in many temple gardens. It can help to open respiratory passages, reduce labored breathing and help clear excess dampness in the lungs. Holy basil can also reduce stress and balance the Vata and Kapha doshas but increase Pitta. Taken in tea, capsules or other liquid forms, holy basil enhances sleep quality and promotes healthy digestion Having a holy basil plant in your home can also ward away environmental toxins.
This Ayurvedic medicinal plant has been traditionally used for hair care. Shikakai is used to treat skin related issues such as scabies, dry skin, dandruff, and itchy skin. Used as a hair wash, shampoo or hair pack, shikakai can help to add shine and lustre to hair, as well as detangle and soften. Aside from stimulating hair growth, shikakai can also nourish the scalp with its anti-fungal properties.
Also known as “winter cherry” or “Indian ginseng”, the ashwagandha root has been used for thousands of years and is best for balancing the Vata dosha. This rejuvenative herb helps the body to combat stress, promote stamina and induce natural energy. As a body-balancing herb, it can help to fight insomnia and anxiety, as well as promoting a clear mind and memory.
Found in many Ayurvedic traditions, triphala means “three fruits”. It can be used as a detoxifying agent and bowel tonic as well as a digestive agent by promoting peristalsis. Triphala can also be used as a powerful antioxidant and help to support healthy respiratory, cardiovascular, urinary and nervous system functions. The three fruits involved in make triphala include amalaki, bibhitaki, and haritaki. Amalaki has a cooling effect that manages the pitta dosha. Bibhitaki is good for the kapha dosha and supports the respiratory system. Haritaki is good for all three doshas and has a detoxifying effect.
Amalaki, or Indian Gooseberry, is a vitamin and mineral rich antioxidant agent essential for reducing signs of aging. It can produce a natural glow to your skin and lighten your complexion, as well as act as a purifier to prevent breakouts. Carotene and iron rich, amalaki can also reduce hair loss by preventing free radicals from damaging hair follicles, and stimulate hair growth. It can enhance your natural hair color and prevent dryness by removing dead cells and restoring moisture to your scalp. Amalaki contains large amounts of vitamin C,and helps to pacify the doshas Vata, Pitta and Kapha. It also promotes detoxification by improving the diet, and balancing the agni, or digestive fire.
Shatavari, used for centuries in Ayurveda as a rejuvenative aid for the reproductive system functions, is translated as “having one hundred roots”. It was traditionally used to support women of all ages transitioning through the natural phases of bodily changes, including menstruation and menopause. Shatavari can promote healthy levels of breast milk production, soothe the digestive tract, support healthy bowel movements, balance hormone levels, and support the immune system. In Ayurveda, it is also used to balance the pitta and vata doshas, as well as to balance bodily fluids. In addition, shatavari can soothe dry and irritated respiratory tracts, making it useful for issues such as bronchitis.
Shilajit is made up of sticky, tar-like resin substance that oozes out of the mountainous regions in the hot summer sun. This nutrient rich biomass has traditionally been known in Ayurvedic medicine as the best carrier of energy. It is abundant in fulvic and humic acids, two of the main substances responsible for energy production with the cell. Also known as “rock invincible” and the “Destroyer of Weakness”, shilajit is also made up of dibenzo alpha pyrones, responsible for deep rejuvenation and energy production by driving oxygen and nutrients into the cell. As a natural antioxidant, it can help the body rid itself of free radicals. In addition, shilajit is believed to improve symptoms in issues such as chronic bronchitis, anemia, urinary tract disorders, jaundice and mental decline.