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What are Ayurvedic Herbs?

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  • Written By: Christina Crockett
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2016
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Ayurvedic herbs are part of a traditional medicinal practice native to India, and the name translate literally to “science of life." These herbs are variations of natural, organic herbs derived from plants and animal products that aid in the treatment of disease, illness and imbalances within the body. Ayurvedic herbal medicine is considered an alternative medicine in Western civilization, but the practice traces back more than 2,000 years. It is one of the oldest forms of organized medicine.

The Ayurvedic form of herbal medicine focuses on individual characteristics and the imbalances within the mind, body, soul and environment. Organic Ayurvedic herbs are based on balancing all elements of health, and they are used to treat various aliments, to improve weight loss and immunity, to heal wounds and for purification. Ayruvedic herbal treatments use only plant-based medicine and animal products — such as bone, milk, fats and gallstones — to cure the elements of disease and illness rather than simply treating symptoms.

Found throughout the world in several variations, Ayurvedic herbs survive in tropic and subtropic regions. They are classified into five types. The first classification is origin, or from where the herb derives. The second refers to habitat, which includes plants growing on land, water, in trees or as a parasite. The third classification includes actions, or what certain type of herb treats what ailment.

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Additional classifications include the action a herb has on doshas — or Ayurveda mind and body type — and the herb’s use, whether as a drug or part of the diet. Most natural, organic herbs are free of side effects and are used to change the debilitating effects of illness by eliminating toxins from the body and improving immunity. There are numerous organic Ayurvedic herbs that are used for specific diseases and ailments.

Ayurvedic herbs such as cayenne, ginger, myrth, guggul and gotu kola act as stimulants. Arkha, gudachi and katuka are beneficial as disinfectants. Other herbs, including gingseng, aloe, sandlewood, red clover, black pepper and cinnamon, are used as an antiseptic to heal wounds. Tumeric acts as a natural antibiotic.

Black pepper, brihati and safflower all act as fever reducers. Marshmallow root is a proven antacid. Aromatic herbs such as cardamon, coriander, cloves and peppermint increase palatability and digestibility. Chamomile, fennel, basil and ginger all promote blood circulation.

Using Ayurvedic herbal supplements does not mean simply treating the symptoms of an illness or disease, but rather finding what imbalances are evident and then using the properties of herbs to restore harmony. Ayurvedic practices include finding an individual's mind and body type, or dosha. Dosha types are based on characteristics that include eye color, body frame and weight, as well as other physical features and health aspects.

There are three types of doshas that incorporate the universal elements. The first is considered vita, or wind, and the second dosha is pitta, or fire. The final dosha is kapha, or earth. Many individuals are a combination of two energies, such as pitta and kapha or vita and kapha. When the doshas of an individual are imbalanced, illness and disease permeate.

The combination of Ayurvedic herbs are used to regain dosha equilibrium and overall health. Once practitioners diagnose conditions of the ailment and dosha imbalances, the proper prescription of herbs can be administered. Each person is different and therefore require specific requirements of Ayurvedic herbs.

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