As the popularity of Ayurveda is growing, an increasing number of Americans are realizing the health benefits of the herbs that play an essential role in this age-old system of healing. There are a number of Ayurvedic herbs that are finding their way into American medicine cabinets. Ayurvedic herbs are used for a number of reasons: to boost immunity, to maintain overall health, to calm the nerves, support mental clarity and focus, to protect the body from toxins, to improve digestion, and to support innate healing processes. Here we have combined some of the botanical medicines that are known to be quite effective through thousands of years of practice.
Herbs that have long histories of traditional use in Ayurveda
Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia):
This edible gourd needs to be every physician’s ‘go-to’ herb for all the Americans suffering from high-normal glucose readings or borderline diabetic patients. The hypoglycemic action of bitter melon can be explained through several mechanisms. It has been shown to increase peripheral glucose oxidation as well as glucose tolerance. It also decreases hepatic gluconeogenesis, while increasing glycogen synthesis. Bitter melon have been considered to have a role in reducing cardiovascular risk, especially in people with diabetes or metabolic syndrome. Bitter melon products are usually standardized to their constituents and are dispensed in 500-600 mg doses, twice daily, following meals.
Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum):
This plant, which is found growing in gardens, has a rich fragrance which opens respiratory passages and help the spirit soar. The compounds of Holy Basil have antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties. The various oils compounds found in the plant have shown extensive antimicrobial and antifungal activity against a variety of pathogens such as Candida albicans and Escherichia coli. In classical Ayurveda, Holy Basil was used as an anti-tussive, to clear excess dampness in the lungs. This herb has also been shown to increase lung capacity as well as reduce labored breathing. Moreover, Holy Basil is known to significantly reduce several measures of stress in generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) patients. The herb can be taken in liquid forms, in capsule and in tea as well. It is dispensed in 600-700 mg doses, twice daily, before meals.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa):
This is one of Ayurveda’s true treasures. This plant has been claimed to enhance flexibility and joint integrity. The Turmeric’s components have been recently shown to provide a number of diverse benefits for human health, such as high antioxidant activity, preservation of brain function, regulation of inflammation in conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer prevention. The herb shows anti-inflammatory effects without the gastric compilations which are sometimes observed with other anti-inflammatory agents like aspirin. Because of its poor bioavailability, it is considered best to use standardized Turmeric extracts. Conservative dosing starts at 600-700 mg once or twice daily, after meals.
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