Ashwaghanda is widely regarded as one of the most important tonics in Ayurveda and perfect for helping to strengthen your immune system.
Ashwaghanda rejuvenates and promotes strength. It has a calming effect on the body and mind as a stress reducer and can deeply relax the nervous system. As an adaptogenic it can equally give you energy when you need it – it essentially brings nervous system into balance. It can also help to promote sleep (try it in a glass of war, milk – see below).
It also has expectorant qualities, which are helpful if you have respiratory conditions like coughs and asthma, although it is best avoided if you are suffering from toxin overload or severe congestion.
Ashwagandha can also be used in a massage oil form to give strength and warmth to your muscles.
Ashwagandha does have a slight heating effect so if you have a tendency towards heat in other words if you have what is termed in Ayurveda a “Pitta” constitution, use only a little Ashwagandha.
Use between 250 milligrams to 1 gram of ashwaghanda in some cold or warm milk with either ghee or honey. The powder can also be added to basmati rice cooked in milk. Ashwaghanda is a member of the nightshade family, so if yo have trouble digesting tomatoes, potatoes and peppers, it is best to avoid it.
Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant making it the immune boosting tonic of choice for many people.
As an anti-inflammatory, turmeric helps your body fight bacteria and virus and further helps your body repair itself.
While it is incredibly popular the absolute key thing to remember with turmeric is that unless it is delivered properly it essentially just passes right through your body with no effect at all. For that reason it is recommended to use a product BioPerine which enhances the absorption of the active ingredient of turmeric namely curcumin absorption by 2,000%.
Chyavanprash nourishes all your body tissues. Its principle constituent is amalaki, a type of gooseberry that contains more vitamin C by weight than any other food substance (see below).
Chyavanprash comes as a type of jam and is delicious. As such you can eat it as it is. You can also add it to warm milk (unless you have a cold in which case avoid the milk as the dairy can aggravate congestion).
Take 10 grams a day – 5 grams after breakfast and 5 grams after dinner. Increase the amount to 30 grams if you have a cold or an immune system imbalance however use no more than this, otherwise you get a laxative effect.
Amalaki is an excellent source of vitamin C, carotene, vitamin B3 and riboflavin. It is cooling, calming and is good for your stomach. As such it is very useful if you are hot headed are prone to heat or what is referred to in Ayurveda as having a Pitta dosha or constitution.
Amalaki works on all your tissues. It is said to stop hair from greying as well as prevent hair loss. It can be very useful in the case of anaemia, because it helps in the absorption of iron. Take one teaspoon or 1 gram per day of Amalaki in chyavanprash as set out above to boost immunity. A general dose for daily use to ward off illness is 250 milligrams to 1 gram per day. Take no more than this as Amalaki can act as a diuretic and laxative.
Shatavari is a particularly nourishing herb for women. It nourishes and supports the female reproductive system, supports digestion and increase libido.
It is also extremely cooling and as such it is an excellent tonic for both men and women who have a heated or “Pitta” constitution in Ayurveda. It can aid in the treatment of painful periods and is useful to men who suffer from a low sperm count.
It is not suitable for people suffering from a lot of congestion (referred to in Ayurveda as having an imbalanced “Kapha” constitution).
A quarter of a teaspoon of Shatavari powder can be taken in a cup of warm milk with one teaspoon of ghee and a little honey. Taken as a powder, it’s safe to use three to six grams a day. You can also add a pinch of Pippali and drink this as a tonic once a day.
Triphala is the Ayurvedic wonder concoction for digestion. It contains 3 Ayurvedic super fruits – Amalaki, Bibhitaki, and Haritaki. It lubricates the colon so that you can more efficiently absorb nutrients and more completely empty the bowels. It is also an antioxidant and the Amalaki component of Triphala is an excellent source of vitamin C, carotene, vitamin B3 and riboflavin.
Ginger is a fantastic all-rounder kitchen tonic. It is a digestive aid and antioxidant. It reduces inflammation and reduces toxins. It helps settle the stomach post-meals and during travel. A slice of fresh ginger and lemon in a cup of warm water is a fantastic way to start the day and cleanse the system.
Tulsi purifies the air and is a very effective remedy for coughs, colds, bronchitis and asthma. Make a tea by steeping a few tulsi leaves in hot water and adding half a teaspoon of ginger. Add some honey if you wish. Drink the tea three times a day if you have a cold or flu, or enjoy as a daily tonic if you want a boost. Holy Basil can also be purchased as an essential oil and a few drops can be used in a diffusers as a space purifier.
Pippali acts as a decongestant, expectorant, carminative (meaning it relieves gas and distension) and analgesic. It is strongly heating, which makes it very useful for promoting good digestion and getting rid of toxic build-up in your body, and is useful if you have constipation. Pippali can be used to treat anaemia and blood disorders and helps regulate spleen and liver function. It is also commonly used to treat coughs. Take half a teaspoon of powder with honey to aid your lungs. You can use pippali to strengthen the lungs by using it as a rejuvenative.
To use pippali as a tonic, boil peppercorns in a cup of milk and then drink the milk. To start with, on the first day of using the tonic boil one Pippali peppercorn in a cup of milk. Then add one peppercorn each day to the milk until you reach 20 peppercorns. Over the next 20 days, reduce the number of peppercorns by one each day until you’re down to just one peppercorn, and then stop the treatment.
You can also boil 250 to 500 milligrams of powdered pippali in half a pint of water, or take up to three peppercorns with a little honey in the morning to remove excess mucus in your system. Due to its heating qualities do not use pippali when your tissues are inflamed or you if are prone to heat or hot headedness (a “Pitta” constitution in Ayurveda). Do not take more than the recommended dose.
Bala provides strength to the body. It is a rejuvenating tonic known to promote vigour. It is also anti-inflammatory and encourages cell growth. Bala rejuvenates and maintains nerve tissue and bone marrow and is therefore useful for nervous impairments such as sciatica and neuralgia. Bala is also helpful as a heart tonic and aids lung function or impaired breathing. It acts as a diuretic and can be useful in alleviating painful urination. Bala is also an aphrodisiac. To use add 250 milligrams to 1 gram of Bala to a glass of milk.