Ayurveda, also referred to as “the science of life”, is an ancient system of medicine from India that is still in practice today. As with other types of folk or natural medicine, many Ayurvedic remedies can be found at home and have practical uses in everyday life.
In Ayurveda, herbs are considered food, and food is the primary method of treating different ailments. These foods can be sorted into one of 3 different categories, called doshas:
- Vata – which represents the element of air
- Pitta- which represents the element of fire, and
- Kapha- which represents the element of water.
Like food, every individual has a dominant dosha, or constitution. The following Ayurvedic home remedies or herbs can help balance the doshas within the body, and restore health and wellness.
1. CORIANDER (CILANTRO)
Coriander is a delightful herb that also goes by the name cilantro. This is the same plant, however when referring to coriander, it generally means the seed, whereas cilantro refers to the leaves or green parts of the plant.
Coriander is naturally antibacterial and carminative, or soothing to the digestive tract. It helps facilitate digestion and is also a natural diuretic. Coriander seeds are used to treat gas, indigestion, bloating and edema. Additionally, coriander tea can be used topically to treat rashes and dermatitis.
Fennel is a culinary spice with a distinct flavor similar to black licorice. It is used in Ayurvedic home remedies for the stomach and digestive system. Like coriander, it is naturally carminative, and helps ease gas and bloating. It also contains phytoestrogens and is sometimes used to address feminine issues such as irregular periods.
For bad breath, simply chew on a teaspoon of fennel seeds once or twice a day until the issue resolves. Also, coriander and fennel seeds make an excellent home remedy for gas, indigestion or upset stomach related to over-eating. In addition, fennel juice can be used to treat chronic coughs.
Long before it became a culinary delight in the West, garlic was used as both food and medicine anciently by those in the East. It is naturally antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. During World Wars I and II it was used as a natural antibiotic and came to be known as “Russian penicillin”.
For medicinal purposes, garlic is best eaten fresh by dicing it and adding it to soups and other dishes. Whole garlic cloves may also be eaten raw. It is used by herbalists as a home remedy for the common cold and flu. It has even been shown in studies to reduce symptoms and the duration of colds.
It is also naturally anticoagulant and is sometimes used as a natural blood thinner and to prevent heart disease and high cholesterol.
Ginger is a root spice that also has an ancient history in folk medicine. It is considered stimulating and cleansing, and is often used to treat digestive problems or issues relating to pain and inflammation.
Ginger tea is easily made by slicing fresh ginger root and steeping in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. It can be used as a home remedy for nausea and vomiting, gas and indigestion, morning sickness, motion sickness and headaches.
Triphala is actually a combination of three plants, amalaki, bibhitaki and haritaki. These plants are considered cleansing and help facilitate digestion and excretion. This Ayurvedic formula is used mainly to treat occasional constipation, although it can be used as part of an internal cleansing or detoxification program as well. It is naturally antioxidant and antibacterial.
Turmeric is a culinary spice used in curries and other Eastern dishes. It is the ingredient that gives some curry its golden color. It is the root of turmeric which is used for either cooking or healing purposes. It is dried, and then ground to be used in cooking or herbal teas.
Turmeric is a versatile plant that is used for a variety of medicinal purposes. It is used by herbalists to treat anything from joint pain and arthritis, to indigestion, colitis and stomach ulcers. In addition, research has shown it to be effective against both diabetes and cancer.
7. USAGE OF AYURVEDIC HOME REMEDIES
Although many of the herbs are readily available in the home, it is important to consult a health care provider before using herbs medicinally. Remember that Ayurvedic home remedies and other natural therapies should be used in conjunction with, and not in place of conventional medical care.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Alternative Medicine Index: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/