ayurvedic medicine

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Ayurvedic Medicine

1. Ajmoda
Celery seed:

As with all members of the Umbelliferae family with their ascendant flower and seed heads, this is a digestive 'lightener'. Its pungency and aromatic nature activate the digestive process and make light work of heavy food. Literally meaning 'goat's delight', ajmoda is a delicious shrub.

Lungs Asthma, bronchitis, cough, sinus congestion. It actively helps to dilate the bronchioles by preventing spasm in the airways. It positively affects the flow of prana and udana vayu. Excess mucus accumulation, a sign of aggravated avalambaka kapha is 'digested' . Digestion Flatulence, borborygmus and intestinal cramps. Low agni is stimulated by the pungent volatile oils. Samana vayu is regulated and apana vayu encouraged to flow freely downwards. It encourages the natural downward movement of digestion (Tierra 1988). Nerves Spasms, cramps and muscular tension. Obstructed vata is released by reducing tension throughout the whole nervous system; this directly regulates the tension versus relaxation balance in the smooth muscles. Ajmoda benefits heart pain caused by nervous constriction . As an antispasmodic with an affinity for the lower abdomen it can also help ease the pain of dysmenorrhoea and menstrual cramps. Urine Ajmoda seed is a specific herb for treating kidney and bladder discomfort from cold; frequent, pale urine with lower backache and nocturia . Caution should be observed in kidney inflammation as the volatile oils may cause irritation (BHMA 1992). Conversely, the vegetable 'stalk' heals the urinary system afflicted with problems from heat, such as urinary irritation, cystitis, pain and frequent, dark urination with burning. Joints Ajmoda is a specific herb for rheumatism, arthritis and gout. It directly reduces pain by assisting excretion of inflammatory ama toxins via the mutravahasrotas.
2. Ajwain
Bishop's weed (E), Ajwain (H):

Deliciously aromatic, ajwain is a wonderful remedy for sluggish digestion and coughs. A truly warming seed.

Digestion Specifically indicated for low digestive fire (mandagni). It combines warming digestive pungency with antispasmodic and bitter activity; antiflatulent, digestive cramps and sluggish digestion. Also benefits worms and fungal infections of the intestines (Swami Prakashananda Ayurveda Research Centre 1992). It is specific for digesting ama and stagnant toxins within the digestive tract. It works on samana vayu, the prana that controls digestion in the centre of the abdomen, and stimulates pacaka pitta, the pitta subtype overseeing digestion in the small intestine. It is specifically indicated for hiccups, belching and rebellious apana vata moving upwards instead of downwards. Lungs As an antispasmodic it effectively eases wheezing and constricted lungs due to vata and cold. Used where there is white and copious phlegm with high avalambaka kapha. Also beneficial in sinus and nasal congestion; it stimulates and opens the channels of the head (manovahasrotas). Nerves Ajwain relaxes tension in the nervous system; especially in the lower abdomen, reproductive system and lungs. Use in menstrual cramping, colic, wheezing and general anxiety. As it benefits the whole nervous system it can help to lift the sluggish lethargy of mild depression. It normalises the flow of vata and all the pranas around the body. By aiding udana vayu, the prana regulating speech and enthusiasm, and by clearing the lungs and throat, it opens the way for clear communication . Urine As a warming diuretic it can clear urinary frequency from cold. It also benefits painful urination caused by calculi.
3. Aloe
Aloe vera:

The Indian name for aloe vera is kuma-r?- meaning 'young maiden', which reveals its affinity for the female menstrual cycle and its rejuvenative powers for maintaining youthfulness.

Gynaecology The gel and juice are salutary when there is excess bleeding or clots. As kumari clears the liver it directly affects raktavahasrotas and the flow of pitta in the blood. This affects the artavasrotas, the menstrual channel, as it is responsible for regulating the uterus. It is a wonderful tonic for the female reproductive system. Its cooling and unctuous properties make it very effective for treating the hot and dry symptoms of menopause. Skin The gel contains polysaccharides that are specifically healing for the skin and mucous membranes. It has an affinity for bhrajaka pitta and enhances the quality of the skin; used topically to treat psoriasis, ulcers, eczema, seborrhoeic dermatitis and mouth ulcers. One of the best ayurvedic herbs for healing burns, scars, wounds and stretch marks. Very beneficial taken internally for hot, inflamed pitta conditions; eczema, urticaria, ulcers, acne. Specific for use in jaundice and viral hepatitis. Digestion The gel of the inner portion of the leaf is a mild laxative as its bitter principle works via the liver to encourage the release of bile. This effect can help to regulate blood sugar in diabetics and lipid levels in hypertriglyceridaemia (Plaskett 1996). As it is a cooling and demulcent herb that directly clears pitta and heals mucous membranes it is a specific for hyperacidity, peptic ulcers, ulcerative colitis and any bleeding from the intestines. Its ability to regulate bacteria levels in the intestines indicates use in Candida albicans and as a remedy for improving gastric and intestinal function (Bland 1985, Murray 1992, Bone 2003). The dry and powdered extract of the leaf (also known as cape aloes) is strongly purgative and benefits pitta types. It should only be used in the short term. Eyes As a netrarogaghna herb it destroys eye diseases. Applied externally it is very soothing for eye inflammation and eyelid swelling.
4. Amalaki
Indian gooseberry (E), Amla (H):

'Amla' literally means 'sour'; another name for amalaki is dhatrdhatr means 'mother' or 'nurse', indicating that amalaki is the ultimate carer and healer. It is the major ingredient in Cyavanapra-´sa-, the elixir tonic paste that is a superb rejuvenative for the lungs, all three dos.as and the reproductive system. Use amalaki for reducing inflammation in the digestive tract, assisting the bowels and strengthening the heart.

Digestion Specifically indicated for digestive sensitivity; constipation, ulcers, acidity, gastritis, colitis, hepatitis, haemorrhoids. Especially useful in inflammatory and bleeding conditions of the intestines. A small dose constipates while a larger dose is a laxative. It is a very effective liver cleanser; its sour flavour 'squeezes' the liver, and its antioxidant properties protect it. Heart Its affinity for the blood helps to nourish and protect the heart. It protects by reducing elevated cholesterol and healing arterial damage. It is a super antioxidant and a tonic for general debility and weakness; use for palpitations and for recovery post-illness. It helps to nourish rakta dhatu and enkindles raktadhatvagni to function efficiently, hence alleviating deficiency conditions such as anaemia that can affect heart function. It specifically pacifies an aggravated sadhaka pitta and this influences the clarity and calmness of the mind (medhya rasayana). Metabolic disorders Diabetes (pittaja prameha type) is treated by its microcirculatory-stimulating and ojas-enhancing properties, anaemia due to excess bile vitiating the blood, and hair loss from excess pitta burning the roots of the hair. The oil is especially good at alleviating hair loss and early greyness. It is a renowned rejuvenative and adaptogen famed for slowing age (vayahsthapana), increasing virility, promoting immunityand inducing balanced health (satmikarana). Consider using amalaki as an immune restorative and hepatoprotective during radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments.
5. Anthrapachaka
Indian ipecac:

This climber grows all over the Indian plains. Its 'viney' nature reflects its ability to spread, diffuse and ascend upwards through the lungs. Anthrapachaka literally means 'digestion in the entrails' relating to its ability to remove parasites from the intestines.

Lungs Asthma, bronchitis, rhinitis, hayfever; allergic conditions of the respiratory tract. Human clinical trials report the efficacy of its antiallergenic effect, proving beneficial in reducing asthma. Digestion Amoebic dysentery, diarrhoea; it has an antiprotozoal action and is antispasmodic. Seen as an effective replacement for ipecacuanha. Immunity Allergies, autoimmune disorders; arthritis.
6. Aragvadha
Purging cassia (E), Amaltas (H):

A gentle laxative used to clear pitta from the intestines.

Digestion Beneficial where there is constipation from heat drying the fluids in the colon. Specific for high pitta in the intestines where pacaka and ran˜jaka pitta are aggravated. As a gentle laxative it is used in children, the elderly and in pregnancy where constitutionally appropriate. It descends apana vayu and clears flatulence. It is a specific remedy to help ease the discomfort of piles . Skin By helping to eliminate pitta toxins from the rasa and rakta dhatu it benefits skin aggravations by cleansing the blood. Most useful for hot and damp skin conditions with itching, suppuration and inflammation (Caraka Samhita, Williamson). Bleeding Helps in bleeding from any of the mucous membranes. Fever The ayurvedic adage is to purge a fever after it breaks, 'natu reco jvarani', and aragvadha is specifically indicated for cleansing the bowel after a fever .
7. Arjuna
Arjuna myrobalan (E), Arjun (H):

Arjuna means 'white' or 'shining', named after its bark which literally reflects light wherever this huge tree grows. Its name is also associated with 'Arjuna', one of the heroes of the great Indian epic, the Mahabharata. The pale white bark of the arjuna tree 'moults' naturally once a year; its new skin bringing new life. It is harvested when the tree is mature, thus attesting to its ability to prolong life, protect the elderly and strengthen the heart.

Heart Angina, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, hypertension have all showed signs of improvement in human clinical trials. Arjuna has also been shown to reduce total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It reduces inflammation (P) and congestion (K) that can damage the heart. Used to treat emotional disturbance and 'broken heart'. It strengthens the muscles of the heart as well as toning the capillaries and improving flexibility, which helps to prevent high blood pressure. It helps to balance the movement of vyana vayu in the heart and regulate circulation. Lungs Its affinity for the chest directs arjuna to the lungs and can help alleviate productive coughs with copious mucus in bronchitis and asthma due to excess kapha. It can also treat haemoptysis from high pitta. Liver Cirrhosis; it improves liver function and inflammation. Skin Useful as an alterative for clearing the skin of pitta inflammations; acne, acne rosacea, pruritus and urticaria. Tissue Its wound healing ability is demonstrated in post-trauma healing of scars, post-operative recovery and repairing fractures. A paste or tincture applied externally can rapidly hasten healing. It is used internally and externally for healing diabetic ulcers. Reproductive tissues Its astringency prevents premature ejaculation and uterine bleeding.
8. Ashoka
Ashok (H):

Ashoka is a famous uterine tonic specifically used for excess bleeding and pain. Lord Buddha was born under the ashoka tree and Lord Ram's wife S´? - ta was held captive in an ashoka grove in Sri Lanka. It literally means 'remover of sorrow', attesting to its ability to cure pain and discomfort.

Gynaecology A very useful herb to treat menstrual disorders associated with excess bleeding (rakta pradara), pain and congestion. Use when there are uterine spasms, abdominal pain and dysmenorrhoea. Its affinity for the uterine muscles and endometrium indicates its use as a uterine tonic to help with prolapse, miscarriage and irregular menstrual cycles. Also of benefit for clearing congestion from the mamsa and medas dhatus when there are fibroids, cysts, endometriosis and leucorrhoea from excess ama and kapha in the artava srotas (Swami Shiva Tirtha). Digestion Its astringency can help to alleviate bleeding piles and dysentery. Also used to treat colitis and ulcers. Urine It encourages the flow of urine and can help to alleviate painful urination. Pain ashoka has specific analgesic properties and can be used to soothe the nerves where they are aggravated by vata. Heart Its nourishing effect on the circulatory system makes it a useful remedy in cardiac weakness and arrhythmia.
9. Ashwagandha
Winter cherry (E), Indian ginseng (E), Asgandh (H):

The irony of ashwagandha is that it is a tonic and sedative all in one. It strengthens an exhausted nervous system that can manifest with 'hyper' signs such as emotional instability, agitation or feeling stressed out. It has the dual action of energising while calming. Its name ashwagandha meaning 'the smell of a horse', comes from the smell of the fresh root (like horse's urine), and also perhaps because it is renowned for imparting the sexual stamina of a horse.

Tissues Debility, low body weight, emaciation, deficient haemoglobin, anaemia, post-convalescent weakness, athletic exertion and with caution in pregnancy. It is useful for any imbalance in the muscles as it both reduces inflammation and strengthens muscle tone. It is a specific rasayana for mamsa dhatu and it is an anabolic muscle builder (Caraka, Bhavapraka´sa, Venkataraghavan et al 1980). As it benefits all muscle tissue it is used as a heart tonic, uterine tonic, and a lung tonic, as well as for increasing muscle weight and tone in convalescents, slow-developing children, and the elderly. Immunity Autoimmune conditions, neutropenia, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, cancer, and chronic connective tissue disorders. As a painkiller and antiinflammatory it is commonly used in swollen or painful arthritic conditions. It can strengthen a weakened immune system and protect it from becoming depleted due to immunosuppressive drugs or lifestyle. Improves white blood cell counts. It appears to have both immunosuppressive and immunotonic abilities and is therefore a 'true' adaptogen. Lungs Asthma, cough and allergic conditions from low immunity with high kapha and vata. Useful in hayfever, allergic rhinitis from aggravated vata and kapha. Nerves Neurosis, insomnia, anxiety, excessive thinking, 'hyper' symptoms and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Very useful in all conditions caused by 'stress' as it has a specific affinity for the majja dhatu and helps to regulate the movement of vyana vayu in the heart. Its tropism for the nervous system benefits multiple sclerosis. It both relaxes frayed nerves and tonifies the central nervous system to enhance tolerance to stress. It is a nourishing nevine as opposed to a heavy sedative. Reproductive Its rejuvenating effect on s´ukra dhatu helps to alleviate asthenospermia (increasing sperm motility), oligospermia (increasing sperm count), and poor sexual performance, and helps to reduce impotence. Its unique action or prabhava is to promote sexual potency and sperm production. External application of ashwagandha oil is used for impotence. Gynaecology Excellent tonic to the uterine muscles. Used in menstrual imbalance caused by a deficient condition with an aggravation of vata and uterine spasms; dysmenorrhoea, amenorrhoea, weakness. Thyroid Very useful in hypothyroid disorders to regulate thyroid activity.
10. Bakuchi
Psoralea fruit (E), Babchi (H), Bakuchi (H):

These little black seeds are famous for their use in chronic skin diseases. The outer cover of the seed is sticky and contains the therapeutically important coumarins.

Dermatology Benefits alopecia (as a tincture), psoriasis, eczema, vitiligo (as an oil or tincture); externally and internally (see notes below). The oil acts as an irritant, which stimulates the melanoblastic cells to create normal pigmentation. This can take about 3 months (Paranjpe 2001, Gogte 2002). Reproductive bakuchi is an aphrodisiac that can help to treat impotence and premature ejaculation. It benefits urinary dysfunction with dribbling, incomplete voiding, and enuresis in children. It can also benefit uterine bleeding with any doshic imbalance. Lungs Asthma caused by high vata is reduced by bakuchi's sweet and hot properties. Digestion Diarrhoea, borborygmus and abdominal pain caused by high vata and cold. Muscles Tonifies lower back, warms lower back ; good for high vata with spasmodic and chronic pain. Urine Frequent urination, incontinence; it strengthens the urinary sphincter (Benesky & Gamble 1993).

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