Did you know some of the best Ayurvedic herbs are found in many kitchen cabinets? Everyday herbs and spices like turmeric, cardamom, ginger, and licorice are not just great for cooking; they’re also medicinal powerhouses.
Learn which Ayurvedic herbs and spices are considered the best and why.
The Health Benefits of Ayurvedic Herbs
Herbs are used in Ayurveda for healing and nourishment. According to Ayurveda, botanicals contain wisdom and essences which are carried into the body’s tissues and into one’s consciousness. The effects of herbs on our doshas or energies can be profound and harnessed for healing.
In addition, Ayurvedic herbs and spices can help improve our daily functioning by:
- Dispelling ama (toxins)
- Improving digestion by increasing digestive juices of the gastrointestinal tract and aiding nutrient assimilation
- Calming inflammation
- Boosting energy
- Increasing cognitive function
The long term effects of incorporating Ayurvedic herbs and spices are associated with decreases in more serious diseases and illness as well.
The 11 Best Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices
Here are some of the best Ayurvedic herbs based on the benefits they provide from consistent use:
Referred to as the “spice of life,” turmeric (or curcumin) is full of anti-inflammatory properties and is a powerful blood cleanser. It is used often in Ayurvedic cooking as it adds color, flavor, and is chock full of beneficial properties for the whole body. It works directly on the liver and helps to balance Pitta dosha. It can be eaten/incorporated daily in cooking or in the Ayurvedic herbal tonic, Chyawanprash. Keep in mind that turmeric should always be consumed with black pepper in order to increase the bioavailability of nutrients.
Used traditionally in Ayurveda to help battle the symptoms and causes of viral infections, Tulsi (or Holy Basil), is effective in banishing excess congestion and Kapha in the body, making it excellent for respiratory conditions. It is safe to drink daily as a tea, or you can get your daily dose from Chyawanprash.
Ashwagandha is an incredibly powerful herb that literally translates to “horse-essence,” which is an ode to its strength in healing and balancing the endocrine and nervous systems. Ashwagandha is good for energy, burn-out, and sluggishness, and is also found in Chyawanprash.
While Ashwagandha may be too heating for some constitutions, Shatavari provides cooling and balancing alternatives for the adrenals and other organ systems of the body. Shatavari is excellent especially for women, as it helps to regulate the menstrual cycle and detoxifies the liver. Using Shatavari daily is safe and recommended, and is even incorporated into most Chyawanprash formulas in order to help balance the body and promote wellness.
Used primarily in teas or cuisine, licorice root is often incorporated in Ayurvedic medicine to help soothe the mucous membranes of the gastrointestinal tract and respiratory system. It creates an elixir that has a smooth and sweet taste. Licorice is incorporated in Chyawanprash, which is safe and encouraged for daily consumption.
Used for centuries in Ayurveda as well as Chinese medicine, neem is fantastic against fungal infections, bacteria, and viruses. It is particularly effective in skin conditions, and can be used topically in people with psoriasis, eczema, bug bites, rashes, and to prevent infection. You can also get your daily dose from Chyawanprash.
With its sweet and nourishing nature, cardamom is used often in cooking or baking in Ayurvedic cuisine. It contains beautiful and clarifying energies and helps balance all doshas, making it an excellent tridoshic herb or spice to add to many recipes. It is especially helpful in reducing Kapha dosha and neutralizing the acidic effects of certain foods or drinks. Wild cardamom is included in Chyawanprash formulas to add the delicious taste, as well lend its more medicinal properties.
Used in numerous medicine modalities across the world, ginger is notorious for its anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and mucous-fighting properties. It is excellent in teas when feeling under-the-weather, and is beneficial in numerous dishes, whether more sweet or savory. Ginger is beneficial in increasing agni of the tissues, aiding in digestion, decreasing nausea, decreasing inflammation, lowering blood sugar, lowering cholesterol, balancing reproductive organ functions, increasing brain function, and regulating weight. Dried ginger is heating, while fresh ginger is more neutral or cooling. Ginger is included in Chyawanprash, making it effortless to obtain your daily ginger intake.
One of the most effective blood and liver cleansers, Ayurveda has been incorporating manjishtha as a powerful herb for detoxification for centuries. It’s wildly effective in helping with skin disorders (like cystic acne) and provides anti-inflammatory effects on the kidneys and blood.
Opted mostly for balancing Vata dosha, guggul is used frequently in Ayurveda for balancing all conditions. This is because Vata dosha may also be responsible for the imbalances of the other doshas, depending on one’s Prakriti and Vikriti. It is excellent in increasing circulation, removing ama, enhancing digestion, and calming the nervous system. It is often mixed with other herbs depending on the condition.
Amalaki and Triphala
Amalaki or Amla berry is a revered fruit in Ayurveda. Included in most rasayanas, like Triphala and Chyawanprash, Amalaki has a high vitamin C concentration, antioxidants benefits, anti-inflammatory effects, and digestive balances.
Many of these herbs and spices can be incorporated in your life through cooking, but if you’re looking for an easy and powerful way to experience their benefits, add a teaspoon of Chyawanprash to your morning routine. Consuming Chyawanprash everyday is a simply and delicious effective way to begin implementing more health boosting herbs into your diet.
Ceanna Saatsaz is Licensed Master Esthetician, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, and Certified Professional Herbalist, from Seattle, WA.