Rasayana herbs are an incredibly important part of Ayurvedic medicine.
In Ayurveda, medicinal plants are divided into 8 different categories – one of these being the rasayana tantra. The word literally means the path (ayana) by which the primordia plasma (rasa) travels.
Ayurveda states that the primary waters of the body, or the rasa-dhatu, have a potent effect on the body’s other dhatus, or tissues. This means that rasayanas would, by default, enhance the health of all tissues in the body.
Rasayana herbs can generally be used over the long-term without the development of side effects. All of them provide impressive improvements in the areas of enhancing vitality, improving longevity, and warding off disease.
Here are some of the most common and important rasayana herbs that you can find.
Ashwagandha is a potent rasayana herb that has managed to gain some footing even in the Western world. Ashwagandha is actually part of the nightshade family, so people with nightshade sensitivities may need to be careful.
Ashwagandha translates to ‘smell of a stallion,’ and also refers to the horse-like strength that the herb is believed to imbue. Ashwagandha has been proven to help fight oxidation, reduce inflammation, protect the brain, enhance libido, and improve cognitive ability.
Gotu kola is a very versatile herb that has been shown to provide different effects in different circumstances. For example, it can modulate the immune system – meaning that it can boost it or suppress it – depending on what the situation is.
It’s also able to help enhance cognitive ability, reduce anxiety, and enhance longevity.
Haritaki is a powerful rasayana that works on all the doshas, and can be particularly balancing for vata.
Har means ‘to purify,’ and thus named, haritaki is a medicine that can help purify the body by aiding in the elimination of wastes and cleaning the bowels.
It can also help to improve vision, improve digestive comfort, and enhance the health of the kidneys and the liver.
Another potent rasayana herb that most of us are already familiar with is turmeric. This powerful herb, which is most commonly used in the West as a food ingredient, has a number of potent health benefits.
In addition to fighting oxidation and inflammation, turmeric has been shown to help ward off tumours, reduce pain associated with arthritis, and even alleviate depression.
Amalaki, much like haritaki, is a powerful detoxifying and cleansing agent. A means ‘no’ and mala means ‘impurities,’ and thus this rasayana fruit is said to eliminate all impurities.
It can strengthen the nerves, the bones, and the senses while helping eliminate toxins in the blood and brain.
Bacopa grows in damp and swampy areas throughout the Indian subcontinent. The name Brahmi, which comes from Brahma – the creator god who resides over the local universe – indicates the potency of this herb.
In addition to functioning as a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, bacopa has been known to be fantastic for enhancing cognitive health and fighting anxiety.
If you’re interested in incorporating rasayana herbs into your daily diet, you may want to look into Chyawanprash. Chyawanprash is considered the foremost and best rasayana. It contains many of the aforementioned herbs, including ashwagandha and amalaki, as well as ghee, which acts as catalytic agent to deliver the nutrients deeper into the body. For more information on the medicinal wonders of this polyherbal jam, see our post on Chyawanprash health benefits.
Reviewed by Dr. Jayant Lokhande, MD (Botanical Drugs), MBA (Biotechnology)