5 Popular Ayurvedic Herbs

ayurvedic herbs in box
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Ayurvedic herbs are a key component of Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India. In general, practitioners use ayurvedic herbs to cleanse the body, boost defense against disease, and keep the mind, body, and spirit in balance.

Other healing approaches and techniques (including massage, yoga, and specialized diets) are also central to Ayurvedic medicine. Along with Ayurvedic herbs, practitioners frequently use certain therapeutic oils and spices to treat illness and promote well-being.

Herbs Supported By Research

More than 600 herbal formulas and 250 single plant remedies are included in the pharmacy of Ayurvedic treatments. These remedies are typically grouped into categories according to their health effects, such as pain relief or increased vitality. Scientific studies have begun testing the health effects of Ayurvedic herbs (many of which are now widely available in natural-food stores in the United States).

Here's a look at several Ayurvedic herbs shown to offer various health effects in research:

Triphala is a botanical formula that contains three different ayurvedic herbs (amla, myrobalan, and belleric myrobalan). Test-tube studies suggest that triphala may offer antioxidant effects and strengthen the immune system, while animal research shows that the herb may lower cholesterol levels and suppress the growth of certain types of cancer cells.

2) Guggul

An ayurvedic herb traditionally used to cut cholesterol levels, guggul was found to benefit adults with moderately high cholesterol in a 2009 study. However, an earlier study found that participants taking guggul for eight weeks actually experienced an increase in their levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol.

Sourced from the resin of the boswellia tree, boswellia extract is rich in boswellic acid (a substance shown to fight inflammation). Several small clinical trials indicate that this Ayurvedic herb may aid in the treatment of several inflammation-related conditions, including ulcerative colitis, asthma, and arthritis.

A number of small studies show that gotu kola may help ease anxiety, improve mood, and treat varicose veins. In ayurveda, gotu kola is often used to alleviate mental fatigue, manage asthma, and soothe fever.

5) Fenugreek

Often used to soothe irritation in ayurveda, fenugreek has been found to lower cholesterol levels, protect against alcohol-induced liver damage, and keep blood sugar in check (which may in turn aid in diabetes prevention). However, most of the research on this ayurvedic herb's health effects has been conducted on animals rather than in humans.


Certain ayurvedic herbs may produce adverse effects or interact with conventional medicines. 

It's important to keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. While consumers face such risks when purchasing any dietary supplement, these risks may be of greater magnitude in the purchase of Ayurvedic products containing a variety of herbs in varying doses.

Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. 

Since ayurvedic herbs may be harmful when used improperly, it's important to work with a qualified herbalist rather than attempting to self-treat with ayurvedic herbs. Furthermore, you should consult your primary care provider if you're considering the use of ayurvedic herbs in treatment of any chronic health condition. Self-treating and avoiding or delaying standard care can have serious consequences.

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