Most Popular Herbs used in Rasayana Herbal Formulations in India
In Ayurveda, some formulas known as rasayanas are believed to improve the body’s defense mechanisms. For example, in one short study for 90 days with Chyawanprash, a rasayana, the following improvements were observed: increased stress tolerance; improved endocrine functions (adrenal and testicular); positive nitrogen balance as indicated by increased serum protein level; and a decrease in urinary levels of nitrogen, creatinine, mucopolysaccharide, and hydroxyproline. The general well-being of the volunteers improved and none of them complained of any physical disorder. (Source : 1)
Rasayana refers to compound preparations containing multiple herbs and minerals that improve transportation of nutritional materials to body tissues. The fundamental underlying theme of rasayanas is nutrition.
Rasayanas are the Ayurvedic equivalent to modern dietary supplements. It is said that vitamins, minerals, and biologically active steroids, alkaloids, glycosides, tannins, and a variety of antioxidants present in rasayanas would be a good source in providing necessary nutrients to the body. Sometimes an overdose of pure vitamins in modern dietary supplements can cause serious side effects. There is virtually no possibility of an overdose of any specific vitamin or mineral from a rasayana.
Rasayana drugs are believed to slow down the aging process and provide a defense against diseases. Rasayanas improve the host resistance of an individual, helping to prevent aging and diseases. Specific diets and lifestyle changes are also advised in rasayana therapy. But we will cover this in another blog post.
Caution : A lot of herbs require purification before they are ready to be consumed. Please take a medical advice before consuming any raw herbs . Example Bhallataka Seeds mentioned below requires a sophisticated pre-processing that lasts for 7 days , before it can be added to medicines or consumption ready. One should not consume the raw herbs as they are available at everyone's home. So, here goes the list
- Terminalia Chebula (Haritaki) : Terminalia chebula is an antibacterial, antioxidizing, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory agent.
- Emblica officinalis (Amalaki) : Amalaki is a rich source of vitamin C. The fruits of Amla have been used by Ayurveda as potent rasayana and also for the treatment of diverse etiology disease.Perhaps there is no other drug in any other system of natural medicine with such a vast range of attributed effects. In an experimental study, it was reported that Amla could bring about a significant weight gain in the i together with an increase in serum total protein content.
- Piper longum (Pippali) : Piper longum is indicated in treatment of chronic dysentery and worm infestations. Pippali Rasayana, an Ayurvedic herbal medicine prepared from P. longum and Butea monosperma,is prescribed for the treatment of chronic dysentery and worm infestations.
- Glycyrrhiza glabra (Yashtimadhu Roots) : Glycyrrhiza glabra is an immunomodulator and antioxidant.
- Allium sativum (Lahsuna): Allium sativum (garlic) is an antimicrobial, anti tumor, hypolipemic, anti arthritic, and hypoglycemic agent. These characteristics have been linked to their influences on immune functions in various ways. Garlic has been found to enhance human immune functions.
- Semecarpus anacardium (Bhallataka Nuts) : Extract of nut preparation of Semecarpus anacardium is effective against a variety of diseases like arthritis, tumors, and infections.
- Commiphora mukul (Guggul) : Commiphora mukul is used as an anti-inflammatory, antihyperlipidemic, and immunomodulatory agent.
- Tinospora cordifolia (Guduchi Roots) : Tinospora cordifolia (TC) is used for the treatment of jaundice, skin disease, diabetes, anemia, emaciation, and infections.
- Azardica indica (Neem Leaves) :Azardica indica is reported to have several therapeutic effects, including being anti-infective and anxiolytic and having general immunopotentiating ability.
- Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari Whole Plant) : Asparagus racemosus is used as an immunomodulator and antioxidant. The aqueous extract of the whole plant of A. racemosus gives protection from biological, physical, and chemical stresses.
- Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha Roots) : Withania somnifera is one highly acclaimed rasayana. W. somnifera is an immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, and anti oxidizing agent. Studies have show that a month of treatment with the herb has shown symptomatic relief in mental fatigue, and immediate memory span. In another study, the herb has been shown to be effective in cases of depression.
- Aloe vera (Ghritkumari) : Aloe vera is a plant exclusively used in skin-care preparation and other health-care products. It is also found to possess anticancer activity.
- Solanum nigrum (Kakamachi) : It is an anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective agent.
- Bacopa monnieri (Brahmi) : It is used as an antiallergic, antistress, and memory-enhancing agent.
- Boerhaavia diffusa (Punarnava Roots) :The plant Boerhaavia diffusa (BD) is used as an antiarthritic, immunomodulatory, and antistress agent.
- Ocimum sanctum (Tulasi): It is used as an anti stress, antioxidizing, and immunomodulatory agent.
- Shilajit (Asphalt) : Shilajit is an exudate of selected rocks occurring in the Himalaya region. It is a complex mixture of both organic and inorganic matter and is considered to be an effective remedy for many diseases. It was investigated for its effect on memory, learning, and anxiety.
Source 2: Scientific basis for Ayurvedic therapies, edited by Lakshmi Chandra Mishra