• Geetanjali Chakraborty

Lesser Known Plants and Herbs in Ayurvedic Medicine

Updated: Jan 2


What a joy it was to participate in the International Herb Symposium space. The event is held in a at Wheaton college in Norton, Massachusetts since 1992.


This event invites people herb experts from all over the world to share their knowledge. When you read Ayurveda texts in depth, you understand that the underlying principles of Ayurveda and herbology is ultimately the same. Plants are sacred and they need to be tended with care. This was a rare conference where that sacredness was felt. The event opened with Native American ceremonial sage burning and drums. The ambience was very calm and felt like an invitation without words into a community of healing. Booths at the conference had all kinds of plants including Tulsi, Ashwagandha and others.


I taught three classes here: Lesser Known Plants and Herbs in Ayurvedic Medicine, Introduction to Ayurveda and an intensive of my Stanford class: Ayurveda's Algorithm: Nature's Code. In this post, I will focus on Lesser Known Plants. By "Lesser Known," I don't mean that the plants are lesser known, but that their Ayurvedic effects are not as widely known.



Pomegranate

From Ayurvedic references, here is a fact sheet about this fruit:

Taste: Sweet, Sour, Astringent

Potency: Neither cold nor hot

Dosha: Pacifies all 3 doshas

Guna: Light, Unctuous

Parts Used: Leaves, fruit, peel/rind, fruit seeds

Biological Name: Punica Granatum


Pomegranate is absorbent, unctuous, easily digestible and balances all three doshas (all five mahabhutas). It quenches thirst, addresses burning sensations and is also good for dealing with fever. The ancient texts have divied the pomegranate into two types: Sour Pomegranate and Sweet Pomegranate. The sour is anti-vata and kapha whereas the sweet variety is anti-fever, light and wholesome.


Pomegranate stimulates blood generation and is the food of choice for anemia. It recovers deficiency of all tissues, especially blood.


Rose

From Ayurvedic references:

Taste: Bitter

Potency: Cooling

Guna: Light, Unctuous

Parts Used: Flower

Botanical Name: Rosa


Rose balances all three doshas (all five mahabhutas). It is known to purify blood and reduces heat.


A rose mask is helpful year round for people with dry, sensitive skin, and in summer for people with normal skin.


Rose Takra (Buttermilk) can be taken as a drink in early and late summer to beat the heat. Mix 1/4 cup organic whole milk yogurt with 1 cup of water and whisk up to 4-5 minutes until it is slightly foamy. The longer you are able to whisk, the lighter and more digestible the drink becomes. Add 2-3 tbsp of rose water (made by mixing 1 cup of rose petals, 1 cup of sugar, 2-3 green cardamoms and 3/4 cup water), and whisk some more to blend well. You may also use a blender.


Ashwagandha

From Ayurvedic references:

Taste: Sweet, Bitter

Potency: Neither cold nor hot

Dosha: Pacifies all three doshas

Guna: Light, Unctuous

Parts Used: Roots, Leaves, Seeds

Botanical Name: Withania Somnifera


Ashwagandha reduces increased vata and kapha and is immunomodulatory. It is taken as a strength builder when cooked with milk.


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