As one of the oldest systems of medicine on the planet developed over the course of thousands of years by enlightened yogis, swamis and the ancient medicine men and women of India, Ayurveda is a literal treasure trove of knowledge and wisdom for anyone seeking to create greater health, harmony and balance in their lives from the inside out.
Ayurvedic medicine is based on the idea that we each have our own unique body type or personal constitution (known as Prakriti in Sanskrit) that we must work to keep in balance in order to achieve optimal health and harmony in life. Each body type—there are three: Vata (skinny build, air element), Pitta (medium build, fire element) and Kapha (larger frame, earth/water element)—has specific energetic and systemic needs in terms of diet and lifestyle. When we make sure these needs are met, we stay healthy, happy, balanced and thriving. When these needs are not met or we let ourselves get out of balance, we tend to experience illness, stress and disharmony.
For example, Vata types, which are skinny and tend to have fast metabolisms and quick minds, need lots of oils in their diet to keep them grounded and balance out the air element, which tends to make them anxious and stressed out when out of whack. Oils are heavy and dense both physically and energetically, which counteracts the air element and calms the nervous system. Too many spicy foods will aggravate Vata types, as they are stimulating and tend to increase the tendency towards anxiety and racing mind.
The same holds true for the other dosha types, Pitta and Kapha: Certain foods will throw them out of balance as well. For example, Kapha types should avoid too many oils as their metabolism is slower and they tend to be more grounded. Too much oil or heavy foods in their diets can aggravate Kapha and make their digestion even more sluggish than it already is. They, on the other hand, need more spices and peppery foods to stoke their digestion into higher gear and lighter foods like fruits and greens to give them more of the air element that they lack.
With all that being said, there are special herbs and foods that work to bring all doshas into harmony simultaneously and literally rejuvenate the body and mind from the inside out, which makes them a great choice for anyone looking for greater health, wellness and, of course, balance in their life. These can be consumed everyday and are adaptogenic in nature, meaning they work to rejuvenate and restore systemic balance no matter what your body type, Vata, Pitta, Kapha or any combination thereof. Below, I’ve outlined three of the top herbs in this tri-doshic category, which are a great addition to any diet.
Gotu Kola – Balances the Mind
Gotu Kola, despite being one of the most revered herbs in Ayurvedic medicine, is little known in the West. In addition to harmonizing all three doshas, Gotu Kola is a supreme mental adaptogen, meaning it works to balance all aspects of the nervous system, mental functioning and brain health, which all go hand in hand. For example, it has been shown in a number of studies to repair and restore axons, which are used to transmit nerve impulses throughout the brain and body. As such, it has been used as an anti-anxiety, anti-stress and anti-insomnia medicine throughout its long history of human use. However, it is not sedating. It produces an energized calm making one centered and mentally aware without feeling stimulated. In fact, it has been shown in studies to actually improve IQ and intelligence measures in long-term users. It is also known to improve communication between brain hemispheres and promote a state of balanced calm. This same type of brain hemisphere synchronization is also seen in long-term meditators, making Gotu Kola a sort of shortcut to brain health and greater self-awareness. All in all, Gotu Kola makes it simple to restore balance to the mind and the doshas. Start with a ¼ teaspoon per day if you decide to give it a try. Want to learn more about the remarkable healing and awareness enhancing properties of Gotu Kola? Check out: consciouslifestylemag.com/gotu-kola-herb-of-enlightenment
Shilajit – Balances the Body and Mind
There are few herbs better suited to keeping our body and mind balanced in these modern times than Shilajit. An ancient Ayurvedic remedy from high up in the Himalayas, Shilajit is a legendary health tonic in India and many Asian countries. Shilajit, also known as mineral pitch, is literally prehistoric forest biomass that have been compacted under the weight of the Himalayan mountains for millions of years. This black, resinous substance is incredibly rich in a wide spectrum of minerals, which are depleted in modern soils, and hence our foods as well, due to over farming. Because of the density of minerals that it contains, it is very grounding, centering and balancing (in Ayurvedic terms, rich in the earth element).
In our modern technologically advanced society, it’s extremely easy to become overstimulated, scattered, stressed and burnt out. Our fast-paced way of life puts stress on all different body types in their own unique way. Therefore, it is extremely important to regularly consume grounding herbs and medicines that keep us centered in our bodies and calm in the mind while working to restore any imbalances and depletion so we can more readily face the challenges of daily living. In that regard, Shilajit is one of the finest Ayurvedic herbs available. It literally works to regenerate and rejuvenate almost every system in the body from the inside out and is revered as a “building” medicine in India. But that’s really just the tip of the iceberg: Shilajit has an incredible spectrum of benefits that are absolutely amazing for your health, so be sure to read up on all of it’s healing properties (and there’s a lot!) here: Shilajit: What You Need to Know About It’s Legendary Benefits
Ghee – Restores, Rejuvenates and Balances the Body and Mind
In Ayurveda, there is a concept known as Ojas, which literally translates to “life essence” or “life energy”. The yogis and Ayurvedic doctors in India believe that we are born with a certain amount of Ojas, which is depleted through stress, poor diet, sexual activity and work, and that when it runs out we die. However, there are a handful of things we can do to restore and accumulate Ojas in our bodies. In addition to regularly practicing yoga and breathwork, the yogis believed that consuming special foods that have concentrated Ojas energy can restore, strengthen and balance our mind, body and spirit. As you may have guessed, Ghee is one of those foods. In fact, it is so sacred in India that it is often the first food given to babies when they are born and is believed to confer lifelong good health and digestion. Ghee is clarified butter and besides being balancing, nourishing and stabilizing for all doshas, it tastes absolutely phenomenal and is very easy to integrate into your diet and meals.
Ghee also works to powerfully heal the digestive tract, which is responsible for the production of many neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine and serotonin. Regular Ghee consumption helps heal the intestinal walls, which promotes balanced mood and mind alongside enhanced nutrient absorption, which works to strengthen the body as a whole. Combining it with Shilajit and Gotu Kola is an excellent idea and this combination is often used in Ayurvedic medicine to create truly radiant health on every level of the mind and body.