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How Do You Define Ayurveda?

Ayurveda can be defined as a system, which uses the inherent principles of nature, to help maintain health in a person by keeping the individual's body, mind and spirit in perfect equilibrium with nature.

What is the Meaning of Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is a Sanskrit term, made up of the words " ayus " and " veda ." " Ayus " means life and " Veda " means knowledge or science. The term " ayurveda " thus means 'the knowledge of life' or 'the science of life'. According to the ancient Ayurvedic scholar Charaka, "ayu" comprises the mind, body, senses and the soul.

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What is the Origin of Ayurveda?

Widely regarded as the oldest form of healthcare in the world, Ayurveda is an intricate medical system that originated in India thousands of years ago. The fundamentals of Ayurveda can be found in Hindu scriptures called the Vedas - the ancient Indian books of wisdom. The Rig Veda , which was written over 6,000 years ago, contains a series of prescriptions that can help humans overcome various ailments.

What does Ayurveda do to you?

The aim of this system is to prevent illness, heal the sick and preserve life. This can be summed up as follows:

  • To protect health and prolong life (" Swasthyas swasthya rakshanam ")
  • To eliminate diseases and dysfunctions of the body (" Aturasya vikar prashamanamcha ")
What are the Basic Principles of Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is based on the premise that the universe is made up of five elements: air, fire, water, earth and ether. These elements are represented in humans by three " doshas ", or energies: Vata, Pitta and Kapha . When any of the doshas accumulate in the body beyond the desirable limit, the body loses its balance. Every individual has a distinct balance, and our health and well-being depend on getting a right balance of the three doshas (" tridoshas "). Ayurveda suggests specific lifestyle and nutritional guidelines to help individuals reduce the excess dosha .

A healthy person, as defined in Sushrut Samhita, one of the primary works on Ayurveda, is "he whose doshas are in balance, appetite is good, all tissues of the body and all natural urges are functioning properly, and whose mind, body and spirit are cheerful..."
 
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The holy Indian basil is a miracle plant :

The 'tulsi' plant or Indian basil is an important symbol in the Hindu religious tradition. The name 'tulsi' connotes "the incomparable one". Tulsi is a venerated plant and Hindus worship it in the morning and evening. Tulsi grows wild in the tropics and warm regions. Dark or Shyama tulsi and light or Rama tulsi are the two main varieties of basil, the former possessing greater medicinal value. Of the many varieties, the Krishna or Shyama tulsi is commonly used for worship.

Tulsi As A Deity
The presence of tulsi plant symbolizes the religious bent of a Hindu family. A Hindu household is considered incomplete if it doesn't have a tulsi plant in the courtyard. Many families have the tulsi planted in a specially built structure, which has images of deities installed on all four sides, and an alcove for a small earthen oil lamp. Some households can even have up to a dozen tulsi plants on the verandah or in the garden forming a "tulsi-van" or "tulsivrindavan" - a miniature basil forest.

Places that tend to inspire concentration and places ideal for worship, according to the Gandharv Tantra , include "grounds overgrown with tulsi plants". The Tulsi Manas Mandir at Varanasi is one such famous temple, where tulsi is worshipped along with other Hindu gods and goddesses. Vaishnavites or believers of Lord Vishnu worship the tulsi leaf because it's the one that pleases Lord Vishnu the most. They also wear beaded necklaces made of tulsi stems. The manufacture of these tulsi necklaces is a cottage industry in pilgrimages and temple towns.

Tulsi As An Elixir
Apart from its religious significance it is of great medicinal significance, and is a prime herb in Ayurvedic treatment . Marked by its strong aroma and a stringent taste, tusli is a kind of "the elixir of life" as it promotes longevity. The plant's extracts can be used to prevent and cure many illnesses and common ailments like common cold, headaches, stomach disorders, inflammation, heart disease, various forms of poisoning and malaria. Essential oil extracted from karpoora tulsi is mostly used for medicinal purposes though of late it is used in the manufacture of herbal toiletry.

According to Jeevan Kulkarni, author of Historical Truths & Untruths Exposed , when Hindu women worship tulsi, they in effect pray for "less and less carbonic acid and more and more oxygen - a perfect object lesson in sanitation, art and religion". The tulsi plant is even known to purify or de-pollute the atmosphere and also works as a repellent to mosquitoes, flies and other harmful insects. Tulsi used to be a universal remedy in cases of malarial fever.

Prof Shrinivas Tilak, who teaches Religion at Concordia University, Montreal has made this historical citation: In a letter written to The Times , London, dated May 2, 1903 Dr George Birdwood, Professor of Anatomy, Grant Medical College, Bombay said, "When the Victoria Gardens were established in Bombay, the men employed on those works were pestered by mosquitoes. At the recommendation of the Hindu managers, the whole boundary of the gardens was planted with holy basil, on which the plague of mosquitos was at once abated, and fever altogether disappeared from among the resident gardners."

Tulsi In Legends
Quite a few myths and legends found in the Puranas or ancient scriptures point to the origin of importance of tulsi in religious rituals. Although tulsi is regarded as feminine, in no folklore is she described as the consort the Lord. Yet a garland solely made of tulsi leaves is the first offering to the Lord as part of the daily ritual. The plant is accorded the sixth place among the eight objects of worship in the ritual of the consecration of the Kalasha , the container of holy water.

According to one legend, Tulsi was the incarnation of a princess who fell in love with Lord Krishna, and so had a curse laid on her by his consort Radha. Tulsi is also mentioned in the stories of Meera and of Radha immortalised in Jayadev's Gita Govinda . The story of Lord Krishna has it that when Krishna was weighed in gold, not even all the ornaments of Satyabhama could outweigh him. But a single tulsi leaf placed by Rukmani on the pan tilted the scale.

In the Hindu mythology, tulsi is very dear to Lord Vishnu. Tulsi is ceremonially married to Lord Vishnu annually on the 11th bright day of the month of Karttika in the lunar calendar. This festival continues for five days and concludes on the full moon day, which falls in mid October. This ritual, called the 'Tulsi Vivaha' inaugurates the annual marriage season in India.

 
15 Benefits of the Holy Basil (Tulsi) :

The tulsi or holy basil is an important symbol in the Hindu religious tradition and is worshipped in the morning and evening by Hindus at large. The holy basil is also a herbal remedy for a lot of common ailments. Here're top fifteen medicinal uses of tulsi.

1. Healing Power: The tulsi plant has many medicinal properties. The leaves are a nerve tonic and also sharpen memory. They promote the removal of the catarrhal matter and phlegm from the bronchial tube. The leaves strengthen the stomach and induce copious perspiration. The seed of the plant are mucilaginous.

2. Fever & Common Cold: The leaves of basil are specific for many fevers. During the rainy season, when malaria and dengue fever are widely prevalent, tender leaves, boiled with tea, act as preventive against theses diseases. In case of acute fevers, a decoction of the leaves boiled with powdered cardamom in half a liter of water and mixed with sugar and milk brings down the temperature. The juice of tulsi leaves can be used to bring down fever. Extract of tulsi leaves in fresh water should be given every 2 to 3 hours. In between one can keep giving sips of cold water. In children, it is every effective in bringing down the temperature.

3. Coughs: Tulsi is an important constituent of many Ayurvedic cough syrups and expectorants. It helps to mobilize mucus in bronchitis and asthma. Chewing tulsi leaves relieves cold and flu.

4. Sore Throat: Water boiled with basil leaves can be taken as drink in case of sore throat. This water can also be used as a gargle.

5. Respiratory Disorder: The herb is useful in the treatment of respiratory system disorder. A decoction of the leaves, with honey and ginger is an effective remedy for bronchitis, asthma, influenza, cough and cold. A decoction of the leaves, cloves and common salt also gives immediate relief in case of influenza. They should be boiled in half a liter of water till only half the water is left and add then taken.

6. Kidney Stone: Basil has strengthening effect on the kidney. In case of renal stone the juice of basil leaves and honey, if taken regularly for 6 months it will expel them via the urinary tract.

7. Heart Disorder: Basil has a beneficial effect in cardiac disease and the weakness resulting from them. It reduces the level of blood cholesterol.

8. Children's Ailments: Common pediatric problems like cough cold, fever, diarrhea and vomiting respond favorably to the juice of basil leaves. If pustules of chicken pox delay their appearance, basil leaves taken with saffron will hasten them.

9. Stress: Basil leaves are regarded as an 'adaptogen' or anti-stress agent. Recent studies have shown that the leaves afford significant protection against stress. Even healthy persons can chew 12 leaves of basil, twice a day, to prevent stress. It purifies blood and helps prevent several common elements.

10. Mouth Infections: The leaves are quit effective for the ulcer and infections in the mouth. A few leaves chewed will cure these conditions.

11. Insect Bites: The herb is a prophylactic or preventive and curative for insect stings or bites. A teaspoonful of the juice of the leaves is taken and is repeated after a few hours. Fresh juice must also be applied to the affected parts. A paste of fresh roots is also effective in case of bites of insects and leeches.

12. Skin Disorders: Applied locally, basil juice is beneficial in the treatment of ringworm and other skin diseases. It has also been tried successfully by some naturopaths in the treatment of leucoderma.

13. Teeth Disorder: The herb is useful in teeth disorders. Its leaves, dried in the sun and powdered, can be used for brushing teeth. It can also be mixed with mustered oil to make a paste and used as toothpaste. This is very good for maintaining dental health, counteracting bad breath and for massaging the gums. It is also useful in pyorrhea and other teeth disorders.

14. Headaches: Basil makes a good medicine for headache. A decoction of the leaves can be given for this disorder. Pounded leaves mixed with sandalwood paste can also be applied on the forehead for getting relief from heat, headache, and for providing coolness in general.

15. Eye Disorders: Basil juice is an effective remedy for sore eyes and night-blindness, which is generally caused by deficiency of vitamin A. Two drops of black basil juice are put into the eyes daily at bedtime.

 
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Chyawanprash: Ancient Indian Elixir
Chyawanprash is a comprehensive herbal tonic with multiple health benefits, prepared according to an ancient Ayurvedic formula. Used by people around the world today, and especially in India, it is a proven energizer, immunity booster and pre-emptive tonic.

History, Myth & Origin
It is believed that the formula of Chyawanprash was discovered by the sage Chyawan. He was the first to prepare this tonic, and used it to regain his own youth and longevity. Charak Samhita, the ancient Ayurvedic treatise written by sage Charak in the 4th century BC, contains the first historically documented formula for Chyawanprash. According to this ancient text, Chyawanprash is "the foremost of all 'rasayanas' or herbal formulations.

A Proven Recipe
This unique 'jam' is a mix of 49 powerful ayurvedic herbs with 'amla' (Indian gooseberry) as the base. The other ingredients in this traditional recipe include ashwaganda, pippali, cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon in a base of clarified butter and honey. This magic elixir is good for all, irrespective of age and gender, and creates a harmonious synergy in the body leading to better metabolism. Here're some specific health benefits of Chyawanprash.

Digestive and Immune System
Chaywanprash's basic ingredient amla has 30 times more vitamin C than orange and helps in strengthening the immune system and expediting the healing process. Regular intake of chyawanprash strengthens digestion, absorption and assimilation of food and balances stomach acids.

Heart and Brain
The perfect blend of Ayurvedic herbs acts as a cardiac stimulant and helps in smooth functioning of the heart. Chyawanprash nourishes the brain cells by supporting the nervous system and enhances co-ordination and memory power. The tonic is good for students as it increases retention and recall.

Lung, Liver and Kidneys
The smooth functioning of the lungs is facilitated by the regular intake of chyawanprash. Moisture balance is maintained in the lungs and gives new energy to respiratory system. Chyawanprash helps purify blood and invigorates the liver and helps to eliminate toxins. It helps the downward flow of energy in the body and eases constipation. Apart from these, the herbal jam eliminates wastes from the body without overworking the urinary system.

Other Benefits
The holistic traditional formula of chyawanprash improves skin complexion, glow and fights dermal bacterial infection. It promotes hair growth and helps absorption of calcium resulting in strong bones and teeth. It is especially good for alleviating cough and asthma. The anti-oxidant properties of the tonic act against the ageing process and maintain youthfulness. Chyawanprash enhances fertility, keeps menstruation regular and helps to overcome difficulties in conception. It also improves muscle tone by enhancing protein synthesis effectively.

The age-old Chyawanprash is regarded as an all-embracing herbal health tonic by one and all, and has become an indispensable part of a healthy family.