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Nutraceuticals: Ayurveda’s

Yogita Rani, N. K. Sharma

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Besides these there are few other formulations that are being used by the folklore for centuries. For e.g. a confection of Indian Gooseberry (E. officinalis) is used in households of India during winter season to prevent rhinitis and respiratory tract infections. Another such preparation of petals of rose and sugar is employed as mild laxative for children and as cooling agent, which subdues the vitiation of Pitta Dosha. Ardraka paka (ginger based confection toffee) is one such preparation, which is made up of ginger, sugar, salt and lemon & is used as an aid to digestion. Confection of Aegle marmelos is used in the household for the problems of gastrointestinal tract. Paste of Mentha arvensis is consumed along with meals for preventing abdominal distension. Consumption of grated garlic, fresh ginger and fresh turmeric rhizome mixed with lemon and salt is used as an aid to digestion. Further certain sugar based confections & herb treated clarified butter preparations are also used in India as home-remedial nutraceuticals. In this class, commonly used combinations are Chyawanprash, Brahmi Rasayana, Phala Ghrita, Arjuna Ksheerapaka & Rasona Ksheerapaka etc. We will take a look at these one by one:

Chyawanprash Avaleha

An excellent nutraceutical, it is a sugar & honey based confection of over 50 herbs, sesame oil & clarified butter offering protection from the ailments of respiratory tract. The main ingredient of this formulation is Indian Gooseberry (Emblica officinalis), which is the richest source of Vitamin C. It is found to possess anti-oxidant activities (Bhattacharya, S.K. et al 2002); immunomodulatory and cytoprotective activities (Sai Ram et al, 2002); hypolipidemic activity (Mathur et al, 1996) & hepato-protective activity (Bhattacharya et al, 1999). Chyawanprash exhibited hepato-protective effect in studies (Jose & Kuttan, 2000) & reduced postprandial glycemia and blood cholesterol levels (Manjunatha et al, 2001).

Brahmi Rasayana

It is indicated for combating the day-to-day mental stress, improving memory and higher order cognitive functions. As per Ayurveda, man is a combination of body, soul and psyche and for being in a healthy state, health of body as well as psyche should be ensured. In the present formulation, meant for this purpose, Indian pennywort (B. monniera) is processed with paste of few other herbs and clarified butter. As per Ayurveda, The drug Brahmi is a Medhya Rasayana (Memory enhancer) whose exact mode of action as a brain tonic has not yet been concluded. It exhibited anti-oxidant effect (Bhattacharya et al, 2000; Pawar et al, 2001); increased GABA levels in the brain (Dey & Dutta, 1966) & offered tranquilizing effect (Ganguly & Malhotra, 1967).

Arjuna Ksheerapaka

The word Ksheerapaka means processed milk. This is a preparation of bark of T. arjuna, processed with milk. The main effect offered by Arjuna is of cardio-protection, which is supported by many scientific studies. In a study in cases of chronic stable angina, it led to improvement in clinical and treadmill exercise parameters comparable to isosorbide mononitrate therapy (Bharani et al, 2002). In studies, offered protection against the damage induced by myocardial necrosis (Sumitra et al, 2001); exhibited anti-oxidant activity (J Munasinghe et al, 2001); anti-oxidant & hypocholesterolemic effect in cases of coronary heart disease (Shaila et al, 1998); improved LVEF in cases of coronary artery disease (Dwivedi & Jauhari, 1997).

Rasona Ksheerapaka

Allium sativum (garlic) is a Rasayana drug as per Ayurveda. The present formulation is said to be useful in ailments of Vata Dosha for e.g. sciatica, arthritis, cardiac disorders. Although, nowadays, the main use of this formulation by physicians is in hyperlipidemia. In this dehusked and dried bulbils of garlic are processed with eight times milk. Lot of research work on garlic has been carried out and it has been found to possess a number of activities viz. retardative effect on development of atherosclerosis (Mirahadi et al, 1991); relaxant effect on aortic rings in vitro (Aquel et al, 1991) & anti-arrhythmic effect in both ventricular & supra ventricular arrhythmias (Martin et al, 1994).

Phala Ghrita

Phala Ghrita is advocated in man and woman for reproductive health, although nowadays, the formulation is mainly used in females for primary & secondary infertility. This formulation is a combination of around 30 herbs processed with clarified butter and cow’s milk. The name Phala Ghrita is a symbolic representation of the activities attributed to this formulation. The word ‘Phala’ means fruit, which is a product of fertilization. The formulation is advocated for infertility wherein women or men due to some inherent problem are not able to produce the progeny or Phala.

Conclusion

It has been observed that the association of nutraceuticals with traditional medicine brings the long lasting consumer acceptance. Along with this if it is well supported by the current modern medical research, the acceptance is whole hearted. Need of the hour is to believe that the western and traditional knowledge can go forward in unison for the benefit of all and work in that direction. The examples quoted above are of the few nutraceutical preparations picked in their original form from the classical texts of Ayurveda in which fortification in terms of desired effects has been done in a natural way. It is not always possible to find out the active phyto-constituent and the rationality of a particular combination of herbs in terms of modern scientific methods. But all that which is beyond the reach of our eyes is not irrational and non-existing, as rightly depicted by Aacharya Charaka (one of the earliest Ayurvedic scholars) – "Pratyakshama hi alpam, analpam apratyakshama". The formulations cited above are in use for centuries and have survived due to the benefits that they offer. As we all are working towards achieving the same common goal of ‘Health for all’, I feel that the traditional medical knowledge should be reviewed and revived to find out where these systems have an edge over contemporary medical fraternities. We hope that the concepts & products referred above will represent rather large segment of nutraceuticals mentioned in Ayurveda that can be employed for the benefit of mankind.

Acknowledgement

Thanks to Dr. V. S. Chauhan, for the help in preparing the article.

 

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