It is no surprise that herbs have been a blessing in medical history. Flavoring and garnishing food, medical purposes, fragrances, etc. And if I start talking about medical use, this article will be endless (the endless Wikipedia of herbs). Why do we need to talk about herbs? Because as I say they are magical and wouldn’t you want to be a magical witch with supernatural healing powers? Don’t mix herbs with spices. When we speak about Thyme, it is a herb, not a spice. In the European middle ages, Emperor Charlemagne had a list of 74 herbs that he considered were important for his health. Herbs have been playing an important role in medical history since 5000 BCE. The leaves of the coco plant were taken by Northern Peruvian people for 8000 years and Cannabis dates back to the first century BC in China and Africa. You will be amazed to know that not only for culinary and medicinal purposes, herbs have also been used in religious places. Neem, bael, basil (tulsi), turmeric (Haldi), and cannabis in Hinduism. White sage is used in Wicca, Myrrh and frankincense in Hellenistic religion. Native Americans used cedar and white sage for smudging and spiritual cleansing. You also will be amazed to know that herbs have been used in cosmetics too (we badly need them now!). Scrubs, lipsticks, powder, sunscreens, and whatnot. Amongst all the uses of herbs, one is the most popular use and has been studied by scientists all over the world. The use of herbs in Ayurveda. No other field has used herbs as extensively as Ayurveda does. Today we will have a look at many of such herbs that can change the way you look into other forms of medicine. Not that other mediums are bad, these are simply better. Powerful herbs in Ayurveda You will come across many herbs that you might or might not have heard of but I am sure you will start using them. You will know how they can be helpful in small and larger matters in day to day life. Let’s start with the king of herbs, shall we? Ashwagandha - Withania Somnifera - comes from India and North Africa. This wonderful herb can manage your stress very carefully. It lowers anxiety, improves your sleep. Don’t you think many of our problems are linked to the core problem that is stress? If we can cure that to some extent, I wonder what positive changes we all will see. It enhances your muscle growth, male fertility, memory, lower blood sugar levels, etc. It also works well to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. Boswellia also is known as the Indian Frankincense is spicy and has a woody aroma. It reduces inflammation, pain, improves mobility. People with osteoarthritis find it helpful as it provides a greater range of movement. It might also help in oral infections and gingivitis. It has proven itself by treating digestion issues in people with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease and breathing issues in people with asthma. Triphala is made by the combination of 3 different smaller fruits that are amla(The Indian gooseberry), bibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica), and haritaki (Terminalia chebula). Some tests have shown that it can limit the growth of cancer. Isn’t that just magical? It is also wonderful for constipation, abdominal pain, flatulence, improving the consistency of bowel movements for people who have gut disorders. If your mouthwash has Triphala, it may reduce plague, decrease inflammation in gums, and prevent bacteria growth. Cumin is a spice and also a herb. I would call it my personal favorite. They have an earthy, spicy, and nutty flavor. They are like the teachers who boost their slow students. Cumins boost the activity of our digestive enzymes, speeds up the digestion of fats and releases liver bile. It reduces abdominal pain and bloating. It may also help in improving insulin sensitivity for type 2 diabetes. It is good for your heart and reduces bad cholesterol. It also reduces the risk of some foodborne diseases. Personally in India, cumin powder is put into a mixture of curd, water, and salt. It is known for its excellent digestive properties. Brahmi, a staple herb, has very strong anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies have shown that it improves your learning capabilities, memory, information processing capacity. It also reduces some symptoms of ADHD such as poor self-control and restlessness. Licorice root that comes from Europe and Asia is the center of Ayurvedic medicine. It fights many bacteria and viruses. It is good for sore throat and dental problems like cavities and candila. It can prevent nausea, bloating, belching, heartburn, stomach ulcers, and others. It is also good for skin rashes, swelling, and itching. Turmeric is used in 80% of Indian food. Turmeric as I like to call it is Grandma’s secret super powerful solution to everything. Doesn’t matter what has happened to me, she will say ‘Turmeric is the key’. Good for the heart as it improves blood flow, is antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and as my Grandma says (and has proven) that it is good in cough, cold, and even if I got physically hurt. Scientists say that it is as effective as Prozac that is used for depression. It is excellent for brain health. Gotu kola is also known as Centella Asiatica is the longevity herb. In some cases, it was able to improve people’s memory after a stroke. It may prevent stretch marks (I know you are going to buy it this instant), heal wounds, lower the symptoms of eczema, etc. It is also good for curing joint pains. Bitter melon is related to cucumber, zucchini, pumpkin, and squash. Power-packed with nutrients and antioxidants, it can promote insulin secretion (If you are already using insulin, consider a doctor before you take bitter melon). It may also lower bad cholesterol. Cardamom is the queen of spices and herbs (The favorite spice of my mom). It reduces blood pressure and increases oxygen uptake during exercising. It can cure stomach ulcers and reduce the size of gastric ulcers. I like drinking cinnamon coffee (Tastes heavenly!). It also provides immunity against cancer. Interestingly, it was also used by Egyptians to mummify the dead. I know you are very excited and want to add more of that to your kitchen cabinet. But too little or too much of anything is harmful and everything comes with a list of precautions. For example: If you are pregnant, you should consult a doctor to know the exact dosage and herbs to avoid. Many herbs if taken in excess may disturb your digestion too. It’s advisable to take them after consulting with an expert. Adding some to your food will enhance the flavor of them. In India, you will see how many of these herbs are used daily and extensively. You will be surprised to know that many of them are also used in religious rituals. Ayurvedic herbs can benefit you from mind, body, and spirit. These herbs prevent diseases rather than treating them as we all know ‘Prevention is better than cure’. Many of them are available in stores and you can grow many of them in your kitchen garden. You can grow some of these herbs and take them with your food and see the life-changing effects they bring.