Ashwaganda

Brahmi, the Ayurvedic Nervine Tonic

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Brahmi has long been revered in Ayurvedic medicine as its most valuable nervine—an herb that benefits the nervous system. It revitalizes the brain cells, removes toxins and blockages within the nervous system, and improves memory and concentration. Indian yogis eat a few fresh Himalayan brahmi leaves daily. This practice optimizes their capacity for meditation by awakening the crown chakra and balancing the right and left hemispheres of the brain. 

In addition to nurturing brain power and nervous system health, brahmi contributes to many other aspects of wellness. It calms the heart and helps protect against heart attacks. As an antispasmodic agent as well as a nervine, this multi-functional herb helps ease recovery from every kind of addiction, whether it’s to alcohol, drugs, or sugar. Brahmi also purifies the blood, boosts immunity, and supports liver and kidney health, as well as aiding management of sexually transmitted diseases.

Brahmi is also known for its dosha-balancing qualities. It not only balances and refreshes pitta, but also actively reduces excess kapha. Brahmi can also pacify vata imbalances, especially when combined with other vata-reducing herbs like ashwagandha.

According to Ayurvedic texts, brahmi ghee is an essential medicine for the mind and heart that should be kept in every home. It can be taken in small amounts daily to maintain good health. As a milk decoction, the herb is an excellent brain tonic, particularly when combined with ashwagandha. Brahmi taken with holy basil and a little black pepper is recommended for all kinds of fevers. Many people find that drinking a cup of brahmi tea sweetened with honey before meditation greatly enhances their practice.

Source:Vasant Lad and David Frawley,The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, Lotus Press (January 25, 1986).

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease.

Ojas, The Pure Essence of all Bodily Tissues

In yoga and Ayurveda we speak a lot of ojas, most people do not understand this term, nor do the recognize the importance of ojas. In Ayurveda, we believe ojas to be the pure essence of all bodily tissues. Ojas is the essence related to vitality and immunity in an indvidual. It is like honey. As the honeybee collects the minute molecules of the essence of hundreds of flowers and accumulates them in the honey comb for survival, ojas, circulated via the heart and throughout the body to maintain the natural resistance of the bodily tissue.

In short it can be described as our immune system. Ojas fights against aging, decay and disease. It is a superfine biological substance that gives strength to all the bodies tissues. Although often hear it  as a romantic or poetic subject, ojas is a protoplasmic, biological substance that includes albumin, globulin, and many other hormones. It is formed durning biosynthesis of the bodily tissues. Modern medicine talks about the immune system which includes the hematopoietic, endocrine, nervous, and digestive systems. The Ayurvedic concept of ojas corresponds to the modern medical concept, including gamma globulin, which maintains the immunity of the liver.

Immunity depends on the quality of the digestion, liver functions, and the integrated functions of all hormones in the endocrine system.  It also includes the nervous, skeletal, and muscular systems. When all these systems preform their physiological functions, ojas is maintained. Therefore, ojas is the potential source of strength and power, and natural resistance against illness, this is natural immunity. There are two types of immunity, natural or acquired immunity. When you receive a vaccination, this is an example of an acquired immunity. Ojas is our body's  natural resistance to fight infection.

Ojas has the capacity to counteract the etiological factors or cause of disease. Ojas is influenced directly by agni, or digestive system, which determines the quality of assimilation and nutrition. These qualities of ojas also depends upon lifestyle, stress, traumas and the qualities of relationships. For example if our relationships are not good our ojas will not be good.

So how do we support our Ojas? Building ojas is an art. Perhaps one of the best ways to consistently build ojas is to eat a diet of fresh, unprocessed whole foods in the appropriate season. Through the process of healthy digestion, microscopic amounts of the essence of these foods accumulate over time and become ojas. Ghee is an effective ojas building substance that can be added to your daily diet. 

Certain herbs in Ayurveda are also prized as great ojas-builders. Traditionally, a concoction of these herbs, including Ashwagandha and Shatavari, were blended with ojas-building foods like dates, almonds, coconut, saffron, ghee, honey and cardamom in a milk base. This mixture was warmed and taken before bed as a sleep aid and an ojas-builder to boot.

Other effective ways of building ojas includes healthy lifestyle routines, such as, sleeping habits (early to bed, early to rise and not in excess), yoga, medication, breathing exercises, walking in nature, laughing, expressing and showing love and affection, creativity, taking time and not rushing, doing things that make you happy,  giving to others, daily self oil application, and daily self love.