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Do you care for your mental and spiritual health as much as your body? Do you believe that a proper diet is fundamental to a long and full life? Then you may be interested in knowing more about Ayurveda. According to this medicinal system, there are three life forces (doshas): Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. A balance between these energies is the key to optimal health.

Turmeric, Triphala, Indian ginseng (ashwagandha), Shatavari, and Indian pennywort (Centella asiatica) are among the most commonly used natural products in Ayurveda. Are you eager to learn all about it? Our guide is designed for you to discover this ancient medicine and its benefits.




Key Facts

  • Ayurveda sees the human being as a unified whole, a perfect union between body, mind, and soul. Diet is at the core of this medical practice originally from India.
  • According to Ayurvedic medicine, there are three biotypes or life forces (doshas): Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Health or illness depends on their balance, or lack thereof, respectively. In each person, there is a predominance of one or two of these doshas.
  • In Ayurveda, various dietary supplements are used to preserve or restore health, such as ashwagandha, turmeric, or Shatavari. You should consider several factors before purchasing these products. These include their authenticity, the presence of allergens, or the quality seals they have received, among others.

Our Selection: The Best Ayurvedic Products

Ayurveda uses numerous medicinal plants and other natural ingredients to maintain or restore health. While these dietary supplements come from nature, it doesn't mean that they are all safe and offer the highest quality. To help you make the right choice, we have selected the best Ayurvedic products currently on the market:

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Ayurveda

Ayurveda is much more than a simple plant-based diet. This way of life addresses the human being holistically, without separating the physical dimension from the spiritual and mental one. In the section below, we will delve into the basic principles of Ayurveda, the specificities of its diet, and answer the most common questions regarding this medicinal system.

Grupo de personas en yoga

Ayurveda sees the human being as a unified whole, a perfect union between body, mind, and soul.
(Source: Dolgachov: 80282633/ 123rf.com)

What is Ayurveda exactly?

Originating in India over 3,000 years ago, Ayurveda is the traditional medicinal system of this Asian country. Today, Western society is increasingly interested in the practice of Ayurveda to improve the quality of life, promote longevity, and prevent diseases affecting the various systems of the body (1, 2).

Ayurvedic medicine uses different techniques and natural products to maintain or restore the balance in the body-mind-spirit union of the human being. Imbalance leads to disease, which is why Ayurveda focuses on restoring this balance rather than dealing with symptoms (1, 2).

What are the doshas?

Also referred to as biotypes or life forces, the doshas are the combinations of the five natural elements – air, space (or ether), fire, earth, and water. Each person consists of these elements that give them unique physical and mental attributes. The three doshas, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, coexist in every individual, although one or two will always predominate (1, 2, 3).

All of us were born with a specific balance between these doshas. When factors such as stress, a poor diet, or lack of rest disturb it, your body faces symptoms and illnesses (2). You must consult an Ayurvedic practitioner to determine your dominant doshas.

National Ayurvedic Medical Association
"The Sanskrit term Ayurveda translates to “knowledge of life”, and the principles of this ancient wisdom remind us that the entire web of life is intricately interwoven. With a unique emphasis on total wellness, the art and science of Ayurveda work to harmonize our internal and external worlds."

What are the characteristics of each dosha?

As we mentioned earlier, each of these life forces is linked to specific physical and personality traits. Vata (ether and air) is associated with breathing, coordination, and movement. Pitta (fire and water) corresponds to metabolic reactions and temperature, while Kapha (water and earth) is related to growth and support (1, 3, 4).

The three biotypes are present in everyone. However, the dominant dosha determines the particularities of an individual, as well as the lifestyle they should lead to maintain or regain balance. Here are the main characteristics of these life forces (2, 3):

Vata  Pitta  Kapha
Physical characteristics Thinness.
Narrow shoulders and hips.
Tall or short stature.
Changing appetite. They may skip meals or have irregular eating times.
Cold hands and feet.
Dry, thin skin.
Dull eyes.
Difficulty gaining weight.
Tendency to constipation, irritable colon, cramps, psoriasis, and insomnia.
Average build.
Gaining weight and muscle mass is easier than for Vata.
Good appetite. Excessive thirst, even at night.
Efficient digestion.
Hot, pale skin with freckles, moles, or redness.
Hair with a tendency to gray.
At the digestive level, tendency to acidity, stomach ulcers, and hemorrhoids.
Common presence of acne or rashes on the skin.
Oily, soft, pale skin.
May have pimples.
Large eyes, with bags under them.
Corpulent, gain weight easily with a tendency to obesity.
Slow digestion.
Resistance to disease.
Predisposition to suffer from joint pain, angina pectoris, and sinusitis.
Personality traits Tendency to anxiety and depression.
Changing energy levels.
In a hurry when walking and performing other activities.
Changing mood.
Great imagination and creativity.
Irritability.
Intellectuality.
Punctual, dislike wasting time.
Good ability to concentrate.
Maintain order.
Patient, carefree, do not get angry easily.
Energy levels remain stable.
Affectionate.
Good memory.

How do I maintain or restore the balance between the doshas?

When faced with a symptom or a disease, Ayurvedic medicine seeks to restore the balance in the affected individual through different strategies. These include the most appropriate diet according to the doshas, meditation, yoga, adequate rest, massage therapy, phytotherapy, and aromatherapy (1, 2).

Ayurveda also uses more invasive techniques, such as surgery, with various specialties like geriatrics, gynecology, internal medicine, and otolaryngology (1). If you are not experiencing any illness, the Ayurvedic system implies living a lifestyle that prevents diseases and allows you to live a long and healthy life.

What are the principles of the Ayurvedic diet?

Broadly speaking, every dosha has its own diet; foods that benefit Vata may not be ideal for Pitta or Kapha, for example. However, the following basic guidelines of the Ayurvedic diet apply to all life forces (3, 5, 6):

  1. Avoid processed and ultra-processed foods (canned goods, sausages, pre-fried frozen products, junk food) Choose fresh food sources, free from additives and preservatives.
  2. Plant-based, seasonal, and cooked foods are the best option for your meals. However, the Ayurvedic diet doesn't involve eliminating meat, dairy products, fish, or eggs. You will simply need to reduce their consumption.
  3. Cook and eat in a quiet and pleasant atmosphere. Stress and tension during these times are as harmful as eating poor quality or inadequate food. Keep in mind that Ayurveda always favors a joint approach to the well-being of body, mind, and spirit.
  4. Eat your meals at regular times.
  5. Avoid excess food and have an early dinner.
  6. Keep your kitchen clean and tidy.
  7. Try having a varied diet that is attractive for all your senses – not only for the taste.
  8. Choose organic foods that have been grown without synthetic agrochemicals (fertilizers or pesticides).
  9. Make sure that you have plenty of legumes, whole grains, spices (turmeric, laurel, dill, coriander, black pepper), and vegetables every day.
  10. Include the six flavors in every meal: bitter, sweet, spicy, astringent, sour, and salty.

Leche dorada

Golden milk is a typical hot drink of Ayurvedic medicine.
(Source: Rubisco: 70366812/ 123rf.com)

What are the most commonly used dietary supplements in Ayurveda?

Many natural products are used in Ayurvedic medicine, such as ginger, turmeric, and Garcinia (7). Some of them are compatible with all three doshas, while others favor one particular life force. Here is a list of the most popular Ayurvedic supplements:

  • Curcuma: the rhizome of the Curcuma longa L. plant is a source of curcumin, a compound with anti-inflammatory, expectorant, antibacterial, digestive, anticarcinogenic, and antioxidant properties. It is recommended in cases of type II diabetes, gastrointestinal ulcers, flatulence, and inflammatory disorders (arthritis) (8, 9).
  • Ashwagandha or Indian ginseng: the Withania somnifera plant is helpful in cases of weakness, fatigue, anxiety, intense chronic stress, and insomnia. It strengthens the immune system and has a rejuvenating effect on the organism. It may help prevent neurodegenerative conditions, such as dementia, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease (7, 10, 11).
  • Shatavari: The root of the Asparagus racemosus plant is taken to produce supplements. In Ayurveda, Shatavari is primarily used by women as it stimulates the production of breast milk (galactagogue). It helps to strengthen the immune system, and its potential to improve female fertility is currently under study (7, 12).
  • Gotu kola: Also known as Indian pennywort, it improves memory, lowering blood pressure, and promotes healing of gastric ulcers. Its venotonic properties contribute to reducing the weakness of blood capillaries while relieving varicose and spider veins (13).
  • Triphala: This polyherbal supplement consists of the fruits of the Terminalia bellerica, Terminalia chebula, and Emblica officinalis plants. Its laxative effect makes it efficient in treating chronic constipation. In addition, it promotes intestinal health and integrity by stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon (7, 14).

How can I make golden milk?

Typical of Ayurvedic medicine, this hot beverage provides all the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits of turmeric while comforting those who drink it. It's quick and easy to prepare, too:

  • Heat at least 200 milliliters of skimmed cow's milk or vegetable milk (oats, soy, almond, coconut).
  • Add 1 level teaspoon of pure turmeric powder, half a teaspoon of ginger powder (optional) and a pinch of black pepper. Mix and continue preparing while stirring.
  • Add half a teaspoon of coconut oil or ghee (clarified butter).
  • When the milk is hot (before boiling point), remove the beverage from the heat, serve in a cup, and drink immediately. You may sweeten it with honey.
Did you know that, to determine the predominant dosha, the Ayurveda practitioner has to examine a person's pulse, personality, tongue, face, eyes, urine, feces, voice, and skin?

Buyer's Guide

You should purchase authentic, unaltered dietary supplements for them to be effective. Depending on the concentrations of active ingredients in each dosage form, the properties of the product will change and, therefore, so will the effect on your body. To make a successful purchase that will benefit you, pay attention to the following criteria:

Authenticity

Traces of synthetic drugs from conventional medicine have been found in specific ayurvedic supplements formulated to alleviate inflammation and pain in cases of arthritis. This means that the product was contaminated and lacked authenticity (1).

Due to the lack of regulations by the relevant authorities, fake products and steroid (anti-inflammatory) adulterations in Ayurvedic supplements are commonplace. This is why it is essential that you look for products with the quality seals we will discuss later (15).

Hojas para té

Indian pennywort or Gotu kola is one of the most used ingredients in Ayurveda.
(Source: Kachatong: 40562171/ 123rf.com)

Dosage Form

In Ayurveda, dietary supplements come in various forms, from powder and capsules to liquid extracts and tablets. Capsules and tablets generally feature a standard concentration of active ingredients, are easy to ingest, and have an almost neutral taste. Powdered products, on the other hand, need to be dissolved in liquid before consumption.

Product Dosage form Recommended dose Recommended consumption mode
Turmeric Powder, capsules, and tablets Powder: half to 1 teaspoon a day.

Capsules and tablets: 1 to 2 units per day.

Powder: as a condiment or dissolved in cold or hot beverages. It should always be accompanied by black pepper or some oil to improve the assimilation of curcumin by the body.

Capsules and tablets: ingest directly with water. They already contain black pepper (or piperine).

Shatavari Powder, capsules, and tablets Powder: 2 teaspoons per day.

Capsules and tablets: 1 to 4 units per day.

Powder: dissolve it in water, juice, or smoothie.

Capsules and tablets: ingest with water.

Ashwagandha (Indian ginseng) Capsules and powder Powder: 1 teaspoon per day.

Capsules: 1 to 2 units per day.

Powder: mixed with water, fruit juices, or smoothies.

Capsules: consume with water.

Gotu kola (Indian pennywort) Capsules, powder, and liquid extract Powder: 1 to 2 teaspoons a day.

Capsules: 2 to 3 units a day.

Liquid extract: 40 drops, 1 to 3 times a day.

Powder: dissolved in water or shakes.

Capsules: ingest with water during a meal.

Liquid extract: diluted in water.

Triphala Capsules, powder, and tablets Powder: 1 to 2 teaspoons daily. Start with 1 teaspoon per week and increase your intake gradually.

Capsules and tablets: 1 to 2 units per day.

Powder: dissolved in water, shakes, or juice.

Capsules and tablets: ingest with water during a meal.

Quality Certifications

Earlier, we discussed the importance of purchasing authentic, counterfeit-free supplements. GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) and HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) quality certifications guarantee that a product is safe for your health and authentic (13, 16).

In addition, these certifications ensure standardization of the manufacturing process, uniformity in concentrations of active ingredients, and hygienic handling from start to finish. There have been numerous reports of contamination of Ayurvedic supplements by heavy metals (17).

Medicina oriental

The three doshas or life forces of Ayurveda are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
(Source: Indianfoodimages: 104115128/ 123rf.com)

Summary

Ayurveda is an age-old medicinal practice that covers every dimension of the human being: body, mind, and spirit. In addition to healing, it focuses on preventing disease and promoting a happy, healthy, and lasting life. The doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha – are the vital forces that determine the physical and personality traits of each individual.

Diet and supplements are fundamental to Ayurvedic medicine. Turmeric, ashwagandha, Indian pennywort, Shatavari, and Triphala are some of the most widely used ingredients. Due to frequent counterfeiting and adulteration, you should always look for products with the relevant quality certifications.

We hope that you found our guide on Ayurveda helpful and informative. Feel free to let us know your opinion in the section below, and don't forget to share this article on your social media!

(Featured Image Source: Chikitzo1: 34708187491/ 123rf.com)

References (17)

1. Parasuraman S, Thing G, Dhanaraj S. Polyherbal formulation: Concept of ayurveda [Internet]. 2014.
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2. Alcalde M. La tradición ayurvédica [Internet]. 2006.
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3. Velázquez R. Beneficios del Ayurveda, como Medicina Alternativa en Salud [Internet]. 2015.
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4. Frawley D. Ayurvedic Healing: A Comprehensive Guide [Internet]. 2000.
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5. Guha A. Ayurvedic Concept of Food and Nutrition [Internet]. 2006.
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6. Lauría A, Ciarlotti F. Cocina Ayurvédica [Internet]. 2009.
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7. Samy R, Pushparaj P, Gopalakrishnakone P. A compilation of Bioactive Compounds from Ayurveda[Internet]. 2008.
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8. Krup V, Prakash H, Harini A. Pharmacological Activities of Turmeric (Curcuma longa linn): A Review [Internet]. 2013.
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9. Chattopadhyay I, Biswas K, Bandyopadhyay U, Banerjee R. Turmeric and curcumin: Biological actions and medicinal applications [Internet]. 2004.
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10. Dar P, Singh L, Kamal M, Dar T. Unique Medicinal Properties of Withania somnifera: Phytochemical Constituents and Protein Component [Internet]. 2016.
Source

11. Arora R et al. Asian Medicinal Remedies for Alleviating Aging Effects [Internet]. 2013.
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12. Alok S et al. Plant profile, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari): A review [Internet]. 2013.
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13. Alonso M. Centella asiática. Una planta con historia e interesantes propiedades [Internet]. 2009.
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14. Peterson C. Denniston K, Chopra D. Therapeutic Uses of Triphala in Ayurvedic Medicine [Internet]. 2017.
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15. Paudyal B et al. Adverse events with ayurvedic medicines- possible adulteration and some inherent toxicities [Internet]. 2019.
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16. Gogtay N, Bhatt H, Dalvi S, Kshirsagar N. The Use and Safety of Non-Allopathic Indian Medicines [Internet]. 2012.
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17. Saper R, Kales S, Paquin J. Heavy Metal Content of Ayurvedic Herbal Medicine Products [Internet]. 2004.
Source

Why you can trust me?

Recognized media article
Parasuraman S, Thing G, Dhanaraj S. Polyherbal formulation: Concept of ayurveda [Internet]. 2014.
Go to source
Informative article
Alcalde M. La tradición ayurvédica [Internet]. 2006.
Go to source
Informative article
Velázquez R. Beneficios del Ayurveda, como Medicina Alternativa en Salud [Internet]. 2015.
Go to source
Informative article
Frawley D. Ayurvedic Healing: A Comprehensive Guide [Internet]. 2000.
Go to source
Informative article
Guha A. Ayurvedic Concept of Food and Nutrition [Internet]. 2006.
Go to source
Academic Article
Lauría A, Ciarlotti F. Cocina Ayurvédica [Internet]. 2009.
Go to source
Scientific article
Samy R, Pushparaj P, Gopalakrishnakone P. A compilation of Bioactive Compounds from Ayurveda[Internet]. 2008.
Go to source
Informative article
Krup V, Prakash H, Harini A. Pharmacological Activities of Turmeric (Curcuma longa linn): A Review [Internet]. 2013.
Go to source
Informative article
Chattopadhyay I, Biswas K, Bandyopadhyay U, Banerjee R. Turmeric and curcumin: Biological actions and medicinal applications [Internet]. 2004.
Go to source
Scientific article
Dar P, Singh L, Kamal M, Dar T. Unique Medicinal Properties of Withania somnifera: Phytochemical Constituents and Protein Component [Internet]. 2016.
Go to source
Scientific article
Arora R et al. Asian Medicinal Remedies for Alleviating Aging Effects [Internet]. 2013.
Go to source
Scientific article
Alok S et al. Plant profile, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari): A review [Internet]. 2013.
Go to source
Informative article
Alonso M. Centella asiática. Una planta con historia e interesantes propiedades [Internet]. 2009.
Go to source
Scientific article
Peterson C. Denniston K, Chopra D. Therapeutic Uses of Triphala in Ayurvedic Medicine [Internet]. 2017.
Go to source
Scientific article
Paudyal B et al. Adverse events with ayurvedic medicines- possible adulteration and some inherent toxicities [Internet]. 2019.
Go to source
Academic Article
Gogtay N, Bhatt H, Dalvi S, Kshirsagar N. The Use and Safety of Non-Allopathic Indian Medicines [Internet]. 2012.
Go to source
Informative article
Saper R, Kales S, Paquin J. Heavy Metal Content of Ayurvedic Herbal Medicine Products [Internet]. 2004.
Go to source
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