Some knowledge about Ayurvedic medical plants
They say that you need to study and practise Ayurveda for at least 12 years before the plants share with you their wisdom. Ayurveda Medicine is deemed as the science of life. Approximately, 90% of Ayurvedic preparations are plant-based. The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India (API) is a legalized document of the Government of India describing the quality, purity and strength of selected drugs. Today, I want to share with you my experience in India learning about Ayurvedic plants.
I arrived at the Hospital “Dr. D. Y. Patil College Of Ayurveda & Research Centre” where I was meeting Dr. Abhijeet Shirkande, Associate Professor and Botanic Expert. A young man, in his 30s, eager to share the knowledge with us and encouraging to adapt all the learnings to our countries.
Ayurveda means “the science of life” and although it originated in India, it may be applicable everywhere. Medicinal plants grow accross the globe, we just need to look at them from the Ayurvedic perspective.
We went to have a walk around the botanical garden. “Nature shows us the essence of life”, Dr. Abhijeet Shirkande said.
Ayurveda is a medical system with a remain of vedic philosophy. Ayurveda has lots of potential on disease prevention and maintaining health. Ayurveda provides better solution in the forms of proper dietary management, lifestyle advises and plant-based preparations. Ayurveda focuses on bringing the five elements (ether, air, fire, water, and earth) into balance, both internally and externally, to bring about greater health.
A combination of these five elements result in three energies or metabolic tendencies known as “doshas” that define our physical, physiological and mental characteristics. Without these doshas the miracle of life would not be possible because the necessary processes of movement (Vata), transformation or metabolism (Pitta) and union (Kapha) would not occur. The plants, like us, are also governed by this theory of 5 elements and 3 doshas.
We can get a much deeper knowledge of each plant, its mechanism of action and its medicinal benefits if we learn which Dosha and Element is predominant on each of them.
India has two faces: the chaotic one with loads of lights, noise and chaos everywhere, and Ayurveda. Indeed, it is very relevant to note that, as we Europeans are becoming more “To do society”, we try to bring a bit of Eastern mindset to find balance. In fact, nowadays there is an increasing demand of adaptogenic plants, which are plants that increase the capacity for adaptation and survival and allow to recover the balance, according to the particular needs of each one.
Ayurveda pharmacopeiaa describes numerous adaptogen plants, such as Ashwagandha (Withania somnífera), Shatavari (asparagus racemosus) and Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum).
What these three plants have in common is that they all resist in extreme climates and their capacity for adaptation and survival is very high. Recent studies confirm what ayurvedic sages had been observing since 5000 years ago.
All these findings are proven in the Lab. Our next stop was of course the botanical Lab.
Ayurveda is not only in philosophical theories, it also includes tangible practices in the laboratory where they study which vehicle (galenic form) is the most suitable for each plant in each clinical situation.
For example, the root of the ashwagandha according to its properties is astringent, bitter, of hot potency and calms the doshas. In the classic texts of Ayurveda (reference charaka samhita) several combinations of ashwagandha are mentioned with different galenic forms (extract in oil, in decoction, in powder, with milk) and the formulation is chosen according to the person and the symptom itself.
My trip to India has helped me to learn Ayurvedic methodology and reasoning and apply it to clinical situations in Europe. Dr. Abhijeet has been a great teacher: his brain holds all the knowledge that can fit in databases as well-known as Pubmed, and his heart breathes an energetic connection with the plant. This is the mystery of Ayurveda, knowing the plant, its energetic qualities, checking out the metabolic tendencies scientifically and adapting it to each body constitution.