General Usage Guidelines for Ayurvedic Health Supplements
Ayurvedic Health Supplements like Chyavanprash, Ashwagandha, Shatavari, Gokshura etc. are fast catching on public awareness. However, in order to get the fullest benefit from them, it is important to consider some Ayurvedic parameters and factors that affect their performance.
If you are new to the use of Ayurvedic health supplements, you should reflect upon the following questions and make an informed choice –
How is your digestion?
What is your purpose for taking herbal supplements?
What is your Prakriti? You can check it online. If you are not able to find a good site, try ritucharya.com
Importance of Digestive Capacity
Efficacy of Ayurvedic medicine is not generalized. It is dependent on the age, digestive capacity and requirements. Therefore it is important to know how strong is your digestion? because if the medicine is not digested, it will not be absorbed by the body. The high undigested doses will produce more toxins than benefits. It is like giving a library of books to an illiterate person. He will be able to get no benefit from the huge number of books.
If your digestion is strong, you don’t get bloating, flatulence, indigestion, acidity etc frequently, then you can start with a good dose of herbal preparations. With a healthy digestion, you will be able to properly digest and absorb the nutrition available in the medicine. In perspective of the above example, in this case, you are literate and will be able to enhance your wisdom by digesting the knowledge from the books.
However, if your digestion is not great and you face the above-mentioned problems with digestion, the first step should be to enhance the digestion process.
In order to improve your digestion, visit
Types of Ayurvedic Preparation
There are two kinds of preparations available in the market: Classical Ayurvedic preparations and herbal medicines derived from Ayurvedic text.
Genetically modified herbs
Because of huge popularity and demand of some Ayurvedic herbs like turmeric, ashwagandha, shatavari etc, these herbs are being genetically modified to produce more of their active ingredients, for example high percentage of curcumin in turmeric, or high level of withanolides in ashwagandha. However, these herbs are completely unnatural and cannot be expected to bring the benefits of original ashwagandha.
All the genetically modified products are capable of surviving incompatible environmental conditions. However, according to Ayurveda any herbs that grows in uncompatible season, soil or conditions does not contain the natural properties and can even have a poisonous effect on the body.
Therefore, please do not use turmeric with high curcumin levels in the name of Ayurveda. Ayurveda does not approve of genetically modified products.
Use of digestives
The major benefit of classical Ayurvedic health supplements like Chavanprash, paka preparations is that they contain a good amount of digestives(clove, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaf, clove, salt, and multiple other spices) in the preparations themselves. These ingredients help in easy digestion and assimilation of the nutrition. Apart from the stated benefit, these ingredients add multiple other qualities to the health supplement. For example, the ideal Chavanprash preparation contains 64 ingredients. And therefore Chavanprash helps in multiple physiological dimensions. It is anti-aging, improves stamina and immunity, is great for eyes, skin, liver; helps in blood purification, improves appetite, sleep quality, digestion and overall metabolism. Therefore if you are using some classical preparation like this in a dosage appropriate to your digestion, it will be properly digested and absorbed.
However, if you are using herbs in the form of extracts, capsules, or powdered form, which are normally single ingredient formulations and do not contain any kind of digestives, you really need to have a good digestive power to gain the maximum benefit from the herbs. Otherwise, there is a probability of indigestion, flatulence or other problems. Inappropriate consumption of herbal preparations might cause health distortion instead of health benefits.
Type of preparation
Many so-called Ayurvedic products use gelatin capsules, preservatives, colouring and flavouring agents. But these formulations decrease the best effects of the herbs.
Let us take the example of turmeric. Today we have raw turmeric capsules available in the market in the name of Ayurveda. But according to Ayurveda, raw turmeric is very difficult
The dosage of the Ayurvedic Health Supplements is also dependent on factors like digestion, age, health requirements of the body or medicinal purpose.
Tapering dosage is always recommended in Ayurveda, which means that you start with half of the final dose and gradually reach the full dosage so that there is no toxin formation in the introductory phase of the medicine.
Tapering dosage allows the body to assess and decide to accept or reject the medicine. It also helps to prevent allergies at an early stage. Tapering dosage is like a proper introduction of a stranger before he enters the house. It is like taking the consent of the owner (our body). If a stranger suddenly enters the house, even with good intentions, the owner might feel attacked. There can be mild or severe reactions by the body when a high dose of a medicine is suddenly consumed, unless in extreme conditions.
Tapering dosage is applicable in stopping the medication as well. If the medicine is consumed for a reasonably long period of time, the body might become dependent on it. Imagine suddenly shaking away a hand that is placed on your shoulder! According to Ayurveda, a medicine or a health supplements should not be stopped suddenly, unless urgently required. Similar to the tapering introduction of the medicine, there should be a gradual and phased reduction in the dosage of the medicine. This helps the body to adjust to the new condition.
For example, if your optimal dosage of Chavanprash is 2 tsp, you should start the medicine with 1 tsp and increase it to 2 tsp after a week or so. Similarly, if you are stopping the intake of Chavanprash, you should decrease the original dosage to 1 tsp and stop the health supplement completely after a week. This duration and incremental dosage differ from person to person. It is good to consult a physician in case of any medicines containing heavy metals or minerals.
Tapering dosage, increasing or decreasing, is an important factor in preserving the homeostasis of the body.
Timing is another extremely important factor according to Ayurveda. Timing helps the medicine to reach the focused organ or metabolic system we want to improve.
The timing of a medicine can be divided into mainly 2 parts – seasonal and daily timing.
According to Ayurveda, the seasonal cycle and biorhythm of our body, both are synchronized to the sun. Dosha, one of the important physiological factors in Ayurveda are severely affected by the changing seasons and so is our body. Ayurveda has a specific seasonal health regimen to prevent the effects of seasonal changes on the body. This regimen is called Ritucharya. There are many health supplements that are designed specifically to preserve the homeostasis of the body in different seasons. Each season has its own range of health supplements based on the Prakriti and requirements of the individual. For example, Chavanprash, paka and alcoholic preparations are best suited for winters, Amrakalpa(Summer Rejuvenation Therapy: Amrakalpa) is a fruit-based detoxification therapy best suited for summers. Use of season based health supplements is more effective as compared to using same health supplements throughout the year because the requirements of the body keep on changing according to the change in the climatic conditions. Therefore Ayurveda recommends differential health supplement therapy for a perfect balance between the external and internal body environment.
One of the best examples of seasonal health supplements is Ritu Haritaki
After the seasonal health supplements are decided, daily timing of intake is the most important thing. Daily timing of the medicine is decided according to the theory of Vata subtypes. For easy understanding, the recommendations of this theory regarding the time of medicine intake are explained in brief below.
|Focused Body Part||Timing of Health Supplement|
|For organs in and below the pelvic region||Before breakfast (lunch in case breakfast is missed)|
|For organs involved in digestion||middle of the meal|
|For general effect on entire body||After breakfast/ Lunch|
|For medicinal effect on throat region(speech-related organs – vocal cords, related muscles etc), heart, esophagus||Before dinner|
|For respiratory problems||before bed|
Many factors are stated above, that should be considered regarding health supplements or medicine intake. Sometimes, it is not possible to incorporate all the factors at the same time. If you are not able to factor all the requirements at the same time, you can consider the factors in following hierarchy –
- Digestion improvement
- Decide on best formulation
- Dosage Tapering
For example, first, improve your digestion with healthy dietary and lifestyle habits. Take a preparation that you will be able to digest in the best manner. Gradually increase the dosage. If you are not able to follow the proper timing for the medicine, then also the medicine will benefit you if the other primary factors are integrated properly
Every human body reacts differently to the same medicines. It is important to be aware of the physiological changes that you feel after the start of health supplement consumption. The awareness will help early identification of any kind of positive or negative changes in the body. Immediately contact your medical advisor if you notice signs of a possible allergy.
With some experience and practice, you will be able to decide the best possible formulation, dosage, and timing for your Ayurvedic health supplements. However, it helps to consult any experienced Ayurvedic physician if you are confused or using Ayurvedic health supplements for the first time.