The fruit of the Amla tree (amalaki) contains the highest amount of vitamin C than any other known source. There is approximately 750 mg of vitamin C in 10g of fresh fruit. Visually, it looks like a large white grape when fresh. If a person found an amla tree and bit into the fruit, they would experience an extremely sour taste, but the flavor soon turns sweet. (After amla has been cooked and processed in medicinal form, it will no longer have an extremely sour taste- it will be just mildly sour.)
Even though Amalaki is sour, it has a cooling effect on the body- making it especially useful for pacifying the pitta dosha. Normally the sour taste is contraindicated for individuals with high pitta in their bodies. However, amla has a prabhava, or special quality of cooling, and is an exception to this rule.
Like many ayurvedic herbs, Amalaki works on many systems in the body. For example, it can increase reproductive fluids and sexual potency- so is considered an aphrodisiac. It has an affinity toward the rakta dhatu, or blood tissue. Due to this, it purifies the blood, is a heart tonic, and can heal bleeding disorders. It can also lower cholesterol and help rectify arterial damage.
Digestively speaking, Amla is especially useful in inflammatory disorders- such as ulcers, colitis, gastritis, and bleeding conditions. In small doses, it can be constipating, but in large doses it can be a laxative. It extracts toxins from the liver. It has the rare quality of increasing agni, or digestive fire, without aggravating the pitta dosha.
Amla can increase energy- so it is a great immune system tonic and builder. It is a main ingredient in Cyanaprasa- the superb and ancient Ayurvedic rejuvenative tonic. It can be used to strengthen a person if they are weak or experiencing debility. In addition to being rejuvenating, this herb has been called an adaptogen and has been indicated in slowing the aging process. It increases virility, vitality, and is an immune-restorative.
Amalaki pacifies vitiated sadhak pitta, which is a sub-dosha of pitta that deals with the way information is digested in the mind. In other words, if a person is feeling mentally “on fire” or aggravated, amla can help relieve this. It has been known to impart a peaceful state of mind and quality of wellbeing on a person’s psyche.
Amla is also very nourishing for the hair. You will find it in ayurvedic hair products or in henna hair powders as a conditioner and nourishing ingredient. It alleviates hair loss and early greyness as well.
Raw almond butter can be tedious to make, but it is worth the patience, especially when you know the health of your adrenals is on the line. Having this adaptogenic version of almond butter on hand is as useful as it is delicious. You can use it as an ingredient in other dishes or add it as a topping on things like toast with honey and cinnamon.
Using a food processor or heavy duty blender, add almonds and begin blending on a low to medium-low speed. Blend until a smooth butter forms. This could take anywhere from 10–30 minutes. Add the ashwagandha powder towards the end. You may need to stop to scrape the sides of the blender. A small amount of oil such as ghee or coconut oil can help if the almonds seem dry or aren’t blending. Refrigerate in an airtight container.
How Can This Ayurvedic Recipe Make Your Coffee Better?
Coffee is stimulating and depleting, but adding this Ayurvedic coffee booster can help mitigate the harmful effects of coffee. Grass-fed butter (rich in vitamin A which is key for adrenal and thyroid health) and nourishing coconut oil contain stable, healthy saturated fats that soothe your nerves and help protect your stomach lining from acidic coffee.
Coffee is a rich source of antioxidants, but is also a very strong stimulant and is therefore only recommended when it can be balanced with formulas such as this one. It is one of the few ways that Vata-types can safely enjoy a cup of coffee without getting over-stressed and depleting their adrenals. Even though it is high in fats, the idea is to utilize bulletproof coffee in a way that the fats are used as a source of energy. The fats help ‘time-release’ the caffeine for longer, sustainable energy.
Roasted dandelion gives a complementary flavor and supports the liver and adrenals. Cinnamon, Cardamom, and Rose are cooling and demulcent which will balance the heating and drying effects of coffee. Ashwagandha & Shatavari are a potent adaptogenic powerhouse that nourish the adrenals and nervous system.
Ayurveda has been using a powerhouse 5 spice blend for digestion and not only for everyday use and prevention but help to heal issues at the root. The most common reported digestive symptoms are gas, bloating, indigestion, and abdominal discomfort. When these symptoms occur, even (and especially) if it’s subtle, it is vital not to ignore them for long term health.
If you have not been diagnosed with any severe digestive issues, then consider working with a practitioner to reset your digestive strength and efficiency naturally with diet & lifestyle modifications, and of course herbs and spices. These 5 spices in particular have been used for thousands of years with repeated success.
Commonly in Indian restaurants, you may see a bowl of fennel seeds offered after a meal. What I appreciate most about these spices is how they reset digestive function without creating dependency (like enzymes could) and they are as gentle as they are potent. These spices actually support the body’s natural ability to digest, rather then just addressing symptoms. Digestive enzymes only temporarily provide enzymes to digest protein and starches, while this 5 spice blend will amp up the body’s ability to produce its own digestive enzymes and bile.
Increases bile flow
Supports Pancreatic enzymatic activity
Boosts small intestine enzymatic activity
Decreases gas & bloating
Improves fat & sugar metabolism
Promotes optimal weight
Supports healthy microbiome
Increases healthy growth rate of beneficial bacteria
Stimulates digestive organs
Quickens intestinal transit time supporting health elimination
Why these spices?
Coriander – Coriander is probably the most cooling of the five. The seeds are commonly used in herbal remedies. The leaves, known as cilantro, are slightly less cooling then the seeds whereas the seeds are best known for their digestive properties of cooling excess pitta in the intestinal tract, making it a go-to for heartburn. It is a natural carminative meaning it prevents or relieves gas from the GI tract. Coriander has also been shown to increase natural production of bile from the liver and digestive enzymes from the pancreas.
Cardamom – A member of the ginger family, Ayurveda reveres this spice in making your dishes more digestible and delicious! (Especially masala chai!) Cardamom also neutralizes the stimulating effects of caffeine, allowing chai to boost digestion without taxing the nervous system. It is also fondly known to reduce the extreme acidity of many foods and caffeinated beverages (including coffee) and is the signature spice in traditional Turkish coffee. These reasons and more are why I added it to my Bulletproof Coffee Blend. When cooked into your food, it balances excess mucus, gas, and bloating in the stomach and small intestine. Cardamom has also been found to support healthy liver function, supporting healthy levels of cholesterol and weight loss.
Cumin – Cumin, we dare say, is the most powerful digestive tonic of the five spices. While very effective alone, it blends well in both taste and effectiveness with the others. It is much like coriander in that it cools the digestive system, as well as boosts strength, supports health assimilation, cultivation of good microbes, and detoxification of the GI tract. Cumin is the go-to for gas & bloating.
Fennel – Not only does it combat gas and bloating, it is extremely gentle for digestive stress and as one of Ayurveda favorite lymph-movers, containing natural antioxidant compounds that support healthy lymphatic function.As a lymph mover, it also supports healthy lactation and radiant skin, inside & out. Fennel seeds are considered to be the most sattvic of spices(promoting purity and balance), because of it’s optimal balancing effect on all the Doshas. It is considered one of the best digestive herbs as it strengthens digestive fire (Agni) without aggravating pitta, and is beneficial for abdominal cramping, nausea and dispelling flatulence.
Ginger – Known in Ayurveda as the ‘universal spice’ because of its many health benefits. It is heating for the upper digestion, with its pungent taste, but cooling and soothing for the lower digestion, as a result of its sweet aftertaste. It is therefore considered to be tri-doshic, balancing all Doshas (except in excess). Ginger is the classic kindling to start digestive fire in the stomach. Ginger has been studied to support the body’s natural production of stomach acid, pancreatic enzymes, and liver bile – acting as a digestive reset for all aspects of the upper digestive system. Scientific studies have shown it supports healthy microbes and intestinal wall, while acting as a digestive stimulant for nutrient assimilation.
In my Rest & Digest Tea, I combined these 5 spices in proprietary amounts for a delicious taste and optimal effectiveness of each spice. To make it even more special I added Indian Sarsaparilla. This brings the tummy soothing feeling and is known for aiding in many digestive ailments.
Digestive strength is the number one thing assessed in an Ayurvedic consultation. “When diet is correct, medicine is of no need, when diet is wrong, medicine is of no use” – Ayurvedic Proverb If you are having problems with digestion, assimilation, and elimination, it is the root cause of all imbalance and disease in your body. Please consider a “Clarity Call” with Seva Ayurveda to see if Ayurveda can help you!
🦋1. Spring is a time of transition. In Ayurveda, Spring and Fall are known as “transitional seasons”, making them the ideal months to perform a cleanse and start anew. On a microcosmic level, a time of transition is considered a very special time for making positive changes in your life. Therefore, cleansing out our bodies and de-cluttering our minds is an essential way to blossom into a new time of year.
🏵2. Spring provides the perfect weather for a cleanse. During a cleanse our energy can be low, our senses heightened and our bodies more susceptible to imbalance. For these reasons, it is ideal to avoid extremes of any kind including the extreme heat and severe cold; making it a more balanced time to take advantage of a Springtime cleanse!
💐3. Allergies are in the air.
Common symptoms of allergies include congestion, inflammation, foggy mind, low immunity, sluggish digestion and high Kapha. For all of these reasons, a cleanse will be most beneficial in order to treat Springtime allergies. In fact, if you already know you are susceptible to allergies this time of year, it would be best to perform the cleanse BEFORE their onset, as prevention is always easier than treatment (when possible).
🍀4. Spring Cleanses help to remove the accumulated Kapha from the previous winter months.
Common Kapha symptoms such as winter weight gain, stagnation, low motivation, fatigue, foggy mind, congestion, allergies and overeating are all too common this time of year.
🌿5. Cleansing lightens our loads
Winter is the time of year for eating a bit more and moving a bit less. Although this is the way of nature, it is important to also realize that Spring is the time of year to eat a bit lighter and gearing up for a more active season. Performing a Spring cleanse is a great way to set the stage for readjusting the diet and lifestyle, paving the way for healthier food choices and increasing motivation for movement.
Up until the early 1900s, essential oils were the strongest medicine available. There is so much captivating history about the use and development of herbal medicine. Through various scientific studies over the years, the result is that Aromatherapy is now being incorporated into the mainstream medical systems and hopefully into your daily life.
Essential oils are originally formed in plant cells by the action of the sun thus the oil becoming reservoirs of solar healing power. It is the source of all fragrances in nature. The essence is the life blood of the plant which provides its own immunity, having natural antibacterial, antiseptic, antifungal, and preservative properties for healing. By extracting the ‘essence’ we use these properties, as a gift from the plant, for healing.
Pure essences, which are extracted by distillation, are not only the most potent plant extraction, but also the most costly to produce. Therefore, a useful gauge, though not an absolute one, is the price of the essential oil. The more pure essence the manufacturer puts in the dilution, the more you are likely to pay. In this case, you really do get what you pay for. Keep in mind too, that with essential oils, a little goes a long way.
What I hope to impress on you today is the importance of self-care, especially in these current times, and simple ways to enhance your daily life by implementing Ayurveda & Aromatherapy. Ayurveda teaches us that if what is taken in to the body is harmonious with one’s nature, the result is health and well-being. We assimilate all our experiences through our sense organs of scent, touch, taste, sight, and sound. There are two principal pathways for applying Aromatherapy. Through the skin, and via the sense of smell. Aromatherapy is an effective healing practice that can easily be added to your daily life. The most common applications include steam inhalation, diffusers, incense, smoke, baths and adding drops to massage oil.
Smell The Olfactory system is the pathway in the body which allows smell to be interpreted by the mind. Here is my quick blurb from geeking out on the physiology: Our aromatic environment is chemically based, and therefore phytochemicals fill the air we breathe. While these are absorbed into the bloodstream, they also stimulate various nerve receptors within the nasal cavity and our sinuses send signals directly to different parts of the brain, including the Limbic system, the part of the brain that processes memory and emotion.
Impulses are then transmitted to the Hypothalamus which regulates such bodily functions as temperature, thirst, hunger, blood sugar level, growth, sleep and wake patterns, sexual arousal, and the emotions. From here the Pituitary is stimulated next, which activates the Endocrine system which in turn controls digestion, emotional and sexual behavior, stress response, and all metabolic processes. Aromatherapy applied through the sense of smell has almost an immediate effect, making it on option for a quick go-to throughout the day, to stay in balance.
As you start practicing Aromatherapy, it is a wonderful way to come to know yourself. Seeing yourself where you’re at, and what you need in the moment, and applying the remedy, therefore caring for and loving yourself more. Self love and care has really transformed my life for the better and I hope to inspire you to do the same because we deserve it!
Skin When using essential oil drops in sprays, oils, or baths, they easily permeate the skin because their molecular structure is very small. They use the fine capillaries of the blood and lymph system to be carried throughout the entire body to all cells, and even able to cross the blood-brain barrier to act on the outer portions of the brain. Based on research in the Journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, the understanding of essential oil chemistry and their penetrative abilities through biological membranes have made them proficient treatment implements for managing various neurological disorders. To understand how to use Aromatherapy for you as an individual, it is important to know what your unique constitution is, your Dosha, according to Ayurveda. Dosha simply means “that which goes out of balance”. The whole essence of Ayurveda, is creating balance for your unique constitution of doshas. When we are in balance, we are free from dis-ease. If you do not know your Dosha, please take the quiz here, at your leisure.
Vata needs sweet and sour aromas to increase stability and calmness in the mind and nervous system. Following recommendations are based on specific Vata disorders:
Pitta needs bitter and astringent aromas which pacify feelings of anger or intensity. The following recommendations are for specific Pitta disorders:
Anger – Borage, cardamom, champa, coriander, blue chamomile, lotus, musk, rose, and saffron.
Stubbornness – Lavender and peppermint.
Hurtful – Hina, oud musk, geranium and yarrow.
Domineering – Amber and geranium.
Frustrated – Brahmi and gold chamomile
Irritable – Benzoin, frankincense, lavender, Roman Chamomile, rose, ylang ylang.
Kapha needs aromas that pertain to pungent and bitter qualities that will influence emotions of enthusiasm towards their tasks. The following recommendations are for specific Kapha disorders:
Depressed – Bergamot, lemongrass, geranium, clary sage, grapefruit, and orange.
Disinterested – Lavender, champa, orange, bergamot, and patchouli.
Greedy – Basil, rosemary, cardamom
Attached – Mint, ginger, and myrtle.
Uncertainty – Ylang ylang, immortelle, and jasmine.
Resistant – Grapefruit, lime, bergamot, and chamomile.
Sad – Benzoin, jasmine, rose, rosewood, clary sage, Melissa, and neroli.
Whether you are interested in gathering a collection of single bottles or prefer to get pre-blended oils for each Dosha, I recommend Floracopeia as it was judged as second highest quality essential oils and affordable.
Mature Years With use of Aromatherapy, specifically essential oils of lavender, rose, geranium, lemon, and jasmine – aging women can benefit from a reduction in symptoms pertaining to perimenopause and menopause. Sweet Orange, Marjoram, Lavender, Rose and Bergamot, are sweet and uplifting aromas that respectively aide insomnia, anxiety and depression, and tonify the nervous system. Our hero Lavender standing out as the greatest reliever of Hot Flashes. Living an Ayurvedic lifestyle gains us ground in preventative health and if implementing it begins early enough in life, hot flashes can be prevented. However if you find that hot flashes are a part of your menopause, Lavender essential oil is commonly used to soothe the discomfort of them. For example, Lavender is a natural diuretic wherein diuretics help to regulate body temperature.
Personal Note I love using a diffuser, but I have also appreciated my salt lamp that has a little glass dish on top. As the light of the lamp heats the water, it releases the aromas. A dual purpose where I’m getting aromatherapy and adding the negative ions into my space from the salt lamp. There are many ways to incorporate Aromatherapy into your daily life like placing diffusers in the different rooms of your house, your office, and even your car. When I’m studying (and if I remember) I put a few drops of Rosemary on a cotton pad to sniff on it as it helps with cognitive function. I also love making different blends into a spritzer to aromatize my bed pillows, car, bathroom, or myself before a social situation. Making an aromatherapy bath is very therapeutic as you are getting the oils into your skin, and the olfactory system. The most traditional way to use Aromatherapy for meditation or your spiritual practice is Incense. Auromere incense is made with Ayurvedic principles and being someone very sensitive to perfumey scents, I have tried each one and they are all subtle and pleasant. They have scents such as ‘Coconut/Comforting’, ‘Elevating/Indian Cedar’, ‘Rose/Spiritual Love, and many more. I purchased the sampler kit and use a different one every day depending on the intention.
Personally being Vata, I need extra warmth. Adding a few drops of ginger to oil that I massage myself with everyday is a perfect solution. It smells amazing and feels wonderful on my joints which can easily get inflamed. Also putting drops of Lavender, Jatamansi (An Ayurvedic Valerian), or an essential oil of your choice, into a carrier oil (I usually use Sesame or Coconut) and massaging my feet at night, really helps with grounding my energy and winding down for a more restful sleep. The palms of the hands and the soles of the feet are covered in nerve endings (that’s why massage on them feels so good!) So they are extremely important areas not to neglect.
Aromatherapy really is for everyone. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t appreciate the aromas of nature and that is what essential oils are. I consider it a gift and a blessing that we have been able to capture the essence and fragrance of nature in a little bottle. Making it really easy to use with quick and therapeutic benefits, which is what we need in these times. It is important to note that Aromatherapy is an adjunct to dosha balancing, with diet & lifestyle being the cause of dosha imbalance. Fortunately it is never too late to improve our health with the right tools.
Lastly I would like to mention that although I have provided links to the different oils and products to support your Aromatherapy practice, everything I have wriiten in this article is based on my belief in the therapeutic benefit. I have witnessed the effects personally and on my clients.
In all of my research I drew most of my information with permission from the following book: Ayurveda & Aromatherapy The author I know and trust in the profession and highly recommend them if you would like to dive deeper into Ayurveda and alternative therapies.