Ayurveda in Veterinary Medicine
In 2018, Dr. Tejinder Sodhi gave a presentation for the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association--these are the notes for that presentation.
AYURVEDA IN VETERINARY MEDICINE—BASIC PRINCIPLES AND CLINICAL APPLICATIONS
Tejinder Sodhi, DVM, CVC
The ancient healing science, Ayurveda, originated in India. Perhaps the oldest system of medicine, it is based on the ancient Ayurvedic science of herbal energetic. This system determines the quality and power of herbs according to the laws of nature, thus herbs can be used collectively or individually to match individual conditions. It is an eternal system of medicine that combines eight branches of healing within itself from herbs to surgery to psychology. It is scientific, and yet it is also based on spiritual knowledge and cosmic consciousness.
Ayurveda consists of two words: Ayu (life) and Veda (Science). It is a Sanskrit word and literally means the Science of Life. The origins of this science of life, though difficult to pinpoint, have been placed by scholars of ancient Indian Ayurvedic literature at somewhere around 6000 BC.
Ayurveda is a holistic science of balance and health. It not only deals with the prevention of diseases and promotion of health and longevity but also cures diseases. Ayurveda also deals with Rejuvenation. Ayurveda is Upveda (supplementary veda) of Atharvaveda-- one of the four Vedas written in Sanskrit. Ayurveda was imparted to Daksha Prajapati by Brahma, the creator of the Universe, then given to two Ashwani Kumars and later on to Lord Indra. This was followed by Dhanwantari who was sent to propagate the knowledge of Ayurveda to others. Sushruta was student of Dhanwantari--who wrote the famous treatise on surgery entitled ‘Sushruta Samhita’. Charaka was a contemporary of Sushruta who wrote a book of Medicine entitled ‘Charaka Samhita’.
Ayurveda has eight branches. They are as follows:
1) General Medicine
3) Treatment of Head and Neck including eye, ear, nose and throat
4) Psychotherapy, mental disorder including seizures
7) Rejuvenation / Geriatrics
8) Sexuality, Theriogeneology and Aphrodisiacs
Ayurveda mainly evolved as a human medicine system with its main emphasis on living in Harmony with laws of nature. As such, its principles and philosophy can be extended to every living being of the animal and plant kingdoms. Disease is seen as an imbalance and its treatment involves diverse strategies to restore optimal function and balance using nutrition, yoga, exercise, complex integrated herbal formulations and possible surgical techniques. The Ayurvedic physician treats the whole person, removing disease by ending the imbalance that created it. One observation –made at the time Ayurveda was at its prime – was that the diseases most commonly found were reflections of life-style, rather than infectious diseases. Thus the main focus evolved around change of life style, diet, psychology, stress reduction teachings like yoga, etc.
Five Basic Elements
The Universe is composed of Pancha Mahabhootas or five basic elements: Earth, Fire, Water, Air, and Ether. The human body is also made up of the five above elements, so there is natural harmony between the universe and the humans. It is said that Purusha (man) and Prakruti (matter or great nature) are the representation of spirit and nature, and the union of these two produces Mahad – the cosmic intelligence. Ego or Ahamkar is derived from Mahad. Disease is not natural, it is artificial and comes from being out of balance with Mahad and Purusha. Most diseases in Ayurveda except aging come from Mahad due to psychological imbalance.
Theory of Tridosha
It is the constitution of the living being in Ayurveda with five basic elements Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether, coming together in different combinations in each creature, so each person is different from each other. These five elements come together to create their basic constitution types Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, collectively called Tridoshas.
- Vata - If air and ether predominate, it produces Vata.
- Pitta - If fire and water predominate, it would be Pitta constitution.
- Kapha – If water and earth predominate, the constitution would be Kapha.
So not only an individual can be either Vata, Pitta or Kapha constitution but also combinations of these like Vata-Pitta, Pitta-Kapha, or Vata Kapha. Rarely will you find Tridoshic Vata-Pitta-Kapha, also called Sama. But predominance of one of the doshas will decide the constitution of an individual. Every type of constitution will have separate types of physical attributes, diets and habits. Ayurveda treats an individual as a whole and not only the symptoms or the affected parts, unlike modern medicine. Disease is produced due to an imbalance in the normal state of equilibrium of Tridoshas. These Doshas will govern the physiological activities of the body.
Vata pathology: Vata is a combination of ether and air. It is related to cold, like cold hands, and feet, and dislike of cold climate, and food. It is also related to movement, giving good and bad circulation and respiration. Depending upon how well balanced doshas are, hypertension and cardiac arrhythmia can arise. Muscle spasms and backaches are due to excess of Vata. Vata skin is dry and Vata patients have dull hair and eyes, very scant sweating and easily cracked skin and a rough coat. Emotionally, they act on impulse, have mood swings, scattered thoughts, learn quickly and have poor long term memory.
Vata is most powerful of the Doshas. Hound breeds such as Borzoi, Grey Hounds and Afghan hounds are said to be representation of Vata Dosha.
Pitta Pathology is combination of heat and water, like flushed skin and inflammation. Hot burning sensation in the stomach or liver diseases. They have overactive metabolism due to heat -- they like cold food. Pitta people have profuse sweating, and hot and humid weather is worse for them. Due to excessive heat, they have bad odor, breath and foul smelling urine and feces. Pitta maintains digestive and glandular secretions, mostly digestive enzymes, and bile secretion. Again, animal breeds representing Pitta would be Rottweiler, Pit bull, and Bull terrier etc.
Kapha pathology is related to being heavy and slow leading to obesity, feeling of heaviness after eating, also feeling of depression. Kapha people have soft skin and hair. They have slow speech and movements. Bulldog, Newfoundland, and obese sluggish hypothyroid Golden retrievers fit well in Kapha type. Dry, hot, heavy are the good markers of the Doshas. If anything becomes dry, Vata increases like dry weather, dry skin, dry food. Hot indicates Pitta like hot weather, anger (hot emotions). It is more aggressive than Vata. Heavy indicates Kapha like weight gain and heavy sleeping. Kapha is the steadiest and more close to the natural form.
In the view of healing, living beings are made of seven types of vital tissues called Dhatu. These Dhatus are produced due to intake of food. These Dhatus work together to ensure the smooth functioning of the body. These tissues are 1) Plasma 2) Blood 3) Muscle 4) Fat 5) Bone 6) Bone Marrow and Nerve 7) Reproductive tissues. It is believed that each of these nourishes the next in succession. Plant kingdom is composed of similar Dhatus. It is also believed that plant Dhatus nourish the animal Dhatus.
Concept of Ama or Malas
These are the substances which are formed in the body as a waste product. It is the waste–Mala–that accumulates in the body primarily through digestion and absorption. Good health can be attained by 1) replenishing the vital tissues – Dhatus. 2) by cleansing the waste, Ama and Mala. 3) cleansing the blocked Srotas. Srotas are the vital body channels through which energy moves. If channel gets blocked due to accumulation of waste product, it will not function effectively. Energy can accumulate at the point of blockage and its flow can be inhibited in other areas. Srotas operate like blood vessels or nerves in transmission of energy but they are energetic equivalents of these, and not physical forms themselves.
In order to understand disease, we must understand health. Health is constantly challenged by external environment as well as internal environment of the body. When these two are not in equilibrium, disease process starts. A state of health occurs where digestion is well balanced, body types “Vata Pita Kapha” are in equilibrium and waste products (urine, feces, and sweat) are produced and eliminated at normal levels. Along with these processes, sensory organs work normally and mind and consciousness are harmoniously working as a unit.
Classification of Disease
Along with many other classifications, diseases are also classified according to body type or Doshas Vata, Pitta or Kapha. Individual constitution determines types of diseases.
- Kapha body types have tendency towards Kapha disease. Most Kapha diseases are related to recurring tonsillitis, sinusitis, and bronchitis and lung congestion. Kapha disorders originate at stomach.
- Pitta type will have pitta type disease like bile and liver disorders, gall bladder diseases, gi ulcers and acid reflux as well as inflammatory bowel disease. Pitta disease originates in the small intestine.
- Vata type people are susceptible to gas, colic, lower back pain, arthritis, scratches and paralysis. These diseases of vata originate at large intestine.
Any imbalance in the disease process affecting body will ultimately reflect on one's mind and consciousness. Similarly food, individual habits and surrounding environment can also affect Doshas. Vata imbalance creates fear, depression, and nervousness. Pitta imbalance will create anger, heat and jealousy.
Kapha produces greed, passiveness and attachment. Thus there is direct correlation between diet, habits, environment and emotional disorders.
Ayurveda promotes the innate power of the body to heal itself. By understanding the body and its requirements, one can regain health. One of the main requirements of health is a balanced diet and healthy routine. Diet should be taken to match individual body constitution. Selection of various diets and food to match individual body type is based on an understanding of the constitution of basic food elements. Various elements taken into account also are taste-(sweet, sour, salty, bitter or astringent), hot or cold, oily or dry and liquid or solid.
Seasonal variations should also be considered in choosing diet. Vata promoting foods are dry fruits, apples, melons, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, ice cream, beef, peas and green salad. People with vata should avoid these foods.However, sweet fruits, avocados, coconut, brown rice, red cabbage, bananas, grapes, cherries and oranges are good for Vata people. Pitta promoting foods are spicy foods, peanut butter, sour fruits, bananas, papayas, tomatoes and garlic. Foods that inhibit Pitta are mangoes, oranges, pears, plums, sprouts, green salad , sunflower seeds, asparagus and mushrooms. Kapha promoting foods are bananas, melons, coconut, dates, papayas, pineapple and dairy products. However pomegranate, cranberry, basmati rice, sprouts, chicken are also beneficial for Kapha constitution. In summer, avoiding Pitta aggravating foods e.g. spices or pungent foods are beneficial. In autumn, Vata food should be avoided e.g. dry fruits, high protein foods. In winter avoid cold drinks, ice cream, cheese and yogurt. Certain foods are incompatible such as milk, fish, meat, beef, and yogurt as well as sour foods and milk. So they should not be taken together.
Seasonal variations of Vata, Pitta and Kapha
Vata seasons are fall--September, October and November—correlating to falling leaves, wind and a drop in seasonal temperature.
Kapha predominates in the months of December, January and February--correlating to clouds, snow and extremely low temperatures. Spring is represented by aggravated Kapha in early spring and Pitta in later part of spring. Pitta is summer--seasonal aggravation leading to diarrhea, burning eyes, sunburn, hives, rash, dermatitis, and burning feet.
Daily changes in Vata, Pitta and Kapha:
Kapha predominates between sunrise to 10:00 AM. Pitta times are 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM. then followed by Vata times between 2:00 PM. until sunset. Early evening from 6:00 PM until 10:00 PM. it is Kapha again followed by Pitta from 10:00 PM to 2:00 AM. Vata predominates between 2:00 AM until 6:00 PM and is also associated with movement, walking and excretion of waste material.
Tridosha and human life:
Childhood is time for Kapha and children are affected by Kapha type disorders such cold, lung congestion, cough and bronchitis etc. From birth till the age of 16 years is considered Kapha time.
Pitta type is more predominant in the youth years from 16 to 50 years of age. Pitta type disorders are more common in this age group.
Old age is Vata dominated. In this age group most common ailments are Vata related such as emaciation, breathlessness, arthritis, lack of memory and wrinkled skin.
CLINICAL APPLICATIONS OF AYURVEDA
Tejinder Sodhi, DVM CVC
Ayurvedic Exam and Diagnosis
According to Charaka there are three means open to physicians for ascertaining the nature of sickness. They are 1) theoretical – knowledge of the possible causes and symptoms of all known diseases. 2) careful observation of the patients symptoms, signs and complaints. 3) inference based on previous experience. In the absence of one or more of three aids to diagnosis, or with incorrect knowledge, the physician cannot come to true conclusion.
Sushruta's description of clinical approach includes that “the physician should interrogate (Prashna) the patient over his complaints in detail. He should also use the five senses of sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste in addition to oral inquiry.”
Sight – Physicians can perceive fullness or emaciation of body, stating the vitality and strength. Tongue exam could lead to important clues to disease.
Touch – Can perceive heat and coldness of body. They can also perceive gloss, roughness, hardness or stiffness of the skin and joints as well as swelling or edema of the body parts.
Sound – Hearing can be perceived with auscultation.
Odor – Smelling certain ulcerations on the body and other characteristics of the skin, can lead to diagnosis.
Taste – Secretions and discharges are tested with organ of taste. In diabetics one should notice flies or ants being attracted to the urine.
Pulse Diagnosis – Pulse is a good indicator of your Doshas, or constitutional. Radial Artery of the right hand is used in male and left hand is palpated in females. It is the feeling of the pulse wave at index finger indicates that Vata. Pulse in Vata has movement like a snake. Pitta pulse is felt at middle finger and it feels like a frog jumping. Kapha pulse is felt at ring finger and it has the movement of a swan.
Treatment in Ayurveda
In general, treatment in Ayurveda is based on Tridoshas. Knowing the patients’ constitution, an attempt is made to balance excesses of Doshas and achieve balance. Also deficient Doshas are strengthened by combination of dietary changes, herbal supplements, and changes in life style after a balance has been achieved by the above methods.
Panch karma(PK) -- Is an extremely effective cleansing and rejuvenating program. Pk uses a combination of message, herbal saunas, special diet, nutritional directives, fasting, enemas, and herbal masks for elimination of pollutants.
Ayurvedic Herbs and Materia Medica
Ayurvedic herbs are based on their energetics. The herbs properties are defined according to taste, elements of heating and cooling effects, post digestion effect and special potency effect on target organs.
Taste (Rasa) - Taste of an herb is indication of its properties. Different tastes possess different potency and effects. Rasa is a Sanskrit word meaning essence, and also Sap or Juice. Taste directly affects our nervous system through Prana. It is through the taste that the first process of digestion by salivary glands starts. Followed by gastric digestion, it affects “Agni” the fire, and enhances digestion. Without taste stimulation there is no real power of digestion, when sick you can lack taste in the mouth, affecting digestion. There are six main tastes: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Bitter and Astringent. Sweet taste is of sugars and starches. Sour taste is of fermentation and acids. Salty is of salts and taste is alkalines. Pungent is from spices and often aromatic. Bitter is from bitter herbs. Astringent is from herbs containing tannins and bark etc.
Energy (Virya) – Is the potency of the herbs related to their cooling and heating effects. Heating herbs cause thirst, fatigue, sweating, burning sensation, and sometimes dizziness. Cooling herbs are refreshing, calming and promote tissue firmness. Sweet is the heaviest taste followed by salty and then astringent. Bitter is the lightest followed by pungent. Tastes that are heavy in quality promote weight and firmness in the body. Those that are light cause to lose weight but has stronger effect on digestion.
Vipaka (Post digestion effect) – Six tastes are reduced to three Vipaka (post digest affect). Sweet and salty become sour post digestion. Sour stays, sour post digest. Pungent, bitter and astringent become pungent post digest. Sweet is the taste dominating the mouth and stomach. Digestion of stomach and small intestine is dominated by sour acrid taste. Pungent taste dominates in the large intestine.
Pra Bhava--special potency-- it is the uniqueness and more subtle and more specific qualities of herbs. It is the occult properties of the herbs that has a directed and subtle effect. Probhava may also include Aura Astral effect and electromagnetic effect of the herbs.
Ashwagandha has been used since ancient times to promote health and longevity. Its active principles (alkaloids and withanoloides) are similar to those of ginseng. Like ginseng, ashwagandha is revered for its anti-aging properties. Specifically, it is used to enhance the immune system and treat anemia, inflammation, bacterial infection, and diarrhea. It is also thought to improve the quality of bodily tissues and act as an aphrodisiac.
Clinical research shows that ashwagandha helps relieve general aches and pains as well as those associated with acute rheumatoid arthritis, particularly if it is of recent onset. Moreover, such studies confirm the ancient Ayurvedic theory that ashwagandha helps prevent illness associated with old age.
A double blind randomized clinical study of the effects of ashwagandha on the aging process produced amazing results that point to the many benefits of this revered herb. The trial, conducted at the central Research Institute in New Delhi, India, monitored the aging process of 101 healthy male adults between the ages of 50 and 59. It utilized the parameters to study the aging process outlined by Alex Comfort and Hollingsworth, including hair graying score (as estimated by hair melanin content), nail calcium levels, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, red blood cell count (RBC), seated stature, serum cholesterol levels, and Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR). During this rigorous year-long study, the men taking ashwagandha experienced improved seated stature and increased hair melanin, hemoglobin, and RBC count that were statistically significant when compared to the placebo group. They also showed a decrease of serum cholesterol and ESR. Further, the men taking ashwagandha showed less of a decrease in serum albumin nail calcium, and vital capacity, than those taking the placebo. Finally, though subjective, it is interesting to note that nearly three quarters of the men taking ashwagandha experienced improvement in sexual performance.
According to this and other studies, ashwagandha is an excellent hematinic and contains high levels of iron and free amino acids such as glycine, valine, tyrosine, proline, and alanine. Also, in relation to its ESR lowering ability as highlighted in the above study, ashwagandha has significant antibacterial activity. Moreover, this herb has shown to be safe for long-term use, having demonstrated no dangerous side-effects.
Ashwagandha is indicated in Ayurveda as a daily, long term use rasayana, or anti-aging therapy. This ancient wisdom is verified by the clinical study described above, other practical research, centuries of use, and numerous laboratory studies. Pharmacological research shows that ashwagandha has anti-inflammatory, diuretic, sedative, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and amebicidal activity. It also has anti-tumorogenic effects. Further, in keeping with its role as a rasayana it acts as an adaptogen and immune modulator.
Ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years as a folk remedy for numerous ailments. These include anthrax, arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, cancer, candida, colds, cough, cystitis, debility, diarrhea, digestive disorders, dropsy, dyspepsia, hemorrhoids, hypertension, nausea, psoriasis, rheumatism, ringworm, scabies, senility, smallpox, syphilis, tuberculosis, tumors, typhoid, and wounds.
Dosage: 500 mg-1500 mg twice daily for dogs and 200-500 mg twice daily for cats.
AMLA (Emblica officinalis)
Amla fruit (Emblica officinalis), also known as Indian gooseberry, is one of the richest sources of bioflavanoids and Vitamin C. Native to India, this plum sized fruit is revered for its anti-aging and immune enhancing properties.
Each amla fruit contains up to 700mg of vitamin C. This natural ascorbate is synergistically enhanced by the bioflavonoids and polyphenols contained in each fruit. In fact, research has shown that the potency of 8.7 mg natural vitamin C complex from amla is equivalent to 100mg of the most commonly used synthetic vitamin C.
The many beneficial properties of amla result not only from its abundance of Vitamin C, bioflavonoids and polyphenols, but also from its concentration of other nutrients. Amla contains substantial amounts of vitamin E, beta carotene, gallic acid, and ellagic acid; in addition it also lists niacin, calcium and other trace minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, and a minute amount of fat as part of its nutritional profile. It is interesting to note that the natural ellagic and gallic acids in Amla protect the vitamin C from oxidation and increase its potency.
Since ancient times, Amla has been used as an Ayurvedic rasayana, or rejuvenative and adaptive therapy. It has traditionally been combined with several other herbs and spices. Small amounts are eaten daily as a tasty, therapeutic jam. For over 5,000 years, this preparation has been successfully used to improve overall health and vitality. In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, Amla has been particularly indicated for anemia, asthma, bleeding gums, diabetes, colds, chronic lung disease, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, yeast infections, scurvy, and cancer.
Several animal studies have shown that Amla protects organisms against chromosome damage from heavy metal (aluminum, lead, nickel) exposure. In these studies, when only pure Vitamin C was used, equivalent to that found in the Amla fruit, there was only partial protection. This indicates that it was the synergistic action of the various natural amla components that effectively helped shield the chromosomal DNA from heavy metal poisoning. According to research conducted in Japan, Amla acts as an excellent antioxidant, increasing SOD (superoxide dismutase) levels by as much as 216% in individuals under stress, and by 73% in the control group1. It also increases lean body mass, accelerates the repair and regeneration of connective tissue, and enhances interferon and corticosteroid production.
The pharmacological properties of Amla are numerous. Not only is it a wonderful antioxidant, but is has proven anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-hyperhidrosis, anti-inflammatory, anti-histaminic, anti-spasmodic, hypo-lipidimic, and hypotensive relieving properties. It also acts as an antacid and anti-tumorigenic agent. In addition, it increases protein synthesis and is thus useful in cases of hypoglycemia2-10.
Though the above properties of Amla are known as a result of rigorous scientific research, amla may have other properties that are yet to be studied in a laboratory. As mentioned, its history of traditional uses indicates that Amla is used for health and vitality. Modern science does not yet know all the elements that increase longevity. As we discover some of the body's secrets, we may find that Amla is more beneficial than was previously imagined.
Dosage: 500-1000 mg BID for dogs and 100-250 mg BID for cats.
The gummy extract of Boswellia serrata, a centuries old botanical remedy, has recently been hailed by modern scientific research for its powerful anti-inflammatory effects. In India it has traditionally been used to relieve rheumatic discomfort. It also contains expectorant and diuretic properties, and was a remedy for diarrhea, dysentery, and skin disorders. Centuries of use and many recent studies show it to be a safe and effective medicinal herb.
Current medical research
Clinical research has verified the efficacy of boswellia. In a double blind, randomized, crossover, placebo -controlled study, 42 patients with osteoarthritis were given a combination of Boswellia serrata, Withania somnifera, Curcuma longa and zinc complex for three months. Clinical effectiveness was evaluated every two weeks on the basis of pain severity, morning stiffness, the Ritchie Articular Index, joint score, disability score, and grip strength. Other parameters such as ESR and radiological studies were also used. Treatment with the boswellia--severity of pain and disability score improved, though no significant radiological changes were noted. No side effects to the boswellia preparation were observed11.
Many studies conducted in India revealed the powerful effects of Boswellia serrata. In one study, an extract of boswellia was given to a group of arthritic patients, most of whom were either bedridden or unable to work normally due to their illness. Nearly 70% of the subjects experienced good to excellent results against pain and stiffness within four weeks of taking the extract. Improved grip strength was also noted11.
Trials in the United States have been equally dramatic. The August/September issue of the Townsend Letter for Doctors, reported that a Kansas City physician, Dr. E.W. McDonagh, has had success with over 350 patients suffering from a variety of advanced muscular and skeletal conditions for whom other treatments had failed to help.” Many of these other treatments were also causing uncomfortable side effects. However, within 2 to 4 weeks of taking boswellia, Dr. McDonagh's patients noticed significant improvements and, to their delight, were able to eliminate or reduce other medications. Other doctors across the country have reported similar results.
Mode of Action
Boswellia shrinks inflamed tissue by improving the blood supply to the affected area and enhances the repair of damaged blood vessels.
Boswellia serrata affects two classes of arachidonic acid derived mediators of inflammation; prostaglandins and leukotriene. PGE2 (a cyclooxygenase product) mediates pain and edema, PGF2a mediates VSO and bronchoconstriction and PGE1 reduces fever and pain12.
Studies show that the leukotriene pathway, in which 5-lipoxygenase, the key enzyme, is involved in the initiation and continuation of various inflammatory disease. These include rheumatic arthritis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, bronchial asthma, psoriasis. The active ingredient of boswellia effectively blocks the synthesis of 5-lipoxygenase therapy. It inhibits the inflammation process.
Both clinical and experimental trials of Boswellia serrata indicate that it produces none of the side effects (gastric irritation, ulcers, and effect on heart rate and blood pressure) associated with most anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic drugs, or even minor irritations.
The gum-resin of boswellia contains isomers of alpha, beta, and 11 -keto-beta boswellic acid and acetyl derivatives. It also contains xylose, terpinols, arabinose, galactose, essential oils, uranic acid, and beta sitisterin11,13–18.
Dosage: 500-1000 BID for dogs and 75-150 mg liquid BID for cats.
Bacopa monniera plant description
Bacopa Monniera (Brahmi in Sanskrit means Creator) is a small creeping herb commonly growing in marshy areas throughout India up to 2,000 feet above sea level. It can be easily grown in damp areas and can be propagated by seed or cuttings. In Ayurvedic Medicine it is considered astringent, bitter, cooling and is well known as a brain tonic that improves the intellect. Also, it has been used for the treatment of asthma, hoarseness, insanity, and epilepsy. It is a potent neurotonic, cardiotonic, diuretic, adaptogen and tranquilizer. The leaves are used as a diuretic and are also given to children for bronchitis and diarrhea. A paste made out of the leaves is also used as a remedy for rheumatism.
Bacopa monniera: Is considered neuroleptic, antitumor, immunostimulant, antibacterial, anticonvulsant, anti-mycobacterial, antispasmodic, antiviral, cholinesterase inhibition, CNS depressant, tranquilizing, hypotensive, hypothermic, antihistaminic, antipyretic, chronotropic effect (positive), anesthetic, barbiturate potentiation, increased conditioned avoidance responds, neuromuscular blocking, and psychotropic. This herb has been used for psychotropic disorders, mental disorders and depression19-23.
Constituents: The herb contains the saponins, monnierin, hersaponin, bacoside A, and bacoside B. The presence of a-alanin, aspartic acid, glutamic acid and serine has also been reported. Centella Asiatica: Prescence of isobramic acid, betulic acid, valerine, pectic acid, sterol, fatty acids, tannins, ascorbic acid, hydrocotyline (an alkaloid) and asiaticoside (a glycoside). Centella Asiatica has been compared to Bacopa Moniera and has similar properties such as nervine activity etc. It has cardiac, anti-inflammatory, and diuretic properties and increased blood circulation.
CONVOLVULUS PLEURICAULIS: Has calming and diuretic effects. N-Tetracontane, n-octacosanol and Bsitosterol has been isolated. It yields an alkloid, sankhpushpine.
HERBS FOR DIABETES
Called alternately Gur-mar or sugar destroyer in Hindi. Gymnema sylvestre is a woody, climbing plant that grows in the tropical forests of central and southern India. It also happens to be a first-rate warrior against diabetes. In classical Ayurveda, Gymnema sylvestre has been used for stomach upset and as a diuretic. It was noted, even as far back as the first century A.D., that Gymnema successfully “destroyed” excess sugars in the body, a condition now recognized as diabetes.
An interesting passage from the Pharmacographia Indica Journal, published in 1972 by the Hamdard National Foundation, goes, as follows, “It (Gymnema sylvestre) is also in repute amongst the Hindus as a remedy for snake bite, the powdered root being applied to the part bitten and decoction administered internally."
Components, modern research, medicinal properties: What's in it? The leaves have special plant-sugar compounds, called triterpine saponins. Pharmacographia Indica voiced the suggestion that these compounds be called gymnemic acids, a suggestion that was first made by D. Hooper in 1887, and subsequently taken by researchers in 1959 (Warren and Pfaffmann), 1966 (Yackzan), and 1967 (Stocklin), among others.
According to Joseph E. Sinsheimer, et al, in a 1970 article that appeared in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, gymnemic acid was found to be a complex mixture of at least nine acidic plant sugars (types of saponins, called glycosides).
A partial listing of Gymnema's ingredients includes: hentricontane, chlorophyll, phytin, resins, anthraquinone derivatives, and dammarane saponins.
What is the most impressive clinical application is in diabetes. As early as 1930, researchers were also reporting the plant's blood glucose (blood-sugar) lowering actions. In modern India, extracts of Gymnema's leaves are used successfully, either alone or in combination, with other Ayurvedic compounds as a remedy against diabetes mellitus.
Guggal, also known as gum-gugul, salai tree, or Indian bedellium, is a plant native to India that has been successfully used for centuries to treat a wide variety of ailments. Not only has it effectively remedied lipid disorders and thyroid problems such as hypo- and hyperthyroidism, but it has also been used to remit fatty tumors, skin lesions and wound.
Guggal is thought to tone and stimulate the digestive system. It has been indicated as an internal remedy for rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, skin diseases, urinary bladder, and nervous disorders. In addition, it is a beneficial gargle for gum disease and chronic tonsillitis.
Repeated studies and clinical trials have shown that the oleoresin derived from guggal has numerous health benefits, including the regulation of serum cholesterol and triglycerides. In fact, it works to balance conditions of both high and low cholesterol, whether brought on by diet, lack of exercise, chronic stress, or genetic predilection.
The hypo-lipidemic performance of guggal has been under scientific investigation for over twenty years. It began with animal trials in the late 1960's and, because of its success, quickly progressed to human clinical studies. It proved extremely effective in regulating cholesterol, triglycerides, and phospholipids in both types of research.
The guggal extract (1.5 grams per day) was taken orally by 41 of 51 subjects suffering from elevated cholesterol and triglycerides. The remaining ten took clofibrate (2.0 grams per day). Cholesterol and triglyceride levels fell significantly and equally in both groups, yet the guggal extract was gentler on the body as a whole producing only mild diarrhea in five of the subjects. No additional side effects of biochemical abnormalities were noted in those individuals given guggal24.
The clinical profiles of the subjects in this study were varied. Some subjects were asymptomatic while others were experiencing acute discomfort as a result of illnesses such as diabetes mellitus, vascular disease, and gout. In fact, six were suffering from acute cases of skin xanthomatosis. Three of these were placed in the guggal group and three in the clofiberate group. The three treated with guggal exhibited a complete regression of the skin lesions after 40 weeks, while only one taking clofiberate experienced such reversion. The other two taking clofiberate remained symptomatic during the course of study24.
In a 1986 study, an ethyl guggal extract displayed similar benefits to those highlighted in the study above. In this trial, the guggal extract compared favorably with other hypolipidemic drugs, significantly lowering serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels in 78.9% of test subjects. Furthermore, it produced no noticeable side effects, including mild diarrhea.
Mode of Action
It is believed that the lipid regulating effects of guggal results from its thyroid stimulating action. Serum lipid levels are known to be reduced by increased levels of circulating thyroid hormones, and (z)-guggulsterone, ketosteroid, a component of guggal, is such an agent. This thyroid stimulating property also explains the traditional use of guggal for thyroid related conditions.
The combination of the fruits haritaki (Terminalia chebula), bahera (Teminalia bellerica), and amla (Phyllanthus emblica) is an ancient Ayurvedic remedy revered for its many therapeutic actions. Reference to this combination, known as trifal or triphala, appear in most Ayurvedic texts. In fact, discussions on this formula date back 5,000 years to Charak Samhita and the Sushrut Samhita. These two texts form the cornerstone of Ayurvedic medicine and are gaining respect in the West as modern research acknowledges the wisdom they contain.
Trifal was traditionally used for antiseptic irrigation of wounds, surgeries, burns, and as a digestive, mild laxative, mild diuretic, and adaptogen. However, it is especially indicated as a rasayana, or rejuvenating formula. Rasayanas, substances which constantly rejuvenate the body, are said to have balancing effects on all body types. According to Ayurvedic wisdom, trifal can be of great benefit to all. In modern terminology, it is referred to as an alternative, adaptogenic, and a rejuvenating food.
Modern research and centuries of use have revealed that trifal is a wonderful intestinal cleanser. Unlike most other laxatives, it first aids in digestion, then helps eliminate toxins from the body. It has been successfully used for indigestion, carbohydrate intolerance, anemia, diabetes, chronic lung diseases, hypertension, elevated cholesterol, yeast infections, eye diseases, and skin disorders2.
Each of the foods in Trifal has been individually documented for their therapeutic properties. In combination, these three foods appear to have a synergistic effect, thereby substantially increasing their independent actions.
HARITAKI (TERMINALIA CHEBULA)
Haritaki is a 50 to 80 feet tree found at various altitudes reaching to 5000 feet in the Himalayan foothills. The family Terminalia has numerous medicinal species whose fruits are gathered in various stages of ripeness. The most potent fruit is picked between January and April.
Haritaki is rich in tannins (chebulinic acid, chebulagic acid, corilagin), fructose, amino acids, succinic acid, and beta-sitosterol. Clinical studies have shown it to have anti-viral and anti-bacterial activity against: Escherichia coli, salmonella typhosa, salmonella para typhi A, B, C; cholera, shigella, klebsiella, and pseudomonas25. It also has documented anti yeast, anti-inflammatory, antihistaminic, and laxative effects. Ayurvedically, haritaki balances Vata. Vata is comprised of air and ether, and regulates the nervous system.
BAHERA (Terminalia bellerica)
Bahera is a 60-80 foot tree found all over India, especially in the Himalayan foothills. The fruit is rich in tannins. It is collected in January and February.
Clinical trials have shown bahera to have remarkable results for asthma and chronic sinusitis. These trials have shown that bahera has antihistaminic, anti-tussive, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-yeast, and cytotoxic effects26. Bahera tannins have special balancing effects for the Ayurvedic body type kapha. Kapha, a combination of earth and water, supports structural integrity.
Amla (Phyllanthus Emblica) Amla is a 20-25 foot tree with a wide spread habitat range throughout India. It grows up to 4,500 feet in elevation.
The amla fruit, also called the Indian gooseberry, is one of the greatest known sources of natural vitamin C. In equal amounts, it contains 20 times more vitamin C than that found in oranges. Amla is also a rich source of flavanoids, polyphenols, vitamin B-complex, and carotenoids.
Studies suggest that amla possesses anti-fungal, antibacterial, anti-viral, digestive, mild laxative, hypotensive, hypocholesterimic, adaptogenic, and alterative properties. Clinical research also shows that use of amla increases lean body mass, accelerates repair and regeneration of connective tissue, and enhances interferon and corticosteroid secretions.
In Ayurveda, amla has traditionally been used to balance pitta. Pitta regulates metabolic processes.
Although it has many other benefits, trifal has primarily been used as a digestive aid and intestinal cleanser. Trifal is mild and, unlike other intestinal cleansers and laxatives, gently and consistently promotes regularity without irritating the bowels. Those who have used trifal report a natural regularity in contrast to the forced bowel evacuation experienced with other laxatives. Trifal is also frequently used to relieve indigestion.
AYURVEDIC HERBS FOR CARDIAC DISEASES
For centuries Rauwolfia serpentina was used by the medicine men of India to treat a variety of maladies ranging from snake bite to mental illnesses. In the form of the powdered root, the alkaloidal extract, and purified alkaloids, Rauwolfia serpentina has become an exceedingly important therapeutic aid in the treatment and control of hypertension. The principal alkaloids are reserpine, rescinnamine, and deserpindine. Other tertiary indole alkaloids exhibit a heterocyclic structure in ring E, Yohimbine (identical with ajmalince tetrahydroserpentine, and raubasine) and resperiline.
Mode of Action
Rauwolfia alkaloids probably exert their hypotensive effects by the depletion of norepinephrine through inhibition of catecholamine stored in the postganglionic adrenergic nerve endings. However, their sedative and tranquilizing properties are thought to be related to the depletion of amines in the central nervous system.
Use and Dosage
Rauwolfia serpentina has hypotensive properties. A total alkaloidial determination is not indicative of activity unless the proportion of alkaloids is known. Due to the isolation of at least 50 alkaloids, it is easy to understand that the whole root exhibits a medicinal action, different from that of reserpine. A definite lowering of blood pressure in hypertensive states, a slowing of the pulse, and a general sense of euphoria follows the administration of R.serpentina27–35. In mild anxiety conditions, the drug has a calming effect. The alkaloid itself has been described as a phenotrophic drug because it influences the function to the mind and affective behavior.
INDIAN CORAL POWDER: It provides elemental calcium and magnesium, and has cardiotonic, nervine, laxative, and diuretic actions.
ROSA DAMASCENA (Rose Petals): Rosa damascena has cardiotonic, calmative and digestive actions.
TERMINALIA ARJUNA: This herb has been used for generations to treat heart conditions. Scientific literature shows that Terminalia arjuna possesses elemental calcium and magnesium which work as a cardiotonic36–39.
Parasite infections are an extremely common and persistent ailment in many countries. Through the years pharmaceutical companies have attempted to eradicate parasites. What has resulted however, are stronger, more resilient strains that have developed defenses against these synthetic drugs.
The drugs that are commonly used to treat parasites infections are not only losing their effectiveness, but cause numerous unpleasant, often damaging side effects to the host. There are natural remedies, however, that have been used successfully for centuries, and are still strong agents against parasites today producing little to no ill effects.
Natural anti-parasitic agents include bael fruit, chinaberry, bitter melon, basil leaves, longpepper. Together, these form a powerful opposition to parasitic infections.
BEAL FRUIT: Bael fruit, or bilva, is an herb native to India. Repeated studies show that it fights amebic parasites, increases digestive activity, and enhances appetite. This herb has been used to relieve chronic diarrhea and dysentery.
BASIL LEAVES: Basil leaves have a wide range of healing properties. In fact, basil has been revered for numerous ailments, ranging from mild to severe. It is thought to quickly rejuvenate the body and has been successfully used as an anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti- fungal, anthelmintic, and anti-parasitic agent. Research also shows it to have anti-inflammatory, anti-pyretic, demulcent, diaphoretic, expectorant, and cardiotonic properties.
BITTER MELON: Bitter melon has traditionally been used to treat worms, digestive disorders, and skin diseases. Recent studies show it to have HIV inhibiting properties.
CHINABERRY: Chinaberry or neem is also native to India. A substantial body of research confirms the ancient Ayurvedic belief that it acts as a powerful pesticide, insecticide, and fungicide. Chinaberry has antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-protozoal, anti-nematodal, anthelmintic, and anti-malarial activity. This herb has traditionally been used to fight parasites, bacteria, and viruses. It has also been used as a dentifrice, treatment for jaundice, ulcers, eczema, boils, and other skin disorders.
LONGPEPPER: This powerful herb has shown excellent anti-parasitic activity in clinical and laboratory research as well as in practical use. It stimulates the liver, spleen, and lymphatic system and helps to cleanse the blood. It aids circulation, digestion, and immunity. In fact, it is noted for its ability to increase secretory IgA, an essential component for strong immunity, and has been used as a regenerative agent in Ayurvedic medicine. In addition longpepper has been widely used as an expectorant.
HERBS FOR THE LIVER
For over 5,000 years, the following herbs and foods have been successfully used to treat and prevent liver disease. Current research shows that they are effective, both in helping the body cope with modern environmental pollutants and treating age-old problems such as hepatitis and liver congestion.
Phyllanthus niruri is a perennial herb found in Central and Southern India and Ceylon. This plant, also known as Phyllanthus amarus, is one of a variety of Phyllanthus species that is used medicinally. Traditionally, Phyllanthus niruri has a wide variety of applications, with use of all parts of the plant. A decoction of the whole plant may be given in cases of jaundice. Alternatively, a powder made from the roots or leaves may be administered for the same condition. Other indications for use of the whole plant include certain other genitourinary infections. Young shoots of the plant are prescribed for chronic dysentery. Poultices of the plant may be used to relieve ulcers, sores, swellings, and other skin imbalances.
Laboratory tests dating back to the early 1970's have acknowledged the antibacterial action of several species of Phyllanthus. In studies of P.dicoideus, it has been shown that this activity is largely concentrated in the alkaloids (most notably viroallosecurine and sercurinine) present in the leaves.
In 1988, a report published in The Lancet journal indicated that extracts of P.niruri were effective in eliminating HbsAg in 59% of a human HBV-carrier test group. The subjects who responded to the treatment were observed for a period of 3 to 9 months after the cessation of treatment; all remained negative. Dosages in this study were 200mg capsules of the whole, dried herb, administered 3 times daily for 30 days40.
This herb has long been used as a tonic for treating liver and heart conditions. Research reveals that it possesses positive ionotrophic effects and has alterative, anti-helminthic, febrifuge, and anti-inflammatory properties41,42.
BELLERIC MYROBALAN : An astringent, styptic tonic, expectorant, and laxative used in dysentery, bronchitis, and liver disease.
BERBERIS ARISTATA: This bitter tonic has traditionally been used to treat liver diseases, gallstones, jaundice, giardiasis, amebiasis, and ulcers. Studies reveal it to have significant alterative, astringent and immune stimulant activities43,44.
BOERHAAVIA DIFFUSA: This herb has shown kidney and liver stimulating properties and is often used for its diuretic action in ascites due to liver cirrhosis.
CALOTROPIS GIGANTEA: An analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral agent used in asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and viral hepatitis.
ECLIPTA ALBA: Used as an herbal tonic, cholagogue, and hair growth stimulant. It has been utilized for hepatic and spleen enlargements.
PHYLLANTHUS NIRURI: Phyllanthus niruri has been used in jaundice, diarrhea, and hepatitis B. It has demonstrated astringent, stomachic, and diuretic effects.
PICRORHIZA KURROA: This herb is used in giardiasis, amebiasis, and liver disease because of its anti-protozoal, anti-parasitic, cholagogue, and laxative properties45.
RAPHANUS SATIVA: A reddish extract traditionally used for liver diseases and hemorrhoids.
SOLANUM NIGRUM: This is often used in hepatitis and rheumatoid disease because of its antiseptic, analgesic, and anti-protozoal actions.
SWERTIA CHIRATA: A stomachic, febrifuge, and anti-helminthic. Swertia chirata has traditionally been used as a blood purifier, particularly in liver diseases.
TEPHROSIA PURPURA: A tonic and laxative proven useful in liver cirrhosis, lymphatic blockage, and elephantitis.
TERMINALIA CHEBULIC: This herb is used for liver and spleen enlargement, chronic dysentery, diarrhea, and colic pain.
TINOSPORA CARDIFOLIA: Contains anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Tinospora cardifolia is used in chronic fever, chronic diarrhea, and liver diseases46–50.
Alone and in various combinations, these herbs have been used for: hepatitis, viral hepatitis, hepatic cirrhosis, liver cirrhosis, biliary cirrhosis, steatorrhea, anorexia, malnutrition, malabsorption syndrome, amebiasis, liver congestion, sluggish liver, alcoholism, and hyperlipidemia. They have also been used for heavy metal toxicity and drug toxicity due to chemotherapy and cancer fighting drugs, antibiotics, barbiturates, corticosteroids, oral contraceptives, and anti-tubercular drugs.
HERBS FOR THE URINARY SYSTEM
Didymocarpus Pedicellata is an Ayurvedic herb also called pathar phori. In Sanskrit name it means “That which breaks the stones”. This plant yields essential oil and coloring extracts, including pedicin which has been isolated from the leaves. Traditionally it has been given for urinary and kidney diseases. Also, it has been used in heart diseases, hepatomegaly and splenomegaly.
SAXIFAGARAGA LIGULATA: Also known as “PakhanBhed”, which means, “the plant which breads rocks in order to grow”. The rhizomes from the herb are astringent, diuretic, laxative and lithotropic. Traditionally it has been used in diarrhea, splenomegaly, renal, and pulmonary conditions. Its rhizomes also yield tannin. It is used in the treatment of kidney and bladder stones.
RUBIA CORDIFOLIA: Rubia cordifolia is a source of Indian madder which consists of root stocks and root. It has long been employed for dying coarse cotton; fabrics, blankets, and carpets. The coloring extracts present are a mixture of purpurin and munjistin. The roots are tonic, antidysentric, antiseptic, and deobstruent. A decoction of leaves and stems is used as a vermifuge. Extracts of this herb have been used in many Ayurvedic formulations.
SHEELAJEET: Sheelajeet is a blackish brown exudation, consisting of a mixture of low molecular weight organic compounds, which come from the steep rocks of different formations commonly found in the north-western belt of the Himalayas. In Ayurveda it is considered a potent health promoting agent. Traditionally it has been used in genitourinary infections, diabetes, bronchial asthma and stomach etc. In Ayurveda it is considered as a potent health promoting agent51,52.
OCIMUM BACILLIUM: Ocimum Bacillium is also known as sweet basil. It yields a volatile oil, used both as a flavoring agent and perfume. It is extensively used as a flavoring for confections, baked goods, sauces, pickles, fancy vinegars, spiced meats, and beverages. This plant is considered stomachic, alexipharmac, antipyretic, diphoretic, an expectorant, carminative, stimulant and anti-helminthic. Its seeds are demulcent, stimulant, diphoretic, and diuretic. Also it has been used in cases of habitual constipation, piles and in poultices for sores and sinuses53.
TRIBULUS: Tribulus is known as Gokshur, is an Ayurvedic herb whose spiny fruit contains sapogenins, diosgenin, gioenin, chlorogenin, ruscogenin, and 25 D-Spirosta-3, 5-diene. The leaves are rich in calcium, mainly providing an inexpensive supplement to rice diets. Its fruits are tonic and diuretic. Traditionally has been used in urinary tract infections, stomach pain and as a lithotriptic. The roots are aperient.
EQUISETRUM ARVENSE: Commonly known as Horsetail, it is one of the richest sources of silica that is largely in a water soluble colloidal form. It is considered a diuretic herb. Equisterum Arvense has been used in arthritic diseases, pulmonary tuberculosis.
MIMOSA PUDICA: The Sanskrit name for this herb is Lajja (Lajwanti). The seeds yield a fatty oil resembling soybean oil. Traditionally, it has been used for urinary conditions. The juice of the leaves is used in dressings for sinus and also for sores and piles.
DOLICHOS B: Dolichos B also known as Kulatha, is a bean which is used in diets after it has been cooked or fried. The seeds are astringent, diuretic and tonic.
CYPRUS: Cyprus also known as mustaka in Sanskrit. Dried tuberous roots known as Soucher are aromatic and used in perfumery. The roots are known to be diuretic, diphoretic, and have astringent properties, used in stomach and bowel complaints. It yields an essential oil.
ACHYRANTHUS ASPERA: The Sanskrit name for this herb is Apamarg. Its young leaves are served like spinach. Its ash is rich in potash. Traditionally this herb is used as a diuretic and is a lithotriptic.
HERBS FOR RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
TYLPHORA INDICA: Tylophora indica, also known as anantamul in Sanskrit, has been used for respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough, dysentery, and diarrhea. It is recommended for rheumatic ailments and gout pains. The leaves and roots are used as a substitute of lpecacuanha. The leaves contain alkaloids tylophorine and tylophorinine which help cure dermatitis54–57. It yields a strong, fine, and silky fiber.
PIPPLI: Pippli also known as Piper longum. Pippli is a vine which contains a unique fragrance. The fruits are colored red in the beginning then change to black upon drying. Usually pippli is found on the plains of India where the temperature is very hot. The main active constituents are piperine, piplartine sesamin and piplasterol. Research has shown that it also contains pipelonguminin, steroids and glycosides. Traditionally, it's roots and fruits have been used for diseases of the respiratory tract as a counter irritant and analgesic for muscular pains and inflammation58,59. It has been used as snuff in coma and drowsiness. It works as a cholagogue and helps with gall bladder problems.
GINGER: The botanical name of the ginger plant is Zingiber officianalis and it belongs to Zingiberaceae family. The stem is the part that is used in diets and herbal preparations. It contains proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, fats, vitamins A, B and C, and also essential oils that contain zingiberene and zingerberol. The rhizomes are highly valued as a spice for their characteristic odor and warm pungent taste. Dried ginger is widely used for flavoring foods and in preparation of essential oils. Ginger possesses anti-oxidant properties and may be added to edible oils and fats to protect them against oxidative rancidity. Therapeutically, it is used as a digestive, carminative, nervine stimulant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, cardiac stimulant, and blood purifier.
HERBS FOR SKIN
Neem is primarily indigenous to India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri-Lanka, with subsequent reforestation of the neem tree in Africa, the Caribbean, The Middle East, and Hawaii. This tree belongs to the Meliacea family and grows rapidly in any soil condition. Neem is one of the very bitter herbs. Its active principle is Margosine, which is found in the bark and leaves, and Nimbidine from the fruit oil. The limonoids found in neem can be used alone or synergistically with other herbs.
Clinical studies have revealed neem extract to be effective for the treatment of inflammatory bacterial stomatitis. Research also indicates neem's anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. The leaves have shown to work effectively against ringworm, athlete's foot and other fungal skin infections. In addition it helps combat bacteria, including Staphylococcus and Clostridia, and is effective against Pediculosis (lice).
Traditionally, the bark has been used for skin and rheumatic conditions. The leaves are considered antiseptic and the berries are a purgative as well as containing emollient properties.
TINOSPORA CARDIFOLIA: Tinospora cardifolia is a bitter herb, which has antispasmodic, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory properties. Its leaves are rich in protein, calcium and phosphorous. Their decoction is used for gout. The root is a powerful emetic and used for visceral obstruction, and its watery extract is used for leprosy.
RUBIA CARDIFOLIA: Rubia cardifolia is a multi-branched twine which grows in the Western Himalayas. It contains glucosides, calcium salts and purpurin as a coloring agent. Its leaves are tonic, antidysentric, antiseptic, and deobstruent. A decoction of the leaves and stems is used as a vermifuge and for skin conditions such as dermatitis.
HERBS FOR NERVOUS SYSTEM
Powerful herbs like Macuna prurens, Centalla asiatica, Valerian and Ashwagandha in a synergetic combination help nervous system. All these herbs have been used widely in Ayurveda.
MUCUNA prurens: The Sanskrit name for this herb is kapikachhu. An annual climbing herb common in the tropics of India and its legumes are consumed as a vegetable. The seeds are known to contain four alkaloids: mucunine, mucunadine, prurienine and prurieninine. It also contains, resin, tannin and fat and a trace of manganese. Research has shown that the seeds also have dopamine, glutathione, lecithin, galic acid and glucosides60. The seeds and roots are a tonic, stimulant, diuretic, purgative and emmenagogue. The seeds are an aphrodisiac, while the roots produce uterine contractions. It is traditionally used for the nervous system, renal infection and dropsy61,62. Hair coverings of the seeds are used as a vermifuge. Clinically it has been used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
CENTELLA ASIATICA: Centella asiatica, also known as brami, has a leaf appearance like a frog; flowers are red and grow in spring season. It has an alkaloid hydocotyline; it also has asiaticoside, which is a glycoside, some valerine, pectic acid, sterol, fatty acids tannins and ascorbic acid. Locally, it increases the blood circulation. In Ayurveda, it is considered as a nervine and brain tonic, known to increase memory. It also has cardiac, anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties63–66.
VALERIAN: The Sanskrit name for this herb is Tagar. The roots of this herb are most commonly used. Valerian has been used for the treatment of nervous conditions. It has a sedative, spasmolytic action. Fresh valerian root is practically odorless. The typical valerian smell only develops as isovaleric acid is liberated on drying. Another major constituent is valeric acid, a colorless oily liquid with a strong smell of valerian, and a pungent, sour taste. Most commonly used in hysteria, hypochondriac, nervous unrest, and emotional troubles and as a carminative.
COLEUS FORSKOHLI: It belongs to the mint and lavender family. It is found in sun exposed dry hill slopes between 1000-8000 ft, in warm temperate climate of mountains in India, Nepal, South East Asia, and Africa. Plant parts used are mostly roots but sometimes leaves are also used. Coleus forskohli contains Forskolin – diterpenoid compound. Mechanism of action is by increase in cyclic Amp, a very important cell regulating compound. By increasing CAMP it helps in relaxation of smooth muscles, inhibition of platelet activation and mast cell degranulation and basophil release, increased cardiac muscle contractility and increased fat metabolism.
Uses: Coleus forskohli has been used in heart conditions, it increases cardiac contractility, lowers blood pressure. It also affects smooth muscles of uterus, heart and intestines. It also has anti-coagulative properties, thus helping to reduce stroke and heart attacks. It also helps nerve regulation. It lowers intraocular pressure (glaucoma). It has antihistaminic properties, and increases thyroid hormone production. It also is known to inhibit the spread of cancer. Because of its antihistaminic properties it is very helpful in atopic dermatitis, inhalant allergies, and asthma. Dosage in dogs is 100 mg BID.
PICRORRHIZA KURROA: It is known in Sanskrit as Kutkin or Kutki. It is small a hairy perennial herbs but only its rhizome is used. It is known to be very strong bitter. Picrorrhiza contains kutkin, picroside-1 and kutkoside-1. It possesses hepatoprotective, bitter, mild laxative, cholagogue anthelmintic and anti-fungal properties. It also lowers serum cholesterol. It demonstrates hepatoprotective actions against afla toxin - B. There are various studies to prove hepatoprotective mechanism against various toxins. It is also helpful in fighting infections like hepatitis, hyper bilirubinemia and epipilepsy. It is also very effective against giardia and amebiasis. Dosage in dogs is 250- 500 mg BID.
CURCUMA LONGA: It is commonly known as turmeric. Also known as Haldi or Haridra in Sanskrit. It is one of the most common spices used in Indian cooking. It belongs to the zinger family and the part used is the rhizome. It can be used as a fresh green rhizome or powdered dry rhizome. Curcuma longa has been believed to possess great healing powers. It is a common practice to give curcuma longa in any case of trauma or accident to the person even before seeking any medical help. It works on all tissues of the body, but has its great activity on digestive, circulatory and respiratory systems. It is very strong anti-inflammatory product (even potent than phenylbutazone and other NSAIDS) in cases of bruises and arthritis67. It provides an excellent hepatoprotection against liver stagnation and cholestasis67. It purifies blood and also improves stagnation; it is believed to be a free radical scavenger and potent anti-neoplastic agent67. It has good anti-microbial activity without any side effects. Turmeric has been known to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy68. It is believed to inhibit inflammation by inhibiting cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase pathways. Hence it can be beneficial in IBD, liver problems, arthritis, respiratory problems, and inflammatory conditions.
Dosages: Curcumin can be given mixed with soft food, or can be added to home cooking. It has no taste but colors the food. Whole turmeric can be given ½ to 1tsf to the dogs and ¼ tsp twice daily to cats. Curcumin the active principle is given in dogs in dosage of 250mg BID and 100mg BID in cats.
RASAYANA - REJUVENATING THERAPIES
These are special Ayurvedic combination formulations which have been utilized for centuries for rejuvenation and revitalization. Rasayana therapy is very safe whether taken either in higher dosage or for long term. Products like Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Trifla (a combination product from three fruits - Embelica officinalis, Terminalbia baleria, and Terminalia chebula), Shilajeet a blackish brown exudate ( which consists of a mixture of low molecular weight organic compounds) which come naturally from steep rocky mountains and chavanprayash a jam made with ghee, honey and about 40 herbs including saffron in a special processing way.
It is very strongly recommended that after certain age these products should be taken regularly to attain good quality of life. It is believed the best effect of these Rasayana is achieved only when taken long term.
MY SPECIAL COMBINATIONS/RECOMMENDATIONS OF AYURVEDIC PRODUCTS
1) Anemia – For anemia's originating from CRF (chronic renal failure) and due to bone marrow problems either in feline leukemia cases or myelofibrosis, ashwagandha has been very successful in reversing anemia. If response is not as desired, increasing the dosage of ashwagandha up to 4-6 times the recommended dosage has given good results. In cases of autoimmune hemolytic anemias, combinations of ashwagandha and trifal or trifala has been very effective. Again, starting at the recommended dosage and gradually increasing the dosage of ashwagandha has been very helpful. Alternatively, starting at the higher dose until the desired effect is achieved then lowering to maintenance dose is very beneficial. Also I strongly recommend not vaccinating in these cases.
2) Autoimmune problems like lupus, SLE using combinations of Ashwagandha and trifal along with liver support with livit-2 and doing home cooking supplemented with digestive enzymes has put most cases into clinical remission. I strongly recommend to not vaccinate. If possible avoiding stress of separation, anesthesia and vaccination is beneficial. Immuno-compromised animals like FeLV positive cats, splenectomized dogs should be maintained on ashwagandha, liver support and digestive enzymes forever.
3) Osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia- Using combinations of ashwagandha and boswellia has been very effective. Ashwagandha with its anti-inflammatory properties along with its steroidal lactone, helps build up lost muscle mass due to disuse atrophy. Ashwagandha is also very calming and helps in discomfort and pain. It also allows animals to sleep better and they are less stiff and sore after sleep. Boswellia due to its anti-inflammatory properties as well as chondr-oprotective properties is very effective product. It does take about three weeks before appreciable improvement is noticed.
4) Epilepsy and seizure disorder - I start with liver support and ashwagandha. Animals on phenobarbital have to be carefully monitored; after two weeks I advise to decrease the phenobarbital levels gradually. If this combination does not work I do add Macuna plus. In most cases this combination would do the job either by completely stopping seizures or at least decrease to a great extent . One thing like phenobarb these products have to be taken as a maintenance therapy. I urge to carefully monitor liver functions while doing phenobarb therapy in conjunction with ashwagandha, and in these cases I increase the dosage of Livit-2 to twice the recommended dose.
5) Old age and cognitive dysfunction - We are seeing a larger number of geriatric patients in our practices. It is not uncommon to see 15 yr or older dogs that are dealing with cognitive dysfunctions. Using ashwagandha alone or in combination with Bacopa plus has given a gradual but definite improvement in their aimless wondering, barking and elimination habits. Again dosages can be increased to obtain desired effects.
6) Inflammatory bowel disease, colitis and related GI disturbances- These conditions regardless of age are very hard to treat. I have found that careful diet selection by avoiding wheat, corn, soy, and proteins that aggravate conditions is beneficial. Using liver support, Boswellia plus AP-mag, Omega 3 and 6 along with good quality digestive enzymes of plant origin help a great deal. In certain cases I also use Trifla in combination with product DGL plus by Pure Encapsulations. Careful diet rotation every 3-4 months also is essential in these animals.
7) Skin conditions - Due to diet, weak immune system infections and yeast are best dealt with using Neem products along with Omega 3 and 6. In certain cases, using boswellia plus helps a great deal. Yeast hypersensitivity, may require careful diet selection, frequent baths with oatmeal shampoo. Using Neem wash from Neem leaves and topical applications of Neem oil in ears helps a great deal. In cases of demodectic mange we need to boost immune system by using ashwagandha, Neem plus, Omega 3 and 6, and some times added Trifal if first therapy fails. In cases of atopy combination of Homeopathic remedies along with these herbs have given good results.
8) Lower urinary tract diseases, including interstitial cystitis - Frequent urinary bladder infections due to any etiology are a big challenge to treat and manage. Careful diet modification, avoidance of stress along with using Rentone and Ashwagandha helps a great deal. In case of chronic interstitial cystitis, counseling of pet owners to understand the relationship between stress and recurrence is a must. In case of nephrolithiasis and urolithiasis using Rentone and vitamin C and cranberry extract is very helpful.
9) Thyroid Problems - Most common thyroid problems are hypothyroidism in dogs and hyperthyroidism in cats. Dogs with values up to 0.6 can very easily be helped by supplementing with guggal and liver support. I also recommend home cooking along with not vaccinating at all. Though Guggal has been used in people for hyperthyroidism due to its Mode of Action through TSH regulation, I have not tried this product in feline hyperthyroidism, due to this reason the product available is either too big to medicate or not being available in liquid form. Most cases of hypothyroidism dramatically improve in activity, have very shiny hair coat and lose weight over three to six months period of time. I have seen greyhounds with no hair on their tail and thigh area on thyroid supplementation, when they were given Gugal they developed a full growth of hair.
10) Liver Problems- All kind of liver problems related to infections, toxic overload, cholangio hepatitis, hepatic lipalosis, cancer and liver cirrhosis, are greatly helped by first doing diet modification, supportive therapies and supplementation with Ayurvedic products like Phyllanthus amarus, and Livit-2 in tablet as well as liquid form. Inappetence and nausea should be appropriately controlled during the initial therapy. Since most of these problems do require supportive therapies, using conventional therapies to stabilize the patient must be attempted to have good outcome. Using liver support for three months at least helps a great deal with complete recovery except in cases of liver cancer where they should indefinitely be continued. In cases of ascites development due to terminal liver failure, using Rentone to help in diuresis have been beneficial.
11) Amebiasis/giardiasis- I have encountered many cases of resistant giardiasis; animals who have very serious side effects from Metronidazole therapy including neurological problems. These cases were also given the new vaccine but still they were persistently symptomatic and testing positive for giardia. Treating with AP-Mag, Bilv powder and addition of Picrorhiza Kurora were effective. Unfortunately therapy has to be very long, sometimes up to six months.
12) Allergic bronchitis and feline asthma- Best results are by avoiding perfumes, hairsprays, smoking in the house, using less cleaners. Also by avoiding scented and dusty litters. But products like Tylophora, Trifal and ashwagandha have been very effective. There is a problem giving tylophora product as available, but dissolving the 10 capsules in 2oz. bottled water and adding vegetable glycerine to make a liquid - makes a very effective way of medicating the cats.
13) CANCER – Hardly anyone in this world has not been affected by the wrath or misfortune of cancer. Though cure or treatment are far from perfect or complete, it is very important to understand the concept of Quality of Life. I have been strong advocate of life whether it is relieving pain or dealing with side effects of chemotherapy. Cancer protocols should always start with good- traditional diagnostics to have realistic expectation for life expectancy as well as to quality of life. Client education, moral support is a must. Understanding emotional part along with emphasis on positive attitude plays a big role. Making client understand the gravity of situation but believing in the innate healing power of body and nature could help a lot.
My cancer protocol is subdivided into 3 groups-------- Diet, Nutritional supplements and off course anticancer therapies.
1. DIET: As we all holistic practitioners know, diet plays an important role in the well-being of the individual. We can't emphasize enough recommendation of wholesome diet- raw or cooked but always free from additives, preservatives, and hormones. I also recommend diet free from carbohydrates and sugars.
2. NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS: Like antioxidants, enzymes, coenzymes, vitamin E and balanced vitamins are extremely beneficial.
3. ANTICANCER PRODUCTS LIKE JAPANESE MUSHROOMS, MITAKI, SHITAKI AND REISHI are excellent support. Using turmeric up to 1 teaspoon/day is excellent. Gradual introduction to get used to the taste and aroma is preferred. Ashwagandha—a potent herbal product helps with inflammation, pain, calming yet providing anticancer effect.
Amla kalp/amlaplex/chavanprash are various commercial products in the form of jelly--could be very beneficial also finally though more than 3000 anticancer products are used, I want to mention about artemisinin (a product from Chinese wormwood) has been very promising. Product targets the iron receptors found on cancer cells. Artemisinin should be given away from feeding as well as antioxidant supplementation time. Artemisinin has been without side effects in dogs but cat's dosage and regimen should be very carefully monitored. Though still in the process of research and fact finding, artemisinin seems to be a promising herb.
At the end this is in no way a complete list or any Ayurvedic way or scientific way but a veterinarian to veterinarian talk about my clinical experience using Ayurvedic products without going into philosophy or foreign language of Ayurveda. I urge you to explore another horizon, add another modality to your holistic regimen of many modalities you are already successfully using in your practice - you will find Ayurveda unfolding in front of your eyes and moreover, this maybe another option for those dead end cases. Thanks and good luck!
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