Herb Basics

A Place to Start


| November/December 2004



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AYURVEDA: BASICS OF THE ANCIENT SCIENCE

Ayurveda, a 5,000-year-old East Indian healing system, is thought to be the world’s oldest system of medicine. It aims to create health by nurturing the body (shrira), the mind (manas) and the self (atman). The word Ayurveda means “the science of life.”

Those practicing Ayurveda believe that no single agent alone creates health or causes disease. They also believe there are three primary life forces present in everyone and everything, called doshas. The doshas are vata (air), pitta (fire) and kapha (water). In simple terms, a state of balance between the doshas causes health; imbalance causes disease.

Each dosha is associated with different aspects of the physical body. Vata is associated with movement, including breathing and blinking. Pitta governs the metabolic system — digestion, absorption and body temperature. Kapha forms bones, tendons and muscles, the body’s structure.

People are also classified into dosha categories. We each have a dominant dosha, but everyone contains elements of all three doshas. Herbal and dietary recommendations in Ayurveda aim to keep each dosha in balance. Emphasis also is placed on eating the right foods and spices for your dosha. There are six “tastes,” or flavors: sweet, salty, bitter pungent, sour and astringent. Different tastes are indicated for each dosha.

For further information, see The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies (Three Rivers, 1999) by Vasant Lad.

GIVE CHILDREN A GOOD START WITH THIS TEA

The herbs in this blend, created by herbalist Christopher Hobbs, help support children’s immune and digestive systems and build strong bones. This naturally sweet brew is a healthful drink to substitute for soft drinks and fruit juices.





elderberry, echinacea, bee hive

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