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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Some Herbs and their Uses

Note: If you consume or recommend herbs. Please use or recommend responsibly.

1. Amla (Amalaki, Dhatri)
Emblica Officinalis
Dhatri: That which nurtures and supports the whole body like the Earth supports all living beings.
Part Used Fruit
Guna Light, dry, cold
Rasa All tastes except salty; Mainly sour
Vipaka Sweet
Veerya Cooling (Sheetha)
Effect on Dosha Pacifies all of the Doshas, especially Pitta
Main Action Rejuvenative, aphrodisiac, laxative, haemostatic, antiaging; The
world’s richest source of Vitamin C
 Locally: Paste applied on forehead in Pitta headaches, on the face to improve the
complexion and on blemishes on the skin and the head for early graying.
 Beneficial as a Rasayana: Nutritive to all of the Dhatus, rejuvenating (Chyavanprash)
 Good for the digestive system: Used as agnideepana, ama pachana, anulomana in
agnimandya, acid reflux, ulcers and liver diseases.
 Used in Pitta fever, skin problems, anemia and diabetes.
 Used in bleeding conditions such as bleeding gums, healing wounds, bleeding in the
eyes, redness of the eyes, nose bleeds, bleeding hemorrhoids and/or ulcers.
 Used as an aphrodisiac, for uterine debility, Menorrhegia and leucorrhea.

2. Ashwagandha
Withenia Somnifera
Ashva/Ashwa: Horse
Gandha: Smell
Part Used Root
Guna Light, moist
Rasa Sweet, bitter, astringent
Vipaka Sweet
Veerya Heating (Ushna)
Effect on Dosha Decreases Vata and Kapha, increases Pitta and Ama if taken in
Main Action Aphrodisiac, sedative, Rasayana, antiaging, nervine, analgesic
Forms Used Decoction, arishta, powder, ghrita, avaleha
The Herbs in Detail
Gives energy like a horse.

 Locally: Paste on enlarged lymph glands, oil in vata diseases.
 Beneficial in instances of infertility, sexual or general debility, low sperm count and/or
low vitality.
 Useful for pregnant women to strengthen the uterus and the growing fetus.
 Promotes sleep, used in stress, anxiety, nerve pain, muscle pain, overwork, emaciation,
insomnia and acts as a nerve tonic.
 Beneficial for arthritis, sciatica, rheumatism, MS and paralysis.
 Respiratory: Cough, Asthma, migraine headaches.
 The juice of Ashvagandha leaves is used as ear drops for ear discharge.
 Builds the Dhatus, especially mamsa and shukra.
 Used in debilitating diseases; Improves immunity.

3. Bala
Sida Cardifolia
Part Used Root, seeds, leaves
Guna Heavy, moist, slimy
Rasa Sweet
Vipaka Sweet
Veerya Cooling
Effect on Dosha Decreases Vata and Pitta
Main Action Rejuvenative, nervine, aphrodisiac, analgesic
Forms Used Oil, decoction, arishta, ghrita
 Locally: Paste for healing wounds.
 Strengthens the small intestine and improves digestion (useful in IBS and Crone’s
 Strengthens the lungs, heals ulcers and cavities in the lungs; Useful in Pittaja kasa
(cough) and asthma.
 Alterative, very useful in Raktapitta and Pitta (burning) hemorrhoids.
 As a tonic, it is useful in general debility, undernourishment (tuberculosis is an example
of this) and in the case of weak heart muscles.
 Strengthens all of the Dhatus but mainly mamsa and shukra.
 Aids in Vata disorders such as sciatica, neuralgia and facial paralysis (anuvasana bastis
are useful here).
 Beneficial for Rheumatism and chronic fevers.

4. Bibhitaki
Terminelia Belerica
Part Used Fruit
Guna Dry, heavy
Rasa Astringent
Vipaka Pungent
Uses Uses
Veerya Heating
Effect on Dosha Decreases Kapha and Pitta, mainly Kapha
Main Action Rejuvenative, expectorant, laxative, antihelmentic, antiseptic,
lithotropic (breaks gall bladder and kidney stones)
Forms Used Oil, powder, decoction
 Beneficial for cough, asthma, congestion, migraine headaches; Also works to clear the
 The partially ripe fruit works as a laxative.
 Gives tone to the body.
 The oil can be used in premature graying of the hair and as a hair tonic.
 Acts as an anti emetic and reduces excessive thirst.
 Beneficial for Deepana, Pachana, acts as an antihelmentic and stops bleeding.
 The seeds are used to treat insomnia.

5. Brahmi
Buccopa Monnieria
Part Used Leaves
Guna Light
Rasa Bitter, astringent, sweet
Vipaka Sweet
Veerya Cooling
Effect on Dosha Nervine, Antiepileptic and antihysteric by Prabhava
Main Action Decreases mainly Vata and Pitta
Forms Used Juice, powder, oil
 Locally: The juice can be applied on painful joints as an analgesic.
 Brahmi is useful to calm and cool the mind, especially in instances of high fever when it
reaches a state of delirium, marked by anxiety, disorientation, hallucinations, delusions,
and incoherent speech.
 Works as a brain tonic: Calms the mind, reduces dullness and enhances intelligence and
 Brahmi is used in Pitta conditions, Jatamansi in Vataja conditions and Vacha in Kapha
 Helps with epilepsy, mental retardation, depression, delusion and hallucinations.
 Helps relieve pain and inflammation.
 Works as a diuretic: Reduces burning and pain during urination.
 Acts as a Rasayana: Strengthens all of the dhatus except Rakta.
 Since Brahmi is rare, a similar nervine herb is often substituted: Mandukaparni
(Hydrocotyl Asiata).
 Brahmi leaves are smooth and have small black spots. Mandukaparni has rough leaves,
is good for the skin and is less nervine than Brahmi.
 Gotukola (Centella Asiata) which is commonly used in the US is another sister variety of
Mandukaparni with more diuretic effects. Gotukola is less nervine than Brahmi.
Uses Uses

6. Eranda (Castor)
Ricinus Communis
Part Used Oil, leaves
Guna Heavy, moist, sharp, subtle
Rasa Sweet, pungent, bitter
Vipaka Pungent
Veerya Heating
Effect on Dosha Decreases Kapha and Vata
Main Action Strong purgative
Forms Used Decoction, oil, paste, juice of the leaves
 Locally: Warm leaves are used on painful parts of the body while massaging the
abdomen with oil and saindhava in instances of gas and bloating
 The main use is for Virechana in Panchakarma. It causes purgation without cramping.
 Useful for any disease caused by Apana Vayu, chronic constipation, Agnimandya,
srotorodha. Acts as an Antihelmentic.
 Useful for treating hemorrhoids. The leaves are also useful to stimulate the liver and to
treat obstructive or hemolytic jaundice.
 In Amavata, the oil is given with a ginger decoction.
 Beneficial for Vata disorders such as tremors, facial palsy and sciatica.
 Helps in Asthma by removing Kapha in the stomach through purgation.
 Antiaging.

7. Ginger (Shunthi)
Zinzibar Officinale
Also called Vishvabheshaja. Remedy for almost all diseases.
Part Used Rhizome
Guna Dry Ginger: Light, moist; Fresh Ginger: Dry, sharp and heavy
Rasa Pungent
Vipaka Dry Ginger: Sweet; Fresh Ginger: Pungent
Veerya Heating
Effect on Dosha Both types decrease Vata and Kapha. The sweet Vipaka of Dry
Ginger does not aggravate Pitta while Fresh Ginger increases Pitta
Main Action Stimulates Agni, digestant, carminative, antiemetic, stimulant,
Forms Used Paste, powder, oil, candy, juice, tea
 Locally: The paste is used for sinus headaches and painful joints. The oil is used as nasya
for congestion.
 Works as an agnideepana and pachana as well as an antiflatulent. Because of this, it is
used in agnimandya, vomiting, colds, headaches and to treat abdominal pain.
Uses Uses
 Acts as an antihaemorrhoidal and antispasmodic. Removes srotorodha.
 Useful to treat cough, asthma, allergies and both morning & motion sickness.
 Purifies the blood, stimulates the heart and helps treat Kaphaja skin diseases and
 Acts as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic. Useful for treating arthritis (with caster oil
and Guduchi in instances of Amavata), pain, swelling and general sprains.
 Used in postpartum debility as it acts on all of the physical systems.

8. Guduchi (Amrita, Gulwel)
Tinosphora Cardifolia
Part Used Stems, leaves
Guna Light, dry and soft
Rasa Astringent, bitter, pungent
Vipaka Sweet
Veerya Heating
Effect on Dosha Balances all the three Doshas
Anupana Ghee in Vataja, sugar in Pittaja and honey in Kaphaja diseases
Main Action Dhatu agnideepana, ama pachana, Dhatu strengthening, Rasayana
(nutritive), alterative, antiaging, antipyretic
Forms Used Decoction, powder, arishta
 Locally: The oil is used to treat skin problems as well as physical aches and pains.
 Due to Dhatu agnideepana, Guduchi strengthens all of the Dhatus. It is the best
Rasayana herb.
 Strengthens the small intestine, so it is used in diarrhea, vomiting, Agnimandya, pain in
abdomen, parasites, amlapitta (GERD), liver diseases and anemia.
 Useful for treating all Pitta conditions such as burning hands, feet and body.
 Relieves chronic fevers and bleeding conditions.
 Guduchi satva is effective when treating cardiac debility.
 Useful in Vata conditions such as Amavata, arthritis, chronic pain and spasms.
 Is used in prameha to absorb kleda.
 Useful when treating eye, urinary, respiratory and digestive diseases that are primarily

9. Guggulu
Comiphora Mukul
Part Used Resin
Guna Light, sharp, subtle
Rasa Bitter, astringent, pungent
Vipaka Pungent
Veerya Heating
Effect on Dosha Decreases Vata and Kapha, increases Pitta
Main Action Analgesic, antispasmodic, ama pachana, rejuvenative, stimulant
 Acts as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antibacterial, disinfectant and deodorant.
 Has a specific scraping action on excess Meda Dhatu and Kapha, so it is often used to
treat Diabetes, obesity and edema.
 Used to treat arthritis, facial paralysis, sciatica, gout and all Vata disorders.
 Rejuvenates the tissue of the body and increases strength.
 Useful for treating loss of appetite, constipation, liver diseases, piles and worms.
 Useful when treating many skin diseases.
 Many Guggul formulas (such as Triphala Guggul) are popular for reducing cholesterol.

10. Haritaki
Terminelia Chebula
Hara: Eliminates, removes; One which removes malas, aggravated Doshas and Disease.
Part Used Fruit
Guna Light, dry
Rasa All except salty, mainly astringent
Vipaka Sweet
Veerya Heating
Effect on Dosha Balances the Tridoshas (mainly Vata)
Main Action Rejuvenative, laxative, antihelmentic, expectorant.
Popular Products Triphala
Anupanas It can be used in the spring with honey, in the summer with ghee
and in the winter with raw sugar
Forms Used Powder, decoction paste
Contraindications Physical weakness, pregnancy, dehydration, after severe
exhaustion, after Panchakarma
 Locally: The paste is used to alleviate swelling, painful parts of the body. Decoctions are
used to cleanse wounds and for gargling.
 One of the main benefits of Haritaki is in balancing Vata. It is useful in instances of
weakness in the nervous system and brain.
 Works on all Dhatus by removing blockages in any and all of the channels.
 Digestive: Useful in instances of agnimandya, pain in the abdomen, constipation,
parasites, hemorrhoids, gas and/or bloating. Since it is Astringent, it works to strength
the intestines.
 Beneficial when treating Kaphaja Hemorrhoids: Haritaki, Vidanga, Kutaja, Chitrak with
 Beneficial when treating Amlapitta: Haritaki, Pippali and jaggery digest saama Pitta and
reduce burning in the chest.
 Works to strengthen Mamsa and Meda Dhatus by absorbing excess kleda and
strengthening Dhatuagni. Used to treat Kaphaja skin diseases and Prameha.
 Stimulates intelligence and strengthens the sense organs by decreasing excess Kapha
and Meda Dhatu.
 Excellent for treating eye problems: Wash the eyes with Haritaki tea. Triphala, Licorice
ghee and honey strengthen the eyes.
Uses Uses
 Useful for treating kidney stones and painful urination. Haritaki, Gokshura and Pashana
bhed tea with honey reduce burning and help break kidney stones and flush them out
of the body.
 Finely powdered Haritaki is used as a tooth powder that strengthens the gums.
 Used for respiratory rhinitis, cough, hoarseness of voice, hiccups and asthma.
 Useful in leucorrhoea. Acts as uterine tonic.
 Prevents the accumulation of pus in the skin.
 Works as a Rasayana to open the channels, remove malas from the Dhatus, and
cleanse all of the Dhatus. Works as an antiaging agent.
 Pathya: Removes blockage of the srotas and channels.
 Abhaya: Makes the individual fearless.

11. Katuka (Kutaki)
Picrorrhiza Currooa
Part Used Root
Guna Light, dry
Rasa Bitter
Vipaka Pungent
Veerya Cooling
Effect on Dosha Decreases Kapha and Pitta
Main Action Hepatoprotective, laxative
 Useful when treating jaundice, liver problems and for cleansing the liver, cleansing the
gall bladder of stones and treating constipation, flatulence and ascitis.
 Helps regulate heart beats and constrict the blood vessels. Raises blood pressure.
Useful when treating bleeding disorders.
 Improves Agni, so it is used to treat Anorexia and indigestion.
 Useful when treating cough, asthma and fever.

12. Kumari (Aloe Vera)
Aloe Barbadensis, etc.
Part Used Leaves
Guna Bitter, sweet
Rasa Sweet
Vipaka Sweet
Veerya Cooling
Effect on Dosha Decreases all three Doshas
Main Action Bitter tonic, rejuvenative, alterative
Forms Used Juice from the leaves
 Locally: Applied locally to reduce heat. The pulp moisturizes the skin while the fresh
juice is beneficial when applied to the eyes in case of infection.
 Has a laxative effect by irritating the large intestine.
KAA 101 | Page29
 Useful for treating benign in tumors.
 Used to treat anemia.
 Used to treat amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, menopause, inflammatory vaginal
conditions, swollen glands, fever and constipation.
 Used to treat common inflammatory skin conditions.
 It acts using deepana and pachana properties.
 The juice is used to treat loss of appetite, abdominal colic and worm infestations.

13. Manjishtha
Rubia Cardifolia
Part Used Root
Guna Heavy, Dry
Rasa Bitter, astringent, sweet
Vipaka Pungent
Veerya Heating
Effect on Dosha Decreases PKV
Main Action On the skin: Alterative, haemostatic
Forms Used Ghee, powder, decoction, kalka (puree)
 Locally: The paste is used to help heal wounds.
 Works to purify the blood, improve circulation, stop bleeding and reduce inflammation.
 Beneficial when treating skin conditions such as acne, freckles, blisters and skin
infections. Improves the complexion and cleanses wounds. Manjishtha ghee is used to
treat burns.
 Useful when treating all conditions related to menstruation: Dysmenorrhea,
amenorrhea and Menorrhegia.
14. Nagarmotha (Musta, Nutgrass)
Cyperus Rotundus
Part Used Rhizome
Guna Light, Dry
Rasa Pungent, bitter, astringent
Vipaka Pungent
Veerya Cooling
Effect on Dosha Decreases Kapha and Pitta
Main Action Stimulant, carminative, alterative, antispasmodic, antihelmentic
Forms Used Decoction, arishta, powder
 Locally: The paste can be applied to itchy skin rashes or on the breasts to cleanse breast
 Nagarmotha is the best deepana, pachana and grahi, so it is used to treat diarrhea,
malabsorption and indigestion.
 Serves as the key herb in all types of fevers (except chronic fevers).
 Beneficial for increasing and cleansing breast milk.
 Enhances memory and strengthens nerves.
 Beneficial for treating kidney stones and painful urination.

15. Neem (Nimba)
Azadirecta Indica
Part Used Seeds, leaves, bark and flower
Guna Light, dry
Rasa Bitter, astringent, pungent
Vipaka Pungent
Veerya Cooling
Effect on Dosha Decreases Pitta and Kapha
Main Action Antipyretic, alterative (blood purifying), bitter tonic, antiseptic,
antiemetic, antibiotic
Forms Used Oil, powder, swarasa (juice)
 Locally: The decoction can be used to cleanse wounds. The oil is benenficial in chronic
or diabetic ulcers, the mouth wash in dental caries and the smoke of burning leaves
cleanses wounds and the environment.
 Useful when treating skin diseases such as itching, dermatitis, eczema, scabies, chronic
wounds and burns.
 Benenficial for fevers, malaria, Pitta fevers and chronic Kapha fevers.
 Acts as an antiparasitic. Should be given with triphala and grape juice.
 Beneficial when treating diabetes, tumors, jaundice, rheumatism and arthritis.
 Several Neem products are available for external use, such as neem soap and neem
 Neem seed oil is very potent medicinally (1 part oil is mixed in 1 million parts of
 In the US, neem is used as a natural pesticide.

16. Pippali
Piper Longum
Part Used Fruit
Types Two: Dry and fresh (dry type described below)
Dry Type
Guna Light, moist, sharp
Rasa Pungent
Vipaka Sweet
Veerya Heating (mildly)
Effect on Dosha Decreases Kapha and Vata
Main Action Expectorant, carminative, analgesic
Forms Used Ghee, powder, asava
 Improves Agnideepana, acts as a carminative (vata anulomana), analgesic and mild
 Beneficial for treating Amlapitta and enlargements of the liver and spleen.
 Benficial for treating bronchitis, laryngitis, cough, asthma (it is an expectorant), Hiccups
and Tuberculosis.
 Strengthens Raktaagni, so it is useful in Anemia (the powder of pippali and amala).
 Digests ama, so it is useful in Amavata and sciatica.
 Pippali is used as a Rasayana: Vardhaman Pippali Rasayana strengthens all dhatus.
 Used during delivery to cause contractions of the uterus and help expel the placenta and cleanse the uterus after delivery.

17. Punarnava
Boerhvia Diffusa
Part Used Root, seeds, leaves, whole plant
Types Two: White and red
Main Action Reduces swelling, acts as a laxative and alterative
Effect on Dosha Decreases VPK
Forms Used Asava, paste, decoction
White Type
Guna Light, dry
Rasa Pungent, sweet, bitter, astringent
Vipaka Pungent
Veerya Heating
Red Type
Guna Light
Rasa Bitter
Vipaka Pungent
Veerya Cooling
 Locally: The paste is applied to swelling regions and followed by oil massage for pain
and swelling.
 Useful for water retention, hypertension, weight gain, swelling and ascitis. Haritaki,
ginger, deodar, guduchi, guggulu and Punarnava are useful in systemic edema.
 Useful when treating urinary problems such as urinary infections and kidney stones.
 Improves Agni and absorbs fluids. Because of this, it is often used to treat agnimandya,
abdominal pain and colitis.
 Improves the function of the liver and spleen. Used to treat Anemia.
 Used externally in many conditions of the eye.
 Strengthens the heart and increases Rakta Dhatu, so it is useful when treating low
blood pressure.
 Excretes dhatu malas along with regular malas, so it is cleansing to both the dhatus and
they general function of the body while it slows the process of aging.
 Used as a Rasayana in instances of general debility.

18. Shatavari
Asperagus Recemosus
Part Used Root
Guna Heavy, moist, soft
Rasa Sweet, bitter
Vipaka Sweet
Veerya Cooling (Sheeta)
Effect on Dosha Balances Pitta and Vata and increases Kapha if used in excess
Main Action Rasayana (nutritive), calming, cooling, aphrodisiac, diuretic
Forms Used Decoction, oil, ghee, powder, kalpa
 Locally: Used in oil for massage (narayan oil).
 Beneficial when treating or promoting the health of the female reproductive organs,
such as in instances of infertility, debility, impotence, menopause and leucorrhea.
 Reduces the blood pressure and strengthens the heart.
 Benefits digestive disorders such as ulcers, hyperacidity, diarrhea and dysentery.
 Shatavari, licorice and sariva (anant) strengthen Mamsa Dhatu in women and
strengthen the uterus.
 Benefial when treating respiratory ailments such as cough, chronic fevers or lung
 Treats the urinary (Mutravaha srotas) system, such as in instances of painful urination.
 Increases breast milk: Useful for lactating mothers.
 Strengthens Ojas and enhances memory.
 Increases sperm count and ovulation, prevents abortion and miscarriage and
strengthens the blood vessels.

19. Tulsi (Holy Basil)
Ocimum Sanctum
Part Used Leaves, seed, root
Guna Light, moist, sharp
Rasa Pungent, Bitter
Vipaka Pungent
Veerya Heating (the seeds are cooling)
Effect on Dosha Decreases Kapha and Vata; the seeds decrease Pitta
Main Action Antibacterial, nervine, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, blood purifying
 Acts mainly on the respiratory tract. Beneficial when treating cough, cold and Kaphatype
 Tulsi seeds are diuretic, so they are used to treat dysuria or burning sensations in the
 Acts as an agnideepana, so it used to treat agnimandya.
 Used to treat Kapha and Vata fevers.
 Acts as an insecticidal and deodorant. In India, every house has a Tulsi plant in their
front yard.

20. Yashtimadhu (Licorice)
Glycyrrizha Glabra
Part Used Root
Guna Heavy, moist
Rasa Sweet, Astringent
Vipaka Sweet
Veerya Cooling
Effect on Dosha Decreases Vata and Pitta
Main Action Demulcent, expectorant, tonic, rejuvenative, laxative, sedative
Forms Used Powder, paste, decoction, oil, ghee
 Useful when treating cough, cold, bronchitis, asthma, sore throat and laryngitis.
 Beneficial for urinary infections and bleeding disorders.
 Beneficial when treating diarrhea, dysentery, ulcers and heartburn.
 Strengthens Shukra Dhatu, Ojas and improves complexion as an external application.
 Strengthens the blood vessels and stops bleeding. Nourishes Mamsa Dhatu and
strengthens vision.
 Builds the Dhatus and slows aging.

If you use herbs. Please use them responsibly or find training for using herbs.


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