Fall means back to school, which can mean cold and flu season for many people. It also means slowing down after a busy summer and possibly experiencing low immunity due to burn out, which lead to more susceptibility to getting sick. Consistent stress can also lead to degeneration of the body, leaving us more vulnerable to diseases and the common cold and flu. However, Ayurveda gives us a tasty treat to help us out during these times. It is an ancient recipe that helps us boost our immunity, build our ojas and maintain our vibrancy… It is known as Chavanprash.
What is it?
This dark, rich, jam-like substance is sweet, a bit sour and slightly tangy and it is known for many of its rejuvenating and immune boosting properties. It contains 15-40 different medicinal Ayurvedic herbs (depending on the company) along with honey, ghee, sesame oil and raw sugar. Its base ingredient is fresh amalaki fruit; also know as Indian Gooseberry, Embilica Officinalis or Amla. This fruit is one of the strongest rasayanas (rejuvenative) and antioxidant in Ayurvedic Medicine and it contains the highest natural source of vitamin C, with 300mg per fruit (1), which is equivalent to 6 oranges. Most formulas call for around 15,000mg of amalaki fruit per jar/container. Even more impressive is that the vitamin C from the amalaki fruit is highly bioavailable because it is a part of a tannoid complex, which protects it from being destroyed by heat or light (5).
What is it good for?
Famous for its ability to promote youthfulness, general cognition and prevent disease, Chyavanprash can be used for all doshic types to rejuvenate the seven tissues, specifically rasa (plasma), rakta (blood), mamsa (muscles), shukra (male reproduction) and Artava (female reproduction) (3). It is also very nourishing for the heart, lungs, bones and kidneys (2).
Immunity: Helps to increase resistance to infectious diseases by building hemoglobin and white blood cells. It also nourishes the mucous membranes of the lungs to help clear phlegm. In addition, it is used to help alleviate asthma symptoms (4).
Reproduction: Nourishes the reproductive tissues and is used in cases of debility, infertility, sexual weakness or low libido (4).
Recovery: Very helpful to take when recovering from illness or stress and it will help to restore balance to the tissues and bring back strength (4).
Anemia: Helps to clean and build the blood (4).
Heart and Brain: “The perfect blend of Ayurvedic herbs acts as a cardiac stimulant and helps in smooth functioning of the heart. Chyawanprash nourishes the brain cells by supporting the nervous system and enhances co-ordination and memory power. The tonic is good for students as it increases retention and recall (2)”.
Digestion: Promotes a healthy metabolism and can act as a digestive.
Skin: Helps to improve the skin and complexion, giving an overall healthy glow.
How to enjoy it:
Mainly taken in the cooler months of fall and winter or when under stress, it can be consumed by the entire family: young children through the elderly. This jam tastes quite delicious on its own, spread on a piece of toast or mixed into a cup of warm milk (dairy, almond or coconut) or water. 1-2 teaspoons in the morning and evening is the recommended dose, or follow your Ayurvedic Practitioners recommendations. Be cautious when taking in warm weather for pitta types or with indigestion or if you have heavy ama (toxic) build-up. Contraindicated for pregnancy and severe diarrhea.
According to Charaka Samhita (ancient Ayurvedic text), "From the administration of rasayana one obtains longevity of life, memory, apprehension, health, youth, brightness, complexion, excellence of voice, great strength of body and the senses, power of making speech true, bows (from others), and comeliness of features." Chyavanprash is considered this rasayana (6).
It is said that Chyavanprash was first made by the Ashwin Kumaras, the celestial physicians in order to help the elderly sage, Cyavana, who required virility and youth in order to satisfy his young bride. The results of this request became Chyavanprash.
Where to buy it:
aking sure you have a great quality product is important. There are many sellers out there but many of them will to have the authentic ingredients needed for the true effects. There are companies out there like Banyan Botanicals, Life Spa, Organic India and Himalayan Institute that have quality products that you can purchase online. The taste varies between them all. If you like sweeter, go with Banyan. If you like sour, I have found the Himalayan brand to be perfectly tart.
(1) Lad, V., & Frawley, D. (1986). The yoga of herbs: An Ayurvedic guide to herbal medicine. (p. 157-158) Santa Fe, N.M.: Lotus Press.
(2) The story of Chyavanaprash. Ayurveda4all. https://m.facebook.com/notes/ayurveda4uall/the-story-of-chyawanprash-in-ayurveda/10153202913135516/
(3) Lad, V. (2012). Textbook of Ayurveda (Vol. 3, p. 343 & 418). Albuquerque, N.M.: Ayurvedic Press.
(4) Pole, S. (2013). Ayurvedic medicine the principles of traditional practice (p. 296). London: Singing Dragon.
(5) Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science. Phytochemistry, traditional uses and cancer chemopreventive activity of Amla (Phyllanthus emblica): The Sustainer. 02 (01); 2011: 176-183. http://japsonline.com/admin/php/uploads/365_pdf.pdf
(6) Dharmananda. PH.D, S. (2000, August 1). APPENDIX 1: Therapeutic Interpretation Based on Chyawanprash Ingredients. Retrieved September 27, 2015.