This favourite Indian remedy is comprised of many herbs and spices designed to fight all diseases, rejuvenate and invigorate.
Long ago, an Indian sage named Chyawan lived and meditated in the forest for many years. His hair grew matted and he became covered in tree growth. One day a blindfolded princess danced by and accidentally touched his hair. Her father, the king, insisted the sage marry his daughter as the custom was that women could touch only one man in her lifetime. Chyawan prepared for the wedding for two months, developing a recipe for longevity so as to afford his wife conjugal bliss. This has remained India’s most popular remedy.
Chyawanprash is classified as a ‘rasayana’, a herbal category known as a tonic for main- taining youthfulness, vigour and vitality of the body, and keeping the ageing process, senility and debility at bay. It is used for rejuvenation and to prevent all diseases.
The rasayanas are said to impart a long, healthy, disease-free life, intelligence, power of memory, youth and lustre. Among all the rasayanas, chyawanprash is the most useful and famous. It is the most popular rejuvenating Ayurvedic tonic in India, having the consistency of jam and containing about 35 natural herbs, including amla or amalaki (Emblica officinalis), a tropical gooseberry that is the richest natural source of vitamin C in the world, and also a source that remains stable in storage for years. Chyawanprash works on the body’s immune system, protecting it against everyday infections such as coughs, colds and fevers. It is therefore very useful in children, old or debilitated people, and tuberculosis patients.
There are many different recipes for chyawanprash, ranging from a mere 20 or so herbs and spices to 70 or 80 ingredients. The main ingredient, however, regardless of the exact formula, is always amla. The rest of the ingredients vary from regenerative herbs for the reproductive system such as ashwagandha and shatavari to spices that aid assimilation and digestion.
A HEALTHY DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
In Ayurveda, it is believed that most disease stems from problems in the digestive system. In fact, this belief is shared by all natural healing systems throughout the world, including European, Mediterranean, Asian and Native American. Ayurveda breaks digestion into three stages: the stomach, the small intestine, and the large intestine. Food that is assimilated in the stomach is used very quickly for the building of fluids, blood and lymph.
What is assimilated in the small intestine affects mainly muscles and fat; and what is assimilated in the colon is used to regenerate the skin, bones, hair, nerve sheaths, reproductive fluids and brain. Fragility of the bones and senility are therefore colon problems, and they are considered to be ‘vata’ conditions – derangements of the air and ether, which includes the nervous system. All proper maintenance requires good digestion and assimilation, or worn-out tissues will not be regenerated, i.e. replaced by healthy new tissues.
A rasayana is a formula for just such tissue rejuvenation, and chyawanprash is the most famous, and in my opinion the most effective, of these highly esoteric remedies. Moreover, it has been so thoroughly studied that it is legal to market it as an antioxidant – the best that has ever been researched in modern laboratories. Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, found in fresh fruits and vegetables, are widely recognised as important to prevent and treat all degenerative diseases and to counteract the ravages of ageing.
Besides supplying vital nutrients to the body, chyawanprash assists assimilation of nutrients from food. Taken on a regular, daily basis, one will find a general increase in wellness, evident in luster of the complexion and hair, increased vitality, resistance to disease and a general zest for life and living – all the things one should expect from the world’s greatest herbal tonic.
In India, those with the means to afford chyawanprash take it every day, usually from at least age 40. They generally use about 1 – 3 teaspoons a day.
Many Indians take chyawanprash in warm milk, but it can also be eaten straight from the bottle. The taste is interesting – it’s sweet- sour in flavour. Most people are surprised that chyawanprash tastes as good as it does. My dogs fight over the almost empty containers, and all the dogs I’ve had for the last 20 years prefer chyawanprash to bones!