ChyawanprashBy Banyan Botanicals
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- March 20, 2011
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Chyawanprash is a delicious nutritive jam that has been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years, offering a wide range of health benefits. In Sanskrit, the word, ‘prash’ refers to a specially prepared food. It is said that two ancient sages of Ayurveda concocted this particular formula to restore youth to the elderly sage, Chyawan – thus the name, ‘chyawanprash’.1, 2 The transliteration from Sanskrit to English has resulted in a variety of spelling variations, including: chyavanprash, chyavanaprasam, and chyavanaprjasha.3, 1 Banyan Botanicals offers this preparation as chyavanprash.
Ayurvedic jams are often used as anupans (carriers) for other herbs, but they can also be used on their own and frequently are – especially as rejuvenatives and aphrodisiacs.1 The Ayurvedic jam known as chyawanprash is made with a base of amalaki fruits (Emblica officinalis) and typically contains a number of other herbs, ghee, sesame oil, sugar, and/or honey. The honey, ghee, and sesame oil serve as yogavahis (catalytic agents) to carry the herbs deep into the tissues, while the sugar is considered a samvahaka dravya (preservative substance) which helps to safeguard the clinical efficacy of the main ingredient, in this case amalaki.4, 5
Amalaki, also known as amla, is renowned for its rich antioxidant content and for its very high concentration of vitamin C – one of the highest known in the plant kingdom.2 More importantly, the vitamin C contained in the amalaki fruit is stabilized by the presence of tannins, which help to preserve the vitamin content, even through processing.2 This is particularly relevant in a preparation such as chyawanprash, which requires extensive cooking.
While the first known source of the ‘recipe’ for chyawanprash is found in the Charaka Samhita, an ancient Ayurvedic text, the jam is also described in several other respected Ayurvedic texts, often with some alteration to the ‘original’ formula.2 In fact, there is an extensive history of variation in chyawanprash preparations and appropriate amendments are therefore considered acceptable.2 This being the case, modern concerns for sustainability and availability of herbs have resulted in a wealth of chyawanprash varieties, all essentially sharing the same core benefits.2
Benefits of Chyawanprash
- Rejuvenates all tissues in the body*
- Increases overall strength and energy*
- Improves muscle mass*
- Builds ojas for healthy immune response and youthfulness*
- Strengthens the heart and respiratory systems*
- Tonifies the reproductive system*
- Kindles agni (digestive fire)*
- Gently encourages elimination*
- Supports optimal urinary health*
Chyawanprash is a very nourishing, anabolic preparation that is heating, heavy and oily. Provided digestion is strong, it builds strength and mass without aggravating kapha.2 Actually, chyawanprash pacifies vata, pitta, and kapha and is considered a rasayana (rejuvenative) for all of the tissues in the body. Chyawanprash is said to support healthy aging and to promote beauty, intelligence, and memory.1 It is also a tonic for the heart and it has a general affinity for the digestive, excretory, urinary, respiratory, and reproductive systems.2
Chyawanprash for Overall Strength, Immunity, and Rejuvenation
The primary action of chyawanprash is to bolster the immune system and to support the body’s natural ability to produce hemoglobin and white blood cells.2 Amalaki (the main ingredient in chyawanprash) aids in the elimination of ama (toxins) and strengthens the blood, the liver, the spleen, and the respiratory system; it therefore nourishes and protects the body’s natural defense systems.2 Chyawanprash also builds ojas – the essence of immunity and youthfulness – and lends strength to vata, while supporting healthy muscle mass and tonifying the tissues.2 Chyawanprash is particularly good for the lungs because it nourishes the mucous membranes and helps to keep the respiratory passages clean and clear.2 In fact, chyawanprash is often used as a tonic in the winter months, as an added support for the immune system.2 Ultimately, chyawanprash improves natural resistance and lends strength, energy, and vitality to the entire being.2 As a result, it is a highly revered rasayana (rejuvenative), offering deep nourishment to the tissues, preserving youth, and promoting systemic health and wellbeing.2 It is also considered one of the best family tonics – suitable for most ages, from young children to the elderly.4
Chyawanprash for Digestion
It is not surprising that chyawanprash is very supportive of strong digestion because, on a systemic level, strength and immunity both begin with healthy agni (digestive fire). In Ayurveda, digestion is thought to be initiated with the experience of taste, and chyawanprash contains five of the six tastes – lacking only the salty taste.2 Further, chyawanprash kindles agni without aggravating pitta.2 It is also an effective carminative (for the healthy movement of gases through the digestive system), it supports regular elimination, and it fosters healthy blood glucose and cholesterol levels when they are already in normal range.2, 6 Overall, the jam is both stimulating and tonifying to the GI tract, supporting proper metabolism as a whole.
Chyawanprash for the Reproductive System
According to legend, chyawanprash was originally formulated to restore virility to the elderly sage, Chyawan, so that he could satisfy his young bride.2 This being the case, chyawanprash was concocted with the intention of nourishing and revitalizing the reproductive tissues. It is used as a tonic to replenish the reproductive system and prevent loss of vital energies in times of sexual activity.2 In more general terms, chyawanprash supports fertility, healthy libido, and builds overall sexual strength in both men and women.2
How to Use Chyawanprash
Because taste plays such an important role in the digestive process and signals the body to initiate its own supportive mechanisms, Ayurveda traditionally recommends tasting herbs. As a delicious jam, chyawanprash offers those who use it the full experience of taste, further enhancing its efficacy.
Internal Use of Chyawanprash
Chyawanprash can be taken alone, it can be stirred into milk or water, or it can be spread on toast, bread, or crackers – like any other jam.3 Taking chyawanprash in warm milk (or almond milk, if dairy is not appropriate) helps to carry its tonifying and rejuvenating qualities deep into the tissues (2). The usual dose of chyawanprash is 1-2 teaspoons, once or twice daily, or as directed by your healthcare practitioner.4, 2 Children can take ½ tsp daily.
When To Take Chyawanprash
As a rasayana (rejuvenative), chyawanprash is typically taken in the morning, or sometimes in both the morning and the evening.4, 2 Chyawanprash can be taken on a long-term basis as part of a program designed to support overall strength and immunity, even supporting the natural systems of the body after a bout of stress or illness. For others, it is more appropriately used seasonally, as a tonic in the winter months.2
Modern Research on Chyawanprash and Amalaki
There has been significant scientific research evaluating the benefits of amalaki (again, the main ingredient in chyawanprash) and at least one study looking at various applications for chyawanprash, specifically.7 Among other things, research efforts have evaluated the roll of chyawanprash in supporting appropriate glucose and cholesterol levels, as well as amalaki’s function as an antioxidant, adaptogen, and immune and heart supportive agent. Below are a few links that summarize some of these findings:
- “Effect of Chyawanprash and Vitamin C on Glucose Tolerance and Lipoprotein Profile.” PubMed Abstract. Jan 2001. (6)
- “Adaptogenic Properties of Six Rasayana Herbs Used in Ayurvedic Medicine.” PubMed Abstract. Jun 1999. (8)
- “Emblica officinalis Causes Myocardial Adaptation and Protects Against Oxidative Stress in Ischemic-Reperfusion Injury in Rats.” PubMed Abstract. Jan 2004. (9)
While there is little information on side effects associated with chyawanprash, no toxic effects of amalaki (its main ingredient) have been observed in scientific studies.7
Avoid chyawanprash if there are known allergies to Emblica officinalis, other members of the Phyllanthus family, or to any other ingredients in chyawanprash.7 For pitta-types or those with pitta imbalances, chyawanprash may be heating during hot weather.2 It is likewise contraindicated in cases of indigestion or diarrhea.2, 4 Use caution in patients with hypoglycemia and in those taking anticoagulant or antiplatelet medications.7 If you are taking prescription medication of any kind, it is always best to check with your doctor before introducing an herbal regimen.
When purchasing chyawanprash, there are a number of questions to consider that will help you to evaluate the quality of the herbal ingredients, the values upheld by the company that produced the jam, and the price of the product in relation to its quality.
Is the supplier able to trace the ingredients of their product back to the fields in which they were grown?
Traceability of the herbs from field to shelf allows the supplier to know where and how the herbs were grown and when they were harvested. Banyan knows exactly where each ingredient was grown and can trace them back from your medicine cabinet to the field.
Are the herbs grown in optimal locations?
Location does play a role in quality. Like the grapes in wine, herbs tend to vary in quality and taste depending on the conditions in which they are grown. Banyan sources its chyawanprash herbs from areas where these plants thrive naturally.
Are the ingredients sustainably harvested and processed?
While amalaki is relatively abundant in many parts of India, where and how it is harvested matters and, from a sustainability standpoint, cultivated herbs are generally preferred over wild-harvested herbs. It is also important to consider that some traditional chyawanprash preparations include several herbs that are very difficult – if not impossible – to obtain sustainably. Banyan’s chyavanprash does not include any ingredients that are becoming endangered or that are difficult to source responsibly. In fact, the amalaki and other herbal ingredients used in its Banyan’s chyawanprash all come from privately owned farms where they have been cultivated. The herbs are harvested at optimal times, using environmentally sustainable practices that are sensitive to the long-term health of the plants and their surrounding ecosystems. The ingredients are then specially formulated for Banyan Botanicals by a manufacturer in India that has produced authentic Ayurvedic jams for over 50 years.
Are the farmers looked after for their labor?
Harvesting the herbs and processing chyawanprash is labor intensive. Banyan strongly believes in maintaining socially responsible relationships with farmers and manufacturers. We are committed to following fair trade principles which include paying above-market wages, investing in the education of our suppliers, and giving back to their communities.
Are the ingredients organic?
This is an especially important consideration when choosing a formula for medicinal benefits. When herbal preparations contain genetic alterations or toxic residues from chemical pesticides, the very substance that was intended to support health and healing can be harmful. Buying organic preparations is the safest way to protect your body from these potentially dangerous toxins. All of the ingredients in Banyan’s chyawanprash are USDA certified organic. Banyan is able to ensure that organic farming practices are adhered to because we receive the ingredients from trusted sources whose methods have been verified and monitored. You can rest assured that chyawanprash sourced through Banyan Botanicals will be free of pesticides and other harmful chemicals.
- Svoboda, Robert. Ayurveda: Life, Health and Longevity. Penguin Books, 1992. 256.
- Pole, Sebastian. Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice. Churchill Livingston Elsevier, 2006. 296-297.
- “Chyawanprash.” Wikipedia. Online. Retrieved 24 Apr. 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chyawanprash
- Lad, Vasant. Textbook of Ayurveda, Volume Three: General Principles of Management and Treatment. The Ayurvedic Press, 2012. 342, 418.
- Apte, Deepa. “Chyawanprash: The Ultimate Natural Health Supplement.” Natural Health Web. Online. Retrieved 24 Apr. 2012. http://www.naturalhealthweb.com/articles/DeepaApte1.html
- Manjunatha, S., et al. “Effect of Chyawanprash and Vitamin C on Glucose Tolerance and Lipoprotein Profile.” Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. 45.1 (2001): 71-79. Online. PubMed. Retrieved 24 Apr. 2012 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11211574?dopt=Abstract
- “Amalaki (Phyllanthus emblica).” Natural Standard: Professional Monograph. Online. Retrieved 24 Apr. 2012. http://naturalstandard.com/databases/herbssupplements/amalaki.asp
- Rege, N.N., U.M. Thatte, and S.A. Dahanukar. “Adaptogenic Properties of Six Rasayana Herbs Used in Ayurvedic Medicine.” Phytotherapy Research. 13.4 (1999): 275-291. Online. PubMed. Retrieved 26 Apr. 2012. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10404532?dopt=Abstract
- Rajak, S., et al. “Emblica officinalis Causes Myocardial Adaptation and Protects Against Oxidative Stress in Ischemic-Reperfusion Injury in Rats.” Phytotherapy Research. 18.1 (2004): 54-60. Online. PubMed. Retrieved 26 Apr. 2012. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14750202?dopt=Abstract