The approach of winter can mean that it is time to foster a healthy immune system. It also means slowing down after a busy summer and fall and possibly experiencing stresses due to burnout, which can lead to more challenges to maintaining health. Consistent stress can also lead to degeneration of the body, leaving us more vulnerable to imbalances in the body. However, Ayurveda gives us a tasty treat to help us out during these times. It is an ancient recipe that helps us support a healthy immune response, build our ojas, and maintain our vibrancy…It is known as Chyavanprash.
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 bolstering properties. It contains 15-40 different medicinal Ayurvedic herbs (depending on the formula) along with honey, ghee, and raw sugar. Its base ingredient is fresh amalaki fruit, also known as Indian Gooseberry, Embilica Officinalis or Amla. This fruit is one of the best rasayanas (rejuvenatives) and natural sources of antioxidants in the Ayurvedic pharmacopeia, and it contains one of the highest natural sources 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 support the proper function of the immune system, 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. Commonly used to support:
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 practitioner's 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, Chyavana, who required virility and youth in order to satisfy his young bride. The results of this request became Chyavanprash.
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.