Most Indian children have grown up with their mothers trying to force down a black-brown jammy looking thing that didn’t taste all that great, down their throats every morning. As soon as they grew up enough to make their own decisions however, out went this strange-tasting concoction called Chyawanprash! But if there’s one food that deserves a comeback, it’s this one.
What it is
Chyawanprash (referred to as ‘herbal jam’ in many American supermarkets) is an Ayurvedic dietary supplement. It is a piquant mixture of anywhere from 25 to 80 different herbs with the primary base being amla or Indian gooseberry.
Other common ingredients include:
- Ashwagandha (winter cherry)
- ghee (clarified butter)
- Brahmi ((Bacopa monnieri))
- Yashtimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
- Pippali (Long pepper)
- Sesame oil
- Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus or wild asparagus)
Chyawanprash is usually consumed along with warm milk.
Chyawanprash has been used in India for thousands of years. It is believed to have been developed to restore the health and vitality of Rishi Chyawan from whom it derives its name (‘prash’ in Sanskrit means special food).
The story goes that Rishi Chyawan while absorbed in meditation for a long time, became old and covered in white ants. His youth was later restored by a herbal paste administered to him by the Ashwini Kumar twins. Various Indian ancient texts like the Mahabharat, and the Puranas relate that the Ashwini Kumar brothers, who were Rajvaidya (royal physicians) to Devas during Vedic times, first prepared this formulation for Rishi Chyawan at his Ashram on Dhosi Hill in Haryana, India. The first formula for Chyawanprash appears in the Charaka Samhita, the ancient Ayurvedic treatise from the early first millennium BCE.(1)
Chyawanprash pacifies all the three Ayurvedic doshas of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. It is considered a rasayana (rejuvenator) that nourishes all the seven tissues (sapt dhatus). (2) Among its many wonderful benefits, it:
- Rejuvenates and restores vitality and youthfulness being rich in anti-oxidants
- Boost immunity
- Supports the function of the heart
- Cleanses and detoxes the digestive system
- Reduces risk of cancer
- Promotes healthy skin
- Promotes health of the respiratory system (cures phlegm, cough etc)
- Improves brain function
- Promotes health of the reproduction system
Chyawanprash is the ideal pick-upper for our fast-paced lifestyles, helping to keep you feeling de-stressed and energetic. Definitely worth a try.
Some popular brands of Chyawanprash:
To buy in the US, click links below:
(1) Wikipedia entries on Rishi Chyavana and Chyawanprash.
(2) The sapt dhatus are: Rasa Dhatu (plasma), Rakta Dhatu (blood), Mamsa Dhatu (muscle), Meda Dhatu (fat), Asthi Dhatu (bone)Majja Dhatu (bone-marrow) and Shukra Dhatu (reproductive fluid).
For more information about Chyawanprash, see: Banyan Botanicals and Ayurtimes.
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