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What do Pope Francis, Lionel Messi, and Madonna have in common? Maté tea.
Chances are, if you’ve heard about maté tea, you’ve heard of yerba maté. Yerba maté (Ilex paraguariensis) is the herb that lends itself to this once exotic drink. This popular beverage of South America (mainly Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil) has now caught on in the USA. You would find maté tea bags and powder in supermarkets and health food stores.
Punarnava (Boerhavia diffusa) very tactfully focuses on three important facets of your health – your immunity, your blood glucose, and your liver function. All of its goodness is hidden away in its unassuming leaves and roots. Here’s a snapshot of the beneficial chemicals they harbor:
As you can tell from the names, purnavarine and punarnavoside have grabbed the most attention from white coats, and rightfully so! The boeravinones aren’t too far behind either.
Though scorned upon as a stubborn weed, the grass-like musta plant has many health tricks up its sleeves – in this case, its underground stem (rhizome and tubers).
Aromatic compounds called sesquiterpenes get all the praise and recognition, but it’s likely a team effort of different groups of compounds giving your health a boost.
Why It’s So Great 1. Supports Digestive Health The brain is quick to decrypt signals sent from a pit deep in your stomach.
Best known for its use as a nerve tonic and immunity booster, kapikacchu owes its accolades to a compound called L-dopa or levodopa. The body, too, naturally synthesizes this compound, which it converts to dopamine – a game changer for mental wellbeing. With an extra supply of L-dopa from the medicinal legume, you could feel a lot healthier.
The seeds are where the magic lies, including rich reserves of protein.
Growing wild with yellow and green berries and yellow thorns, the kantakari herb is home to a number of health-promoting compounds. The whole plant often proves useful, however, the dried roots are especially of value.
The compounds diosgenin and solasodine gain the most credit for kantakari’s health benefits, though being a herb, it’s probably a more complex network of compounds working in unison.
Why It’s So Great 1. Eases Respiratory Distress If you develop dry coughs often or generally have breathing issues, kantakari may make a valuable addition to your daily healthcare.
Well deserving of the title “The Queen of Herbs,” holy basil or tulsi is quite the multi-tasker in the health department. You’ll reap the most benefits if you’re patient with it – noticing that you fall sick less often and tire less easily. But there’s no denying that you may also feel instantly energized after a single cup of holy basil tea.
The mojo is in the leaves, more specifically the oil of the leaves.
The 25-meter tall haritaki tree has a tall list of compounds that are quick to smooth digestion and kindle the brain. They’re tucked away in the unassuming green drupe-like fruits of the tree – most useful when dry and ripe.
You may be familiar with haritaki’s more established role in the tri-ingredient ayurvedic tonic triphala. However, on its own too, it has loads to offer – earning itself the title “the King of Medicines.
When you’re looking to create a simple, daily habit that will help you feel a lot healthier, having guduchi may be a good bet. Also called amrita, the medicinal herb is loaded with compounds that power up your immune system, giving you more spring in your step.
The mature stem is most beneficial part of the plant, though the leaves and roots contribute as well. Take a look at their components:
The white-flowered chitrak plant is a herbal underdog that not many know of. In reality, true to its namesake the spotted leopard, it harnesses a fiery quality that the body can use to its advantage.
The gains mostly lie in its roots. Here’s a quick look at the compounds that help:
Why It’s So Great 1. Promotes Digestive Health If digestive distress is the bane of your life, chitrak may be your knight in shining armor.
Belonging to the daisy family, the chamomile herb offers a bouquet of health benefits through its white and yellow flowers. The volatile oils in the flowers carry a range of compounds that mean your nervous and digestive systems well.
The compounds α-bisabolol, chamazulene, and apigenin are given the most credit for chamomile’s health benefits.
Why It’s So Great 1. Induces Sleep With addictive gadgets, lengthy to-do lists, and the perpetual need pick up the pace, your nervous system is constantly bombarded with external stimuli (like lights, sounds, smells).
Literally meaning “fearless,” bibhitaki is believed to take away the fear of disease. While that may seem far-fetched at first, we’d say first understand what the tree offers and see if you can trace any of the benefits back to your body’s needs. If you have a match, there’s nothing like it.
This is also why bibhitaki has earned a spot in the tri-ingredient ayurvedic tonic called triphala. The matured, dried fruits are the most helpful, with the mojo concentrated in the fruit rind.
Also known as kalmegha or “King of the Bitters,” bhunimba wraps beneficial compounds in its roots and leaves. Two groups of compounds – diterpenoid lactones (extremely bitter to taste) and flavonoids (responsible for color) – can help get your immune system through some tough times. That’s not to say there aren’t other benefits.
Andrographolide is usually seen as the star of the show, though its derivatives make an impact as well.
Also known as “gale of the wind,” bhumiamalaki is a field weed that is all kinds of good for your liver and digestion. It’s also believed to dissolve kidney stones, earning the additional title of “stonebreaker.”
The fame preceding the herb stems from the battalion of beneficial compounds tucked away in its leaves.
Why It’s So Great 1. Supports the Liver Like a friend on constant standby, your liver bears the brunt of all the bad lifestyle choices you make – eating junk food, not exercising, drinking too much, smoking.
Though often considered a troublesome weed, bhringaraj (also called false daisies) is quite the herbal antidote. Most of the magic lies in the leaves and roots, though the plant as a whole has loads to offer too.
Here’s a quick breakdown of its beneficial compounds:
Why It’s So Great 1. Protects the Liver We can’t really talk about bhringaraj without mentioning its use as a liver tonic. The coumestans, particularly wedelolactone and demethylwedelolactone, and flavonoids are the knights in shining armor here.
The laurel wreaths that associated with the deity Apollo and the Roman legend Caesar are nothing but bay leaves weaved into crowns. They’re taken from the bay laurel tree.
The leaves aren’t just symbols of victory but hold a deeper value in the human body. Here are the compounds that make them worth your while, 1,8-cineole being especially conducive:
Why It’s So Great 1. Supports Digestive Health Some people have more “sensitive” stomachs than others – dealing with watery stools often, making bathroom visits frequently, and perhaps having disturbed sleep because of indigestion.
Our bodies need to constantly adapt to ever-changing environments and situations. This involves knowing how to deal with both physical and mental stressors, ranging from cold temperatures to social phobias. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, which means it can help your body adapt – without targeting any one system or organ. It casts a wider net of benefits.
Most of the credit for ashwagandha’s benefits goes to a group of compounds called withanolides.
Often considered the “best among the sour fruits,” the amalaki fruit has earned a spot in go-to ayurvedic concoctions like chyawanprash and triphala. It finds its footing in all five tastes – sweet, sour, pungent, bitter, and astringent – and promises to make you feel a lot more upbeat.
The fruit’s USP is its rich reserve of vitamin C (720 mg/100 gm or 1 gm in 100 ml juice) along with other antioxidants, particularly tannins.
The aloe vera plant, a succulent, stores water in its leaves to survive in dry regions. The slightly yellow gel you see when you split the leaves in half is nothing but water storage cells. Even though about 99% of these cells is just water, the remaining 1% has compounds that are health promoting.
Take a quick look:
Adding to its accolades, aloe vera has seven of the eight essential amino acids that your body can’t synthesize on its own and needs from food.