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Best known for its use as a nerve tonic and immunity booster, velvet bean, also known as 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 well-being. With an extra supply of L-dopa from this legume, you could smoothly transition from healthy to healthier.
The seeds are where the magic lies, including rich reserves of protein.
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 maté (also called yerba maté). 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.
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. Helps with Respiration Kantakari helps your airways relax, which allows you to breathe with greater ease, especially when you have a cold or flu.
When you’re looking to create a simple, daily habit that will help you feel a lot healthier, having Indian tinospora may be a good bet. Also called amrita or guduchi, the medicinal herb is loaded with compounds that power up your immune system, giving you more spring in your step.
The mature stem is the most beneficial part of the plant, though the leaves and roots contribute as well. Take a look at their components:
Well deserving of the title “The Queen of Herbs,” holy basil or tulsi is quite the multitasker in the health department. You’ll reap the most benefits if you’re patient with it, but even a single cup could perk up your energy levels.
The mojo is in the leaves, more specifically the oil of the leaves.
Eugenol, a phenolic compound, deserves the most accolades. But the rule of thumb for herbs, or any natural food, though is that whole is always better than isolated active ingredients; so think of it as a team of compounds working together.
Though often considered a troublesome weed, eclipta (also called bhringaraj or 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 Your liver is like a trusty butler that removes all traces of bad habits (unhealthy food, alcohol, pollutants) from your body.
Though scorned upon as a stubborn weed, the grass-like cyperus plant, also known as musta, 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 You must have noticed by now that your energy level is as good as your digestion.
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 What you eat determines how well you digest. Chitrak is one of the herbs you can eat to maintain the good health and functionality of your digestive system.
The 25-meter tall chebulic myrobalan tree has a tall list of compounds that are quick to smooth digestion and kindle the brain. Also known as haritaki, 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 chebulic myrobalan’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.
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).
Boerhavia, also known as punarnava, 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.
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.
With such a supportive team of compounds, it’s no wonder the herb has been handed down generations of ayurvedic wisdom.
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.
Belleric myrobalan, also know as bibhitaki in Sanskit which literally translates to “fearless,” 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 belleric myrobalan has earned a spot in the tri-ingredient ayurvedic tonic called triphala.
The laurel wreaths associated with the deity Apollo and the Roman legend Caesar are nothing but bay leaves woven into crowns. They’re taken from the bay laurel tree.
The leaves aren’t just symbols of victory but hold a deeper value for the human body. Here are the compounds that make them worth your while, 1,8-cineole being especially helpful:
Why It’s So Great 1. Supports Digestive Health Digestion is a complex process.
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.
Also known as kalmegha (“King of the Bitters”) or bhunimba, andrographis 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 your immune system remain an impenetrable shield. 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.
Often considered the “best among the sour fruits,” the amla fruit (also known as amalaki) 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.