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Your immune system is your body’s department of defense. It prevents and deals with foreign invasion (read disease-causing microbes or pathogens) and quashes guerrilla forces (read free radicals) inside.
For the first, it utilizes an army of specialized immune cells and for the second, it relies on a special unit of chemicals known as antioxidants. There’s a third critical unit – gut bacteria – that needs to be managed just right to keep the pathogens away; else, they could turn rogue and help the free radicals.
Spearmint (Mentha spicata), garden mint, or common mint, call it what you will, you must have come across the herb in your mouthwash, lip balm, or iced tea. Besides the boost of freshness it blatantly promises, spearmint is known for its digestive benefits.
Why It’s So Great 1. Helps with Digestion A good digestion is the first step to good health. So any food or herb that ensures that your digestive process remains efficient is always welcome.
First off, shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) is also called asparagus, but it is not the same as the vegetable (Asparagus officinalis) you’re likely familiar with – same genus, different species.
Shatavari holds great value in the ayurvedic universe because of its versatile reach in the body, owing most of its benefits to a group of compounds called steroidal saponins. Pigment compounds called flavonoids also pull their weight.
The roots of the plant store most of these chemicals and are, hence, the most health-promoting part of the plant.
Neither a nut nor tough to crack, nutmeg is the seed of the plant Myristica fragrans. It can be grated or powdered into a flavoring spice, blending well into comforting baked goodies and energizing beverages. But is it healthy? Rest assured.
The seed has two oils: an essential oil and nutmeg butter. The essential oil is responsible for nutmeg’s unique flavor and fragrance while also carrying health-promoting compounds. Nutmeg butter needs a lot more research on it.
The fresh burst of flavor typically delivered by fennel seeds can be accredited to a compound called anethole – also found in anise and licorice. Anethole is health promoting and, together with other compounds, brings a range of benefits to the table, quite literally.
The seeds render most of the benefits, so they’re what you should stock up on.
Why It’s So Great 1. Promotes Digestive Health Fennel has long been used as a digestive aid, whether added to meals or had separately.
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).
The credit for cardamom’s health benefits can largely be given to the volatile oils in its seeds – the very oils that make it intensely aromatic and flavorful. The oils terpinene, cineol, and limonene play a big part.
Why It’s So Great 1. Boosts Immunity What do your immune cells do when they see something they recognize as foreign, like bacteria? They “eat” them and shoot them with ammo we know as free radicals.
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.
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.