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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.
You don’t very often come across herbs that are particularly good for your kidneys. Voila! Tribulus, also known as gokshura, does that and more. You need to look to the fruits and roots of the plant to receive benefits.
Two group of compounds do all the hard work – saponins (foam when shaken with water) and flavonoids (color-giving pigments). The saponins called protodioscin and tribulosin are especially important.
Interestingly, the components of tribulus vary depending on where the plant is grown.
A regular for those nurturing a sweet tooth through candies, chewing gums, and beverages, licorice root is popular for being just that – sweet. However, it has so much more to offer than flavor alone. Packed into its root are compounds that travel to your liver, kidneys, lungs, and heart and can do you a world of good.
Before getting into the details of how exactly it helps, let’s address a common concern about its consumption.
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.
Four herbs are referred to as dwarf morning glory, also known as shankhpushpi – Convolvulus pluricaulis, Evolvulus alsinoides, Clitoria ternatea, and Canscora decussate. Convolvulus pluricaulis is considered the “true” dwarf morning glory, while the other three are considered replacements depending on their availability in a geographical area.
Best known as a brain tonic, dwarf morning glory has its entire aerial part chipping in beneficial compounds. Here’s what they carry:
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).
Your brain is your body’s master switch. If it’s not functioning at its best, several other parts of your body aren’t too.
Brain function and mental health are typically governed by your innate metabolic personality or prakruti. In fact, your brain activity reflects your prakruti. For instance, in ‘light and quick’ people, the frontal executive system of the brain, which deals with attention switching, detecting errors, decision making, and emotional input, is more active than in ‘slow and steady’ people.
A creeping marsh plant, bacopa (also known as brahmi in Sanskrit) is all kinds of good for your brain. It is also an adaptogen – which means it helps your body cope with both physical and mental stress.
The leaves are especially valuable with their arsenal of health-promoting compounds. Here’s a quick look:
Though the bacosides steal most of the limelight for bacopa’s health benefits, we can’t ignore the fact that any herb is a lot more complex than isolated compounds.
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.