A few years ago, I started seeing an Ayurvedic practitioner.
I’ve long subscribed to a more holistic way of living – one that is preventative in it’s approach to ill health and disease (rather than the more ‘reactive’ approach of Western medicine) and Ayurveda, as a holistic approach, is 1000s of years old – much, much older, in fact, than modern medicine and the pharmaceutical industry.
Once I started understanding the basic concepts behind Ayurveda, it intuitively made so much sense to me.
In fact, the experience was astonishing.
I credit Ayurveda with naturally healing psoriasis, IBS and a variety of other ailments, which Western medicine would likely have thrown a host of chemicals at, because they rarely, if ever, look for the root cause of a condition (which, btw, can often be emotional).
Longterm I hope for a world where age old holistic medicine and modern medicine can join forces and work together, but whilst things like acupuncture are being incorporated into some hospitals, Im not sure this is going to happen anytime soon.
That’s a whole story all by itself, but one of the many fantastic things my journey in Ayurveda has introduced me to is the wonderful health benefits of chyawanprash (as well as almonds!).
What is Chyawanprash?
I’d describe Chyawanprash as a delicious, sweet tasting kind of jam. It’s more solid than normal jam though, quite sticky in its texture and quite dark in colour.
Known in India and Ayurveda as the ‘elixir of life’, it’s been used for around three thousand years as a natural way to rejuvenate the whole bodily system.
As history tells it, 2 ancient sages concocted the mixture to restore youth to an elderly sage named Chyawan (the ‘prash’ part means specially prepared). Their original formula has now been passed down for over 3000 years and it remains one of the most widely used ‘remedies’ in the Ayurvedic tradition.
Chyawanprash is literally jam packed with goodness!
In fact, it includes around 50 ingredients, including a host of beneficial herbs and spices. These include:
- Amla (also known as the Indian gooseberry)
- Ghee (clarified butter)
- Ashwagandha (Winter cherry)
- Sesame oil
- Pippali (or longpepper)
- Chinese cinnamon
The Wonders of the ‘Immune Boosting’ Amla Fruit
The main ingredient in chyawanprash is the Amla fruit (or Indian gooseberry).
The Amla fruit is considered a real ‘power’ food, since it has a super high vitamin C content. So high, in fact, it’s reputed to have the highest levels of vitamin C than anything else currently known in nature!
Plus, the Amla fruit is packed with many important vitamins and minerals (including calcium and iron) and is a powerful antioxidant.
It’s widely recognised now that antioxidants help protect us from harmful free radicals, which scientists believe may contribute to the aging process, as well as diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
The honey, ghee, and sesame oil in the chyawanprash are also really key ingredients, as they serve as agents to carry all the many beneficial herbs deep into the tissues. So the beauty of chyawanprash is that the ingredients work naturally and in harmony with one another.
Incidentally, ghee is also considered to have a host of healthful benefits in Ayurveda , so if you want to try your hand at making ghee from home (it’s pretty easy and tastes delicious!), check out my homemade ghee recipe.
The Amla fruit alone is considered to provide a host of health benefits – from healthier hair and skin to enhanced food absorption and even help with menstrual cramps.
Organic Facts have a comprehensive article on the health benefits of the Amla fruit, if you want to delve into this powerful fruit bit more.
10 Benefits of Chyawanprash
Chyyawanprash’s formula of the Amla fruit, ghee, sesame oil, honey, ashwagandha and a host of other natural ingredients combine to form a power house of health benefits.
The main benefits of chyawanprash are considered to be:
- Support of a healthy immune system
- Rejuvenation of tissues in the body
- Support of overall strength and energy levels
- Promotion of muscle mass
- Support of healthy functioning of the heart
- Protection, toning and repair of the lungs, thus aiding the respiratory system
- Support of the reproductive system
- Kindling of digestive fire, which aids good digestion
- Gentle support in bowel elimination
- Support of optimal urinary health.
Plus chyawanprash tastes great!
My little lady loves eating a spoonful in winter and I often put a spoonful in some warm milk to make a warming drink.
How to Take Chyawanprash
Ayurveda typically recommends taking a spoonful or 2 of chyawanprash in the morning, ideally, around 15 minutes before food.
You can eat it straight off the spoon or, if you prefer, spread it on toast or crackers like a jam.
Personally, I gave my daughter chyawanprash from 3 years old, but recommendations on jars advise from 5 years upwards. Quarter to half a spoonful is sufficient for children.
Chyawanprash is something I keep in the cupboard for winter, as a quick spoonful 2-3 times a week can be great as a natural winter immune booster, due to Chyawanprash’s high vitamin C content. It also contains a variety of peppers (Longpepper for example), which are very effective at fighting upper sinus conditions and liquefying mucus, which many young children can be prone to in the long, chilly winter months.
Chyawanprash Works Great as a Cold Buster
Taking a spoonful a few times a week towards the end of the summer can also be a great way to help strengthen the immune system before the post summer cold and flu season kicks in.
Our society places so many stresses and strains on our bodies today – from environmental pollution in air and water supplies to pressurised school or office environments – that by the time we get a cold, our bodies and immune systems are already run down. So taking chyawanprash can help act as a preventative measure against burgeoning winter colds and bugs.
If you do see a cold brewing in your child (or yourself!) though, a couple of spoonfuls of chyawanprash can still work wonders at helping to naturally liquefy and clear out any mucus that is building up, hence very likely getting rid of the cold much quicker.
Where To Buy Chyawanprash
Depending on here you live, chyawanprash shouldn’t be too difficult to get hold off. I’m fortunate enough to live somewhere that has some great independent natural health food stores, where you can easily pick up a jar of Chyawanprash. Always go for organic where you can.
Alternatively, Chyawanprash is also readily available online. Personally, I always buy Chyawanprash from Pukka Herbs, as I like both their products and their ethics, but Planet India is another highly popular choice.
I love the health benefits of chyawanprash and it’s a staple of my winter food cupboard or indeed during any time of year, when I feel me or my little lady require a natural immune booster.
Are There Any Known Side Effects?
Chyawanprash has been used in India for 3000 years and all the ingredients are natural. However, Ayur Times (an online Ayurvedic website) states it is not recommended if you have diabetes (due to natural sugar content), suffer from indigestion or excessive gas or frequently urinate at night.
Please also note, chyawanprash contains honey so is not recommended if you have a honey allergy.
Sources:Perfect Health For Kids: Ten Ayurvedic Health Secrets Every Parent Must Know – Dr John Douillard
A Pukka Life – Sebastian Pole