by ayurveda teacher Andrei Gamulea
What we are all looking for is happiness and as some researchers think, one of the mysteries of the state of happiness resides also in the mysterious transformations that occurs in the nature, more precisely, in the physiological modifications that take place in our body under the action of various ingredients contained in the food and the medicinal herbs that we use. Taking into consideration that, most of us are what we eat, below you can find several foods and medicinal herbs which can help us to awaken and amplify in our beings, in a perfectly natural way, well being, calmness, the psycho-emotional balance and in the end even the state of happiness, of which we may say, we can „taste” it in this manner, here and now.
Sweet and of a nice consistency, the well mellow bananas are rich in fibers, potasium and magnesium. Through their content, these fruits lead fast to a psychic state of well being, they reduce and help fighting against depression, maintaining the emotional balance. Consumed separately or in a delicious fruit salad, fresh bananas can adjust the level of magnesium in the body, favouring a fast recovery of the body after prolonged efforts, both physical and mental. The association of the potasium with magnesium in the content of bananas ensures a remarcable effect of relaxation and recovery at the level of nervous cells. This association offers also an excellent adaptability at the possible emotional fluctuations that may occur, leading in the end to attain a better emotional selfcontrol.
There are two main categories of oranges: the sweet ones and the sour ones. The number of varieties of sweet oranges is remarcable. Sweet oranges contain inozitol, a substance that adjusts the levels of serotonin and insulin. This is why regular consumption of sweet oranges attenuates the fluctuations of psychic and mental dispositions and helps eliminate depression and anxiety. The constant use of sweet oranges could also help reduce the exceeding fats and cholesterol, favouring the harmonization of the physical body. In addition, sweet oranges are an important source of vitamin C, only one orange fruit offering up to 150% from the daily recommended dose of vitamin C. In this respect it is known that in conditions of great stress, large amounts of vitamin C are very helpful because then both the consumption of noradrenalin as well as the consumption of adrenalin is considerably increased. Both the taste and the flavour of the oranges are extremely invigorating. Recent studies shows that only the smell of fresh oranges can reduce considerably the states of anxiety, awakening well being and optimism.
Originating from Tibet and China, the peach tree is being cultivated from over 200 years for its sweet and juicy fruits. Peaches contains antioxidants and fibers. An amount of 150 grams of fresh peaches supplies 8% from the daily recommended dose of soluble fibers which reduces the level of cholesterol from the blood stream. This effect is usually felt by those that savors several mellow peaches, as a sensation of energetical refreshment, similar with the sensation we have after a walk in fresh air, in a mountain forest. Peaches contains also potasium, an element which is not at all accidentally called „the mineral element of youth”, because it has an extremely important role in the adjustment of a high number of chemical processes in the body.
Rarely used in their natural form, the ananas fruits are an excellent source of macronutrients. Only 100 grams of fresh ananas fruit can supply 25% from the daily recommended dose of vitamin C for an adult. Refreshing and tasty, ananas is also an excellent activator of the digestive processes. Ananas contains bromeline, an enzyme well known for accelerating especially the digestion of proteins. In the end, the effect felt after consuming almost 200 grams of fresh ananas is one of considerably instant refreshment both physical and psychic.
Grapefruit is rich in folic acid (vitamin B9), which is crucial for the distribution of oxygen to the brain. According to a recent american study, the sanguine level of folic acid is lower in those that often suffer states of depression. The folic acid (vitamin B9) contributes in forming healthy cells and plays a very important role in preventing the anomalies of the nervous system. At the same time, grapefruit is a key ingredient for the serotonine production which is sometimes suggestively called „the hormone of happiness”. This is why, the consumption of only one grapefruit daily can bring an instant state of psychic serenity. Besides, one of the main effects of folic acid (vitamin B9) is that of maintaining the emotional and psychic balance. For this reason, a glass of fresh grapefruit juice, sweetened with honey, can make dissapear almost instantly the bad psychic states.
This vegetable has a high content of zinc which, as some polish researches discovered, maintains alive the nervous cells, eliminating the burdensome states of spirit. This oligo-element, zinc, is used in transforming the aminated acid tryptophan in serotonine, called „the hormone of happiness”, and some researches state that it is also involved in what we can call „the secret chemistry of love“. Mellow pumpkin is a real tasty feast if it is served with honey and aromatic plants. You can also peel the pumpkin of its skin, cut it in small pieces and then it can be fried slightly in olive oil, adding various aromatic plants such as sage, rosemary, basil or mint and condiments (coriander, fennel, caraway, anise, cinnamon or vanilla). The zinc contained by the pumpkin is responsible for the stimulation of taste and smell buds and of sight receptors. Hereby, zinc present in the pumpkin increases sight, taste and smell. This is why, as we savor the specific flavour of a well cooked pumpkin, we can feel the attraction towards the shiny pumpkin increasung „as we speak”.
Originating from ancient Persia, spinach has an impressive history. In the 7th century, the king of Nepal sent spinach to China as a gift. In the 11th century, it was introduced in Spain by the moors and in England it was known as the „spanish vegetable”. In the 16th century, the spinach was highly appreciated by the king of France. At the end of the fist half of the past century, the spinach became already famous due to Popeye, the character created by the designer E. C. Segar. Related to the beet, the spinach is rich in folic acid (vitamin B9) which is soluble in water and it is very important for keeping the psychic balance. Besides, even the name of this vitamin - „folic acid” – cames from the latin word „folium”, meaning leaf, because the folic acid can be found mostly in green vegetables such as spinach. A dish of spinach consumed daily is recommended to eliminate the states of depression. In addition, spinach proved to be an excellent neuroprotector. The constant consumption of raw spinach, as salad or cooked, leads to increased cerebral functions.
Cauliflower originates from Turkey and its culture spread throughout Europe starting with the 16th century. The cauliflower is a vegetable rich in vitamin C. The alimentation poor in this vitamin inhibates the production of dopamine, this being responsible of the absorbtion of iron which stimulates the general energy of the body. The dopamine is involved too in the control of the general state of well being. A recent british study showed that 100 grams of raw cauliflower offers to the body 70 mg of vitamin C, quantity which is an excellent stimulator of well being. In addition, the cauliflower contains a considerable amount of folic acid (vitamin B9), reason for which, if we eat it in the evening, before going to sleep, some raw cauliflower with cream and some crisp food, such as corn flakes, we could have after that a profound state of calmness which will ensure us in the following night a calm and refreshing sleep.
Eastern civilisations used mushrooms both as food as well as medicine. Mushrooms are a very good source of vitamin B2 (riboflavine) and vitamine B3 (niacine). Vitamine B2 is involved in a great number of reactions that produce energy. This is why, a mushroom dish is so appreciated for its regenerating effects. On the other hand, a deficit of niacine (vitamine B3) can cause depression. When the niacine level is low, the body produces vitamine B3 from tryptophane, and the remaining quantity that is to be transformed in serotonine is very low. This reaction is not favourable for maintaining a state of well being and psychic balance. Because mushrooms are rich in niacine (vitaminea B3), their use in the alimentation proves to be very useful. Mushrooms can be cooked with olive oil and then fried on the grill. Some of them, such as the mushrooms called champignion could be consumed even raw, in salads.
Avocado has been known and used in alimentation for more than 7000 years. Incas and aztecs appreciated avocado for its soft texture and the multiple great effects of this fruit. The avocado fruit contains potasium, follats, carotenoids, and vitamine B6 (piridoxine). A cup of avocado sliced in small pieces (146 grams) contains 874,54 mg potasium, 90,37 mcg follats and 0,41mg vitamine B6 (piridoxine). The avocado fruit is a very good source of potasium, fighting against states of tiredness and helping achieving a state of general calm. Vitamine B6, present in the avocado fruit, contributes also in maintaining the psychic and psychosomatic balance. It appears in the processes of decarboxylation from which results precursors alamines of the neurotransmitters (noradrenaline and serotonine). Consequently, either served simple, fresh, or added in raws salads, with tomatoes, mushrooms or squashes, the avocado fruit is a real beneficent „vegetable butter”, which instantly vanish depression, irritability, anxiety or agitation.
Carrots cultivation and their use in alimentation has been done for thousands of years. They are an excellent source of beta-carotene, vitamin A and vitamin C. A recent British study made a connection between lack of vitamin B8 (biotin) from carrots and nervous breakdowns. It is well known the fact that vitaminB8 (biotin) is a key in the glucid, lipid and proteins metabolism, and that it stimulates vitamin C activity. As a result, regular consumption of carots, as fresh juices in the morning or even added in daily food gives us all a general state of well being and keeps us in a permanent good mood. Carrots' Beta-carotene is an excellent antioxidant, which gives them regenerative virtues, helping both the old ones as well as the young .So, a good cup of fresh carrots juice is an excellent solution for fatigue states.
String bean has a rich content of magnesium (28 mg from 100 grams). According to a british study, those that suffer from depression present a lower level of magnesium. The magnesium is an important factor that interferes in maintaining the psychic balance, it is a very good sedative for the nervous system and it has an antidepression effect. The magnesium is present in almost all green vegetables, particularly in the string bean. Therefore, a dish with fresh string bean can increase the level of magnesium in our body, helping us stay on the right side of the emotional balance. In addition, the magnesium from the string bean has a complex action at the cerebral level, generating a stimulation of the nervous cells.
Algae are some primitive plants, photosynthetisants, with a very simple structure. They have been used even from 5000 years ago as nourishment for the man, thanks to the high nutritional properties they have. Algae are rich in iodine that is excellent to stabilize the tendencies to mental fluctuations, to eliminate the states of depression and to improve the general level of energy. At the same time, algae facilitate mental concentration and the vigilant attention. Having a content of over 50% proteins, algae are used to the preparing of soups and sour soups and especially of the dishes based on rice and of a great variety of raw vegetable salads. Frequently, algae replace some vegetables in the nourishment of a big number of people.
Sweet cheese guaranties us a “sweet sleep”. This is because it is one of the best sources of triptofane, an aminat acid used in the production of melatonin that encourages sleep. Triptofane is one of the 10 essential aminoacids that the human organism uses to synthesize proteins. It has an important role in the best functioning of the nervous system, especially connected with the relaxation, the sleep and to the natural capacity of rest. From the benefits it provides is also the one of regulating the appetite. The triptofane share is useful in the cases of insomnias. At the same time the triptofane positively influences the psychic and emotional state, or otherwise said, it cheers one up. The triptofane acts as a forerunner of serotonin, neurotransmitter that helps the organism in regulating the appetite, in the capacity of rest and of general psychic state. Thanks to the function of increasing the serotonin’s level, the triptofane contributes to the treatment of a great number of disorders, among which the insomnia, the depression and the anxiety. So if the insomnia or the state of well-being gives signs of weakness, don’t avoid taking a snack consisting of integral bread and fresh sweet cheese. You can also add on top some fresh leaves of parsley that are also an excellent natural source of triptofane.
Goat milk has rich calcium content: 500 ml goat milk contains 70% from the daily necessary recommended dose of calcium. As it is known, calcium is an important re-balancing element of the psychic and mental disposition. From a physiological point of view, it is very useful for the transmission of nervous impulses. Therefore, remember in time that a calcium deficiency often leads to an increase of nervousness. So, the use of the fresh goat milk can be of great help for the maintaining of the psycho-mental balance. This is one of the reasons for which calcium can be called, for good reason, “the mineral responsible for our state of calmness”. Therefore, don’t delay the use of goat milk each time it is necessary.
Nuts are for a good reason associated with the improving effects of the cerebral capacities. Not at random, nature made the inside form of the nuts, under the shell, look like the form of some miniature brains! Their efficiency in this direction is related to the fact that nuts are an excellent source of Omega 3, that contribute to the good functioning of the brain cells and of the best functioning of its neurotransmitters. At teenagers and adults with deficiency of Omega 3 the accesses of violence and fury are frequent, and at the aged persons the penury of the brain from fat acids of the Omega 3 type can lead to cerebral vascular accidents, memory problems and senile madness. The children of whose mothers had consumed a sufficient quantity of Omega 3 fat acids prove to have higher intelligence.
Hazelnuts originate from Asia. These represent one of the oldest crops, mentioned in the ancient oriental writings as being blessed nourishment. Hazelnuts contain a big quantity of pholic acid (B9 vitamin), favoring this way the decrease of depressive states and melancholy. It is known the fact that in case of B9 vitamin deficiency the process of serotonin production is affected. Disturbances in serotonin production are associated with irritability, aggressiveness, with the diminishing of concentration power and memory deficiency. Therefore the consumption of hazelnuts can be quite helpful. Hazelnuts can be baked or grinded with a blender. They also present a high calcium content (140 mg la 100 g), reason for which the consumption of hazelnuts allows that instead of the depressive states, a profound state of calmness and self control would rapidly install in our being.
The fruit of the almond tree (Prunus amygdalus), a tree from the Rosaceae family, the edible almonds (the sweet almonds) present a very high energetic intake, being rich in unsaturated fat acids, vegetal proteins and sugars. Sweet almonds can be eaten both fresh and dried. The almond kennels can be consumed as such or they can be used at the preparing of the sweets. At the same time the almonds represent one of the most important vegetal natural sources of calcium(252 mg at 100 g).The calcium facilitates the transmission of the nervous impulse, intervening in the processes of the acetylcholine, noradrenalin and serotonin’s releasing, contributing this way to the maintaining of the nervous system’s balance. This is why almonds are much appreciated for the psychic and mental welfare that they offer and for the state of tranquility that appears soon after we eat them. Even more, the almonds contribute also to the improvement of the natural capacity of memorizing.
Sesame seeds come from India and from there they spread in the whole world. Sesame seeds represent one of the best sources of treonine, an aminat acid. The deficiency of this element in the organism can provoke depressions. Sesame seeds can be softly roasted, then grinded finely with a small addition of salt and then the powder can be sprinkled on raw
vegetable salads. Sesame seeds can be also consumed under the form of tahini - the well-known extremely tasty and nourishing paste from sesame seeds. So that it would be easy to digest, it is best to prepare it with the addition of lemon juice, salt and water, until it results a thin paste, close in consistency to fruit juice .
Liquorice is one of the herbs used in the most traditional formulas, both in the millenary ayurvedic science, and in the Chinese medicine. Among its numerous components, the root of liquorice contains also glyceritic acid, component that stops the decrease of the cortisone level, helping in this way the organism to face successfully the situations characterized by stress. Therefore, the root of liquorice can be used to eliminate the states of tension or psychic fatigue. Besides, liquorice contains also isoflavone, a molecule used to eliminate depression. Used under the form of dried powder, liquorice can improve the depressive state and the anxiety. Its specific sweet taste confers a certain state of calmness and tranquility. It shouldn’t be used though in big amounts, at most a gram of powder once, because otherwise it is possible to determine at some persons the vomitive reflex.
Ginseng root comes from China and North America. The American natives knew the healing properties of ginseng so that, when they traveled long distances, they chewed ginseng roots to face tiredness. There are studies that showed that this wonder herb, known and appreciated from ancient times, improves the body’s response to stress and it reduces anxiety. Ginseng stimulates the psychic energy, gives wellbeing and increases the inner energy. It is said that Chinese wise men from the ancient times daily enjoyed a cup of elixir prepared from ginseng root.
Parsley is an excellent source of L-glutamine, an amino acid that increases the power of mental concentration. It also helps in fighting against anxiety and stress, elevating the energetic level of the brain and increasing vigilance. At the same time, parsley is an important source of triptofane, which is a good regulator of the appetite. Therefore, the presence of even a little quantity of parsley in our daily food proves to be of much help for the maintaining of the general state of equilibrium. But when we especially intend to improve our energetic level and our state of attention we must not delay the moment of preparing a salad abundant in fine chopped parsley, to which we could add tomatoes, lemon and cold pressed olive oil.
Archeological researches had shown that corn was cultivated on the American continent over 5000 years ago. Both from its golden colour, and its content, this golden corn cob can bring the sunshine in our house! A portion of corn assures us a quarter of the recommended daily share of B1 vitamin. According to a recent study, vigilance, energy and welfare could be improved after two months of supplementary intake of B1 vitamin, coming from natural food, even without any deficiency in this direction! B1 vitamin (thiamine) is absolutely necessary for the normal progress of the nervous system’s functions. Many of the stressed or nervous persons suffer in reality of a deficiency of this vitamin. The brain is a big consumer of glucose, and for metabolizing the glucose, the organism uses its thiamine reserves. Besides, B1 vitamin is also involved in the synthesis of the neurotransmitters (for example, acetylcholine). This is why corn represents a very valuable food. It should be eaten either, or under the form of mushed corn, made by boiling properly the polenta flour. In this direction the millenary system of AYURVEDA mentions that by preparing it like this (mushed corn) we can add a great variety of herbs and spice powders, as to the necessities, beneficiating this way of their effects.
The trimethylglicine contained by wheat participates at the production of several chemical compounds existing in the brain, that improve the psychic, mental state, the psychic energy, the state of wellbeing, vigilance, concentration and the visual acuity. The main sources of trimethylglicine are wheat germs and husk. Just for this reason, try to no longer use eat especially white bread and rather choose brown one (integral), where the wheat germ is kept intact, in order to beneficiate from the content of integral wheat.
Beans are one of the oldest foods. Signs of its existence are dated over 2000 years ago. White bean is an excellent source of folic acid (the vitamin B9), of whose presence in the organism influences in a beneficial way the production of noradrenalin, which is a neurotransmitter responsible for the motivation and pleasure sensations. Therefore, if you fell exhausted or apathetic, don’t hesitate to eat a portion of food made of white beans, prepared with olive oil and eventually with mustard or other aromatic spices, such as coriander and caraway. A well cooked bean dish, moderately consumed, is almost always a simple and natural manner to regain the state of calmness and of psychic balance. White beans shouldn’t miss from our weekly food intake.
Lentils contain more proteins than all the other vegetables, except soja and horse bean. Lentils also contains iron (1,00mg per 100g). According to some recent studies, the state of depression is often a symptom of a chronic deficiency of iron, so as the state of weakness, tiredness or exhaustion. A dish of lentils assures us a good part of the daily iron intake recommended. Iron is necessary for the assimilation of the vitamins belonging to the B complex, coming from food. It increases the resistance to tiredness and plays an important part in intellectual development. Therefore, don’t hesitate to enjoy lentils especially as the traditional ayurvedic dish called DHAL, which is a delicious Indian soup based on lentils, or add a handful of baked lentils to a vegetables soup or a raw vegetable salad.
Soya comes from China. 3000 years ago, soy beans were considered among the most important beans used for nourishment. Through a relatively simple process of preparation, the well-known soy milk that is among the richest foods in proteins can be obtained from soy beans. In case of consuming soy milk, the proteins turn into tyrosine, that increases the production of dopamine and noradrenalin, which ares known as chemical cerebral compounds, which help us feel full of energy and make us always have a positive state of mind. For this reason we can choose to replace, for some periods of time, the regular breakfast milk with soy milk.
Tofu is the generic given name to the so-called soy cheese. According to a recent scientific study of the British researchers, the lack of triptofane can be a cause of depression. But this amino acid exists in a big quantity in tofu, the soy cheese, 747 mg per 100g, quantity that is therefore ideal to keep us in shape. If you are not convinced by its spongeous aspect, add it to a mix of fresh fruits and you will enjoy this way its benefits, even if then you won’t feel entirely its pleasant taste and its specific consistency!
Humus is the general given name to a class of traditional dishes from the Near East, that are made of chick pea or sesame paste, or from the combination of the two. Generally, the humus has the aspect of a paste that resembles as consistency the Romanian dish called “whipped beans”. Rich in proteins and in fibers, the humus prepared both from chick pea beans and sesame seeds must be consumed in moderate quantities, usually with addition of spices and lemon juice. The consumption of even a 100g portion of humus, leads to the control of the process of releasing the glucose in the blood, this devolving in a slow and regulate rhythm. This allows the avoiding of too big variations of sugars’ level that usually give birth to emotional fluctuations, depressive states and bad mood. Therefore, don’t hesitate to add to the daily menu the dishes from chick pea and sesame, of the humus type, even as appetizer, beside the integral bread or the cereals preparations.
Tempeh is a traditional food, coming from Indonesia, being based on fermented soy. It is also possible to get it chilled or frozen, to a form similar to the sponge cake. Tempeh is a very rich in fiber food and also represents an important source of proteins, minerals, calcium, iron and vitamin B2. According to some researchers, the aggressiveness would come from a deficiency of B2 vitamin.B2 vitamin interferes in energy production. This vitamin is also necessary to the producing of butyric acid that has positive effects on the general disposition. Tempeh is a very good source of B2 vitamin and this is why it is recommended to be used as a main protein source, being an excellent replacer of meat, for those who want to switch to a lacto-vegetarian diet. Nourishing and calming at the same time, tempeh can be very useful in regaining the general welfare.
The Haritaki fruit (Terminalia chebula) is not randomly known and appreciated in the Tibetan tradition under the name “the king of natural remedies”. On the other hand, in the traditional works of Ayurveda, the Haritaki fruits are frequently enumerated as basic ingredients in the most numerous revitalizing therapeutic formulas, thanks to its multiple healing virtues. Ayurvedic tradition underlines the fact that the Haritaki fruits present a remarkable property: the Haritaki fruit has 5 (sweet, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent) out of the 6 known elementary tastes (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent), which through combination, in different proportions, give birth to the entire diversity of tastes existing in nature.This specific combination determines, among other things, the regenerating and revitalizing properties of the Haritaki fruits. Recent scientific researches have shown that the haritaki fruits have important antioxidant properties that contribute in the case of their constant use, to the improvement of the living tissues from the human body. The Haritaki fruits have a rich content of vitamin C, that plays an important part in the improving of the psycho-mental and cognitive functions and contribute at the same time to a better adaptation of the organism to the factors generating stress.
In the oriental spiritual tradition the tree Bilva (Aegle marmelors) represents a living symbol of the spiritual life, being known in India as “SHIVA’s sacred tree”. In Ayurveda, the benefic effects of the Bilva fruits are compared to the benefic virtues of the heavenly ambrosia (AMRITA).Not at random, the Bilva tree in present in India in most of the temples’ gardens consecrated to Shiva and it’s almost permanent in the natural ambiance in which different ritual celebrations of India’s spiritual tradition take place. The mentions referring to the use in therapeutic purpose of the Bilva fruits appear from the ancient Vedic writings and continue in almost all the traditional works of Ayurveda. The famous ayurvedic work “Charaka Samhita” frequently refers to the rejuvenating and revitalizing properties of these fruits, of whose aspect is impressive, through their round shape, of whose diameter often overruns 10cm.The modern scientific researches have shown that the Bilva fruits have a rich content of alpha-tocoferol, the most active compound from the vitamin E class, of whose antioxidant action makes possible the slowing of aging processes. Besides, if they are consumed frequently, the Bilva fruits can help, through the form of the natural vitamin E that they contain, the ones who live in polluted areas and those who, even if they don’t smoke, come sometimes to expose themselves accidentally to the harm of the cigarette smoke that is sometimes present in public places.
Well-known in the tradition of the millenary system Ayurveda, the Amalaki fruits (Emblica officinalis) represent an important and rich natural source of vitamin C: between 600mg and 1800mg per 100g of Amalaki fruits. Whether they are used fresh, or as dried powder, the Amalaki fruits generate a powerful strengthening effect. The vitamin C they contain rapidly generates stimulation effects of the cerebral activity. The big quantities of vitamin C contained in the Amalaki fruits are of great help to forestall the drawbacks that usually derive from stressful situations, when the consumption of noradrenalin and adrenaline is much increased. Therefore, Amalaki fruits represent an important natural way to fight against stress and to improve the psychic and intellectual functions. Not coincidentally, these fruits with a strong and pleasant sourish taste, followed by a surprising, sweet, extremely pleasant, intense and refined taste after being well chewed, are used in the traditional ayurvedic formulas for rejuvenation and regeneration.
Known and appreciated as a genuine “Indian ginseng”, the Ashwagandha root (Withania somnifera) represents a valuable general revigourant of the organism. In the frame of the traditional system of Ayurveda, the Ashwangadha root is quoted among the most important remedies that allow the establishing of a profound state of relaxation and that also allows the recovering of the emotional balance in a short time. Biochemical researches and clinical studies recently made show that, statistically speaking, thetherapeutic use of Ashwagandha root leads to a considerable decrease of the cortisone and of catecholamine through the urinary secretion. It is known the fact that their excess represents one of the causes of states of stress. The Ashwaganda root contains the withaferine – A, an alkaloid that stimulates the activity of the acetylcholine at the cerebral level. Therefore, the herb contributes to improving memory performances and to the optimization of the cognitive and learning processes. Also, the glyco-withanoloids contained in the herb contribute to the decrease of the states of anger, tension, anxiety and of depressive states. The Ashwagandha root has a slight pleasant sweet taste, for which reason it is possible to take it constantly, for long periods of time. Used in such a way, it contributes efficiently to the recovery of the emotional welfare and the amplification of mental capacities. Besides, the Ashwagandha root confers a more and more lasting independence in maintaining unaltered the psychic positive and sthenic states.
The lotus flowers, (Nelumbo nucifera) play an important part in the frame of different healing traditions of the East. In Ayurveda the lotus flowers (Kamala) are appreciated as being the most efficient sedative and refreshing, being therefore used to reduce inflammations and at the same time for removing states of contraction, tension or stress. In the eastern spiritual tradition the lotus flowers (Kamala) represent a sacred symbol of deep meditative states that can be reached after the consequent practice of Yoga techniques. In the frame of the millenary Yoga system, the lotus flowers (Kamala) are directly associated with states of interiorization and deep yogic meditation. Usually taken under the tongue, as dried powder, the lotus flowers (Kamala) can quickly generate a profound state of mind calmness, inner centering, serenity, inner peace and therefore it rapidly establishes a sublime state of happiness without object (Ananda). The lotus flowers (Kamala) contain lotusine and nucifere, compounds that determine a specific effect of cerebral stimulation and which generate a general state of extremely pleasant relaxation that is felt almost in the whole body. The pleasant state that is generated by the use of the lotus flowers (Kamala) is often appreciated as being the state of “ravishing joy”.
Well-known especially in the millenary ayurvedic tradition, the Indian herb Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) has become nowadays well-known in the entire world, for its multiple beneficial effects on the cerebral functions. The modern studies have shown that the Indian herb Brahmi contributes to the increase of the mental capacity of concentration, to the amplification of the focusing power of attention and to the improvement of the memory performances. The herb contains bacozides and tritepenoid saponines, both being responsible for the improvement of the nervous transmission. In particular, the bacozides, that are the main ingredient contained in the herb, improve the synaptic activity, that leads to the general effect of increasing the mental power. In the ayurvedic tradition, Brahmi is described as being one of the most important herbs with invigorating cerebral effect. Its constant use as dry powder, under the tongue, can determine gradually the appearance of a general effect of improving the intelligence functions that translates especially into the improving effects of the mental functions of planning and problems solving, as well as into the activation of all the cerebral processes that need a rapid processing of information.
The Gingko tree (Gingko biloba) comes from China, but currently it is cultivated almost in the whole world. Even if it has a slow growth, it is likely to reach up to 35 meters high. Its spread is owed especially to the therapeutic virtues of its leaves, known as being used in the traditional Chinese medicine for 3000 years, due to their rejuvenating effects. Not accidentally, in the tradition of Chinese medicine, the Gingko tree is known under the symbolic name of “The fountain of youth and vitality”. The modern scientific researches have shown that the Gingko leaves contain triptofane, essential ingredient for the maintaining of the psycho-emotional balance and of the general welfare state. The Gingko leaves also contain a large scale of flavonoids of whose antioxidant action is responsible for the maintaining of the general wellbeing. Also, through the bioflavonoids that they contain, the Gingko leaves contribute to the bettering of the cerebral and peripherical circulation. Thanks to their specific content, the Gingko leaves are at the same time useful for the improving of the memory functions. Their use as powder, under the tongue, can help us to rapidly regain the psycho-mental balance and it allows us at the same time to awake and increase the state of optimism.
The name of Passiflora comes from the Italian expression “fior de la passione”. Impressive and triumphant especially through the extraordinary beautiful shape of its flowers, Passiflora (Passiflora incarnata) is a valuable remedy that allows the elimination of the states of anger and tension, anxiety or depression. Passiflora contains a series of flavonoids, which determine the relaxing and deeply calming action that the herb has on the nervous system. The clinical studies and the modern scientific researches that have been conducted on the content of this plant have shown that Passiflora has as main ingredient a monoflavonoid, the chrysene, that acts particularly on the brain, so that the leaves and the flowers of this herb prove to be extremely efficient on the removal of fear without an object or of states of panic, as well as drawbacks and disorders resulting from deep states of emotional stress. The use of Passiflora dry powder establishes the being a profound state of peace and calmness.
Having an extremely pleasant flavor, Melissa (Melissa officinalis) is one of the herbs of whose vivid presence in the gardens of herbs’ lovers is almost permanent. Even a mere touch of its leaves gives an extremely pleasant and calming olfactory trace. Melissa leaves contain geraniol, substance of whose antioxidant effects have been certified by numerous modern scientific studies. Besides, both the geraniol, and the rozmarinic acid and the flavonoids contained in the Melissa leaves determine the existence of a large scale of benefic effects that the herb exerts in the psycho-mental sphere. Discorides enumerates Melissa among the most efficient healing herbs that were used by the ancient Greeks for the treatment of anxiety disorders. The use of dry powder of Melissa leaves improves the performances of memory, stabilizes emotional fluctuations, reduces and removes states of anxiety and psychic tension. It is an excellent sedative. In the 17th century, John Evelyn, a famous naturalist of those times, appreciated Melissa for its strong energizing action that it determines especially at the psychic and mental level. Used either fresh or dried, Melissa can make rapidly disappear the states of melancholy, the ailing emotivity and depression, replacing them quickly with a sthenic psychic state, full of confidence and joy.
Hardhay (Hypericum perforatum) has become famous, especially in the West, thanks to its antidepressive virtues. Recent statistic studies show that there are currently millions of Americans that use the natural remedies in which the hardhay is the main ingredient. The main purpose of the use of natural remedies based on hardhay is especially the improving of psychic and emotional states and the removal of tendencies to depressive states that occur especially among those who live in the great urban throngs. Most of the persons that use the natural remedies based on hardhay often do it in preventive purpose, especially because the hardhay confers them an excellent psychic wellbeing. The modern scientific studies have proved that hardhay contains at least 10 compounds that are responsible for the beneficial effects on the nervous system. For example, the hyperforine contained in hardhay determines especially the balancing emotional effects. Hardhay also contains hypericine and flavonoids, all these contributing to the constant maintaining of a positive psycho-mental state, that allows to overcome successfully stressing situations, anger, tension and anxiety. Used constantly as dry powder, hardhay can make possible the maintainance of a predominant state of calmness and good mood that allows us to fully enjoy what is wonderful and happy in life.
Originating from North America, Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) has become known in almost the entire world for its imunostimulent properties. The modern scientific researches have shown that the herb contains cicoric acid, a compound from the group of the polifenolies, on which it has been established that it considerably increases the efficiency of the immune system. The cicoric acid intensifies the interferon and immunoglobine production, contributing through these to the improvement of immunity. Besides, the cicoric acid has also antioxidant properties. Therefore, the constant use for some periods of time of the remedies that contain Echinacea leads to a rapid increase of the natural capacity of the body’s defense against bacterial or viral infections. Besides this, the herb fully contributes to the decrease and then to the removal of tiredness, emotional disorders and depressive states. The general stimulating effect of Echinacea makes it possible that in a short time a sthenic state of good mood appears, allowing the fast redefining of the inner motivation to be active and confident in that which is good and beautiful.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is one of the most efficient healing herbs with sedative effects. Its name comes from the Latin word “valere” that signifies “welfare”. In the traditional way the valerian root is used as a natural sedative that determines an efficient action of relaxation at the level of the whole central nervous system. Carefully studied by the researchers even from the beginning of the 20th century, the valerian root contains over 150 compounds. Among these, an important place has the gamma-aminobutiric acid, aminoacid that is considered to be an important inhibitory of the neurotransmitters and which is found in almost 40% of the brain synapses. The many clinical studies have shown that this natural compound, present in the valerian root, determines the improving of memory and of cognitive functions and removes tiredness or weakness associated to states of anxiety, anger or stress. Besides, the gamma-aminoburitic acid contained in the valerian root has at the same time an important nutritional value. This is why the use of the natural remedies that contain valerian makes possible the regeneration of the nervous system’s functions and the establishment of a profound state of relaxation that facilitates at the same time a restful sleep. As the many researches and clinical studies the valerian root have shown, a remarkable fact must be remembered and that is: even in the case of a repeated intake of the valerian root, over long periods of time, it has absolutely no negative impact on the state of vigilance or on the response speed to nervous stimuli, processes that take place normally in the state of wakefulness.
It is said that when you plant and then carefully take care of the sage in the garden, it will then offer you the gift of a long and happy life. In the antiquity, sage (Salvia officinalis) was considered to be the herb that helps the old people enjoy life like the young ones. Even from those times, sage leaves were used in numerous natural preparations for improving memory. In Latin language its name means “to heal”, just because of the fact that sage leaves have healing properties in almost all types of illnesses, for which reason it was considered a real panacea. The sage is part of the aromatic herbs. Beside eucalyptol, sage leaves contain also other substances with a strong antioxidant role. Comparative physiochemical studies have shown that sage has antioxidant effects almost as powerful as the different varieties of thyme. Sage leaves can be used in multiple manners both fresh and as dry powder. Chewed whole, either fresh or dry, sage leaves can rapidly generate a state of psychic energisation, casting away amazingly fast states of anxiety, restlessness, fear or depression. Used systematically by those who know it, sage can soon lead to the improving of attention and of vigilance. At the same time it encourages the refinement of the sensory perceptions and it may fully contribute to the amplification of benefic creative intelligence.
Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is a plant that comes from the south of India. Brought from the East for its extremely flavoured taste and for its antitoxic properties, cardamom is now used in Europe also for coffee flavouring, due to the fact that it neutralizes, to a certain extent, the harmful effect of caffeine. The Arabs, good knowers of the herb’s powers, are the ones who called it “the seed of love”. Cardamom is appreciated as aphrodisiac, reawakening not only the sexual appetite, but especially “the inner fire of love”. An extremely simple and efficient preparation in case of physical or nervous tiredness or lack of sexual appetite is obtained by mixing a fresh egg yolk with a little spoon of honey and a tip of grinded cardamom seeds. An extremely delicious and nourishing desert is the integral rice with milk and honey spiced with cardamom, coriander, ginger, and saffron and of course with cardamom seeds, all these in equal quantities. Cardamom seeds are also used for making cakes, to which they give an exquisite flavor.
From the herbs used for healing purpose, basil (Ocimum basilicum) is the one known and appreciated currently almost in the whole world. Even from the time of ancient Greeks, basil was significantly named “the king of healing herbs”, the Greek term “basileus” having exactly the meaning of “king”. Basil comes from India, its growth spreading even from antiquity in the south of Europe. Having an extremely pleasant and refined flavour, basil was and continues to be used to the flavouring of different dishes, among others also because of its digestive properties. The volatile oil present in its leaves contains linalol, eugenol and anetol. Basil is unanimously appreciated as a herb that can encourage spiritual awakening. The specific flavour of basil generates in the immediate ambiance an ineffable state of sacredness, in this way producing in the being of those who let themselves penetrated by its pleasant scent, a spontaneous orientation of the mind towards the good and luminous thoughts. The constant use of dry powder from basil leaves is extremely beneficial for those who seek to awake in their inner universe a state of harmony between the heart and the mind.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is appreciated to be an excellent fortifier, even from the time of ancient Greece. Fennel can successfully replace any other exoticherb, being a very strong stimulant for digestion and generally for the organism’s functions. Fennel is often considered to be a food that is at the same time a valuable natural remedy. Fennel seeds represent a very good flavoring for sweets. Together with aniseeds and cinnamon, one can obtain an extremely tasty and flavoured combination for sweet dishes, for cakes or fruit salads. Sweet milk with fennel seeds is an excellent remedy for the irritable, quarrelsome, angry or anxious persons. The recipe of preparation is the following: in a glass of hot sweet milk add a little spoon of fine grinded powder of fennel seeds, then let to cool off. Drink it immediately with small swallowings. The powder of fennel seeds, administered separately, rapidly generates a state of psycho-mental energisation, increasing in this way the vigilance and determining the establishment of a good mood.
Present in wide areas from Asia and Europe, chickweed (Stellaria media) is relatively common, but less known and appreciated in rapport with its wide spreading. The modern scientific researches have shown that the herb contains triptofane, beside the lavonoids, cumarines, saponines, mucilages, triterpenoids, sicilium, vitamin A and vitamin C. Emollient, fine and with a pleasant taste, the chickweed generates sedative effects on the psychic and on the mind. It contributes to a much better psychic and mental relaxation, it gives a state of calmness and it helps the establishment of a profound interiorizing state, characterized by much enhanced lucidity.
Sringataka (Trapa natans) or the “water chestnut” is known in ayurvedic tradition as one of the most important herbs with revitalizing virtues. In India, in the rural environment, Sringataka fruits powder was used as a substitute for cereal flour, especially by those who followed certain purifying diets. In the Hindu communities, the flour of Sringataka fruits was included in the fasting before th religious holidays, for the preparation of small cakes or small breads, slightly roasted. The plant is rich in mineral elements, especially calcium (20 mg per 100g). In Yoga practice, the powder of Sringataka fruits is used for the amplification of vitality and for stabilizing mind fluctuations. The use of Sringataka fruits powder gives a profound stability of the mind and it allows entrance to a superior state of contemplation. The state of “immobility” of the mind that results from the use of Sringataka fruit powder makes the plant useful to those who intend to improve in the accomplishment of the yogic technique LAYA YOGA. The constant use of this vitalizing plant creates the premises of an expanded dynamization at the level of ANANDA MAYA KOSHA, facilitating in this way the access to a profound inner state of happiness.
Known for over 5000 years, vervain (Verbena officinalis) is a healing herb used in different traditions of the world. During the ages, vervain was appreciated as “the herb of love”. In the Middle Ages it was used for the preparation of some magic potions, that were able to tame the passionate nature of the warriors. Vervain is known and used also in Indian tradition. In the Yunani medicine, vervain is used as tonic, antifebrile, but especially as sedative, for the treatment of nervous disorders. In China, vervain was used to treat the states of irritation, stress and anxiety, because it was known for its profound calming and relaxing effect, that give a very good state at the psychic and mental level. What is remarkable in the vervain’s case is especially its special quality of shaping in a beneficial way the roughness specific to the masculine nature that is not harmonized sufficiently. The use of natural preparations from vervain or of the dry powder of this plant can lead to the appearance in the men’s being of an deep state of emotional openness towards the feminine nature.
In the East, Lajja (Mimosa pudica) is a herb highly appreciated for the beauty of its flowers as well as for its sensibility. Lajja is a plant sensible to touch. The Vedic tradition and the ayurvedic one mentions that this herb, if wisely used, can transfer its special property also in the subtle structure of the human being that uses it properly, amplifying this way the tactile sensibility and the refinement of the perception through touch. The modern laboratory researches have shown that Lajja contains calcium, mimosine, as well as some substances of the adrenalyne’s type, that all together can lead to an accentuation of the sensory receptivity in the case of the human being. In the ayurvedic tradition, the Lajja root is especially appreciated for its tonic aphrodisiac virtues. As aphrodisiac, the Lajja root increases the erotic sensibility and refinement. From the point of view of taste, it is extremely mucilaginous and sweet. Constantly used, for a certain period of time, Lajja root helps very much the increasing of an inner state of coherence and it also amplifies the state of harmony between the vital and the emotional spheres.
The name of the Indian herb Kumarika (Smilax chinensis) comes from the Sanskrit word “kumari” that means “young girl” or “virgin”. The name suggests the intense state of purity that the plant can generate in the human being that uses it properly. The herb is used not only in the ayurvedic tradition, but also in the entire east-Asiatic region. The Kumarika root is very much appreciated for its regenerating effects. In Ayurveda, Kumarika root is characterized as having a prevalent sweet astringent taste. The herb contains saponines and flavonoids. These generate calming effects and lead to the harmonization of the psycho-emotional state of the being. The use of the dry powder from Kumarika root encourages the installation in the being of an intense state of calmness and of mind clarification. In the past the herb was frequently used by the yogis because it confers a much bigger ability to perceive distinctively the elevated subtle energies and eases at the same time mental concentration, through the elimination of the parasite mental fluctuations. In Yoga practice, the Kumarika root is very useful when the aspirant seeks to generate in his inner universe a disposition as favourable as possible for the accomplishment of deep meditations and of long duration.
Article from The Book of the International Yoga Symposium, Costinesti 2009