Sunday, November 06, 2016

Ashtavarga herbs in Chyavanprash

Pharmaceutical industry analysts have estimated that about 15,500 tonnes of Chyavanprash was sold across the country last year. Children and adults consume the product which is promoted as a remedy against cold, cough and respiratory infections among other health disorders.

The primary ingredient of Chyavanprash is amla, or gooseberry. The original texts of Ayurveda list thirty-eight herbs as ingredients of Chyavanprash, but most commercial formulations now use substitute herbs, including extracts of the eight plants named in traditional medicine as kakoli, kshirkakoli, jeevak, rishbhak, meda, mahameda, riddhi and vriddhi.These are collectively called ashtavarga and are believed to increase the anti-oxidant activity of amla.

"A 10th century commentary on the ayurveda text Charak Samhita specifically mentions alternatives if the ashtavarga are not available," said J.L.N. Sastry, head of ayurveda research at Dabur India, a company that manufactures traditional remedies, including Chyavanprash.

Scientists at the IIIM have already acquired three of the eight plants - jeevak, mahameda and rishbhak - and are trying to use plant tissue culture technology to grow them in the laboratory's greenhouse. Plant biologists from the IIIM are also collaborating with scientists in other academic institutions and local communities in the Himalayan region, and in parts of northern and northeastern India to look for the other five species.

Though Chyavanprash has been used for centuries, some scientists say that its therapeutic benefits still need to be rigorously assessed. A review of clinical studies involving Chyavanprash published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in August this year had found that while several studies have shown improvements in health status and immunity, most such studies have involved small samples of patients and short periods of observations.

Read more about Chyavanprash here -
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