Named after Chyavana Rishi, Chyawanprash, the ancient elixir, has been in use since time immemorial and is of great significance as per Ayurveda. Considered a Rasayana, the jam-like blend of more than 30 types of herbs, repairs, rejuvenates and nourishes the body, can work wonders for the immunity and maintaining excellent health. As winter approaches and cases of respiratory illness and viral infections spike, people stock up this ancient wonder in their kitchens to warm their bodies and protect them from diseases. Indeed, Chyawanprash, especially one made at home, can help with longevity, strength and vitality. (Also read | Ancient Wisdom Part 30: Chamomile tea can ease pain and fatigue, aid sleep; know all benefits)
How Chyawanprash came into existence also has an interesting back story. As per ancient texts such as the Mahabharata and Puranas, the twin Ashwini Kumar brothers who were considered the royal physicians to the Gods during the Vedic era, invented this herbal preparation to make the sage Chyawan Rishi younger and improve his vitality and strength. Chyavana Rishi in his quest to attain enlightenment had become weak, malnourished and aged. This wonderful potion helped him get back his youthfulness, vitality and strength. With course of time, the formula was carried forward to the subsequent generations and since then Chyawanprash has been trusted for its holistic approach for health.
Chyawanprash is made with amla or Indian gooseberry in its base and is boiled along with 30 and more herbs. Ghee, dashamool, ashwagandha, shatavari, varahikand, vidarikand, pushkarmool, giloy, badi harad, Madhu Pippali, dalchini, tejpatta, nagkesar, choti elaichi, laung, vanshlochan, jaggery and honey is part of this useful concoction. Apart from strengthening the body and repairing its functions, chyawanprash can also help prevent various metabolic disorders, heart issues and lower cholesterol levels. It is also useful in removing toxins from the body. This ancient formula can be used to improve vigour, vitality and even delay ageing process.
The magic of Chyawanprash
“Chyawanprash is made with two words chyavana (name of a muni/monk) and prash (consuming with intent). Rasayana karma is a unique concept of Ayurveda. Rasa is the body’s first body tissue that nourishes all body organs and tissues. The main function of Rasa is to upkeep metabolism and immunity. In the current urban age, metabolic disorders like diabetes, hypothyroidism, etc., and the pandemic have emphasized enough the importance of these two aspects of health. Rasayan karma allays aging, rejuvenates the body, and makes it adaptable to the demands and stress of urban life,” says Ayurveda expert Dr Zeel Gandhi.
Chyawanprash’s ancient connection
“The famous charak samhita opens its discussion on Chikitsa-sthan (treatment section) with the very first adhyaya (chapter) on Rasayan karma. Building good immunity for everyone is the first step to health. This chapter has an exhaustive list of intricately formulated rasayanas and some very simple ones. Chyavanprash is one of them. This Avaleha (jam-like) was consumed by Chyavana Muni who found it difficult to continue his sadhana and ashtang yogabhyas owing to his extremely advanced age. This Rasayana when consumed helped him rejuvenate his body, reverse debilitating aging, and continue his sadhana to attain liberation. Out of compassion, this formulation was shared to allay the sufferings of the common masses,” says Dr Zeel.
Benefits of Chyawanprash
Chyawanprash is an herbal mixture prepared with over 40 ingredients, some of the beneficial components are Amla, Brahmi, Neem, Tulsi, Pippali, Kesar, Ashwagandha, Brahmi, Gokshura, White Sandalwood, Green Cardamom, Arjun, Ghee, and Honey.
In what ways can Chyawanprash strengthen your body? Dr Rajesh Kumar, Associate Director Internal Medicine, Paras Health Gurugram lists all the benefits of consuming Chywanprash.
- During the winter season, consuming chyawanprash offers various health benefits and helps in preventing winter-related infections.
- It is true that taking a one spoon full of chyawanprash in winters can bring wonders to your body. The main component of chyawanprash, amla, has a high vitamin C content that efficiently boosts immunity.
- Frequent use of chyawanprash can protect against infections, coughs, and colds as well as lessen the likelihood of contracting illnesses frequently.
- Strong ingredients like ashwagandha also help with issues including sleeplessness, arthritis, and infertility.
- The antioxidant qualities of tulsi are quite helpful for people who are controlling high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Renowned for its health advantages, especially in the winter, ghee keeps the body warm and helps with digestion.
“As per Charak Samhita, Chywanprash is called Paramottama Rasyana or best out of all Rasayanas. This Rasayana helps specifically cure colds and coughs. It helps strengthen the body, of the weak and debilitated, especially of old and young age. It alleviates the doshas of patients suffering from hoarseness of voice, heart problems, gout, pipasa – idiopathic polydipsia, problems of urine, and problems of semen. This Rasayana is also advised to be administered in a Kuti Praveshik way. Kuti (Hut) Praveshik (Enter inside) rasayana in simple terms means to live like a hermit away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, eat simple prescribed food, and consume the Rasayan with intent. When consumed this way, it promotes intellect, memory, luster, immunity, longevity, strengthens sense organs, improves metabolism, complexion, and leads to reversal of aging infirmities. The person emerges out of the Kuti (hut) entirely transformed and rejuvenated,” says Dr Zeel.
How Chyawanprash was consumed in ancient times
In the Middle Ages, when consumption (tuberculosis) was rampant, this avaleha helped the patients build immunity against it and prevent it, especially in the young and old ages, says Dr Zeel.
“Chyawanprash is a renowned Ayurvedic herbal combination that has gained international fame for its unique flavour and many health benefits. During ancient times, people often took chyawanprash as part of their daily routine, primarily in the morning. The traditional method involved taking a small quantity, usually a spoonful or a prescribed dosage, mixed with lukewarm water or milk. This practice was believed to enhance its efficacy and absorption by the body. You should mix a teaspoon or tablespoon of Chyawanprash with some warm milk or water. The liquid’s heat can improve the herbal formulation’s absorption. It can also be consumed straight, as a spread on bread or crackers, or add it to your smoothie or juice,” says Dr Rajesh.
From ancient to modern use
“This Rasayana is frequently prescribed even today to help lessen the dependence on antibiotics and build immunity against minor colds and coughs, especially in children. Amla is a strong antioxidant, thus age-related changes can also be delayed in old age by regular use.
It is palatable, beautifully formulated with highly regarded Ayurvedic herbs, and very effective. Chyavanprash has a tedious list of ingredients, but is simple to make. Making it yourself can help one control the quality aspect, and adhere to the correct formulation guidelines,” says Dr Zeel.
Who shouldn’t have chyawanprash
“Chyawanprash is generally considered safe and beneficial for most people due to its natural herbal ingredients. Although eating chyawanprash has health benefits, too much of it should be avoided since it can lead to digestive problems like diarrhoea, bloating, gas, indigestion, and pain in the abdomen,” says Dr Rajesh.
“It is important to consider that sweeteners like jaggery, sugar, or honey are added to chyawanprash to give the mixture a sweet and tangy flavour. So, people who have high blood sugar should be careful when ingesting it. Diabetic patients should keep a check on their blood sugar levels. A daily allowance of about 3 grammes is acceptable for people with controlled blood sugar. People with existing health conditions, especially those related to the liver, kidneys, or gastrointestinal issues, should seek advice from a healthcare provider before consuming chyawanprash due to its diverse herbal composition which can lead to stomach related problems,” he adds.
How to have chyawanprash daily
“It is advisable to take one teaspoon twice a day by adults, preferably in the morning and evening with lukewarm water or milk. Half a teaspoon should be the maximum amount that kids consume each day. People who have asthma or other respiratory issues should avoid eating chyawanprash with yoghurt or milk,” says Dr Rajesh.