Ayurvedic science is an ancient science that has been practiced for over fifty centuries. Whereas modern science is done through a hit and trial basis: making a hypothesis and then proving it through various experiments; Ayurvedic science is perceived through a universal intelligence, present in every aspect of life and realizing that very intelligence through our surroundings. Ayurvedic sages realized that as humans, we are bound to make mistakes and create a mess in our internal and external environment, thus creating a disease process. This dis-ease is simply seen as a mistake of the intellect (Pragyaapradh). 

The purpose of human life has been perceived to fulfill four innate desires: religious (Dharma), financial (Artha), procreative (Kama), and finally to achieve bliss (Moksha). Religion is not seen as going to temple, church or a mosque, but as our responsibility towards our environment and planet. Financial looks at the means for survival, procreation for keeping the species alive and bliss to realize the truth of life. A sick person cannot achieve all these goals, which is why Ayurvedic medicine created a science for forming a perfect balance through nutrition (Ahar), environment (Vihar), Yoga, meditation, and using herbals medicines and minerals. Herbs are used as spices because their disease protective action is so powerful. Commonly used spices like turmeric, ginger, garlic, cumin, fennel, cardamom, black pepper and many more have shown powerful actions against bacteria, virus, fungus as well as protection against cancers, arthritis, heart disease, hypertension, and diabet es. I am always amazed and amused by the wisdom of Ayurvedic medicine. 

The more I study science; it makes perfect sense to use the Ayurvedic model of disease prevention. In this column, I will be discussing spices, herbs, minerals, and other natural substances used in Ayurvedic and other folk medicine. I will discuss their folklore uses, scientific studies, safety and toxic effect and their interaction with drugs. Centella Asiatica (Brahmi), Bacopa Monnieri (Neera Brahmi) and Ashwagandha can help prevent Alzheimer:Alzheimer’s disease is a complex disease that affects the brain. It is one of several disorders that cause the gradual loss of brain cells. Approximately 4.5 million Americans suffer from this and although many things about Alzheimer’s still remain a mystery, research continues to bring us a better understanding of this disease. Even though it was once considered rare, research has shown it to be the leading cause of dementia. It is more common in older adults and it affects all races. About 1 in 10 people over the age of 6 5 have Alzheimer’s. Three of the herbs: Centella asiatica, Bacopa Monnieri and Ashwagandha have, in many animal model and clinical studies, shown to be effective to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease. 

In Ayurved, this class of herbs is classified as rasayana. Rasayanas are adaptogenic herbs, which can be taken all the time in therapeutic doses without creating any side effects. Centella asiatica has demonstrated cognitive enhancing and anti-oxidant properties. Oxidative stress is one of the mechanisms implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. Centella asiatica and Bacopa Monnieri traditionally have been used as nervine and memory enhancers. Bacopa Monnieri has been shown not only to be a memory enhancer, but also an antioxidant, and cognitive enhancer. It is also shown to be the herbal equivalent of anticholinesterase: a drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of Alzheimer’s. All three of the herbs have also demonstrated anti-anxiety and anti-depressant activities. Both Ashwagandha and Bacopa Monnieri also have shown to increase the number of dendrites. Dendrites are nerve endings of brain c ells; number of bifurcations of dendrites is linked to the learning process and regeneration of brain cells. I recommend 250mg of standardized extract of Centella asiatica,Bacopa Monnieri and 500mg of standardized extract Ashwagandha two to three times a day with meals.Holy Basil, Turmeric and Neem in prevention of Cataract:Cataract is the leading cause of blindness in the world, and diabetes is one the major risk factors for cataracts. In animal studies, local instillation of holy basil, turmeric and neem water extracts repressed the Aldose Reductace (known to cause cataract) in the lens of the eye. These herbs can be used topically as well as taken orally to help prevent the possibilities of cataracts. Along with these herbs, I also recommend standardized extract of Trifal, a combination of Amla (Emblica officinalis), Haritaki (Terminalia Chebula) andBahera (Terminalia Bellerica) 500mg, twice to thr ee times daily.Turmeric for Cancer:Cancer is one of the leading causes of deaths in the United States. In 1850, 1 of every 150 deaths was due to cancer. Today, 1 in 4 Americans will develop cancer during their lifetime. Cancer even accounts for 11% of all the deaths in children between the ages of 1 and 12. This exponential increase in cancer mortality is due to tobacco smoking, marked dietary changes, and marked environmental pollution and the increase of chemicals in our diet. Almost every food we eat contains chemicals in the form of preservatives, insecticides, pesticides and fertilizers. All these chemicals are unfamiliar to our bodies and end up triggering imbalanced immune responses and causing cancers. In a balanced state, our body makes 30-40 cancer cells daily and our immune system produces killer cells, destroying them. The chemicals we use in our diets can prevent this process from happening.Turmeric used in Indian cooking has shown very powerful cancer prot ection remedies in a number of studies. Turmeric contains a yellow pigment called curcumin, which has shown anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and anti-oxidant properties. 

Evidences suggest that curcumin can suppress tumor initiation, promotion and metastasis. Pharmacologically, curcumin has been found to be safe and human clinical trials indicated no dose-limiting toxicity when administered at doses up to 10g/day. All of these studies suggest that curcumin has enormous potential in the prevention and therapy of cancer. All these properties justify its traditional use in religious, cosmetic and culinary purposes. I suggest eating one teaspoon of raw powder three times a day, or buy capsules of turmeric extract standardized for curcumin: 500 mgs, two to three times a day with food. Turmeric cooked as a spice will lose a lot of its active principals.

For more information about Dr. Virender Sodhi and the Ayurvedic Clinic, please visit For the herbs listed above, please visit www.ayush.comReferences1)

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Disclaimer: This article is purely informative and should not replace the guidance of your physician. If you suffer from an illness, you should consult a physician before taking any herbs, vitamins, minerals or enzymes. Even at the peak of health, it is best to consult a qualified practitioner before taking any dietary supplement.  

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