There are numerous anti-aging creams, treatments, supplements and surgeries coming onto the market everyday that promise the fountain of youth. However, with these modern day “miracle cures” can often come some rather undesirable side effects (not to mention steep price tags.)
Ayurveda, the 5000 year old system of medicine from India, provides natural anti-aging remedies that fight the free radicals and imbalances that lead to premature aging. The aim of anti-aging medicine in Ayurveda is to sustain strength, vitality and optimal health throughout one’s lifespan by teaching us how to live in accordance with our unique constitution (or body type) and the laws of nature.
Rasayana, one of the 8 limbs of Ayurveda – which also includes internal medicine, surgery, treatment of the ears/eyes/nose/throat, pediatrics, toxicology, psychiatry and spiritual healing – is a powerful practice for achieving vibrant health and longevity.
Rasayana means “path of essence” and is the Ayurvedic therapy of rejuvenation of the physical, mental, emotional and subtle bodies. Rasayana Ayurvedic medicines support immune health, reverse aging, restore vitality, support cognitive function and improve skin complexion.
A rasayana is that which supports rasa, the first of 7 tissue layers (or dhatus) of the body. Rasa dhatu refers to the blood plasma. The remaining six dhatus are rakta (blood), mamsa (muscle), meda (adipose tissue), asthi (bones, nails, cartilage), majja (bone marrow, nervous system) and shukra (reproductive tissue).
Anything that supports the integrity of rasa will support all of the other tissue layers of the body, and promote the production of Ojas (subtle life essence) and elimination of ama (toxins). Ojas is responsible for the skin’s radiance, the body’s strength and immunity, and cognitive function. Ama buildup on the other hand is considered to be the result of improper digestion and the cause of all disease. In this way, rasa can be thought of as the nectar that supports immunity and sustains life.
Rasayana Ayurvedic medicines can be behavioral or herbal. They serve to either promote health or fight disease – kamya rasayana or naimittika rasayana respectively.
Behavioral rasayanas include cultivating more love, compassion, charity, respect, positivity, self-control/moderation (especially regarding alcohol and sex), cleanliness and using uplifting language. Regular meditation and pranayama (breathing techniques) are also powerful behavioral rasayana Ayurvedic medicines.
In addition, maintaining regular routines around sleeping, waking and eating will also support overall health, as will consuming an ama-reducing diet. This means, more fresh, organic whole foods that are easy to digest and less nutrient-deficient, packaged and processed foods that are difficult for the body to break down and lead to ama buildup and disease.
Oil therapies such as abhyanga – a self-oil massage – and shirodhara, which involves pouring warm oil over the forehead, are additional rasayana natural anti-aging remedies utilized in Ayurveda to aid the body in detoxification, purification and rejuvenation.
Typical herbal rasayana Ayurvedic medicines can contain as many as 30 different herbs mixed with other ingredients and can be taken as pastes, tinctures, teas, capsules or powders.
The most popular herbal rasayana Ayurvedic medicines are:
Chyawanprash contains 28 different herbs and botanicals, mixed with linolenic-rich fats, ghee, jaggery and raw honey, and is still used daily by millions of people in India. There are many advantages of Chyawanprash in Ayurveda as it kindles agni and helps to clear the channels of the body as well as boost the immune system.
Ashwagandha is an increasingly popular herb that is known for its ability to help reduce stress, boost mood, improve strength and support reproductive health.
Shilajit is a mineral pitch found at high altitudes in the Himalayas that is incredibly rich in minerals necessary for all cellular and metabolic functions of the body. Find out more about the incredible benefits of Shilajit here.
Triphala is one of the most popular herbal formulas in Ayurveda. It consists of three berries: Haritaki, Amalaki and Bibhitaki. Its main benefits are tonifying the digestive system and colon and supporting natural detoxification.
Brahmi is an excellent herb for brain health that supports memory, focus and concentration. It can also help reduce cortisol levels, balance emotions and support healthy skin and hair.
Ayurveda provides a pathway to age gracefully in a way that is accessible to everyone and safer than many other anti-aging solutions. The natural anti-aging remedy teaches us to find balance with nature. By understanding, and living in harmony with, the natural laws of the universe, we can increase longevity and avoid disease. As author Shubhra Krishan states, “The great thing about Ayurveda is that its treatments always yield side benefits, not side effects.”