Dr. Michael Tierra L.AC., O.M.D.
Long, long ago, there was a sage in India named Chyawan who lived in a forest. His hair was matted and he was covered with tree growth after years of meditating in the same place. A young princess was blindfolded and dancing in the forest when her hands touched the hair of the sage. Her father, the king, explained to the sage that it was the custom in his country that a woman could only touch one man in her lifetime. He thus requested the sage to marry his daughter. Chyawan asked if he could have two months to prepare for the wedding, for he wished to be young again so as to afford his wife conjugal bliss. Thereupon, he developed the recipe for longevity that has remained India’s most popular remedy, some say for 2000 years, others since the times of the Vedas.
Chyawanprash (Chyavanprash) is classified as a ‘Rasayana’ ‘“ an herbal category known as a tonic for maintaining youthfulness, vigor and vitality of the body, and keeping away the aging process, senility and debility. It is used for rejuvenation and to prevent all diseases.
The Rasayanas are meant to impart long, healthy, disease-free life, intelligence, power of memory, youth and luster. Among all the Rasayanas, Chyawanprash is the most useful and famous. It is the most popular rejuvenating Ayurvedic tonic in India, having the consistency of jelly and containing about 35 natural herbs including Amla (Embellica Officinalis), the richest natural source of vitamin C. It works on the immune system of the body, protecting it against everyday infections like cough, cold and fever. Thus, it is very useful in children, old persons, tubercular patients and debilitated persons.
There are many different recipes for Chyawanprash, ranging in ingredients from a mere 20 or so herbs and spices to 70 or 80 ingredients. The main ingredient, however, regardless of the exact formula, is always amla or amalaki, a tropical gooseberry that is the world’s richest source of vitamin C. It is, moreover, a source that remains stable in storage for years. The rest of the ingredients vary from regenerative herbs for the reproductive system such as ashwagandha and shatavari to spices that aid assimilation and digestion.
In Ayurveda, it is believed that most disease stems from problems in the digestive system. In fact this belief is shared by all natural healing systems throughout the world, including European, Mediterranean, Asian, and Native American. The belief is that all disease begins in the stomach. Ayurveda breaks digestion into three stages: the stomach, the small intestine, and the large intestines. Food that is assimilated in the stomach is used very quickly for the building of fluids, blood and lymph. What is assimilated in the small intestine affects mainly muscles and fat; and what is assimilated in the colon is used to regenerate the skin, bones, hair, nerve sheaths, reproductive fluids, and brain. Fragility of the bones and senility are thus colon problems and they are “vata” conditions ‘“ derangements of the air and ether which includes the nervous system. All proper maintenance requires good digestion and assimilation; otherwise, worn out tissues will not be regenerated, i.e. replaced by healthy new tissues.
A “Rasayana” is a formula for just such tissue rejuvenation, and Chyawanprash is the most famous, and in my opinion, the most effective of these highly esoteric remedies. Moreover, it has been so thoroughly studied that it is legal to market Chyawanprash as an antioxidant ‘“ the best that has ever been researched in modern laboratories. Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, found in fresh fruits and vegetables, are widely recognized as important to prevent and treat all degenerative diseases and to counteract the ravages of aging.
I have tried many versions of Chyawanprash and in my opinion ‘Prass’ made by Komal, is the best. It has the most appealing, fruity flavor and unlike other brands it is made with fresh ‘amlas’ harvested and processed at the peak of their season. This is why it costs a bit more but I think it is worth the added expense. This is ideal for the whole family to take.
Besides supplying vital nutrients to the body, Chyawanprash assists assimilation of nutrients from food. This is why one of the best ways to take it is to dissolve a teaspoon or two in a cup of scalded, warm milk. Taken on a regular, daily basis, one will find a general increase in wellness seen in luster of the complexion and hair, increased vitality, resistance to disease and a general zest for life and living ‘“ all the things one should expect from the world’s greatest herbal tonic.
In India, those with the means to afford Chyawanprash take it every day, usually from at least age 40 and up. They generally use about 1-3 teaspoons a day. It is also given to children.
As one might expect, in India, many people take Chyawanprash in warm milk, but it can also be eaten some straight from the bottle. The taste is interesting ‘“ a bit sweet-sour in flavor. Most people are surprised that Chyawanprash tastes as good as it does. My dogs fight over the almost empty containers and all the dogs I’ve had for the last 20 years prefer Chyawanprash to bones.