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Saturday, September 18, 2010

rasayanas - edibles that lessen aging and promote longevity

In a study published in 1999 by Rege, Thatte and Dahanukar six traditional rasayana herbs were studied to determine if they were adaptogenic. All six (amla, guduchi, shatavari, ashwagandha, pippali and haritaki) were found to protect mice against a variety of biological, physical and chemical stressors.

Dr. Nikolai Volkov has used shilajit (he calls 'mumie') to enhance the performance of Russian athletes and cosmonauts. In animal studies it increased mice's levels of dopamine and helped them feel calm and relaxed. It is therapeutic for diabetes, cholesterol and obesitiy. Shilajit (called 'mumijo' in the Mediterranean) is the Vedic soma - it oozes from cracks in mountains.

Bhringaraj (Eclipta alba) and he shou wu (Polygonum multiflorum) both darken hair and fight aging. Bhringaraj is sometimes called 'kesharaja (ruler of the hair) for its effect of growing hair.

The consumption of Lycium (goji) fruit builds muscles and ligaments and improves male sexual performance. Legend says a hermit, Master Zhang, took this medicine daily and because of this he lived more than one hundred years. Even at that advanced age he could still walk with vigor and perform sexually. Lycium fruit regenerates liver cells, lowers VLDL and LDL (bad cholesterol) and regulates blood sugar.

Ashwagandha is for men and shatavari for women, but either can benefit both. Ashwagandha with gotu kola is an excellent nerve tonic; Omega-3 EssentialFattyAcid is also good for this purpose (and for lowering triglycerides, which shilajit does too) - my mom takes hemp oil as a souce of the EFA. I also recommend eleuthero, an herb similar to ashwagandha.

An eldely sage, Chyavan, was worried he wouldn't satisfy his young bride. In meditation he became aware of an herbal formula to restore his youthful vitality. This formula became known as Chyavanprash, 'the jam of Chyavan'. It is made in a base of amla fruit. Other adaptogens are added, including ashwagandha, shatavari, guduchi, honey, ghee, pippali long pepper, bamboo mana and cardamom.

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