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with examples of essential Ayurvedic herbs and useful formulas

by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, OR

Ayurvedic medicine is one of the major traditional medicine systems of the world, second only to Chinese medicine in terms of the extent to which it is used today. It has influenced Chinese medicine by virtue of the transfer of several herbs native to India to China for incorporation into the Chinese system. Much of that transfer was accomplished over a thousand years ago. Chinese medicine and India's medicine have been combined into Tibetan medicine to help produce yet another major traditional medical system. India's tradition has also combined with that of the Greeks to help form the modern Unani medicine as practiced in Pakistan and surrounding areas.

There is no licensing for the practice of Ayurvedic medicine in the United States (or most other countries outside those where it has been a central part of the healing tradition for centuries). It is provided by health professionals who have studied the subject independently (a few medical doctors, naturopathic physicians, acupuncturists, etc.), or interested persons may obtain herbs and formulas on their own by self-selection of remedies sold in stores or via the internet.

Ayurvedic medicine is of some interest to these practitioners and the general public for several reasons, aside from its long history of use, such as:

In this document, there are a few pages devoted to depicting the basic Ayurvedic system, with focus on the dominant tridosha framework. This is followed by an exposition of 12 of the key Ayurvedic herbs, with examples of one formula each that have them as their primary ingredients. These formulas are available for use in convenient tablet form. Many other Ayurvedic formulas, both traditional and modern, also rely on these key herbs, so that the explanations provided here should be helpful in understanding other formulations that may be encountered.