What is Ayurveda good for?
The goal of Ayurvedic medicine is to prevent diseases. Studies have suggested that Ayurveda may be effective at reducing the risk of heart disease. For example, one study found that Ayurveda helped reduce plaque and reverse the thickening of artery walls known as atherosclerosis in both healthy adults as well as adults at high risk for heart disease. Atherosclerosis is a slow, complex disease in which cholesterol, fats, and other substances build up in the inner lining of an artery. This build-up, known as plaque, can lead to heart attack and stroke.
Combining yoga with an Ayurvedic herbal remedy containing winter cherry (Withania somnifera), boswellia (Boswellia serrata), and turmeric (Curcuma longa) may reduce pain and disability in people with arthritis.
A number of Ayurvedic herbal remedies have been examined, though sometimes good quality studies are lacking. For example, guggul (Commiphora mukul), a traditional Ayurvedic medication used to treat high cholesterol, is widely used in India. It appears to block production of cholesterol in the liver, lowering cholesterol levels. Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum graecum) seeds can lower LDL “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides (fats in the blood), and raise HDL “good” cholesterol levels. Its effects seem to come from its ability to lower the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine, and may be related to the high fiber content of the seed. The high fiber content of fenugreek seeds may also help control blood sugar if you have diabetes.
Other Ayurvedic herbs are being studied as treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, asthma, dementia, dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), herpes, high blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, perimenopausal problems, and premenstrual syndrome, among many other conditions. Ayurvedic herbs combined with conventional medications may also be helpful for acne, chronic constipation, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, and uterine fibroids.
Reproduced with permission from University of Maryland.