Sunday, June 4, 2017

Ashoka - Not Just a Women's Herb

Ayurveda as an ancient healing system of medicine uses food and herbs for healing and balance.  These herbal remedies have been used for hundreds of years. Some of the remedies have a story.  The ashoka tree, for example, was named for the reincarnation of a man who in his previous life was depressed and committed robberies in his broken mental state.  After overcoming his grief and making amends, his soul came back as the ashoka tree, so he could help others overcome grief and sadness.

While the story is not verifiable, the healing attributes of ashoka are known to be a powerful grief-reliever and bliss-giver.  It also has properties, such as analgesic, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory,
anti-menorrhagic and an antioxidant.  Traditionally, ashoka is used as a uterine tonic to help with excess bleeding and cramping, and is an overall tonic to strengthen the female system.  Yet, this bitter tasting herb that is bright red in color also helps with complexion problems, digestion and purification.

The emotional aspect of ashoka targets the emotional heart, known as sadhaka pitta. Sadhaka pitta is
the fuel that the heart runs on to process emotions and grief. The thought process of the brain gets affected by what it receives from the heart.  If the heart cannot process its emotions, the mind is impacted and thoughts can become negative and defeated. Constant negative thoughts and stress affect the body by releasing cortisol and other stress hormones. If these hormones stay chronically high, the physiology of the body becomes altered, leading to inflammatory states.  Depression and body inflammation generally go hand in hand.  An unhealthy cycle of inflammation and negative emotions keep harming the body.

If, however, the heart clearly processes and digests emotionally charged experiences and events, the messages to the brain are positive.  The brain can think and function optimally and support the physiology with balanced amounts of hormones.  Inflammation and negative emotions are minimized.  Ayurveda targets the sadhaka pitta with herbs, diet and lifestyle, because a healthy person has the necessary strength to process experiences rather than becoming defeated.  All the recommendations are tailored to be anti-inflammatory to stop the cycle of negative emotions and harmful physiological changes and symptoms.  Ashoka is a bitter herb that by its nutritional effect is anti-inflammatory. It is also known to uplift the spirit.

Ashoka is more than just a female tonic because of its strengthening of the emotional heart and benefit to many other inflammatory conditions.

While an herb is a wonderful way to ignite healing, the whole lifestyle has to support the herb.  Otherwise, relief will be temporary and the body will continue to become imbalanced.  A holistic approach for body and mind will help us be the happy, healthy person we really are.

Stay healthy & well,

Please note: There are times when people are clinically depressed or have had severe grief, trauma or abuse, and people should seek help from a professional. Ayurveda can support the healing process and can be a tool to manage stress to bolster professional treatment.

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