The 21 Herbs of Ganesh

The herbs of Ganesha

Ganesh, the epitome of the earth element, is the symbolic representation of the state of consciousness in which all obstacles are transformed into opportunities.

There are 21 herbs that closely relate to this playful and graceful elephant-headed deity.

This group of herbs of Ganesh have a low G.I. (glycemic index), they strengthen the liver, help the lymph and are good for the skin.

Interestingly, elephants mostly eat low GI foods. They also need a strong liver capacity to be able to digest the copious amount of food they eat!

The leaves of these herbs are also used in Ganesh Patra Puja performed on Ganesh Chaturthi day.

Read more about Ganesh here.

21 Herbs of Ganesh

1. Machi Patra (Artemisia vulgaris)

Main uses: For female irregularities, nervous and spasmodic affections.*

2. Brhati (Solanum indicum)

Main uses:

  • Helps with the mind.
  • Cures body aches quickly (Angamarda) - Its katu and tikta rasa (pungent and bitter taste), heating energy (usna virya) penetrates for quick pain relieving action. (Caraka, Vaghbata).
  • Kathya (helps the throat) (Caraka).

3. Duurva (Cynodon dactylon)

English: Conch grass

Main uses:

  • Lymphatic system.
  • Prevents miscarriage (prajasthapana) (Caraka).
  • Varnya - Cooling energy (sheeta virya). (Caraka).
  • Urinary system and kidney health.
  • One of the most popular plants used for Ganesh. The grass of Ganesh.

4. Aparmarga (Achyranthus aspera)

Main uses: Urinary channel.

5. Vishnu Kranta (Evolulus alsionoides)

English: Dwarf Morning Glory
Main uses: Lymphatic system.

6. Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum)

English: Holy basil.

Main uses:

  • Prananvaha srota (respiratory system)
  • Anti-Bacterial and anti-viral
  • Adaptogen – Tulsi not only helps protect the body from the degenerative effects of stress but also repairs the body from the damage done.
  • Read more about Tulsi here.

7. Maruvaka (Origanum marjorana)

English: Majoram.
Main uses: Aromatic, carminative, culinary.

8. Karavira (Nerium oleander)

Main uses: Helpful for the skin.

Caution: This is a poisonous plant that is hard to purify.

9. Dadima (Punica granati)

English: Pomegranate.

Main uses:

  • Pitta balancing – excess acid, reducing burning sensation (daha), helps internal bleeding (raktapitta).
  • Reduces thirst (trsna).
  • The rind is used for anti-worm and anti-parasite action.
  • Blood purifier and strengthens the heart (Hrdaya) (C.S.).
  • Digestion – inflamed stomach and intestines, relieves hyperacidity and nausea, binds loose bowels and helps with dysentery (Pravahika). Helps in spure (celiac) (Grahani), bleeding diarrhoea (raktatisara), bleeding piles (raktarsas).
  • Good for the pancreas.
  • Chardinigrahana (reduces vomiting).(C.S).

10. Nirgundi (Vitex negundo)

Main uses:

  • Excellent to balance vata.
  • Great for amavat (rheumatoid arhtirits).
  • One action is kapha-vata-hara (reduces both vata kapha). This is rare because vata and kapha are opposites and usually when one increases, the other decreases and visa versa.
  • Anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, helps in sciatica.
  • Important herb for post-partum mothers (Sutika).
  • Good for respiratory tract diseases like bronchitis.
  • Good leaf to incorporate in Patra Poultice treatment.
  • Anti-parasite (Krimighna) action due to usna virya, katu rasa and katu vipaka (Susruta and Vaghbata).

11. Jati (Jasmimum grandiflorum)

English name: Jasmine

Parts used: Flowers and Leafs.

Main uses:

  • Skin disorders (Caraka) with its bitter and astringent taste.
  • Heals and purifies wounds (Vrana Ropana and Vrana Shodana).
  • Respiratory system – opens the channels, regulated mucus in the system.
  • Aromatic and improves the sense of smell.
  • Also opens one to more subtle channels with its light and soft quality (Laghu, Mrdu Gunas).
  • Reduces all 3 doshas.
  • Helpful in disease of the eyes (Akshiroga), ears and head (Shiroga).

12. Deva Kachanar (Bauhinia tomentosa)

13. Arka (Calotropis procera)

Main uses:

  • Tumour (Gulma)
  • Anti-parasite (Krmiroga)
  • Itching (Kandu)
  • Skin diseases (Kushta) (Bhavapraksa)
  • Swelling (Udararoga) – When the aggravated vata is localised within the skin and muscles, it causes swelling in the abdomen. (Bhavapraksa)
  • Heals wounds (Vrana)
  • Asthma (Svasa)
  • The sap is the best purgative drug. (Bhavapraksa)
  • This is also the plant of Surya (sun), and used in Surya rituals.

Caution: This plant is poisonous if not purified properly.

14. Datura (Datura stramonium)

English name: Jimson weed / Devil’s trumpet / Moon flower.

Main uses:

  • Antispasmodic Respiratory Support – overcomes the spasm of bronchial tubes (M.M. Nadkarni) to relieve wheezing and tightness in the chest, helping with coughing and asthma.
  • Hydrophobia.

Caution: This plant contains toxic alkaloids that produces delirium, hallucination hyperthermia, tachycardia and bizarre behaviour. It must be purified properly. Use Oxalis corniculata in cases of poisoning. (M.M. Nadkarni)

15. Bilva (Aegle Marmelos)

English name: Bael fruit

Main uses:

  • One of the best herbs to balance vata.
  • Digestion – Enkindles the digestive fire (deepena) with its light quality (laghu guna) and heating energy (usna virya). Thus helps low and sluggish digestion (Agnimandya). Further it’s katu vipaka helps to digest ama (Pachana).
  • Grahi – helps dry the moisture of the body and of the wastes. Thus helps in diarrhoea and dysentery (pravahika).
  • Balya) – Although this plant is very heating and light, its special quality (prabhava) is that is strengthens the body.
  • A plant of Lord Shiva, thus the leaves are used in intentional ceremonies to balance the destruction operator in nature (Shiva).

16. Badari (Ziziphus mauritiana)

English names: Jujube, Indian plum, Chinese date, Chinese apple.

Main uses:

  • Urinary calculus.
  • Nausea and vomiting, typically caused by liver imbalance.

17. Amra/Chuta (Mangifera indica)

English name: Mango

Main uses: 

  • Good for the heart, (Vaghbata).
  • Anti-emetic (Vaminigrahana), (Vaghbata).
  • Anti-diuretic (Mutragrahana), (Vaghbata).
  • Purifies semen and blood (C.S.).
  • Improves taste (C.S.).

17. Devadaru (Cedrus deodarus)

English name: Himalayan Cedar
The sanskrit name of this very tall tree translates to “wood of the gods.”

Main uses: 

  • Many vata diseases (Susruta) like Amavata (rheumatoid arthritis).
  • Urinary diseases including diabetes (Prameha) – helps reduce kapha with its light quality (laghu guna), bitter taste (tikta rasa) heating energy (usna virya) and pungent post-digestive effect (katu vipaka).
  • Cough (kasa) – Its bitter and pungent taste is the perfect combination to remove kapha; it dries the excess mucus and therefore helps to clear the wet stagnation. Its snigdha and unctuous property loosens phlegm and facilitates expectoration helping to alleviate kapha and dry excess mucus. (A.P,I., S. Pole)
  • Digestion – Enkindles agni (Deepana) (D.V.S.) to help in weak digestion, especially associated with distention. As it alleviates vata it can reduce intestinal spasms and cramping by relaxing the nervous system and easing flatulence. Clears constipation by relaxing and lubricating the bowel.

19. Shemi (Prosopis spicigera)

Main uses: Pacifies the skin with its cooling energy (sheeta virya).

20. Ashvattha (Ficus religiosa)

English name: Sacred Fig / Bodhi Tree
Hindi name: Peepal

Main uses:

  • Female hormone issues like gonorrhoea and STIs. Its astringency helps with leucorrhea.
  • It’s astringent quality helps with aphthous mouth ulcers and dysentery.
  • It’s cooling energy (sheeta virya) helps in skin diseases and imparts skin colour complexion (Varnya).
  • Very good for Vata diseases like Vatarakta (gout).
  • A very important and holy herb in the Vedas. Buddha acquired enlightenment sitting under this tree. One of the few trees that emit oxygen 24/7.

21. Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna)

Main uses: 

  • Hrdya ("Taking and Giving")Supports the parts of the body that "take and give" continuously. Such as the Heart (taking and pumping blood continuously). The Lungs (continuously pumping prana). Brain (receives and gives impulses), every cell in the body does this same action.
  • One of the best Medyas (substances to balance the mind). (Jaimini Brahmana 1/354).
  • Urticaria (Udarda prasamana) - (Caraka). It's cooling energy (sheeta virya) helps other skin conditions to.

21 herbs of Ganesh as per Sula Purana.

 

Herbs of Ganesh Garden, Tirumala

These herbs are grown in a garden in Tirupati, India, on the road up to Tirumala hill next to the Ganesh temple. This photo is outside the garden.

Check out our special medicated ghee prepared with help from Ganesh.

Abbreviations:

A.P. I. – Ayurvedic Pharmacopeia of India.
D.V.S. – Dr. J. N. L. Sastry, Dravyaguna Vijnana.
C.S. – Caraka Samhita.
A.S. – Astanga Samgraha of Vaghbata.

Photo credits:

feature photo: White Wall Studio
Jati: Pintrest.
Arka: Plantas: Beleza e Diversidade
Datura: Taka, Wikipedia.
Bilva: Kens Nursery.
Devadaru – Pablo Evans
Ashwvatta – Alexey Sergeev

Summer Regimen: Pacify the Heat with Ayurveda

“Quantity of water gets reduced by the strong heat of the sun, rivers have very little water, trees have no shade under them because of falling of ripened leaves; the leaves, bark and entwining ceepers are all dried up.”
Astanga Samgraha, ch. 4 (27-37)

This article has been updated December 5, 2020.

Summertime... and the living is easy..

It’s also hot and dry! and it's wise to protect yourself by keeping cool.

Work in harmony with this season and thrive during it. You deserve to feel prime during summertime.

How Summer Affects Your Biology (Summer Pathogenesis)

The very hot sun takes away the strength of the earth and all things on earth.

Scientists call this “thermal accumulation.” Particularly in the second half of summer you may begin to feel inner heat accumulate.

  • The heat in your body rises, which dries out your skin and sinuses, leaving them your senses sensitive and irritated.
  • You may notice your sinuses beginning to run a lot. Creating reactive mucus is the body’s response to this dryness.
  • You may experience looser stools – the body’s response to remove the heat. Your intestinal villi might be irritated and inflamed.
  • You may experience anger, frustration, aggressiveness and irritability - other ways your body reacts to this heat (excess pitta).

Summer (especially the second half) is an important time of year to not let the heat take over and dry us out.

Take this seriously. If you don’t get rid of the heat now, the heat will turn to dryness and you will suffer the following winter.

Going from hot/dry (summer) to cold/dry (winter) will profoundly increase vata - weakening ojas - leaving you susceptible to creating the perfect breeding grounds for colds, flus, viruses, infections and other undesirables.

Especially if you missed the cleansing train the past spring, you may be building an accumulation of mucosa that is starting to bake onto your intestinal tract with all this heat. Ewww, right?

Well, you can mitigate this by eating the cooling fruits and vegetables from the summer harvest, incorporating specific herbs, therapies and other cooling techniques.

Stay Cool, Calm and Hydrated

Summer Regimen (Grisma Ritucharya)

Summer Diet

In the summer, when the days are long and hot, we require cooling and high-energy foods such as fruits and vegetables.

This gift of extra fruits and veggies is nature’s antidote to the hot and dry weather. They have specific microbes that move excess heat out of the body, protect the intestinal mucosa and prevent irritation and reactive mucus.

  • Favour food that is sweet, cooling (sheeta virya) and has a liquid quality (dravam guna);
  • Avoid, substances which possess pungent, sour, and salt tastes and that are heating (usna virya).

Avoid Pitta aggravating foods:

  • coffee
  • spicy foods
  • red meat
  • yoghurt
  • cheese
  • fermented foods
  • seafood
  • sesame
  • spices like mustard and chilli 🌶.

Fruit Rules

Ayurveda says fruit should be eaten alone for optimal digestion and health.

During the summer digestion is weaker (as the agni: digestive fire, is moving towards the peripheral, the skin), allowing you to enjoy fruit (which is light) as a full meal.

Experiment with this by having fruits (alone) for breakfast or dinner and seeing how long it will last you through the day. Also fruit can be had as an afternoon snack, which can perhaps supplement for an early dinner.

The fruits listed below, if you eat enough of them, will encourage looser stools and/or frequent urination – stimulating the body’s heat-removing channels.

Apples

Remove heat through mild purgation.

Numerous phyto-nutrients in apples support blood sugar.

Eat only organic apples! as they are one of the foods that are sprayed with the most pesticides.

Pomegranates

  • Powerful anti-oxidant.
  • One of the few red foods that reduces pitta reducing.
  • Cleanses and promotes blood and lymph circulation.
  • Be sure to eat the white pith of the fruit.

Learn more about pomegranate

Watermelons

Naturally cooling and hydrating. Mild-diuretic. It may seem odd, but try the Ayurvedic combination of sprinkling some black pepper on watermelon to reduce water retention. It provides a cooling zing!

Other Summer Foods

  • "Rice, milk, ghee, grapes, coconut water and (raw) sugar is indicated;"(1)
  • Cooling vegetables such as asparagus, coriander (cilantro), broccoli, zucchini and leafy greens.
  • Cooling Thin Lassi. One of the best drinks to hydrate and cool your self. View recipe.
  • Coconut Water - to keep cool and hydrated. Drink fresh whole coconut rather than packaged liquid. Keep it away from food as it puts the digestive strength out.
  • “Alcoholic drinks should not be taken, or in very little quantity with addition of large quantity of water, otherwise it will produce oedema, looseness of the joints, burning sensations and delusion;”(1)
  • Reduce Coffee - Like alcohol, coffee dehydrates the body. Ensure you sip hot water before and after both alcohol and coffee.

General quantities of your plate should be:

  • 1/2 veggies (fresh, lightly steamed etc.) (at least)
  • 1/4 protein - lentils, animal protein (meat should be no more than 10-15% of diet), and especially less in summer.
  • 1/4 starch - grains, carbohydrates.

Summer Regimen

  • Avoid excessive exercise.
  • Avoid baking in the midday sun as it is to draining for the body. Later afternoon sun is best.
  • Get Vitamin D - Baking in the rising and setting sun is indicated. Take advantage of the adequate amounts of UVB rays that the sun offers more so in the summer. We need at least about 10-15 minutes of direct sun 4-6 days a week in summer, without sun protection (sunscreen). 50 minutes of setting sun is best

Avoid jumping in the water soon after sun bathing

“Immersing oneself in cold water soon after prolonged exposure to sunlight is the cause for disease of the skin and eyes and increase of thirst also.”(2)

  • If the body is heated up and then immediately you jump in the ocean, a lake or a pool, the heat that has been built up will immediately come out, thus causes these diseases. The nervous system will also be shocked.
  • Protect yourself from the sun - The best way to protect yourself from the sun is by staying in the shade or by the use of hats, protective clothing, etc.
  • Stay Cool - use fans rather than air conditioning as the latter is more drying and strips away oxygen.

"Beautiful lakes, rivers and forests which are cool and spreading pleasant fragrances are good for recreation and to relax;"
(1)

TakraDhara Treament

Great “cool down the mind” and a variety of inflammatory disorders such as skin diseases, colitis, irritable bowels, hot flushes and more.

A treatment important for Pitta body types during summer and anyone who live in climates where it gets hot during summer.
This treatment is a bit rare on the common ‘Ayurvedic market,’ but if you can receive a series of it to cool you and your hormones down.

Sandalwood Paste

Anoint your forehead with paste of sandalwood to stay cool; Woman can also apply on cheek bone. Good for headache. Must use quality sandalwood paste.

Abhyanga (Self-Oil Massage)

Practice self-abhyanga using a medicated abhyanga oil coconut based or cold-pressed coconut oil.

Massaging yourself daily will optimise the ability of your sweat pores to dissipate heat out the body.

Abyanga Massage Oil (Coconut Based) 1 Litre

Avoid Sunscreen

According to the Environmental Working Group, only 2 out of 10 commercial sunscreens are considered safe, and only 1 out of 10 of the 1700 sunscreens tested fully protect your skin from the sun.

Sunscreen is contra-indicated because it can have chemicals that can potentially be cancerous to the body. Further, most sunscreen blocks UVB rays (rays that make vitamin D) and does not block the UVA rays (rays that can irritate, disrupt hormones, cause allergies or are carcinogenic).

Simply, when they created sunscreen they got mixed up with the rays!

In Ayurveda, the skin should be strong enough to protect itself and gain energy from the sun, rather than run away from it.

No doubt, skin under intense sun will need protection of some kind. Coconut oil is adequate for shorter amounts of time exposure. Shade and clothes are the best choice.

Weaker Agni During Summer

It is important to be mindful that our digestive fire is weaker in the summer, thus we will have a harder time digesting heavy, fatty and rich foods.

Nature is cooking all the fruits and veggies on the vines and trees all summer long, so the need for us to turn on a big furnace of digestive acid to cook foods that are already pre-cooked by the sun is unnecessary.

Summer Herbs

Shodana Vati (Purification)

Shodana Vati is a powerful rasayana (elixir) to ensure regular detoxification and whole-body cleansing.

This is the most common herb used at Vital Veda since it helps with a diverse range of health conditions and is important for the modern industrial world we live in and it’s inevitable toxins.

It helps in digestion, blood purification, allergies, skin conditions, dental health, cough, eye disorders, addictions, hormonal imbalances and more.

Gudnarkalp (Skin & Metabolism)

Gudnarkalp helps purify the excess toxins and heat that accumulate in the blood.

It helps with conditions that can get aggravated from the heat like fungal conditions, viruses, lyme disease and skin disorders.

It helps strengthen immunity and support allergies.

Vi Skin

Vi Skin is an effective herbal formula for reducing inflammation in the skin and toxins in the blood.

It effectively helps pacify skin disorders like eczema, psoriasis, itchy skin, vitiligo and allergic skin conditions.

It provides natural anti-viral, natural psoralen for Puva (UV radiation) therapy, wound healing and immuno-modulation,

Eliminate Heat with the Vital Short Home Cleanse

The Vital Short Home Cleanse includes a "final flush" at the end that literally purges the heat and pitta out of the body.

This is great to do towards the beginning of summer/ spring, but more importantly can be done anytime when you can take time to rest as much as possible.

Conclusion

Think twice this summer before indulging in barbecued ribs, milkshakes, ice-cream, pizza breads and cheese, as these are (poor quality) winter foods that our body simply does not have the acids to digest.

If you do indulge in these popular summer foods, here are some things to remember:

  • Enjoy these foods as a larger mid-day meal when agni is strongest, rather than in the evening or late at night when the digestive fire is much less efficient.
  • Yes, it is OK to eat some of these harder-to-digest foods in the summer. Just do your best do eat smaller portions on the barbecue and much larger portions of the salad, fruits and veggies.
  • Eat these foods by incorporating local ingredients and limit heat or pitta increasing foods and increase heat-reducing foods.
  • Always, whatever you eat, enjoy.
“Even if you eat ice cream. Enjoy it [guilt free, with love and gratitude].”
Vaidya Dr. J.R. Raju

 References:

  1. Astanga Samgraha of Vaghbata, ch.4 (27-37 1/2)
  2. Astanga Samgraha of Vaghbata, ch.9 (5)
  3. Credits: Dr. John Douillard Lifespa