Chawanaprash is the most well-known revitalisers (Rasayanas) of Ayurveda. It is one of Ayurveda’s anti-aging supplements, which is purely herbal in nature. Its main ingredient is ‘Amla’, which is a powerful antioxidant, and very rich in Vitamin C. This ancient Ayurvedic multi-vitamin formulation is a powerful tonic and will act as safeguard and rejuvenation for the entire family.
Charaka on Chawanaprash
“This is that very Chyawan Prasawaleh, the highest Rasayana. It is especially recommended for the cure of cough, dyspnea, as a bodybuilder for the emaciated, for those suffering from pectoral lesions, for the old and for children. It also subdues such disorders as loss of voice, diseases of the chest and heart, thirst and disorders of rheumatic type. It should be used in such doses as will not interfere with the normal meals. Intelligence, memory, luster, immunity from disease, longevity, increased sense power, amative delights, the heightened activity of the gastric fire, clearness of complexion, the regularity of peristalsis – all these human beings obtain from the use of this Rasayana. By retiring into a retreat and resorting to this medicine, a person will shed their infirmities and emerge with fresh youth.” Charak Samhita
Mythology states that Ashwini Kumaras, the divine twin doctors, made Chawanaprash bring back youth in the old and fragile body of Sage Chyawana. As it was used for the first time for the rejuvenation of Chayawana Maharishi, it has been named after him.
The story tells of Puloma and Sage Bhrigu who were happily married. Puloma conceived and was preparing herself for motherhood, but she was attacked by a demon during her pregnancy, by which premature delivery, Garbha Chyuti, happened. This led to the birth of a baby boy, who they named Chyawana (the name derives from the word Chyuti). Chyawana was interested in the spiritual path but was afflicted with early aging and many disorders. In answer to his prayers, the divine twin doctors came to his help. They administered Prasha – herbal jam (linctus), by which Chyawana Maharishi got rid of all of his diseases and early aging. He became young again and continued life successfully. The Prasha (herbal jam) that revived the health of Sage Chyawana is called Chyawanaprash. It is recommended for treating early aging.
Modern Medical co-relation and Health benefits
In modern medical terms, Chyawanprash, a herbal paste that has been used as a tonic in Ayurveda for over 3000 years is an immune-supporting, vitamin C-rich, antioxidant.
This powerful antiageing herbal product is made from a complex and precise traditional recipe that includes over 40 powerful Ayurvedic herbs. its final formula has been sealed by the masters and it is better to prefer the original Chawanprash over any of its variants, which are nothing more than a business ploy. There is no classical reference to Chawanprash for specific body types. The herbal combination of Chawanprash is suitable for all body types. The base and key ingredient of this formula is called Amalaki, or Indian Gooseberry, a powerful antioxidant fruit that is considered a superfood in India for its potent free-radical scavenging properties. This is the beauty of Amla.
There are many benefits of Chawanaprash. It is effectively used in the treatment of throat infections, cough, cold, chest infections, and is especially used in pulmonary tuberculosis. It helps in the rejuvenation of the aged and also with proper nourishment of the young. Research shows that Chyawanprash supports healthy cholesterol and blood sugar, improves intelligence (Medha), memory power, skin lustre, age, the strength of the sense organs, boosts immunity power, and appetite. It is used effectively in gout, and disease conditions involving urine
Qualities of Chawanaprash
Smell – Smell of Cinnamon, Cardamom and Long pepper.
Taste – Spicy taste, with more sourness and less sweetness.
Consistency – Pulpy, semisolid paste. Neither too solid nor too watery.
Water test – When a piece of Chawanaprash is placed in water, it should sink immediately. The particles should not spread in water.
The uses and efficacy of Chawanprash
• Eases constipation.
• Strengthens the immune system.
• It improves memory and concentration.
• It calms the nervous system.
• Slows down the effects of the aging process.
• It enhances fertility and keeps menstruation regular.
• Purifies the blood, eliminates toxins and is beneficial to the liver.
• It improves the complexion and helps the body fight against bacterial infections.
• Acts as an antidepressant and tranquiliser for people suffering from depression.
• Promotes absorption of calcium, leading to stronger bones and teeth.
• It improves muscle tone by enhancing protein synthesis.
• Highly recommended for children (from 5 years upwards) and old people.
• Its regular consumption will protect you from diseases of the respiratory system.
Chawanprash’s Effect on the Doshas
Chawyanprash benefits the body by acting as a rejuvenating and anti-aging substance. It helps reduce the degenerative activity of the body. Its main ingredient is Amla, which, together with Ghee, sugar and another herbs balance Vata dosha.
Except for a few substances such as raisins, ghee, and sugar, Chawanprash does not contain many herbs targeted towards Pitta balance. Additionally, overall, Chawanprash is slightly heating in nature. Hence it does not balance Pitta to a great extent.
Chawanaprash is mainly targeted towards strengthening the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems, which are mainly influenced by Kapha. It has many herbs targeted towards Kapha balance, such as Dashamoola (the group of ten roots), long pepper, cinnamon, cardamom and so on. Because of the hot potency of these herbs, it is not heavy to digest. These heating substances negate the cold effect of Amla in this formula.
Chawayanaprash does not exclude any tissue (dhatu) and has a rejuvenating effect on all the seven body tissues.
A good immune system is a combination of well-nourished Dhatus, good digestive strength, and good mental health.
For nourishment values, Chawayanaprash has herbs such as Mudgaparni, Mahaparni, Jivika, Rishabhaka, Amala, and so on.
For good digestive health – long pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, etc.
For good mental health, it has Kamala, Vidari, Jivanti, Guduchi, Ghee and so on.
Chawanaprash mainly improves respiratory immunity. Thus, for a person with early morning allergies, who suffer from air pollution and pollen allergies throughout the day, or who has asthma attacks during the day, taking Chawanaprash in the morning is very helpful.
Most respiratory disorders involve Kapha imbalance. When we divide the daytime into three equal parts, the morning one third is dominated by Kapha Dosha, which is why Chawanaprash in the morning is very useful.
However, some people, thanks to a busy schedule, may forget to take it in the morning. And a few people get respiratory symptoms during the night. They can take a teaspoon to a tablespoon of Chawanaprash at night, preferably with a cup of milk, before dinner.
However, it is not necessary to take Chawanaprash both morning and night. Once a day is more than good to take maximum advantage from it.
Some people experience a postnasal drip with Chawanaprash, which is due to Kapha liquefying, a stage before Kapha is pacified or expelled out. This can be compared to the melting down of Kapha during Spring. During winter, Kapha gets chaya – increases in its own place. It solidifies and stays in its own home. But, during Spring, because of an increase in temperature, it liquefies and moves to other places.
Rasayana: anti-aging and longevity
Out of eight branches of Ayurveda, Rasayana, anti-aging, is one the most important.
As age advances, there is slowing of growth in the body, and circulation is hindered. To counter this, or at least slow down the process, the treatment called Rasayana is provided to the patient.
Rasa means ‘the juice from food’, and Ayana means ‘movement or ‘circulation’.
Movement of the rasa throughout the body, day and night, and the consequent nourishment and maintenances of the growth of new cells, the expulsion of damaged cells and full nourishment to the entire body, is the main purpose of a Rasayana treatment.
In the chapter from Charaka Samhita on treatment, known as Chikista Stana, Charaka explains: “There are two types of treatments, one is the promotion of vigour in the healthy, and the other is destructive of disease in the ailing.”
Rasayana is that substance that gives health to the healthy. It increases the Ojas (immunity), the complexion, the glow and the essence of the seven body nutrients, or tissues (food juice, blood, flesh, fat, bone, bone marrow, brain, and the vital essence). Rasayana substances are considered vitalisers because they replenish the vital fluids of the body. Charaka says “ long life, heightened memory and intelligence, freedom from disease, youth, excellence of lustre, complexion, and voice, optimum strength of body and senses, utterances that always get fulfilled, the reverence of people, body glow – all these does a person obtain by the use of Rasayanas or vitalisers.”
The aim of a Rasayana is not merely to increase longevity, but also simultaneously to increase the patient’s energy and stamina so that they will be able to enjoy the long life they have.
Wrinkles, grey hair and so on can be signs of early aging. Chawanaprash, being rich in antioxidants and rejuvenating herbs is rejuvenating and anti-aging and can even get rid of wrinkles. From a physiological perspective, the mode of action of Chawanaprash can be understood as follows. It:
– delays the aging of cells.
– improves the nutritional levels of body tissues.
– improves digestive power.
– Improves oxygen supply to the deeper tissues.
In the traditional Rasayana anti-aging therapy, the patient is made to replace breakfast with Chawayanaprash and is asked to consume milk to quench their thirst. Please note: I do not suggest you follow this method on your own, as it may produce excess heat. There are several other rules and regulations to be followed in this method, which is why it should only be done under strict medical supervision.
Side Effects and Precautions
• Some patients may experience increased heat, heartburn and burning sensations as Chawayanaprash can increase heat. However, if taken with milk in the Kapha dominant period of the day (morning), the burning sensation can be minimised, if not nullified.
• Some patients complain of loose stools.
• Because it contains sugar, it is best avoided by diabetic patients with uncontrolled sugar. (Note: The purpose of sweetening it is to make it tasty, have the added benefits of candy, and to counter the excess heating effects of spices and herbs used in Chwanprash, such as Dashamoola (a group of 10 inflammatory roots), long pepper, cinnamon etc. which cause heat).
• Some people have high Pitta naturally. They have excess body heat, sweating, oral ulcers, etc. In such people, taking Chawanaprash even with milk may cause boils, excessive heat, and skin rashes.
• A patient with ulcerative colitis may not tolerate Chawanaprasha that well. S/he may get loose stools.
• If a woman’s periods are normal, with moderate bleeding, Chawayanaprash may be continued during her periods. However, if the periods are heavy, then it is better to avoid it only during periods.
• Since it is recommended for rejuvenation purposes, and not indicated for pregnancy as such, it makes sense not to take it during pregnancy.
It looks like jam and tastes like dried fruit. Some people apply it to the bread they eat.
Chawanaprash is safe up to 5gm/kg of body weight. The dose should be such that it does not disturb the quantity of the food. In a normal adult, one 500g jar of Chawanprash will last about a month.
The dose can be increased in accordance with a Rasayana procedure, up to 50gm, depending upon the health of the patient and other factors.
Children from five years old can safely take Chawanaprash. The dose largely depends upon their digestive strength.
Have a big spoonful (a teaspoon to a tablespoon) of Chawanaprash together with a glass of milk, every morning, 15 minutes before breakfast. When you take it before food, the digestion strength is heightened, and a maximum amount of phytonutrients from Chavanaprash will be absorbed into your body, making its immunity stronger.
Warm milk is preferable to cold milk with Chawanaprash, as it further quickens digestion, but this is not a mandatory rule. You can just eat one or two spoonfuls of Chawanprash with water if you are unaccustomed to milk. Do not mix it with water to dilute it, though. If you want a milder effect, simply reduce the dosage.
As it contains many spices, its recipe includes ghee. Ghee is used in very small quantities, compared with other ingredients. It is added to dissolve fat-soluble ingredients and to add those benefits to the herbal jam. Ghee, oils, candy sugar are present as a medium to carry the herbal principles, which are the lead actors in the product, to the right organs and systems, and to counter the possible side effects. Nevertheless, this is why it is advisable not to take extra ghee also with it. Milk or water are better vehicle agents for Chawanprash.
It is not Ayurvedically wise to continue any medicine throughout the year. It is beneficial to have a gap here and there. Chawanaprash being hot, can be avoided during summer.
Here is a list of disease indications for Chawanaprash:
Kasa – the common cold, cough
Shwasa – asthma, respiratory disorders involving difficulty in breathing
Kshataksheena – chest injury
Svarakshaya – voice problems
Uroroga – Chest disorders
Vatashonita – Gout
Pipasa – excessive thirst
Mutradosha – Urinary tract disorders
Shukra Dosha – semen, sperm anomalies