Herbs from the ancient healing practice of Ayurveda have been gaining popularity, for good reason. "Ayurveda is all about creating balance and enhancing the body's inner healing intelligence so that it can keep you well," says Christine Horner, MD, author of Radiant Health Ageless Beauty. These, she says, are some good ones to try, based on your own needs:
A jam made according to an ancient Ayurvedic recipe, chyawanprash includes a combination of herbs, fruit, seeds, and spices. It is eaten daily in small quantities to enhance longevity.
This herbal formula enhances longevity and helps relieve constipation, improve detoxification, and enhance eyesight and skin health.
A strong adaptogen, the herb counteracts the effects of stress. "It interrupts every single step in the neurochemical cascade of the stress response," says Horner, which manifests as healthier levels of blood sugar and blood pressure, a better mood, and less anxiety.
Also an adaptogen, ashwagandha is milder than holy basil and is often used to enhance energy.
For added benefits, cultivate some everyday Ayurvedic habits:
Eat your main meal at noon, when the body's ability to digest is at its peak.
Don't drink iced beverages. "Ice shuts down your digestive enzymes by 50 percent," says Horner. Keep cold drinks at room temperature, and sip hot water throughout the day to enhance digestion.
For optimum sleep and overnight detoxification, go to bed by 10 pm and get up at 6 am.
Exercise to 50 percent of your capacity, rather than pushing yourself to the limit. "That capacity increases in a gentle way," says Horner.