Kutki | PICRORHIZA KURROA ROYALE EX BENTH.
Locality: It is found in the Himalayan region
from Kashmir to Sikkim at an elevation of 2700-4500m and in Nepal, found abundantly between 3500 and 4800m.
Characteristics: 5–15 cm long leaves, almost all at the base, often withered. Rhizomes of the plant are 15– 25 cm long and woody. Flowers are small, pale or purplish blue, borne in cylindric spikes, spikes borne on almost leafless erect stems. Fruits are 1.3 cm long.
Parts Used: Root and rhizome
Medicinal Uses: Loss of appetite, indigestion, hepatitis, fevers and cirrhosis.
Kudzu | PUERARIA MONTANA (LOUR.) MERR.
Locality: A native of Asia, kudzu was introduced into the United States at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. Kudzu grows well under a wide range of environmental conditions.
Characteristics: This aggressive vine can grow 60 feet per year forming a continuous blanket of foliage. This massive covering often chokes out competing native vegetation that provides food and habitat for native animals. Perennial vines reach 30 m (98 ft) in length. Kudzu roots typically reach a soil depth of 1-3 m (3-9 ft).
Parts Used: The leaves, vine tips, flowers, and roots are edible; the vines are not. The leaves can be used like spinach and eaten raw, chopped up and baked in quiches, cooked like collards, or deep fried.
Medicinal Uses: To treat alcoholism and to reduce symptoms of alcohol hangover, including headache, upset stomach, dizziness, and vomiting.
Valerian | VALERIANA OFFICINALIS L.
Locality: A perennial flowering plant native to Europe and Asia.
Characteristics: Valerian is a perennial plant with an extremely varied morphology. It comprises a sturdy rhizome with many secondary roots and short runners. In spring the plant develops a basal rosette with pinnate leaves.
Parts Used: The roots and rhizome
Medicinal Uses: Restlessness, sleeping disorders based on nervous conditions. Valerian root is often referred to as "nature's Valium." May also be helpful for menopause, premenstrual syndrome, painful menses, restless legs syndrome and neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease.
Dandelion | TARAXACUM OFFICINALE COMPLEX
Locality: Native to temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere. Native to Eurasia, introduced to North America, South America, India (where it hadn't reached naturally), Australia, New Zealand.
Characteristics: Leaves form a whorl about the base of the dandelion where it emerges from the ground, growing to lengths between 2 and 16 inches, with most no longer than 8 inches. These basal leaves are bright green and feature the irregular teeth all along their edges that give the weed its name.
Parts Used: Leaves, roots and flowers
Medicinal Uses: Dandelion root has long been used to treat stomach and liver conditions. Can be used for anorexia (which hurts the spleen). Herbalists today believe that it can aid in the treatment of many ailments, including acne, eczema, high cholesterol, heartburn, gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, and even cancer.
Neem | AZADIRACHTA INDICA A. JUSS.
Locality: Native to the Indian subcontinent.
Characteristics: Neem is a fast-growing tree that can reach a height of 15–20 metres (49–66 ft), and rarely 35–40 metres (115–131 ft). The opposite, pinnate leaves are 20–40 centimetres (7.9–15.7 in) long, with 20 to 30 medium to dark green leaflets about 3–8 centimetres (1.2–3.1 in) long.
Parts Used: The bark, leaves, and seeds are used to make medicine. Less frequently, the root, flower, and fruit are also used.
Medicinal Uses: To improve liver function, detoxify the blood, and balance blood sugar levels. Neem leaves have also been used to treat skin diseases like eczema, psoriasis, etc. Caution: In adults, short-term use of neem is safe, while long-term use may harm the kidneys or liver; in small children, neem oil is toxic and can lead to death. Neem twigs can also be used as a toothbrush.
Shilajit | ASPHALTUM BITU
Locality: Shilajit is formed and found primarily in Asia in the Himalayan ranges in India, Nepal, Pakistan, China, Tibet, and part of Central Asia and Scandinavia.
Characteristics: Shilajit, also called mineral pitch, is the result of a long process of breaking down plant matter and minerals. It is a sticky, black, tar-like substance that comes from rocks in high mountain ranges.
Parts Used: Purified Exudate.
Medicinal Uses: Found to reduce alcohol withdrawal anxiety in a dose-dependent manner. Also can be used for asthma and allergic conditions, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, joint disorders, antioxidant, anemia, asthma, cystitis, diabetes, dysuria, edema, epilepsy, gall stones, hemorrhoids, insanity, jaundice, kidney, obesity, sexual debility, skin diseases, menstrual disorders, and parasites.
Bacopa | BACOPA MONNIERI (L.) WETTST.
Locality: Native to the wetlands of southern and Eastern India, Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia, and North and South America.
Characteristics: The leaves of this plant are succulent, oblong, and 4–6 mm (0.16–0.24 in) thick. Leaves are oblanceolate and are arranged oppositely on the stem. The flowers are small, actinomorphic and white, with four to five petals.
Parts Used: Whole plant
Medicinal Uses: Loss of memory, anxiety neurosis, depression, ADHD, epilepsy, insomnia, May improve cognition.
Skullcap | SCUTELLARIA LATERIFLORA L.
Locality: Native to North America
Characteristics: It has an upright habit, growing 60 to 80 centimeters in maximum height. It is a wetland- loving species and grows near marshes, meadows, and other wet habitat. The blue flowers are just under a centimeter long. Most of the flowers do not appear at the top of the main stem, but are produced along the length of side branches that grow from the leaf axils.
Parts Used: Roots and leaves
Medicinal Uses: Used to treat trouble sleeping (insomnia), anxiety, stroke, and paralysis caused by stroke. It is also used for fever, high cholesterol, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), rabies, epilepsy, nervous tension, allergies, skin infections, inflammation, spasms. and kidney problems.
Ashwagandha | WITHANIA SOMNIFERA (L.) DUNAL
Locality: It is cultivated in many of the drier regions of India. It is also found in Nepal, China and Yemen. It prefers dry stony soil with sun to partial shade.
Characteristics: This species is a short, tender perennial shrub growing 35–75 cm (14–30 in) tall. Tomentose branches extend radially from a central stem. Leaves are dull green, elliptic, usually up to 10–12 cm (4 to 5 in) long. The flowers are small, green and bell-shaped. The ripe fruit is orange-red.
Parts Used: Roots, leaves and fruit
Medicinal Uses: Boosts brain function, lowers blood sugar and cortisol levels, and helps fight symptoms of anxiety and depression. Can boost testosterone and increase fertility in men.
Shankapushpi | CONVOLVULUS PROSTRATUS CHOISY
Locality: Found in India and Burma.
Characteristics: The plant is about 2 to 3 inches in height. Its leaves are small in size and are about 0.5 to 1.5 inches in length. Its leaves are alternate, elliptical. Flowers are about white or red in color, they are round or bell shaped.
Parts Used: Whole plant, roots and seeds
Medicinal Uses: Traditionally as a brain tonic and is believed to help a wide range of issues. It is believed to have demonstrated potential for anxiolytic, relaxant, and anti-obsessive effects, as well as nootropic effects. Has been found to help significantly with memory retention.
Milk Thistle | SILYBUM MARIANUM (L.) GAERTN.
Locality: Originally a native of Southern Europe through to Asia, it is now found throughout the world.
Characteristics: Can grow to be 30 to 200 cm (12 to 79 in) tall, and have an overall conical shape. The stem is grooved and more or less cottony. The leaves are oblong to lanceolate. They are either lobate or pinnate, with spiny edges. They are hairless, shiny green, with milk-white veins. The flower heads are 4 to 12 cm long and wide, of red-purple color.
Parts Used: Whole herb, root, leaves, seeds and hull
Medicinal Uses: Treatment of liver disease, prevention and treatment of cancer, and supportive treatment of poisoning from death cap mushrooms.
Burdock Root | ARCTIUM LAPPA L.
Locality: Native to northern Asia and Europe, though it now grows in the United States, too.
Characteristics: Burdock is a tall, unmistakable plant. It flowers from July until frost, and reproduces by seed. The barbed flowers and seeds will attach to almost anything. Flower heads are purple, stalked, 1⁄2 - 1 inch thick, numerous, and occur at the ends of branches and axils of upper leaves. The deep roots of the burdock plant are very long and either brown or nearly black on the outside.
Parts Used: Roots, leaves and fruits
Medicinal Uses: For the liver and kidneys to flush them out. People take burdock to increase urine flow, kill germs, reduce fever, and “purify” their blood. It is also used to treat colds, cancer, anorexia nervosa, gastrointestinal (GI) complaints, joint pain (rheumatism), gout, bladder infections, complications of syphilis, and skin conditions including acne and psoriasis.
*This information is for educational purposes only. Please consult with an Ayurvedic Doctor before taking any herbal remedies.
The size and breadth of the prison population is substantial in the United States of America. Unfortunately, that is likely to continue for some time even with current political changes that may reduce some mass incarceration. As public policy continues to grapple with mental and physical health resources as well as rehabilitation programs, Ayurveda can provide a unique set of solutions to address those issues. This is based on the fundamentals and approach of Ayurveda which is grounded in self-reflection, tradition and diversity. While it does not conflict with science or modern medicine, it focuses on more cost effective and natural approaches which should enhance the ability of prisons to deal with improving the mental and physical health as well as rehabilitation of people whom are incarcerated.
Lets start by defining what Ayurveda is. Ayurveda is a comprehensive natural healing system that includes mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. The term Ayurveda is made from two Sanskrit words, ‘ayur’ meaning life and longevity, and ‘veda’ meaning wisdom, science, and knowledge. Ayurveda translates to “the science of life” or the “knowledge of longevity”.
Ayurveda is an indigenous medicine rooting from India, with its origins stemming back over five thousand years. Often referred to as the “mother of all healing,” Ayurveda may be the oldest health care system in the world. It is not only a medical system, but also a framework for living a healthy life with a peaceful mind.
Ayurveda works wonders for both chronic and acute imbalances because it addresses the root cause of the problem, not just the symptoms. Ayurveda also gives us guidance on how to live day-to-day, in sound health, with a focus on prevention. Since Ayurveda is based in nature, its treatment methods aim to restore balance naturally through:
Working with the principles of Ayurveda is fairly simple, once you understand the basics. One lovely aspect about Ayurveda is that with a little knowledge you can accomplish a lot. However, one difference between Ayurveda and other systems of medicine is that YOU have to take an active role in your health.
With this as an overview the following represents the modalities in which Ayurveda provides a means of achieving the goals of cost effective and health effective support for the incarcerated population.
Ayurveda uses a variety of tools that may be of value to an individual who is incarcerated. A few of these may include:
Dincharya is the ideal daily Ayurvedic routine and rituals. By creating a new life routine, we set new intentions for ourselves in order to create the life we want, not the life incarceration has created for us. Finding ways to incorporate Ayurvedic rituals into daily life in a realistic way is key to having continued success in mental and physical health.
"We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world." ~ Buddha.
In sanskrit, prana translates as 'breath' or 'life force', and the term ayama means 'to restrain or control the prana, so pranayama refers to the practice of 'breath control'. Yogic Breathing techniques help us to develop an understanding or our diaphragmatic and thoracic breathing. The practice fills the lungs with fresh air, helps with temperature regulation, plays an important role in the absorption of oxygen and assists with the removal of toxins and impurities found within the blood stream and body.
A simple breathing technique that can be used to calm the nervous system is alternate nostril breathing. To practice this breath, create a peace symbol with your dominant hand, then lower the peace sign (index and middle finger) and raise the thumb, ring and pinky fingers. With your palm facing you, close off the right nostril with your thumb, exhaling through the left. Inhale through the left nostril, then close off the left nostril at the top of the breath with your ring finger, release your thumb from the right nostril to open for the exhale. Repeat back and forth, alternating nostrils. End the practice exhaling through the left nostril. This alternate nostril breathing balances both the right and left hemispheres of the brain and sends signals throughout the body to calm the nervous system.
Yoga is a sister science of Ayurveda and means "union". While controlling the breath is one step to maintaining control over one's being, yoga brings the breath, body and mind into alignment calming the nervous system in its entirety. It is a nonjudgmental practice that is done on a mat using principles that are carried off the mat into the rest of the world.
One very simple yoga posture that can be done in a prison cell is legs-up-the-wall. This is a helpful posture for back pain and elicits a relaxation response for the rest of the body.
A different form of yoga, called Laughter Yoga is another simple practice that anyone can participate in. Laughter truly is the best medicine! Laughter Yoga is a simple yet profound way to promote mental and physical health. This practice involves prolonged voluntary laughter, in which it is thought to derive the same physiological and psychological health benefits than that of spontaneous laughter.
Diet is addressed in Ayurveda according to the season and individual bodily makeup. If you are feeling anxious, eating warm root vegetables will assist in grounding the energy. Oppositely, if you are feeling lethargy, eating pungent and light foods will assist systems of the body in movement. In Ayurveda it is always best to eat fresh foods that have the least amount of processing. The most important action one can take towards their food is blessing it with gratitude, no matter what the ingredients might be. If food choices are limited, you always have control of the intention you give your meal. Eat slowly, sitting down and chew food thoroughly and with mindfulness.
Meditation involves the gradual shutting down of all the body’s sensory channels, to learn to sit with oneself in stillness. It is meant as a means to turn inward and connect to a unified source, to find a way to bring a quiet moment of peace whenever it is needed.
A simple sitting meditation called “so-hum” can teach an individual to bring their attention back to their breath, over and over again. Repeating in the mind “so” on the inhale, and “hum” on the exhale. “So-hum” in English translates to “I am”. Whenever there is conflict, return to the breath, and the mantra “so-hum”.
Ayurveda helps individuals to accept life as it is, and to flow with the rhythms of nature rather than reject or fight against them. Once acceptance has been achieved, moving through the nuances of daily life is less of a struggle. Mindful decisions can be made to persuade the energies around us, and to bring joy and positivity into the forefront of our daily activities. In Ayurveda we discuss the philosophy of karma, meaning action, work or deed; it also refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect). Developing good intent and good deeds contribute to good karma and future happiness, while developing bad intent and bad deeds contribute to bad karma and future suffering.
While being incarcerated is obviously extremely limiting in numerous ways, Ayurveda can assist individuals with tools to help them regain control of their body, mind and spirit.
Photo Credit: Robert Sturman
Highly cherished in ancient Ayurvedic texts, Guduchi is referred to in Sanskrit as ‘Amrita’, meaning "immortality”. ‘Amrita’ is considered one of several synonyms for ‘soma’, the drink of the devas (deities). This ‘Divine Nectar’ is a favorite among worshippers of higher knowledge and spiritual attainment.
In Hindi, Guduchi is known as ‘Giloy’. The plant boasts heart shaped leaves that mimic its affinity to working with the divine feminine. Guduchi is one of the best herbs in Ayurveda to pacify the Pitta dosha. Pitta (a combination of the fire and water elements) plays a huge role in the monthly menses cycle.
You may be feeling wiped out during your moon cycle, but Guduchi wants to help. Like Ashwagandha, Guduchi is an adaptogen which allows it to assist in reducing stress levels and fatigue. Also, as a direct acting antiviral and immunomodulator, Guduchi will bolster your immunity when you are feeling run down. If you are feeling anxious, Guduchi supports the proper function of the nervous system while promoting vitality. If you are experiencing pain during menstruation, Guduchi has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can work more effectively than aspirin. Guduchi pacifies the aggravation brought on by Pitta (the fire element) working to calm and alleviate acute inflammation.
Additionally, as well as relieving some of the inner ailments that our moon cycle may bring on, Guduchi also has anti-aging properties to keep skin blemishes, wrinkles and fine lines at bay; allowing your natural glow to shine through. Guduchi will help to keep you looking and feeling young by promoting longevity. For premature aging take ½ tsp of Guduchi with 1 cup of hot milk to slow down the biological clock. If you are craving sweets when aunt flow is visiting, make sure to take Guduchi for its ability to lower blood sugar levels. Guduchi has positive overall effects on both metabolism and digestion.
How Guduchi Can Help:
Guduchi works as an antioxidant to push waste materials out from the body, known in Ayurveda as ‘ama’, which is another reason it is a wonderful addition to a moon cycle self-care routine. Not only does it flush toxins out of the body, but it also acts as an overall rejuvenative, known in Ayurveda as ‘rasayana’. Combine Guduchi with Shatavari and Ashwagandha for the best results!
But Guduchi in not just for all of the Goddesses out there. Specifically, for men, Guduchi can boost sexual health and functioning, including sexual health problems like impotence or excessive, involuntary ejaculation. Taken regularly, Guduchi boosts blood circulation, while purifying and detoxing the system.
Moon Cycle Self-Care Rituals:
Note: Guduchi is a plant in the same family as the plant from which latex comes from — please be mindful of taking Guduchi if you have a latex allergy.
Scientific Name: Handroanthus impetiginosus (Mart. ex DC.) Mattos; Bigoneacea
Family: Bignoniaceae (1)
Genus: Tabebuia (1)
Synonyms: Tabebuia avellanedae, T. ipe, T. nicaraguensis, T. schunkeuigoi, T. serratifolia, T. altissima, T. palmeri, Gelseminum avellanedae, Handroanthus avellanedae, H. impetiginosus, Tecoma adenophylla, Tecoma avellanedae, Tecoma eximia, Tecoma impetiginosa, Tecoma integra, Tecoma ipe (1)
Common Names: Pau d'arco, ipê, ipê roxo, lapacho, tahuari, taheebo, pink trumpet tree, ipê-contra-sarna, tabebuia ipê, tajy, purple or red tabebuia (1)
Part Used: Bark, wood (1)
Main Preparation Method: tincture or decoction (1)
Botanical name (synonym): Tabebuia impetiginosa (1)
Tabebuia impetiginosa is a towering deciduous tree native to tropical regions of the Americas. Pau d’arco is used for its inner bark, referred to as “taheebo” or “lapacho”. This tree bark has been employed for thousands of years in the traditional healing practices of native tribes throughout these regions, including the Incas who also made bows out of the tree. (2)
Pau D’arco is made from the inner bark of several species
of Tabebuia trees that grow in Central and South America. (3)
Ascorbic acid, chromium, iodine, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, selenium, silicon, zinc, napthaquinones, flavonoids, carnosol, lapachenole, indoles, alkaloids, coenzyme Q10, steroidal saponins. (4)
Several compounds called naphthoquinones — mainly lapachol and beta-lapachone — have been isolated from this inner bark and are thought responsible for its purported benefits.
Pau D’arco is native to South and Central America (specifically Brazil). It is not native to North America but grows in the warm parts of the country. Pau D’arco is derived from the inner bark of several species of Tabebuia trees. (5)
The tree grows up to 125 feet high, has purple, pink, and yellow flowers, and pod-like fruits. The best quality Pau D'Arco is said to come from Argentina. The most potent part is the inner bark, which must be aged after harvesting to maximize its effectiveness. (5)
AYURVEDIC HERBAL ENERGETICS
Dosha effect: PK- V+ (6)
Rasa: tikta, kashaya, katu
Gunas: laghu, ruksha, sara
DHATUS AND SROTAS
Rasavahasrotas, raktavahasrotas, pranavahasrotas, purishavahasrotas
KARMAS OF PAU D’ARCO
Alterative, antipyretic, antibiotic (6)
Pau D'Arco has been used by South and Central American indigenous peoples to treat skin diseases like eczema, psoriasis, fungal infections, and cancer.
It was a primary medicine used by the Inca's and their descendants, the Callaway tribe. The name "Pau d' Arco" is Portuguese for "bow tree", an appropriate name after its use by the people of Brazil in make hunting bows.
In 1960, the use of Pau D'Arco was taken up in the Municipal Hospital of Santo Andre and used in the treatment of cancer patients. Today, the herb is sold in herb stores and regular pharmacies throughout Brazil. (1)
Enhances immune system function. Pau D’arco bark can be tinctured, incorporated into topical skin care regimes, or decocted as Pau D’arco tea.
Anti-tumor: inhibits the growth of tumors
Anti-cancer: inhibits the growth of cancer cells
Anti-coagulant: thins blood
Anti-viral: destroys and inhibits the spread of viruses.
Anti-bacterial: destroys and inhibits the growth of bacteria
Anti-fungal: destroys and inhibits the growth of fungus
Alterative: increase health and vitality by gradually restoring alignment to functions of the body.
Antibiotic: destroys and inhibits the growth of micro-organisms Anti-depressive: elevates mood
Antipsoratic: prevents and counters psoriasis
Astringent: tones and tightens the connective tissue of the skin Anti-diabetic: creates insulin to balance glucose levels Anti-parasitic: kills parasites
Analgesic: relieves pain
Digestive: aids in digestion
Diuretic: increases the production and secretion of urine Depurative: purifying and detoxifying, especially the blood Hypotensive: Lowers blood pressure
Laxative: loosen stools and increase bowel movements
Pau d'Arco boosts immune system response and function.
Used for infections, especially for candida and other yeast infections.
Urinary tract infections
Bacteria infections, such as brucellosis
Viral infections including influenza
Beneficial for dysentery, fevers, malaria, and ulcers.
Used for slowing and inhibiting the growth of cancer and tumors, especially leukemia.
Aids in the prevention and treatment of Liver disease, Hodgkin's disease, osteomyelitis, Parkinson's disease.
Used in the treatment of fungal infections, including: thrush, athlete's foot, nail fungus, ringworm.
Used in the treatment against chronic diseases, including: Diabetes, lupus, HIV, ulcers, herpes, hepatitis.
Allergies, recommended to combine Pau D'Arco with burdock to cleanse the blood during an allergic reaction or sudden skin flare up.
Sexually transmitted infections Allergies
Used in pain relief for Arthritis and chemotherapy
Stimulates blood circulation Purifies the blood
Increases red blood cell count
Used in the treatment of colitis, gastritis, and stomach ulcers. Treats enlarged prostate.
Urinary tract infections
Gastrointestinal problems of all kinds
Parasitic diseases such as schistosomiasis Stomach ulcers
Asthma Bronchitis Cough
Used in the treatment of sexually transmitted infections, including: HIV/AIDS, herpes, hepatitis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis.
Has the ability to remove heavy metals from the body.
Aids well in the detoxification process carried out by the liver and lymphatic organs.
Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder Osteoarthritis, cause by the wear and tear on joints
Heals skin wounds and protects against infection. eczema, psoriasis, fungal infections.
Assists in external skin ailments such as warts, boils, ringworm, impetigo, cold sores, athlete's foot, and staph infections.
Effective in treating dermatitis and psoriasis when taken internally and topically.
Apply topically for the healing of sores, lesions, diaper rash, bruises.
May have abortifacient properties, and cause toxicity to the reproductive organs in high doses.
Research on Pau D'arco's naphthoquinones constituents suggest that this herb may be contraindicated when using anticoagulants. Do not use Pau D'arco while taking anticoagulant/antiplatelet drugs, blood thinning drugs, such as Warfarin (Coumadin), Clopidogrel (Plavix), and Aspirin. Taking Pau D'arco with these may increase the risk of bleeding.
Consult a physician before using during pregnancy, because the herb may have abortifacient properties, it is likely unsafe to use internally when pregnant. But may be well tolerated when used topically for skin conditions in small doses. Pau D'arco should NOT be given to infants or children.
May slow blood clotting and could increase the chance of bleeding during or after surgery. Stop using at least two weeks before scheduled surgery.
Taking Pau D’Arco along with medications that slow blood clotting could increase the chances of bruising or bleeding.
Large amounts of lapachol (greater than 1.5g per day) may be toxic. side effects may include anemia, nausea, diarrhea, and dizziness. If these symptoms occur, discontinue or lower dose. High doses can cause uncontrolled bleeding and vomiting.
1. https://www.rain-tree.com/paudarco.htm 2. https://mountainroseherbs.com/pau-darco
3. Lapachol and lapachone analogs: a journey of two decades of patent research (1997-2016) <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28586252/>
4. North American Nighantu Manual by Nicole Herbert with Alakananda Ma
6. Lad., V. and Frawley., D., 2001. The Yoga Of Herbs. Lanham: Lotus Press, p.210