Taking non-indigenous plants into the Ayurvedic System

January 06, 2008

There are many plants which were not found in India, or do not have any mention in the ancient Ayurvedic scriptures. Because of this, when a non-indigenous plant has great medicinal value, we should choose it and study before using it in formulations. We have to do this because ancient sages and ayurvedacharyas didn’t mention anything about their properties and toxicology.

Places where you can read about the plant are :


After researching fully about the plant, experience it yourself. If the plant is not toxic, you still need to ascertain the ayurvedic properties for it. For this, you need to find the plant growing somewhere in its natural state, sit besides it, close your eyes, acknowledge it and be with it. With eyes closed, focus on your breath and quiet the heart. Just be there, don’t rush to derive anything from it.

When your breath and heart is settled, open your senses to the plant, and measure the sensory perception, to determine whether it is hot/cold, dry or moist, heavy or light. Look at the plant, its shape, stem, root, examine its characteristics until the shape is embedded in your mind. Notice the soil quality, neighboring topology and plants that are growing besides it.

In true ayurvedic tradition, ask the plant to forgive you, pluck a leaf and chew on it until its just a liquid slurry that’s left in your mouth. Note the tastes – dominant, lesser ones: sweet, sour, salty, bitter,pungent and astringent. This would be the “rasa” of the plant. Now, swallow it and return to your meditation. When your breath is again settled, notice the effects of the plant on your body. Has it had any effect – hot/cold, dry/moist, heavy or light. This would be the energy or “Virya or Guna” parameters. The Virya, Rasa and Karma (taste, energy and karma) when combined would tell you a lot more on how it would be effecting the doshas.

The “Karma” of the plant can be determined by asking the local people about its action or following folklore texts in that country. Or any researched material on the plant. I hope this helps.

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