Long, long ago, there sat an old and wizened sage in a forest. His name was Chyawan. He was covered with moss, twigs, leaves, and branches from meditating for so long in the same place. Along came a princess, dancing her way through the forest in some game in which she was blindfolded. By chance, her delicate hand grazed the head of the sage. Likely much to her father’s dismay, he was obliged to ask the sage to marry her, as according to the laws of the country she was only to touch one man in her lifetime. Surprisingly, our sage Chyawan agreed; but he asked for a couple months in which to prepare himself. He sought out a combination of herbs that would restore his youthfulness and vitality so that he might offer his young bride conjugal bliss and the joy of years together. As the story goes, he was successful in his endeavor, and the recipe for this herbal jelly made it into the famous Charaka Samhita some 2000 years ago, and possibly into the Vedas prior to that. It became known as Chyawanprash, Chyawan’s jelly.
Chyawanprash is the most famous and widely utilized of all Ayurvedic jellies: for young and old, male and female, for the very weak and for those needing an energy supplement. It is a good tonic for all three doshas, but is considered a Rasayana Rejuvenative for Pitta debility, containing a high content of the pitta-rejuvenative herb Amalaki. A Rasayana substance rebuilds not only the body, but the essence and the quality of the psycho-physiological being. It improves the quality of the body, and provides for optimum form and function of the various organs, tissues, and doshas. It rebuilds the body-mind, prevents decay, and postpones aging. In some cases it is said to even reverse aging as it did for Chyawan.
By the time it was recorded in the Charaka Samhita, many more uses for Chyawanprash had been determined. It is the best all-around tonic for keeping the tissues of the body healthy and young, working to restore some vigor and vitality to tissues weakened in the elderly. It is also an excellent nutritive and growth tonic for children, tasty and easy for them to take on its own or with milk. It is a potent immune enhancer, with the Vitamin C from the Amalaki being highly bioavailable because it is a part of a tannoid complex. It is a different level of immune support than taking hundreds of milligrams of Vitamin C as pure ascorbic acid. Also, Chyawanprash is taken for low grade fevers, for headaches, for Vata type diabetes, as a complement to iron supplementation to aid in its digestion and assimilation, in hay fever and allergies, asthma, recovery from bronchitis and pneumonia, in treatment of underweight and the debility that comes with that, and generally to increase energy. To both the male and female reproductive systems, Chyawanprash provides tonification and support: in sexual debility or impotence, when there is an absence of menstruation due to Vata imbalance, during and post menstruation to strengthen vitality and ease pitta aggravation, as a tonic to the reproductive tissues during pregnancy, following a miscarriage to tonify the damaged tissues and emotions, following female surgeries like a hysterectomy, in menopause for rejuvenation, and it is taken by AIDS or HIV + patients for general immune enhancement and to rebuild the ojas or vital essence.
Amalaki, or Amla, the key ingredient in Chyawanprash, is itself a powerful tonic, specific for building blood and reproductive fluids. It is especially nourishing for the heart, lungs, and kidneys. The best quality Chyawanprash is made with fresh Amalaki, but this is harder to find because it can only be produced seasonally. Chyawanprash is a combination of multiple herbs in a base of ghee, raw sugar, and honey. Thus, if a person is under medical care or on medications, it is prudent to take the list of ingredients from a particular brand of Chyawanprash to the doctor or pharmacist to rule out any possible complications. For general adult consumption, however, 1-2 teaspoons are taken daily. Historically, it is recommended that it be taken with milk, or a milk-like substance as the anupana, or carrier, to the tissues. It can also be take straight off the spoon, in tea, on crackers, and there are even capsules available. The jelly itself though, with the ghee and honey, provides a synergy and anupana, ensuring that the herbal constituents get carried to the pertinent tissues in the body, not just the digestive tract. When using Chyawanprash to treat a condition or illness, 1-2 teaspoons are taken 2-3 times a day. For infants, offer a pinch on the finger. For children 5-10 years of age, 1/4 to 1/2 the adult dosage is taken.
Too good to be true? It sounds like Chyawanprash can cure whatever ails you! It is certainly worth a try, and is a tasty and affordable component of any household wellness regimen. After all, it’s been in use for thousands of years now, let history speak for itself!
©Copyright 2012, By Amber Lynn Vitale