Chyawan was an old man in his nineties when he found the love of his life.
Unfortunately, his love was a young, beautiful woman in her twenties. Well, they fell in love and decided to marry and have children, but Chyawan was too old to start a family. So he sought counsel with some Ayurvedic experts who specialized in longevity. He told the doctors he finally found the love of his life and needed to become youthful again to father children and live a long happy life with his newfound love.
The doctors prepared a special formula for Chyawan which gave him the youthful vitality he sought. The formula, which is now more than a thousand years old, is still available today and is called Chyawanprash. “Prash” means “to eat” – to this day the name has stuck and literally means “what Chyawan ate” to restore his youthful vigor.
Now, modern-day research has studied Chyawanprash to deduce what this ancient formula may have to offer to the modern-day picture of health. Read more to learn about their discoveries and how “What Chyawan Ate” may have good news for America’s number one health epidemic and pesky colds alike!
Cold and Flu Support
Raising six children, not to mention all the kids I see in my practice, has given me much experience with keeping kids healthy. In fact, this was the main reason I wrote my book Perfect Health for Kids.
When it comes to colds, Chyawanprash has been a lifesaver for me over the years. When my kids would come down with a cold, I would give them 2-4 teaspoons, 2-4 times per day at the onset. That would support their immune systems’ ability to fight and turn the cold back.
In the winter, during cold and flu season, it can be taken daily for prevention.
*Note: Chyawanprash may be safely taken by children as young as 12 months. Do not give Chyawanprash to children younger than 12 months, as it contains honey, which is contraindicated for very young children.
Ancient Wisdom, Modern Benefits
The benefits of Chyawanprash don’t stop at colds. When it was studied in 2001 at the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi India, the results were remarkable (1). Ten individuals supplemented their diet with Chyawanprash. After eight weeks:
- Support good cholesterol (HDL) levels by 11%
- Support healthy LDL cholesterol levels by 16%
- Support healthy fasting glucose levels by 14%
Today, Chyawanprash is used to support immunity, vitality, blood sugar, fat metabolism, cholesterol levels and cellular protection.
But how does Chyawanprash work?
The Star of Chyawanprash
Imagine a fruit that has been shown to mitigate free radical damage, arterial plaque formation and the ravages of inflammation in the body. This fruit is called “Indian Gooseberry” and is the main ingredient in Chyawanprash, and is what the entire formula is built around.
Indian gooseberry is a local name for an herb called Amalaki (Emblica officinalis) or the Amla fruit. Recent research on Amalaki has shown it to exceed the benefits Ayurvedic experts reported almost 3,000 years ago.
In ancient texts, this fruit was touted to, “promote longevity and induce nourishment.” It was considered a rasayana, one of a group of Ayurvedic herbs that provide support against disease and promote longevity through antioxidant properties. But recent studies have shown this miracle fruit to support both cardiovascular health and healthy blood sugar levels.
This is more important than ever, since experts now believe high blood sugar levels may be the cause of heart disease, the number one killer in America.
How Amalaki Benefits Support Heart Health
- Western science has reported on Amalaki’s antioxidant properties as far back as 1936, but since 1999 this amazing fruit started getting worldwide attention from the research community:
- German researchers touted Amalaki as one of the most active agents for lipid oxidation, which is when fats are damaged by free radicals. This process is linked to arterial damage, high cholesterol and other age related conditions (2).
- Japanese researchers found that Amalaki supports healthy kidney function in the elderly. Oxidative stress is particularly harmful to kidney function in old age (3).
- Chinese researchers have found that Amalaki supports the healthy lining of the arteries. Inflammatory cells circulating in the blood can stick to and damage the arterial wall causing further inflammation and the production of more smooth muscle along the insides of the arteries. Amalaki keeps unhealthy cells from sticking to the arterial walls (4).
- In another study, Amalaki was found to inhibit an enzyme called HMG-Co-A reductase, which is responsible for the production of cholesterol in the liver. In the same study, Amalaki was shown to increase the breakdown of cholesterol, which is the mechanism of many cholesterol-lowering statin drugs (5).
Much of the excitement regarding Amalaki is not only based on the findings that it protects the body’s fats from free radicals, but studies show that it also reduces the amount of bad fats in the blood, while increasing the amount of good fats in the blood (6).
Amalaki Benefits Support Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
More recently, studies have found the pathways in which Amalaki supports healthy blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels that are even slightly elevated have been linked to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, making early detection and treatment of unhealthy blood sugar levels a prerequisite for cardiovascular health:
- Amalaki has been shown to inhibit certain enzymes that convert dietary starch into sugar, helping to support blood sugar surges after a meal (7).
- High blood sugar has been shown to cause tissue damage throughout the body. Amalaki has been shown to protect the cells from blood-sugar-related tissue damage (8).
- Amalaki was shown to support oxidative stress, which is linked to insulin resistance (9).
- Amalaki supports the role of chromium in supporting healthy blood sugar levels by supporting the rapid removal of glucose from the blood and rapid utilization of glucose in the cell (10).
Get Amalaki on Its Own or In Chyawanprash
Amalaki, either alone or as part of the formula Chyawanprash, has been shown to support healthy blood sugars levels, healthy cellular protection against stress and healthy cardiovascular status. Amalaki is a cooling fruit that is very easy to digest and supportive for the health of the intestinal wall. It should be considered nutritional preventative support for the heart, gut, blood sugar and immunity.
Chyawanprash, while made mostly from fresh Amalaki berries, is combined with more than 30 other herbs that support its assimilation and function. The story of Chyawan was about an old man gaining back his youth. Generally, as we age, the process of digesting and assimilating nutrients breaks down. Chyawanprash was designed to deliver potent and vital nutrition to anyone with a weak digestion. This is why it is so useful for the elderly and kids, and it tastes great too!
What about the Sugar in Chyawanprash?
In Ayurveda, sugar has long been used to act as a carrier for the active nutrients in some herbal formulas. The effect of the sugar is always said to be overruled by the more active herbs in the formula. Chyawanprash is said to be one of these formulas.
I have personally taken 5 or 6 heaping teaspoons of the ‘goop’ right before bed – a dose of sugar that I would normally expect to raise my morning blood sugar numbers – and tested my blood sugar upon waking. Surprisingly, my blood sugar was lower than some of my best numbers, and whenever I take I big dose I jokingly say that I feel bionic—light and energized. How could this be?
Morning blood sugar regulation is largely the job of the liver. One of the first things excess sugar in the blood will do is congest the liver and raise LDL cholesterol. As a powerful free radical scavenger that works through the liver, it is very possible that, in lightening the load on the liver, Chyawaprash thereby frees it up to do its job regulating blood sugar.
As you know, I am a very big fan of personal blood sugar testing with a home glucometer. If you are wondering about the effect of something on your blood sugar, always test it with your glucometer and make sure it is right for you! While I am not ready to recommend Chyawanprash for anyone with pre-diabetes or high blood sugar issues, I am excited to do more research on the effects of Chyawanprash on the liver and the blood sugar.