According to Ayurveda, herbal formulations can be “activated” in certain ways to boost their bio-availability and effectiveness.
Herbal formulas using whole, organically-grown herbs of good quality, combined with other herbs to enhance their intelligence, and taken in-season can provide a combination of nutritional benefit, probiotic support, and a needed therapeutic impact.
In this article, I will describe the ways in which these traditional formulas were enhanced or activated.
It is well understood that plants carry subtle properties in addition to their biochemical blueprint. Magnifying the microscope, we find that microbes in the soil adhere to the plant roots, stems, leaves, and flowers and enhance the plant’s bio-intelligence.
Microbes, referred to as “krimi” in ancient Vedic texts, carry impressions, bio-intelligence, and genetic information about the changing outside world onto and into the human body.
In the same way that soil microbes attach themselves to the skin of a root, stem, leaf, or flower, upon consumption, they attach to the inner skin of the body—the skin that lines the intestinal and respiratory tracts, arteries, areas of lymphatic concentration, and the senses—as well as the outer skin.
Microbes in the soil and on plants change dramatically each season. Seasonal microbes help manufacture digestive enzymes to aid in the digestion of seasonal foods. They boost immunity when needed in the winter, decongest the body in the spring, and dissipate heat during the hot summer.
This is science that shines new light on the importance of aligning one’s diet with the seasons and coincides with Nobel Price-winning 2017 science on circadian medicine. (4)
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New studies are linking common health concerns that seasonally wax and wane to the natural seasonal shift in the body’s microbiome which changes based on seasonal eating. (5)
Microbes carry information from the gut to the brain via the gut-brain axis (GBA) while also transporting genetic information to the body’s genetic code—all to keep the host (the human body) a viable and healthy carrier for krimi. (1,2)
The information transmitted to us from our intestinal flora to our brain alters our moods, emotions, hunger levels, cravings, and sleep patterns. (2) In one study, intuitive decision-making and gut feelings were explained by the passing of information from the microbes in our guts to our brains. (3)
The microbes or krimi that naturally exist on whole herbs are beginning to be understood as critical to the intended biological benefit one gleans from ingesting an herb.
These are just some of the reasons we use organic whole herbs at LifeSpa. Conventionally-grown plants are sprayed with insecticides that kill the synergistic microbes.
Herbal extracts, which are extremely common in the marketplace, do have powerful properties because they are standardized to a certain concentration of active plant constituents. They play an important role in herbal medicine and I do use them occasionally, but the trade-off is that they are sterile and, therefore, carry none of the seasonal microbial and biochemical synergy of that plant.
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Activating Herbs with Other Herbs
Putting herbs together into a formula is an art in Ayurveda, and can make all the difference as to whether an herb is effective or not. The proper combination of herbs can not only boost the biochemical effects of an herbal formula but also change its microbial status as well.
At LifeSpa, I combine most of the Ayurvedic herbs in the traditional manner. Turmeric is a perfect example.
While known for its many health benefits, it is also known to be a challenge to absorb. Studies found that when you combine it with black pepper in a ratio of 16 parts turmeric to 1 part black pepper, its bio-availability can be boosted by between 200- 2000%. (6)
One year, when we combined our batch of turmeric with black pepper, the microbial counts shot up. They were still within the FDA’s normal range, but it was clear that combining these two herbs “activated” them in a big way.
The lab we used to test them even asked if we were trying to make a probiotic. I told him, “In fact, yes!”
This was the traditional way we attained microbial diversity in out guts, by ingesting seasonal herbs that were still very much alive.
At LifeSpa, I combine most of our Ayurvedic herbs into activated formulations based on time-tested herbal wisdom. Here are a few examples:
|Herbal Formula||Part Used||Herbs Used to Activate/Enhance|
|Turmeric Plus||Root||Black Pepper|
|Boswellia Joints Plus||Gum/resin||Ginger, Turmeric, Ashwagandha|
|Regenerate Shilajit||Resin||Ashwagandha, Amalaki|
|Neem Plus||Leaf||Amalaki, Guduchi|
|Sugar Destroyer||Leaf||Fenugreek, Cinnamon, Shilajit|
|Guggul Lean||Gum||Arjuna, Phyllanthus, Shilajit, Turmeric, Black Pepper|
There are also many Ayurvedic herbs that are very effective all on their own. To name a few, amalaki, brahmi, and shatavari.
These are herbs that generally carry the label “rasayana,” which means that they are naturally activated.
Ashwagandha is also considered a rasayana but is well-known to be hard to digest. It is a winter-harvested, warm, heavy, and sweet root that makes it somewhat dense and hard to digest.
We combine it with a very small amount of ginger helps to activate the adaptogenic constituents in ashwagandha as well as make it lighter, much easier to digest, and more bio-available.