Spotlight on Ayurvedic Herbs

Beyond dietary changes, Ayurveda embraces an array of alternative therapies: exercise, especially yoga; stress-management techniques, including meditation and massage; and herbal medicine. Each of these therapies has been the subject of a battery of scientific studies. Perhaps the most intriguing research relevant to Ayurvedic medicine centers on herbal medicine-specifically, on two related Ayurvedic herbal formulas.

Both formulas are called Maharishi Amrit Kalash, or MAK for short. To distinguish them from one another, they have been assigned numbers. MAK-4 contains raw sugar, ghee (clarified butter, a staple in many Ayurvedic remedies), Indian gallnut, Indian gooseberry, Indian pennywort, honey, nut­grass, white sandalwood, butterfly pea, shoeflower, aloewood, licorice, cardamom, cinnamon, cyperus, and turmeric. MAK-5 is made from black musale, heart-leaved moonseed, butterfly pea, licorice, elephant creeper, Indian wild pepper, and three herbs with no English common names (Gymnema aurentiacum, Sphaerantus indicus, and Yanda spatulatum).

MAK-4 and MAK-5 have undergone laboratory testing at the hands of several scientists. These researchers have uncovered evidence that both MAK formulas may provide a number of health benefits. Studies have shown that these formulas-taken separately or together-may help relieve angina, allergies, and the side effects of chemotherapy. And animal studies suggest that MAK-4 might help shrink breast tumors. The MAK formulas have also helped some people improve their eyesight.

As scientists uncover more information about the therapeutic properties of MAK-4 and MAK-5, both formulas may become more widely available. For now, though, they must be obtained from an Ayurvedic practitioner.

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