Beauty rituals in a Jam | Chyawanprash (च्यवानप्रश )
Ironically, all the extensive travelling, and the all consuming energy and passion I’ve been pouring into my beauty and wellness work of late seemed to have taken its toll on my very own beauty and wellbeing. So re-discovering this classic ancient Ayurvedic concoction has really been a game changer. Saying hello to this molten tar like charcoal jam-meets-paste “Chyavanprash” after decades and incorporating it into my daily routine has been nothing short of amazing. Seriously, this has upped my energy levels, regulated my sleep patterns and brought a noticeable glow to my skin. So allow me to introduce you to this nutrifood, its folklore, composition and benefits.
It is said that the Indian sage Maharshi Chyavan concocted this medicine to bring back his youth when he was asked to marry the young princess Sukanya. Recorded in the Charak Samhita, an ancient Ayurvedic treatise written by sage Charak circa early first mellenium BC, it lays down the first historically documented recipe for Chyavanprash.
Chyavanprash, according to the 'Charaka Samhita' , is "the foremost of all rasayanas. It nourishes the weak, the wounded, the old, and those that are of tender years as well." Through the use of this rasayana "a person acquires intelligence, memory, comeliness of body, freedom from disease, longevity, strength of the senses, great pleasure in the companionship with women, great increase in the strength of the digestive fire, improvement of the complexion, and preserve the harmony of the three doshas ." That makes it a youth elixir like no other!
Memories of winter mornings in my hometown Pune come flooding back: my grandmother would make me eat this as a young girl. Hand made by our local herbalist with amla, piper longum, ashwagandha, giloy, malabar nut, sandalwood, kudzu and cardamom among others. Slow cooked in a wood fired clay oven or “bhatti”, the herbs would then be infused into honey, ghee and sesame oil. Chanting of Vedic mantras is a key element in the formulation of Chyavanprash. Invoking the grace and power of the divine consciousness is the essence of a recipe with origins as ancient as this one.
Here are some specific benefits of Chyavanprash:
Amla: The Indian gooseberry is renowned for its wellness benefits. Chock full of Vitamin C, proteins, minerals (calcium, phosphorus, iron, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin) its high in fibres and a superstar antioxidant. Mainly used in the rasayana to arrest the effects of ageing on skin, hair and eyes. Research has shown Amla to fight heart disease and other debilitating conditions.
Liver tonic: Herbs like bhumiamalaki, amla, punarnava and guduchi revitalise the liver.
Balancing the doshas: Saffron, cinnamon and pipali work to strenthen and balance the system. The beauty of Chyavanprash is that it is excellent for all doshas: bodily humours that govern our entire system.
Tissue health: Herbs pippali, draksha and bala penetrate tissues, keeping them lubricated and healthy when infused in lipid media like ghee, honey and sesame oil.
Unrefined oragnic sugar and honey play an important role in Chyawanprash. Synergistically they work as an “anupan”, a carrier of herbs if you will, helping herbs penetrate and absorb deep into the tissues.
Rich in flavonoids, alkaloids antioxidants and saponins, this is an excellent supplement for the heart, blood vessels and cures all skin disorders. A sweet sour tangy jam, this delicious semi molten tar like concoction is an essential part of my morning ritual, eliminating ama or toxins and revitalizing my system.