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Ayurveda and Anti-Aging Herbs: A Workshop with neuroscientist Dr. Ram Rao

At the recent Sivananda Ayurveda Conference, neuroscientist Dr. Ram Rao gave an insightful lecture on Anti-Aging herbs. Below are highlights from his fascinating lecture.

For thousands of years, Ayurveda has shown us how to delay the aging process. In fact, there is a class of herbs in Ayurveda which are specifically used for keeping us young, healthy and vibrant. These herbs are called “rasayana” herbs. Rasayana literally means “that which negates (destroys) old age and disease.” In addition to delaying the aging process, rasayana herbs strengthen the body, improve cognitive ability, and increase immunity. 

Some of the best rasayana herbs, which have been used for thousands of years, include:

  • Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)
  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
  • Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus)
  • Punarnava (Boerhaavia diffusa)
  • Shankha pushpi (Clitoria ternatea)
  • Amla (Phyllanthus embolica)
  • Haritaki (Terminalia chebula)
  • Bibhitaki (Terminalia bellerica)
  • Mandukaparani/Gotu kola (Centella asiatica)
  • Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia)

Herbs which are specific for rejuvenating the brain and supporting cognitive function are listed below. The effectiveness of most of these herbs has also been supported by recent evidence-based studies:

  • Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)
  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
  • Mandukaparani/Gotu koka)(Centella asiatica)
  • Kapikachu (Macuna 

Herbs are intended to be used with other Ayurvedic lifestyle considerations, including eating in a healthy manner, living a harmonious lifestyle, taking in healthy impressions through the five senses, meditation, yoga, etc. 

Ayurveda also has very specialized therapies to slow down the aging process. These therapies are called “rasayana chikitsa” or rejuvenation therapies. These therapies rejuvenate all tissues and channels of the body, on the physical as well as subtle levels. 

Rasayana therapies delay aging, and are aimed at anyone from 16 to 90 years old. For maximum benefit, rasayana therapies begin with deep cleansing practices called panchakarma (PK). You can begin with rasayana therapy without PK but the effects will be limited. Rasayana therapies are not aimed at turning someone into a “super being,” but rather these therapies reveal yourself as a complete, natural being. Rasayana practices include herbs, diet, lifestyle, and behavioral therapies.

Dr. Ram Rao is a neuroscientist on faculty at the California College of Ayurveda. He is a senior research scientist at the Buck Institute for Age Research. The above is from one of his presentations at the 4th Annual Sivananda Ayurveda Conference, in January, 2017 on Paradise Island, Bahamas. 

By Marisa Laursen, C.A.S., P.K.S., A.Y.T., Faculty at the California College of Ayurveda