Chyawanprash, the Ancient Indian ‘Metabolic Tonic’ and Immune Booster

Chyawanprash (CP) (also known as Chyavanaprasha, Chyavanaprash, Chyavanaprasam, and Chyawanaprash) comprises two lexes, “Chyawan” and “Prasha”. The word Chyawan is the name of a sage, and also symbolizes ‘degenerative change’. Prasha denotes a drug or foodstuff that is suitable for consumption. Indeed, Chyawanprash is a comprehensive ‘metabolic’ tonic; it contains a variety of herbs and is used to promote health and prevent diseases. Chyawanprash is an ancient Indian formulation (a polyherbal jam), prepared according to a traditional Ayurvedic recipe, enriched with several herbs, herbal extracts, and processed minerals.

Regarded by many experts as an essential health supplement, Chyawanprash has been around for centuries. Chyawanprash possesses multiple health benefits and has been widely used since ancient times as a health supplement and as a medicine for enhancing immunity and longevity. Chyawanprash has been a part of every Indian’s life from the day it was introduced, irrespective of sociocultural, political, and scientific factors. It was one of the most appreciated foods for its antiaging effects long before vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant supplements came into existence.

Rasayana, a branch of Ayurveda, includes a number of specialized approaches aimed at prolonging life, preventing aging and diseases, eliminating degenerative processes, and promoting excellent health. Of all the Rasayana formulations enumerated during the classical and medieval periods, Chyawanprash undoubtedly stands out as the most important. This formulation has made major strides as an over-the-counter product since it entered the consumer market in the 1950s. It is highly appreciated for possessing multiple health benefits and addressing the preventive, promotive, and curative aspects of health.

Chyawanprash consists of Amla/Amalaki (Phyllanthus emblica/Indian gooseberry) pulp as a base, and this is considered to be the most effective Rasayana for sustaining homeostasis. Chyawanprash that contains Amla has a mixed taste, combining sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and astringent qualities. On regular intake, it maintains physiological functions and rejuvenates the whole body system.

Preventive, Promotive and Curative Health Benefits

the Ancient Indian

Chyawanprash helps in better absorption of calcium and protein synthesis, thereby strengthening bones and teeth, and improving muscle tone. It also promotes growth in juveniles and helps in gaining weight. Its profound Rasayana effect due to potent herbs like Amla, Guduchi, and Ashwagandha helps to balance the body’s natural processes and modulate neuroendocrine-immune activities. It eliminates blood impurities and acts as a natural detox. It promotes hair growth, skin complexion, cures dermal infections, and improvises personality characteristics by imparting splendor, exquisiteness, youthfulness, wisdom, vitality, and glow. In the hairless mice model, Chyawanprash has shown a protective effect on photoaging of skin.

In HeLa cells, Chyawanprash suppressed epidermal thickening, improved the proliferation of human keratinocytes, and effectively removed ROS (reactive oxygen species), which are liable for skin photoaging. In a study, Chyawanprash showed promising potential for use as an antimicrobial agent. CHCl3 as well as hydrolyzed CHCl3 extract of Chyawanprash showed concentration-dependent antimicrobial activity. Chyawanprash has also shown protective effects in steroid-induced opacities in the eye lens of a chick embryo. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study on 177 subjects, Chyawanprash improved Hb levels consistently, irrespective of the season of its consumption, along with improvement in pulmonary function tests and immunological parameters.

The ‘Vitamin C’ Controversy

Amla, having rich vitamin C (445 mg/100 g) contents, constitutes the main ingredient (35%). Owing to the lack of uniform quality control standards of Ayurvedic drugs, it becomes challenging to ensure the uniformity of their composition and so the efficacy of final products. Although the official quality testing methods for Chyawanprash do not contain vitamin C content, there are contrasting findings apropos of its presence in Chyawanprash, possibly due to the application of less sensitive and nonspecific methods of investigation.

A study in 1997 found that vitamin C was missing in the tested Chyawanprash samples, and it might have been destroyed during cooking of the Amla pulp with cow ghee in the pharmaceutical process. It has been reported that upon heat exposure during preparation of Chyawanprash, the vitamin C contents remain unaffected, with a study reporting 34 mg/100 g vitamin C in Chyawanprash . Another study found that the percentage of vitamin C in the old samples of Chyawanprash (0.0253 ± 0.0001%) was much lower than that of the new samples (0.0512 ± 0.0003%), thus signifying the chances of degradation on storage.

Protects and Strengthens the Respiratory System

A regular intake of Chyawanprash strengthens the trachea–bronchial tree and hence improves the immunity and functioning of the respiratory system. It helps to treat respiratory infections, allergic cough, asthma, bronchospasm, rhinitis, seasonal or nonseason respiratory disorders, common cold, and tuberculosis, and thus strengthens the respiratory system. It is also used as an adjunct to antitubercular drugs to augment their bioactivity and prevent their side effects. Pipali, Kantakaari, Kakdasingi, Bhumyamalaki, Vasa, Pushkarmul, Prishnaparni, Agnimanth, Shalparni, sesame oil, and Amla help to nourish the respiratory system.

In a randomized controlled trial (RCT), 90 pulmonary tuberculosis patients were treated with Chyawanprash 10 g, twice daily as an adjunct to antitubercular drugs. Chyawanprash augmented the bioactivity of antitubercular drugs and prevented their side effects. Cough, expectoration, weakness, loss of appetite, loss of weight, fever, edema aches, and hemoptysis disappeared almost completely in the treated group, along with improvement in the hemoglobin (Hb) levels and effective healing as evidenced through chest X-ray post-therapy. Another observational study on 99 newly diagnosed pulmonary tuberculosis patients revealed that concomitant adjunct use of Chyawanprash with antitubercular drugs significantly abated the symptoms and improved bioavailability of isoniazid and pyrazinamide.

Antioxidant, Adaptogenic, and Immune-Booster

The combination or cocktail of phytocompounds (as in Chyawanprash) offers better antioxidant effects than single antioxidant therapy. The adaptogenic characteristics of Chyawanprash are attributable to its excellent antiaging and anxiolytic supplement. The revitalizing and tonic effects of Chyawanprash could be due to its rich antioxidant composition, bioactive phytoconstituents, such as carotenoids, flavonoids, tannins, and phenolic compounds, though supportive experimental and clinical evidence is scarce.

Recent investigations have ascertained that polyphenols (gallic acid, catechin, epicatechin) in Chyawanprash exert key antioxidant potential and is known to possess potent neuroprotective, cytoprotective, and antioxidant properties. Piperine content in Chyawanprash act as a bioavailability enhancer. Chyawanprash is an effective adaptogenic. Some clinical reports do support the adaptogenic and antioxidant effect of Chyawanprash on normal and depressive subjects

Cardiotonic Value

Chyawanprash is a potent cardiotonic. It strengthens the structure and functions of the heart and corrects the heart pumping rhythm by recuperating blood flow to its musculature. Chyawanprash is also reported to correct blood disorders and improve structure and functions of the vascular system. Chyawanprash also exerts antihyperlipidemic activity and alleviates metabolic impairments. Components of Chyawanprash —Amla, Neelkamal, Punarnawa, Pushkarmul, Kachur, Vasa, Bala, Sarivan, Pithawan, Barikateri and Gokshur—are well-recognized in their ability to rejuvenate and restore the cardiovascular system functions. Amla has shown antiatherogenic, anticoagulant, hypolipidemic, antihypertensive, antioxidant, antiplatelet, and vasodilatory effects, as well as lipid deposition inhibitory properties. In rat models, Punarnawa increased the reduced level of glutathione (GSH), superoxide dismutase (SOD) catalase (CAT), and decreased the elevated level of malondialdehyde (MDA) in cardiac tissue.

Improves Digestion and Metabolism

Chyawanprash helps to eliminate the accumulated excreta via improving digestion and excretion. It is reported to alleviate nausea, vomiting, hyperacidity, dyspepsia, and flatulence. Chyawanprash has also been found to relieve gastritis, peptic ulcer, gut cramps, and correct the gastrointestinal functions. It purifies blood, works as detoxifier, and promotes healthy liver function. It protects and strengthens the liver and kidneys and improves lipid and protein metabolism. The herbs of CP, such as Nagakesar, Tejpatra, Ela, Dalchini. Paatla, Agnimanth, Gambhari, Bael, Shyonak. Sarivan. Draaksha, Haritaki, honey, Bhumyamalaki, Kachur, Pushkarmul, Musta, Kaknasa. Vidaarikand, and Aguru, help to improve digestion and metabolism.

It is common practice to add the nourishing honey and cow ghee (clarified butter) in certain Ayurvedic herbal formulations to act as “a transporter of potency of herbs” (aka Yogavahi in Ayurveda), and it is believed to promote the quick absorption and assimilation of various herbal constituents in the distant tissues (lacto-vegan diet comprising milk and milk products is strongly recommended in Ayurveda). In the case of Chyawanprash , its sweet flavour favours its quick assimilation and facilitates better passage of its active ingredients into cell walls .

Mode of administration:

Chyawanprash can be taken alone, can be transferred to milk or water, or can be spread on toast, bread, or crackers just like any other jam. Taking Chyawanprash with warm milk (or almond milk, if the milk is not suitable) helps to maintain its firmness and deep tissue regeneration. The usual dose of Chyawanprash is 1-2 teaspoons, once or twice a day, or as prescribed by the provider your health care provider. Children can take 1/2 teaspoon daily. However, recommended that people suffering from asthma / respiratory illnesses should avoid eating milk and curd. In such cases, the formation can be controlled by warm water.

It is recommended that Chyawanprash be consumed within one year of the date of production, as studies have shown that chemical degradation may occur in the latter period, loss resulting in of Chyawanprash energy. Chyawanprash can be eaten on an empty stomach in the morning or before meals; if taken twice a day, then one can take it 30 minutes before dinner or two hours after dinner.

Taking 1-2 tablespoons of Chyawanprash and warm milk prevents colds and improves the immunity of children due to its rich content of vitamin C.

Chyawanprash the ancient improver is currently in regular consumption among a lot of people, who knows its benefits as an Immune builder or booster in these odd times.

Be healthy and be rejuvenated!

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