Neem (azadiracta indica) – The Ayurvedic Friend for Skin Health

neemParts used: leaves, flowers, bark & roots

Energetics: bitter, cool, pungent, -PK +V

Neem is a fast-growing tree that can reach up to heights of 50 feet, growing in many parts of India and the subcontinent, with the ability to withstand very high temperatures and low rainfall. In Ayurveda it is known as sarva roga nivarini,  translating as ‘the curer of all ailments’, indicating its vast healing benefits. The most commonly used part of the neem tree are its dried leaves which are very bitter in nature.

The anti fungal and anti viral and powerful blood purification and properties of neem makes it a key ingredient for remedies of skin conditions and curing diabetes. It was also found to be effectively used to cure diseases like malaria, insect bites, nausea, vomiting, rheumatism, jaundice, obesity, arthritis, hair loss, urinary tract problems and parasites.

With its powerful detoxification properties, neem cools fevers and clears the toxins involved in many inflammatory skin diseases (especially burning). It has the qualities to pacify all doshas, however cautions needs to be applied in conditions of colds and debilitation.

One of the reknowned uses for Neem is the prevention of tooth decay & gum disease. Neem twigs and leaves have been used for thousands of years in India by millions of people to brush their teeth and to promote oral hygiene.

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The wonders of Tulasi (holy basil),

botanical name: Ocimum Sanctum

holy basil

Tulasi – holy basil

Tulasi, cultivated in India for thousands of years for its religious and medicinal purposes is an aromatic leafy plant. Of the two types, rama and shyam tulasi, the latter is considered to contain more medicinal properties. Ancient Ayurvedic seers, including charaka recognised tulasi as the ‘elixir of life’.

Of the plant, the leaf is most commonly used for its heath benefits, although the whole plant including the stem, roots, flowers and seeds have various medicinal properties. Tulasi can be taken in a variety of forms including fresh and dried leaf tea, fresh green leaves, alcohol tinctures, medicated ghee and used in external body treatments in herbal poultices and pastes.

Rich in vitamin A, C and minerals such as zinc, calcium, iron, chlorophyll and other phytochemicals, this pillar in Ayurvedic herbology enhances digestion, absorption and general health and well-being with positive effects on the mind and body. Tulasi is commonly used to treat various conditions from coughs, colds, flu, headaches, arthritis, ear ache, rheumatism, fever, allergies, intestinal parasites, insect bites as well as being a key herb in formulations used in treatment for conditions of the heart, blood, liver, kidneys, throat and metabolism to name but a few.

As a powerful adaptogen, holy basil has the capacity to enhance the body’s natural adaptability to physical, mental and emotional stress and various stress-related degenerative disorders.

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Insight into ayurvedic food combining

Ayurvedic Incompatible Foods

Ayurvedic Incompatible Foods

Unlike the traditional view of a balanced diet consisting of basic food groups, such as dairy, grains, fats, meats, fruit and veg. Ayurveda suggests an approach for correct diet based on the individual’s doshic constitution (vata, pitta, kapha). Every food has its own taste (rasa), a heating or cooling energy (virya) and post-digestive effect (vipaka). When we combine food that consist of different tastes, energy and post-digestive effect, the digestive fire (agni) gets disturbed, slows down and start producing toxins in the system.

Not only can incompatible foods remain in the stomach for several hours, combining foods improperly can cause indigestion, fermentation, putrefaction and gas formation. If prolonged it can lead to toxemia and lead to various other diseases.

When foods are eaten correctly or separately they can aid digestion. eating bananas with milk; egg with fish; radishes with milk, bananas or raisins; lemon with yoghurt; melons with any other foods; raw foods with cooked foods; fruits and grains, are some examples of incompatible foods.

What happens when we eat for example melon and milk? Well milk has a laxative effect and requires more time to digest and melon is a diurectic. The digestive enzymes required to digest melons cause the milk to curdle due to the sourness. This type of constant digestive confusion can be the cause of many diseases, especially related to respiratory or skin conditions.

An Ayurvedic practitioner will be able to offer suitable dietary guidance considering nutritional value, constitution, seasons, age and any disease condition. The key to all of this is to start slowly, one thing at a time such as beginning with separating fruits from other foods.

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Kitcheri – The Ultimate Ayurvedic Superfood

If I am feeling hungry and wanting something quick, this is one of my favouite staples that I regularly have for lunch or dinner or even both. So I made it for 3 very health conscious friends on Saturday evening and they seemed to really enjoy it. This basic, nutritiously wholesome Ayurvedic recipe is tridoshic and can be can be adapted  to suit all constitutions and tastes. You can vary the mung from whole green to split green to hulled yellow mung or change the rice part to barley or short grain brown rice and of course you can pick and choose which vegetables you fancy.
This dish is perfect for balancing all doshas and those who are trying to strengthen their agni (digestive fire). The simplest version  is often used as part of the pancakarma diet – without herbs and vegetables and also makes for a good accompaniment for vegetable curry dishes). Traditionally the simple version is reknowned in the Indian tradition as the food we have when we are sick.
Kitcheri (rice with green mung dahl & vegetables)

3 to 6 tsp.
Whole Spices—2 to 3 tsp.  e.g.

Cumin, other optional whole spices: Coriander, Fennel, Fenugreek.
Herbs—1/2 tsp. powdered herbs, e.g. cumin, coriander, turmeric, fresh ginger, salt to taste
Bay leaf—1 (optional)White basmati rice—1/2 cup.
Split green mung dhal—1/2 cup (now available in most large supermarkets of health food shops)
Water—2 cups, may need to add more
Vegetables of your choice—1-2 cups, dice (1cm size) e.g. carrots, peas, potato, cabbage, kale, onion. (optional)


  • Heat ghee in medium-sized saucepan until melted then add whole spices & herbs. Stir. Allow the aromas release (1 minute).
  • Add mixed and rinsed rice and mung dahl and spices to the pan and stir cook for 15 minutes
  • Add the veg & water and stir. Bring to the boil, then reduce to low heat and cook covered for 30—60 mins or until vegetables are well cooked, but not mushy! Avoid stirring while cooking. The final consistency should like a thick porridge.

Add salt to taste and allow to stand for 2-3 minutes. Serve while hot