Native plants according to Ayurvedic criteria

Article by Dr. med. Kalyani Nagersheth, Ayurveda doctor as well as specialist for rehabilitative and physical medicine (

An important part of Ayurvedic medicine is phytotherapy. In the classical Ayurvedic texts many plants are described and categorized according to certain criteria (e.g. taste, properties, thermal effect). In this way, the appropriate plant can always be determined for the individual person in his or her current condition. This individual therapy makes Ayurveda so unique.

Native plants

Of course, "only" Indian plants are mentioned in the classical texts. But in Europe there is also an extremely effective variety of plants. The native plants can be obtained here much cheaper and in verified quality. In order to be able to work ayurvedically with these plants, they should be categorized according to the classical ayurvedic system. I have attempted this with a selection of European plants.

The indigenous plants are for the most part well studied according to Western pharmacological criteria. For example, the ingredients and their composition are known. From these ingredients, conclusions can often be drawn about the properties, e.g. tannins have a drying effect. Taste can either be perceived directly or determined from the ingredients, e.g. carbohydrates taste sweet. Thermal potency can also sometimes be perceived directly, e.g. comfrey root feels cold. Sometimes folk medicine, monastic medicine, also mentions whether a plant is cooling or warming. In this way information can be gathered and in the end the effect of the plant on the doshas can be determined.

My seminars on this subject are divided into plant ingredients and corresponding disease patterns. Western phytotherapy and Ayurvedic approach are combined. It is also important to get to know the plants intensively. For this purpose they are collected on walks. The appearance of the plant, its location and how it feels says a lot about its effect. The form of preparation can influence the effect. In Ayurveda, the digestive power of the human being is the central theme. By processing the plants, they become easier to digest and the desired organ of action can be specifically reached. Alcoholic preparations, for example, have a special effect on the brain (as most people know from their own experience).

Observance of the laws

In German as well as in Indian phytotherapy many things have to be observed. In Germany, the applicable laws must also be particularly taken into account.

For herbal medicinal products, as for all other medicinal products, the legal provisions of the German Medicines Act (AMG) apply, in which the requirements for approval by the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) are laid down as a prerequisite for their marketability.

The demands for a certain reproducible quality required by the AMG have increased significantly over the last 15 years and in most cases can only be met by a planned (controlled - not controlled biological!) cultivation of uniform plant material. There are also special breeds which have to be approved by the Federal Office of Plant Varieties as a registered variety. Controlled cultivation not only has disadvantages, but also serves nature conservation, as otherwise some heavily used plants, such as chamomile, would already be extinct. In Germany, a special expert committee, Commission E, is involved in the approval of phytopharmaceuticals. It is an interdisciplinary expert commission set up by the Federal Health Office in Berlin. It has critically evaluated existing scientific findings and, as an approval commission, has decided on the marketing of new phytopharmaceuticals. It has produced more than 300 so-called monographs, i.e. texts with statements on the efficacy and safety of medicinal plants and their preparations. There are positive or negative monographs, which certify which part of the plant shows efficacy for which indication (positive), or whether the negative effects predominate (negative). There is also a so-called zero monograph, with these drugs neither positive nor negative effects were found, the efficacy was not sufficiently proven, but there are no risks.

Especially the monographs of Commission E are difficult in the context of Ayurvedic medicine, because in Ayurveda plants are also used for indications for which they have a negative monograph by Commission E, e.g. liquorice in pregnancy. This is not allowed in Germany.

The training on Western medicinal plants according to Ayurvedic criteria should help to overcome these difficulties and offer practical help for everyday life. Health can also be obtained through "simple" teas.