Buddhist Ayurvedic Herbs for the Mind and Mental Health

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The Buddha allowed monks, if there was a reason, to prepare medicines using a (lower or small) grindstone, pestle and mortar and sifters, and allowed monks, if there was a reason, to make medical use of whatever there are of medicinal roots, astringent decoctions, medicinal leaves, medicinal fruits, medicinal resins and medicinal salts (Vin.I.201-202).

The most important group of ausadha (drugs) employed within Ayurveda for the treatment of mental health problems, are the medhya rasayanas.

An especially notable herb is haritaki, a type of fruit used in a variety of medicines. Haritaki fruit is a well-known healing substance in both in Buddhist and Ayurvedic medical tradition. Its use with milk and honey is advocated for mental health problems in an Indian Buddhist text preserved in Chinese translation.

In some early Buddhist texts haritaki is thought to represent ‘blessings from unseen realms’. The Buddha Bhaisajyaguru (medicine Buddha), is usually seen holding haritaki in his right hand and the healing properties and affects of haritaki on both body and mind indicate the comprehensive nature of the medicine Buddha’s healing power (p.83, Birnbaum, 1989).

Haritaki is used as an ingredient in some of the therapeutic products available on a not-for-profit basis in our online shop (restricted to Manasa Ayurveda clients only).