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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 208-214

Rasayana herbs for longevity: An ayurvedic and contemporary appraisal

1 Department of Dravyaguna, All India Institute of Ayurveda, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Shalya Tantra, All India Institute of Ayurveda, New Delhi, India

Date of Submission18-Sep-2020
Date of Decision28-Sep-2020
Date of Acceptance29-Sep-2020
Date of Web Publication25-Sep-2021

Correspondence Address:
Shivani Ghildiyal
Department of Dravyaguna, All India Institute of Ayurveda, New Delhi - 110 076
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/joa.joa_115_20

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Objective: To explore Rasayana herbs ascribed in Ayurveda classics and their contemporary appraisal for Rasayana potential. Data Source: Classical Ayurvedic review of Rasayana herbs were done from three distinguished Ayurveda classics (Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Ashtang Hridaya) known as Brithattrayi. The contemporary review of those classical herbs was done from PubMed and other reputed databases. Review Methods: The classical Ayurveda review was done manually from Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Ashtanga Hridaya. The single herbs mentioned in specifically dedicated Rasayana chapters of these classics (Charaka Chikitsa 1, Sushruta Chikitsa 27, 28, Ashtanga Hridaya Uttarsthana 39) were gathered. The botanical identity of the herbs were taken from “The plant list.org”. The contemporary review of those classical herbs mentioned as Rasayana in Ayurveda classics were done from PubMed and other databases. The searching key was Latin name of drug/herb+Rasayana activity. Results: Total 39 herbs were enumerated in Brihattrayi, among them 21 are in Charaka Samhita, 12 in Sushruta Samhita and 21 are from Ashtanga Hridaya, few of them are Bhallataka, Mandukaparni, Guduchi, Varahikanda, Soma, Tuvaraka, Vacha and Bhringaraja. Most of the herbs mentioned as Rasayana are evaluated scientifically for their antioxidant, immunomodulatory and nootropic potential. These reported activities of herbs support their Rasayana property. Conclusion: These studies indicate that daily damage of cells leads to early ageing and occurrence of many diseases. Rasayana herbs through their anti-oxidant, immunomodulatory and nootropic potential protect the damage which contribute towards health and longevity.

Keywords: Antioxidant, Immunomodulatory, Longevity, Nootropic, Rasayana

How to cite this article:
Kumar V, Nesari TM, Ghildiyal S, Sherkhane R. Rasayana herbs for longevity: An ayurvedic and contemporary appraisal. J Ayurveda 2021;15:208-14

How to cite this URL:
Kumar V, Nesari TM, Ghildiyal S, Sherkhane R. Rasayana herbs for longevity: An ayurvedic and contemporary appraisal. J Ayurveda [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 May 19];15:208-14. Available from: http://www.journayu.in/text.asp?2021/15/3/208/326704

  Introduction Top

Life expectancy is increasing from the past 1 to 2 decades due to good health measures, in fact the aim is not only long lifespan but also to attain low morbidity and good health. Thus, any measure, which keeps the body healthy, increases the life span, and minimizes the disease morbidity, can be the best longevity provider. It is well proven that longevity depends on genetic factors (lipoprotein metabolism gene and DNA repair), metabolic and immune system, environmental factors (homeostasis), stress and agerelated diseases (cardiovascular and Alzheimer),[1] However, science of Ayurveda has given experiential measures to attain the real essence of long life and graceful ageing through judicious use of Rasayana. In Ayurveda, age is classified into three stages with dominant Dosha and related diseases, i.e., Bala (up to 16 years) having Kapha dosha, Madhyama (16–70 years) having Pitta dosha, and Vriddha (above 70 years) having Vata dosha.[2]Jara” (aging) is defined as a disease occurring by natural phenomenon, and and Kala parinamana (time). Prakriti (somatic constitution), Dosha (regulatory functional factors of the body), Ahara (diet), Agni (digestive fire), Achara (behavior),[3] Swabhava (nature),[4] and Manasa Bhava (emotions) Mithyahinatiyoga[5] (regulatory functional factors of the body) are the factors responsible for aging described by Acharyas. According to Acharya Charaka, everyone has three Aeshana (desire), i.e., Pranaeshana (desire of long life), Dhanaeshana (desire of money), and Parlokaeshana (desire of good life in heaven). Among them, Pranaeshana Is the basis for attaining the other desires of life.[6] It is also advised that human beings must take care of their health without thinking about all other things.[7] Therefore, Ayurveda ascribed a dedicated branch known as Rasayana tantra to elucidate the measures for long healthy life and cure of diseases.[8] Rasayana is the measure which prevents the pre mature aging and combat the diseases.[9] Rasayana not only stabilizes the age and provides longevity but also improves intellect, strength, and eliminates disease.[10] While describing the benefits of Rasayana, it is well written that Dirghayu (longevity), Smruti (improved harmony and intelligence), Arogya (freedom from disorder), Taruna vaya (youthful vigor), Kanti (excellence of luster), Prabha (complexion), Swaraudarya (voice), Dehaindriya bala (optimum strength of physique and senses), Vaka siddhi (command over language), and Medha (brilliance) are the ultimate results of Rasayana.[11] It reflects that Rasayana maintains all the three components of health, i.e., Satva (mental), Atma (spiritual), and Sharira (physical) known as Tridanda (three pillars of the body).[12] In fact, Rasayana is a broad term which include therapies, herbs, behavior, and diet, having their contribution for gaining the ultimate result, i.e., longevity with health and happiness. Vivid description of Rasayana herbs found in Ayurveda classics, but a complete review on these Rasayana herbs is not done till date. Therefore, in the present article, single herbs enumerated in Ayurveda classics along with their contemporary researches which supports Rasayana potential of the herbs is gathered and presented in a scientific and systematic manner.

  Materials and Methods Top

The classical Ayurveda review was done manually from Ayurvedadipika commentary of Cakrapanidatta reprint 2016, Nibandhasangraha commentary of Dalhanacharya reprint 2017, and Ashtanga Hridaya of Vagbhatta with the commentaries Sarvangasundara of Arundatta and Ayurvedarasayana of Hemadri reprint 2017. Single herbs mentioned in specifically dedicated Rasayana chapters (Charaka Chikitsa 1, Sushruta Chikitsa 27, 28, and Ashtanga Hridaya Uttarsthana 39) having Rasayana property were gathered. The contemporary review was done from various online databases (PubMed, etc.). The searching key was the Latin name of drug/herb+Rasayana activity. The botanical identity of the herbs were taken from “The plant list.org.” The gathered information was reviewed and analyzed to know about Modus Operandi of classical Ayurvedic herbs enumerated as Rasayana.

  Observation and Results Top

21 single herbs in Charaka Samhita, 12 in Sushruta Samhita, and 21 in Ashtanga Hridaya are stated as Rasayana. Among all herbs, Bhallataka and Mandukaparni are mentioned in all three classics. Agaru, Aparajita, Asana, Chandana, Dhava, Jivanti, Khadira, Shalaparni, Sinshipa, and Tinisha are mentioned in only Charaka Samhita. Avalguja, Brahmi, Kashmaraya, Shanaphala, Soma, and Visa are mentioned in Sushruta Samhita. Bringa, Chitraka, Lahasuna, Shatavari, Tila, and Tuvaraka are unique Rasayana herbs mentioned in Ashtanga Hridaya [Table 1].
Table 1: Rasayana herbs of Brihattrayi with mentioned advantage and reported scientific activities supporting Rasayana potential

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  Discussion Top

Among Rasayana herbs mentioned in three treaties of Ayurveda, i.e., Charaka, Sushruta, and Ashtanga Hridaya, nine are also enumerated under Vayasthapana Mahakashaya,[36] group of ten herbs cited for achieving longevity. If we look into the Rasayana herb cited in Ayurveda classics under Brihatrayi, then it is evident that, although most of the herbs are similar but new herbs are also added by Ayurveda Acharyas. This may be due to the availability of that plant in the geographical regions. The prevalence and the incidences of diseases may be another factor which is responsible for variation of plants. Guduchi, Amalaki, Bibhitaki, Haritaki, Bilva, Gokshura, Shatavari, Vacha, and Yasthimadhu are some of single drugs of Rasayana property which are easily available and can be used day to day as Rasayana [Table 1]. These Rasayana may work at the levels of Agani and Srotsa and produce optimum Dhatu. Further, few disease-specific Rasayana herbs may be used to combat communicable and noncommunicable diseases. Incorporation of Rasayana therapy in the management of certain lifestyle disorders such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, osteoarthritis, and obesity can be beneficial for effective management.

Medhya Rasayana herbs Mandukparni (Centella asiatica [L.] Urb.), Yashthimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra L.), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia [Willd.] Miers), and Shankhapushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis Choisy) are cognitive enhancers and nootropics. Cognitive enhancers enhance the attention, control, and memory. These are thought to work by altering the availability of the brain's supply of neurochemicals (neurotransmitters, enzymes, and hormones), by improving the brain's oxygen supply.[37],[38] These herbs are useful to fight against the age-related cognitive decline.

Homeostasis can be achieved by Rasayana which is a way of delaying the process of aging and prevention of diseases. In healthy condition, Rasayana can be understood as nutritional dynamics for the rejuvenation of the body and psyche.[39] Antioxidant activity, immunomodulatory activity, central nervous system activity, radioprotective activity, aphrodisiac activity, antiulcer activity, antigiardial activity, anticancer property, etc., activities are evaluated in various scientific studies.[40] Thus, single herb/drugs Rasayana are easily available, easy to take in daily routine, and also beneficial in both preventive and curative aspects to enhance longevity.

  Conclusion Top

It may be concluded that single Rasayana herbs enumerated under Brihattriyi may be used for health promotion and disease cure. Many of them are also proven scientifically, but some are still unexplored. This is the area of interest for the scientists for future research to generate evidence for the experiential science of Ayurveda. In the present paper, specifically dedicated portions of only three Samhitas mentioned under Brihattriyi are reviewed for single herbs mentioned as Rasayana. Further extensive review may be done from other Ayurvedic classics to generate more data for the same.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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