What is Chyawanprash?
Chyawanprash is an ancient Indian Ayurvedic recipe for jam, and some Indian cultures may use different spellings (e.g., chyavanprash, chyavanaprasam, and chyavanaprjasha). The jam includes ingredients like sugar, honey, ghee, Indian Gooseberry, sesame oil, berries, and a selection of herbs and spices. The jam has a dark color, similar to melted tar, and it has both a sweet, spicy, and sour taste.
Ancient texts imply that Chyawanprash was first developed several thousand years ago. The story tells of a man, named Chyawan, who wanted to create a formula that would help him prepare his health and body for his upcoming marriage. Other stories describe Chyawan as being an old man who made his formula to regain his youth. No matter the story, after its creation Chyawanprash became one of the most popular health formulas in India, and it is considered to be a great general “cure all.” The first recipes appear in the literature around 4 B.C. Since then, it is often typically served as either a tonic or a spread.
Chyawanprash Benefits, and Uses
Traditionally, Chyawanprash is used to bolster the immune system, and this practice goes back centuries. Research shows that it may be an effective immune enhancing supplement due to the Indian Gooseberry, the main ingredient found in Chyawanprash. In 1995 a study was conducted on the aqueous extracts of the Indian Gooseberry in vitro, and the results of that study showed that the berry contains antioxidants that are both heat stable and water soluble. In 1997, another study was conducted on the aqueous extracts which showed that they contain compounds that are both anticarcinogenic and antimutagenic.
The studies that provide evidence that shows Chyawanprash to be effective for lowering cholesterol (see section below) also provides evidence for its use in diabetes. In 2001, a study was conducted on 10 heathy men who were either given a supplement containing Chyawanprash or Vitamin C. At the end of the study period, the men given the supplement were shown to have lower glycemic indexes than those men given the vitamin. More benefits were discovered in this one study, and it is detailed further under cholesterol.
Several volumes of ancient writings suggest that Chyawanprash may benefit the respiratory system when affected by conditions like colds and asthma. This benefit has only been tested in 1975, when a study was conducted that suggested Chyawanprash contains compounds that can relieve tuberculosis. However, studies have not been conducted since then to test the effects of the mixture on other respiratory conditions. Despite this, many people claim that regular supplementation with Chyawanprash can help to relieve chronic asthma.
Many people who take Chyawanprash claim that taking the supplement improves and promotes hair growth. Other people claim that the recipe strengthen hair and protect against brittle damage. While this has not been tested or developed for traditional hair-care products, testimonial evidence suggests there may be some merit to its use for the hair.
Many of the ingredients in Chyawanprash are high calorie but nutritious, making it a great formula for gaining weight in a healthy manner, like in the case of body building for example. Although one study conducted in 1988 briefly mentions that Chyawanprash can cause weight gain, it has not been studied in full. However, many claim that it has many benefits for body builders, and many weight gain formulas are available for this purpose.
Chyawanprash is commonly used to clean and relieve the digestive system. Sanskrit texts suggest that it can relieve gastritis, abdominal cramping, and peptic ulcers, but research has not confirmed these uses yet. However, some ingredients are generally known to soothe the digestive system, like honey and ghee. Many also claim that the regular consumption of Chyawanprash can reduce flatulence as well. Depending on the assortment of herbs and spices used to make the jam, there may be other beneficial effects on the digestive system.
Some people claim that Chyawanprash can improve the memory, and there is some research that backs this up. In 2010, a study was conducted on mice to determine if the supplement would improve cognitive function. Mice were given this supplement over the course of 15 days and were then evaluated with a series of mazes. The results showed that the treatment improved the memory of the older mice compared to the younger mice, and those older mice had improved performances in the mazes. Based on those results, the researchers think that Chyawanprash improves learning capacity and memory retention.
Since Chyawanprash has shown to have antimutagenic compounds (see immunity section above), there is some merit to the idea that the formula may have benefits for cancer treatment and prevention. Those antimutagenic properties were studied further in a study conducted in 2014. In that study, precancerous oral lesions caused by chewing betel quid (a product similar to chewing tobacco) were treated in 21 patients over a three-month period. The results showed that Chyawanprash can minimize toxic effects and mutagenic activity caused by betel quid.
In 1988 a study was conducted on rabbits that had cholesterol-induced hypercholesterolaemia and atherosclerosis. The rabbits were administered Chyawanprash over a period of 16 weeks, and at the end of the experimental period the rabbits showed to have reduced levels of serum cholesterol. The effects of the treatment were so significant that the researchers suggested that the treatment should be evaluated in humans. In 2001, the effects were finally tested on people in another experimental study. Ten healthy adult males between the ages of 20-32 were given either a treatment (Chyawanprash) or a placebo (Vitamin C) over the course of 16 weeks. At the end of the study period, the treatment lowered blood cholesterol much more significantly than the placebo.
Several studies have been conducted that reveal Chyawanprash may have liver protecting agents. In the year 2000, the effects of Chyawanprash were tested on rats with induced liver injury. Throughout the study, the extracts taken from Chyawanprash were shown to reduce liver toxicity, and it was suggested that Chyawanprash could potentially inhibit the induction of liver fibrosis.
Many texts recommend eating 1 teaspoon once a day for adults and half a teaspoon for children. However, for weight gain purposes, larger amounts may need to be consumed. Refer to the supplement instructions if taking for weight gain.
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Chyawanprash Side Effects, Safety, Dangers and Warnings
Due to its effects on blood sugar, it is suggested to use caution if you are diabetic. Consult with a health practitioner first. Additionally, consider using a sugar-free formula if you have diabetes.
Some people claim feeling a burning sensation in the stomach after consuming. A glass of milk can help to soothe this.
Chyawanprash can cause loose stools and constipation.
Chyawanprash is generally considered safe but use caution if pregnant or breastfeeding. It is considered to be safe for both children over the age of three and adults, including the elderly.
No toxic effects or drug interactions are known at this time. If taking prescription drugs, consult with a doctor before using.
Chyawanprash Ingredients List / Recipe
The ingredients of Chyawanprash can vary recipe to recipe. Depending on the recipe, Chyawanprash can have as little as 25 ingredients and as many as 80. However, there are usually a few commonalities or popular ingredients:
- Amla (Indian Gooseberry)
- Ashwagandha (Winter Cherry)
- Water Lilly
- Giant Potato
- Irish Root
- Long Pepper
- Malabar Nut
- Nut Grass
- Potassium Sorbate
- Sesame Oil
- Tiger’s Claw
- Black and/or Green Gram
How to make Chyawanprash:
- Cook Indian Gooseberries in a pressure cooker. One gooseberries are cooked, deseed and blend into a fine puree.
- Grind herbs and spices into a fine powder and put aside.
- Melt ghee in a large pot or wok. Once ghee is melted, add the gooseberry puree.
- Blend the gooseberry-ghee mixture over a medium to low heat until the mixture is thickened.
- Add in spices and any additional ingredients you would like to include.
Store Chyawanprash in a sterilized jar in a cool dry place, and it should keep anywhere from 4-6 months.
How to Take Chyawanprash
It is suggested to take Chyawanprash with a glass of milk either in the morning or after dinner. The milk helps to calm any unpleasant warming sensation in the stomach that may occur. It can be eaten on crackers or toast like any other jam or spread.
Powdered formulas are also available which can be taken directly from a spoon or mixed with milk or water.
Is Dabur Chyawanprash the Best to Buy?
Dabur Chyawanprash is a popular brand of Chyawanprash. Many people prefer it because it comes in many flavors (e.g., chocolate, mango, mixed fruit, etc.), and there are different formulas meant to boost different treatments. There are Dabur formulas designed for immunity, digestion, energy, heart, strength, blood pressure, and many more. There are also sugar free formulas developed by Dabur that may be preferred by diabetics. Dabur Chyawanprash is best to buy if you’re diabetic and need a sugar free version. Otherwise I would get Chyawanprash from Lotus Blooming Herbs who has a wildcrafted, high quality and organic product.
Should Chyawanprash be Sugar Free?
Large amounts of sugar may be unhealthy, but there is no need for Chyawanprash to be sugar free unless you are diabetic or need a low-sugar diet. Many recipes include the addition of sugar.