Chyawanprash is a medicated herbal jam used in ayurvedic medicine. Considered to be the best rejuvenative tonic--or rasayana--available, it has been administered for thousands of years in India. The ancient text that expounds the virtues of ayurveda, the "Caraka Samhita," states that "even an old man sheds all his aging infirmities and emerges with fresh youthful complexion." The reason chyawanprash is so highly regarded is due to its antioxidant properties and vitamin-rich herbs and minerals.
Ayurveda is full of colorful stories, and the origin of chyawanprash is no exception. Chyawanprash is named for the ancient forest sage, Chyawana. In fact, "chyawan prash" literally translates as Chyawan's jam. One story surrounding this elixir is that through an odd series of events, Chyawana found himself married to a much-younger woman. Chyawanprash was the solution. "By the use of this medicine, Chyawana, who had become exceedingly old, became young once again."
The original recipe for chyawanprash discussed in the "Caraka Samhita" lists more than 40 separate ingredients. Although countless commercial varieties are available, the one thing they all have in common is a fruit called amalaki, or amla in Sanskrit. In English, it is known as Indian gooseberry. Amla is a potent source of vitamin C and rich in antioxidants. Additional ingredients might include honey, ghee, raisins, cane sugar, pepper, sesame oil and a variable list of other herbs and spices.
The "Caraka Samhita" states that taking chyawanprash will "promote intellect, memory, luster, immunity to diseases, longevity, strength of sense organs, sexual excitement, great stimulation of digestive, clarity of complexion and downward movement of vayu [which means healthy elimination]." Basically, it's an adaptogenic that provides excellent anti-aging and anti-stress properties to support the body's natural defenses.
There are no known side effects from taking chyawanprash.
Although not generally thought to have contraindications, chyawanprash is very sweet and may cause complications for those with hyperglycemia. Additional conditions that may be aggravated include diarrhea and peptic ulcers. As with any medicated treatment, check with a qualified health-care practitioner before self-prescribing.
Chyawanprash can be eaten straight out of the container, spread on toast or added to warm milk or water. The suggested dosage is 1-2 tsp. for adults and half a tsp. for children (ages 5-12), once or twice a day.