10 Best Ayurvedic herbs for your garden
By Leanne Gray
If you want to add a bit of vigour to your dish (and your health) , you might want to consider adding these herbs to your garden. These nutritious Ayurvedic herbs have been praised for centuries and can be used in a variety of ways for their distinctive flavours and medicinal benefits. If you don't already have a herb garden, it takes minimal effort to get started and gives you an opportunity to reconnect with nature and unplug from technology, at least for a little while.
Make a day of it! The practice of cultivating and nurturing your own herb garden is self rewarding in more ways than one. It can also be a great activity to enjoy with the little ones, sharing with them the importance of continuous care, patience and the luscious life that stems from it. Did I mention you'll also be saving a lot money?
For those that don’t have garden space, these herbs can be grown in small pots to be kept inside your home or on your balcony. All you'll need is a pot with drainage, some potting soil, seeds and tender care. With regular watering and love, you’ll soon have a selection of beautiful, fragrant herbs to brighten your surroundings and leave you glowing from the inside.
Holy Basil (Tulsi)
It's all in the name. Tulsi or holy basil is known for its various health benefits and holy nature, it can be translated to ‘the incomparable one’ in Sanskrit. As the mother of natural medicine, Tulsi helps to support cough, cold, asthma and respiratory ailments with its antibacterial and expectorant properties.
You can brew it’s leaves in boiling water to make a relaxing tea, or crush the leaves to apply to irritated skin or rashes. Tulsi is especially pacifying for Kapha and Vata doshas.
One of the most recognised health benefits of coriander includes it’s ability to improve your digestive fire and reduce flatulence. Other benefits include reducing blood pressure, lowering cholesterol and aiding in the relief of fevers. It’s leaves can be used in curries, salads, soups or made into a chutney - see our Coriander chutney recipe in our Kitchari additions here. Coriander has a bitter, astringent taste and is found to be tri-doshic although it's especially beneficial to balancing Pitta due to its cooling nature.
According to Ayurveda, Lemongrass can be used for many ailments due to it’s antibacterial and antifungal properties as well as it’s richness in antioxidants. It can be very useful in detoxification, relieving sore throat, improving digestion, headache, respiratory issues, joint and muscle pain and even stress or anxiety. The fresh, lightly aromatic leaves can be brewed to make a delicious tea, simply added to warm water, or to dishes such as curries and soups. If you’re Kapha dominant, this herb is an ideal addition to your kitchen.
Ayurveda notes that the consumption of sage can be supportive for cognitive disease and hindrances. It’s known to boost memory and aid in brain related illness such as migraines, depression and Alzheimer’s. You can add fresh or dried sage leaves to dishes such as soups and pastas, or add it to your hot teas. It’s calming properties can ease congestion and soothe the mind so those that are Kapha dominant will benefit most from this herb.
As one of the most commonly known aromatic herbs, it’s refreshing scent is a breath of fresh air. Mint also has some great benefits such as supporting the prevention of acne, increasing taste perception and relaxing the muscles of your gastrointestinal tract for digestion. When added to boiling water for use in steam inhalation you’ll find that it does a considerable job in relieving nasal congestion. Similar to many of the herbs listed, you can use this is a variety of ways - add it to your tea for relaxation, make a mint chutney for your roast or add some additional flavour to your rice. For Kapha and Vata doshas, mint is a great pacifying addition.
This beautifully scented plant is linked with memory and cognitive function, improving concentration, memory and bringing clarity. You might also find that rosemary can be used to soothe insomnia due to its calming effect on nerves and the brain, easing tension in the mind and bringing about an uplifted mood. It’s anti-inflammatory properties make it a great aid in relieving arthritis and indigestion. In Ayurveda, the oil of rosemary is widely used and has been noted in many ancient texts. Kapha dosha types will reap the most benefits from its warming and relaxing effects.
For thousands of years, Dill has been used as an essential herb for its many health benefits. It's known for its effectiveness in reducing gas and indigestion, improving immunity and boosting bone strength due to its abundance in calcium. You can use its fine leaves to add delicious flavour to your soups and curries. Dill’s natural warming properties makes it a perfect component for excess Vata and Vata dosha dishes.
In Ayurveda you’ll find fennel used as an aid for optimal digestion, strengthening your digestive fire and naturally relieving gas, bloating and stomach aches. It contains antioxidants that work to fight oxidative stress, protecting your cells and boosting your immune system. Every part of the fennel plant can be eaten, the leaves and stem can be added to a range of dishes for flavour. More often within Ayurveda, the seeds are used which can be chewed on after meals or added with cumin, and coriander to make a digestive tea.
As a strong detoxifying herb, Ajwain leaves and seeds can be consumed with the benefit of improving gastrointestinal issues, relieving acidity, stomach aches and increasing appetite. Add its leaves to any dish you see fits to reap the benefits. Ajwain seeds work well when combined with warm water in the morning or to your favourite Kitchari combination. For pacifying Vata dosha, this herb works very well.
The leaves of the fenugreek plant are known for its digestive support, boosting testosterone and milk production in women, reducing
inflammation as well as it’s ability to elevate many dishes. Its high in antioxidants and also helps to control blood sugar and
cholesterol, making it a great herb for those with diabetes. As a seed, it’s commonly used to prepare many indian dishes and is
found to be ideal for Vata and Kapha doshas. For those with Pitta dominance or Pitta aggravation, it can increase this slightly
although not as much as other spices such as black pepper and chilli. The addition of Ghee within your dish can help to balance this
Which herbs are best for your dosha?
For Vata; you will want to add more warming and grounding herbs that induce relaxation and a calm mind. From those listed above, fennel,
dill, ajwain as well as chamomile, would be most suitable.
For Kapha; light, aromatic herbs will soothe you best such as black pepper, sage, rosemary and lemongrass.
For Pitta; you’ll want to focus on adding more cooling and calming herbs to your dishes such as coriander and mint.