Shankhpushpi: Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects
Ayurveda relies upon countless herbs to bring about beneficial effects in the human body, mind, and spirit. One of these herbs is shankhpushpi. While rigorous scientific research concerning this particular herb is rare, there is enough scientific evidence to support a cogent argument that shankhpushpi is a beneficial extract that may be used to prevent or treat numerous uncomfortable and potentially serious conditions.
Understanding more about the properties of this plant may convince more people to supplement shankhpushpi as a regular part of their healthy lifestyle.
Where Does Shankhpushpi Come From?
Traditionally, shankhpushpi is derived from the Convolvulus pluricaulis plant that is cultivated in India and Burma. However, a handful of experts argue that shankhpushpi actually should be made from Clitoria ternatea. Because there is much more evidence to support the efficacy of the shankhpushpi that is the product of the Convolvulus pluricaulis, this article will focus on this variety of the herb.
Convolvulus pluricaulis is a perennial herb. Its roots are branched and woody, growing to ultimate lengths of between four and 12 inches. These roots are covered by dense hair. Above the ground, the Convolvulus pluricaulis gets its name from the conch shape of its blooms. Shanka translates to “conch” in the Hindi language. The petals may be white, pink or blue, and the blooming plant closely resembles morning glory.
The plant tends to be low growing and is found blooming naturally across India. Because of its purported medicinal properties, Convolvulus pluricaulis also is cultivated across that nation and in other parts of the world.
How Is Shankhpushpi Used?
In traditional Ayurvedic medicine treatments, shankhpushpi is mainly used for promoting better memory and intelligence. Many users say that it rejuvenates the mind, making them feel younger and more alert.
However, observation suggests that shankhpushpi may have many other uses. The herb is known to calm nausea and vomiting in addition to ameliorating the symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression. As such, it may prove to be a tonic for many common modern ailments.
People use shankhpushpi for insomnia with some success, and many individuals remark upon the herb’s ability to deal with the symptoms of respiratory problems like bronchitis and asthma. Shankhpushpi also is used to treat degenerative conditions that affect the brain such as Alzheimer’s.
Virtually all parts of the plant are useful for Ayurvedic purposes. In-depth chemical analysis reveals that the various components of the plant contain coumarins, alkaloids, flavonoids, glycosides, hydroxyl cinnamic acid, sucrose and octacosanol tetracosane and other potentially beneficial compounds.
History of Shankhpushpi
For thousands of years, shankhpushpi has formed a major part of Ayurvedic medicine practice. It also is a part of Yunani medicine, a practice with its roots in the Muslim and Greek cultures.
In Ayurvedic practice, shankhpushpi is considered a member of the herbs known as Medhya Rasayanas. Among the primary goals of Ayurvedic medicine is the preservation of health. Each of the Rasayanas is a method for attaining this goal.
When translated from Sanskrit, Rasayana means “that which enters the essence.” To put it another way, a Rasayana is a substance that supports increased health and longevity. A Medhya Rasayana is one that is devoted to the preservation of the mind and intellect. Accordingly, people who use herbs from this category are likely to improve their ability to learn and recall new information.
While shankhpushpi traditionally is considered a “brain tonic,” many Ayurvedic practitioners believe that it is suitable for numerous other uses. Over the centuries, the herb has been used to treat everything from a nagging cough to insanity. People who take it may experience a noticeable improvement in the health of their skin and fewer of the adverse symptoms of stress. It is a recommended treatment for the common cold, and it may even help with epileptic seizures.
With so many potential benefits, shankhpushpi deserves to be studied in greater depth using modern scientific tools.
Benefits and Uses of Shankhpushpi
Below is a sampling of many of the potential benefits of using shankhpushpi on a regular basis. Many people may be able to begin a shankhpushpi supplement immediately. Those who suffer from a chronic or serious illness are advised to consult with their primary care physician or specialist before beginning any herbal supplements. This will guard against any potentially harmful interactions with prescription drugs and ongoing treatment.
1. Improving Memory and Brain Function
People who are having difficulty concentrating or who seem to be forgetting things much more than they used to may turn to shankhpushpi for assistance. One study notes that shankhpushpi may in fact boost cognition, leading to better overall brain function (1).
Practitioners believe that giving shankhpushpi to children may help their cognitive development and overall intelligence. Additionally, this herb may be given to older people who are suffering from memory loss.
2. Treating Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Statistics suggest that approximately 40 million people suffer from an anxiety disorder in the U.S. alone (2). Symptoms of such a disorder may include restlessness, dry mouth, dizziness, racing heartbeat, headache and sleeplessness. Western medicine may prescribe medications to treat these disorders, but such treatments may come with troubling side effects.
People who suffer from anxiety disorders may benefit from using shankhpushpi instead of a prescription medicine. Observers note that the use of this herb brings sensations of peace and calm. Studies suggest that shankhpushpi, when derived from the correct source, may help people to experience fewer symptoms of anxiety (3).
3. Relieving the Symptoms of Depression
Millions of people around the world are affected by depression every day. They are plagued by feelings that life is hopeless and not worth living. Gone is the joy of engaging in favorite pastimes and interacting with loved ones. With the world being colored in shades of gray, it is hard to get out of bed in the morning.
In much the same way that shankhpushpi is used to relieve the symptoms of anxiety, this herb also is an effective antidote to depression. In fact, because anxiety and depression frequently go hand-in-hand, it is wise to supplement with shankhpushpi on a daily basis to cope with both of these conditions.
Preliminary studies suggest that there may be scientific evidence to back up the use of shankhpushpi to treat depression (4). People who are under a doctor’s care for depression may wish to consult with their physician before using an herbal supplement.
4. Promotes Better Sleep
Whether or not they suffer from anxiety or depression, many people occasionally experience a sleepless night. Individuals who have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep may want to try taking shankhpushpi before retiring to gain a more restful night.
Shankhpushpi works on the central nervous system to calm the mind and body, making it easier to relax and let go. Early studies suggest that this herb may be enormously helpful in the treatment of insomnia (5).
5. Relieving Hypertension
High blood pressure is an all-too common problem across the globe. When left untreated, hypertension may cause a heart attack or stroke. This condition is incredibly widespread. Unfortunately, people many suffer from it for years without manifesting any symptoms (6).
Research already indicates that shankhpushpi may be effective in the treatment of hypertension (7). Participants were given capsules containing this herb and others such as sarpgandha, jatamansi, jahar mohra khatai pishti and moti pishti. Many of the research subjects experienced a significant reduction in high blood pressure levels as a result of taking the capsule.
6. Reducing Cholesterol Levels
A combination of inflammation and high cholesterol puts an individual at extreme risk for suffering a heart attack or stroke. While the human body needs cholesterol, which is a waxy material that naturally is present in the bloodstream, problems arise when there is an excess of it. The blood vessels begin to develop fatty deposits that grow with time, impeding the flow of blood through the vessels.
Inflammation exacerbates the effects of high cholesterol. Essentially, inflammation is the body’s response to an infection or injury. Huge amounts of white blood cells are released into the body by the immune system to combat the invaders. As excess bad cholesterol leaches into the inner walls of arteries, the inflammatory response is triggered. This may cause even more bad cholesterol to cling to the existing fatty deposits in the blood vessels.
One study concluded that many herbs, including shankhpushpi, may have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body (8). This means that Ayurvedic herbs such as shankhpushpi may not only help to regulate the body’s inflammatory response but also help to lower high levels of bad cholesterol.
7. Healing Ulcers
Ulcers may occur on both the inside and the outside of the body. They are essentially sores that take an excessively long time to heal or that regularly return. While they may appear on the exterior of the body on the skin, peptic ulcers occur within the stomach’s lining.
Peptic ulcers typically are the result of an excess of bacteria known as H. pylori in the stomach or the use of certain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. The stomach pain that may be associated with a peptic ulcer leads many sufferers to seek treatment.
Fortunately, shankhpushpi may provide a natural remedy for peptic ulcers. In one study, researchers concluded that this herb and other ayurvedic herbs may be able to fight against ulcers (9) while also providing other beneficial effects.
8. Alleviating Hypothyroidism
The condition known as hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid is underactive. Effectively, this means that the thyroid gland does not naturally produce a sufficient amount of hormones. When hypothyroidism is untreated, it may cause or exacerbate many health concerns such as heart disease, obesity, infertility and joint pain.
Symptoms of the condition may be difficult to detect. Moreover, they may only appear slowly over a number of years. Weight gain and fatigue are among the most common signs. People who suffer from hypothyroidism also may suffer from depression, low heart rate and pain or stiffness in the joints as well as higher blood cholesterol levels.
Shankhpushpi and other Ayurvedic herbs may be able to alleviate many of these problems, as is suggested in at least one study (8).
9. Strengthening the Heart
Shankhpushpi’s many calming properties make it an ideal supplement for heart health. Studies indicate that the herb has a positive effect on blood pressure (10) and other well-known risk factors associated with heart disease.
Sometimes referred to as cardiovascular disease, this condition is incredibly common and highly preventable. A sensible diet, regular exercise and supplementing with natural herbs all may contribute to a healthier lifestyle and a heart that functions far better.
10. Fighting Alzheimer’s
A progressive condition that worsens with age, Alzheimer’s is one form of dementia that frequently is associated with memory loss in addition to confused thinking and aberrant behavior. Currently, there is no known cure for this condition.
Alzheimer’s interferes with the daily activities of life, making it difficult for individuals to live independently or to lead the type of lifestyle that they prefer. The condition may become progressively worse over a period of several years until the individual is forced to submit to around-the-clock care.
While Alzheimer’s is a threat to many older adults, studies indicate that herbs such as shankhpushpi may be able to alleviate the effects of this type of dementia (11). People who believe they are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s may be able to derive significant benefits from a regular shankhpushpi supplement.
11. Easing Headaches
People who suffer from occasional tension headaches or even migraines may substantially benefit from routine supplementation of shankhpushpi.
Basically, a headache is an incredibly common health condition that may be a symptom of chronic stress or a disorder. This means that headaches are either primary, meaning that they occur independent of other conditions, or secondary, suggesting that a headache has an underlying cause.
Primary headaches occur when there are problems with the nerves, blood vessels or muscles in the neck or head. Alternations to the brain’s chemical activity also may be responsible for a primary headache. Other names for primary headaches include tension headaches, cluster headaches and migraines.
Secondary headaches may be the result of dehydration, the flu or a hangover. Occasionally, they signal a far more serious condition such as glaucoma, stroke, a brain tumor or blood clots. This means that medical intervention should be sought for regular or persistent headaches.
When there likely is not a serious medical concern involved, then a supplement with shankhpushpi may be the ideal headache remedy. In fact, one study that involved migraine headaches and ayurvedic therapy discovered that this herb could improve symptoms without causing any troubling side effects (12).
People who are under the care of a physician for treatment of headaches should consult with this professional before trying an herbal supplement.
How to Take Shankhpushpi Powder
Shankhpushpi is available in powder form, which makes it incredibly easy to mix into liquids or to combine with other powders to make an outstanding herbal supplement that supports the mind, body and spirit. Many people remark that shankhpushpi can have a bitter flavor. Accordingly, adding honey to a liquid mixture that contains shankhpushpi powder is recommended.
To improve memory, ayurvedic practitioners recommend mixing between two and four teaspoons of a shankhpushpi extract with one glass of milk. Drink this both morning and evening.
For anxiety, stress and depression, consider mixing shankhpushpi with Brahmi and jatamansi quath to produce a calming, positive effect.
When dealing with sleeplessness, it is advisable to add 40 to 80 grams of the herb to a glass of milk with just a small amount of jeera. Drink the concoction shortly before going to bed.
For the lowering of high blood pressure, it may be useful to consumer shankhpushpi three times per day with a dose of two to four grams each time.
People who suffer from heart problems may want to combine two teaspoons of shankhpushpi with two teaspoons of Arjun bark, two teaspoons of amla churan, two teaspoons of punarnava churan and two teaspoons puskarmool churan. Grind all of the powders together, then take two teaspoons of the mixture twice per day.
Best Time of Day to Take Shankhpushpi
Shankhpushpi may provide beneficial effects regardless of the time of day at which it is ingested. In fact, many guidelines suggest taking the herbal supplement two to three times per day. If you prefer to use it only once per day, then consider the effects that you want to achieve.
When you aim to improve your concentration and memory, take shankhpushpi in the morning before you begin your professional or academic work. A second dose at lunchtime is advisable to maintain your focus through a productive afternoon.
Those who are trying to benefit from a better night’s sleep are advised to take a dose of shankhpushpi in the evening as they are preparing for bed. This may help to let go of the stresses and concerns of the day and begin the more relaxing activity of sleeping. Many people who take an evening dose of shankhpushpi say that they fall asleep more easily and have less difficulty staying asleep.
Dosage for Shankhpushpi
Guidelines for dosages of shankhpushpi can vary widely. Many of the most common recipes recommend taking approximately two teaspoons of the herb per serving. If you are unsure of how much of a dose is appropriate for you, then it is advisable to start out small to see how it affects you. A single teaspoon may be enough to deliver noticeable benefits. If you are able to tolerate a single teaspoon and don’t notice any particular changes, then try two teaspoons. This may be enough to produce a noticeable and beneficial effect.
Those who dislike measuring shankhpushpi powder may consider using the herb in tablet or capsule form. This can be incredibly convenient. Moreover, it does away with the need to mix the herb with other ingredients, and it successfully banishes the sometimes bitter flavor.
A tablet or capsule may be convenient, but it is vital to shop carefully for such products. They may not be as potent as the raw powder is. Additionally, sometimes herbs that have been pressed into tablet or capsule form have undergone extra processing that may limit their effectiveness.
Possible Side Effects of Shankhpushpi
No reports of widespread side effects associated with the use of shankhpushpi are in existence. This suggests that it is totally safe to use as an herbal supplement. Nonetheless, care should be exercised by pregnant women as there are no studies that provide evidence that shankhpushpi is safe for exposure to fetuses.
Further, anyone who is dealing with a serious, chronic illness is advised to consult with their medical practitioner before beginning any herbal supplement. While these herbs are known to be healthful and beneficial, it is not known how they may interact with prescription medications and other medical treatments.
Our Favorite Shankhpushpi Supplement
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