Ayurveda is the world’s oldest wellness system. And yet, it’s one that has only recently begun to be studied and understood outside of India. The powerful ancient science informs everything that we do at Taza—from our the potent ingredients that go into our all-natural proprietary formulas to our clinical studies and third-party lab testing—but we know that there’s still some work to be done in terms of familiarizing people with some of its core concepts. Understanding the basic framework of Ayurveda isn’t essential to reaping its multi-faceted benefits, (the proof of our formulas lie in the results that you’ll physically see and feel), but for those interested in digging a little deeper, we tapped Dr. Vignesh (the mastermind behind our supplements) to explain the basics and detail how it can work for you.
What is Ayurveda?
While Ayurveda can officially be translated as the knowledge of life, the simplest way to describe it is a manual for a long, vibrant life. There is a saying: "it's not how long you live, but how long you live young." Ayurveda helps to do just that.
In what way is it different from Western Medicine?
Western medicine tends to focus on adding more years to one's life, while Ayurveda focuses on adding more life to one's years. Much of the advancement in which modern Western Medicine is rooted comes from the 19th century when medicine focused on the prevention of infection and fatality. While these advances were spectacular at the time (and led to a dramatic fall in deaths), society is now facing a new set of challenges, that are very much tied to lifestyle. For these challenges, Ayurveda is a good guide. It is often said that Western Medicine is the car mechanic that repairs the car once its broken down, while Ayurveda provides the tune up to keep the car functioning well.
What, in your opinion, does Ayurveda do better than other wellness systems?
I don't like to say one is better—rather, different. Western medicine is phenomenal when it comes to acute illnesses however, when it comes to more lifestyle related concerns, Ayurveda has incredible solutions.
How has Ayurveda evolved over time?
Ayurveda is rooted in the observation of nature. It originated long before the days of lab tests at a time when humans would watch and intimate nature. From their observation, an extensive pharmacopeia was developed that detailed the therapeutic properties of indigenous plants—some of which would eventually appear in the Western pharmacopeias of today. These plants were then combined to create herbal medicines. In more modern times, Ayurveda's evolution has followed that of Western Medicine—from IVs, to tablets, to treatment protocols. Ayurveda has embraced many of these advances to keep up with consumer demands.
What are some of the most exciting recent advancements in the field?
One of the most exciting advances is the introduction of tablets. While Ayurveda classically used fresh, herbal decoctions that were sometimes unpleasant to the taste, the introduction of tablets has made these offerings more accessible.
How does Ayurveda compliment Western Medicine?
Ayurveda is a wonderful tool to build innate health of the individual to prevent illness, while Western Medicine can provide the external tools when illness comes. Additionally, Ayurveda takes a more holistic approach to assessing concerns, while Western medicine provides the modern testing to validate the diagnosis at a point in time. It is my belief that the future of medicine is truly a hybrid—a combination of these two. This is what you're starting to see with functional medicine. Ayurveda is still relatively unknown in America.
Do you see a time when it becomes recognized as a legitimate healthcare system here?
Definitely. There are still many concerns in the West that are idiopathic—meaning their cause is unknown. In these cases, treatment options are really a gamble because you can't confidently solve the problem if you don't know the cause. People aren't satisfied with this, and rightly so: They want something that works, so they start questioning and exploring alternative options. You can already see this happening in Europe, which has resulted in Ayurveda becoming an official, recognized form of medicine in countries like Switzerland.
What led you to study Ayurveda?
I was born into a family with deep ties to the science: My great grandfather started an Ayurvedic pharmacy. As a child, I spent time in the herbal arena, though I was not especially interested in pursuing it as a career as the herbs didn't taste good. Eventually—through family legacy—I came to study Ayurveda. Yet, it wasn't until I personally fell sick, did panchakarma (an intense Ayurvedic cleansing treatment), and experienced the transformative benefits myself that Ayurveda became my passion and mission.
How many years have you been in the field?
I've been around Ayurveda ever since my first memory—seeing the blending of medicines and my father treating patients—but it’s been 12 years since I officially completed my studies and started practicing.
What's the easiest way for someone to start living a more Ayurvedic lifestyle?
The easiest way is to follow the natural rhythms of the body: Make health a priority by prioritizing what your body needs—proper sleep, good hydration and natural food.
Do I really need to live in accordance with my Ayurvedic dosha? What happens if I just take Taza supplements, but make no other lifestyle changes?
The dosha concept was popularized by Ayurvedic doctors who travelled to the West and propagated the idea as a way to help patients with imbalances. It can be a helpful tool to help one recognize what's going wrong and how to correct it. Ayurvedic supplements are a good place to start and can catalyze other healthy habits in other aspects of our life. However, we say it's like going to the gym: If you simply go to the gym, but fail to change your diet and other elements of your life you won't fully experience the benefits.
Which of the Taza supplements are you most excited about and why?
The Digestive Supplement is a very popular one. If you go to an Ayurvedic doctor in India, one of the first things they will address is the health of your gut. The traditional Sanskrit name for the supplement is Gandharvahadstadi, which comes from the Indian word for castor and the critical role it plays in cleansing the gut and what we call ama (which are undigested toxins). It enhances digestion, resulting in a calm gut and overall lighter feeling and improved well-being. Another supplement that I really love that we've been working on is Taza’s upcoming stress and anxiety supplement. This formula contains a fantastic combination of herbs—Ashwagandha, Amla, and Licorice—that work synergistically to fix stress and its impact at the root. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, Amla is rich in Vitamin C, and Licorice is loaded with antioxidants. I’m also very excited about the upcoming gas-related supplement in the pipeline. These days we often find ourselves eating the wrong foods at the wrong times, and this is a great option to combat the acidity and discomfort that so often results.
If you had to choose three hero Taza ingredients, what would they be and why?
Ashwagandha, because it’s an amazing adaptogenic herb; Brahmi, an Ayurvedic staple, which is used to enhance cognitive ability; and Chebulic Myrobalan, a cornerstone of gastrointestinal health and a potent gut cleanser with anti-microbial and antibacterial benefits.