Major spice groups & their medicinal applications in food, as described in Ayurveda

One of the distinguishing features of Ayurvedic medicine is that it harnesses the medicinal properties of food to the maximum extent to aid the primary medicines in healing, by way of dietary modifications. Naturally, spices play a major role in Ayurvedic diet. In a country like India known for its curries around the world, even patient diet used to be flavoury and tasty since ancient times. Today we introduce a few common medicinal spice combos from Ayurveda, and their general applications in patients’ or day-to-day diet.

Some common Indian spices
  • Trikatu (The Three Sour Ones)
    • Components:
      • Black Pepper (Kali Mirch)
      • Dried ginger (Sonth)
      • Long Pepper (Pippali)
    • What it does:
      • An excellent appetiser, digestive, abdominal cramps reliever, mild antihelminthic, mild antibiotic
    • Where to use:
      • As a replacement for red chilli peppers in food
    • Good in:
      • Indigestion, bloating, flatulence (stomachache due to gases), piles, frequent stomach upsets. A very helpful additive to food in anorexia diabetes, obesity, respiratory/skin infections, diarrhoeas, filariasis and all kinds of Kapha excess states.


  • Chaturjaat (The Four Aromatic Ones)
    • Components:
      • Cinnamon bark (Dalchini)
      • Cardamom pods (Elaichi)
      • Dried cinnamon leaves (Tamalpatra)
      • Nagkeshar stamens (Messua ferrea)
    • What it does:
      • As the name suggests this group is used to increase the palatability and fragrance of food. It is also a good appetiser, carminative and bad breath remover.
    • Where to use:
      • As an flavoring additive to any dish. It should be added to cooked recipes at the end while the dish is still hot after turning off the heat, so that the volatile oils in the spices are not lost and exude well into the dish.
    • Good in:
      • Excellent for Anorexia, nauseous conditions, halitosis, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, various skin conditions, recovery from food poisoning etc.


  • Surabhi Triphala (Jaatiphal+Poog+Lavang)
    • Components:
      • Nutmeg (Jatiphal/ Myristica fragrans)
      • Betel nut (Supari)
      • Clove (Laung)
    • What it does:
      • This is a dental and oral health combo which cleanses plaques, removes bad breath and keeps the oral cavity clean and free from infections.
    • Where to use:
      • can be used independently for making lozenges to be taken after meals, or can be added to confectioneries that tend to damage dental or oral health otherwise. It imparts some nice colour to the recipe too.
    • Good in:
      • Dental caries, dental plaques, oral infections, halitosis (bad breath)


  • Trimud (Vidanga+Musta+Chitrak)
    • Components:
      • Vidanga (Vayvidang/ Embelia ribes)
      • Musta (Nagarmotha/ Cyperus rotundus)
      • Chitrak (Chitaa/ Plumbago zeylanica)
    • What it does:
      • This is the stronger elder brother of Trikatu, with same functions but much more potency. It is not used day-to-day, but only in patient diet.
    • Where to use:
      • Same as Trikatu, but with prior medical advice. Patients with gastro-intestinal ulcers, Typhoid, Dengue infections and internal wounds to guts should not use this group.
    • Good in:
      • Indigestion, intestinal tract infections, flatulence, piles, food poisoning, stomach upsets, diabetes, obesity, filariasis, all kinds of worm infestations, bacterial/malarial fevers and all kinds of Kapha excess states.


So these were the ABCs of Ayurvedic spices and their medicinal applications in food. If you would want to read more of these in coming days, do let us know by way of likes, shares, comments and follows.

What more to read till then?
The Tastes Test: Managing the body’s Dosha health using only food

How and When Bitter can actually be Better for Health

Giving medicines to children: Tips, techniques and precautions to know

Are you eating enough of these 9 diabetes control foods this festive season?

DIY: All-in-one homemade remedy for all kinds of digestion troubles.

An important note –
Do keep in mind, that dietary modifications mainly have preventive value. They are almost always supplementary to the main medicines in treatment, and can rarely cure serious illness all by themselves. So always consult a qualified practitioner first and do not try self-medication if you are seriously ill.


About the Author –
Dr. Harshad Rajandekar is a practicing physician based out of Nasik, India. He holds a Bachelors in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery from the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, and is licensed to practice Ayurvedic and Modern systems of medicine in the State of Maharashtra. He takes time out of his practice to write @ Dr. Herbz as a hobby.

The usual disclaimer –
This article is solely for educational purposes and not intended to replace or be construed as medical advice. Readers are advised to always consult a qualified and licensed practitioner first for any serious health condition.

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