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Accueil du site > Vaidya Atreya Smith > Using Tamas in Dravyaguna

Using Tamas in Dravyaguna

About antidoting herbs

Student question : How about herbs, for example Valerian ? You told us to antidote it with Centella or Calamus – but is it an antidote or does it just make the the tamasic effect milder, so that Valeriana can not disturb the mind (make us dull) ?

Answer : In Dravyaguna we can use herbs of an opposite nature to antidote other herbs. This can be done with Virya or with Guna (Gurvadi gunas). In terms of Tamasic herbs (Mahagunas) we can use herbs that have a Sattvic quality to antidote them. This has to be done on an individual basis ; as per herb. There are no fixed rules of quantity for one herb to another in order to antidote a Tamasic herb. I have given you doses and ratios for this which I strongly suggest you follow ; e.g. 4 parts Valerian to 1 part Calamus. If you change the ratio you will not get the same result. Basically Rajasic herbs have either a strong Rasa or strong Virya - it is NOT ALWAYS POSSIBLE TO ANTIDOTE THEM. You should follow the guidelines I gave you for formulation (as per my textbook).

Most Tamasic herbs can be antidoted. However, some Rajasic herbs can be antidoted and some strong Rajasic herbs (e.g., chilies) cannot be antidoted, only balanced, by using Sattvic herbs. Note that most herbs are Sattvic and that is of of the main reasons why we use them instead of minerals or animal parts.

Note that using any Sattvic herb with a Tamasic herb will not necessarily work. The herbs need to have common Karma or actions, or common Virya or some link in order for them to function together. For example, someone is mixing Ashvagandha (Sattva) with Valerian (Tamas). This combination does not work because Ashvagandha and Valerian work in completely different ways in the body. Valerian forcible controls the movement of Vata through its oily, heavy, heating Gurvadi Gunas and effectively removes Ama from the colon and other Vata areas of the body. Ashvagandha is mildly heating Rasayana that targets deeper tissues, mainly Majja and Shukra. It reduces Vata not by controlling the movement, rather by changing the structure of Majja which Vata uses to move around the body. Hence, if you want to antidote a Tamasic herb you should use one that has an affinity with it.

For Valerian the herbs I gave you antidote it in the right ratio. If you get the ratio wrong it will only lessen the Tamasic effect, not antidote it. The right ratio is 4 to 1 Valerian to Calamus OR 3 to 1 Valerian to Centella. Maximum dose per day is limited to 0.5 grams per day for both Calamus and Centella so this limits the amount of Valerian. If you follow these guidelines you will get good therapeutic results. Of course there are a few other Sattvic nervine herbs which can be used to stop the Tamasic effect of Valaerian.

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Dravyaguna for Westerners (Volume 4) - Ayurvedic Medicine for Westerners

More herbal monographs in this textbook :

Application of Ayurvedic Treatments Throughout Life (Volume 5) - Ayurvedic Medicine for Westerners

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