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Is Ayurveda totally vegetarian?

In recent days, Ayurveda is more and more being associated with spirituality, hence a notion is there among people that, if you are on Ayurvedic medicines, then you should follow a vegetarian diet. If one is a firm follower of practical spirituality, and if one considers Ayurveda as a serious medical system, then here is the answer with detailed explanation to the question – Is Ayurveda vegetarian? can be explored.

The concept of vegetarian diet: In ancient Indian period, the concept of total vegetarianism was non existent. In Vedas, and Puranas, there is mentioning of non vegetarian diet and its qualities etc. The famous “Vatapi Jeerno bhava”  incident in Agastya Maharishi is a classical example for prevalence of non vegetarian diet in those times.

The Hindus adopted the total vegetarian system after Buddhism spread across India.  It is the classical nature of the Hindus to be flexible and to adopt any good thing from any other religion.

Is Ayurveda vegetarian ?

Ayurveda is not totally vegetarian by any stretch of imagination. Mamsarasa – the meat soup is explained in all the classical texts as the best medicine for extreme emaciation. It reduces tiredness due to Pitta imbalance (for example working under Sun for long hours), ideal for those who do daily exercise, improves voice strength, skin quality, immunity etc. (Reference: Charaka samhita Sutra sthana 27/312-325).

Aswagandhadi leham, also known as Ajaswagandhadi lehyam conains meat as an ingredient, along with other herbs. [Some companies manufacture it without meat as an ingredient]

Varients of meat soup are explained as Vesavara in Bhavaprakasha, another classical Ayurvedic text.

Meat soup and other non veg diet has been prescribed along with certain medications. Eg: Meat soup is a co -drink for the medicine Punarnvadyarishta.

Conclusion:

Ayurveda does not say that one should follow total vegetarianism.

The non vegetarian diet has its own medicinal significance in Ayurveda.

It does not mean that everybody should have non vegetarian diet. One who is accustomed to it, can have it and one who is not, may not have it.

One of the reasons why total vegetarian diet is encouraged is because non veg is claimed to increase Tamas. Which, according to spirituality, is true.

Following non vegetarian diet will not have any bad effects on herbal Ayurvedic pills that one might be taking.   One can have non veg, during his Ayurvedic medication period. There is no rule that non veg should not be taken while one is on Ayurvedic medicines.

P.S: I am a total vegetarian and am not trying to advertise / promote non vegetarianism.

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Dr JV Hebbar is an Ayurveda Doctor, Assistant Professor, From Mangalore, India. Click here to consult Dr Hebbar
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Comments

  1. Hello doctor.
    It was an interesting read. This would clarify peoples doubt of whether ayurveda is vegetarien.
    I would like to write few things , which I think is amiss here.
    First of all the diet during intake of medicine is not with regard to the medicine but with respect to the disease. So if the disease condition aggravates with non veg intake then it has to be avoided and there are many diseases which worsens with it.
    Secondly some medicines like gugguluthiktakam is usually advised with purely veg diet.
    These are only my views on this matter… I understand , this article is about clarifying whether ayurveda is vegetarian or not.

  2. hello doctor. i bought ajaaswagandhadi leham a few days back, and then it struck me ‘aja’ and checked ingredients to see ajamamsam. i felt very bad as i am a vegetarian for ethical/moral reasons.

    i would like to ask you whether aswagandhaadi leham is as effective as the non veg version. what are the drawbacks of aswagandhaadi leham compared to ajaaswagandhaadi.

    also are there other ayurvedic medicines that are nonveg in nature? if so, could you kindly list them so that the patient knows beforehand what he is getting into.

    thank you

    • Hello Vin, Aja ashwagandhadi lehyam is a big embarrassment to many vegetarians.
      Please note that some manufacturers label it as ashwagandhadi lehyam, and yet, it contains aja mamsam or chaga mamsam as an ingredient.
      So, it is very important to read the ingredients, rather than go with the name of the product.
      For easy understanding, let us assume that Aswagandhadi lehyam = veg version
      and Aja ashwagandhadi lehyam = non veg version.

      both the variants are targetted towards
      1. To improve strength of the muscles,
      2. To relieve mental fatigue,
      3. As a medicine for treating unreasonable tiredness
      4. To restore strength of people who have been medicated or who have been ill for quite a long period
      5. To improve digestive power.

      So, Aja ashwagandhadi lehyam (non veg) has more effect on point number 1, than plain ashwagandhadi lehyam.

      From point 2 to point 5, both are equally capable. I would even say that plain version is better in improving digestive power than the non veg version.

      I will make a list of non veg Ayurveda medicines and will publish it soon. Thanks for the valuable advice.

  3. Is Zandu Kesari Jivan Vegetarian?
    -Amit

  4. Dear Doctor,

    I have just started taking medications for Sinusitis after consulting a doctor. I have not used Ayurvedic medicine for a long time although I know the benefits. I checked out the various medicines on the net. I was prescribed eosinophal, 2+2+2 where as I saw the recommended dose everywhere as 1 – 0 – 1. I am not trying to check out on my doctor but just addressing my concerns.
    Thanks
    JV

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Dear JV,
      In Ayurvedic medicines, the recommended dosage displayed on the label is just for information. It is the doctor who would decide the dose, his patient needs. So, your doctor is right in fixing the dose by himself. That does not mean that for everyone, dosage of Eosinophal is 2-2-2. It depends on various parameters like age of the patient, seriousness of the disease, season, Dosha imbalance, etc.

      • Thank you Doctor for the prompt response, much appreciated. So it is safe for me to take the 2-2-2 for Eosino phal right? Sorry for my allopathic reasoning.

        Thanks & regards

        JV

  5. Dear Dr.,
    For my Dandruff & hairfall problem, following medicines were prescribed:psorakot tablet,cherya madhusnuhi rasayanam & ayyappala keratailam.
    1.Since i am a non-vegetarian, is it fine to consume these meds along with nonveg. or should i stop it for a while?
    2.Is it really mandatory to wash off that oil with shikakai or can i stick with my himalaya shampoo?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      There is no need to avoid non veg while you take the above medicines.
      Shikakai is better than himalaya shampoo. But you can use the shampoo also, no issues

  6. Dear sir
    Iam taking ayurvedic medicine like manjishthadi,saribadyasavam,psorakot,aragwadhadi kwatham for psoriasis. pls let me know sir does it affect spearm count or any fertility……

    Best Regards
    God Bless

    neji

  7. AARYA GOUR says:

    Dear Sir,
    how can i prepare gokshura powder at home ? I am an athlete and want to improve my stamina as i am a pure veggie and when to take it for best results ??
    THANKS

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      You can get Gokshura – Tribulus raw herb in Any Ayurvedic store in India, you can just put it into mixer and powder will be ready.
      For best results, one teaspoon two times a day with milk will be ideal. for a period of 2 – 3 months.
      Consulting your Ayurvedic doctor will still be more ideal to fix the dose.

  8. Acharya-Parlathaya says:

    Doctor,

    I have recently been prescribed madhusnuhi rasayanam and thrivril Lehyam. I have been taking 3 other lehyams for a long time now – agasthya rasayanam, dasamoola rasayanam, vyoshadi vatakam. Please let me know if any of these 5 medicines are non vegetarian.

    Thank you!

  9. Dear Dr.,

    I want to increase my body weight. I have some cholesterol problem. Please advice

  10. Hello Doctor, my father has been prescribed Maharajaprasarini gel capsules. After reading your article, I have learnt that it may contain ‘chagamamsa’ as an ingredient. Unfortunately the ingredients are not listed on the package and my Doctor informs me that it is completely herbal. Is it possible that they don’t manufacture it using that ingredient any more?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Chances are there that the manufacturer might have skipped the non veg ingredient. You can confirm it by calling the customer care number on the label. Only the manufacturer can confirm if it is purely veg or not.

  11. Dear doctor,

    i am 100% vegetarian. But my health is not fine, it is difficult to find a indian doctor in hk. Do you have sources for this ? Please let your advice.

    TKS!

    Canis

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Dear Canis,
      I have replied by email.
      I will do my best to help you.
      regards
      Dr Hebbar

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