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The Ayurvedic Path to Optimal Eye Health: The Ancient Wisdom and Modern Science

The Ayurvedic Path to Optimal Eye Health: The Ancient Wisdom and Modern Science
Anish July 26, 2023

Introduction

In today's world, while our screens continue to capture our eyes, our health regimens are increasingly emphasizing holistic well-being. While many focus on heart, muscles, or bones, our eyes often go unnoticed, despite being critical windows to the world. Ayurveda, the age-old Indian medicinal system, provides profound insights into ocular health, hinting that our dietary choices have profound effects on our vision.

Rediscovering Ayurvedic Wisdom

The "Suśruta saṁhitā, Uttaratantra" from Ayurvedic literature extols the virtues of several vegetables in maintaining ocular health. These aren't just random picks; each vegetable is rich in nutrients vital for the eyes. Let’s dive into this ancient wisdom.

Paṭola (Trichoxanthes dioca): Resembling the shape of the eye, this fruit is rich in vitamins A & C. Its antioxidant properties are instrumental in tackling degenerative conditions of the eyes

Karkoṭaka (Momordica dioica Roxb.): Known globally as spine gourd or small bitter gourd, it boasts carotene and ascorbic acid. These components are excellent for eye health.

Kāravellaka (Momordica charantia L.): Commonly known as bitter gourd, it's not just a diabetes-friendly vegetable. It's packed with vitamins A, C, and other nutrients pivotal for the eyes.

Vārtāku (Solanum melongena L.): The common eggplant or brinjal, besides being a culinary favorite, is also rich in antioxidants, especially nasunin, which safeguards cell membranes from damage.

Tarkāri (Clerodendrum phlomidis L.): This plant possesses antioxidant qualities that could act as primary defense agents against degenerative conditions.

Karīra (Capparis decidua Edgew.): A staple in the arid zones of Rajasthan, the fruit is a rich source of β-carotene, vital for the eyes.

Śigru (Moringa oleifera Lam.): The drumstick tree, a household name in India, not only supplements our food but also our eyes with vitamins A, C, and other vital nutrients.

Ārttagala: Its botanical identity remains a topic of research, but it's believed to have several ocular benefits.

The Science Behind the Ancient Wisdom

Modern science supports these Ayurvedic claims. Antioxidants, like lutein and zeaxanthin, and vital nutrients in these vegetables can reduce risks of cataracts and macular degeneration. Furthermore, vitamin A can stave off blindness, and vitamin C might be effective against glaucoma. Interestingly, the Ayurvedic recommendation of cooking these vegetables in ghee (clarified butter) enhances their benefits. Ghee itself possesses eye-nourishing properties, making it a wholesome combination.

The Path Ahead

While the foundations of Ayurveda were laid thousands of years ago, its principles remain timeless. As we increasingly rely on screens and expose our eyes to the digital world, integrating these vegetables into our diet can provide the natural defense our eyes need. Modern research aligns with Ayurvedic wisdom, suggesting that a fusion of the old and the new might pave the path to holistic eye health. So, next time you're at the grocery store, remember to give your eyes the ancient nourishment they deserve.