Digestive-Stimulant and digestive herbs (dipana-pachana karma)
Stimulants are mainly hot in energy, pungent in taste, and include most hot spices, peppers and gingers. Their action is to increase internal heat, dispel internal chill, and strengthen the metabolism and circulation. They are the most powerful herbs to increase digestive fire (agni), and are thereby the strongest herbs to digest phlegm and destroy Ama, toxic accumulations. They are synonymous with Agni Dipana and Ama Pachana herbs in ayurveda, herbs that increase Agni and digest Ama.
They warm the stomach, increase the appetite, warm the blood, and stimulate the senses. They often have antibacterial or anti parasitic properties and support the immune system. They do not actually build up the body, but they allow for the assimilation of food whereby the body can be built up. They are often used with tonic and nutritive herbs, as well as with food.
Stimulants increase Pitta and decrease Kapha. Generally they decrease Vata, but in excess they can aggravate Vata through their drying property. By their ability to destroy toxins, they help relieve fevers, and for this purpose may be combined with bitter tonics or antipyretic herbs.
Many stimulant-digestive herbs have carminative and stomachic properties, as they also stimulate peristalsis. Many have diaphoretic properties by heating the surface of the body and promoting sweating. They also increase appetite. Many have expectorant qualities. They help dispel mucus from the stomach, lungs and nasal passages, and promote the flow of tears. By promoting circulation, they posses some blood-purifying effets.
Some digestive stimulants are also nerve stimulants. They may increase hypertension or cause insomnia. They should be used to supplement functional weakness but not to abuse and over stimulate the system for the sake of excessive activity.
Stimulants and digestive herbs are indicated whenever the digestion is to be improved, cold is to be dispelled, toxins and tongue coating are to be cleared up, and degenerated metabolism and circulation are to be revived.
They are contraindicated in conditions of dehydration, fluid insufficiency and inflammatory conditions of the mucus membranes.
Typical stimulant herbs: ajwan, asafetida, black pepper, cayenne, cinnamon, clove, garlic, ginger, horseradish, mustard, pippali.