Nutritive Tonic (Brimahna)
Tonic herbs nurture the tissues of the body. A nutritive tonic is an herb that nourishes the body and increases weight, density and substance within it. Such herbal foods serve the various tissues or organs that have been depleted or weakened by disease.
Tonics are usually sweet in taste, and have a nourishing post digestive effect, which indicate their constructive action. They have a similar nature to Kapha Dosha and are composed primarily of earth and water elements.
Tonics are usually heavy, oily or mucilaginous. They increase vital fluids, muscle and fat and build the blood and lymph, increasing milk and semen. They are restorative for conditions of weakness, emaciation, debility and convalescence. They have a softening, soothing, harmonizing effect, which dispels rigidity and calms the nerves.
Nutritive tonics usually decrease Vata and Pitta and increase Kapha. Relatively heavy and hard to digest, they may increase phlegm (Ama) if undigested. For those with low digestive strength, they are usually combined with stimulant or carminative herbs such as ginger, fennel, cardamom to aid their breakdown and absorption.
For Pitta conditions, tonics that combine astringent or bitter with sweet taste, like comfrey root ar Shatavari, are most appropriate. Their restorative and cooling nature can be used in convalescence from high fever, toxic blood, ulcers or other inflammatory Pitta conditions.
Many of the nutritive tonics possess expectorant, demulcent and emollient qualities. They soothe and nurture the mucus membranes and restore bodily fluids and secretions, particularly for the mucus membranes of the lungs and stomach. They have a healing action upon the skin and may help soften and relieve muscle tension and pain.
Typical nutritive tonics: almonds, coconut, comfrey root, dates, ginseng, licorice, marshmallow, milk, raisins, rehmannia, sesame seeds, shatavari, sugar, vidarikanda, wild yam, ashwagandha.