One of the most difficult transitions for women is menopause and for men it’s the less well-known andropause, when their testosterone levels begin to decrease with age. Both events represent a decline in reproductive fertility that occurs sometime in our 40s or 50s.
This hormonal shift affects every major organ system, especially the mind. In the past, before the stresses of the modern world, these hormonal transitions occurred more gradually, at a later age with less strain on the body and mind. Today, these hormonal declines occur at a much earlier age and at a more sudden rate, making them more difficult to manage.
This is where the ancient Ayurvedic herb shankhpushpi (shangk·push·pee) (yes, I know it rolls right off the tongue!) comes to your rescue. Not only is shankhpushpi a potent ally against stress and emotional volatility—it’s a life jacket during times of hormonal transitions when fluctuating hormones can lead to crazy mood swings. It helps soften the blow during menopause and andropause, allowing for a much gentler transition.
Shankhpushpi is one of the few Ayurvedic herbs known as medhya rasayanas. These rare super herbs help support cognitive function, improved memory, creativity and intellect. Plus, they support emotional well-being. What’s the point of being brilliant if you’re depressed and anxious all the time? The goal of Ayurveda is balance. Shankhpushpi helps us attain our intellectual goals while also keeping our emotions healthy and harmonious. That is life in balance.
Characteristics of Shankhpushpi
Shankhpushpi, which goes by the botanical name Convolvulus pluricaulis is a perennial plant native to India. The name shankhpushpi comes from the plant’s beautiful purple (or white) flowers that are shaped like a conch shell, or shankha. The conch is considered a sacred instrument used in traditional Vedic spiritual rituals. Shankhpushpi is extremely beneficial and the whole plant is used from the roots to the stems, leaves and flowers for a wide range of therapeutic benefits.
Because shankhpushpi has been such a gift to our family, we planted it in our home while living in India. Each day we were greeted by beautiful hues of purple growing around our entry way and I was reminded how much this auspicious plant had blessed my entire family.
Shankhpushpi’s Primary Uses and Health Benefits
- Reduces stress and strengthens the nervous system
- Supports skin health at all ages (especially good for adolescent acne)
- Prevents premature aging of the skin and increases skin elasticity
- Reduces excessive menstrual bleeding
- Promotes fertility in men and women
- Supports healthy blood pressure
- Maintains healthy cholesterol
- Balances blood sugar levels
- Helps to alleviate ulcers in the GI tract
- Improves insomnia
- Prevents headaches
Shankhpushpi is a tridoshic herb and therefore supports all three doshas (mind-body types): Vata (space/air), Pitta (fire/water) and Kapha (water/earth) that are responsible for our physical, mental and spiritual balance. That’s why shankhpushpi is so widely tolerated and beneficial to all ages.
In Ayurveda shankhpushpi is considered by some to be the greatest herb for relieving stress. I first introduced shankhpushpi to my personal herbal regimen in my early 40s when the hormonal changes associated with perimenopause hit. It had such powerful benefits on my emotional resilience, I added it to my son’s and husband’s herbal routine to help them more easily ride the waves of modern life stress.
After about a month of using the conch-shaped herb, I noticed a big improvement in my overall skin texture, despite hormonal changes that typically lead to loss of skin elasticity. My son became committed to his regular shankhpushpi intake once he realized it was the antidote to the usual pimple-faced curse of adolescence. In fact, in addition to taking shankhpushpi internally to rejuvenate your skin, you can apply it topically. Here’s the recipe for one of my favorite DIY Ayurvedic skin rejuvenation masks.
- ½ tsp of Shankhpushpi Powder
- ½ tsp of Sandalwood Powder
- Plain Yogurt
Mix the shankhpushpi and sandalwood powder. Add equal parts honey and yogurt until you have a nice paste. Apply the paste to your face and when it’s almost dry gently wash it off with warm water. For dry, aging skin I recommend following this face mask with a dollop of ghee that is massaged directly into the skin.
How To Take Shankhpushpi
Shankhpushpi is usually taken as powder mixed with warm water or hot (cow’s) milk. A typical starting dose is 1/2 teaspoon twice a day and if needed, slowly work up to 2 grams per day. Traditional Ayurvedic doses can range from 2 to10 grams per day when prescribed by a practitioner in the treatment of certain medical conditions.
My Favorite Ayurvedic Herbal Cocktail
My personal preference is taking shankhpushpi as a powder in warm water combined with ashwagandha powder and Brahmi powder with a hint of ghee. The combination of these three powders is a common Ayurvedic herbal cocktail for protecting and restoring the mind from stress and fatigue. I’ve found this combination to be particularly beneficial for women who are in perimenopause, a time of tremendous physical and mental fluctuation due to unpredictable hormonal shifts.
- 1/2 tsp Shankhpushpi Powder
- 1/2 tsp Ashwagandha Powder
- 1/2 tsp Brahmi Powder
- 1/3 cup of hot water
- 1/4 tsp Ghee (which will melt once added to the hot water)
Mix well and drink. It may not taste all that great, but this magical herb is worth plugging your nose for. I drink this herbal cocktail daily after lunch and dinner. It helps prevent the onset of future memory problems, plus it enhances my current mental agility and balances my hormones.
Seeds of Wisdom
I love all of the benefits that shankhpushpi has brought to my entire family. My only regret about this magical herb is that I wasn’t introduced to it at a younger age. I could have benefited from its emotional support while my brain was still developing during adolescence. Emotional stability is one of the priceless gifts in life and I’m glad I am able to give the gift of greater emotional self-regulation to my teenage son. I’m also grateful I have shankhpushpi by my side as I journey into the next phase of my life. Life naturally has its ups and downs and there are ancient tools that help us stay steady within as we ride the waves—shankhpushpi is one of those timeless tools.