In the realm of herbalism, there is the idea of synergy: when two or more herbs work together to bring a greater benefit than if each was taken independently. Just like different vitamins and minerals work together for greater effect (vitamin c for enhanced iron absorption, for instance) different bioactive compounds and phytochemicals in herbs and spices work synergistically to better support the natural systems of the body. The benefits of herbal pairings continue to gain attention in the scientific community.
Many Ayurvedic formulas are polyherbal, because it has been found that combining plants of different potencies may help enhance their effect. The reasoning is attributed to one of two mechanisms: 1. Pharmacokinetic Synergy or 2. Pharmacodynamic Synergy. According to the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine, Pharmacokinetic Synergy “is based on herbs’ perceived ability to facilitate the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination of other herbs.” Meanwhile, Pharmacodynamic Synergy “concerns the synergistic effect of active constituents with similar therapeutic actions targeting similar receptors or physiological systems.”
Here are the top synergistic supplement combinations for immunity, digestion, mood and cognitive function.
Herbal Pairings for Immune Support
When it comes to warding off seasonal woes, herbs can powerfully work together to provide relief and support immune function.
Tulsi + Guduchi (Immunity)
Tulsi and Guduchi are both known for their potent immune-supporting action. Numerous studies point to Tulsi’s ability to protect a healthy immune system, and relieve physical and mental stresses that may otherwise impact immune function. Guduchi works alongside Tulsi in modulating immune function, while supporting a healthy inflammatory response to keep the immune system running without interference. It has been found that their effects together vs. as single plant products have a more robust immune-supporting action.
Neem + Bhumyamalaki (Antioxidant)
Neem and Bhumyamalaki work together to protect the body from toxins and cellular damage. Neem contains 140 diverse active compounds, including various antioxidants, that help support immunity and a healthy inflammatory response. Bhumyamalaki, often found in the polyherbal Liver Kidney formula, is a superfood herb that contains powerful antioxidants such as alkaloids, tannins, polyphenols, and flavonoids that help detoxify the liver. Together they provide well-rounded, whole body detoxification and protection from oxidative stress at the cellular level.
Guduchi + Turmeric (Fortified Defense)
Both Turmeric and Guduchi are immunomodulators that work together to provide fortified defense. Turmeric helps support a healthy inflammatory response, which allows the immune system to better do its job without interference. Meanwhile, guduchi is also found to support inflammatory response, while regulating immune function and powerfully supporting whole body health and longevity. This tag team duo helps protect the body from anything that comes its way from the inside out.
Andrographis + Tulsi (Respiratory Support)
Andrographis is a powerful addition to the classic respiratory support benefits of Tulsi. Tulsi is found to help modulate and protect healthy respiratory function, while keeping already healthy lungs clear. Andrographis can support respiratory function and promote normal, clear breathing. When it comes to any concerns related to the respiratory tract, andrographis and tulsi have a perfect synergy to provide broad spectrum respiratory support.
Katuki + Bhumyamalaki + Punarnava (Liver and Kidney Health)
This combination of three herbs make up the traditional Ayurvedic formula known as Liver Kidney. The liver and kidneys work together to eliminate toxins, cleanse the blood, and regulate fat metabolism, resulting in a healthier and more vibrant body from the inside out. The better the organs can detoxify, the fewer toxins are left behind in the body and the stronger one’s health and immune response. While bhumyamalaki supports the liver, katuki regulates kidney function and punarnava provides whole system rejuvenation.
Herbal Pairings for Digestive Support
Herbs have been regarded from ancient times to today for their powerful ability to support detoxification, metabolism and digestion, while warming and soothing the entire gastrointestinal tract.
Turmeric + Ginger (Metabolism)
Turmeric and ginger are roots both from the ginger family that work together flawlessly. Both turmeric and ginger have been found to regulate normal appetite and support metabolism, and the two spices work powerfully together to keep the digestive system moving. Turmeric has been found to support healthy inflammatory responses in the gut, while modulating gut permeability, which both impact metabolism and digestive efficiency. Ginger can aid movement in the digestive tract, and in Ayurveda is believed to increase agni, or digestive fire, to break down food. Ginger can also help support healthy saliva and bile production, which further aids metabolism.
Black Pepper + Long Pepper + Ginger (Digestion)
These three spices make up a traditional Ayurvedic formula known as Trikatu. Trikatu consists of Black Pepper, Long Pepper and Ginger, which soothe the upper gastrointestinal tract and support nutrient absorption and digestion of food. Ayurvedic practitioners use Trikatu to warm the body and awaken Agni (digestive fire) and remove Ama (accumulated waste & toxins). Trikatu addresses quite a few health issues both directly and indirectly related to digestion to help modulate its function in a holistic way, addressing inflammatory response, cardiovascular system and overall vitality.
Turmeric + Trikatu (Warming)
Take all the benefits of Trikatu (above) and combine them with the benefits of Turmeric and you come to one of the most warming and soothing herbal combinations there is. Ginger, Long Pepper, Black Pepper and Turmeric all work synergistically together to deeply warm the body while supporting a health inflammatory response. This jumpstarts metabolism and awakens the digestive system to function normally and efficiently.
Katuki + Andrographis (Detoxification)
For detoxification, andrographis pairs powerfully with katuki for cleansing and renewal. Andrographis contains many antioxidants that studies have found can help detoxify the liver, heart, lungs and spleen. Katuki can help flush toxins from the liver and kidneys for full circle detox support. Katuki also has a cooling effect that can remove excess fire and balance the pitta (fire) and kapha (earth and water) doshas (energies).
Herbal Pairings for Stress and Mood
Whether you’re stressed out or can use a little boost, these herbal pairings for stress and mood are the way to go. Adaptogens and nootropics work together to give that mental and emotional relief needed to feel your best.
Tulsi + Ashwagandha (Stress Relief)
Tulsi and ashwagandha are both adaptogens that work harmoniously together to provide whole mind-body system balance. Though both potent adaptogens on their own, the tulsi leaf and ashwagandha root tag team to provide deep stress relief and relaxation, while supporting mood and immunity for overall health and wellness. Tulsi uplifts while ashwagandha revitalizes for a deep sense of lasting vitality. Another interesting note is that tulsi is associated with feminine, yin energy, while ashwagandha is associated with masculine, yang energy — to further illustrate how they truly compliment each other not only in a bioactive way, but energetically as well.
Ashwagandha + Gotu Kola (Adrenal Support)
Ashwagandha and Gotu Kola are two supportive herbs that provide robust stress and mood support. In Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is known as the rejuvenator and Gotu Kola is known as the herb of longevity, speaking to the plants’ abilities to relieve the fatigue and restlessness associated with stress; and support overall quality of life. Both Gotu Kola and Ashwagandha can help regulate a healthy neuroinflammatory response and protect against oxidative damage. Further, they both can help promote restful sleep, and everyone knows nothing supports mood like a good night’s sleep.
Bacopa + Shankpushpi (Nervous System Support)
The nervous system is an intricate network that allows all parts of the body to communicate with each other. When a person is stressed or feeling out of sorts, it can disrupt or set off the alarms of this electrical and chemical communication system in the body. Bacopa and Shankpushpi are both known to support healthy nervous system function. Shankpushpi, also known as morning glory, calms the brain, while bacopa reduces cortisol levels, helping to relieve stress and regulate mood. Together these native Indian herbs provide a nurturing brain tonic for everyday mental and emotional comfort.
Herbal Pairings for Cognitive Support
Traditions wisdom has shown, and research confirms, the ability of herbs to support cognitive function. Whether related to mental clarity, memory, focus, learning or mood, these key herbal pairings can help.
Bacopa + Gotu Kola (Cognitive Clarity)
Bacopa and Gotu Kola are the two single most effective herbs for cognitive support. They work incredibly on their own, but even more powerfully together to support synaptic communication. This can aid thinking, learning, memory, focus and more, providing the mental and cognitive clarity needed to carry out daily tasks and be productive. Bacopa and Gotu Kola are both referred to as Brahmi in Ayurveda, which are specific herbs that help support nervous system function.
Tulsi + Bacopa + Gotu Kola (Memory)
When it comes to memory support, these three herbs have you covered. As mentioned above, Bacopa and Gotu Kola are both Brahmi herbs that are known to aid in memory, learning and focus. Multiple studies show Tulsi’s ability to assist memory as well, and support a healthy stress response for mental clarity. On their own, each herb holds a powerful action for memory and mental efficiency, but together they bring a vividness to the mind and thinking patterns. The brain can be as resourceful as ever with these herbal allies.
Ashwagandha + Tulsi (Mood)
Tulsi and ashwagandha pair not just for stress relief, but mood and cognitive support as well. Studies have shown that ashwagandha helps regulate healthy neuronal growth and protect the brain from damage and oxidative stress, while tulsi can mediate learning, memory and clear thinking. When the brain can function clearly and efficiently, it can reduce feelings of frustration and defeat, and help keep you confident, uplifted and worry free.
Why take one herb when you can take multiple for whole mind-body-spirit system balance? Give your digestive system, immune system and nervous system the holistic support they deserve with masterful herbing pairings used for millennia and backed by medical science.
Please speak to a medical professional before using herbal supplements if you are pregnant or have underlying health issues. The statements above are for informational purposes only and not intended to treat or diagnose any condition.