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Jaggery has long been a transcendental part of the Ayurveda and the Indian Medicine System. Various historical texts and treatises mention and describe in detail the medicinal properties of jaggery and other sugarcane derivatives. The fact that some of these texts date back to 1000 B.C. tell us that jaggery has always had a central position in Indian medicine.
According to the Korampuran, by consuming this juice as a staple food, the people of 'Harivarsha' lived a disease-free life for ten thousand years, as well as they had the same color as 'Maharajatasnibha', that is, silver and the future, Iksurus. Rasas (among the body's nutrients) accept the 'best rasa'. The 'best', sugar and sugar extracted from sugarcane is a sweet, fragrant and flavored 'jaggery' made in Bharat or India for centuries after the heat concentration of a particular striking point.
In the Ayurveda section of the Garuda Purana, which was written around 1000 B.C., 60 Chapters of the book talk about the lessons of medical science given by Goddess Dhanavantri to the Father of Surgery, Sushruta. In those lessons, the medicinal importance of jaggery, sugarcane, and sugarcane’s juice is explored in great detail. The Sushruta Samhita, the great treatise on Ayurveda and surgery written by Sushruta, also mentions 13 different kinds of sugarcanes, the properties of their derivatives, and their use in the treatment of various diseases.
The ancient of book of Harit Samhita, written around 600 B.C., also makes a mention of 150 medicinal preparations made using sugarcane and its derivatives that can be used in the treatment various diseases. Of the 150 references, a staggering 74 directly mention solid jaggery as we know it today.
Another Ayurvedic text- the Bhavaprakash Nighantu- which refers to jaggery as ‘namo guday’, acknowledges its importance in the field of medicine.
Other historical texts, including the sage Varahamihira’s ‘Vritha Brihadshanita’ and Maharishi Bharadwaj’s ‘Brihabhimasasthana’, also make a mention of jaggery, as fragrance and a food item respectively. The 'Ikshuyantradi Manthun' posits that jaggery can be used for air purification purposes as well. The ‘Sushruta Sahmita’ also makes a mention of jaggery, maintaining that jaggery can also improve the skin quality and tones of individuals.
Jaggery contains various mineral nutrients, proteins, fats, vitamins, and 14 antioxidants in addition to sugars, whereas refined sugars (white sugar) contain only sucrose (99.7%). The mineral composition of jaggery (per 100 grams) is as follows- Calcium: 400 milligrams, Magnesium: 80 milligrams, Chloride: 340 milligrams, Sulphate: 500 milligrams, Phosphate: 45 milligrams, Nitrogen: 570 milligrams, Micro-mineral nutrients: 11 milligrams, Iron: 0.61 milligrams, Zinc: 65.5 milligrams, Manganese: 65.5 microgram, Cobalt: 9.9 microgram, Chromium: 13.95 microgram, Iodine: 1 microgram, Selenium: Nominal Amount. Therefore, we can see that jaggery is much more nutritious than normal refined sugar.
In addition to the nutrients jaggery itself brings to the table (literally), it also serves as a carrier/scaffold for other nutrients that are beneficial to humans. It is for this reason that nutrients like- Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), Punarnava (Boerhaavia diffusa), Turmeric (Curcuma longa) Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum), Bramhi (Bacopa monnieri) and Aonla (Phyllanthus emblica) - all couple nicely with jaggery.
Therefore, we can see how jaggery is not only a sweet tastemaker, but also carries innumerable healthy nutrients that carry the potential to improve our health and help us fight off infections. At Dr. Jaggery, we aim to preserve all the natural nutrients present in jaggery, and offer the most healthy and tastiest jaggery combinations, infused with love, to our customers.
Written By: Dr A.K.Srivastava
Principal Scientist & Head (Retd.) IISR,Lucknow