Thursday, October 22, 2015

Health cannot be bought only over the counter of Pharmacy


Many people have a belief that regular intake of vitamins and minerals or nutritional tonics will help them stay healthy. But this is not sufficient according to Ayurveda. Unlike the general treatment approach of modern medicine, the approach in Ayurveda is individualized / personalized based on one’s Prakriti (Phenotype / Body constitution). One must know his / her Prakriti so that they can inculcate and adopt suitable diet, lifestyle to achieve optimum health and to prevent chronic diseases. Prakriti is a unique concept of Ayurveda and it has a significant role in personalized medicine. 

When no two people are alike, then how can there be a common line of treatment for them when affected with the same disease?

According to Ayurvedic principles, all living beings and non – living things in earth is made up of five elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether) in varying proportions acording to predetermined ratio that cannot be changed. Man is the microcosm of the universe. Whatever is present in the universe is present in man but in different combinations or proportions. The five elements combine with each other to form three doshas – Vata (Air + Ether), Pitta (Fire and Water) and Kapha (Earth and Water). 

Prakriti (Body constitution) is a consequence of relative proportion of the three doshas which are not only genetically determined but also influenced by the environment, maternal diet and lifestyle and age of transmitting parents. Prakriti is similar to a genetic code - you are born with it and it remains unchangeable throughout the span of life. Prakriti is unique to every individual just like each of us have unique finger print. There are 7 types of Prakriti – Vata Prakriti, Pitta Prakriti, Kapha Prakriti, 3 Dual combinations - Vata Pitta Prakriti,  Pitta Kapha Prakriti and Vata Kapha Prakriti and one combination of all the three – Vata Pitta Kapha Prakriti.

In Ayurveda system of medicine, predisposition to a disease as well as selection of a preventive and curative regimen is primarily based on phenotypic (Prakriti) assessment of a person. Also the effects of various diet, lifestyle, environment and treatment on different prakritis are well explained. The concept of constitutional uniqueness of human individuals leading to prescription of suitable drugs and specific diet is a remarkable feature of Ayurveda. This has similarities with the pharmacogenomics.

Understanding Disease Susceptibility 

Prakriti provides knowledge about one’s personality, physiological strengths and weakness, mental tendencies, susceptibility to various illness. By knowing one’s Prakriti, one can understand what he is vulnerable to and thereby adopt suitable diet and lifestyle so that he can prevent illness even before its occurrence. 

In general, Kapha Prakriti people have slow metabolism, Pitta people have high metabolism and Vata people have variable metabolism. Pitta people have have high Basal Metabolic Rate and when supported by Vata can be prone to premature aging whereas Kapha Prakriti people have delayed aging and longer life span. Because of Kapha dosha qualities such as steadiness, slowness, etc, Kapha people are well known for gaining weight and obesity which in turn links with a number of diseases like metabolic disorders, diabetes, etc. Kapha prakriti people do not become sick often and enjoy greatest level of physical health, endurance and stamina provided they stay physically active, do regular exercise / sport and follow healthy diet habits by avoiding excess fried food, fast food, processed food, refined sugar and carbohydrates. Pitta Prakriti people have strongest mind and will-power, average endurance, stamina and good immune system unless they overwork. Pitta dosha is hot in nature and hence Pitta people tend to develop bleeding disorders, skin disorders, ulcers, acidity, etc. which can be prevented by adopting nutritious diet habits and avoiding spicy, acidic food in excess and staying hungry. Vata Prakriti people have weakest immune system yet they have abundant energy but not the necessary stamina. They generally are underweight but when they are agitated they tend to put on weight and become fat. Due to the dryness, coldness, instability qualities of Vata, Vata Prakriti people have propensity to develop constipation, cold hands & feet, neurological problems, dementia, etc. They have an irregular eating habits which they should change. They should try to be stable and grounded, avoid stress and try to have regular routine and eat varities of nutritious and healthy food as they tend to get bored easily with same diet.

“Like increases Like” - A healthy diet & activity for a healthy life

Food substances which are similar in quality to a dosha increases the corresponding dosha in the body whereas food substances which are opposite in quality to a dosha decreases the corresponding dosha in the body. For instance, food substances which are similar in qualities to Vata dosha increases Vata in the body. Hence if a Vata Prakriti persons indulges more in Vata predominant foods, he is likely to suffer from diseases of Vata origin. So a Vata Prakriti person should adopt diet and lifestyle having opposite qualities of Vata dosha for maintaining a balance. Same is with Pitta and Kapha Prakriti people. Making wise eating choices in harmony with one's Prakrti will help to lead a healthy life. One’s activities also have a similar effect.

Preventive health with Ayurveda 

Swasthavritha explained in Ayurveda texts have a great impact to preserve health and prevent diseases. Ayurveda emphazies on nutritious diet, adequate sleep, proper sensory activities, adopting daily regimen & seasonal regimen, regular exercise, non supression of natural urges, good conduct / social behavior and avoidance of stress for the maintanence of health & prevention of diseases. Adopting suitable diet and healthy lifestyle according to one’s Prakriti from an early age is a practice towards personalized preventive health which has Rasayana (Rejuvenation) benefits and boosts the child’s immunity leading to healthy, disease free, more productive and high quality life. Immunodeficiency (Failure of normal function of immune system) leads to susceptibility to infection. So one should incorporate Ayurvedic principles into daily life to achieve optimal health and for personalized prevention.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF TULSI (HOLY BASIL)


Botanical Name: Ocimum sanctum
Family: Lamiaceae
Common Names: Sacred basil / Holy basil
Sanskrti name: Surasa, Tulsi, Vishnupriya
Part Used: Leaves, roots, Seeds
Location/Cultivation and types - Tulsi is found throughout the lowlands of India as well as in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, southern China, Thailand, and Malaysia. There are three types of Tulsi plants available Rama tulsi (Bears small green leaves), Krishna tulsi (Bears dark green to Purple leaves and has a strong taste and smell) and Vanatulsi (Bears large green leaves and is the wild variety growing in forests).
Chemical constituents or active compounds - Tulsi contains chemical compounds such as eugenol, ursolic acid, rosmarinic acid, chlorophyll, caryophyllene, oleanolic acid and linolenic acid. Nutritional compounds found in tulsi include vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron and zinc.
Properties - Adaptogen, antibacterial, antidepressant, antioxidant, antiviral, carminative, diuretic, expectorant, galactagogue (promotes the flow of mother’s milk), and immune modulator.
Health Benefits of Tulsi – It can be used at home for several ailments and does not require any kind of doctor’s prescription. Tulsi is used in Fever, Headaches, Insect bites, Labor pains, Nausea and vomiting, Skin problems, Respiratory infections, Sore throat, Stress, Respiratory disorders, Diabetes, Teeth disorders and Cancer.
How to take Tulsi - Tulsi fresh leaves, leaves powder, fresh leaves decoction, infusion can be used. Various supplements that contain tulsi extracts are being manufactured and marketed by many pharmaceutical companies.
Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum Linn) is sacred medicinal herb which is worshipped in India. Due to its innumerable medicinal virtues it can be used in curing various diseases. Krishna tulsi has more medicinal value compare to ramatulsi. Tulsi leaves have hypocholesterolemic (lowering cholesterol), hypotriglyceridemic (lowering triglycerides), hepatoprotective (protecting liver), anti-inflammatory (preventing inflammation), and anti-oxidant effects. Its anti-bacterial properties help to fight the bacteria and purify the surrounding air. Based on the proved studies, tulsi can absorb the positive ions; it even stimulates the negative ions. Tulsi, from its root to leaves encompassed with multiple healthy perks. Whole plant acts as soothing agent or demulcent, lessens fever and expectorant.
Tulsi contains vitamin C, vitamin A, and essential oils, which are all anti-oxidants that scavenge free radicals in the body, improving cellular integrity, blood flow, and genetic expression. It is particularly good for cardiovascular health and brain function, as it helps protect against heart disease and brain degeneration.
Tulsi is rich in aromatic essential oils that have powerful effects on the body.  These phytonutrient rich oils have a great smell that naturally boosts mood and spirit.  Eugenol has been shown in studies to combat stress and enhance mental clarity.
Tulsi acts to modulate stress levels and blood sugar levels by stabilizing cortisol and insulin.   A study out of the Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry indicated that holy basil may reverse some of the damaging effects of diabetes like neuropathy and retinopathy.
A considerable, rapidly expanding body of modern scientific information is currently available confirming many of the life-supporting benefits described in ancient Indian Ayurvedic (“Knowledge of Life”) writings.
In many Ayurvedic scriptures, Tulsi is frequently mentioned as one of the main pillars of herbal medicine. The sacred plant is described as a protector of life, preventing misery and disease from birth through old age and death—and even then aiding the passage to the heavens. Ongoing clinical investigations of Tulsi’s health promoting qualities are sure to bear rich fruit. Relatively little known in the West, the holy basil Tulsi is certain to emerge in the near future as a major player in the growing field of herbal health supplements and medicines, both in daily self-care and in professionally managed health care systems. Tulsi is a miracle herb and is a boon to the world.

Monday, October 19, 2015

AYURVEDIC PROPERTIES OF HARITAKI


Haritaki (Terminalia chebula) commonly known as the Chebulic Myrobalan is a perennial plant, found everywhere in India. The useful part is the fruit which is of medicinal value. Haritaki fruit is a part of Triphala, the three fruits. Haritaki is a panacea for all diseases and is the best Rasayana (Rejuvenative) especially for Vata people. According to the Bhavaprakasha, Haritaki was derived from a drop of nectar from Indra’s cup. Haritaki is a digestive and has anti-inflammatory, anthelmintic, cardiotonic, aphrodisiac, laxative and restorative properties. It promotes intellect. It is additionally beneficial in flatulence, constipation, hemorrhoids, cough, cold and fever. Haritaki is also known by different names like Abhaya, Avyatha, Pathya, Kapastha, Pootana, Chetaki, Sreyasi, Shiva in Sanskrit. 
 
Energetics of Haritaki
  • Rasa (Taste) – It has all the five tastes except salt – Madhura (Sweet), Amla (Sour), Tikta (Bitter), Katu (Pungent) and Kashaya (Astringent). The peculiar property of Haritaki to possess five types of tastes is because of the special way in which Mahabhutas (five main elements of the universe – Earth, water, fire, air and ether) combine themselves to constitute this drug.
  • Guna (Properties) – Guru (Heavy)
  • Virya (Potency) – Ushna (Hot)
  • Vipaka (Taste at the end of digestion) – Madhura (Sweet)
  • Dosha karma (Effect on doshas) – Mitigates Tridosha
  • Karma (Actions) – Rasayana, Promotes longevity, promotes stoutness, anti aging, enhances intellect, and makes sense organs strong and keen.
  • Indications – It is used externally in edema, eye disorders and disorders of throat. It is used internally in pain, flatulence, abdominal tumor, duodenal disorders, hemorrhoids, jaundice, spleenomegaly, anemia, emaciation, cardiac disorders, hoarseness of voice, rhinitis, cough, dyspnoea, diabetes, skin disorders, leucorrhea, skin disorders, disorders of head, eye disorders, chronic fever. 
Varities of Haritaki
Bhavaprakasha has mentioned 7 varieties of Haritaki depending upon the area where they grow, size of the fruit, and uses.
  1. Jivanti – It is grown in Saurashthra in Gujarat, is golden - yellow in color. It is used for all chronic diseases and has many medicinal uses.
  2. Putana – It is found in Southern Pakistan, is small in size with big and hard seeds and is used mainly for external application. 
  3. Vijaya -  Vijaya, growing in the Vindhaya Mountains, looks like a squash and is said to be the best. It is used for all chronic diseases and has many medicinal uses. 
  4. Abhaya – Amrita and Abhaya varieties grow in Bhagalpur district in Eastern India in Bihar. Abhaya has 5 lobes and is used mainly for ophthalmic purpose externally. 
  5. Amrita – It has more of flesh and is used mainly for purgation purposes. 
  6. Rohini – It is found distributed in North India, is round in shape and is used for healing ulcers and wounds by external application. 
  7. Chetaki – It is found in Himalayas, has 3 lobes and is used in powder form for many diseases and is a laxative. It comes in two varieties – white and black.
Haritaki as a Rasayana (Rejuvenative)
 
Haritaki is a best Rasayana and many Rasayana preparations of Hartaki are expounded in the first chapter (Abhaya Amalaki Rasayana) in Chikitsa sthana (Section on Therapeutics) of Charaka Samhita. Powder of Haritaki is administered in the dose of 3-6 gm for Virechana (Purgation) and 1 gm for Rasayana. Haritaki is the best rejuvenatory herb for all the seasons. Haritaki is advised to be used throughout the year and is administered with different substances in different seasons to get best results. This is known as Ritu Haritaki.
  • In Vasantha ritu (Spring) Haritaki is advised with Madhu (Honey).
  • In Varsha (Rainy) Haritaki is advised with Saindhava (Rock salt).
  • In Sharad (Autumn) Haritaki is advised with Sharkara (Sugar).
  • In Hemanta (Early winter) Haritaki is advised with Sunti (Ginger).
  • In Shishira (Late winter) Haritaki is advised with Pippali (Long pepper).
  • In Grishma (Summer) Haritaki is advised with Guda (Jaggery).
Use of Haritaki in various disorders
Bhavaprakasha has also mentioned the mode of use of Haritaki for different disorders.
  • For Vata disorders, Haritaki is used with ghee.
  • For Pitta disorders, Haritaki is used with sugar.
  • For Kapha disorders, Haritaki is used with rock salt.
Grouping of Haritaki

The herbs are grouped into different categories in the text Charaka Samhita depending on their mode of action and use. And Haritaki is mentioned in Arshogna (Anti haemorrhoidal), Kushtagna (Beneficial in skin disorder), Kasahara (Beneficial in cough), Jwarahara (Anti pyretic), Prajasthapana (Fertility promoter), Vayasthapana (Longevity promoter), and Virechanopaga (Purgative) Gana.

AYURVEDA DAILY ROUTINE - Better Health 24 Hours a Day


In our modern world, we blindly believe that vaccinations and antibiotics are beneficial for prevention and treatment of diseases. Of course, at times such things can be necessary. But too often it can be substituted with Ayurvedic advises which is a safe and natural way to improve the function of the immune system thereby increasing disease resistance. Ayurveda has much to offer in the way of gentle and effective health care and disease prevention for children through diet and lifestyle, as well as the use of medicinal herbs and spices.

“The object of teaching is to enable a child to get along without his teacher.” This quote has a connection to Ayurveda. So let’s educate growing children about the benefits of Ayurveda for a healthy future. From bedtime to bedtime there is a full day of simple Ayurvedic activities that promote health and wellbeing. Introduce a child to these at an early age and they can become habits for life.

1. Ayurveda recommends an early bird lifestyle - Waking up at sunrise (5 - 6 am)
2. Face/nose/mouth wash - Wash your face and your eyes with water. Scrape your tongue with a tongue scraper and gargle mouth with sesame oil.
3. Exercise - Early morning exercise removes stagnation in the body and mind and allows your energy to flow. Walking / pranayama (breathing exercises)/ yoga – 30 minutes.
4. Self-Massage - Massage keeps us strong and is beneficial for body and mind.  Ayur veda recommends that you massage yourself with a bit of warm oil for about 5 minutes is sufficient. Massage the scalp, forehead, hands and feet.
5. Bath – Daily bath helps maintain personal hygiene and gives a feeling of freshness to start the new day.
6. Eat your breakfast – Eat before 8 am. Eat moderate breakfast, preferably cooked food and not sandwich or biscuit daily.
7. School / Office – Do all work mindfully and at pace, concentrate on what you do.
8. Midday lunch – It should be the only heaviest / main meal of the day– Eat between 12.30 – 1.30 pm.
9. Short nap can be taken if needed after lunch for 15 – 20 min. Do not sleep, but a short nap is no harm.
10. Meditation - In the evening back home, after refreshing, sit still in a silent area and focus on your breath.
11. Evening hours – Use less TV and computer, utilize time for more productive work or studies or sports.
12. Dinner - Dinner is recommended to be taken between 7 and 8 pm and should be lighter. Do not go to bed or watch TV or Computer immediately after dinner. Walk few steps inside the house after dinner to enable digestion.
13. Sleep – Go to sleep early, between 9 – 10 pm. 

As one applies the principles of Ayurveda in his day-to-day life, he can live a disease free, long life. The prime objective of Ayurveda is to prevent dis-ease. As children are the building blocks of the society, incorporating Ayurveda principles in their lives will help enhance their physical and mental health, thereby promoting a healthy and disease free society. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

AYURVEDIC TIPS FOR CONSTIPATION

Clearing of bowels is a step towards good health. There is a feeling of being uncomfortable and routine work is hampered when the bowels of a person are not cleared. Constipation is a common problem in today's world mainly due to present day lifestyle. Constipation may manifest in different ways - not passing bowels even once a day or a sense of incomplete evacuation.

Though the disease of constipation has not been discussed separately in Ayurvedic texts, its occurrence as a symptom of various diseases and ways to tackle it has been described. Constipation is mentioned in Ayurvedic texts by the name of Vibandha meaning obstructing or binding of stool. Vibandha occurs when something is wrong somewhere in our food habits.

Nidana (Causes)

Ayurveda treats constipation as a problem arising due to the predominance of Vata dosha. In fact all people with Vata constitution have this problem to some extent or the other. From Ayurvedic point of view, dietary habits are the main cause of constipation. Following are some of the dietary factors that lead to constipation – eating at different time each day, eating too late than the normal time, eating food that is difficult to digest, eating food without roughage or food that contain fiber content, eating mostly dry foods, drinking too many beverages like tea and coffee, drinking too many cold drinks, not drinking enough water. Apart from these Ayurveda has also pinpointed various environmental and behavioral factors that can lead to constipation – vices like smoking, staying awake till late at night, sleeplessness or insomnia, mental worries and tensions, feelings of guilt and fear and age.

Causative factors lead to Ama (Metabolic toxin formed due to improper digestion) formation and abnormal movement of Apana vata (One of the 5 subdivisions of Vata dosha and one of the functions of Apana Vata is to facilitate proper evacuation of faeces), the seat of it is mainly rectum, bladder and reproductive organs). This makes the stool dry, peristalsis is slowed and stool is retained in pakvashaya (colon). Hence there is difficulty in passing stools leading to Vibandha or Constipation. The first symptom is a coating on the tongue which cannot be cleaned easily. People also have occasional feeling of uneasiness in stomach with flatulence. Stools are hard to eliminate and food takes longer time to get digested properly.


Types of constipation
  • Casual or temporary – This can be caused by indigestion, overeating, contaminated food or bacterial infection.
  • Chronic or habitual – This occurs largely in the elderly usually due to loss of tonality in the sphincter muscles. It is also presented by persons suffering from piles or hemorrhoids.
Treatment

Constipation is not the threatening disease it’s just a change in bowel due to sedentary lifestyle, improper diet, creating unnecessary mental stress, worries etc. Ayurveda has high ethos approach in treating the ailment in authentic manner and quiet possible to manage with above mentioned remedies.

Simple tips to relieve and prevent constipation

·  Take ample fruits, fruit juices, leafy vegetables and water.
·  Reduce excess intake of fried foods, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, nuts and dry fruits.
·  Regular physical exercise is important.
·  One should try to have a relaxed mind, free from anxiety, stress, etc.
·  One should not suppress the natural urges especially feces.
·  Staying awake late in night and rising late in the morning also affects bowel movement. So one should try to go to bed before midnight and wake up early.
·  Avoid straining at stools.

Common Ayurvedic herbal medicines used to treat constipation

  • Triphala Churna  
  • Avipathikar Churna  
  • Panchasakar Churna  
  • Abhayarishta
Constipation is a symptom, not a disease but it can be the forerunner of serious diseases. Timely treatment is very much essential. Constipation can be successfully manageable through Ayurveda. Ancient Ayurveda texts have mentioned several classical Ayurveda herbal formulations, which help relieve constipation by establishing equilibrium of all 3 doshas, mainly Vata dosha.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

AYURVEDA ADVICE ON DIET DURING PREGNANCY


Ayurvedic approach towards motherhood, that is pregnancy and childbirth, is indeed a holistic one. Ayurvedic recommendations touch upon the diet, behavior, and activities of not only the mother but also the entire family into which the child will be born. Ayurveda regards the woman and her ability to produce and care for children as the basis of family life, which, in turn, is the very foundation of society. Therefore, only if the women of a society are safe, protected, and content can these qualities manifest in that society. Pregnancy is a time when everything the pregnant mother tastes, sees, touches, hears and smells should be nourishing to the mother and child. 


Advice on diet during pregnancy - 
  • Cooked vegetables should be included in diet whereas raw vegetables / salads should be consumed in less quantities preceding lunch.
  • Pulses like yellow and split green gram, pigeon pea and red lentils are easy to digest, balancing and nourishing to the body. Chickpeas, black-eyed and kidney beans should only be taken very occasionally and must be thoroughly soaked and well cooked. Tofu can also be enjoyed.
  • Grains including rice, oat, rye, maize, millet, amaranth, quinoa and flours made from the above grains and buckwheat can also be used. Porridge made without milk, but with cinnamon and cardamom, coconut flakes, soaked raisins or stewed fruit is easy to digest, highly nutritious, warming and energizing. It is better to avoid bread.
  • Seeds and nuts such as pumpkin, sesame, poppy and sunflower seeds, pine nuts, almonds (without skin), walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios should be eaten in very small amounts as they are heavy to digest and vata increasing. They are best soaked and made into a paste or milk. The flesh, milk, cream and flakes of coconuts can be used liberally. 
  • All sweet fruits such as apples, pears, apricots, grapes, cherries, plums, sweet berries, fresh figs, dates and also pomegranate are good. Dried fruits are okay, but they are best soaked.
  • Of all dairy products ghee (clarified butter) is the best - it can be cooked with and added to practically everything. Milk should be taken warm preferably, spiced with ginger, cardamom, cinnamon or turmeric. Good alternatives to cow‘s milk are soya milk and rice milk. Fresh cheeses are easier to digest then hard, old ones. They are best enjoyed with some black pepper to stimulate digestive fire.
  • One should avoid red meat. White meat is okay for consumption i.e. chicken and turkey. Fish is very hot in potency; so one can chose to eat fresh water fish rather than sea fish.
  • Refined sugar should be replaced by jaggery (solidified sugar cane juice), cane sugar, or honey. Honey is not heat stable and becomes poisonous for the body when heated, cooked or baked.
  • Black tea and coffee can be drunk, but herbal teas and decaffeinated coffee are better. Ginger tea made from fresh roots is warming, agni (digestive fire) increasing; removes mucus and toxins but ginger tea should not be drunk regularly.
  • Most essential is the use of spices. Cumin, coriander, fennel and saffron are the best for balancing all doshas, increasing agni (digestive fire) and should be used liberally. Black pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, mustard seeds, nutmeg, all fresh herbs (particularly fresh coriander) and onions can be used. Garlic and ginger should also be used in moderate quantities. Asafoetida (Hingu) pacifies vata and should be added when cooking pulses, cabbage and beans to reduce their gas producing properties.
Charaka Samhita states - ‘Evamkurvati hi arogya-bala-varna-samvahana-sampadamupetamjnatinamshreshtamapatyamjanayati’ which means that if a pregnant woman is taken care of as advised, she will give birth to a child who does not have any diseases - a healthy, physically strong, radiant and well nourished baby.