Ayurvedic Relief for Muscles and Joints

Ouch!  In response to lifestyle, diet, and emotional pattern, our doshas; vata, pitta, and kapha, can easily move out of balance. These imbalances slow down agni, or digestive fire, resulting in the toxic by-product of inadequate digestion known as ama.

Vata, the main active dosha, brings ama into the colon.  From there, ama travels throughout the system, lodging in the bone tissue and joints, giving rise to the stiffness and pain characteristic of chronic joint disorders.

Ayurveda works through both diet and supplementation to remove ama from the joints and move it back to the colon, where the body can then eliminate it.  For this, we need to keep the colon clean and active.  Triphala is the most commonly used herb for cleansing the colon, or the combination of Triphala and Guggul.  Ayurveda recommends general techniques to increase the intensity of agni and burn up the toxins harming the body.  We begin with our food by adding more spices to the diet, such as turmeric, chilis, pepper, cardamom and cloves when cooking.  herbs in bulk cropHerbal extractions of Turmeric Curcumin and Boswellia support a healthy inflammation response and ease of movement, while Ashwagandha helps balance all the doshas and reduce negative effects of stress in the body.

Various oils may be applied to the skin to help the body clear toxins, relieve pain and restore mobility.  Ayurveda has used two traditional oils in particular for thousands of years:  Maha Vishgarbha Oil and Maha Narayan Oil, both containing dozens of herbs in a sesame oil base. Massaging these oils into painful areas can improve flexibility, stiffness, muscle fatigue, circulation and ease pain. These oils when massaged into the skin can also assist in breaking up blockages. After oil application; warm heat, yoga, bath, and mild exercise can further relax and relieve the body.  Tattva’s Herbs Joint Care Oil, featuring Boswellia as a topical option, is also a potent and cooling application for both chronic and acute situations.

You May Also Like to ReadHow to Enhance you Inner Strength using Ashwaganda?

Timing of Administration of Herbs

From: Ayurvedic Herbology East and West, A Practical Guide to Ayurvedic Herbal Medicine, written by: Vishnu Dass

In Ayurvedic herbology, the timing of administration of a medicine is another important factor to consider, as it may enhance its effects. Herbs that are taken before meals work more on the colon, kidneys, and reproductive organs, and play a key role in supporting the functions of apana vayu, the downward moving aspect of vata that governs elimination of waste products and menstruation. Herbs with mild laxative, diuretic, and emmenagogue properties also act on the lower half of the body, and can be taken before food to strengthen their action.

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Herbs taken along with food act directly upon the stomach, spleen, liver, and small intestine. They support samana vayu, the aspect of vata governing digestive functions, as well as jathara agni and pachaka pitta, the main fires of digestion in the stomach and small intestine. Herbs acting on the middle part of the body are carminatives, stimulants, bitters, and nutritive tonics. Herbs taken after meals work on the upper portion of the body and directly affect prana, udana, and vyana vayus, giving them a stronger action on the lungs, heart, brain, and nervous system. Below is a list of times of administration and therapeutic effect they enhance.

Anannkala: Empty Stomach

Herbs taken first thing in the morning, then allowing as much time as possible (1-3 hours) before taking food, help to increase agni and burn ama and plegm. This is a good time to enhance various properties such as lekaniya (scraping of fat). This is the ideal time to give purgatives, emetics, or rasayanas (rejuvenating substances).

Pragbhukta: Before Meals

Herbs taken at this time are carried quickly to the pelvic region and have the greatest effect on the folon and apana vayu. This is one of the best times for treating chronic indigestion, gas, bloating, abdominal discomfort, and constipation, as well as disorders of the reproductive organs and urinary tract.

Madhyabhukta: During Meals

Herbs taken along with food act on samana vayu, the aspects of vata governing digestive functions in the area of the duodenum and small intestine. This is helpful for kindling the agni, improving peristalisis, absorption, and assimilation. It is also an easier way of taking herbs for those who have difficulty swallowing them or tolerating their taste.

Abhobhukta: Right After Meals

Herbs taken just after food work on the upper portion of the body and directly affect prana vayu, the aspect of vata governing respiration and the nervous system. They also help to restore the function of udana, the vayu responsible for speech, effort, energy, willpower, and memory, as well as that of vyana vayu, which is centered in the heart, moves throughout the body, and governs circulation. Digestive herbs can also be take at this time to treat slow sluggish digestion and help to strengthen and regulate the thyroid gland. People that are sensitive to herbs sometimes prefer to take herbs after meals. This seems to be a convenient time for people to remember to take their herbs, but proper timing should be encouraged whenever possible.

Antarabhukta: Between Meals

The seven bodily tissues receive their nourishment during this time (3 to 4 hours after a meal). Herbs taken at this time travel along with ahara rasa (nutrient precursors) to each of the dhatus, increasing metabolic activity.

Muhur Muhur: Frequent Administration

This can be as frequent as moment to moment or every few minutes. This method helps to send a constant reminder to the body. It is used for acute disorders of prana vayu like hiccup, burping, asthma, cough, and other respiratory disorders. Good examples of this are sipping on teas every 5-10 minutes, or licking certain pastes made from herbs and substances like honey to relieve acute symptoms. Another example is the use of spice blends for digestion (digestive churnas), which can be sprinkled on food and ingested every few minutes with each bite.

Swapnakala: Before Bedtime

Herbs given at bedtime or one hour before sleep help to redirect the movement of vata (vata anuloman). This is a good time to give laxatives or purgatives, and is also an ideal time for treating insomnia and other sleep disorders. Herbs taken at midnight can help with nightmares and disorders of maija dhatu (nerve tissues and marrow).

Sandhyakale: At Sunrise and Sunset

Herbs taken during this time act directly on the joints. Mild laxatives can also be taken at sunrise. Herbs that raise the consciousness, such as brahmi and vacha, can be taken in the early morning to promote good meditation.

For more tips and info visit our website at www.tattvasherbs.com

Why Digestion Is Like a Campfire

By Sara Bowes, L.Ac, MSOM
Portland, OR

campfireDigestion should not be taken for granted — really, it is the central pivot for all functioning in our body. Occupying the actual physical center of the organism, and being the interface between our own inner world and the external environment, as we bring the outside world into us in the form of food, the digestive system ought to be paid utmost attention and care. Nevertheless, modern Western culture has for the most part abandoned any traditions that promote optimally-functioning digestion. The repercussions are multifold. It is no shock that our culture is plagued by fatigue—why should we feel energized if the fire we use to burn our fuel has been essentially extinguished? Not to mention the fact that the fuel we now choose to burn is generally imitation and low-quality. When digestion is compromised, an endless array of disease can manifest—from chronic inflammation and associated presentations like arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes, to mental and emotional afflictions like depression, ADHD, and mental fogginess. Traditional cultures and healing systems, like Ayurveda, for instance, have long recognized the centrality of digestion in terms of overall health, and only recently is modern research beginning to catching up.

The simplest and most profound things we can do to help our digestive center generally involve gently stoking its inherent fire. In Ayurveda, this fire is called agni. So long as agni is strong and functioning well, both food, and also experiences, emotions, and sensory impressions will be processed and assimilated in a healthful fashion. If agni is weak, an excess of poorly processed substance and experience accumulates, resulting in a range of problems on the physical and also emotional and psychological levels. As much as we can contribute to the building of this fire, and at the same time, avoid practices that put it out, digestion will thrive. Just like a campfire, digestion generally likes to be warm and dry. Of course the warmth and dryness must be moderated to a degree so that the fire doesn’t turn rampant.  A variety of factors, including constitution, dietary choices, and climate all will contribute to the terrain of the digestive tract. Depending on these factors, your own unique digestion will require more or less assistance in achieving optimal balance.

Simple practices to encourage our own internal fire should be emphasized by every person whose aim is to enhance the absorption of the food he puts into his body. First, ice water should be avoided at all times—most crucially at mealtimes. Cold does to our bodies what it does in nature, which is to freeze and slow. Pouring ice water into the stomach literally puts a halt to digestion, and is especially detrimental to a system whose preference already is to be comfortably warm. A small quantity of warm water or tea around mealtimes is preferable to cold beverages. Abstaining from drinking large amounts of liquid altogether, however, for 30-60 minutes prior to and after a meal will best benefit digestive function since the acids and enzymes excreted in the digestive process are simply diluted by the addition of liquid. Traditionally, in Indian and Chinese cultures, for instance, small servings of hot tea and/or soup with warming and aromatic spices like ginger and cardamom are eaten at the start of a meal to warm up the digestive tract and prime it for the rest of the meal.

The sun’s presence in our eating ritual is a simple practice to assure that the food we put into our bodies is given the best chance to digest. The biggest meal of the day should really be eaten at midday when the sun is highest in the sky—our bodies absorb and respond to the sun’s power and energy, and so will our digestive center, which particularly thrives in its glow.

Similarly, putting fire into our food, quite literally—through the process of cooking—further takes a load off of the body’s own internal reserves. Cooking food benefits digestion. The process itself can be thought of as a pre-digestive process. Raw food, though full of heat-sensitive enzymes, are for the most part, rough on digestion. It is difficult to assimilate foods in their raw state, and this is often reflected by the tendency to suffer from gas, bloating, loose stools with undigested food, and diarrhea on a raw food diet. Furthermore is the tendency to lose weight and strength (and vitality) when eating strictly this way. Clearly, raw foods can be helpful in particular situations with particular constitutional types, especially in for limited periods of time, for detoxification purposes, for instance. If such a diet is adopted, then it is all the more important to “supplement with fire” from other sources rather than cooking, such as hotter seasons and climates, midday eating focus, and warming herbs and spices.

Quite obvious but nonetheless overlooked is the mouth’s participation in the digestive process. Chewing thoroughly and mixing food with saliva is a necessary first step in breaking down food. Chewing clearly initiates the breakdown of food mechanically, and also introduces energetic warmth to the process by the nature of movement and friction, in the same way that rubbing two sticks together can start a fire. Just as important in this act is the thorough mixing of food with salivary enzymes, which are important for breaking down carbohydrates and fats especially, and for the rest of the digestive process to go according to plan, the optimization of the functioning of these enzymes is necessary. The stomach itself does not release these particular enzymes, nor does it have teeth, so it is crucial that the initial process of digestion in chewing and mixing is done well and thoroughly so that the stomach is not bombarded with a job it is not outfitted to perform. Traditionally, it is recommended that each bite is chewed thoroughly an average of 30 chews, until food is thoroughly liquefied, before swallowed. This will naturally slow down the process of eating, allowing the body’s satiety sensors to register the food being introduced to the system, preventing overeating, which is a natural detriment to digestive functioning as it becomes overwhelmed with the sheer volume of food.

Implementing these simple practices—and learning to recognize habits that are working against your digestion and putting out precious agni (eating in a hurry, chugging ice water before meals, ice cream, living off of raw foods in the winter in a cool climate) will surely over time become preferences as you begin to notice the correlations in digestive comfort and energy levels with the adoption of simple eating habits.

Destroy Fat and Cholesterol with Guggul

Guggul is a time tested Ayurvedic Herb that has proved to maintain healthy cholesterol in the body.

Guggul-webGuggul or guggulu (commiphora mukul, also commiphora wightii) is derived from the gummy resinous exudate of a plant closely related to myrrh that is found in arid to semi-arid areas of Northern India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. This tree has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, and Ayurvedic texts dating back to 600 BC recommend it for treatment of atherosclerosis and digestive disorders.

The Sanskrit definition of the term “guggul” is “one that protects against diseases.” This attests to the wide respect and therapeutic Ayurvedic applications for this botanical, considered to be the most important herb for the removal of “ama,” or toxic substances which accumulate as a result of sluggish digestion and circulation associated with a slowing of metabolism.

Similar to another important Ayurvedic preparation called triphala, guggul is considered tridoshic, or balancing to all three doshas in the body. The three doshas, or bodily constitutions represent the foundation of traditional Ayurveda. These are: kapha or the anabolic humour, watery humour; pitta or the catabolic, fiery humour; and vata, the air or nervous system humour. When all three humours are in balance, the result is health and wellness. When one or more are in excess or deficient this represents imbalance or disease. Guggul stimulates pitta and thus enhances warmth, digestion, circulatory and reproductive processes. It also regulates vata (nerve force) and kapha (fluidic aspects).

As an “ama”-resolving herb, guggul has a wide range of applications beginning with rheumatic and arthritic pains, lowering high cholesterol, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), and obesity. Guggul is warming and stimulates metabolism that is why it is one of the few botanicals that has been used to treat hypothyroid conditions. In addition, it is used to treat a sluggish liver, malaria, to stimulate libido, nervous diseases, bronchial congestion, cardiac and circulatory problems, weak digestion, gynecological problems, leucorrhea, sterility, impotence, and various skin diseases including acne and psoriasis. (One of the substances contained in Guggul which is known to lower cholesterol and triglycerides is also noted for its ability to decrease the redness and swelling that occurs in some types of acne) Guggul, as with other resins, is excreted through the skin, mucus membranes and the kidneys. This is what makes it particularly useful for the urinary tract and for a wide number of skin diseases.

Guggul has been used for over 3,000 years and is described in all of the classical Ayurvedic texts including the Sushruta Samhita (3rd to 4th centuries) where it is especially recommended for the treatment of rheumatic pains and obesity, as mentioned above. It is one of the most important rasayanas (herbal tonics) of Ayurveda where it is described as warm, dry, pungent-flavored, and aromatic with nutritive, lubricant, stimulant and digestion-enhancing properties. Current research substantiates its benefit for the treatment of elevated blood lipids and coronary and arterial plaque known as atherosclerosis. As a result, today in India standardized guggul extracts are being approved for lowering elevated serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Click Here for Tattva’s Herbs Guggul Co2 Extract.

Top 10 Benefits of Triphala

Triphala-scTriphala is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine and the three fruits that comprise it are Amalaki, Haritaki, and Bibhitaki.

Triphala has long been used for a wide array of ailments and has countless beneficial properties. Regular use can do wonders for your body, mind and spirit.

Here is a list of what we feel are the top 10 benefits of taking this incredible product.

1. Aids in Digestion

2. Potent Antioxidant

3. Detoxification and Purification

4. Colon Cleansing

5. Healthy Weight Loss

6. Maintains Vision and Eyesight

7. Combats Stress

8. Helps combat Flatulence

9. Boosts Immune System

10. Stimulates the Liver

These are just a few  of the most well-known ways in which Triphala benefits our health. We suggest everyone use Triphala as a preventive and experience the bountiful health benefits offered.

Agni and Plants

An excerpt from The Yoga of Herbs – An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine

by Dr. David Frawley and Dr. Vasant Lad

Ayurveda views the health of the body as the functioning of a biological fire governing metabolism. It is called agni. Agni is not simply a symbol for the power of digestion. In the broader sense, it is the creative flame that works behind all life, building up the entire universe as a stage by stage unfoldment of itself, which, thereby, contains within itself the key to all transformations.

spices-ayurvedic-agni

Agni is present not only in human beings but in all nature. It has a special ab

ode in plants, which contain the agni of photosynthesis. When agni is strong, food is digested properly, toxins of various kinds, largely from undigested food particles, (called ama in Ayurveda), accumulate and breed disease.

Plants contain agni, through which they digest sunlight and produce life. Herbs can transmit their agni to us, their capacity to digest and transform, and this may augment our own power of digestion, or give us the capacity to digest substances we normally cannot. The agni of plants can feed our agni. Through this interconnection, we join ourselves with the cosmic agni, the creative force of life and healing.

The agni from plants is magnetically attracted by its opposite nature to the negative life-force of the ama, or various toxic accumulations in our body. The result is their neutralization and a restoration of harmony.

healthy_herbs

Herbs can be used to supplement agni and thereby restore our autoimmune system. This restores the power of our aura, which is nothing more than the glow of our agni.

By their very nature the fight herbs and spices can feed agni, directly strengthening the basic energy of the body-mind, allowing for the right digestion, not only of food but also experience.

 

Triphala Guggul – Support Weight Management & Digestion

Triphala GuggulTriphala Guggul is a classic Ayurvedic formulation that we are pleased to be able to provide to you in Supercritical (Co2) form. Both are popular herbs found primarily in India, but they have  been used in the United States and Europe as well, as a natural remedy for several conditions. This premier formula combines the antioxidant and digestive support of Triphala with the cholesterol and metabolism support of Guggul. Triphala – Guggul has been proven to help maintain healthy weight control, cholesterol levels, proper digestion and food absorption, metabolism, keeping the arteries clear, and overall as a natural health tonic. This herbal combination is extremely cleansing for the body and can help rid the body of many deep-seated toxins that are buried in the body’s soft tissues.

Toxins can accumulate in and around your joints, causing joint pain, arthritis, muscle aches, and rheumatism. Components of triphala guggul may be able to bind to these toxins and remove them through your blood stream. The process of removing toxins from around your body’s major joints may also help reduce joint inflammation, or swelling, that can cause discomfort or pain.

Triphala guggul has been reported to help your body maintain healthy levels of both good and bad cholesterol. High or unbalanced cholesterol levels can increase your risk for developing heart disease. Good cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein, may be elevated with the regular supplementation of this herbal extract. Bad cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein, may be lowered with supplementation. This may also lower your blood pressure and hypertension, which reduces the risk of heart disease. The triphala and guggul combination has been used in India as a digestive aid for centuries. Compounds in the resin extract may strengthen your digestive system by increasing the amount of hydrochloric acid and other enzymes that are responsible for the breakdown of food in your stomach. The formula may also improve absorption of nutrients by acting on the enzymes found in your intestinal tract.

When combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise, triphala guggul may be used as an ergogenic aid to help support weight loss. A compound in triphala guggul, called ushan virya, may stimulate the mobilization of fat that is stored throughout your body. Moving free fatty acids from fat tissue cells to muscle cells for energy increases your fat-burning potential, particularly if you exercise regularly.

Triphala is composed of three herbs: Haritaki, Bibhitaki and Amalaki. Amla helps to maintain healthy cells in the intestinal wall, and the fruit contains the highest natural known source of vitamin C. It is said to have 20 times the vitamin C content of an orange. Bibhitaki acts to promote healthy mucus levels. The last is Haritaki, which acts as a bowel toner, rather than a laxative. These three herbs work in consort to gently promote internal cleansing of all conditions of stagnation and excess, while at the same time, they aid in healthy digestion and assimilation of food.

Tattva’s Herbs’ natural supplements combine the wisdom of Mother Nature with the very latest technology known as supercritical extraction. This state of the art technology delivers a very pure extract that is both full spectrum and extremely concentrated at the same time. It is so pure that you can actually smell the qualities of the original herb in the extract, and you are greeted with this aroma when you open a bottle. It is sweet and powerful. There is simply no other extraction method so effective that you can actually smell the purity, fragrance and essence of the herb. This is a testimony to the great care that goes into the selection of the herbs and the supercritical extraction process itself. To give you an idea of the potency and concentration of the extract, we can often use as much as 200 to 250 pounds of fresh herbs to produce just one pound of supercritical extract.

All of the herbs are grown on organic farms and selected with the greatest of care. The supercritical process produces an exceptionally broad representation of the herbs’ active constituents, which oftentimes traditional methods of extraction cannot even begin to extract. Furthermore, the supercritical process does not use any chemical solvents at all. Instead, it utilizes safe and environmentally friendly carbon dioxide, the same carbon dioxide that is found in your sparkling water.

Finally, the supercritical extract, post-supercritical extract (PSE) (a water-soluble extract), and the raw whole herb are combined to create our herbal formula. The finished product is superior in terms of both freshness and breadth of active constituents. It delivers the full spectrum of the herbs with a potency that cannot be surpassed. In addition, all of the herbs are independently tested for heavy metals and other contaminates. The result is an exquisite formula that delivers simplicity, purity and incredible potency all at once.

Click Here for Tattva’s Herbs Triphala Guggul.  

Guggul – “One that protects against diseases.”

GuggulGuggul or guggulu (commiphora mukul, also commiphora wightii) is derived from the gummy resinous exudate of a plant closely related to myrrh that is found in arid to semi-arid areas of Northern India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. This tree has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, and Ayurvedic texts dating back to 600 BC recommend it for treatment of atherosclerosis and digestive disorders.

The Sanskrit definition of the term “guggul” is “one that protects against diseases.” This attests to the wide respect and therapeutic Ayurvedic applications for this botanical, considered to be the most important herb for the removal of “ama,” or toxic substances which accumulate as a result of sluggish digestion and circulation associated with a slowing of metabolism.

Similar to another important Ayurvedic preparation called triphala, guggul is considered tridoshic, or balancing to all three doshas in the body. The three doshas, or bodily constitutions represent the foundation of traditional Ayurveda. These are: kapha or the anabolic humour, watery humour; pitta or the catabolic, fiery humour; and vata, the air or nervous system humour. When all three humours are in balance, the result is health and wellness. When one or more are in excess or deficient this represents imbalance or disease. Guggul stimulates pitta and thus enhances warmth, digestion, circulatory and reproductive processes. It also regulates vata (nerve force) and kapha (fluidic aspects).

As an “ama”-resolving herb, guggul has a wide range of applications beginning with rheumatic and arthritic pains, lowering high cholesterol, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), and obesity. Guggul is warming and stimulates metabolism that is why it is one of the few botanicals that has been used to treat hypothyroid conditions. In addition, it is used to treat a sluggish liver, malaria, to stimulate libido, nervous diseases, bronchial congestion, cardiac and circulatory problems, weak digestion, gynecological problems, leucorrhea, sterility, impotence, and various skin diseases including acne and psoriasis. (One of the substances contained in Guggul which is known to lower cholesterol and triglycerides is also noted for its ability to decrease the redness and swelling that occurs in some types of acne) Guggul, as with other resins, is excreted through the skin, mucus membranes and the kidneys. This is what makes it particularly useful for the urinary tract and for a wide number of skin diseases.

Guggul has been used for over 3,000 years and is described in all of the classical Ayurvedic texts including the Sushruta Samhita (3rd to 4th centuries) where it is especially recommended for the treatment of rheumatic pains and obesity, as mentioned above. It is one of the most important rasayanas (herbal tonics) of Ayurveda where it is described as warm, dry, pungent-flavored, and aromatic with nutritive, lubricant, stimulant and digestion-enhancing properties. Current research substantiates its benefit for the treatment of elevated blood lipids and coronary and arterial plaque known as atherosclerosis. As a result, today in India standardized guggul extracts are being approved for lowering elevated serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

­Tattva’s Herbs natural supplements combine the wisdom of Mother Nature with the very latest technology known as supercritical extraction. This state of the art technology delivers a very pure extract that is both full spectrum and extremely concentrated at the same time. It is so pure that you can actually smell the qualities of the original herb in the extract, and you are greeted with this aroma when you open a bottle. It is sweet and powerful. There is simply no other extraction method so effective that you can actually smell the purity, fragrance and essence of the herb. This is a testimony to the great care that goes into the selection of the herbs and the supercritical extraction process itself. To give you an idea of the potency and concentration of the extract, we can often use as much as 200 to 250 pounds of fresh herbs to produce just one pound of supercritical extract. All of the herbs are grown on organic farms and selected with the greatest of care. The supercritical process produces an exceptionally broad representation of the herbs’ active constituents, which oftentimes traditional methods of extraction cannot even begin to extract. Furthermore, the supercritical process does not use any chemical solvents at all. Instead, it utilizes safe and environmentally friendly carbon dioxide, the same carbon dioxide that is found in your sparkling water.

Finally, the supercritical extract, post-supercritical extract (PSE) (a water-soluble extract), and the raw whole herb are combined to create our herbal formula. The finished product is superior in terms of both freshness and breadth of active constituents. It delivers the full spectrum of the herbs with a potency that cannot be surpassed. In addition, all of the herbs are independently tested for heavy metals and other contaminates. The result is an exquisite formula that delivers simplicity, purity and incredible potency all at once.

Click here for Tattva’s Herbs Guggul.

Fasting for Ekadasi

Written by: Sara Bowes

‘Tis the season of revelry and feasting. As much as it is universal to indulge at this time of year, is it common to be thinking in the back of our minds how we will reconcile, how we can make it up to our bodies after all of the indulgence is over. Thus, the seeds of New Years resolutions get planted. Such is the nature of a culture of extremism, of feast or [often self-imposed] famine.

Perhaps a more balanced approach to optimal health is regular short fasts. With a healthy diet consisting of real, whole foods, there is no need to crash diet, nor is there a necessity for prolonged fasting. It is, however, an often overlooked must to give our digestive systems, and in turn, our entire bodies a break from consumption. Just like we, as human beings, will often go crazy without vacation, so will our digestive systems.

This all came to my attention the day after Thanksgiving. Despite the fact that my health-conscious guests supplied the table with after-dinner digestive teas and concoctions, and despite the fact that I managed to get out of the meal without feeling stuffed to capacity, and despite the fact that I felt surprisingly light the next morning and ready to eat breakfast, Friday, as it progressed, became a day of uncomfortable indigestion and bloating. Like I said, I cannot attribute this to overindulgence at Thankgsiving dinner for the reason that my indulgence the night before was unusually in check.

It was not until the evening that I was standing in my kitchen, gazing rather blankly at a calendar on the wall given out by a local Hindu temple, that I noticed it was Ekadasi. What is Ekadasi, you ask? The word means eleven in Sanskrit, and refers to the eleventh lunar day of the bright (shukla) and dark (krishna) fortnight (paksha), or fourteen days of every lunar month as the Hindu calendar has it. This biweekly occurrence corresponds to the times in which the moon is both closest to and farthest from the earth. For this reason, these are also the times of high tide and low tide, respectively.

In Hinduism (especially Vaishnava traditions) and Jainism, Ekadasi marks a particularly auspicious time, in which devout peoples will choose to fast. The day is usually devoted to meditation and divine worship. There are many stories that explain the significance of these days. Just as fascinating, however, is the correlation between the lunar rhythms, and the effect of the water in our bodies. Given that our bodies are at least 60 percent water, it only makes sense that we must be affected in some way by the rhythms of the moon. Some sources claim that digestive secretions are at their lowest on these days due to the magnetic pull of the moon on our bodies. For similar reasons, our minds are said to become affected. For these reasons, it is best not to burden our body with food and even water during this time.

In my travels in India I had heard of such ideas. I read about Ekadasi, and found it completely fascinating. I thought, at the time, that perhaps I, too, should observe these days by fasting.

I never did.

I did, though, have the idea of Ekadasi in the back of my mind. I did reflect on the effect the moon must be having on my body. And I did start to pay attention to when my digestion felt “off”. I would check, just out of curiosity, at the Hindu calendar on my wall, and more often than not, find that the days in which I felt bloated and as if anything I ate would just sit in my stomach and expand, were in fact Ekadasi! Noteworthy is the fact that I more often than not could not find anything to attribute my indigestion to—no unusual foods eaten, no other illness, no regular correlation with menstrual cycles, etc.

Here marks my new exploration into the affect of the moon on my own body. In attempts to realign with the macrocosm and the forces of nature, and to employ a regular gesture of lending my system a chance to rest, and my spirit a chance to connect with something greater with just a little more ease, I am choosing to observe Ekadasi for the next year. I am starting my New Year’s resolution a month early. And I am abandoning all temptation to do an extreme crash diet to combat my holiday indulgences, that will only end up in me scrambling for a box of chocolates come February. Instead, I am choosing a much more sustainable approach, that my body seems to have been asking me to do for some time.