Ayurvedic ways of living a Healthy Life: Balancing your Doshas

Ayurveda is one of the most ancient systems of medicine used for healing and treating illness. However Ayurveda has many facets other than purely medicinal. The more you explore, the deeper you go, the more enlightening is the knowledge that shows you different ways, all of which lead you toward a blissful life.sunset over water.jpg

Ayurveda defines “body” in the form of three “Doshas”. The human body is made up of three Doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. It is important to keep these Doshas balanced within the body to live a healthy and peaceful life. Vata is derived from Air and hence regulates bodily functions such as respiration, blood circulation, mental activity and physical movements. People with imbalanced Vata may suffer from physical and mental illness. Balancing Vata is a difficult task but it’s not impossible. Performing specific Yoga Asanas and Meditation with a combination of a balanced diet would yield magical results. Pranayam helps regulate the respiratory activities and cleans the respiratory pipe, increasing the oxygen level in the blood. Also it helps stimulate the nervous system. Sun Salutation & Meditation can be accompanied with Pranayam to stimulate the physical and mental activities. It is important to follow a balanced diet while practicing Yoga. People with predominant Vata should include foods that provide instant energy and warmth to the body. mangos cropGinger, cardamon, cinnamon, almonds, pumpkin, lemon, carrots, asparagus, bananas, mangoes all help warm the body and enhance circulation. Drinking warm water and herbal teas helps decrease the chances of dehydration and prevents hunger pangs.

Pitta derived from Fire and Water is the major source of energy for the human body. A Pitta imbalance is commonly found in Humans during the Summer Season when the solar power drives the Pitta. Excessive heat generation in the body, peptic ulcers, hot flashes, acid reflux, and inflammation are all physical problems one may suffer from Pitta imbalance. At the same time, one can suffer from mental problems such as aggressive behavior, anger, impatience, anxiety, and frustration. To balance Pitta, one should practice a daily routine with clearly defined hours of sleeping, eating, working and other regular activities. Gentle Yoga Asnas with a blend of Pranayam and Meditation will keep the body calm and cool. Diet should include watery fruits like watermelon, cucumber, and coconut. Avoid oily and spicy food in summer season and drink plenty of water. Water helps to keep the fiery Pitta calm and cool by hydrating the body. Wear light colors and cotton clothes to help control perspiration in the scorching heat of summer.

Kapha is made up of Water and Earth and is present in liquid form in the body. All the fluids and cellular activities are driven by Kapha. Kapha regulates the immune system in the body. It lubricates the joints and skin and is responsible for cellular growth. Kapha imbalance leads to problems like excessive body weight, lethargy, emotional weakness and depression, fatigue, and poor immunity. To balance Kapha, rigorous exercise is recommended with Meditation and Yoga to activate sweat glands and stay motivated. herbs in bulk cropTo improve body fluid circulation, drink herbal tea containing ginger, cinnamon, and clove essence, which help eliminate excessive mucous from the system. Avoid cold, sticky food like ice cream and cheese. Instead, opt for warm and stimulating foods.

Once you balance all the three Doshas, you will find yourself more confident, independent and you will get a different perspective to live your life. A life you yourself will fall in love with!

Why Our Bodies Are Like Rivers

Written by: Sara Bowes, LAc

river

With regards to medicine — especially holistic systems like Ayurveda and other traditional medical frameworks, there is rarely a cure-all, one-size-fits-all diagnosis or treatment. Within the parameters of a holistic mode of healing that considers the whole person as an integrated, orchestrated system rather than a patchwork of isolated symptoms and organ systems, every aspect of the patient must be considered, rather than simply the symptom alone. It follows that ten patients presenting with the same symptom (i.e. headache) will more often than not require ten entirely different remedies or treatments. This is because a truly holistic medicine rarely treats just the symptom itself, rather it addresses the underlying pattern and constitutional picture, which will always be the more effective and lasting, and ultimately healing treatment. After all, there is a plethora of reasons why a headache will manifest. In conventional Western medicine where the parts and symptoms are primary, and the whole is often overlooked, ten headache patients are often prescribed a similar “headache treatment,” for example.

Depending on how you look at it, this difference in approach renders holistic medicine somewhat complicated in that there are few things that can be said to be good for everyone, or every headache, in this case. That said, there is a small handful of principles that can be applied in a general sense to promote the health of all. One of these is that all pain—whether physical or emotional—arises from stagnation. Movement and variability are two constants that we can say are necessary for health.

These concepts are not unique to any esoteric or ancient system. The benefits of regular exercise dominate the headlines of modern medical literature; traffic is synonymous with discomfort; any human being can attest to the relief experienced when seeing one’s way out of a stuck emotional or thought pattern; even the human heart itself likes not only to be moving, but also some variability heart rate variability—the variation in the time interval between heart beats—has been shown to directly correlate to health, such that the less variability is correlated with greater incidence of disease. And because any holistic medical system views the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies as intimately connected, stagnation on any of these levels can in turn affect another, such that mental stuckness or rumination for instance is not only uncomfortable in its own right, but it is often the cause for physical disease as well.

While it is fair to say that stagnation is the culprit for all pain and much disease, it is necessary to recognize that a variety of reasons exists for the stagnation itself. As with most aspects of the human body, it is often helpful to turn to nature as a means of deeper understanding. Imagine a river—flowing, crisp, unobstructed, flexible, full, clear, adapting to the changing seasons. Rivers like to be moving, and even a little bit unpredictable. Various factors, however, can interrupt the river’s ability to flow healthily. Cold temperatures will turn the water to ice; hot weather will dry the river out completely; trash and pollution will muddy the river and slow it down; not enough precipitation during the winter leads to scanty flow in the spring; falling timber or a dam will cause obstruction. The same applies to the human body—stagnation can result from a wide variety of factors. Constitutional imbalance, toxicity, excess weight, poor diet, nutrient deficiency, environmental factors, emotional and mental inflexibility, injury, prior or existing illness comprise some of the possibilities. The implication here is that it is important to determine first what is the underlying cause of the stagnation before pursuing treatment. Though it is likely that both a kapha constitutional type and a vata constitution will suffer from stagnation and related manifestations, treating both persons the same would likely aggravate one of the situations. The kapha type, for instance, will benefit from aromatic and pungent spices and herbs, as these are generally dispersing and drying, which is helpful for the type of sluggish, overloaded type of stagnation that typically plagues kapha. Aromatics for the vata, however, will aggravate the tendency toward general dispersion that characterizes their mental and physical states.  To restore healthy flow in a vata constitutional type, warming, calming, tonifying, and sometimes moistening remedies are indicated—many of which could potentially aggravate the kapha constitution. This example highlights the necessity of determining constitution and/or underlying pattern prior to opting for treatment. No matter the situation, however, thinking generally about restoring flow and introducing movement into a stuck system will always be helpful, however this may look for your own individual constitutional needs.

 

Ayurveda and Joint Health

Depending on a person’s lifestyle, diet, and emotional pattern, either vata, pitta, or kapha  goes out of balance. Then that particular dosha slows down agni (digestive fire), resulting in the toxic, sticky by-product of inadequate digestion known as ama.

Vata, the main active dosha, brings the ama into the colon, and from there it travels through the system and lodges in the bone tissue and in the joints, giving rise to the stiffness and pain characteristic of arthritis.

Ayurveda attempts to remove the ama from the joints and bring it back to the colon, and then to eliminate it. To do this, we need to keep the colon clean. Triphala is the most commonly prescribed herb for cleansing the colon, or the combination of Triphala & Guggul. Ayurveda recommends general techniques for increasing the intensity of the digestive fire (agni) in order to burn up the toxins that are harming the body. This can be done with dietary changes, such as adding more spices to the diet, such as turmeric, chilis, pepper, cardamom and cloves when cooking- but also taking the herbal extractions such as Turmeric, and Boswellia can be very effective in reduction of pain and swelling, and ease of movement, while Ashwagandha can help with balancing the doshas and relieving stress.

Various oils may be applied to the skin in order to help the body clear toxins, relieve pain and restore mobility. Two oils in particular have been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years- these are Maha Vishgarbha oil and Mahanarayan oil. They are both formulations of many herbs usually mixed in a base of sesame oil. Massaging the painful areas can improve flexibility, stiffness, muscle fatigue, body circulation and can help with pain This oil also breaks up blockages and begins to heal locally. After oil application, warm heat, yoga, bath, or mild exercise further improves this situation.

Tattva’s Herbs also carries a muscle & joint care oil that works well for the pain associated with not just arthritis, but also painful joints due to injury, overuse, or muscle tension due to stress.

Ayurvedic Recipe of the Day – Mung Burgers

Mung Burgers

mung burgers

Preperation time: 1.5 hours with a pressure cooker, 2 hours without

-Vata, -Pitta, moderately -Kapha

Serves: 5-6

From The Ayurvedic Cookbook, written by Amadea Morningstar with Urmila Desai

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole mung beans
  • 4-5 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons brown or wild rice
  • 1 stick kombu
  • 1/16 teaspoon hing
  • 1 teaspoon sunflower oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 2 medium red potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon – 2 tablespoons stone ground mustard (the lesser for Pitta, Vata and Kapha can use maximum)
  • 1 teaspoon sea or rock salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons barley or whole wheat flour

Combine the mung beans, water, rice, kombu and hing in a pressure cooker and bring to pressure and cook for 25 minutes. If you are not using a pressure cooker, bring the beans to a boil with the rest of the first ingredients and then cover and cook over medium heat for an hour, or until soft.

While the beans are cooking, wash the potatoes and cut them in quarters, than eights. Chop the onion. Warm the oil in a large skillet and add the cumin, oregano and onion. Saute until the onion is tender and the herbs are lightly browned. Set aside and wait for the beans to be done.

When the beans are done, cool the pot in cool water to bring it down from pressure, open it, and add the potatoes. Cook uncovered until the potatoes are soft, about 20-30 minutes. Add the beans and potatoes to the herbs in the skillet and mash. Stir in the egg white, mustard and salt and pepper. Add the flour if the burgers need thickening. Form into patties and cook on a non-stick pan until brown, flipping to brown the other side. Or cook them on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes. Makes 10-12 3″ to 4″ burgers.

Ayurveda, Food, and You

Written by Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman N.D., M.S.W., DHANP

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Ayurveda is a natural system of medicine, using diet, herbs, cleansing and purification practices, yoga, astrology and gemstones to bring about healing.This article focuses on the dietary principles of Ayurveda and how an ayurvedic diet can both prevent and heal disease. Ayurveda is from India and is at least 5,000 years old, and still as effective as when it was created by ancient sages known as Rishis. The Rishis, masters of meditation and observation, developed a remarkable system of healing based on the five basic elements of the universe, ether, air, fire, water and earth and their combinations, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, known as the doshas. Your dosha is your constitutional type. There are three main types and four combination types. By knowing your type, you have immediate access to useful information on what to eat, how to exercise, what to wear, how to cleanse and purify your body and how to prevent disease, as well as much, much more.
Contrary to most Western approaches to nutrition, Ayurveda does not prescribe one diet as best for everyone, such as raw foods, macrobiotics or the basic four food groups, but seeks to individualize and optimize nutrition for the individual, based on their constitutional type and the particular imbalances in the person which need to be corrected. Food is selected based on its elemental balance, its taste, its effects on the body, and qualities of the foods such as hot and cold, moist and dry, light and heavy, oily, rough, subtle, and others. The main intention of diet in the Ayurvedic system is to nourish the body’s tissues, known as the seven dhatus, ie. lymph, blood, flesh, muscle, fat, marrow, bone and sexual fluid. Each of these tissues, when it is fed, nourishes and forms the next in succession. In order to nourish the tissues, food must first be digested, which is the job of the digestive fire, or agni, which is seated in the stomach and small intestines. Food that is not properly digested, due to overeating, poor food combinations, imbalance of the elements, or toxins in the food creates a sticky, toxic substance known as ama, which coats the digestive tract and the tongue and which may also be deposited in the tissues, forming a breeding ground for chronic disease. Proper food nourishes without making toxic ama.

Ignoring the laws of correct living and allowing the accumulation of toxins in the body predictably results in disease. Ayurveda prescribes an individualized approach to the dietary and lifestyle practices which keep people healthy and promote longevity. Ayurvedic dietary and cleansing practices are among the simplest, but most profoundly effective in the world. By knowing your dosha and applying the principles of living prescribed by both the ancient Rishis and modern Ayurvedic practitioners, you can restore your health and live a long and happy life.

The three main doshas and their dietary principles are given below. A complete Ayurvedic examination includes pulse and tongue reading, your physical characteristics, your mental qualities and emotional temperament, and whatever symptoms you may be suffering from. Although the guidelines given below will probably be helpful for self-care, they are not intended to treat disease or replace the services of an Ayurvedic practitioner.

Vata. Vata is the principle of motion, and is responsible for everything in the body which moves. It is the combination of the elements air and ether (or space.) Vata is said to be mobile, light, dry, cool, rough, subtle, and clear. An excess of these qualities will aggravate Vata. Vata people tend to be thin, dark haired, wirey, fearful and nervous, with very active minds and bodies. They are often on the go (or on the phone!) Vata has its seat in the colon, and one of its main symptoms of aggravation is excess lower bowel gas. Vata is also prominent in the hair, nails, skin and joints and excess Vata will cause dry skin and hair, wrinkles, and cracking joints, and as you might guess, people become more Vata as they age.

The diet which balances Vata includes foods which are warm, moist, oily, heavy, mostly cooked, and emphasizing the sweet, sour and salty taste. Spicey foods are good for Vata people, because they increase the digestive fire. Dairy products help Vata in general unless there is an allergy to them. Although Vata is helped by the sweet taste, white sugar should be avoided. Yeasted products also may aggravate Vata. Many of the symptoms of Candida albicans infection are similar to a Vata imbalance in the colon. Vata people should avoid the cabbage/broccoli and nightshade (tomato, eggplant, green pepper and tomatoes) families of vegetables, and only eat raw vegetables if they are marinated or with salad dressing. Most beans aggravate Vata, but soy products like tofu or soymilk are okay. Regular meals are important.

Pitta. Pitta is the principle of heat. Pitta is composed of the elements fire and water, which may seem incompatible until you think of digestive juices like hydrochloric acid which is liquid, but also firey. Pitta people have a medium, often muscular build, ruddy complexion and often blonde or red hair. They tend emotionally toward anger, impatience and aggressiveness. They are the classic Type A’s. The seat of Pitta is in the small intestine, and it is responsible for digestion and assimilation. Pitta qualities are light (as in bright), oily, hot, mobile and liquid. Common Pitta conditions include skin rashes, ulcers, heart disease, fevers, inflammation and irritation.

The diet for pitta emphasizes foods which are cool, raw, green, soothing and emphasize the sweet, bitter and astringent tastes. Hot, spicey and acidic foods aggravate Pitta. Fruits, vegetables, grains and low fat dairy products are generally good for Pitta, if they aren’t too spicey or sour. Too much oil, salt, alcohol and red meat should be avoided. Pittas do well as vegetarians if they get enough protein.

Kapha. Kapha is the principle of groundedness and stability. Kapha is composed of the water and earth elements. Kapha qualities are cold, dense, oily, heavy, slow, slimey and static. Kapha people tend to be overweight, retain fluid, and are sluggish in general. They have a calm, jovial disposition, but can also be possessive or greedy. Kapha people need to lighten up and let go. The seat of Kapha is in lungs, and Kapha people often get lung congestion and excess mucus. They also are prone to diabetes, water retention, constipation, and depression.

The diet for Kapha emphasizes warm, light, dry foods, plenty of fresh, raw vegetables and fruits and foods with a spicey, bitter or astringent taste. Heavy, oily, creamy foods should be avoided. Wheat, rice and oats may create excess mucus, and fried foods and too much nuts and seeds are detrimental to Kapha people. Sweets (except raw honey), salty and sour foods will aggravate a Kapha person and make them gain weight. Citrus fruits, red meat and dairy products ahould also be avoided. Spicey foods are good for Kapha because they stimulate metabolism.

Try applying the dietary principles for your constitutional type. They are sure to make a difference in how you feel. We recommend Ayurveda, The Science of Self-Healing by Dr. Vasant Lad, The Ayurvedic Cookbook by Amadea Morningstar and Urmila Desai, and Prakruti, by Dr. Robert Swoboda as helpful references.

Drs. Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman and Robert Ullman are naturopathic and homeopathic physicians and cofounders of the Northwest Center for Homeopathic Medicine in Edmonds, WA. They are coauthors of The Patient’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicine and Beyond Ritalin: Homeopathic Treatment of ADD and Other Behavioral and Learning Problems. They can be reached at (206) 774-5599.

An Introduction to Panchakarma

Written by Dr. Vasant Lad , The Ayurvedic Institute , 1994

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Ayurveda emphasizes preventative and healing therapies along with various methods of purification and rejuvenation. Ayurveda is more than a mere healing system, it is a science and an art of appropriate living which helps to achieve longevity. It can guide every individual in the proper choice of diet, living habits and exercise to restore balance in the body, mind and consciousness, thus preventing disease from gaining a foothold in the system.

According to Ayurveda, every human being is a unique phenomenon (manifested through the five basic elements – ether, air, fire, water and earth) of cosmic consciousness. Vata (ether plus air), pitta (fire plus water) and kapha (water plus earth) are called the tridosha, meaning the three humors or the three organizations of the body, which are also derived from consciousness. Every individual psycho-somatic temperament or constitution is determined by these three doshas at the time of fertilization. When the embryo is formed the constitution is determined. There are seven basic constitutions according to Ayurveda: vata, pitta, kapha, vata-pitta, pitta-kapha, kapha-vata and vata-pitta-kapha. Every individual constitution has its own unique balance of V-P-K according to its own nature. The balance of V-P-K is the natural order, thus when this doshic balance is disturbed, it creates imbalance, which is disorder. Health is order; disease is disorder. Within the body there is a constant interaction between order and disorder, thus once one understands the nature and structure of disorder, one can re-establish order. Ayurveda believes that order lies within disorder.

Order is the state of health, as defined by Ayurveda, which exists when the digestive fire (agni) is in a balanced condition; the bodily humors (vata, pitta and kapha) are in equilibrium, the three waste products (urine, feces and sweat) are produced and eliminated normally, the seven bodily tissues (rasa, rakta, mamsa, meda, asthi, majja and shukra) are functioning normally, and the mind, senses and consciousness are working harmoniously together. When the balance of these systems is disturbed the disease (disorder) process begins.

The internal environment is governed by V-P-K, which is constantly reacting to the external environment. The wrong diet, habits, lifestyle, incompatible food combinations (e.g. milk and fish, melons and grain, yogurt and meat or cooked honey etc.), seasonal changes, repressed emotions and stress factors can all act either together or separately to change the balance of V-P-K. According to the nature of the cause, either vata, pitta or kapha undergo aggravation or derangement which affects the agni (gastric fire), and produces ama (toxins). This ama enters the blood stream and is circulated throughout the body, clogging the channels. Retention of toxins in the blood results in toxemia. This accumulated toxicity, once well established, will slowly affect prana (vital life energy), ojas (immunity), and tejas (cell metabolic energy) and result in disease. This can be nature’s effort at eliminating the toxicity from the body. Every so-called disease is a crisis of ama toxicity. Ama is the basic internal cause of all disease, due to the aggravated doshas.

Herein lies the key to the prevention of disease: help the body eliminate the toxins. To stop the further production of ama Ayurvedic literature suggests putting the person on a proper diet with appropriate lifestyle, habits and exercise, and administering a proper cleansing program such as panchakarma.

Although panchakarma is often thought of as the entire procedure, it really is only one part of a group of therapies belonging to a class of cleansing procedures called shodan. There is also a group of milder techniques called shaman for those not strong enough for shodan.

Purvakarma: Pre-purification Measures

Before the actual operation of purification begins, there is a need to prepare the body in prescribed methods to encourage the body to let go of the toxins. The two procedures are snehan and swedan. Snehan is the oil massage. Oil is applied to the entire body with a particular type of massage which helps the toxins to move towards the gastro-intestinal tract. Oil massage also makes the superficial and deep tissues soft and supple, thus helping to remove stress and to nourish the nervous system. Snehan is given daily for three to seven days, as indicated. Swedan is sudation or sweating and is given every day immediately following the snehan. An herbal concoction may be added to the steam to further loosen the toxins from the individual. Swedan liquifies the toxins and increases the movement of toxins into the gastro-intestinal tract. After three to seven days of snehan and swedan, the doshas become well “ripened.” A particular panchakarma method is then given according to the individual’s constitution and disorder, prakruti and vikruti, respectively.

Five Basic Shodhans: Cleansing Methods

1) Vaman: therapeutic vomiting or emesis
2) Virechan: purgation
3) Basti: enema
4) Nasya: elimination of toxins through the nose
5) Raktalmoksha: detoxification of the blood

Vaman: Emesis Therapy

Before vaman is administered, oil massage and fomentation are recommended on the night before the day of vaman. One to three days prior to vaman, the person should drink one cup of recommended oil two to three times a day until the stool becomes oily, or until he or she feels nauseated. The person should also eat a kaphagenic diet to aggravate kapha in the system. Vaman should be given early in the morning (kapha time). The person should eat basmati rice and yogurt with much salt early in the morning, which will further aggravate kapha in the stomach. The application of heat to the chest and back will liquify the kapha. The person should sit calmly on a knee-high chair and drink the concoction of licorice and honey, or salt water. This emesis preparation is measured and recorded before being drunk, so that at a later time the amount of vomitus from the decoction can be determined. After drinking the decoction the person should feel nauseated. He should then rub the tongue to induce vomiting, continuing until bile comes out in the vomitus. The degree of success in this treatment is determined by: 1) the number of vomitings (8 is maximum, 6 medium, 4 minimum), and 2) the quantity of vomitus (1 quart maximum, 1 1/2 pints medium, 1 pint minimum).

Emetic Substances: madan-emetic nut, madhuka-yastimadhu-licorice, neem-bitter leaf, bimbi, kutaj-kurchi- conessi bark, murva-clematis, triloba-devdaru-deodar, Cedrus deodara, Salt, NaCl, ela-cardamom, nux vomica.

After vaman, resting, fasting, smoking certain herbal cigarettes, and not suppressing natural urges (i.e. urination, defecation, gas, sneezing, coughing) is recommended. If vaman is administered properly, the person should feel relaxation in the lungs, will be able to breathe freely, will have lightness in the chest, clear thinking, clear voice, a good appetite, and all symptoms of congestion disappear.

After practicing vaman in the morning, the person should fast until 5 pm, then eat kitchari with ghee. He or she can drink cumin, coriander, ginger, fennel tea (equal portions). Steep in hot water and drink with one tsp. honey. Or he can drink honey lime tea, using one tsp. honey and one tsp. lime juice to one cup of hot water.

Indications for Vaman:

used for all kapha type disorders
good for pitta headache, dizziness, and nausea
will help to release blocked emotions
respiratory congestion
bronchitis
chronic cold
sinus congestion
kaphagenic asthma

Contra-Indications for Vaman:

below the age of 12 or over age 65
menstruation
pre-menstrual period (one week prior)
pregnancy
emaciation
delicate or sensitive person with too much fear, grief or anxiety
hypoglycemia
vata prakruti
vata diseases
heart diseases
during vata season
acute fever
diarrhea
obesity

Virechan: Purgation Therapy

When excess bile, pitta, is secreted and accumulated in the gall bladder, liver and small intestine, it tends to result in rashes, skin inflammation, acne, chronic attacks of fever, biliary vomiting, nausea and jaundice. Ayurvedic literature suggests in these conditions the administration of therapeutic purgation or a therapeutic laxative. Virechan is facilitated with senna leaves, flax seeds, psyllium husks or triphala in a combination that is appropriate for the individual person.

Senna leaf tea is a mild laxative, but in people of vata constitution, this tea might create griping pain, since its action aggravates peristaltic movement in the large intestine.

An effective laxative for vata or pitta constitutions is a glass of hot milk to which two teaspoons of ghee have been added. This laxative, taken at bedtime will help to relieve the excess pitta causing the bile disturbance in the body. In fact, purgatives can completely cure the problem of excess pitta.

When purgatives are used, it is important to check the diet. The patient should not eat foods that will aggravate the predominant humor or cause the three humors to become unbalanced.

Virechan Substances: Senna, prune, bran, flaxseed husk, dandelion root, psyllium seed, cow’s milk, salt, castor oil, raisins, mango juice, triphala.

Indications for Virechan:

allergic rash
skin inflammation
acne, dermatitis, eczema
chronic fever
ascites
biliary vomiting
jaundice
urinary disorder
enlargement of the spleen
internal worms
burning sensation in the eyes
inflammation of the eyes
conjunctivitis
gout

Contra-Indications for Virechan:

low agni
acute fever
diarrhea
severe constipation
bleeding from rectum or lung cavities
foreign body in the stomach
after enema
emaciation or weakness
prolapsed rectum
alcoholism
dehydration
childhood
old age
ulcerative colitis

Basti: Enema Therapy

Vata’s predominant site is the colon. Ayurvedic basti involves the introduction into the rectum of herbal concoctions of sesame oil, and certain herbal preparations in a liquid medium. Basti, is the most effective treatment of vata disorders, although many enemas over a prescribed period of time are usually required. It relieves constipation, distention, chronic fever, cold, sexual disorders, kidney stones, heart pain, backache, sciatica and other pains in the joints. Many other vata disorders such as arthritis, rheumatism, gout, muscle spasms and headaches may also be treated with basti.

Vata is a very active principle in pathogenesis. If we can control vata through the use of basti, we have gone a long way in going to the root cause of the vast majority of diseases.

Vata is the main etiological factor in the manifestation of diseases. It is the motive force behind the elimination and retention of feces, urine, bile and other excreta. Vata is mainly located in the large intestine, but bone tissue (asthi dhatu) is also a site for vata. Hence the medication administered rectally effects asthi dhatu. The mucus membrane of the colon is related to the outer covering of the bones (periosteum), which nourishes the bones. Therefore, any medication given rectally goes into the deeper tissues, like bones, and corrects vata disorders.

There are eight main types of basti, according to traditional texts, each with their own indications and contra-indications as listed below.

1. Anuvasana (oil enema) is used in pure vata disorders and when a person is having excess hunger or dryness related to vata imbalances.

2. Niruha-Asthapana (decoction enema) is used, among other conditions, for evacuation of vata, nervous diseases, gastro-intestinal vata conditions, gout, certain fever conditions, unconsciousness, certain urinary conditions, appetite, pain, hyperacidity and heart diseases.

3. Uttara Basti (through the urethra with men or vagina with women) is used for selected semen and ovulation disorders and for some problems involving painful urination or bladder infections. This is not to be used for someone with diabetes.

4. Matra Basti (daily oil enema) is used by someone emaciated by overwork or too much exercise, too much heavy lifting, walking too long of a distance, too much sexual activity or someone with chronic vata disorders. It does not need to be accompanied by any strict dietary restriction or daily routine and can be administered, in the appropriate cases, in all seasons. It gives strength, promotes weight and helps elimination of waste products.

5. Karma Basti (schedule of 30 bastis),

6. Kala Basti (schedule of 15 bastis; 10 oil + 5 decoction)

7. Yoga Basti (schedule of 8 bastis; 5 oil + 3 decoction).

In karma, kala and yoga bastis, it is better to give both types of basti in combination and not the oil and decoction separately. The conditions under which these are recommended are too detailed to be able to list in this article. In general, the indications and contra-indications that apply to basti also apply here.

8. Bruhana Basti (nutritional enema) is used for providing deep nutrition in select conditions. Traditionally, highly nutritive substances have been used, such as warm milk, meat broth, bone marrow soup and herbs like shatavari or ashwagandha.

General Indications for Basti:

constipation
low back ache
gout
rheumatism
sciatica
arthritis
nervous disorders
vata headache
emaciation
muscular atrophy
General Contra-Indications for Basti (include but are not limited to the following):
Enema therapy should not be used if the patient is suffering from diarrhea, bleeding of the rectum, chronic indigestion, breathlessness, diabetes, fever, emaciation, severe anaemia, pulmonary tuberculosis, old age or for children below the age of seven years.

Prana, life force as nerve energy, enters the body through the breath taken in through the nose. Prana is in the brain and maintains sensory and motor functions. Prana also governs mental activities, memory, concentration and intellectual activities. Deranged prana creates defective functioning of all these activities and produces headaches, convulsions, loss of memory and reduced sensory perception. Thus nasal administration, nasya is indicated for prana disorders, sinus congestion, migraine headaches, convulsions and certain eye and ear problems.

Breathing also can be improved through nasal massage. For this treatment, the little finger is dipped into ghee and inserted into the nose. The inner walls of the nose are slowly massaged, going as deeply as possible. This treatment will help to open the emotions. (Nose tissue is tender and for this application the fingernail must be kept short to avoid injuring the delicate mucus membranes.) Since most people have deviated nasal septums, one side of the nose will be easier to penetrate and massage than the other. The finger should not be inserted forcibly. The massage should proceed by slow penetration, the finger moving first in a clockwise, then counter-clockwise direction. By this means, the emotions that are blocked in the respiratory tract will be released. One may use this treatment each morning and evening. In this way breathing patterns will change as the emotions are released and the eyesight also will improve.

There are six main types of nasya, as listed below.

1. Pradhamana (virechan) Nasya (cleansing nasya) uses dry powders (rather than oils) that are blown into the nose with a tube. Pradhamana nasya is mainly used for kapha types of diseases involving headaches, heaviness in the head, cold, nasal congestion, sticky eyes, hoarseness of voice due to sticky kapha, sinusitis, cervical lymph adenitis, tumors, worms, some skin diseases, epilepsy, drowsiness, Parkinsonism, inflammation of the nasal mucosa, attachment, greed and lust. Traditionally, powders such as brahmi are used.

2. Bruhana Nasya (nutrition nasya) uses ghee, oils, salt, shatavari ghee, ashwagandha ghee and medicated milk and is used mainly for vata disorders. It is said to benefit conditions resulting from vata imbalances such as vata-type headaches, migraine headache, dryness of voice, dry nose, nervousness, anxiety, fear, dizziness, emptiness, negativity, heaviness of eyelids, bursitis, stiffness in the neck, dry sinuses and loss of sense of smell.

3. Shaman Nasya (sedative nasya) is used according to which dosha is aggravated but mainly for pitta-type disorders such as thinning of hair, conjunctivitis and ringing in the ears. Generally certain herbal medicated decoctions, teas and medicated oils are used.

4. Navana Nasya (decoction nasya) is used in vata-pitta or kapha-pitta disorders and is made from decoctions and oils together.

5. Marshya Nasya (ghee or oil nasya)

6. Prati Marshya (daily oil nasya) is performed by dipping the clean little finger in the ghee or oil and inserting into each nostril, lubricating the nasal passage with gentle massage as described above. This helps to open deep tissues and can be done every day and at any time to release stress.

Substances Used in Nasya: brahmi, ginger, ghee oils, decoctions, onion, garlic, Piper longum, black pepper, curry pepper, rose, jasmine, mogra flowers and henna.

Indications for Nasya:

stress
emotional imbalances
stiffness in the neck & shoulders
dryness of the nose
sinus congestion
hoarseness
migraine headache
convulsions

Contra-Indications for Nasya:

sinus infections
pregnancy
menstruation
after sex, bathing, eating or drinking of alcohol
should not be used below 7 years or over 80 years of age
Raktamoksha: Traditional Ayurvedic Method for Purification and Cleansing of the Blood
Toxins present in the gastro-intestinal tract are absorbed into the blood and circulated throughout the body. This condition is called toxemia, which is the basic cause of repeated infections, hypertension and certain other circulatory conditions. This includes repeated attacks of skin disorders such as urticaria, rashes, herpes, eczema, acne, scabies, leukoderma, chronic itching or hives. In such conditions, along with internal medication, elimination of the toxins and purification of the blood is necessary. Raktamoksha is also indicated for cases of enlarged liver, spleen and gout.

Pitta is produced from the disintegrated red blood cells in the liver. So pitta and blood have a very close relationship. An increase in pitta may go into the blood causing toxicity, and thus many pittagenic disorders.

Extracting a small amount of blood from a vein relieves the tension created by the pittagenic toxins in the blood. Bloodletting also stimulates the spleen to produce antitoxic substances which helps to stimulate the immune system. Toxins are neutralized enabling radical cures in many blood born disorders.

Bloodletting is contraindicated in cases of anaemia, edema, extreme weakness, diabetes and in children and elderly persons. It is also an illegal procedure within the United States.

Certain substances such as sugar, salt, yogurt, sour tasting foods and alcohol are toxic to the blood. In certain blood disorders these substances should be avoided to keep the blood pure. Burdock root tea, sandalwood, saffron, manjista, guduchi, rose and lotus are herbs that help to purify the blood. Turmeric, goldenseal, pomegranate juice, neem, oranges, beets and raisins can also be beneficial for blood disorders.

For raktamoksha treatment other than blood-letting, there are blood-purifying practices involving herbs, gem therapy or color water therapy.

For blood purifying therapy look for substances that are bitter and astringent and have blood thinning properties. Burdock root tea is the best blood purifier. For blood carried disorders such as allergy, rash or acne the patient should take a milk laxative and the next evening begin burdock root tea therapy. The tea is made from one teaspoon of powder in one cup of hot water. If taken every night, the action of the herb will begin to purify the blood.

Beneficial gems and crystals are pearl, coral, amethyst, rose quartz and jade.

In the practice of colored water therapy, red should be used in vata disorders, blue for pitta and purple for kapha.

For any raktamoksha treatment or related alternative treatment it is beneficial to refrain from yogurt, salt, sugar, alcohol, marijuana, sour and fermented foods.

Indications for Raktamoksha:

urticaria
rash
acne
eczema
scabies
leukoderma
chronic itching
hives
enlarged liver or spleen
gout

Contra-Indications for Raktamoksha:

anemia
edema
weakness
young children
old age
during pregnancy
during menstruation

During any step of panchakarma therapy traditional Ayurveda recommends certain lifestyle and diet guidelines.

It is advised to get plenty of rest during the panchakarma experience and to avoid strenuous exercise, sexual activity, late nights, loud music, television and other such stimulating experiences. It is also advised to take particular care to keep warm and away from the wind and to observe one’s thoughts and experiences during this time.

A mono-diet of kitchari and ghee is recommended, as well as essential restrictions on cold drinks, cold food, caffeine, white sugar, recreational drugs or alcohol and dairy products–all substances which should not be resumed (if at all) until some time after panchakarma is completed. The reason for this diet is that during the cleansing process the digestive fire (agni) takes a rest. Also, as toxins move back into the gastrointestinal tract the power of digestion is further slowed. Kitchari will provide adequate nourishment, nourishes all the tissues of the body, is very easy to digest, is excellent for de-aging of cells and assists in the detoxification and cleansing process. Kitchari is a seasoned mixture of rice and mung dal, and is basic to the Ayurvedic way of life. Basmati rice and mung dal both have the qualities of being sweet and cooling with a sweet aftertaste. Together they create a balanced food, that is an excellent protein combination and is tridoshic.

Panchakarma is a very special Ayurvedic operation requiring proper guidance from a highly trained and skillful Ayurvedic practitioner. This should not be undertaken just from information in this article. One should consult with an Ayurvedic physician, not just someone with a modest amount of training. Panchakarma is done individually for each person with their specific constitution and specific disorder in mind, thus it requires close observation and supervision. It is also done to best advantage, although not always, at the junctional period between two seasons, thus helping a person to prepare their internal environment for the oncoming season.