Diseases like cancer, the resistance to antibiotics, the rise of HIV cases, and other hard to pronounce “new diseases” – is the world getting sicker by the moment?
Maybe, but the question is why?
Despite all technological advances, modern medicine, and state-of-the-art hospital equipment/machines, why does it seem that millennials have much bigger baggage in terms of their health?
Although it is a fact that man’s ancestors have also battled with different kinds of diseases and epidemics, they did not have the advantage this modern day and age are able to provide. What does it mean to be “healthy” nowadays?
Good health can be defined not only as of the absence of disease but as a state of having a sense of balance emotionally, physically, and mentally. Balance seems to be the “it” thing nowadays as it is becoming such a rare thing to behold. Stress, on the other hand, being one of the most apparent manifestations of imbalance is so common it has become a household name.
The price of disease nowadays is excruciating. It means diminishing bank accounts, time away from loved ones, grief, sadness, and sometimes, even death. Taking control of one’s life and taking the necessary precaution is still the best option. This is the point where the science of Ayurveda comes into play.
Ayurveda or the science of life is a healing system that has its roots in India. It is ancient knowledge passed down through generations of practitioners. It can also be attributed to the art of living a life in harmony with the laws of nature. Ayurveda is concerned from the moment a person is born until the time of his death. To the adult reading this text, yes, the practice of Ayurveda starts from the minute one opens his eyes in the morning, to the type of breakfast one eats, whether one’s coffee has cream and sugar, the amount of pollution one is exposed to, to get to work, the stress level one has upon greeting his employer and co-workers, etc. and up until one closes his eyes to go to sleep.
It doesn’t even end there, Ayurveda would also want to know about the status of one’s relationships, evening meditation/prayer, and the things that get one mad or sad, in short – it is holistic.
All these, with the aim of maximizing one’s life, and by maximizing, it means not only expanding one’s lifespan but having the means (a healthy body) to achieve one’s full potential. Ayurveda has under its shell – dietetics, herbal medicine, bodywork, psychology, surgery, and spirituality.
A brief history of Ayurveda
According to records in Vedic texts, the practice of Ayurveda dates back as early as even before 5000 B.C. These texts are a collection of religious verses, poems, prayers, and hymns that originated in India and are considered to be sacred by the Vedic religion. Under the umbrella of Vedic science are astrology, Ayurveda, meditation, and yoga.
There are two known legends involving the origin of Ayurveda. One of which is that the knowledge behind the science was passed on to a select number of sages (people responsible for composing hymns, poems, etc) in deep meditation. It is said to have been an act of divine love for humankind in order for them to be able to maximize their lives on earth. Since then, the knowledge of Ayurveda was handed down from generation to generation through memorized chants known as sutras.
The second legend involving the origin of Ayurveda is from the founder of surgical medicine named, Sushruta. According to the legend, Sushruta and other sages approached the god of Ayurveda who is known as Dhanvantari. In return, the god Dhanvantari imparted to them the wisdom of Ayurveda in order to release mankind from the suffering brought about by diseases.
Ayurveda teachings believe that man is a microcosm, or simply, a universe within himself. Man is from the cosmic forces of the external environment (macrocosm), a child of cosmic forces. This is how Ayurveda views health and disease in holistic terms. It takes into consideration the inherent relationship between the cosmic spirit and an individual alongside cosmic consciousness, matter, and energy.
Ayurveda also teaches that every single human being has four spiritual and biological instincts namely: pro-creative, financial, religious, and an instinct toward freedom. It is when these biological instincts have an imbalance that diseases and suffering take place. The role of Ayurveda is to help keep a person maintain health through the balance of these four.
In addition, Ayurveda is also designed to promote creative growth and human happiness so as to keep the processes of physical deterioration at a slow pace thus reducing diseases. The very concept that Ayurveda adheres to can simply be stated as: the individual is capable of self-healing.
Basic concepts of Ayurveda
Ayurveda is presently being researched a lot due to its medical potential to promote a healthy natural way of living and self-healing. The word Ayurveda means “Science of Life” in the age-old Sanskrit language. It has a deeper meaning than just cure and preventing diseases because it also provides a holistic way of living that benefits all of humanity and at the same time facilitates individual well-being. It gives one well-rounded principles and foundations on how to live one’s life and promotes overall health and natural remedies to help in self-healing and prolonging life.
Practices such as yoga and diets based on Ayurveda are the most commonly seen offshoots of the principles and foundations stated in Ayurveda. But it is only the tip of the iceberg as Ayurveda is so much more than just diet and exercise! It is in fact a vast and valuable source of knowledge that has the capability of teaching an individual the art of living his life in tune with nature while doing what is best for his personal development for the greater cause of the universe.
Some of the fundamental ideas of Ayurveda as a science of healthy living and self-healing are as follows:
- Every human being is unique – Ayurveda states that every individual is unique based on their basic constitution or “Prakriti” which corresponds to their body type. All these are already pre-determined when one is born. The basic constitution, in turn, is governed by the three primary “Tri-doshas” or forces known as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha which are created by the combinations of the five basic elements of ether, air, fire, water, and earth respectively as follows:
- Vata dosha is made up of ether and air element
- PittaDosha is made up of fire and water element
- Kapha dosha is made up of water and earth element
- We are all energy beings: Ayurveda believes that all actions and their respective reactions are governed by energy in this universe. And human beings and other living and nonliving beings are also made out of this universal source of energy and are constantly affected by it. Ayurveda calls this energy that governs the individual living beings “tri-dosha” and the energy which governs the universe is known as “tri-guna”
Tri-guna is further divided into three constituents:
- Satva – translates to pure divine intelligence which imparts balance
- Rajas – translates to active energy which may cause an imbalance
- Tamas- dark and lethargic energy which may cause inertia and laziness and confusion
- Imbalance in the “doshas” and “gunas” are the root of all illnesses: Ayurveda believes that an imbalance in the “tri-doshas” or the three individual guardian forces of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha are the root cause of all problems and diseases. Moreover, apart from the balance in tri-doshas, there should be harmony or a balance between the energies of the universe tri-guna and tri-doshas. Any imbalance in the flow of energy between those energies would manifest as a disease or discomfort in the concerned individual.
- Ayurveda cares to eliminate the root of the disease rather than its symptoms: Western medical science tries its best to cure the symptoms by using surgical procedures and drugs which has a lot of side effects. On the other hand, Ayurveda strives to diagnose and cure the root of the problem which manifests as the disease rather than just its symptoms. It believes that any treatment which causes side effects is a form of inefficient treatment and it cannot be regarded as healing as it further aggravates the problem by manifesting as other problems or diseases.
- We are what we eat and think: Ayurveda believes that we are what we eat and think. A good, balanced and nutritious diet is of utmost importance in Ayurveda. Ayurveda gives us some simple principles or concepts such as follows to eat healthily:
- Prakruti or nature of food: In Ayurveda food can be classified into two categories i.e heavy and light according to the basic nature of the food such as whether it is easy to digest or not. For example, meat can be heavy as it is difficult to digest and other food items such as fruits and vegetables can be easy to digest so can be considered light. These basic natures of food items should be considered before consuming them to ensure a healthy constitution.
- Karana or processing of food: The way the food is cooked can have a great impact on its quality and nature. Ayurveda states that’s some food items such as fruits and salads should be consumed raw for maximum dietary benefits. The use of cooking methods such as microwaving is discouraged in Ayurveda as it destroys the useful nutrients in the food and makes it almost useless for the body.
- Samyoga or combination: Most of us are not aware of the fact that some combination of food can be really harmful to us and cause problems! For example: mixing sour fruits and milk or curd could cause indigestion or toxins known as “ama” in Ayurveda which can be very harmful to our bodies. These kinds of unhealthy food combinations should be avoided at all costs.
A good diet is not only essential to maintaining a healthy body but it also has a profound effect on the workings of the mind. According to Ayurveda, an individual can be considered truly healthy only if he has a strong disease-free body and a mind which can think clearly and judiciously. The subtle energy which comes from the digested food helps us to think clearly and act in a righteous manner.
Ayurveda is based upon the fundamental concepts and beliefs enlisted above and many other enriching ideas which if applied in one’s daily living, can ensure a long, healthy, and happier life!
The five elements are a concept, most basic and fundamental in Ayurveda. Man, believed to be an offspring of Cosmic Consciousness is thus, one with all the elements. The five elements (space, air, fire, water, and earth) are believed to be found in the composition of and are of existence in every human being as well. Aside from that, it is also believed that the five basic elements exist in all matter as well. A concrete example is an element, water which can turn solid, liquid, steam (ether). This only proves that all five elements originated from the energy coming from Cosmic Consciousness proving that energy, matter, and man are one.
Man and the five elements
In Ayurveda, man is viewed as a microcosm of nature. This simply means that what is found in nature can also be found in man, for he is a miniature of nature. This concept may explain why man’s psychological tendencies, bodily functions, and senses are all directly related to Ayurveda’s five elements. These manifestations are said to have a sequence that starts with space from the Cosmic Consciousness which is the source of all.
The five elements
Space – is sometimes referred to as ‘ether’ and is manifested in humans as the spaces in the nose, mouth, respiratory tract, abdomen, thorax, cells, and capillaries. It can be described as subtle, empty, omnipresent, all-pervading, and light. Space is also non-moving, formless, and universal. It is nuclear energy and appears when the consciousness begins to vibrate for it is associated with sound and man’s sense of hearing. Man needs space in order to grow, live, communicate and move.
Psychologically, space is responsible for giving man freedom, expansion of consciousness, love, peace, separation, insecurity, fear, anxiety, and isolation.
Air – the second cosmic element is air. It can also be defined as moving space. Air is clear, light, dry, and mobile. It is an element of movement. Although air is electrical energy (electron movement is because of air element) and is formless, it can be perceived by touch, where it is related. Air expresses itself in humans in the movement of the muscles, stomach walls, and intestines, the expansion and contraction of the lungs, pulsations of the heart, and other sensory and motor, and neural movements.
The air principle enables man to breathe, ingest and breathe. Thus, thoughts, happiness, excitement, freshness, will, desire are all governed by this element.
Fire – is the third element, and has the sun and solar power as its source. Fire is penetrating, hot, sharp, and dry. In the human body, the source of this element is metabolism. When the element air begins to move, it produces because of friction, the element of fire which generates heat. Fire can be classified as radiant energy as it is changeable and active. In humans, the element of fire regulates body temperature, absorption, digestion, and assimilation.
It is also associated with vision, intelligence, understanding, recondition, transformation, appreciation, and attention. But if an imbalance is present, the element of fire is responsible for hatred, envy, anger, competitiveness, and ambition.
Water – is the fourth element and is manifested in bodily secretions, mucus membranes, salivary glands, plasma and cytoplasm, and digestive juices. Water is chemical energy and the universal solvent. It is also fluid, cold, soft, viscous, and dense. Water is considered to be the next manifestation of man’s consciousness. This is because water holds molecules together. It is necessary to maintain life for without it, human cells would not survive.
The water element is responsible for love, contentment, and compassion while it can also create edema, thirst, and obesity.
Earth –is the fifth element present in the cosmos that is also found in man. The characteristics of this element are heavy, rough, bulky, dense, slow-moving, and is neither hot nor cold. It is physical or mechanical energy. This particular element makes life on earth possible as it holds or makes structure for all living and non-living things. Ayurveda believes that this element is nothing but solidified or crystallized consciousness. In the human body, it gives strength, stamina, and structure to the bones, nails, teeth, skin, etc. The earth element is responsible for support, forgiveness, groundedness, and growth. In return, it also creates depression, attachment, and greed.
May it be man’s outer or inner environment, the balance between the five elements discussed above is forever shifting and changing with the seasons of the earth, time of the day, weather, and even during every stage in man’s life. In order to maintain one’s health, man continuously needs to adapt to these changes, whether it be a change in clothes, food choices, or lifestyle. A balancing act, as Ayurveda terms it.
The Three Doshas or Humors
The five elements integral to Ayurveda can be further categorized into what is known as three doshas or humors namely: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. This is because the great elements is said to combine to form three basic energies which are ever-present in everything and everybody. These doshas or humors basically rule man’s psychobiological functions. Space and air elements combines is Vata, fire, and water combined is Pitta while water and earth combined are Kapha. Vatta, Pitta, and Kapha is believed to be present in every human cell, tissue, organ, and bodily system. It is the imbalance between the doshas that cause diseases to emerge.
The doshas or humors also govern human emotions. When there is balance, it is said that noble qualities such as love, compassion, and understanding manifest. But when an imbalance happens and disturbance such as poor lifestyle choices, stress, environmental factors such as pollution and improper diet is present, negative emotions such as greed, anger, and fear dominate.
Ayurveda comes into play in maintaining and keeping the balance between the three doshas. Each human being has in him the three doshas or humors but has it in a sequential arrangement. One dosha appears to be more dominant than the other two, one is secondary and one becomes the least prominent in the sequence. This sequencing of the prominence of the doshas in an individual is unique and has an effect primarily on one’s pattern of energy which makes up one’s individual constitution.
This pattern is integral to a trained practitioner of Ayurveda as it becomes the basis of understanding one’s disease. Health is largely dependent on the balance of the three doshas or humors in an individual as the interplay of the three determines order and disorder in bodily functions.
To understand better the role of the three doshas or humors, each is discussed below:
Vata (space & air)– this dosha is the energy of movement. Although it is closely associated with the air principle, in Ayurveda it is not considered the same as the actual air humans know present in their environment. Rather, Vata is defined as the subtle, gentle energy that is responsible for biological movement. It is also closely related to man’s vital life essence known as ‘prana.’ Prana is actually the pure essence of Vata or can also be defined as the life force. It takes the role of intelligence necessary for the communication between cells in the body.
Vata is responsible for regulating all mental and physiological activity in one’s body. Its role includes making sure of the regular beating of the heart, blinking of eyes, and movement of cytoplasm and cell membranes. When there is balance, Vata invokes the feeling of lightness, joy, and happiness. When there is an imbalance, Vata creates fear, tremors spasms, and anxiety.
Pitta (fire & water) -when translated means fire but in Ayurveda, it is not what it’s meant literally. Pitta rather has the principles of fire for it is the energy that is responsible for heating or metabolism. The qualities of Pitta are sharp, hot, liquid, oily, spreading, sour and pungent. This dosha governs all biochemical changes that occur in human bodies. It regulates absorption, digestion, body temperature, and assimilation. In modern biology, Pitta can be associated with enzymes and amino acids that are integral in the process of metabolism thus promoting appetite, digestion, and food processes inside one’s body.
When there is balance, Pitta creates understanding and intelligence and thus is crucial for learning. When there is an imbalance, Pitta may create hatred, frustration, jealousy, and criticism.
Kapha (water & earth) – the third dosha or humor is a combination of water and earth. The qualities of this dosha include slow, cool, heavy, damp, static, and soft. It is the energy that is responsible for the formation of bodily structures; it acts like glue that holds human cells together. Aside from that, Kapha is also responsible for making sure that the supply of liquid needed for the life of cells in one’s body is supplied and abundant.
This is also to ensure that joints, skin, and bodily systems are lubricated and moisturized so as to aid in the healing of wounds and keep the immune system healthy and at par. When there is balance, Kapha creates vigor, calmness, stability, love, and strength. When there is an imbalance, Kapha may create the emotion of lust, attachment, envy, and greed.
In essence, the three doshas or humors work together in harmony in order to keep a healthy mind and body, and spirit. They are responsible for all bodily metabolic processes.
Kapha is anabolism and builds the body as it creates new cells for growth and repair. Pitta regulated the metabolism for healthy digestion and absorption.
Vata is responsible for catabolism, the process necessary for the deterioration process wherein the larger molecules are broken down into smaller ones wherein an example would be digestion.
Most illnesses are the result of the aggravation of the Vata. This is so because Vata is the principle of movement. It is responsible for moving both the Pitta and Kapha. In fact, when there is an imbalance in the Vata, both Pitta and Kapha are affected.
In Ayurveda, the three doshas or humors also represent one’s whole journey in life in three major milestones. The Kapha age is from birth to I6, the age of Pitta is from I6 to 50 and the age of Vata is from 50 to I00. The Kapha age represents the process of anabolism as this is also the time of greatest physical growth and development. Imbalance at this age is manifested through lung congestion, mucus secretions, and cough.
The age of Pitta or adulthood is a time of activity and vitality. Vata age governs the catabolic processes and imbalance in this age may manifest through arthritis, tremors, breathlessness, and loss of memory.
In Ayurveda, one’s physical and mental constitution is already pre-determined at birth and the qualities or dominances of the combination of Re’s tri dosha (vita, Pitta, Kapha) are unique to every individual. A person’s Kapha sums up the water in his body and determines his flesh quality and secretions. His Pitta, on the other hand, gives warmth to his body and transforms substances like plasma.
Lastly, his Vata determines the energies and activities needed for a healthy balance of his doshas. However, it is inevitable that one humor is more dominant than the others. This dominance marks one’s uniqueness in terms of disposition and physical appearance.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, optimum health may be achieved by first knowing by heart one’s natural constitution in order to know the first step in any treatment. One’s predominant humor greatly reflects the qualities and make-up of an individual. The belief is that most diseases arise from the predominant biological humor of an individual. In general, having knowledge of this and knowing how and what to balance is the main key to optimizing one’s health.
This process gives Ayurveda the ability to prevent disease, maintain health and maximize lifespan.
How does one determine his constitutional type?
Below is a sample chart regarding simple observations one can look out for in order to give an idea on is what to look for when determining his constitution. It is a self-assessment checklist that aims to give individuals an idea of what their dominant humor is. It is recommended that one answers the same checklist twice, the second instance ideally with a close friend/relative or significant other in order to make sure that a thing or an observation is never missed.
|BODY SIZE||Slim||medium||Large, overweight|
|WEIGHT||Prominent bones, low||Good muscles||Heavy|
|SKIN||Dry, brown cold, rough, dark||Smooth, oily, warm, rosy||Thick oily, cool, white, curly|
|COMPLEXION||Dark, brown||Flushed, red||Pale, white|
|TEETH||Protruding, big, thin gums||Medium, soft, tender gums||Healthy, white, strong gums|
|NOSE||Uneven shape deviated septum||Long, pointed, red nose-tip||Short, rounded, button nose|
|EYES||Small, sunken, dry, active, black, brown, nervous||Sharp, bright, gray, green, yellow/red, sharp, flexible||Big, beautiful, calm, blue|
|EYEBROWS||Thin, small||Moderate||Thick, bushy|
|LIPS||Dry, cracked, black, brown-tinged||Red, inflamed, yellowish||Smooth, oily, pale, whitish|
|HAIR||Wavy, brown||Bald, thin||Thick, lustrous|
|CHIN||Thin, angular||tapering||Rounded, double|
|CHEEKS||Wrinkled, sunken||Smooth, flat||Rounded, plump|
|NECK||Thin, tall||medium||Big, folded|
|CHEST||Flat, sunken||moderate||Expanded, rounded|
|BELLY||Thin, flat, sunken||moderate||Expanded, round|
|BELLY BUTTON||Small, irregular, herniated||Oval,||Big, deep, round, stretched|
|HIPS||Slender, thin||moderate||Heavy, big|
|JOINTS||Cold, cracking||moderate||Large, lubricated|
|DIGESTION||Irregular forms gas||Quick, causes burning||Prolonged, forms mucus|
|TASTE||Sweet, sour, salty||Sweet, bitter, astringent||Bitter, pungent|
|ELIMINATION||constipation||loose||Thick, oily, sedentary|
|MENTAL ACTIVITY||Always active||moderate||Dull, slow|
|EMOTIONS||Anxiety, fear, uncertainty, flexible||Anger, hate, jealousy, determined||Calm, greedy, attachment|
|FAITH||Variable, changeable||Intense, extremist||Consistent, deep, mellow|
|INTELLECT||Quick but faulty response||Accurate response||Slow. Exact|
|RECOLLECTION||Recent good, remote poor||distinct||Slow and sustained|
|DREAMS||Quick, active, many, fearful||Fiery, war, violence||Lakes, snow, romantic|
|SLEEP||Scanty, broken up||Little but sound||Deep, prolonged|
|SPEECH||Rapid, unclear||Sharp, penetrating||Slow, monotonous|
|FINANCIAL||Poor spending on little things not necessary||Spends money on travels, fine dining, or luxuries||Has sufficient bank account, good money preserver|
The Vata Constitution
Individuals of Vata constitution are generally considered to be physically underdeveloped. They are usually light with flexible, small-framed bodies and with chests that are flat making their tendons and veins visible. Individuals under this constitution tend to have less stamina and strength than the other types. Vatas generally have dry and rough skin and cold hands and feet. This is so because of their poor circulation. They also have the tendency to experience indigestion and crave the sweet, sour, and salty tastes and hot drinks. They also perspire much less than the other types. Their production of sweat and urine is scanty, even their feces is dry and hard.
Vatas always seem to be in a rush. They dislike the idea of sitting for long hours and prefer constant activity. Psychologically, Vatas are gifted with quick-mindedness, creativity, and excellent imagination. They also have the tendency to talk a lot and generally have a quite loving and sweet personality. Fear is the most prominent manifestation of imbalance in Vatas. This is the reason why they are also susceptible to anxiety attacks, nervousness, and loneliness.
To help maintain balance in the Vata constitution, the following are advised:
- Dress warmly
- Avoid cold food
- Avoid raw food
- Keep a routine/daily habit
- Try to stay calm/ be aware of impulsiveness
- Try to stay away from extreme cold temperatures
The Pitta Constitution
Pitta individuals also have the tendency to have flat chests but unlike Vatas, their veins and tendons have a medium prominence. They usually have a slender build and their body frame seems delicate to look at but their bones are not as prominent as the Vatas. Their bones are not as underdeveloped as the Vatas. They tend to have a lot of moles and freckles which are brownish or reddish in color. The Pitta complexion is usually fair, reddish, or coppery while their skin is soft and warm to touch.
Physiologically, pitas have a strong metabolism. As a result, they have a good appetite and good digestion and they tend to eat and drink a lot. Pittas also have the tendency to perspire a lot, thus making their body temperature slightly higher, making their hands and feet warm.
Physiologically, pitas tend to have diseases related to the fire element or heat. Inflammation, colitis, heartburn, jaundice, sore throats, and “itis-related” diseases are examples of manifestations of imbalance in a Pitta constitution. Psychologically, Pitta individuals are gifted with good concentration and comprehension. They are generally considered intellects with good logical thinking and sharp memories.
Pittas are good speakers, great leaders, and have a great capacity for organizing. As a matter of fact, they also have a lot of charisma that attracts people which turns them to professions like politicians, lawyers, doctors, and other noble professions, During an imbalance, Pittas have the tendency to criticize, judge, and be perfectionists. This is why Pitta individuals tend to have moderate lifespans because they burn their life energy through mental activity.
To help maintain the balance in the Pitta constitution, the following are recommended:
- Preferring cooling /bland or non-spicy food
- Drinking cool drinks but not overly iced
- Avoiding too much salty and oily food
- Exercising during the cooler part of the day
The Kapha Constitution
The Kapha individual, unlike the other two previously discussed constitutions, is blessed with a developed, strong and healthy body. Their chests are prominent, well-developed, and have strong muscles. Their body frame is large due to the dominance of earth and water elements in their constitution so they tend to be mostly healthy and strong. Kaphas also have strong, white teeth and hair that is soft, lustrous, and thick.
Although their metabolism is not as fast as the Pittas, Kaphas can go on with their day while skipping their meals. But because of their slow metabolic rate, Kaphas tend to have a longer lifespan. They also prefer sweets and salty tastes.
Psychologically, Kaphas tend to feel heavy and foggy in the mornings for they are midday people. Kaphas tend to move a bit slow and are often lethargic. They move slow-paced and their speech pattern is monotonous. When there is imbalance, obesity, diabetes, water retention are the manifestations. But when there is balance, Kaphas are caring, compassionate, patient, and tolerant.
To maintain balance in the Kapha constitution, the following are recommended:
- Prefer dry and light food, avoid heavy food
- Keep active and get plenty of exercise
- Avoid dairy
- Keep routine
What is disease? Why do we get sick? Why does imbalance occur? Are body constitutions just a stroke of luck we receive at birth? These questions are what Ayurveda tried to answer and understand through years of study. Ayurveda principles understand that when there is balance, there is also the absence of disease and vice versa, when there is an imbalance, the disease is present. Learning the principles of Ayurveda, to a wise man means that he is aware that learning to balance his doshas and establishing this balance means a healthy constitution.
The ancient knowledge of Ayurveda and according to the old age spiritual tradition of India, there are two causes of diseases. The first root of the disease is believed to be biological or physical causes. This means that there is simply an imbalance of the biological humors which are the main sources of physical health. Therefore, treatment can be in the form of diet alteration, herbs, yogic postures, and bodywork. Though, in some extreme cases, surgery and drug medicines are really needed as interventions in order to regain balance.
The second root cause of the disease is believed to be karmic causes. Karma simply means is the effects of the wrong actions one has done in his life. Karmic causes may also be from spiritual or psychological causes. To further elaborate, the karmic cause can also be problems in relationships, wrong occupation, emotional difficulties, and spiritual reasons. The treatment for these diseases is mostly a change in perspective, attitude in life, reactions, and lifestyle.
Thus the root of disease also stems from a person who is not living his purpose in life or not being wary of his spiritual will in life. This is what is known in Sanskrit as one’s ‘dharma.’ It is believed that diseases can also arise from one’s wrong actions from his previous life, especially those that have caused misfortune or abuse to other beings. This can be from misuse of power or resources.
These karmic causes of diseases usually require some form of sacrifice or atonement (an inner process or rectification). Usually, Ayurveda suggests the practice of Yoga and spiritual therapy in the form of gem use, prayers, mantras, rituals, and meditations in order for healing to take place.
Though these remedies may appear ‘medieval’ to some, they are believed to reflect a deeper level of understanding of one’s mind and body and the definition of healing as well. This is because these types of healing take into consideration the subtler aspects of one’s being, meaning to say, it is holistic and goes beyond the physical.
In Ayurveda, it is believed that the human being is made up of three bodies namely: the physical, the astral, and the causal. In Western terms, it is called the body, mind, and soul. The way of treatment in Western medicine also tends to focus on the physical (body) because it uses the system of diagnosis and treatment but also considers the other two. While in Ayurveda, many of its methods take into consideration the energy field beyond the physical body and also the level of consciousness behind it.
This is because Ayurveda believes that most diseases involve an imbalance both in the spiritual and physical factors and of course, will require treatment in both areas as well.
The importance of one’s knowledge of the doshas/humors and constitutions plays an important role when it comes to understanding the root of diseases. Disease proneness or tendencies has a lot to do with the constitutions. For example, Vatas are prone to constipation more than Pittas and Kaphas. Pittas, on the other hand, are most likely to have gall bladder and liver disorders than the ones from the other two constitutions. Kaphas will most likely have tonsillitis, sinusitis bronchitis as their diseases more than any other type of disease.
Secret Of Health
- Balancing the tastes
Food plays a great role in the overall health of a person. Food preference helps the doshas to be kept in balance, this is considered a secret in health. As the old saying goes, “too much of anything is simply bad, “same applies to the food that one eats. One should keep in mind that too much intake of sweets damages the spleen or pancreas. Whereas, too much sour damages the liver while too much bitter may give heart problems.
Preference for pungent taste dries up the lungs while salty food destroys the liver. Inside the body, sweets build up toxins, bitter cause cold which is a perfect environment for a number of diseases, salty cause looseness and pungent is the root of burning. One aiming for good health should always keep this in mind.
- Getting to know Agni
Agni can be defined as the biological fire or heat energy that is responsible for metabolism. Metabolism, on the other hand, plays a very important role in the overall health of a person. It is the collection of every chemical reaction that takes place in every cell in the human body. Therefore, metabolism is the one that converts the food that one eats to fuel or energy that is needed by the cells/ organs/bodily systems to function.
Agni governs metabolism. It is responsible for maintaining nutrition in the body and keeping the immune system in shape to battle diseases. Agni also helps to fight bacteria and toxins thus giving vitality and life to an individual. When one has his agni in perfect condition, a longer lifespan is expected, but when impaired, diseases start coming in, and finally when the Agni fire is extinguished, death may be the result
- Taste and emotions
One should be aware that there is a close relationship between the food that one craves and his emotions. Nowadays, terms like stress eating, emotional eating, over-eating, etc have become much more like a norm. This should not be the case if one aims to be healthy. When a certain ’craving’ is experienced, it is best to be aware that it might be one’s emotions that are being suppressed. For Example, pungent – hatred, sour – envy, sweet – attachment or love, bitter – grief, salty – greed, and sour – envy.
Being aware of this taste and emotion relation can be considered a secret to health as it makes a person understand himself better and gives him the opportunity to have healthier options.
Usually, people go to their doctors to be examined after particular symptoms start manifesting or when they feel really sick. The procedure most likely will be as follows: symptoms – diagnosis –treatment – follow-up. However, in Ayurveda, the diagnosis may be defined as the continuous moment interactions between the doshas and the bodily tissues. This is because it is believed that this is how disease manifests itself.
A daily observation, awareness, and monitoring of the radial pulse, tongue, skin, etc is a very effective practice when it comes to disease prevention and also is a tool for self-diagnosis. The following are guidelines that will serve as an aid in the diagnosis and prevention of diseases:
- Examination of the radial pulse –there are seven pulse points as seen in the diagram above. They are temporal (above the temple), carotid (side of the neck above the clavicle), brachial (inside of the arm, above the elbow), radial (on the wrist), femoral (on the inside front of the leg), posterior tibial (behind the ankle) and dorsalispedis (top of the foot). One of them, the radial pulse found at one’s wrist in one’s body is a good diagnostic point to at least have an idea of the state of one’s body.
It is important to note that one’s pulse should not be monitored after these events as one may get different or above normal results: while hungry, while taking a bath, after consummation, after taking food or alcohol, after hard physical labor, after a massage, and after urination. It is best to monitor one’s pulse in the morning, after waking up, or during times when one is relaxed, rested, and not at the peak of an emotional turmoil.
The status of the body organs and one’s constitution can be identified when one is knowledgeable in the examination of the radial pulse. The beats that one feels in pulsation not only indicate the beating of the heart but also give an overview of the important meridians that connect pranic currents inside the body. When doing an examination of the pulse, know that each finger rests on a meridian that corresponds to a particular body organ. To illustrate, the index finger gives an indication of the status of the lungs, the middle finger, the intestines, and the ring finger, of the kidneys. Making it a habit to check one’s pulse and the changes that happens to it is an effective technique in self-diagnosis.
- Facial diagnosis – the face can be considered a mirror of the soul, thus diseases, at most times, reveal their ugly heads in one’s face. Each line or spot in one’s face can be an indication of what is going on inside one’s body. Eyebrows, especially those with vertical lines may indicate repressed emotions are being stored in the liver. In the forehead, horizontal wrinkling could mean anxiety attacks and deep-seated worries. Whereas, a vertical line between the eyebrows may mean that the spleen is holding a lot of negative emotions. The kidneys may indicate impairment through dark and puffy eyes.
Discolored cheeks and nose may indicate something is wrong in one’s kidneys and that the body is lacking folic acid and iron. In general, based on constitutions, a Vata person does not have the ability to store fat so his face may look sunken and his nose crooked. A Kapha tends to accumulate water and most of the time has a puffy face and a blunt nose. A Pitta tends to have a good appetite and his face may look plump while his nose, is sharp.
- Tongue diagnosis – the tongue is the organ for taste and speech. It is vital for speech as it is integral to forming sounds and makes it possible to convey ideas, feelings, thoughts, and concepts. When the tongue is wet, it is able to perceive taste, when it is dry; it loses its ability to do so. It is important to make it a habit to check one’s tongue as it reveals a lot of what’s happening inside the body. The factors to consider when examining the tongue are the following: shape, color, size, margins, dampness, and color.
The color yellowish may indicate bile in the gallbladder or liver disorder. If paleness is observed, problems in the blood may be considered. If the tongue is bluish and one has not eaten anything of a bluish color, the heart ailment may be present. Teeth impressions in the tongue indicate intestinal disorders. Usually, coated tongues are indications of toxin overload in the body. Moreover, if one has observed a line in the middle which is quite impressive. It may indicate that emotions are being suppressed while a curved line may mean a spinal problem.
- Lip diagnosis – lips that are rough and chapped usually indicate dehydration and signals problems in the Vata dosha. Tremours and shaking of the lips may indicate anxiety attacks and nervousness. Pale lips are usually an indication of anemia or problems in the blood. Brown spots on the lips may indicate worms or maybe a result of smoking habits. It is also important to note that Vata lips have a tendency to be thin and dry, Pitta’s lips are red and plump while Kapha lips are often thick and oily. The organs most associated with the lips are the internal organs, lungs, intestines, thyroid, and heart.
- Eye diagnosis – round, big and beautiful eyes are of the Kapha constitution. Small, slanted, and those that blink constantly are Vata constitution. The Pitta eyes are usually sensitive to light and are lustrous to look at. A dropping eyelid may indicate a feeling of insecurity and lack of self-confidence to the beholder. Prominent eyes usually are a sign of hormonal imbalance or dysfunction in the thyroid gland. In case one observes a white ring around the iris, it is an indication of too much salt or sugar in the body. Spots in the eye, especially those that are colored brown indicate nutrients that are not absorbed in the body.
- Nail diagnosis – the Ayurveda principle believes that nails are a waste product of the bones. The factors to consider when examining the nails are the following factors: contour, shape, size, color, and surface. It also helps to observe whether the nails are brittle, soft, break easily, or if they are even-colored. Vata constitution usually has nails that are crooked, break easily, and are rough to hold. Pitta nails are soft, pink, or light-colored and have a tendency to glisten.
The Kapha nails are thick, strong, and oily. A pale nail usually indicates problems in the blood or anemia. Yellowish nails are a sign of liver dysfunction while bluish nails usually signify heart problems and circulatory disorders. The shape of the nails also indicates a lot of issues in the internal organs: clubbed nails – heart ailment, parrot nails – chronic cough, bitten nails – nervousness/ anxiety attacks, bumps at the end of nails – lung infections, transverse grove – long-standing illness.
Importance Of Emotional Release In One’s Health/Transforming Negative Emotions
Negative emotions like anger, anxiety, fear, and others greatly affect one’s gut flora which in return, affects one’s overall health status. The immune system fights off diseases but weakens with every negative emotion that a person has or is experiencing and therefore malfunctions. Just recently, on social media, the question, “can one die due to a broken heart?” has become viral and trending. Others simply laughed the question off but it is alarming to know that health experts have YES as an answer. Indeed, one may die of a broken heart.
As explained by experts, death is a possible scenario simply because when one is broken-hearted then the negative emotion tends to rule one’s whole being that his organs start malfunctioning. Depending on the length of the “broken heartedness” plus the strength of one’s immune system, organ failure, especially of the heart and liver is sure to follow and therefore may lead to death.
The importance of knowing how to cleanse one’s self of negative emotions is therefore vital in being healthy, holistically. But it doesn’t mean that one simply should brush off his emotion because they are negative. This is not what is meant in Ayurveda. Science has much respect for the humane in all of us, therefore, acknowledges that everybody is susceptible to negative emotions on a daily basis. What Ayurveda tries to remind and teach is that though it is human and natural to feel and experience negative emotions, it is dependent on a person if he/she will allow the emotion to rule his life.
Once one feels the onset of these negative emotions, it is just right to acknowledge that it is there, one feels. But the important next step is how one deals with it, simply because it cannot stay long enough to cause damage to one’s doshas. There are recommendations in Ayurveda that are known to be effective in dealing with negative emotions: gem/crystals, yoga practice, diet alteration, and meditation. What is important is for one to know what works for them.
Ten Factors In Ayurveda That Greatly Affect One’s Health
- Potential causes of disease
Believe it or not, one also has the capacity to attract diseases. This is the principle of like attracts like. One’s mind is a very powerful magnet. If a person thinks he is to get sick, most likely he will. It is not because he seemingly wished for it but because thinking that one is sick is enough to cause anxiety and other negative emotion, thus weakening the immune system. The good thing is, the same principle applies to feeling good or better. When one thinks positively, then it is most likely that he will not be prone to diseases due to the happy hormones released in his body.
The change in season is inevitable. It is how one adjusts that makes him in control of his health. For example, during winter, due to the cold wind, Vata individuals are most prone to diseases. To reverse the effect of the season, eating warm or spicy food will help a Vata individual’s dosha function well. This reminds readers of the importance of giving it time and effort to know his constitution.
Already discussed in the previous chapters how one may be able to know his constitution. Using this knowledge will greatly help a person know his strengths and weaknesses, health-wise. To add to that, it is also important to know that there are what are termed food combinations to keep the balance inside one’s body. There is specific food that keeps that balance of the doshas and there is food that when eaten together creates havoc inside the body.
For example, though spicy/citrus food may be good for a Vata due to its hot content, to a Pitta, it is a no-no. Dried fruits, beans, and raw food aggravate Vata individuals. A Kapha will definitely not benefit from cold drinks and dairy. Examples of wrong food combinations are the following:
- Melon – best eaten alone, not good with anything else
- Milk eaten with fish, bread, mung beans or sour fruits
- Honey and ghee
- Plants that blossom at night (potato, tomato, eggplant) and milk, yogurt, and cucumber
Depending on one’s age, Ayurveda principles believe that specific diseases are also common to a particular age. The knowledge of this makes one understand the nature of diseases and therefore feel more confident in treating it. Childhood, in Ayurveda, is the time of most Kapha diseases like colds, cough, asthma, and allergies. The adult stage is the Pitta stage and is usually the mental and emotional age that is why diseases associated with the internal organ are common – liver and heart ailments, upset stomach, arthritis, etc. Old age is the Vata stage and it is also the age of wear and tear. Diseases like Alzheimer’s, joint problems, and organ malfunction are common.
Exercise plays a vital role in one’s overall health. Recently, many researchers claim a connection between sitting too long and one’s lifespan – the more one sits, the shorter his life might be. Exercise aids in the body’s elimination of toxins and regulation of breathing. Regular exercise benefits one’s internal organs as well. Biking, walking, yoga, dancing and other forms of exercise all benefit one’s health.
- Environmental elements
Although it is inevitable that pollution is everywhere, especially for those living in cities, one still has to be aware and seek healthier options as much as possible. Wearing a mask, getting outside, and getting some fresh air frequently rather than staying 24/7 in air-conditioned offices, avoiding second-hand smoke, etc. are some simple ways of controlling environmental factors that affect health.
Let us not underestimate this 6-letter word, for it has the capability to wreak havoc on one’s entire immune system. The habit of being aware of the things that upset/stress us becomes our weapon for health. Stress can cause cancer, alopecia, and other life-threatening ailments when not addressed properly. One can find his “happy place” – beach, a loved one, a movie, an exercise routine, food, art, etc., and make sure to ‘visit’ at least once a month to renew.
Overwhelming the senses is also an unhealthy habit. For example, too much exposure to bright screens due to cellular phone addiction, hours of earphone usage, preference to too much spicy food, sunbathing without proper protection, or even simply wearing too much perfume affects one’s health. Our senses are important not just physically but to our souls and minds as well. Proper care and moderation in the indulgence of our senses is a great factor in one’s health status.
When one strives to make his relationships a source of happiness and not a battlefield, then he is most likely to have a longer life span. Relationships are great determinants in one’s emotional well-being. It is always healing to have other people genuinely care for one.
- Prakruti (knowing our psychological constitution)
As they say, knowledge is power. How powerful this statement is when one applies it to his own being. Knowing one’s self is actually a big step in the process of preventing diseases. For example, when one knows what triggers his allergies, what makes him stressed, the type of food that upsets his digestion, etc. Then it is more likely that he can avoid ailments.
- Allergies – this illness is usually a reaction of one’s dosha to a specific allergen. Allergens may include pollens, chemical smell, dust, or seasonal change. Symptoms may include wheezing, runny nose, headache, and hives.
Types of allergies:
Vata type allergies – this is characterized by bloating of the stomach, colic, and gastric discomfort. There is also strong wheezing. Treatment may include dashamoola tea.
Ashwagandha – 1 part
Vala – 1 part
Vidari- 1 part
Procedure: mix all herbs in equal parts then take ¼ teaspoon of the powder 3x a day, washed down with water.
Pitta-type allergies –the Pitta dosha is already under one’s skin. However, if disturbed by an allergen penetration in the capillaries is most likely to take place, worsening the allergic attack. Symptoms include urticaria, dermatitis, and itching
Treatment involves the formulation of the following herbal tonic:
shatavari 8 parts
kamadudha ½ part
guduchi 1 part
shankabhasma ¼ part
Take ½ teaspoon of the herbal tonic 2 or 3 times a day after meals, with a little warm
For hives, rash, urticaria, dermatitis, or eczema, it is best to apply neem oil or tiktaghrita (bitter ghee) on the skin.
Kapha allergies – the onset of this type of allergy is usually associated with the spring season. This is because it is also the pollen season time for plants. Symptoms include cough, colds, asthma, and sinus infection.
Treatment involves the formulation of the herbal tonic:
sitopaladi 4 parts
yashtimadhu 4 parts
abrakbhasma ⅛ part
NOTE: One is to take about ¼ teaspoon of this mixture 3 times a day with honey.
- Acne /skin problems – this is a result of the excess of Pitta under one’s skin. The triggers of this illness are numerous: stress, repressed emotions, oily food, hormonal changes, and exposure to too much sunlight. Acne is a Pitta condition, therefore, an alteration in diet will help in alleviating the symptoms. Food that should be avoided is the following: fried food, salty, oily, fermented, and citrus fruits.
Treatment includes the following formula. This mixture is known to be excellent in treating excess Pitta that causes acne:
One is to mix equal proportions of these three herbs (starting with 1teaspoon of each), and take ¼ teaspoon of your mixture 2 or 3 times a day. After meals, place the powder on the tongue and wash it down with warm water.
NOTE: The cumin-coriander-fennel tea is also recommended as well as the drinking of blue water.
Preparation for blue water:
Fill a clear glass bottle or jar with water, and cover it with some translucent
blue paper (blue cellophane in book stores or some grocery stores is enough). Put
the glass of water in the sun for about 2 hours. Drink 1 to 3 cups of water each day. The water is said to have a cooling and soothing effect that helps alleviate symptoms.
- Digestive problems– One’s gut flora has a very important role in his overall health. It is the determinant of one’s immune system and emotional health. In Ayurveda, it is called the “agni” or digestive fire. Therefore, it should be given emphasis and be checked every now and then.
The type of diet one has, his reaction to stress, the repressed emotions and the degree of mental exhaustion all affect the gut flora. It is also believed that most diseases stem from the imbalance in one’s gut flora.
Common digestive problems include bloating, indigestion, slight stomach pain, acid reflux, and constipation. Undigested food in the stomach will cause non-absorption of nutrients and pathogens that will, later on, become toxic and cause disturbance in the immune system.
Suggested herbs for the treatment of simple digestive disturbances:
One should always be reminded that Agni is not tolerant of the following taste: sour, salty, and pungent while is tolerant of astringent, bitter (small amount, before meal), and sweet. In order to increase one’s Agni, spices should be part of one’s diet. This is because agni has the same nature as spices which is hot, dry, light, and fragrant and therefore the more one includes it in his diet, the more diseases are in control.
During instances when the agni is already high and disturbances are already present, spices should already be avoided and digestive bitters should be considered. Examples are aloe, gentian, and barberry. But during instances when agni is low, hot spices are recommended. Examples are ginger, cayenne, and black pepper. When agni is in a normal state, all spices are recommended and especially the uses of harmonizing spices: coriander, fennel, turmeric, and cardamom.
- Liver and gall bladder ailments–the liver and the gall bladder are where repressed, negative emotions, especially anger and anxiety is collected. Its function in the bodily system is detoxification. This connection should be given emphasis because this means that when the liver and the gall bladder cannot function well, toxin build-up is sure to follow. Another thing to consider is the fact that when one is experiencing a challenging time in his life, has the habit of being easily angered, or tendency to suppress his negative emotions, liver and gall bladder function is compromised.
Recommended herbs to care for the liver:
When caring for the liver, it is good to remember that generally, bitter herbs are good in promoting the flow of bile. When the flow of bile is smooth and good, then the cleansing of the blood, detoxifying process, and relieving high Pitta are sure to follow. Herbs that are good for bile flow are barberry, gentian, goldenseal, and dandelion.
For clearing the liver and to aid in the prevention of emotional stagnation, turmeric and barberry mixed in equal parts are recommended. Adding Gotu kola to the mixture is calming to the liver and mind. For sluggish or congested liver herbs such as fennel, cumin, coriander, mint, and cyperus are recommended. For liver cleansing, green herbs such as chickweed, dandelion, comfrey leaves, and nettles are recommended.
In Ayurveda, there are suggested eating habits that one should cultivate to stay healthy. Eating is defined in science as something one simply needs to accomplish but instead, an act that aims to nourish not just the physical body but the emotion and soul as well. Here are examples of what can be considered good habits in relation to eating:
- Whenever possible, eat quality and fresh produce.
- Eat whenever hungry and on time, avoid binge eating.
- Eat while eating. This simply means, focusing on the act of eating and not watching television of checking one’s social media accounts
- Eating no more than the amount of food one can hold in his two cupped hands.
- Choosing food that is recommended for one’s constitution.
- Drinking when thirsty and not while eating; is so to make sure that digestive enzymes are not diluted and agni or digestive fire is not suppressed.
- Chewing at least 32 times before swallowing to allow digestive enzymes to work properly
- Not drinking iced drinks or hot drinks while eating
Awareness / Knowledge/Prevention
- Knowing the cause and how to modify it – as mentioned earlier, Ayurveda isn’t only concerned with how to treat a particular disease, rather, with treating the root cause of it. The key is awareness. Knowing one’s body and being aware when something is amiss is a sure tip for preventing the onset of diseases. The important facets to be considered are the food that one eats, daily routine, season, triggers of allergies, and emotional condition.
- How to restore balance – there are things that are beyond one’s control when it comes to their health. Examples are the seasons and the constitution. But, it is important to note that what one can do is always restore balance. Eating junk food for a week causes an imbalance in the body’s nutrients. So does too much stress, emotional turmoil, and too much sitting. To restore balance, one should always make sure to do something that will counteract some damaging habits one already has, or make sure to modify what is already done.
- To do this, one may make sure to always have greens on his plate, choose tea at times when the love for coffee is too strong, making an effort to stand and stretch every after two hours especially those who work for long hours in front of a computer and avoiding negative emotion and thoughts.
- The importance of the space one lives in – when everything is in its place, chaos has no space to thrive. The same is true when it comes to people. Space is important for health. Physical space or homes have a lot of factors that affect one’s well-being. Location, materials, airflow, and size need to be considered. It is good advice to have someone visit one’s home and have their opinions matter. Sometimes, because of familiarity, one tends to overlook disease-causing factors in one’s home. Examples are mold breeding areas (damp wallpapers), unsafe construction materials (asbestos in ceiling tiles), energy flow barriers (thick curtains), etc. If one takes the time to make his home a haven for health, then he is sure to reap the rewards.
- How to rejuvenate and rebuild the body/soul – rebuilding what already has been damaged means knowing the root cause of what actually caused the damage. This starts with taking the time to know one’s self and one’s body and emotional triggers. Avoiding circumstances or food that aggravates one’s health is also a wise move. When it comes to rejuvenation, it is important to remember that we are one with the universe. This means that we are made up of what also makes up the universe, therefore, what may heal us is found in our environment. Fresh air, trees, the sound of waves, the humming of birds, fresh greens, root crops, water, etc: let us make sure to acknowledge that healing is already in abundance around us and make sure to make use of it in reverence.
- How self-esteem/confidence affects overall health – self-esteem stems from self-love. If we love ourselves then caring for it and making sure that it is protected is sure to follow. This practice is the center of healing. It is when we start to be aware that our self-esteem is connected to our soul and spirit, healing takes place. To further understand the connection, let’s take a look at cancer development. Cancer is like a battle between one’s healthy cells and cancer cells. Cancel cells grow separate from the body and are like lost particles trying to build a new kingdom for they have lost their wit. If one’s self-esteem is low, cancer cells are sure to thrive, but if the opposite happens, then one’s immunity will become strong enough to fight off new growths. Hence the importance of self-esteem and its relation to the whole body.
Food guidelines for constitution types
Vata individuals – best compatible with cooked cereals, grains, and whole wheat bread. Diet recommendation consists of 50 percent whole grains.
Pitta individuals – best compatible with food like tempeh, tofu, chicken, turkey, raw milk, rabbit, and shrimp. Diet must consist of 50 percent whole grain and 20 percent protein.
Kapha individual – best compatible with boiled eggs, rye crackers, most beans, chicken, and turkey. Diet must consist of 40 percent whole grain and 20 percent protein.
|FOOD TYPE||VATA constitution||PITTA constitution||KAPHA constitution|
|Oregano, dill, paprika, parsley, cumin, orange peel, curry leaves, thyme||Tarragon, wintergreen, parsley, spearmint, vanilla, peppermint, saffron||Garlic, mint, sage, cinnamon, spearmint, poppy seeds, ginger, neem leaves, mustard seeds, rosemary, orange peel|
|Salt, savory, mustard seeds, sage, thyme, nutmeg, star anise, oregano|
|Pine nuts, brazil nuts, coconut, peanuts, hazelnuts, pecans||Coconut|
|NOT recommended:||NOT recommended:|
|Macadamia, peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, brazil nuts||Balck walnuts, cashews, filberts, pistachios, coconut|
|Beef, salmon, chicken, seafood, duck, buffalo||Freshwater fish, venison, buffalo, turkey, shrimp, chicken||Chicken, shrimp, turkey, eggs, venison|
|NOT recommended: Pork, rabbit, lamb, turkey||NOT recommended: duck, lamb, salmon, tuna, sea fish, pork||NOT recommended: Pork, salmon, duck, fish, sardines, tuna|
|Butter, ice cream, cheese, yogurt, milk||Unsalted butter, ghee, cheese, ice cream||Ghee, cottage cheese, skimmed goat’s milk, goat’s cheese|
|NOT recommended: Powdered goat’s and cow’s milk||NOT recommended: Salted butter, hard cheese, sour cream||NOT recommended: Unsalted butter, ice cream, cow’s milk|
|Alcohol, beer or wine, mango juice, grape juice, orange juice, carrot juice, aloe vera juice, berry juice, lemonade||Beer, mixed vegetable juice, aloe vera juice, black tea, chai, miso juice, grape juice, almond milk||Dry or red wine, peach nectar, carrot juice, apple juice, black tea, apricot juice, mango juice|
|NOT recommended: Coffee, carbonated drinks, mixed vegetable juice, iced tea, cranberry juice||NOT recommended: Wine, chocolate milk, berry juice, iced tea, ice-cold drinks, coffee||NOT recommended: Beer, cherry juice, chocolate milk, coffee, lemonade, icy cold drinks|
|Quinoa, oats, durum flour, wheat bread, rice||Pancakes, rice cakes, granola, oatmeal, crackers, barley, dry cereals, rice||Granola, rice, cereal, buckwheat, quinoa, rye, millet, muesli, corn|
|NOT recommended: Bread with yeast, crackers, buckwheat, pasta, dry oats, muesli, rye||NOT recommended: rye, corn, quinoa, millet, muesli||NOT recommended: Bread, pasta, rice cakes, pancakes, and cooked oats.|
|Cooked apples, sweet fruits, bananas, avocados, berries, kiwi, lemons, mangoes, pineapples, plums, papaya, oranges||Sweet fruits, apricots, dates, figs, coconuts, grapes, melon, pomegranates, sweet plums, sweet oranges, ripe mangoes||Most astringent fruits, applesauce, cherries, lemons, limes, peaches, persimmons, raisins, strawberries, cranberries|
|NOT recommended: Raw apples, dried fruits, persimmons, dates, pears, figs, prunes||NOT recommended: Most sour fruits, bananas, lemons, peaches, persimmons, strawberries, tamarind||NOT recommended: Most sweet and sour fruit, fresh figs, dates, coconut, papaya, tamarind, watermelon, oranges, melons|
|Cooked vegetables, beets, cabbage, leeks, cilantro, cucumber, fennel, cauliflower, garlic, leafy greens||Sweet and bitter vegetables, bitter melon, cooked beets, celery, cucumber, broccoli, carrots, cilantro, green beans||Most pungent and bitter vegetables, bitter melons, cauliflower, beet greens, asparagus, broccoli, celery, corn cilantro, cabbage|
|NOT recommended: Frozen or dried vegetables, bitter melons, celery, raw vegetables, dandelion, kale, mushrooms,||NOT recommended: Pungent vegetables, eggplant, radish, green chili, onions, radishes, horseradish, peppers||NOT recommended: Sweet and juicy vegetables, Squash, cucumber, tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkin, potatoes, winter taro root|
In cases wherein imbalance has already taken its full course and symptoms of diseases are already present, Ayurveda recommends the practice of panchakarma. This is a method of cleansing one’s physical body, emotions, and soul so as not to aggravate further the imbalance in the doshas. A number of ailments such as excess mucus, bloating, bile in the intestines, etc. may be addressed through the panchakarma. However, one must be reminded of the following when practicing the cleansing method:
- Panchakarma is a powerful technique, pregnant mothers are not recommended to practice it.
- One has to be sure that he is not weak physically when engaging in the technique, when anemic or feverish, the technique is not recommended
- The practice of panchakarma may also unleash deep-seated negative emotions, if this happens, one may rest for a while and drink tranquility tea to regain balance
Five Basic Processes
- Vomiting – therapeutic vomiting is recommended if one is experiencing congestion in the lungs such as asthma, colds, bronchitis or cough. The process involves drinking 3 to 4 cups of licorice or calamus tea and the stimulation of vomiting through the rubbing of one’s tongue. Another technique is for one to drink two glasses of saltwater in the morning to aggravate the Kapha and induce vomiting. After vomiting, once the mucus is released, one is sure to experience relief.
- Purgatives or laxatives – when there is too much bile in the intestines, liver or gall bladder, one may experience skin inflammation, allergies, dermatitis, and even fever. In panchakarma, one is recommended to drink laxative teas such as senna leaves or hot milk with two tablespoons of ghee. It is important to note that when using purgatives, one is to make sure to take it at nighttime and make sure that his diet does not aggravate his doshas. However, this procedure is not recommended for those who have poor agni, with bleeding from the rectum or lung cavities.
- Medicated enemas–this process involves the introduction of medicinal mixtures inside the body such as oil or herbal concoctions through the rectum. The ailments that are covered by this procedure are kidney stones, chronic fever, hyperacidity, colds, constipation, and heart pain. Also included are most Vata diseases like gout, arthritis, and rheumatism. However, it is important to note that this procedure is not recommended if one is experiencing bleeding from the rectum or has a very weak agni.
- Nasal administration of medication– this procedure aims to remove the excess accumulation of the bodily humors through the nearest opening which is the throat. It is important to note that the nose, in Ayurveda, is considered a door to the brain or one’s consciousness and with that, it is believed that it is through the nose that life energy enters the body. The ailments that are covered in this procedure include sinus congestion, migraine, ear problems, and convulsions. However, pregnant women, intoxicated individuals, women with menstruation are not recommended to practice this technique.
- Purification of the blood–the elimination of toxins that accumulate in the blood is integral to maintaining one’s health. Thus the process of bloodletting is recommended. Toxins are absorbed into the bloodstream through one’s gastrointestinal tract and are circulated in the entire body, thus creating a number of diseases. Chronic acne, scabies, rashes, urticaria, eczema, and hives are symptoms that toxins are being accumulated in the blood. However, the practice of blood-letting is not recommended for very young and old individuals.
Environmental factors such as the change in season and temperature are some examples of the things one can adjust to but cannot change or hinder. One can only make sure that he is armed and ready for changes like having a windbreaker for winter and making sure that he is hydrated during the summers. Although it is inevitable to live with factors like seasonal changes, there is one integral factor in one’s health that one can be in control of – that is his daily living or routine. The way one lives his life has a very great effect in one’s health. How does one make sure that he is living within the healthy boundaries of a “healthy routine?”
Why Is There A Need To Be One With The Seasons?
The ancient knowledge of Ayurveda was discovered during a time that is very much different from today. Nature and biological blocks were much more in tune during those times as compared to this current time. Technology has its advantage and disadvantages. Sadly, one of those disadvantages is the ‘disconnect’ it has brought to nature and humans. Although this fact is unavoidable, it has, however greatly affected health today.
The forces of nature, the cycles of the seasons, the shift of day and night are undeniably connected to one’s doshas – from the food one eats to the air one breathes – all have something to do with nature. It is a natural law to be in tune if one wants optimum health
What Is The Ayurvedic Daily Routine?
It is important to establish that there is a connection between one’s biological clock and his dosha clock. The two work in synchronization. This is the reason why a healthy routine results in the harmony of the body clocks and nature’s rhythm. This connection creates balance and does wonders with regards to one’s bodily processes like digestion, absorption, and other organ function. Also, when there is balance and oneness within the body clocks and nature, negative emotions (which cause a lot of diseases) are put on hold, and emotions such as happiness, confidence, love, etc. are manifested instead.
Ayurveda acknowledges that the body is a big clock with a smaller clock for each organ. For example, morning time is for the lungs; it expands fully during this time of the day. Midday is when we feel most hungry and is stomach time. For the liver, it is 3 am to 3 pm., while the late afternoon is for the colon and kidneys to function at their best. An understanding of these facts about one’s organ is also a key to staying healthy. This is also the reason why most health experts will not recommend staying up late, having stressful jobs, not having a regular mealtime, eating too many sweets in the mornings, etc. a healthy daily routine means a longer and healthy lifespan.
A Sample Healthy Daily Routine Would Be:
- Waking up early around, ideally before the sun rises(4 to 6 am is considered as “Brahma muhurta” or time of creation and considered the best as it is full of vital creative energy)
- Meditating or saying a simple verse/prayer
- Washing face with cold water to “activate” organs
- Drinking a glass of water before anything solid is taken by mouth
- Brushing of teeth and tongue
- Conscious breathing exercises
- Oil massaging the body with extra effort to massage the scalp
- Off to work (remember proper posture at all times)
- Taking a break/having a walk
- Super time
- A short ritual before sleeping (reading, listening to relaxing music, etc)
- Bedtime between 10:00pm to 10:30 is ideal
Staying Healthy In The Modern World (Sattvic Living)
In this modern world we all live in, it is indeed, a fact that choosing a healthy lifestyle seems to be quite a challenge. The rise of smartphones and other modern gadgets, availability of instant food, pollution woes, global warming, and the battle against diseases like cancer, all contribute to the difficulty in achieving a sattvic or pure lifestyle.
In Ayurveda, following a healthy/pure lifestyle (sattvic) simply means opting for raw or freshly cooked food over instant substitutes, making sure fruits, vegetables and herbs a included in one’s diet with careful consideration of one’s constitution. It also means a daily effort to make sure that there is clarity in mind, one’s actions are well-thought, negative emotions are acknowledged and handled in a positive manner, and exercise and routine are prioritized.
Aside from all that, it is also important to note the need to practice calmness in the manner of speaking, kindness in thought and actions, and having a career that does not harm other beings. Also, the habit of letting go of emotional impurities like violence, hatred, gossip, anger, lust, fear, fanaticism, etc. plays an important role in achieving a healthy self.
In the end, health is a choice of every individual. How we live our lives is a matter of self-conviction. We only have one physical body in our lifetime and taking utmost care of it enables us to fully reach our potential. It is also when we take care of our soul and mind that healing may take place.
Though diseases are but a natural part of everyone’s existence, alternatives like the Science and knowledge of Ayurveda gives us the power to choose what might work for us without sacrificing other aspects of our lives.
To be disease-free in our current times is still a possibility; the choice is ours to take.