Thursday, March 20, 2014

Holi – Add a Colour to Your Style

India just celebrated “Holi- festival of colours” couple of days back, and it is so much of fun watching the madness spreading all over. It is just awe-inspiring seeing colours in the air and being in the hills the beginning of the madness could be felt well in advance- pine trees start shedding pollens and you can see tinge yellow layer on your vehicles parked in open. This is how for past few years I have been assuming on-coming Holi festival. The rush in the blood, madness in the air, and happiness all over inspire me about this festival and infuses loads of peace and serenity in the end. To be an Ayurvedic Physician have been the best thing in my life – I guess! It gives me an insight and connects me not only to the roots of Indian tradition but opens my mind to know and learn about other traditions as well. This time Holi left me with few questions. Why should I play Holi and is it only about fun or there is a bit more relevance to the festival of colours?

“Festival of colours - Holi” is celebrated in India on the eve of full moon of Falgun – Indian name for spring. It is the celebration of victory of the Truth over evil. It marks the beginning of the annual fairs and first trading get to gather. On the day of the Holi people gather in large number of groups and paint each other in multiple colours. Primarily the compassion is expressed by pouring water or coloured water on each other. My mind goes a mile to find a technical reason behind playing with colours, although organising fairs make sense as the Falgun is the time when officially cold wave begins to slow down and rise in temperature makes it easy to go out and make living, which had been made tough otherwise by severe cold wave.

· Holi is primarily played with water or coloured water. Out of the five elements of evolution, the water is responsible for union or bonding. The molecules of water have the property to unite loosely held particles together- everyone knows how it turns flour into dough. It represents compassion and love. Splashing water on each other marks the unity and oneness.

Also, during extreme winters people used to shirk bathing. During the winters skin becomes dry and dehydrated in lack of water. The custom of splashing water rehydrates skin, makes it supple, gives a fresh lease of life and it is a loving reminder to all those hydrophobic people about the importance of bathing.

· Ayurveda recommends application of various herbal pastes in the months Spring. As already said, during winters dehydrated skin accumulates loads of toxins and dead skin tissues. It makes skin look dull and lifeless. In view of removing dead skin layer and restore optimum blood circulation to the skin it logically makes sense to apply herbal pastes and formulations. Traditionally, Ayurveda have been a part of Indian life style. In a playful act doing things have been a part of this amazing culture and one of the oldest civilizations. Interestingly playing Holi with different colours was a part of annual skin cleanse. Although, we have lost our way in lack of an appropriate understanding of the tradition. Ayurveda recommends herbal formulations and colours extracted from natural resources. One can prepare colours from Natural resources for their use and trust me it doesn’t take too many efforts. It is healthy for skin and devoid of the allergies and fear of adverse reactions later.

· Dried leaves of Neem (Azadirachta indica) and Bilwa (Aegle marmelos) renders green tinge colour and is healthy for skin. It is proven for its bactericidal and cooling properties.

· Dried wheat grass, leaves of Mehndi (Lawsonia inermis), and leaves of Gulmohar (Delonix regia) render light green colour. One should keep the quantity of Mehndi leaves lesser to avoid momentary staining of the skin (although it is not bad but you might have to go to office next day).

· Traditionally Tesu/ Palash (Butea monosperma) have been a great source of red colour. It also comes in Orange colour. A powder prepared with dried flowers of Tesu, red sandalwood, saffron gives a beautiful colour and also very healthy for the skin. It enhances complexion of the skin, removes patches and pigmentation. One can also use Kabila fruits (Mallotus philippenesis) with dried flowers of Hibiscus and dried pomegranate seeds. It gives beautiful light brick red colour and enhances beauty mixed with fun while playing along.

· Dried red rose petals, fragrant red sandalwood and dried hibiscus petals are just a healthy retreat in the month of spring; show your colours in style.

· If you add lemon drops in the Turmeric, it gives an orange shade. I don’t need to explain the medicinal properties. Add fine powder of fuller’s earth and white sandalwood powder to the mix to get the right proportion of the colour. Trust, your skin would shine in the entire extravaganza around.

· Beet root juice and pulp of black grapes added with water is a perfect solution for that magenta splash on each other. You shouldn’t be worried if the splash goes in your mouth. I am sure no one would resist being soaked into this kind of Holi.

· For yellow fuller’s earth, dried yellow Marigold petals and hint of turmeric powder would not only enhance joy of the Holi but would dash up your skin too.

Ayurveda recommends that you should play Holi in its own style. It not only increases communal compassion but it is healthy too. After finding all those colours I don’t think that one should play Holi only for one day. In my opinion with these preparations you should play Holi all through the spring. In case you don’t find partner you can enjoy these colours on your own, soak yourself in the colour you want.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Osteoarthritis – 5 Points Someone

Life is a journey through the time and in the end everyone becomes wiser and smarter. Difficult question is whether the journey is to getting older or just waiting the time to pass till one goes into heavenly abode. Interestingly Ayurveda call this body “Sharir- one that undergoes constant deterioration.” The human body is an amazing example of the masterwork. Flawless! It would be an appropriate word to explain the artwork of the divine. I come across many people who just hate their bodies and number out numerous flaws in the body in terms of diseases. But honestly if we do not know the art of maintaining the body, there is no point hating the art. Of course, the beauty lies in the eyes of beholder. Unless we understand the importance of health, we shall never understand the worth of living this humanly heaven. Unfortunately our approach is reactive, while it should have been proactive. We take actions when things mess up, and the moment we are out of the mess we forget the reasons of the previous mess, and stop working over the residual effects. I have been working over a patient suffering from arthritis and she ended up saying this life is hell. She kept complaining that she cannot work the way she used to. She was obese, in her mid-fifties, and looked anxious. She suffered osteoarthritis and was not able to perform her day to day routines as before.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disorder of the joints mostly attacking knee joints. The reason is simple, due to the nature of the joint to bear the weight. We should follow few simple steps in order to maintain the joint health.images
1. Accept – accept the nature of the disease. Osteoarthritis cannot be treated completely. Once the degeneration has occurred, the pain is going to be its integral feature. Although, the speed of the degeneration can be slowed down and the age of the joint can be enhanced with Ayurvedic treatments. Acceptance simply helps to understand the limitations created by the disease. It is a body’s call to slow down in routine process. Any haste in terms of walking, climbing could be dangerous. Protect your knee as much possible from sudden injuries. Problem is that we want to perform our routine duties with the same vigour as we were doing 5 years back. Never forget, it is not only the numbers of your age changing, but there is a continuous change in body physiology as well. No, you are not the only one to have been cursed by the aging; the person writing on this wall is equally going to be a sufferer. It is wiser to accept the changes occurred due to aging and to adjust the boat as per the flow of the water. It is good to know the limitations and eat as per the size of your mouth instead of trying to be a superman- trust me they look good in fictions only.
2. Pain is an Index – make the pain of your knee joint as an Index. Use the intensity of pain to understand the intensity of the injury to the knee joint. Popping a pain killer makes you forget the pain but does not mean the injury is no more persisting. Under the cover of NSAID, we tend to follow the same routine which may increase the degeneration process. But, I do not intend to say that you should not exercise any more. You should see your physiotherapist with immediate effect and learn exercises required to strengthen up the knee. Topical herbal oils with pain relieving properties could be of more help, as they work on the site of injury directly. By virtue of the properties of herbs, topical Ayurvedic herbal oil preparation enhances the micro circulation around the site of injury and increases blood circulation to that area resulting in enhanced oxygenation that helps to repair the damage and control it further. 
i3. Learn to say NO – if you are suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee, you should gradually learn to say NO to your certain existing habits. Every single effort that you put in towards your knee health goes a long way to avoid further damage to your joint. Avoid squatting, sitting cross legs, climbing stairs in usual rush, running, wearing high heels, sudden jerk to knee joint, lifting heavy weight. From Ayurvedic perspective certain foods should be avoided in order to reduce the pain like black lentils, egg plant, chick peas, rice, and food which are drier in nature and increases vata. Learn to say NO to the anxiety, and calm down by using the power of deep breathing.
4. Reduce weight – weight is one of the causative factors behind osteoarthritis, not only though. If you are overweight, you should understand that your own weight is exerting extra pressure on the joint and every time you walk with that weight, your knee joint is crushed under it. While reducing weight you should be gradual and do it by managing nutritious healthy diet and avoid crash diet plan. Reducing weight by means of crash diet may have an impact on bone health as essential minerals are also lost in the process. Supplement your diet with calcium rich food, and if needed have oral supplementation of the calcium. Seek the help of your physician for this purpose. Exercise, but do not overdo it. I generally suggest approximately 3 kilos a month target weight loss and maintain the goal till the time you achieve your target weight.
5. Ayurveda help – it is not for the sake of marketing Ayurveda but the treatments actually help in reducing the symptoms without the use of any internal medication. Treatments are simple and need periodical follow up as I mentioned before that it cannot be treated completely but could be managed and age of the knee joint could be enhanced till total knee replacement remains the only option. Deep tissue fomentation with oil, and local applications mentioned in traditional science of healing help improving knee health. Appropriate diet also helps in maintaining knee health. Broccoli, cabbage, white sesame, garlic, figs, soaked nuts etc. are few foods which are scientifically approved to enhance the knee health. As per a recent study broccoli and cabbage contain sulforaphane which helps in reducing cartilage damage secondary to OA. Performing saline water fomentation to your knee, ‘preferably soaking’ also helps in reducing pain and swelling. Traditionally, Epsom salt fomentation practically works well. Wearing knee cap or support depending upon the severity reduces excess pressure on knee joint and helps in reducing risk of potential injury to knee or surrounding cartilages.
Ayurveda could be an answer to your health problems, but only if you are ready to follow this life style. It requires sincere efforts, periodical follow ups, faith and perseverance to get the results.




Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Weight Loss – 6 initial steps to your goal

Losing weight is a brain task than a physical engagement. The market is flooded with numerous products and guaranteed programs to lose weight, but nothing seems to be working for long. The problem - everyone is not the same. And the solutions that we bring out are the same for everyone. More than a doctor’s mind, it requires more understanding from the one who needs to lose weight. Problem persists at a point where patient thinks that it is the doctor’s work to find a solution for their problem. Working through the pro health programs for many years I ended up working more on obesity and found out that sometimes it is too difficult to work upon weight loss regime because it is like walking upon a thin line and chances of losing focus are always high despite having great beginners luck. However, I have got tremendous results in cases where client and doctor adopted a very simple approach. In such cases we did not even require any diet plans or treatments at all. Although there is no single full proof methodology for losing weight, but there could be certain general parameters which could be adopted by every person who wants to lose those extra pounds and trim down their flab into fab.
1. Meditate – although it may sound superfluous but it is true that meditation helps in losing weight to a great extent. It helps in synchronising brain with body physiology. Meditation is not only about spirituality or a tool to attain higher conscious. It also helps to unleash the powers of the body of self-healing. A simple visualisation of the self would be sufficient enough to get the desired results. Imagining self in particular dress or shape goes a long way in self-motivation. It is like working with the power of mind. Mind is strangely a strong entity, and people who realised the power of mind invented entirely a new philosophy of life – yoga. So, never underestimate the potentials hidden in the meditation and simply learn to use it.
2. Cut the crap – too much information on the net about weight loss is crap. And trying to learn from different resources about one topic could be dangerous affair if you do not belong to the same field, because interpretation of the resource would depend upon the clarity of the basic principles. No matter what diet is recommended from whom, the fact about weight loss is simple- consume lesser calories and spend more in a day. No matter what you eat, if you can put that food out of the system through work out it would balance the weight management. So, approach should be simple that if eatable is having more calories than you can put out, don’t grab it.
3. Exercise your brain – I had read about a treatment of obesity in Ayurveda- stress reduces weight. The statement kept me confused for a long time and I refrained advising this to my patients for a long time for my own inability to understand the fact. But I realise it today that it actually works. It is not the grammatical stress, but intellectual stress. Put food in your brain than putting food in your stomach and you will find that it actually works. Try to solve puzzles and fail holds the key. Solve it all over again. Question the present knowledge and reach out to the self for answers. Question everything, but don’t find answers in other’s books. Write your own rule for everything and pass your current knowledge through the yardstick of your own knowledge and intellect. The idea simply works on the grounds that if your brain is occupied with a question food could not be the answer for sure. If you couldn’t be thinner through this, you would surely be wiser. I haven’t found a single philosopher fat, my own knowledge about philosophers could be incomplete though- quest is on.
4. Time your meals – fixing up your meal timings works a long way in reducing and managing your weight. Breakfast at 8 AM, lunch at 1 PM, and dinner at 8 PM. And if you cannot manage these timings because of your work, then you are living a life of slave (it’s my opinion, could be wrong). After all I am working for my comfort and food. If my work is hindering my food timings and comfort I go back to point 3 above.
In addition to this point make another rule not to eat anything in between the meals. If hunger pangs trouble you satiate your desire with roasted pumpkin seeds, fruits, green salad, buttermilk, barley water, hot water, green tea (I mean only one thing to be grabbed and not all together).
5. Walk a while – it is essential to have a physical workout every day. For those who cannot follow a regular workout regimen they should start doing simple house hold things on their own or for that matter send your peon for a leave for some time. I generally prefer playing a game that involves physical activity. It helps to reduce stress, increases blood circulation, strengthens up the muscles, maintains cardiac health, induces sleep and enhances neuromuscular coordination.
6. Patience – finally the patience works for everything. You did not put on over a day; neither should you look out to lose over a day. It is utterly futile to go on crash diet plans; chances of recurrence and rebound weight gain are higher through this way. Additionally following a specific diet plan has a tendency to build up the residual stress which is unhealthy and increases food cravings. It is for a simple reason that running away from things does not mean that you have found a solution. I would prefer to eat what I want but just to satiate my tongue not my stomach.
Although it is not all that you need to do lose weight but for sure it is the first ladder to your goal. Set your targets right and have a long term plan for losing weight. Keep your eyes focused on what you want and you should get what you want.







Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tulsi – A medicine Divine

It is intriguing to understand the rich traditional Indian knowledge in all walks of life. And it is more interesting to know the outreach of this widespread knowledge through the skillful documentation of the information since the time unknown. There were different methodologies for the nomenclature and common ways to identify the herbs were devised. Methodologies to name and identify the drugs were formed in such a way that medicinal properties should be known to even those who are unaware of the common herbs and their uses. Sometimes I wonder, is it really necessary to do a scientific research on all the documentation done in past? Isn’t it a futile effort to establish something which has already been established for ages? I really do not know when we will believe that Ayurvedic approach towards human health is the most scientific and holistic approach.
Tulsi or Holy basil is one of the most common herbs known to Indian house hold. It is grown uniformly in almost every house, not to mention the reason – religious. Most of us might not be aware that it is more due to scientific reason than religious alone which would be discussed later. Holy basil has following synonyms and each of it signifies properties of Tulsi.
तुलसी         – तुलां सादृश्यं – which relates to balance or brings balance
सुरसा          – possesses good tasteholy_basil2
ग्राम्या         – which grows in villages
सुलभा         – available easily
बहुमञ्जरी    – one with multiple flowering pods
अपेतराक्षसी  – which removes evils
भूतघ्नी         – which eradicates negativity
देवदुन्दुभिः    - Dundhubi is a synonym for Lord Vishnu
It is incredible to find so much of information about a medicine hidden in its names.
Latin name  - Ocimum sanctum Linn.
Family          - Labiatae
तुलसी कटुका तिक्ता हृद्योष्णा दाहपित्तकृत् !
                        दीपनी कुष्ठ कृछ्र अस्र पर्श्वरुक कफवातजित् !! भाव प्रकाश/ पुष्प वर्ग/६३
Primarily, holy basil is pungent in taste and it has bitter secondary taste. It means technically its potency should be hot in action. Due to its hot potency, Ocimum sanctum (OS) increases Pitta (Fire) and results in burning sensation. Especially to those already suffering from gastritis, they should avoid excessive use of the herb except when needed. Due to its property of being hot it is a drug of choice in diseases of Kapha and Vata origin like common cold, cough with expectoration, asthma, colic pain and so on. As per the synonyms Apetrakshasi and Bhootaghni, it suggests the role of this herb on devils. It has to be understood in right context. In ancient times devils were described as disruptive elements that possessed extraordinary qualities to create trouble in bodily society. They had evolved to remain invisible and create turbulence around. This is why they required special human beings with an insight to distinguish them and kill the evil. In fact, in my opinion sages meant to explain bacteria and other microorganisms that were invisible to naked eyes (Bhoot means the one beyond the physical elements –microorganism may fall in the category). Modern scientific understanding of the herb establishes the fact.
As per the review article by S. K. Gupta et al – Department of Pharmacology, AIIMS, New Delhi, India (Indian Journal of experimental biology/ vol. 40/ July 2002/ pp. 765-773), the aqueous leaf extract showed insecticidal and antibacterial activity against Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria. The ethanolic extract from Tulsi was demonstrated to be a better antiviral agent. Today, we have a devised radiotherapy against cancer, and in context to the ancient references it shall also be considered as Bhoota (invisible foreign invasion). Scientifically, we know today the Radioprotective, anticarcinogenic and antioxidant properties of Tulsi (P Uma Devi, Department of Radiobiology, KMC, Manipal; Indian Journal of experimental biology/ vol. 39/ March 2001). There is no doubt why altruistic sages named the herb Bhootaghni. Leaves of Tulsi can be used for local application on chronic infected wounds in paste form. It can be highly effective in those having diabetic foot. It is due to the fact that as per a recent study on mice, ethanolic OS leaf extract showed the efficacy in lowering the blood glucose levels substantially. In diabetic foot the dual efficacy of the single herb could be utilized to its maximum. For its optimum results, dry powder of Tulsi leaves can be taken empty stomach in the dosage of 3 – 4 gms with warm water.
As per Bhav Prakash, Tulsi promotes digestion. It especially works on Dhatuagni (Metabolic digestion and absorption mechanism). No wonder why it makes pancreas to work and helps in reducing blood sugar. As per traditional knowledge of healing, Tulsi is a very good remedy for Kushtha (leprosy). It is again to understand that as per Ayurveda any chronic skin infection with non-healing nature which results in damage of tissues is called as Kushtha (कुष्णाति वपुः). It is also very effective in chronic urinary tract infections. In cases of painful and burning micturition cold infusion prepared with Tulsi leaves could be very effective. It is a good blood purifier and an excellent remedy in circulatory disorders. As per the research paper above, Tulsi leaf powder in 1% of dosage to mice showed significant hypolipidaemic effect. It is no doubt that Tulsi remains a wonderful drug and probably that is why it has been regarded so much in ancient texts. Due to its multiple benefits and the ease of availability it became an Indian tradition to grow the herb in household.
OS leaves contain 0.7% volatile oil. This oil contains multiple chemical structures in it. This makes Tulsi to be very effective herb against worms, parasites, mosquitos and other microorganisms. In India it has been a tradition to grow this herb in front of the house and to light an earthen lamp with a cotton wick soaked in oil. It would be interesting to see the reaction. This light must be helping green leaves of Tulsi to emit some component of instable oil into the air thus removing mosquitos and moths from surrounding area although it needs to be validated and experimented. But, as far as my knowledge goes I haven’t seen mosquitos feeding around Tulsi. Indian tradition always had logic behind every action; unfortunately we do not have time to understand the wisdom but to follow rituals blind folded.
Further adding on to the properties of this amazing herb, Bhav Prakash explains its role on abdominal colic. Due to its hot potency and volatile oils in it, Tulsi becomes and obvious choice in spasmodic pains of abdomen. A hot infusion is prescribed in such cases. During the menstruation some of the females go through an excruciating pain in abdomen. It is due to aggravated Vata. Hot infusion made up of Tulsi leaves along with bishop seed relieves the pain by regulating Vata channels. Ayurveda recommends Tulsi in aggravated Kapha disorders like allergic cough, asthma, COPD, bronchitis. Volatile oil present in Tulsi removes congestion from the channels, helps in broncho dilatation and increases oxygenation. It is found to be very effective in allergic cold and viral fever conditions.
To enlist properties and uses of Tulsi is an exhaustive task. It is antibacterial, anti-allergic, antipyretic, analgesic, it reduces cholesterol levels, brings down increased blood sugar levels, strong antioxidant, adaptogenic, contains antiviral properties, radioprotective, possesses anticarcinogenic properties, aphrodisiac and don’t know what else. And if nothing at all, growing Tulsi in your garden does not harm at all; at least it could protect your house from deadly mosquitos. Ayurvedic wisdom says,
तदेव युक्तं भैषज्यं यत् आरोग्याय कल्पते !
               स चैव भिषजां श्रेष्ठो रोगेभ्योः यः प्रमोच्येत् !! च. सू. १/ १३५
The best medicine is the one that restores health and the physician who removes the fear of diseases is the paramount in his race.






















Thursday, October 3, 2013

Grapes – A food for your Blood

Blood is a liquid connective tissue which has three general functions- transportation, regulation, and protection. It has two major components: 1) blood plasma which is watery liquid that contains water, protein and other solutes like electrolytes, gases etc. and 2) formed elements – Platelets, WBCs, and RBCs.

Platelets occupy less than 1% of the formed elements. Platelets break off from the megakaryocytes in red bone marrow and then enter the blood circulation. In between 150,000 to 400,000 platelets are present in each µL of blood (Tortora). Platelets help to stop blood loss by forming platelet plug and have a short life span, between 5 to 9 days, while dead platelets are removed by spleen and liver.

Platelets essentially contribute towards the immunity of the body by periodical repair of the blood vessels and saving blood loss. Number of platelets becomes essential marker in cases of sever immune attack by extrinsic or intrinsic factors. In cases of Dengue, which is caused by Aedes aegypti there is a constant lapse in number of platelets which may result in internal hemorrhage resulting in potential life risk. Restoration of platelets can be achieved by incorporating dietary changes alone and Ayurveda can contribute essentially in saving lives. Routine consumables can be used judiciously in order to achieve medicinal effect and Ayurvedic life style is all about using food as a medicine.

Food, which help in nourishing our blood is described below with references of its properties and uses mentioned in traditional system of healing – Ayurveda.

द्राक्षा (Grapes)

द्राक्षा पक्वा सरा शीता चक्षुष्या बृहणि गुरुः I grapes

स्वादुपाकरसा स्वर्या तुवरा सृष्टमूत्रविट II

कोष्ठमारुत्कृद वृष्या कफपुष्टिरुचिप्रदा I

हन्ति तृष्णाज्वरश्वासवातवातास्रकामलाः II

कृछ्र अस्रपित्त संमोह दाह शोष मदात्ययान I

आमा स्वल्पगुणा गुर्वी सैवाम्ला रक्तपित्तकृत II

वृष्या स्याद् गोस्तनी द्राक्षा गुर्वी च कफपित्तनुत् I 

                                                             भाव प्रकाश/ फल वर्ग/ ११२- १३

Latin name – Vitis vinifera Linn.

Family – Vitaceae

Bhav Prakash says ripened grapes are naturally laxatives and cold in potency. It increases eye sight, heavy to digest and increases muscle mass in the body. Due to being naturally laxative and cold in potency it helps in removal of excessive pitta from the circulation.

Pitta, when increases by virtue of its hot and liquid qualities results in vidah (sensorial discomfort) which is commonly seen in Dengue fever, like burning of eyes, excessive thirst, aversion to food, itching of the skin and so on. Ayurveda suggests in order pacifying a specific dosha and its qualities, properties which are opposite to the nature of the vitiated dosha should be incorporated. Pitta shares a symbiotic relationship with metabolic factor blood, thus results in multiple disorders related to circulatory system. It is important to find out a drug which should have laxative effect (as it is a default treatment for Pitta) and also possesses cooling effect. Interestingly, Grape contains both the qualities and becomes an obvious choice of medicine where in blood is vitiated due to increase of Pitta.

Grapes, when completely formed are sweet in taste and clears voice. It can be effectively given to those suffering from hoarse voice. It also contains slight astringent taste and increases out flow of urine and stool. It creates bloating of abdomen. Grapes increase male sexual strength but may increase kapha. It induces strength in the body and enhances taste.

It removes excessive thirst. It is highly recommended to those who constantly complain of dry mouth. In such cases dry grapes (raisins) soaked overnight seems to be more appropriate. Ripened grapes which are sweet in taste should be given in fever as it reduces Vidaha which is integral symptom in Fever. Grapes especially are very effective in Asthma. As per Ayurveda, asthma can lead to degeneration of metabolic factors (Dhatu) and deterioration of metabolic factors can lead to various disorders related to malnutrition. In asthma, people generally suffer from anemia especially iron deficient. This is due to poor digestive capacity that metabolic factors cannot absorb heavy minerals from the food. It reduces the oxygen binding and further results in breathlessness on exertion and other symptoms. In such cases iron loading cannot be very good decision due to poor digestive state and in many cases it has been resulted in diarrhea. Grapes become a drug of choice in this case and Ayurveda specially recommend. It removes excess loading of pitta from the circulation being naturally purgative. It also nourishes Rakta Dhatu (Blood), induces strength and increases oxygen binding capacity of the blood cells thus helps in Asthma.

As per Bhav Prakash, seasoned grapes help to treat Arthritis. It is due to the chemical composition of the grapes. It is a rich source of all essential minerals and vitamins which are helpful in bone regeneration. It is a natural source of potassium (185 mg), calcium (11 mg), zinc (0.05 mg), phosphorus (13 mg), vitamin C (10.8 mg), B1 (0.092 mg), B2 (0.057 mg), B6 (0.110 mg), and E (0.700mg) per 100 grams(http://www.botanical-online.com/uvasangles.htm). These all are essential components of healthy bones and tissues. In early changes of osteoarthritis grapes could be used as a natural remedy (diabetic people should use soaked raisins). It is also recommended to those suffering from Gouty Arthritis and Jaundice. It is due to the principle of Pitta detoxification as per Ayurveda. Grapes are naturally diuretic (promotes urination), thus they are helpful in dysuria (painful and burning urination).

In Ayurveda, grapes are essentially recommended in Raktapitta which is generally compared to epistaxis (nasal bleed). It is important to understand that when Ayurveda discusses Raktapitta, it is not about one single disease but a syndrome with various representations which is essentially caused by vitiated Pitta (Fire) and Rakta (Blood). As mentioned before about symbiosis of Pitta and Rakta, whenever pitta gets vitiated especially due to the increase of its hot and liquid properties it results in increase of the blood volume. This increased heat has its own effect on the physiology of rakta (blood) and may result in destruction of essential components of the blood, especially those which help in continuous arterial repair – platelets. This is how raktapitta manifests as per Ayurveda. Due to the increased blood volume and thinning of the arterial walls because of vitiated Pitta especially in the areas where arteries/ capillaries are naturally weak sudden bleeding occurs due to any external/ internal factors like stress, strenuous exercise etc. When it bleeds per nasal it is called Urdhvag Raktapitta (epistaxis), while it per anal bleeding is called as Adhog Raktapitta. When it starts to bleed per cutaneous (through skin) it is named as Tiryak Raktapitta. Per cutaneous bleeds are seen in multiple conditions and generally arise from drastic loss of blood platelets. In dengue also when platelets see a sharp decline red blue rashes are seen on the skin. Grapes, not only removes excess pitta from the blood but also help in bone marrow rejuvenation due to its natural properties and increases platelet count when used as a medicine. It is a useful herbal medicine in all types of Raktapitta. It could be recommended in early stages of Dengue/ Yellow fever to avoid further complications of the deadly viral fever. It is advisable to have 10 – 15 number of fresh ripened grapes especially black grapes three times a day to have medicinal effect of the same. It may generate lose stools which is normal and part of the treatment only. Grapes are also recommended to those suffering from Delirium, burning sensations and mal nutrition. Ayurveda says that soaked raisin is a very effective remedy for post alcohol toxicity and chronic alcoholism.

This article intends to spread awareness about medicinal use of indigenous herbs and common foods available around us. One should use these remedies as medicine only and avoid repetitive, continuous, and excessive use of the same substance because,

योगादपि विषं तीक्ष्णं उत्तमं भेषजं भवेत् !

भेषजं चापि दुर्युक्तं तीक्ष्णं संपद्यते विषं !! च. सू. १/ १२७

With a judicious planning deadly poison could be used as an effective medicine, while a misuse of a lifesaving drug results in a deadly poison.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Curd – Let this food be your Medicine

CURD
 
दध्युष्णं दीपनं स्निग्धं कषायानुरसं गुरु
पाके अम्लं ग्राहि पित्तास्रशोथमेदः कफ़प्रदम्
मूत्रकृच्छ्रे प्रतिश्याये शीतगे विषमज्वरे
अतीसारे अरुचौ कार्श्ये शस्यते बलशुक्रकृत
                                          भाव प्रकाश
Curd is prepared by fermentation of milk with bacterial cultures consisting of a mixture of Streptococcus subsp. thermophilus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus (Ref. W. J. Lee & J. A. Lucey).
Due to its medicinal properties, curd or yogurt is widely used across the globe, and also becomes an essential part of the diet. Ayurveda, an opulent traditional culture through the time immortal evaluates everything through the scientific eye and establishes the principles of healthy living for generations to come. Indigenous pharmacopeia is very rich and references are found in form of Nighantu (Indian Materia Medica). Bhav Prakash Nighantu explains properties of the curd in detail and also throws light upon medicinal value of it. It is essential to understand that food remains an essential therapy in traditional medicine of India. Achrya Charak says, all the diseases are an outcome of poor absorption capacity of the system. Bringing out the properties of curd and its uses from the traditional books in view of facts and to remove the myths related to the consumption of the curd.
Properties of curd
It is hot in potency. Curd, due to fermentation process possesses hot potency. It is by virtue of change in chemical structure of the milk due to bacterial action. As it is evident that no chemical reaction can occur without the presence of heat, milk which is potentially cold by nature attains pitta property by virtue of the transformation of the chemical structure. Achrya Bhav Prakash says, curd helps in stimulating digestive fire. As per the basic principle of Ayurveda, sour taste is composed of fire and earth. The presence of fire in sour taste stimulates digestive fire, thus curd.
Curd is unctuous in nature and contains astringent sub taste. It is heavy to digest; having said that means that it should be consumed in small quantities in order to maintain a healthy digestive fire.
The final metabolic taste of the curd is sour (amla) as per Bhav Prakash which means it should have a tendency to increase Pitta due to high fire quotient. It has a tendency to create congestion and also binding in nature, this particular effect of the curd is seen in cases of diarrhea where in it helps to bind the stool. Due to its properties of being heavy and unctuous, curd tends to increase fat and may also result in water retention. This is why it is avoided in cases of diseases of kapha origin, specially obesity, cellulite and rheumatoid arthritis. Due to its hot potency and sour metabolic taste, curd tends to vitiate pitta and creates imbalance in blood metabolism resulting in certain skin diseases. Probably, that is the reason why Ayurvedic texts suggest avoiding curds in leukoderma and psoriasis kind of disorders of the skin.
It is specially recommended in Dysuria – a condition with painful micturition. One needs to understand that it specially refers to the condition associated with urinary tract infections or similar to that. In these conditions, ayurveda recommends a specific type of curd which is not fully formed and tasteless; it is called as Mandak (मन्दं दुग्धवत् अव्यक्त रसं). It is diuretic in nature and helps in cleansing of the bladder and urethra. It may result in epigastric burning if consumed in excess.
Curd is also recommended in common cold condition. In common cold after 3 days or so only curd should be advised. Due to its properties of increasing kapha, curd increases per nasal discharge, so once the cold is chronic and nasal discharge is scanty and creating congestion in the nostrils, curd consumption increases the discharge and works as a mucolytic agent. In these conditions completely formed curd having sweet taste should be prescribed.
As per Bhav Prakash, use of curd is beneficial in Visham Jwara (Pyrexia of unknown origin). It is equally beneficial in cases of aversion to food and indigestion. It works well in cases of altered bowel habits and also helps to maintain normal colonic flora being rich in probiotic bacteria. Ayurveda recommends it to those suffering from loss of weight and malnutrition. It induces strength and helps in spermatogenesis (production of sperms).
Rules of consumption
Ayurveda recommends that one should adhere to the rules of food consumption. It is essential to understand that due to complex chemical structures of certain consumables body requires optimum assimilation capacity.
न नक्तं दधि भुञ्जीत...
                                                      च. सू. ७/६१
As per Agnivesha in Charak Samhita one should never consume curd at night. Due to fermentation process curd by nature becomes very heavy to digest. It requires a good amount of metabolic activity in order to be digested thoroughly. Also, at the end of digestion curd increases Kapha and creates congestion in the channels which leads to poor lymphatic drainage. During the day when body is physically active it is easier to manage such congestion but at night when metabolic activity naturally slows down it may result in morning stiffness and water retention, thus leading to poor metabolic absorption (indigestion at cellular level). This is one another reason why curd has been contraindicated for people suffering with Rheumatoid arthritis or chronic indigestion. In order to maintain an optimum health one should never consume curd at night. Although, few other classical author believe that one can consume curd at night mixing it with other foods, but a critical analysis of the previous statement seems more appropriate and one should avoid consuming curd at night in all circumstances. It may generate generalized stiffness, weight gain, edema, puffiness of eyes, heaviness of the head etc.
Furthermore, permutations along with mode of consumption of curd with other foods have been mentioned by Ayurvedic texts as following.
When curd is consumed with ghee, it increases Kapha and pacifies Vata. It could be advised in cases where patient is having chronic cough with scanty mucous which is creating congestion. In such cases curd mixed with ghee would work as a mucolytic agent by virtue of increasing the quantity of Kapha helping in clearing the channels. But this combination may result in indigestion, so it should not be practiced continuously and used for curative values only.
Curd mixed with sugar is very effective in cases of gastritis. In people suffering with burning sensation of the stomach, sugar works as a catalyst to curd and generates cooling effect in curd thus relieving gastric burning. It is recommended to those suffering peptic ulcers and also effective in ulcerative colitis. Diabetic people should be careful using sugar and consume it with mint leaves (Pudina) instead, if required. Curd with sugar is also recommended to those suffering excessive thirst.
Curd, when it is consumed with green lentil clear soup (Mudga Yusha), pacifies vata and maintains pitta equilibrium. It can be used in Pain Abdomen associated with gaseous distention or bloating.
It becomes tastier to eat and produces minimum undue effects when consumed with Honey. And, when consumed with Indian Goose Berry (Amla), curd pacifies Pitta and relieves various skin problems generated by vitiated blood. It is a very good combination in those suffering skin sensitivities due to sun exposure like sun burn, rashes, boils and so on. Curd can also be consumed adding salt into it.
Winter (Hemant), Late winter (Shishir), and Monsoon/ Rainy (Varsha) are the best seasons to consume curd, while in Autumn (Sharad), Summer (Greeshma), and Spring (Vasant) either it should be consumed in moderation or completely avoided in order to maintain an optimum digestive fire.
Ayurvedic wisdom says,
अहाराचार चेष्टासु सुखार्थी प्रेत्य चेह च I परम् प्रयत्नमातिष्ठेद बुद्धिमान् हितसेवने I
                                                                                                   च. सू. ७/ ६०
The one, who seeks best in this life and salvation later, should constantly and continuously engage him/ herself in healthier practices of food and social conduct.




Friday, August 10, 2012

Ayurveda Herbs - Cumin

Cumin

(शुक्ल जीरक/ कृष्ण जीरक/ कालिका)Cuminum_cyminum

 

जीरकत्रितयम रुक्षम कटूष्णम दीपनम लघु ।

संग्राही पित्तलम मेध्यम गर्भाष्यविशुधिकृत ॥

ज्वरघ्नम पाचनम वृषयम बल्यम रुच्यम कफापहम ।

चक्षुष्यम पवनाधमान गुल्म छर्दी अतिसार हृत ॥

भा. प्र.

Cumin is one of the most common and known spice. It is used in almost all the dishes in Indian traditional culinary system. As per Bhav Prakash Nighantu (Ayurvedic Pharmacogonsy), jeerak has three types as following:

1. White

2. Black

3. Kalika

In above quotation from the text states that all three types of cumin behold almost similar properties.

Latin name:

Cumin seed (white) – Cuminum cyminum

Black caraway seeds (Black) – Carum carvi

Nigella seeds (Kalika/ Black cumin) – Nigella sativa

All three varieties of Cumin are dry in nature and pungent in taste. They are hot in potency and stimulate digestive fire. Cumin is light to digest and helps in containing the stools, so it can be given in people suffering with irregular lose bowel habit. It has a special effect on brain and strengthens the memory. In my opinion it could be an effective herb in cases of Irritable Bowel Syndrome where in patient passes frequent lose motions along with stress. Cumin seeds are known for its properties of uterine cleansing. It is an effective herb in cases of dysmenorrhoea. Ladies suffering with painful menstruations can take a hot infusion during their menstruation. It helps in alleviating Vata, regulates menstruation, and cleanses uterus as well. Pregnant women should avoid taking cumin in large quantities due to its vasodilatation effect and heating property. It also helps in reducing fever by generating sweat.

As per ancient wisdom of life, cumin seeds promote digestion and also enhance sexual vigour. It is a stimulant, thus works on erectile dysfunctions. Cumin also increases strength. It could be because of its property of stimulating metabolic digestion which helps in a thorough absorption of micro nutrients from the food. It also enhances taste of the food and alleviates Kapha. Cumin helps in lacto genesis so it could be given in small quantity to lactating mothers.

Bhav Prakash says, cumin helps in promoting eye sight, and removes gaseous bloating of abdomen, vomiting, and diarrhoea. It is also a very good diuretic and could effectively be used in urinary tract problems.Cumin seeds contain 2.4 – 4% volatile oil which contains cumin aldehyde which could be converted in thymol. It can be used as antiseptic. It is one of the safe and effective remedy in infants.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ayurveda Herbs

The Bishop’s Weed (अजवायन /यवानी)

Latin Name – ajwain

Carum copticum (B & H)

Trachyspermum ammi (Linn)

Ptychotis ajowan (DC)

 

यवानी पाचनी रुच्या तीक्ष्णोष्णा कटुका लघु: ।

दीपनी च तथा तिक्ता पित्तला शुक्रशूलहृत ॥

वातश्लेष्मोदरानाह गुल्म प्लीहक्रिमिप्रणुत ।

भा. प्र.

Bishop’s weed or Ajwain is one of the most famous herbs among folklore practices. Although it is not very commonly used among spices but it has been herbs of choice in house hold remedies. Ajwain is carminative, and enhances taste of the food. It is pungent bitter in taste and sharp in action. Ajwain is hot in potency and increases Pitta. Metabolic taste of Ajwain is bitter and it is light to digest. It stimulates digestive juices and promotes the gastric absorption. Due to hot in potency, if consumed in excess quantities or for a prolonged duration it may result in gastric burning. Repetitive consumption in over doses may have adverse effect in spermatogenesis due to contradictory properties of Ajwain and sperms.

Ajwain alleviates Vata and Kapha and it is specifically prescribed in colic pain due to gaseous distention. It contains volatile oil which is constituted 40 – 50 % of thymol. As the traditional wisdom says, “it helps in removing worms (Krimi pranut).” Thymol is known for its anthelminthic properties. And famously used for hookworm treatments. Thymol is also known to have certain antimicrobial properties. Probably that is the reason why Ajwain is so potent in cases of gaseous bloating of abdomen and dysentery. It could be used in amoebic dysentries. As per Ayurveda, Ajwain also helps in splenic disorders. It is also believed that thymol is effective in removing certain fungal infections of finger nails and toe nails. It would be advisable for people suffering with fungal infections of nails to wash the nails with decoction prepared with Ajwain seeds for two to three times a day.

Due to its strong odor it is used in removing foul smell from many pungent oils especially of castor oil. In chronic dry cough it can be used effectively to remove Kapha. In cases of asthma (shwas) Ajwain powder in prescribed dose is given with hot water. Powder of Ajwain mixed with Epsom salt is known to cure chronic indigestion in folklore practices, and factually it is effective. Although people suffering with hypertension should be careful about the dose as it contains salt.

In pain abdomen, rheumatic pains and joint pains poultice is prepared and used for fomentation of local area to eradicate pain. Pitta Prakriti people should refrain from excessive internal consumption of Ajwain as it may aggravate thermodynamics of the body.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Ayurveda Herbs

Black pepper (मरिच)Piper

Latin Name – Piper nigrum

मरिच कटुकम तीक्ष्णम दीपनम कफवातजित ।

उष्णम पित्तकरम रुक्षम श्वास शूल क्रीमीन्हरेत ॥

तत आर्द्रम मधुरम पाके नातिउष्णम कटुकम गुरु ।

किंचित तीक्ष्णगुनम श्लेष्मप्रसेकी स्यादपित्तलम ॥

                            भा प्र

Black pepper probably is the one of the most used spice all across the globe. It is widely used to enhance the taste and also to provide a flavor to the food. Ancient wisdom of Ayurveda says, it is pungent in taste, sharp in action and stimulates digestive fire. It is known for its potential action over Kapha and Vata. Black pepper, due to its property of being hot, helps in liquefying the Kapha. Due to this property it becomes a drug of choice in cases of chronic cough wherein sputum is very sticky and creates congestion in respiratory system. That is the reason why in cases of Bronchial Asthma fine black pepper powder is advised for internal use. It immediately helps in broncho dilation due to stimulation effect and mobilizes the phlegm from bronchioles. It contains an alkaloid called piperin which makes this herb an excellent catalyst.

Black pepper increases digestive juices and stimulates digestive fire. In cases of gaseous bloating and chronic indigestion it is considered to be an effective medicine. It is hot in potency, so should be avoided by Pitta personalities and people with skin sensitivities. It is dry in nature, so effective in obesity for proper fat metabolism and may increase cellular activity.

Black pepper is traditionally known for its anthelminthic effect for ages. It is given in very small doses along with green tomato to kids in folklore practices. It can also be used in cases of tooth ache in form of decoction for gargles.

High doses of this herb may result in abdominal pain, and urethral burning. Excessive use of black pepper in food as spice and flavor may result in stomach burning and gastritis. So it should be consumed in low quantity under the physician supervision only.

Metabolic taste of tender or green form of the pepper is sweet. It is not so hot in potency and heavy to digest. It is good mucolytic and also increases pitta. One pinch of the black pepper powder along with one tea spoon of honey at night helps in relieving the respiratory congestion and as per traditional believe also enhances the immunity of respiratory tract.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ayurveda Herbs

Traditional system of medicines resorts that primary aim of this bodily world is to take care of the well- being. Prime state of the health is the key to success in all endeavours of life. Ayurveda resides in our life at every step knowingly or unknowingly. We are bringing Ayurveda facts from the kitchen. We use these herbs in and out and probably in our all meals.

Ginger (अदरक)ginger

Latin Name – Zingiber officinale

आर्द्रीका भेदिनी गुर्वी तीक्षणोष्णा दीपनी मता।
कटुका मधुरा पाके रूक्षा वातकफापहा ।
भोजनाग्रे सदा पथ्यम लवणार्द्रक भक्षणम ।
अग्नि संदीपनम रुच्यम जिव्हा कंठ विशोधनम ।
भा प्र
Ginger is one of the most common spice used in Indian kitchen and also world over. It breaks down stools due to its property of sharpness. The herb is predominant of fire quotient thus helps in promoting digestive fire. Due to its hot potency it also ignites digestive fire and becomes a very good medicine in cases of indigestion. In chronic cases of indigestion, it is advisable to have a small piece of ginger along with hot water. It is given for internal use in form of hot infusion in cases of rheumatoid arthritis. It is pungent in taste and mitigates Vata due to hot property while it helps in liquefaction of mucous (Kapha) and drains out the lymph. In cases of pain and congestion of throat, one can use hot infusion of Ginger for gargles. It reduces pain and removes Kapha.

In cases of common cold and cough where in mucous is not thoroughly drained, Ginger along with honey is given to produce mucolytic effect. Ginger contains zingirol and 1- 3 % of volatile oils. Dry form of ginger is an effective herb for abdominal colic. Essentially it is given in form of hot infusion. Dry ginger powder is considered very effective in Hypovolemic shock to restore peripheral blood circulation. It is rubbed constantly on hands and feet to restore thermodynamics.

Ginger is hot in potency, so it should be cautiously used in Pitta personality types and also Pitta disorders. It aggravates Pitta, so it should be avoided in cases of Gastritis as it may result in gastric irritation and symptom like epigastric burning may increase. Hypertensive patients should use ginger in moderate quantity only.
Ancient wisdom of life says, “consumption of a small piece of ginger smeared with salt before meal is a healthy practice. It stimulates digestive fire, increases taste, and clears tongue and throat.”

My suggestion, people suffering with hypertension should avoid smearing it with salt. Instead Epsom salt can be used.

Disclaimair

Views and articles published on this blog are the sole property of the author. And unauthorized use is prohibited in terms of printing, publishing, reproducing, presenting without prior permission. Articles are meant for the purpose of general awareness and for further advice and utility of Ayurveda treatments, consult your Ayurveda physician.

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