Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pratishyaya - Common Cold in Ayurveda

In the modern day world, we don’t have time for anything that can slow our race to achieve our set goals. A widespread ailment that affects us all, adult and child, is common cold. Generally, it happens to each individual, depending on their level of immunity, at least once or twice a year.Basically, common cold is a viral infection that attacks the respiratory system of an individual. These viruses can be contagious and can come from any form of pollutants that our prevalent in our modern world. Depending on which part of the respiratory system the virus attacks, cold can be divided into three different categories:
  • Common cold which primarily attacks the nasal passage
  • Pharyngitis which attacks the throat and 
  •  Sinusitis which attacks the sinuses
All of the above mentioned forms have some common symptoms which are a response of the individual’s immune system to the infection. These symptoms include cough, sore throat, runny nose or congestion in the nasal passage, fever in some cases, general body ache, head ache and/or fatigue.
In Ayurvedic theory, cold is an ailment which is caused by the vitiation of Kapha which is the dosha representing water. This vitiation of Kapha can be caused due to the exposure to cold/humid conditions.
Another reason of cold, which is quite prevalent in our lifestyle today, is related to an individual’s digestion. Today, the types of foods that we eat can cause our digestive system to become weak or irregular. This weakness/irregularity of the digestive system leads to the food being left indigested in the intestines leading to the accumulation of toxins, also known as Ama in Ayurveda. This Ama, when it reaches the respiratory system can be the cause of the three forms of cold mentioned above.
As cold is a contagious disease, which can be either airborne or contracted through direct contact with an infected person, a common precaution is for this ailment is regular washing of hands, especially, before eating. Other precautions include covering of the nose when going out in a polluted or cold environment and taking vitamin C and zinc supplementation in the diet.
Ayurveda also offers various remedies and treatments which can be helpful in the curing of common cold and sinusitis. It is important from Ayurveda’s perspective that one should take appropriate corrective measures in diet at the time of changing season. Drinking hot water is one of the corrective measures which produce a great deal of correction. It helps to digest the Ama (toxin) and clears the congestion in the channels. It also helps to liquefy the Kapha dosha and releases the respiratory channels. Ayurveda recommends that one should avoid food products which are heavy to digest and also are of cold in nature. Curd, rice, ice creams, banana etc. are the few such food products to be mentioned. Inhalation of steam is highly recommended at the time of exposure to contagious media. It helps to stop the progression of the disease. One spoon of honey with few drops of ginger juice at night is a home remedy which helps to reduce congestion and promotes per nasal discharge. Black pepper also helps in building immunity of the respiratory tract.
Recurrence of common cold and repetitive consumption of unwholesome food items can result in chronic sinusitis or rhinitis. It may result in partial or complete loss of olfaction, if not treated. Ayurveda Panchakarma treatments can help in eradicating these problems from the root, and also helps in building immunity against such contagious diseases. Seek the help of your Ayurvedic Physician to know more about the Panchakarma treatments and healthy life style. Nature is the best medicine and a healthy life style is the key to live a fulfilled life.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Balanced eating - A healthy way of Living

Ayurveda, a science of life considers the health as a primary aim of life. To fulfill the four basic purposes of life which are Dharma (the duty) Artha (material gain) Kaam (to fulfill desires) and Moksha (Salvation), health is an essential tool. Without a sound state of health none of such purposes could be solved. For that matter, even any other purpose could not be fulfilled, if any. Physical body has been considered as a building which stands erect on a tripod of three essential commodities. Ahaara (food), Nidra (sleep), and Bramcharaya (celibacy) are these three pillars of life. 
It is important to understand the sequence in which these three pillars have been mentioned. Ayurveda asserts a great deal of importance to the food as one of the most essential contributes to the health. It is sad that we do not pay any thought before eating and use our food as an entertaining item of the life. Acharaya Charaka says, “Matraashi Syaat.” It means that one should eat in appropriate quantity. Though, it is difficult to exactly quantify the food in general because individual requirement remains different, however one needs to realize his/ her own need. Contrary to the general belief of eating specified number of calories, quantity of food is directly proportionate to the physical exertion of an individual.
Consumption of food depends upon multiple factors like, 
  • Time of consumption 
  • Quality of food 
  • Type of the food 
  • Processing of the food 
  • Combinations of the food 
  • Sequence of eating 
  • Age and type of physical exertion of the consumer 
  • Season
Coming back to the point of Matra (quantity) of the food, Acharaya Charaka says, “Ahaar Matra punah Agnibala apekshani.” It means, quantity of the food which should be consumed by an individual should depend upon the state of his/her digestion. Quantity of the food that digests properly in stipulated time without harming the constitution of an individual should be considered as an appropriate dosage of the food. 

Ahara Matra (quantity of the food) also depends upon the quality of the food to be consumed. Generally food items could be divided in two groups Guru (heavy to digest), and Laghu (light to digest). Guru Ahara could be defined as the food item which takes longer time to digest even if consumed in a lesser quantity. For example red meat, pork, fermented food products, rice, black lentils etc. While Laghu Ahara could be defined as food which is easy to digest and does not harm digestive fire even if consumed in large quantities. Relevant examples of it could be Moong Daal (green lentils), pop corns, brown rice etc.

The idea of understanding this concept is that one should consume heavier food items in a lesser quantity. Because being predominant of earth and water quotient they tend to increase doshas in the body. While lighter food items though gets digested easily, but predominance of fire and air elements in them may increase Vata and Pitta dosha. Ayurveda recommends that both of the qualities should be consumed in moderate quantity in order to strike equilibrium among the trinity of the biological humors. 

“The one who consumes food in appropriate quantity enjoys a sound health, well nourished metabolic factors, good complexion, contentment, and long life,” said Acharaya Charaka. Food consumed in proper dosage becomes an absolute remedy to the health.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ayurveda speaks - watch your Clock

Ayurveda, an ocean of never ending wisdom states that one has to plunge deeper to get precious pearls out of it. One can never understand the essence of the science by fragmentary understanding of the matter. It is a life of science, which is based upon self experiences and strong observations. Ayurveda theory is based upon five basic elements of cosmic evolution which are Ether (Akash), Air (Vayu), Fire (Teja), Water (Jala), and Earth (Prithvi). These five elements join each other in different permutations and combinations to evolve three biological forces called as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. They are the trinity of biological humors that regulate our body when in equilibrium, and also result in diseases when get vitiated.
Biological humors coexist in the body in such a fashion that they do not hinder each other’s functions and simultaneously control each other in order to perform desired physical and physiological functions. Being primary constitutive factors of the body, they are directly influenced by our conscious or subconscious actions. Having said that means even a smallest change in our life style has an impact over the positioning of these Doshas. Trinity of Doshas also gets influenced by time and predominate each other at different parts of the day and night. This natural fluctuation of Doshas maintains our health and regulates our physiological routine. Ayurveda explain it as Natural Biological clock.
If we divide 24 hours in day and night, individual dosha has four hours of predominating cycle. Each dosha increases for four hours during the day cycle and repeats the same during night. This cycle is directly proportionate to the physiological performance of the body. For a better understanding, this clock could be understood as,
In a Day cycle:
  • From 6 am to 10 am Kapha predominates
  • From 10 am to 2 pm Pitta predominates
  • From 2pm to 6 pm Vata predominates
In a Night cycle:
  • From 6 pm to 10 pm Kapha predominates
  • From 10 pm to 2 am Pitta predominates
  • From 2 am to 6 am Vata predominates
One needs to have a fair understanding of this biological clock of the body to regulate the daily routine and maintain life style accordingly. For example, at night cycle Kapha predominates between 6 am to 10 pm. Kapha or adhesive force of the body is also responsible for inducing sleep. Ancient wisdom recommends sleeping during this Kapha predominant phase in order to experience a peaceful sleep. Once this time is elapsed, follows the predominance of Pitta phase. Pitta also depicts enlightenment, awareness which also suppresses the natural urge of sleeping. It makes the mind alert again, even if you are physically sleeping or feeling sleepy.
Understanding your biological clock can help you to deal with minor daily niggles with ease and helps to maintain a disease free life. It is just a walk towards the general principles of life to live in harmony with your inner peace. Ayurveda suggests that one should constantly engage in learning new things, because “the true knowledge is a power, rightly said.”


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