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.


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