Nature’s Medicine for Wellness : The word Ayurveda literally means the knowledge of life. Ayurveda is nature’s medicine, approaching health from the whole person (mind, body and spirit) perspective. By understanding how nature works, we can apply the
May 02, 2012 12:53PM
By Dr. Shekhar Annambhotla
The word Ayurveda literally means the knowledge of life. Ayurveda is nature’s medicine, approaching health from the whole person (mind, body and spirit) perspective. By understanding how nature works, we can apply the principles of Ayurveda to all aspects of life. We can know how each choice, action and interaction will impact our thoughts, emotions, physical body and consciousness.
Ayurvedic consultants seek to understand the root cause(s) of an imbalance in order to help alleviate the associated symptoms of that underlying condition or illness and to understand what drives each individual’s health and happiness in order to maximize their natural healing potential. Ayurveda recognizes that we are all unique individuals and that optimal health and well-being means honoring our own unique needs.
In its highest expression, Ayurveda is the ultimate form of preventive medicine. Signs and symptoms about what is going on within us are always present, and when we know how to listen we can make corrections through proper diet and lifestyle choices. Living an ayurvedic lifestyle encourages us to take action and responsibility for our own health.
Ayurveda is many things. In addition to teaching individuals how to make the right choices in diet and lifestyle, it reduces toxins that contribute to disease; helps alleviate stress, fatigue and tension; strengthens the immune system by creating a strong digestive fire and flushing out toxins; promotes self-inquiry and enhances self-awareness through the development of consciousness; supports a well-balanced life; works harmoniously with the practices of yoga, meditation and mindful living; and uses the body’s own natural intelligence to facilitate healing.
The ancient science of Ayurveda explains that we’re made up of three different body types that correspond to our physical and personality traits, known as doshas. These are vata, pitta and kapha—each of which represents two of the five universal elements. We all contain varying proportions of each dosha, generally one or two in dominance. Our naturally dominant dosha does not signify imbalance, but rather how—or who—we are in our most healthy, balanced state.
Mind, body, health and harmony may be challenged when any of the doshas become aggravated or imbalanced. Identifying our predominant dosha and potential imbalances—which an ayurvedic practitioner can assist with—is the secret to keeping balance in check.
Dosha types typically display varying characteristics. For example, vata is naturally creative, sensitive, has a light build, dry skin and prefers warm, humid climates. Pitta has a medium, muscular build, is productive, hard working, irritable, has fair skin and prefers cold climates, while kapha has a heavy build, oily skin, prefers dry climates and is stable, methodical and easy going. Equal proportions of two, or even all doshas is possible.
Dining for Doshic Imbalance
Regardless of body type, imbalances of any dosha can occur in response to lifestyle factors. Ayurveda repairs imbalances predominantly with herbal remedies, warm oil massages, yoga and lifestyle changes—particularly diet.
The Ayurvedic diet identifies six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. Each taste has different energetic effects on the mind and body—either aggravating or pacifying particular doshas.
When vata is aggravated, your system becomes irregular and depleted, which weakens organs and tissues. Additional signs of vata imbalance include constipation, dehydration, anxiousness, craving warmth, frequent viral infections, low immunity, weight loss and disturbed sleep.
Excessive consumption of bitter, astringent and spicy tastes contribute to vata imbalance. Pacifying vata can be accomplished with sweet, sour and salty tastes and warm, moist, easily digestible foods such as boiled or steamed starchy vegetables; ripe fruits; warm milk; soupy grains like rice and wheat; mild spices including cumin, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, coriander, salt, cloves, mustard and black pepper; and chamomile, fennel, ginger, licorice and lemon tea.
When pitta is unbalanced, you can become aggressive and irritable. Internalizing that fire can feed your self-criticism, resulting in perfectionism. Other signs of imbalance are: diarrhea, over-heating and profuse sweating, colorful, violent dreams, excessive hunger, frequent bacterial infections and heartburn.
Pitta imbalance may result from excessive alcohol or eating hot, spicy, oily, fried, salty or fermented foods. Rebalancing can occur with sweet, bitter and astringent tastes and cool, heavy foods including boiled or steamed vegetables; sweet fruits; moderate amounts of dairy; soupy grains; mild, cooling spices like coriander, cloves, turmeric, cumin, curry leaves and mint; and fennel, chamomile, peppermint, spearmint, licorice and red clover teas.
When kapha is unbalanced, there is a tendency for mental and physical stagnation. Stimulation of all kinds helps to avoid that heavy, lethargic feeling. Sluggish bowels, procrastination, frequent candida, water retention, weight gain and craving warmth and spicy foods are more signs of imbalance.
Excessive food consumption can contribute to kapha imbalance. Recommendations include a light, warm, low-fat diet of pungent, bitter and astringent tastes like boiled or steamed vegetables; ripe fruits; fat-free buttermilk; grains such as corn, millet, rye and more; honey instead of sugar; strong spices like pepper, paprika, salt, garlic, basil, etc.; and teas such as cinnamon, fenugreek, peppermint and raspberry.
In the wise world of Ayurveda, you really are what you eat, so discover and dine for your dosha to restore the health of your hips, head and heart.
The above is for informational purposes only. Consult a qualified health practitioner to treat any health condition. For more information on training programs, treatments, cooking classes and more, call 484-347-6110, email [email protected] or visit Ojas.us.