monica's blog

Karma and kleshas in Ayurveda

Four Types of Ayus (Life) and Three Karmik Kleshas (Three fold miseries)
By Nandita Gaur, Block 1 Student

Om Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya |
Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya |
Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

A Sanskrit shloka which means

Om, Lead us from Unreality (of Transitory Existence) to the Reality (of the Eternal Self),
Lead us from the Darkness (of Ignorance) to the Light (of Spiritual Knowledge),
Lead us from the Fear of Death to the Knowledge of Immortality.
Om Peace, Peace, Peace.

This shloka sums it all. Each and every word points to the life that we, as humans should lead. All these words have much deeper meaning than it appears at the surface.

As of now, let’s not talk about the big words or words with deeper meaning but even smaller words like “us” “from” “to” “the”. For example in this prayer they use the word “us”, “lead us” therefore it is not for one individual but it is directed towards the whole mankind, whole society we live in and that is what “Hit-ayu” is; a life with righteous living, truthfulness, living in harmony with nature.

As a result of partial darkness or insufficient spiritual knowledge we are digressing from our real path. Instead to living and aiming to live hit-ayu we are leaning more towards Sukh-ayu; a life with good health, sound body and mind, life with comforts and partial consideration towards nature. There is no harm in living such life but it is slightly self-centered. One just considers self and “I” becomes important aspect of life.

I feel sorry for some unfortunate human forms that are in complete darkness. They might be literate but not educated. What Mark Twain said holds true here, “Never let school interfere your education” There are people who forget their real goal in life. They lead a life of Ahit-ayu; life that is completely selfish, there is no consideration for other life forms or environment. The sad part is that these people don’t even realize that there is something missing.

People who live Sukh-ayu or sometimes ahit-ayu have the choice to change and indulge in hit-ayu but there are some people who are forced to live Dukh-ayu. Opposite of Sukh-ayu is dukh-ayu. It is a life in which people are disturbed on mental and physical levels. It is the result of negative karma that has collected on them over lives. They don’t have a choice but to lead that miserable life without having slightest hint of what action resulted in such loss or pain.

This leads me to think about actions. Our actions decide our course life, so if we live hit-ayu we accumulate good karma and vice versa.

Karma is ones action, which produces good or bad results as per their actions. According to Ayurveda karmic balance is important for ones health and wellness. There are three-fold miseries or sufferings that we as humans have to go through.

1. Adhibhuatika;

These are the result of our material life like money, relations etc.

2. Adhidaivika;

These are the result of the things that are out of our control like floods, earth quakes, Tsunami etc.
3. Adhyatamika;

These are the result of lack of our spiritual enlightenment, absence of self-realization and our ignorance. Sage Patanjali enumerates some miseries in his yoga sutra that are adhyatamika in nature;
Ignorance (avidya) Ego (asmita) Attachment to Pleasure (raga) Aversion to Pain (dvesa) and Fear of Death (abhinivesah)
The miseries that are not in my control I am not going to think about them but ones that are adhyatamika in nature, I plan to take them up one at a time. Having this knowledge about four types of life and our karmic kleshas enforces me to be more vigilant about my actions and that will result in leading more wholesome life

History of Ayurveda

The History and Mythology of Ayurveda
By:Alexis A. Arredondo, Block 1 Student

The origins of Ayurveda are rich in mythology. As a practitioner of the spiritual path, I feel that the word mythology may carry some skeptical connotations. For the purposes of this blog I would like to refer to “mythology” as spiritual origins. What drew me most to this subject was its rather quick overview and its minimal attention to detail in most texts.

We are aware of the Briha Trayi, the big three ancient texts of Ayurveda: Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita & Ashtanga Hridaya. However, we are not truly aware of exactly how and when they were written The third text,Ashtanga Hridaya, has no clear origin story as well. Where did these sacred texts come from and what is their source?

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Brahma is the Hindu God of creation. Brahma has four faces, each one representing the four Vedas. The Vedas are written works of ancient india that date around 1500-1200BCE. The Atharva Veda, the book of spells and herbs, was the first text to mention Ayurvedic origins. This is where the source of Ayurveda begins but let us continue from the path of Brahma. Bramha created Ayurveda and passed this knowledge down to his son Daksha, a Prajapati or deity that presides over procreation. Daksha then taught this knowledge to the Ashvins (Ashwini Kumaras), two vedic twin brother Gods that would become the celestial physicians. Not only did this make them doctors to the Gods, but this made them Devas of Ayurveda. The Ashvins are mentioned in the Rig Veda and other sacred texts such as the Mahabharata and the Puranas. Indra, leader of Devas, was then taught Ayurveda by the divine twins.

It is from this point that we begin to see the knowledge of Ayurveda being passed down from the Gods to the living sages, however, this part of Ayurvedic history is also riddled in spiritual origin. The Mahabharata tells the story of an Avatar of Vishnu named Dhanvantari who “emerged from the Milky Ocean while it was being churned for Amrita (nectar).” After his emergence, Vishnu appeared before him and told him that he would have two incarnations. In his second emergence, Dhanvantari would “help the living beings on earth” because “uncommon disease is going to become a common feature” and he must “segregate Ayurveda, the health science, into eight broad categories for an easy applicability.” Vishnu then said that “Brahma thought of all these things beforehand” and facilitated Dhanvantari’s emergence, which could explain the earlier progression of Ayurveda down the path of the Gods. The story continues with a barren king of Kashi, who meditated upon the the God Dhanvantari so that he may bring him a son.

Dhanvantari was so pleased that he granted the king any favor to which the king replied “Oh God, if you are so pleased, then become a reputed son of mine.” Dhanvantari granted his wish and was reborn Divodasa Dhanvantari, future king of Kashi.

According to the Vedas, the Saptarishis were favored and protected by the Gods. Amongst these seven sages were two known Ayurvedic founders; Bharadwaj and Kashyapa. According to the Charaka Samhita, these are the same rishis of the Vedas who went to the Himalayan mountains to attain the knowledge of Ayurveda. The Atharva Veda does mention a council of rishis assembled with Indra as noted in the following verse:

“Let me receive the brilliance
and the wisdom of those seated here together;
and among these people assembled here
may me the most illustrious, Indra!”
-Atharva Veda (7.12.3)

They may indeed have been part of this council, which explains where Kashyapa learned the ways of Ayurveda, however I offer another theory. Kashyapa was a “wish born” son (or in some scriptures, grandson) of Brahma. He was also married to the thirteen daughters of Daksha, the deity of procreation. Scriptures state that Kashyapa had many children, some of them Devas and Avatars. Therefore, Kashyapa has a link to the first two Gods of Ayurvedic knowledge, possibly even the Ashvins as they were the celestial physicians. This is all speculation but Kashyapa would eventually write the Kashyapa Samhita, a collection of Ayurvedic pediatrics, gynecology and obstetrics.

Bharadwaj himself attained the knowledge of Ayurveda from Indra, when he performed rigorous penance to learn the knowledge of the Vedas. Indra told Bharadwaj that he already knew more vedic knowledge than the Devas themselves, and told him to pray to Shiva for blessings. After blessings were bestowed upon him by Shiva, Bharadwaj was approached by two kings to help aid in a battle against the Vaarshika demons. One of those kings was Divodasa Dhanvantari. According to the Mahabharata, Dhanvantari would learn the ways of Ayurveda from Bharadwaj as well as fulfill Brahma and Vishnu’s wishes to segregate Ayurveda into the eight branches we have today.

Dhanvantari is now known as the the Divine Father of Ayurveda while Bharadwaj became known as the human Father of Ayurveda.

Now we can see the parts the Gods had to play in order for the knowledge of Brahma to be passed from the Heavens to the Earth. Let us explore how this knowledge was formed into written word. We have some origins on the three Founders of Ayurveda; Dhanvantari, Bharadwaj and Kashyapa. Kashyapa’s origins seem to end here with the Kashyapa Samhita being written around 6th century BC. Dhanvantari and Bharadwaj’s teachings would eventually be divided into two schools; Dhanvantari School of Surgery (9-6th century BC) and Atreya School of Physicians-“Vaidyas” (8-6th century BC). Atreya was a student of Bharadwaj and founded the school of Vaidyas. According to the Charaka Samhita, Atreya’s six disciples were asked to compose a written work and Agnivesha wrote the best one. These writings and teachings were composed into a text entitled the Agnivesha tantra.

This is where the history becomes obscure as legend states that the Agnivesha Tantra was lost. Acharya Charak is said to have found the tantra in 1st century AD, but other resources say it was simply revised by him. The spiritual origin states that Charak found the Agnivesha Tantra incomplete, with 40 chapters missing.

Charak then went into deep meditation and Lord Shiva appeared to him, revealing the missing chapters so that Charak could complete the work. This spiritual aspect could also be supported by the blessings of Shiva that were received by Bharadwaj himself, however there is no way to no for certain that the chapters were indeed lost. Charak completed the Charaka Samhita in the 1st century AD and it would become one of the Briha Trayi currently referenced in Ayurveda today. Sushrut was a disciple and surgeon of Dhanvantari. Sushrut wrote down the teachings of surgery in Sushruta Samhita, the second of the Briha Trayi, around the 5-4th century BC. Vaghbata was a disciple of Charak and studied the teachings of the Sushruta Samhita (possibly even the Kashyapa Samhita).

In 8th century AD, Vaghbata would write a collection of his works into the Ashtanga Hridaya. In essence, this work borrows from the first classic texts and would eventually find its place amongst them as the third of the Briha Trayi.

In conclusion, through further research into the spiritual origins and history of Ayurveda, we are able to see a greater influence of the Gods as well as a closer connection to the rishis of Ayurveda and their influence on the Briha Trayi. There is a basic tree graph showing a simple linear path of the origins and history of Ayurveda. I can’t help feel that this graph could be updated as the influence of the Gods and the influence of the rishi’s teachings are anything but linear. After my research I conclude that the graph should be similar to this:

REFERENCES:

Books/Articles

Panda, H; Handbook On Ayurvedic Medicines With Formulae, Processes And Their Uses,
2004, p10 ISBN 978-81-86623-63-3

Sadashiva Tirtha, S; The Ayurveda Encyclopedia: Natural Secrets to Healing, Prevention, & Longevity, 1996 p3,4,5 ISBN 978-81-319-03094

Dash, R.K.S.B; Caraka Samhita 2002 p17,18,23,24 ISBN 81-7080-012-9

Srikantha Arunachala, Treatise on Ayurveda Vijitha Yapa Publications, p. 3

Meulenbeld, G. Jan (1999–2002). History of Indian Medical Literature IA. Groningen: Egbert Forsten.

Web Sources

Atharva Veda Sri Aurobindo Kapali Shastry Institutue of Vedic Culture
http://libraryofyoga.com/bitstream/123456789/1065/2/Atharva_Veda.pdf

Rahmani, R (2008) Sages of India, Retrieved from:
https://sagesofindia.wordpress.com/about/

Mahabarata http://mahabharata-resources.org/harivamsa/hv_1_29.html

“Brahma” - Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. 2015-04-19.

Karma-of-food

Spiritual and Karmic effect of Food

By: Alexis A. Arredondo, Block 1 Student

“You are what you eat” is a common phrase that we often hear when it comes to food. This may simply mean that if you eat fatty foods you will gain weight, but it can also have an alternative meaning. In Ayurveda, we learn that everything we eat has a spiritual and karmic effect on the body, mind and soul. What are some other ways that food can have a spiritual and Karmic effect on us?

In the Aghor Yoga tradition of India, there is a strong spiritual connection to the Sun. The Sun, unlike humans and the ego, does not judge anyone. In other words, the “Sun provides light uniformly to every person, state, country or continent without discrimination”(Mandal,1991). The Sun also provides the energy needed for plants to grow. By eating fruits, vegetables and grains grown and ripened organically, we are taking in that same spiritual energy that the Sun provides to all living beings. The same can be said for meat eaters, but only if eating organically fed and free-range animals, because they eat a natural diet and receive the energy from the Sun as well.

Now what about the Karmic effect of eating an animal? We already know that in Ayurveda, meat has a negative connotation because by eating that animal we are taking the karmic effect of that animals death. Practitioners of Spiritual Nutrition also believe that by eating animals, you are increasing “the animal-like tendencies in the body and it brings into operation more animal-like tendencies such as the vibration of anger, lust, fear, aggressiveness, and murderous impulses. It communicates the energy of destruction to the cells and brings the energy of death into our auric fields, reducing the flow if higher prana into our body.”(Cousens,2009)

Think of the way most animals are treated, grown in factory farms and never seeing the sun or eating a natural diet. If we are what we eat, then we are basically eating all the karmic effects of these poor animals who never truly live.

Now if you do eat meat, and I do on occasion when my body craves it, buy organic and free range. Go to the farmers market where local farmers are more than happy to tell you about how their animals are raised and treated.

There is still the question of how the death of an animals affects our karma. Factory farmed animals have fear and suffering as they are forced through slaughter houses. Local farmers don’t always see how their animals are treated during their slaughter so I highly advise you talk to those who do or perhaps even do it themselves, more humanely than processing slaughter houses. This is important because “the lives of the creatures we’ve eaten weigh down our astral body with their negative feelings of fear and suffering at their time of death.”(Cousens,2009)

One key phrase we often hear is Prana, or life force. Every living thing has Prana, but that life force begins to fade the minute that the living entity is cut, plucked, or killed. This is why it’s important to by fresh organically grown or raised food in order to benefit from the maximum amount of Prana within it. By partaking in that Prana we will bring balance and counteract the negative spiritual and karmic effects within our bodies that we acquire through our daily thoughts and deeds.

There is one other way we can help maintain the spiritual and karmic effects of food. This is done through prayer, offerings and spiritual practice. How many times do we offer food to the Divine? In Hindu and African traditions, food is often offered to the Deities before it is ingested. This is not only a sign of reverence but a way to bring blessings from the Divine to your food, thereby relieving some of the negative karmic effects. African, Jewish and Islamic traditions perform Ritual slaughter where the animals are not only killed humanely, but are given full spiritual reverence beforehand. This is infinitely better than how most animals are slaughtered in modern day processing plants.

Lastly, praying over food is a tradition that is slowly losing its luster among current society.

By praying over our food, or praying for the animal that died in order for us to eat, you are elevating your spiritual and karmic ties to the food as well as elevating your own self spiritually.
The question boils down to this, if we are what we eat, wouldn’t we rather eat organically grown foods that have long healthy lives of sunshine, rain and exposure to all the spiritual elements? Most people would rather eat the cheaper food than the more expensive, but we have to remember this simple analogy. If you have a brand new car, are you going to give it premium oil and gasoline, or a lower cheaper grade? Treat your body like a brand new car and you will avoid the negative karmic and spiritual effects of food.

REFERENCES:

Books

Mandal, Aghor Seva; Two World of Human Life: An Aghor Perspective,
1991, p162

Cousens MD, G; Spiritual Nutrition: Six Foundations for Spiritual life and Awakening of Kundalini, 2009

Popularity of Ayurveda in the United States

By Mariam Campos-Marquetti
Block 1 Student

I liken Ayurveda to one of the oldest known trees on the planet, the Bristlecone Pine. With a root system dating back more than 5000 years, scientists have been trekking to the White Mountains of California to learn more about the ancient Bristlecone, its properties, and how this pine species has outlived surrounding gymnosperms. As the world’s oldest known system of medicine, Ayurveda has existed for over 5000 years, outliving failed systems of healing and rather uniquely coming full circle to the forefront of alternative healthcare in the West. Ayurveda is attracting a great deal of attention from both the scientific community and average citizens, each in search of understanding the body’s natural processes and how to manage health in a very demanding world.

When I initiated research on the popularity of Ayurveda in the United States, I had no idea that I would discover a sea of books and websites on the subject. Even more surprising was learning that there are numerous US-based companies manufacturing dosha-balancing packaged foods, VPK herbal teas, and newly-found ancient beauty and environmental products -all in line with Ayurvedic principles and teachings. Only a few minutes into my online research, I was astonished by the presence of practitioners in nearly every US metropolis. I located a few accredited medical schools, including the University Of Connecticut School Of Medicine, that offer general Ayurveda courses. There are also options for Western Medicine students to study abroad in India for a semester of Ayurveda immersion. I even discovered that a former NFL running back, Ricky Williams, is an ardent student of Ayurveda and sits on the Board of a national Ayurveda college. Most surprising was to learn that the National Institutes of Health (NIH), through its National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, has devoted substantial resources to the study of Ayurveda, and has sponsored clinical trials on Ayurvedic procedures ranging from the treatment of anxiety to muscle-nourishing procedures in hemiplegia.

From an NIH-sponsored, double-blind, randomized, controlled, pilot study comparing classic Ayurvedic Medicine, Methotrexate, and their combination in rheumatoid arthritis, the outcome was reported as the following:

“In this first-ever, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study comparing Ayurveda, MTX, and their combination, all 3 treatments were approximately equivalent in efficacy, within the limits of a pilot study. Adverse events were numerically fewer in the Ayurveda-only group. This study demonstrates that double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized studies are possible when testing individualized classic Ayurvedic versus allopathic treatment in ways acceptable to western standards and to Ayurvedic physicians. It also justifies the need for larger studies.”

When reading that a federally funded study reported a favorable outcome for traditional Ayurvedic procedures, I am filled with hope that Ayurveda has truly garnered viable attention and respect from the West, and will undoubtedly be the focus of larger studies in the future. I am also confident that as the numbers of educators and practitioners grow in the US, so will the implementation and practice of this great system of healing.
The Affordable Care Act (Section 2706) also contains a provision for licensed complementary and alternative medicine providers. In a June 3rd, 2013 Huffington Post article, entitled: Non-Discrimination: A 'Big Honking Lawsuit' to Advance Integrative Medicine and Health? author John Weeks wrote, "The law was hailed as a breakthrough for integrative treatment. Consumers could access licensed acupuncturists, massage therapists, naturopathic doctors, chiropractors and home-birth midwives. Medical specialists could more comfortably refer for complementary services knowing that doing so would not require patients to pay cash. A critical barrier keeping patients, doctors and systems from exploring optimal integration via inclusion and referrals would be history."
While many licensed complementary health providers are waiting to see measurable and lasting impacts of the Affordable Care Act, the law is still a favorable sign that the US Government is making room for an easier delivery of complementary healthcare.
When considering regulation, according to NIH, “no states in the US license Ayurvedic practitioners, although a few have approved Ayurvedic schools.” In order for practitioners to be recognized by states, it is important that lawmakers implement and approve steps towards national licensing to ensure that Ayurveda is given an equal opportunity to flourish under the Affordable Care Act.

A further look at regulation brings into focus the FDA, which often represents a huge hurdle for holistic health modalities. Without Federal approval, Ayurveda formulas and herbal medicines, especially those manufactured overseas, will not be readily available to meet the demand of the market, and skeptics in our society will always question why the FDA stamp of approval is missing.

As Ayurveda continues to grow in the US, there are some legitimate public concerns regarding the governance and accountability of practitioners, especially in states that have passed the Freedom of Health Act, which allows complementary and alternative health modalities (Ayurveda) to be practiced by non-licensed individuals. While I am a firm believer that individuals have the right to choose how their bodies will be maintained and healed, I feel strongly that some level of governance is necessary to ensure that the best treatment protocols are carried out and ethically practiced. I am happy to share that on some level ensuring this accountability is the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA), which represents the Ayurvedic profession in the US. NAMA is the only nationally recognized certifying body of practitioners, and oversees Ayurveda colleges throughout the US. According to NAMA’s mission statement, the organization operates “to preserve, protect, improve and promote the philosophy, knowledge, science and practice of Ayurveda for the benefit of humanity.”

I am certain that Ayurveda will someday become mainstream in the US. I believe that we are witnessing the process of this unfold at this time, as demonstrated by the mounting interest of the Federal Government and the public. I advocate that students and practitioners educate and lobby to ensure that Ayurveda is afforded the same rights historically allotted to Allopathic Medicine and its practitioners, and that patients have access to affordable and ethical treatment based on the highest principles of Ayurveda.

Natural urges in Ayurveda

Block 1 Student

There are two types of urges in Ayurveda. These are suppressible urges and non-suppressible urges. In short suppressible urges are those that should be suppressed to prevent disease. In contrast, non-suppressible urges will cause disease if they are suppressed.

The difference between these are pretty simple to understand. Suppressible urges are the characteristics or traits that humans all possess in one form or another and are generally not healthy. These are greed, grief, fear, anger, vanity, shamelessness, envy, and attachment. In my mind, these all relate to attachment in one form or another. We may be envious of somebody who has more than we do or have a great desire for more and more money to build up our material fortress. Or we may be angry that we did not get our way because we are attached to a certain outcome in one form or another…. By allowing these urges to dominate and control our existence will not only lead to a disturbance in dosas and cause anxiety, loss of sleep, and depression but they will also lead to an empty life if allowed to control us. Keeping these in control and at bay through any enhancement of our connection with nature or spirit (meditation/pranayama) will keep these urges under reasonable control.

Non-suppressible urges are simply those that should not be suppressed. Essentially suppressing these will be violating the harmony with nature. These consist essentially of bodily functions such as urination, defecation, flatus, vomiting, sneezing, hunger, thirst, tears, sleep, cough, ejaculation, or breathing deeply during exertion. Obviously not urinating when your body calls for it will lead to pain, cramps, UTI’s, or other trouble with kidneys or bladder. Similar outcomes will come if we try to control or hold our urge to defecate. While not the most sexy of topics, it is incredibly important to not only allow for but encourage elimination in this area. Going down the list, it is clear that not honoring the basic calls of the body will have a negative effect on overall health. This includes both the incoming and outgoing of fluids or food through the body. If we don’t drink when we are thirsty, we will be dehydrated which can lead to low agni, low prana, and ojas and if we don’t urinate when we have to, this can lead to symptoms described above.

Creation of Ayurvedic Tablets (Vati)

Ayurvedic Tablets - Recipe for Eladi Vati
by Kristen George, AWC, Bhaishaja Kalpana student

Eladi Gutika (EG), is an Ayurvedic formulation to support Kasa (Cough), Svasa (Asthma), Bhrama (Vertigo), Raktapitta (Bleeding disorders, or, high pitta), Jvara (Fever), and Amavata (Rheumatoid Arthritis with Ama). Some vaidyas are of the opinion that it can be used for Eladi Vati sore throat, dry cough and cold, chronic bronchitis, hiccups - which are issues related to pranavaya srotas. It can support and aid nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, hyperacidity as well.

Vati & Gutika: Medicines prepared in the form of tablet or pills are known as Vati and Gutika. These are made of one or more drugs of plant, animal or mineral origin.

Actions: Pacifies aggravated pitta. Soothes the throat. Relieves excessive thirst.

Side Effects: There are no known side effects of this medicine. Over-dosage may cause slight burning sensation in abdomen. It is better to avoid this tablet during pregnancy

Ingredient English Name Ratio Amount
Ela Cardamom 1 3g
Patra Bay Leaf (laurel) 1 3g
Twak Cinnamon 1 3g
Pippali Long pepper 4 12g
Sita Sugar 8 24g date sugar
Yasthimadhu Licorice 8 24g
Kharjura Dates 8 24g
Draksha Raisins 8 24g
Madhu Honey 8 24g

Rose Petals
References: (recipe/how to in next section)

Indian Journal of Research in Pharmacy and Biotechnology, “A COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW OF ELADI VATI”

SDCOA Lecture by Manjulali “Gutika, Vati in Traditional Ayurvedic Texts”
To make Eladi Vati

STEP 1- First, grind all dry herbs mix with sugar into a churnam.

STEP 2- Soak dates and raisins in water to rehydrate. Once they are rehydrated, add some of the date/raisin water to the dry herbs to make a kalka. Grind the raisins and dates together until they are a smooth paste.

STEP 3- Add the honey and mix well. Then add the kalka and mix until it becomes a homogeneous mixture.

STEP 4 - Role a small amount into a pill-sized ball. Continue making these until the mixture has been used. Set out in the shade for 3 days to dry, or alternatively dry out at a low temperature in the oven for a few hours. (I set my oven at “keep warm” cycle, which is 170 degrees)

Animal based versus Plant Based Food- Ayurvedic perspective

Student SDCOA

It is clear that plants can provide all the nutrition that humans require. There is a large amount of scientific evidence that human biochemistry is adapted to working with plant based chemicals very effectively and that our ability to utilize animal byproducts was an evolutionary afterthought.

Comparative anatomical examination of human dental patterns show adaptation for mainly plant eating, as does gastrointestinal tract length. Plants contain all the necessary macronutrients, vitamins and mineral required for survival. There is a perception that plants do not contain much protein, and yet this is not correct, as there are multiple sources of good quality plant based protein. Man can synthesize almost any chemical required for life, except a small group of so called ‘Essential Amino Acids’ which are plentifully available from plant sources.

However, plant based food is not just equivalent to animal food, but in many ways superior. Plants have many phytosterol and other phytochemicals which have significant wellness benefits. Many of these substances have been linked with anticancer effects and as therapeutic in other chronic disease states.

Plants have high levels of antioxidant compounds which can bring health benefits. Geographic regions such as the Mediterranean or Asia that have high levels of plants in their diets show general trends for low disease rates and increased longevity. Vegetarians in the West have been shown to have lower disease rates than non vegetarians, although this may be an epiphenomenon of an overall healthier lifestyle. Herbal medications are almost uniquely derived from plant sources, and indeed many western pharmaceutical compounds have an early origin in plant derived chemicals, for example digitalis.

The concept of diet for any dosha is to try to balance your dominant dosha, or bring it back in to alignment if it is deranged. Pitta is oily, sharp, hot, light, spreading, and liquid, so eating foods that neutralize these qualities – foods that are dry, mild, cooling, grounding, stabilizing, and dense – serve to balance excess pitta. Tastes that reduce Pitta are bitter, sweet and astringent, whereas tastes that increase Pitta are pungent, spicy, oily, salty and sour. Foods that are not too hot, or cooked in too much oil will also balance Pitta. The lightness of pitta is best balanced not necessarily by heavy foods, but foods that provide the heaviness as sustenance such as grains or other energy giving foods. However Pitta dosha can have a strong appetite and therefore moderation is required. Pitta dosha does well with regular meal times, and eating in quiet, calm environments.

Although it would be impossible to give a full list of all acceptable foods for PItta, here are some examples. Generally most sweet fruits such as apples, berries, coconut, dates and figs are good. A

lmost all vegetables are good for Pitta, including the naturally sweet root vegetables such as beets, carrots, winter squash, olives, onions and crucifers. Grains are also generally good in moderation, including oats, pasta, amaranth, rice, wheat and tapioca. Dairy is cooling and PItta balancing, including unsalted butter, cheese, milk and yogurt. Legumes are pitta balancing including garbanzo beans, lima beans soybeans and peas. Some nuts and seeds are good including almonds, flax and sunflower seeds. Ghee, canola and olive oil are good. Spices suitable for pitta are basil, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, ginger, minter, spearmint and wintergreen - again more cooling spices. Burdock, chamomile, hibiscus, jasmine and kukicha teas are also helpful

Phanta - Hot infusion in Ayurveda

By Dilek Koksal, Ayurvedic Counselor Program

I wanted to create a pitta balancing phanta with what I had in my pantry. Phanta is a hot infusion in Ayurveda. Usually, it is a combination of many Ayurvedic Herbs.

Ingredients


Rose Petals

4 teaspoons rose petals

1/2 tsp coriander seeds

1/2 tsp saffron

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

I mix them and put them in my tea bag

and placed in boiled water about 0.5 ml

ROSE: balances Sadhaka Pitta, the subdosha of Pitta that governs the emotions and their effect on the heart. Rose is cooling but also enhances the agni. Pacifies Vata and Pitta Dosha: Since it carries the sweet and unctuous properties, it pacifies Vata dosha – the sweet rasa, or taste, pacifies vata. The rose’ssnigdha or unctuous property also balances vata, since vata that tends to be dry. Any dravya or item that has the unctuous lubricating guna or property is pacifying to vata. Then due to its cooling virya or potency, as well as bitter and astringent taste, it is pacifying for Pitta dosha.

Coriander: Rasa (taste): madhura (sweet), katu (pungent), tikta (bitter) and kshaya (astringent). Guna (physical property) is laghu (light) and snigadha. Virya (potency) is ushana (hot). Vipaka (post digestion effect) is madhura (sweet). Pacifying Vata, Pitta and Kapha dosha.

Fennel: According to Ayurveda, fennel may be used to decrease all three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. It has a sweet, slightly astringent, and bitter taste, or rasa. It is cooling and its after-taste or vipak is sweet. Ayurveda advises against cooking fennel, as its active ingredients will die. It is better to steep fennel. Fennel is used as a digestive tonic, a mild laxative,and a diuretic. It helps remove toxins from the body.

Saffron: In texts of Ayurveda the herb Crocus Sativus or kumkuma or saffron is grouped under “Varnya” gana. Varnya means the one which imparts fairness and glow to skin. According ayurveda pharmacology, saffron is bitter to taste and increases body fire. It balances tridoshas (vata, pitta and kapha).

Bhaishajya in Ayurveda versus Western Herbology

By DILEK KOKSAL

BLOCK 3 Practitioner Student

Bhaishajya Kalpana is composed of two words, Bhaishajya - Drug and Kalpana - Processing.
Bhaisajya is in turn derived from ‘Bhisag’ meaning a physician, a vaidya.

Etymologically ‘Bhaisajya’ is a substance used by a ‘Bhisag’ the physician as a means of treating a patient. ‘Bhaisajya’ is also known as ‘Ausadha’ meaning a substance imparting health.

Concept of ‘Drug’ is principally based on the type of activity of a substance on the human body. Thus, Bhaishajya Kalpana is the most important branch of learning in the field of Ayurveda. With the art and skill of formulation, a poisonous drug can be transmuted into a safe and effective drug.

Ayurvedic classics also give emphasis to the elimination of inherent constituents of the drug which arebinappropriate in specific clinical condition and toxic in nature and which enter into the formulation if notbremoved.

To meet this requirement basic materials are sometimes subjected to purifying process known
as “sodhana’.

The pharmaceutical procedures for any drug involve various steps starting from identification andbcollection of authentic raw material, application of standardized processing techniques, and production of quality drug to packaging and storage of the produced drug. Ayurvedic pharmaceutics is not an exception to this. A quote from Caraka Samhitaa (Caraka Samhitaa Vimana Sthaana 8/87, 1984) says raw

material of specified type having specific characteristics and therapeutic action, grown on a specific soil in a specific geographical area in specific atmospheric conditions should be collected in a specific season.

Only such raw material will produce the expected therapeutic effect provided it is used judiciously in proper dose.

The components soluble in water are extracted in water whereas solvents like fat, oil or alcohol are required to extract ingredients soluble in those solvents. A combined solvent system is also used sometimes. Depending on the requirement, different procedures are adopted to extract therapeutically useful ingredients.

Avipattikar Churna and Avipathi Choornam – both these are Ayurvedic medicines in herbal powder form. Both have got similar set of ingredients. But have lot of differences between them, in terms ofindication, method of administration etc.

In the West, tincturing was originally developed as a means of dealing with fresh plant materials; by soaking them in alcohol and straining out the plant mass, one could preserve herbs for future use.

A large proportion of Western herbs are flowers and leaves, which have a very poor shelf-life if simply dried.

Each manufacturer has its own method of extracting plant medicine, which is then used to make salves and tinctures that are sold nationwide.

Different extraction methods illustrate the contrasting philosophies pulling at the ends of contemporary herbal medicine. One supports the highly scientific method of standardization, which involves measuring and extracting specific compounds believed to be responsible for the herbs’ medicinal effects.

The other is the traditional “whole herb” school of thought, which asserts that all of a plant’s compounds contribute to its ability to heal and protect health, and plucking out one or a few compounds means losing that synergy.

References:
http://www.pspmngo.org/index.php/departments/rasashastra-bhaishajya-kalp...
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3025621/
http://www.motherearthliving.com/health-and-wellness/herbal-extracts.aspx

Ayurveda and Jucing

Blog By Tamara Stojadonovik

Recently, Ayurvedic Juicing has become the buzz word. There has been a famous TV show that featured Ayurvedic cleansing and juicing.

I love the fact that television is making the US more aware of Ayurveda, however juicing and Ayurveda are so diametrically opposed. It reminds me of a’ recent self promotion of a celebrity half naked in yoga poses reminding us about yoga being cure for a hangover!

Juicing is NOT Ayurveda just as this promo has nothing to do with Yoga. Someone may argue, “ Come on! We are not living in ancient times!” and the teachings should evolve. OK, I could possibly accept that , but let’s look at juicing from an Ayurvedic perspective:

1) It is not found in any of the ancient Ayurvedic texts including Charaka Samhita.

2) Ayurveda including the Charaka Samhita, recommend a diet of mostly cooked foods as cooking increases the element of fire (agni), which is essential for digestion, the assimilation of nutrients and their transformation into the bodily tissues.

3) While juices may contain organic veggies and fruits, not all veggies and fruits are good for everyone’s constitution.

4) Juices contain little or no fiber, are light and watery ,contain a high amount of sugar ( even if it is a veggie juice) and are generally served cool or cold.

For a Vata person the cold, light quality could provoke Vata causing bloating and gas. The cold water and sweet quality would increase Kapha further slowing down metabolism, increasing ama and a Pitta person with a strong digestive fire would not be able to tolerate a juicing fast as it would further aggravate their metabolism.

5) Juicing may seem perfect for the lifestyle of the person on the run and a way to to gulp down the needed nutrients that are lacking in the average American diet, however chewing and mindfulness are important to help kick start poroper digestion. As Mahatma Gandhi once said "Chew your drink and drink your food". When we drink foods without chewing , they enter the digestive system too fast before the body is even aware that it is food and so the digestive process has not even started. Chewing and the formation of a bolus with saliva is the very part of digestion.When we drink something quickly, we do not give our digestive system a chance to get started which can lead to that uncomfortable bloated feeling. Drink your food! With each bite of food we take food should be chewed until it turns to liquid. It helps us be your mindful and brings a more Sattvic quality to our meal and the slower process allows for the correct signalling by the brain and for the correct sequence of events for proper mechanical and chemical digestion to occur. Digestion progresses from the mouth through to the stomach and intestines, where digestive acids and enzymes are sequentially released from different glands and organs.

If considering juicing the following should be taken into consideration: the person’s constitution, season, time of day, the health of their digestion; the state of agni, bowel movements and level of ama as well as what fruits and veggies are being included in the juice and why.

While it is wonderful to see that Ayurveda is becoming more mainstream in the U.S., I wouldn’t be surprised to see, before long, the word “Ayurveda” being used to market a “healthy” Starbuck’s Chai Latte or Extra Value Meals.

Syndicate content