Traditional medicinal system

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Ayurveda

Ayurveda, the traditional medicinal system from ancient India, has been healing humanity through lifestyle modifications and herbal medicine for over 6000 years. Ayur-veda, meaning the knowledge of life, suggests that our lifestyle be examined before taking medicine. We will examine some of these simple home remedies that will help promote calmness during the fall season.

As per Indian heritage and science, "Ayurveda" is an Upaveda or annexure to the four main vedas (knowledge systems). The famous treaties of Ayurveda are Charaka Samhita by Sage Charaka, which details the prevention and treatment of disease, and Sushruta Samhita of Sage Sushruta, which deals with Ayurvedic surgical procedures. In the Ayurvedic system, the prevention of all types of disease has a prominent place in treatment, including restructuring a patient's lifestyle to align with the course of nature and the four seasons to guarantee complete wellness.

Ayurveda is grounded in a metaphysics of the 'five great Elements' earth, water, fire, air and ether)â€"all of which compose the Universe, including the human body.[1] Chyle (called Rasa dhatu), blood (called Rakta dhatu), flesh (called Mamsa dhatu), fat (called Medha dhatu), bone (called Asthi dhatu), marrow (called Majja dhatu), and semen or female reproductive tissue (called Shukra dhatu) are held to be the seven primary constituent elements of the body.[7] Ayurveda stresses a balance of three Humors or Energies: vata (wind/air), pitta (bile) and kapha (phlegm). According to Ayurveda, these three regulatory principlesâ€" Doshas (â€"are important for health, because when they are in balanced state, the body is healthy, and when imbalanced, the body has diseases.

Seasons And Doshas

There are namely six seasons-winter, summer, monsoon, autumn, spring and dew. But here we consider only four of them winter, summer, autumn and spring. dosha according to the principle of constitution of the physical body in ayurveda, one of the three vital bioenergies (vata, pitta, kapha) condensed from the five elements; the doshas are responsible for the physical and emotional tendencies in the mind and body. The attributes of the doshas and their specific combination within each individual help determine the individual's physical and mental characteristics, while imbalance among the doshas is the cause of disease In Ayurveda, there are 3 primary energies or doshas : Vata (Air-Ether), Pitta (Fire-Water), and Kapha (Water-Earth). Just as every person and every time of day has a dosha that predominates, every season is also dominated by one of the 3 doshas. Fall is ruled by Vata, winter by Kapha, spring by Kapha-Pitta, and summer by Pitta.

When the three doshas vata, pitta and kapha remain undisturbed in their organs and systems the body is in abalanced state.When disturbed by any factor, it causes disease and deterioration in the body.

VATA - AIR PRANA VATA (CHEST REGION), UDANA VATA (THORACIC AND THROAT REGION), SAMANA VATA(HEART AND NAVEL REGION),VYANA VATA (HEART AND CIRCULATORY VESSELS), APANA VATA(PEELVIC REGION)

PITTA(BILE) FIRE PACHAKA PITTA (LIVER AND PANCREAS), RANJAKA PITTA (LIVER AND SPLEEN),SADHAKA PITTA(HEART), ALOCHAKA PITTA(EYES), BHRAJAKA PITTA(SKIN)

KAPHA WATER AND EARTH KLEDAKA KAPHA(STOMACH), AVALAMBAKA(HEART, CHEST AND BACK REGION), TARPAKA KAPHA(HEAD)

Ayurvedic Diet And Season

Dosha (body types) are changed due to changing season. To keep up one must take his diet accordingly.

In early Winter we should eat more sweet, sour and salty food. In late Winter more pungent, bitter and astringent foods should be taken. In Spring ,we should eat more astringent, bitter and pungent tastes.

In Summer more sweet, bitter and astringent foods are to be taken. In the rainy season one should eat more sour, salty and sweet foods.

Basically we can eat whatever we like, it is just a matter of balancing . Spices are a good way to balance our food. We can get premixed Vata, Pitta and Kapha Spices to add to our food if we eat out for example.

General Guidelines For Vata Diet

Vata predominant constitutions should select a diet which is calming, strengthening, grounding and nourishing. Their food should be warm, moist and heavy. We should choose sweet, sour and salty tastes and avoid pungent, bitter and astringent tastes.

Vata-Pitta types should choose a Vata pacifying diet in the fall and winter and Pitta-pacifying in the spring and summer.

Vata-Kapha types should follow a Vata pacifying diet in the summer and fall and Kapha-pacifying in the winter and spring.

Vata Pacifying Foods

  • Fruit: Grapefruit , Lemon , Limes
  • Vegies: Radish , Eggplant , Lentils Red , Beets , Avocado
  • Grains: Basmati rice , Wheat , Oats, raw

Vata increasing Foods

  • Fruit: Pears , Apples , Pomegranate , Watermelon , Cranberries, Mango green . Blueberry , Cantaloupe , Carob , Dried Fruits , Guava
  • Vegies: Lettuce , Chickpea , Broccoli

General Guidelines For Pitta Diet

We should choose a diet which is cooling, slightly heavy and a little dry. Pitta should select sweet, bitter and astringent tastes and avoid sour, salty and pungent tastes since these increase Pitta. Foods which are cool, raw, very lightly spiced and cooked with little oil are balancing for Pitta.
Vata-Pitta types should choose a Vata pacifying diet in the fall and winter and Pitta-pacifying in the spring and summer.

Pitta-Kapha types should follow a Pitta pacifying diet in the summer and fall and Kapha-pacifying in the winter and spring.

Pitta Pacifying Foods

  • Fruit: Apples , Dates , Figs , Grapes green
  • Vegies: Artichokes , Asparagus ,Chicory , Daikon
  • Spices: , Saffron , Chamomile , Fennel , Vanilla

Pitta increasing Foods

  • Fruit: Apricots Bananas , Cherries
  • Vegies: Avocado , Beets , Carrots , Chilies
  • Spices: Ajwan , Anise Seed , Asafetida,
  • Drinks: Vinegar , Wine , Juniper berry

General Guidelines For Kapha Diet

Diet should be light, warm and cold. Oily food should be avoided.
Recommended tastes are pungent, bitter and astringent and we should avoid sweet, salty and sour tastes.Food should be eaten less. We should not have more than three meals a day with the main meal at noon. The other two meals should be light. It is better not to eat in the evening, especially heavy items.
Vata-Kapha types should choose a Vata pacifying diet in the fall and summer and Kapha-pacifying in the spring and winter.

Pitta-Kapha types should follow a Pitta pacifying diet in the summer and fall and Kapha-pacifying in the winter and spring.

Kapha Pacifying Foods

  • Fruit: Apples , Apricots , Grapefruit , Mango Green
  • Vegies: , Artichokes , Asparagus , Beans , Bitter Melon

Kapha increasing Foods

  • Fruit: Bananas , Cherries , Dates , Fig
  • Vegies: Avocado , Beets, Cucumber , Okra

Spring And Ayurveda

In spring, there is a predominance of kapha dosha in the atmosphere. The warmth of spring starts melting the accumulated snow from winter. Likewise, accumulated kapha melts and goes out of the body. This is why people get spring colds. At the same time, booming flowers shed their pollen, which can also aggravate kapha types or people with accumulated kapha, creating hay fever and allergies.

Daily Routine

In spring it is advisable to get up early and go out for a walk. A warm shower should be taken after passing bowels and brushing teeth. Simple pranayama may follow the yoga session.

Good types of exercise for this season are hiking, walking and light weightlifting. Even though spring feels warmer as the days go by, it is not advised to start swimming until the weather gets hot, as in summer.

Naps aggravate kapha and slow digestion, so they should be avoided. As the days get longer and the activity increases, one can stay up later but never in excess.

Seasonal Diet

To prevent kapha from increasing, during this season heavy food should be avoided and warm, light food to be taken. One should eat more foods with bitter, pungent, and astringent tastes.

Grains and fruits that aggravate kapha and should be avoided as much as possible are: wheat, brown and white rice, urud dal, bleached flour, white bread, most forms of pasta, avocados, coconut, melons, cucumbers, bananas, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and squash. Good grains for this season are: amaranth, corn, millet, tapioca, barley, rye, oat bran, and buckwheat.

Ginger cinnamon tea with honey is a good beverage to pacify kapha. Please note that honey should never be cooked, as it becomes toxic and clogs the nadis (subtle channels). It should be added to the tea when it has cooled down a bit Kapha types or people with accumulated kapha should drink a cup of hot water with a teaspoon of raw honey to eliminate excessive kapha and ama (toxic food byproducts).

Spring And Rejuvenation

Spring is the best time to do a week-long panchakarma to remove all the excess kapha and ama (toxic food byproducts), as well as all the stagnation from winter, and prevent health problems for the rest of the year.

As spring moves into summer, and the days get hotter, pitta starts to increase. So, pitta types or people with a pitta imbalance can avoid further aggravation in the summer by doing panchakarma in the spring as well.

Ayurveda In Winter

In most places winter is cold, heavy, damp, and cloudy. These qualities increase kapha dosha, so kapha constitutions are particularly advised to follow a strict seasonal routine to avoid any further aggravation of this dosha and problems such as congestion and cough.

Cold is also a quality of vata dosha, so vata people may experience symptoms of vata aggravation, especially during the early part of winter, or in places where winter is dry.

People with a particular health issue should follow a regimen appropriate for their specific doshic imbalance. These are general recommendations to maintain health in winter. Everyone can benefit from keeping an eye on the increase of vata and kapha qualities to prevent colds, the flu, congestion, and other respiratory problems.

Morning Routine

In the winter it is not necessary to wake up really early, as everything slows down and rest is important, so getting up at 7 o'clock is fine. As usual, scraping the tongue and brushing the teeth should be the first thing to do on waking. This should be followed by holding a mouthful of sesame oil.

After this, drinking a cup of warm water will stimulate help pass bowel easily. Rubbing warm sesame oil all over the body should be next. This is good for all constitutions in the winter, since sesame oil is heating.

After the shower and a bowel movement, indoor exercise or yoga is to be done. The sun salutation and poses that open the chest, throat, and sinuses are good to counterbalance kapha by removing any congestion in the respiratory system. Other good poses are the fish, boat, camel, lion, bow, locust, shoulder stand, and headstand. It is recommended to use nasya drops after pranayama to keep your nasal passages lubricated.

Proper Foods

In winter, the appetite is usually increased. This is because the cold weather constricts the skin pores and superficial connective tissue, pushing the heat from these tissues into the stomach and therefore increasing agni, the digestive fire. So it is best to eat a nourishing and substancial breakfast such as oatmeal, cornmeal, barley soup, kitchari, or a warm grain cereal.

An hour after breakfast, it is advised to drink a cup of tea made with 1/2 tsp. dry ginger, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and a pinch of clove tea to improve circulation and eliminate mucus, while maintaining agni. If there is a pitta condition, such as ulcers or gastritis, avoid this tea and follow a pitta pacifying diet while keeping the external body warm.

For lunch it is recommended to choose a kapha soothing but non-vata provoking diet. Steamed vegetables, warm soup with ghee and whole wheat unyeasted bread would be a good, nourishing meal. People with wheat allergies can have a different grain like quinoa. A nap after a meal should be avoided in winter, as it would slow down the metabolism.

Dinner should not be too late (5 to 7 PM). Again, a diet that pacifies kapha and vata should be chosen. It is okay to go to sleep a little later in the winter, maybe 11 o'clock. Winter is white and grey, so you should counteract the effects of these colors by dressing in warm colors such as yellow, red, and orange to keep the fire element in your auric field.

Staying Healthy And Balanced

Winter is a vata-kapha season, so people tend more to become inactive, confused, and even depressed. This is particularly true in places where the days are cloudy with no sunlight, which aggravates kapha and suppresses pitta. Vata and kapha people tend to feel lonely in winter, so they should follow a more strict seasonal regime and try to avoid being alone.

Panchakarma

Since winter is a kapha and vata season, doing panchakarma at the junction between fall and winter or in the winter is highly advised, especially for people with kapha problems (cough and congestion, edema, sluggish digestion and elimination, heaviness in the chest or stomach, repeated colds, weight gain, mental or physical lethargy, etc.). This deep cleansing and rejuvenation program helps to pacify vata and remove kapha from the organism (also known as ama, or toxins).

We can't stress enough the importance of doing panchakarma for recovering and maintaining health, as well as preventing disease. Regular panchakarma is one of the tools used in Ayurveda to increase the longevity of the individual and improve the quality of life.

Ritucharya

Given that the term prakriti denotes both body constitution and nature, it is only expected that with the changing seasons of nature there will be corresponding effects on the bhutas and thereby the doshas of the constitution. Cold, dry weather for instance enhances vata, hot humid climate increases pitta, while cold, wet weather aggravates kapha.

To avoid such continued aggravation leading to imbalance of the doshas, Ayurveda prescribes a seasonal routine to preserve the doshic balance as the seasons change. For each season therefore, there is a unique diet (ahar), a distinct mode of living (vihara) and routine living (karya). These keep your doshas in a state of equilibrium and help you cope with the stresses and strains of changing seasons.

In Ayurvedic literature the year is divided into six ritus (seasons) - varsha (monsoon), sharada (autumn), hemanta (winter), shishira (late winter), girshma (summer) and vasanta (spring). The effects of these ritus on the three doshas and the suggested lifestyle for each is as indicated below :

Conclusion

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian science which originated in India itself. It shows us the way to a healthier lifestyle. It is beneficial for one and all. It deals with our food, lifestyle, habits, hygiene etc. According to changing seasons it teaches us different habits to follow for a healthy life. There are various practices included in it which tell us how to take food, do exercise, bath, massage and everything else related to us and our lifestyle. It is us who have to decide which route to follow.So all should follow on to ayurveda strictly for a healthy living.

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