Thursday, December 16, 2010

Indian Board of Alternative Medicine introduces its Mobile Van for Health, Environment and Peace

Indian Board of Alternative Medicines introduced its Mobile Van focusing on Health, Environment and Peace on the 10th of December, 2010 in Kolkata, India. The inauguration was carried out by Dr. Suresh Kumar Agarwal, President of the Indian Board of Alternative Medicines in the presence of Dr. Damir A. Shakambet of The... International Society for Bioregulatory Medicine, London (U.K.), Revd. P.S.P. Raju (Bishop of Kolkata), Muni Shree Ji (Leader of the Jain Samaj), a former graduate of I.B.A.M. from Burma and a team of I.B.A.M. volunteers.

With the primary objective of I.B.A.M. being to promote, propagate and advance the science of alternative systems of medicines, this Mobile Van is a part of I.B.A.M.'s charitable activities aimed at disseminating information on higher standards of health and free medication.

We thank everyone involved in this noble cause and for helping I.B.A.M. move a step ahead in achieving its Goals.

Indian Board of Alternative Medicine
80, Chowringhee Road
Calcutta - 700002

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How to Use Essential Oils for Christmas

Christmas time is a perfect time to become experienced in diffusing and blending essential oils. By learning How to Use Essential Oils for Christmas one can assist in getting everyone into the festive spirit of the season. There is nothing better than creating an atmosphere of relaxation, warm spices, the smell of pine needles, or some other woody aroma for the holiday season.

Naturally, cinnamon, clove bud, and ginger are strong in aroma, quite warming, and considered to be spicy essential oils. So when diffusing these scents a few drops will go a long way or try enhancing the mood by adding the mild scent of orange blossom to create a pleasing aroma.

Staying Healthy for the Holidays

Christmas is also the time of the year that health issues (colds, flu, and other viral illnesses) are on the increase due to the winter season. So it is a perfect time to be proactive and keep your anti-bacterial and anti-viral therapeutic essential oils on hand. So replace the usual synthetic room fragrances with a diffuser and essential oils that can potentially help to keep your family healthy by warding off the spread of viral sicknesses. Tea tree, neem, and eucalyptus found on the hub titled, Therapeutic Essential Oils and Healing are good for their anti-bacterial and anti-viral qualities; however others within this hub can assist in fighting the cold/flu season.

There are numerous oils that can be used at Christmas time and then can be used throughout out the year. Coniferous oils like Fir Needle, and Scottch Pine, minty oils of Spearmint and Peppermint, spicy oils like Cinnamon and Nutmeg, woody oils like Cedarwood and Sandalwood, and resinous oils like Frankincense and Myrrh.

For Healing and Holiness during the Holidays

Frankincense Essential Oils

The history behind the essential oil scents of frankincense and myrrh may entice one to learn how to implement these two therapeutic essential oils into the holiday season. Christians are familiar with the story of the 3 Wise Men that bought the precious gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh to the baby Jesus. Frankincense is mentioned in one of the oldest known medical records, the Ebers Papyrus (dating from sixteenth century BC) an ancient Egyptian list of 877 prescriptions and recipes. During these times frankincense was more valuable than gold and only those with great wealth and abundance possessed it.

In ancient times frankincense was used to treat every conceivable illness know to man, known for its anointing, and healing powers. However, healing was reserved for priests and priestesses only. And the power to heal at that time was focused more on the sacred art of practiced rituals than the actual healing power of the oil itself.

The frankincense aromatherapy is said to increase spiritual awareness, promote meditation, improve attitude and uplift one’s spirits. Add frankincense essential oil to sandalwood for enhancing and supporting the skin’s natural ability to rebuild DNA. The medical properties consist of being an anti-depressant, anti-tumoral, immuno-stimulant, and can be used to treat cancer, depression, inflammation, stimulate the immune system, and treats respiratory infections.

Myrrh Essential Oils

As stated early Myrrh and Frankincense are resinous oils and they both have similar medical properties. Myrrh is also mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus and listed in Hildegard’s Medicine (a compilation of early German medicine) by highly regarded Benedictine herbalist Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179).

It is written that the Arabian people used Myrrh for many skin conditions, such as chapped lips, cracked skin, and wrinkles. It can be used to treat cancer, cancer, hepatitis, tooth/gum infections, skin conditions (chapped, cracked, stretch marks, and wrinkles) and fungal infections like Candida, ringworm, eczema, etc.

Myrrh essential oil promotes spiritual awareness, is uplifting, and also contains sesquiterpenes (i.e .defensive agents or pheromones), which stimulate the limbic system of the brain and the hypothalamus, pineal, and pituitary glands. The medical properties of Myrrh essential oil is a powerful antioxidant, analgesic/anesthetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, anti-turmoral, and anti-viral.

How to Use Essential Oils for Christmas

Fun Facts and Festivities

There are many ways one can use essential oils for the Christmas holidays; you can add aroma to wreaths, pine cones, ribbons, and other decorations, also you can add scent to the wrapping paper of your gifts.

Artificial Tree

Here’s a nice Christmas tree blend that can be used just to provide the aroma of a live tree around an artificial one or a wreath.

Combine 5 drops Spruce essential oil, 3 drops Fir Needle essential oil, 3 drops Pine essential oil and 2 drops Cedarwood essential oil. If you want to mellow the scent add a few drops of Juniper oil for a well rounded smell.


Add one drop per log for your fire and only include one scented log per fire of essential oils like sandalwood, cypress, cedarwood, frankincense and myrrh. Make sure you let the oil soak into the wood over night prior to using it for the fire to avoid dangerous sparks.

Wrapping Papers

Place 2 drops of oil on a cotton ball and place the wrapping paper in a sealed bag over night. Use woody smells like cedarwood or frankincense for men. Try using geranium or cinnamon for women, and mandarin or lemon for children. However, if you happen to know that individuals aromatherapy smell, then surprise them by placing that on their gifts.


As I’ve stated before I love candles and use them almost daily to add pleasant moods and aromatics to a room. Try adding an essential oil to the candle as soon as the wax starts to melt; normally one drop by the wick is enough. Bay is a good choice but I like to add peppermint, cinnamon, mandarin, or other spices to mine. Here is a blend you can mix and try on you candles to create a unique holiday aroma -4 drops of mandarin, 1 drop of geranium, and 1 drop of cinnamon.

Baking Goodies

If you choose to bake or prepare other food items, please be sure to purchase only therapeutic grade essential oil products. Essential oils like cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg, and cardamom can be added to your cakes, pies, puddings, and other desserts.

Note: Read your essential oil products carefully, if the label states "external use only" such oils are not to be ingested by mouth.

Tips and Warnings

■Never apply therapeutic essential oils directly to skin unless advice by an expert to do so. Such tactics can be harmful if performed inappropriately.
■Use blends undiluted in diffusers, in potpourri, on radiant heaters, or on wood chips. But, never near a flame where it can catch fire.
■For a room spray mix your blend with 1 cup distilled water and 1/2 Tbs alcohol or glycerin.
■Create a custom holiday perfume by mixing your blend with 2 Tbs pure Jojoba Oil, perfumer's alcohol, or your favorite carrier oil.

Indian Board of Alternative Medicine
80, Chowringhee Road
Calcutta - 700002

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Let Your Food Be Your Medicine: The Ayurvedic Approach to Nutrition

It is ironic how something as obvious as nutrition has become overlooked in the modern health care system, and how in the name of convenience our fast paced society has given way to fast foods, microwaves, quick fix medicines, and eating on the run. Fortunately, there is a growing focus in the important role that nutrition plays in maintaining good health. In Ayurveda, India's ancient science of life, health and longevity, food plays a prominent role in promoting health and is therefore considered medicine.

Dating back over five thousand years, Ayurveda is still a highly respected form of health care in India today. According to this holistic system, everyone has a unique constitution or prakruti—an individual combination of physical, mental and emotional characteristics determined by many factors surrounding the time of conception and birth. Disturbance of this balance due to emotional and physical stress, trauma, improper food combination and choices, as well as seasonal and weather changes may lead to imbalance and eventually to disease. If we understand how such factors affect us we can take appropriate actions to minimize their effect and eliminate the causes of imbalance. In this sense, the path toward health is always individual. There is no single approach that is right for everyone, whether it relates to diet, lifestyle, exercise or the use of medicinal herbs.

According to Samkhya, the philosophical foundation of Ayurveda, creation expresses itself through the five elements—ether or space, air, fire, water and earth. These elements manifest in the body as the three governing principles or humors called doshas: vata, pitta and kapha. Everyone has all three of these doshas to varying degrees, although one and sometimes two tend to be predominant and the other(s) secondary. In balance, the doshas promote the normal functions of the body and maintain overall health. Out of balance, they create mental, emotional and physical ailments.

Vata is the subtle energy associated with movement and is made up of the air and ether. By nature it has dry, light, mobile and cold qualities. When aggravated, it can cause flatulence, constipation, tremors, spasms, asthma, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, as well many neurological problems.

Pitta represents the fire and water elements of the body. It has mainly hot sharp and oily qualities. Pitta disorders include hyperacidity, ulcers, skin eruptions, chronic fatigue, Crohn's disease, colitis, gout and numerous inflammatory disorders.

Kapha is made up of earth and water, and is associated with heavy, cold, damp and static qualities. Out of balance, kapha can cause obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, edema, asthma, tumors and a variety of congestive problems.

Aggravation of the doshas can affect the digestion and can create toxins, or ama from poorly digested food. As ama accumulates in the tissues and channels of the body it slowly but surely affects the flow of prana (vital energy), immunity (ojas) and the cellular metabolism (tejas), eventually resulting in disease.

From an Ayurvedic perspective, one of the main keys to maintaining optimal health as well as to support the healing process is to help the body eliminate toxins and to reestablish constitutional balance. To achieve this, Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of proper nutrition through proper food choices, food combining and cooking methods, as well as herbal nutrition, all based on the specific needs of the individual and any current imbalance of the doshas.

Ayurvedic nutrition is a vast topic that takes into account the individual constitution, the medicinal value of culinary spices, the theory of shad rasa (or six tastes, which should all be present for a meal to be balanced), and more. As mentioned before, in Ayurveda food is considered medicine. Likewise, herbs are also used for their nutritional and nourishing qualities, or to counteract any doshic imbalance and toxin formation as a result of poor digestion.

For optimum nutrition, care should be taken to insure that food be organic, fresh and whenever possible locally grown. In Ayurveda food, drinks, and spices are categorized according to their taste (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent), the energetic effect they have on the doshas, as well as their post-digestive effect on the tissues. This is why when choosing foods it is important to understand our original constitution so as to eat foods that have the opposite qualities to those that are already predominant in the constitution. Furthermore, understanding the current state of the doshas is also crucial for making the right food choices.

Vata types tend to more deficient by nature and have light body frames, variable digestion and often have a tendency towards gas and constipation. Therefore, they do best eating warm, nourishing, unctuous and primarily cooked foods, and should avoid dried, cold, frozen and excess intake of raw foods. Also, they should avoid pinto, garbanzo or black beans, which are hard to digest and tend to increase intestinal gas. Vata is balanced by sweet, sour and salty tasting foods.

Pitta types tend to have strong appetites and good digestion, but have a tendency toward hyperacidity and inflammatory disorders. So they should avoid eating greasy, hot spicy, salty and fermented foods, as well as sour and acidic fruits. Pitta is balanced by bitter, sweet and astringent tastes.

Kapha types are large framed with a tendency toward weight gain, obesity, sluggish digestion, lethargy and congestive disorders. They do best on a light, reducing diet low in carbohydrates and avoiding dairy, cold food and drinks, poor quality oils and sweet treats. Kapha is decreased with pungent, bitter and astringent tastes.

Before talking about the use of spices in Ayurvedic cooking I should point out that although Ayurvedic food is traditionally Indian cuisine, it is not by any means limited to it. Also, by the same token, not all Indian food is Ayurvedic. In fact, Indian restaurant food is often overly spicy and drenched in poor quality cooking oils. What makes food truly Ayurvedic is the fact that it is selected and cooked according to the specific needs of the individual, or that it is balanced for all doshas (tridosha).

Many of the spices used in Ayurvedic cooking such as turmeric, ginger, cumin, fenugreek, coriander and cardamom, amongst others, are also medicinal herbs used in Ayurvedic herbology. Cooking daily with those spices can greatly enhance digestion, absorption and assimilation of food, improve one's appetite and elimination, nourish the internal organs and prevent doshic imbalance. Spices also provide a harmonious blend of the six tastes. Taste is medicinal and is the first form of nourishment. A meal containing a balanced blend of the six tastes, aside from being more appealing to the tongue, is also more digestible at a deep cellular level.

Modern research is now validating the benefits of many of the herbs and spices used in Ayurvedic cooking. Turmeric for instance, is highly effective in the treatment of type two diabetes, skin diseases, infections and hepatic and inflammatory disorders. Cumin, coriander, fennel, nutmeg and cardamom are extremely helpful in the treatment of a wide variety of digestive complaints, as is ginger for the treatment of respiratory congestion, fevers and colds. There are literally thousands of medicinal uses to such spices. Even today in much of rural India the wisest doctors are often the mothers and grandmothers who know the uses of their “kitchen pharmacies.”

Another vital aspect of Ayurvedic nutrition is proper food combining. In Ayurveda not all foods are compatible. Certain foods when eaten or cooked together can disturb the normal function of the digestive fire and promote the accumulation of ama (toxins) in the body. Various factors, such as the tastes, qualities, and energies of certain foods, as well as how long they take to digest, affect how well certain foods will combine. Heavy foods such whole grains, dairy, meats and starches don’t combine well with light foods such as fruit, which digest quicker. Another example, when sour and acidic fruits are combined with milk, which is sweet and cooling, this causes the milk to curdle and become heavy in the intestines. Ayurveda places great emphasis on the art of food combining.

Ayurveda encourages us to take responsibility for our health as much as possible by making appropriate changes in diet and lifestyle. What we eat and how we live on a daily basis can be our strongest allies in restoring and maintaining health. All other therapeutic measures will be strongly supported by this daily effort.

Along with a balanced diet, incorporating other healthy habits into a daily routine can prevent imbalance at its very root. A lifestyle that integrates regular eating and sleeping habits will bring discipline and help maintain the harmony of the doshas, thus promoting overall good health. An Ayurvedic clinician can provide dietary and lifestyle guidelines, as well as herbal nutrition, more specific to the individual constitution, doshic imbalance and situation of each person.