Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Panchakarma: The Detoxification Therapy in Ayurveda

According to Ayurvedic texts our body is crisscrossed by srotas or channels or tube like structures. This net work contains both microscopic and macroscopic channels. (Digestive system, nervous system , circulatory system etc are few examples of these channels). Innumerable physiological process like breathing, blood circulation, secretions of enzymes, hormones etc, flow of signals, supply of nutrients, filtration of toxins, excretion of waste etc are aided by these tubular structures. Diseases occur when toxins get accumulated in body and clog these channels. Unhealthy diet, lifestyle, stress, changes in environment etc lead to accumulation of toxins in body. These accumulated toxins have to be expelled out in order to keep our body healthy. Through Panchakarma therapy these toxic clogs are removed to normalize the physiological process. Hence Panchakarma therapy is called as detoxification therapy. Panchakarma therapy can be administered to a normal person to prevent diseases and keep his body healthy. The ideal season to expel toxins through this therapy, is rainy season.

Panchakarma therapy is also used as a purification therapy to cleanse the body before starting a treatment. A diseased body can be compared to a soiled cloth which can not be colored as we desire. Hence to attain the maximum benefits , the body has to be purified or cleaned before starting the treatment. The cleared channels help medicines to penetrate the deeper tissues.

The detoxification process contains three steps:

Purvakarma - Preparations which have to be done before the detoxification

Pradhanakarma - The main detoxifying process

Pashchat karma - Rehabilitating the diet and lifestyle after the detoxification process.


These steps are adopted to soften the channels and toxins, so that the toxins can get detached and eliminated easily during main detoxifying process. The hard toxic clogs are made to get loosened by increasing body fire or Agni. Medicines are administered internally for this purpose. This process is called as - deepana and pachana - in Ayurveda. ( the duration of this process is 3-5 days depending on the conditions and diseases).

Later whole body is oleated internally and externally with medicated oil or ghee. This process is called as - Snehana .

Internal oleation is done by administering small quantities of medicated oil or ghee internally. The duration of internal oleation, quantity and type of medicated oil or ghee is determined by the physician after analyzing the body constitution of the patient. The patient has to eat liquid food or light food on the day prior to internal oleation. After consuming the medicated oil or ghee the patient is encouraged to sip warm water frequently. When medicated oil or ghee is completely digested, the patient is advised to consume light food.

External oleation is done after the completion of internal oleation.. The whole body or body part is massaged with medicated oil. Few types of external oleation are used as treatment methods. They are:

Abhyanga ; Massaging whole body
Lepa - Smearing medicated oil and herbs
Mardana - Kneading the body parts with fingers and fists.
Padaghata - Tampling the body with foot.
Gandusha - The mouth is filled with oil and is retained for a longer period of time.
Parisheka (Pizhichil ) - The warm medicated oil is poured continuously over the entire body for an extended period of time.
Soon after oil massage the body or body part is exposed to heat through steam bath or other heating methods according to the physician's choice. This process of exposing body to heat is called as swedana or sweating. Both snehana and swedana help to soften the channels and toxin clogs. Elimination of toxins becomes easy when channels are soft and toxins are loose.

Pradhana Karma

This is the main detoxifying process. The softened and loosened toxins are expelled from body by five methods. Considering these five major detoxifying methods the whole process is named as "Panchakarma" (Pancha = 5, Karma = process ).

Vamana (through Emesis),
Virechana (Purgation),
Niruha basthi Basthi (enema with herbal concoctions),
Anuvasana basthi (enema with medicated oil)
Nasya (nasal drops) and
Raktamokshana (Blood letting).
Physician can chose any of these detoxifying methods according to disease and prevalence of doshas.


Vamana means expelling doshas through oral route. It is emesis therapy. Before inducing vamana the toxins and vitiated doshas are brought to amashaya or stomach with various preparatory methods like snehana and swedana. The emesis should never be induced in empty stomach. Vamana therapy is conducted in early hours of day, when kapha dosha is dominant. Vitiated doshas and accumulated toxins are expelled through methodically induced emesis. Patient is required to be relaxed calm and devoid of any mental stress through out the therapy. After emesis therapy, patient is gradually rehabilitated to regular diet and lifestyle.

Detoxification through vamana is suggested in diseases which mainly involve kapha dosha. The disorders like cough, asthama, indigestion, poisoning, repeated attacks of tonsillitis, nasal discharge, tuberculosis, etc are treated with vamana therapy. Children and elderly are not to be subjected to this therapy. The same holds good for obese and weak persons. After vamana the loud speech, overeating, continued sitting, too much walking, anger, anxiety, coitus, retention of natural urges have to be avoided.


Virechana is expelling the vitiated doshas and toxins through purgation. This therapy can be conducted as an individual detoxification therapy or as a follow up therapy next to vamana to ensure complete detoxification. Virechana is a non painful and easiest procedure. Complications are usually very rare in this therapy. This detoxification method helps to expel toxins and vitiated doshas from blood, liver and intestines. Usual panchakarma preparatory methods like snehana and swedana are completed before inducing purgation . Virechana is induced by administering herbal purgatives in morning between 8 am to 9 am, when pitta dosha is dominant. Patient is made to drink warm water repeatedly as he passes stools. Patient is later rehabilitated to his regular diet and lifestyle.

This therapy is suggested for disorders in which pitta is prominent dosha. Skin diseases, jaundice, constipation, headache, fistula, hemorrhoids, intestinal parasites, herpes, anemia, edema are few of many diseases in which Virechana is the chosen as detoxifying therapy. Contraindications for virechana therapy are ulcerated rectum, pregnancy, obesity, diarrhea, cardiac ailments, tuberculosis, children and elderly.

Basthi Karma

Basthi karma is expelling body toxins and vitiated doshas by introduce medicated liquids or oils through anus, urethra or vaginal canal. Basthi means urinary bladder. In ancient times the enema apparatus used to be made up of urinary bladder of animals. Hence this detoxification process is called Basthi karma.

Basthi karma is mainly used in vata dominant diseases.

Basthi karma is usually performed after the first two detoxification process namely vamana and virechana or only after virechana. After completing preparatory procedures (snehana, swedana), patient is allowed to lie on his left side and medicated oil or herbal decoction is administered under hygienic conditions. Patient has to lie on his back for 10-15 minutes after basthi is given.

There are two types of Basthi - Anuvasana basthi and Niruha basthi.

Anuvasana basthi

In anuvasana basthi medicated oil is introduced through anus, immediately after the consumption of food. There will be no harm even if medicated oil remains inside colon for a long time. This type of basthi nourishes and strengthens the body.

Niruha basthi

In this type of basthi (also known as asthapana basthi) an enema of herbal decoction is given. Niruha basthi is administered in empty stomach. The administered decoction has to come out from body within 45 minutes. The expelled herbal decoction brings out toxins and vitiated doshas along with it. Anuvasana basthi and Niruhabasthi are given alternatively. Patient is advised to take bath after herbal decoction is expelled. Unlike vamana and virechana, strict diet and lifestyle rehabilitation is not required after basthi karma, as basthi do not cause irritation in digestive system. But it is necessary to take light and nourishing food.

Introducing medicated liquids and oils through urethra in men or through vagina in women, is called uttara basthi.

Basthi karma is usually recommended in

1. Diseases involving joints like arthritis, gout etc,

2. Neuro muscular problems

3. Osteoporosis

4. paralysis

5. Low back pain

6. Obesity

7. Disorders of intestines

8. Menstrual problems of women

Benefits of basthi

Basthi improves vision, decreases weight in obese people, increases weight and nourishes emaciated persons, slows down ageing process and boosts health.

Nasya karma

Nasya karma means administering drops of herbal liquid preparations or medicated oils through nose. This detoxification method is also known as Shirovirechana. Vitiated doshas and toxins which are accumulated in head and neck are expelled through nose and mouth along with nasal and oral secretions. As a preparatory procedure the head and face of patient is massaged with medicated oil (Administering medicated oil before nasya karma is not advised) and steam bath is given only to head and neck region. Patient is made to sleep on his back with foot end elevated and head reclined. The medicated liquid or oil is administered in drops to both nostrils consecutively. Patient is advised to inhale the medicine slowly. After nasya karma the patient must avoid talking loudly, getting angry and laughing.

According to the type of medicine used, the nasya karma is divided into four types. They are:

Navana Nasya : In this type drops of medicated oil is used.
Avapidana Nasya: Here squeezed juice of herbs is used.
Dhmapana or pradhamana nasya : Fine powder of herbs are made to inhale through an apparatus called 'nadi yantra' (a tube like apparatus)
Dhuma nasya : Fumes of medicinal herbs are inhaled in this type of nasya.
Nasya Karma is indicated in tonsillitis, stiff neck, stiff jaw, headache, sinusitis, stammering, hoarseness of voice etc. Nasya Karma should not be performed when patient has indigestion, consumed alcohol, taken head bath, and tiered, pregnancy.

All panchakarma or detoxification therapies have to be conducted strictly under the supervision of well experienced qualified Ayurvedic doctors.

Pashchat Karma

A strict diet and lifestyle procedure has to be followed through out Panchakarma treatment. The rehabilitative procedures to bring back the diet and lifestyle to normal are considered as 'paschat Karma'. In this stage the digestion power is brought back to normalcy. Medicines are administered to rejuvenate the body or to treat the disease.

During Panchakarma treatment the following rules have to be strictly followed.

One has to use only warm water to drink, bathe and for other activities.
Person who is undergoing Panchakarma therapy cannot indulge in sex.
Sleeping in daytime is contraindicated.
Natural urges should not be controlled.
Exposures to extreme temperatures or weather conditions have to be avoided.
Keeping awake at night is not advisable. Foods which cause indigestion can not be consumed.
Exercise and mental stress have to be avoided.

The Panchakarma therapy is not advisable for persons in whom the following conditions exist:

Cancer of the Lungs or Testicles
Melanoma HIV or AIDS
Extreme Obesity
Heart Failure
Any Active Infectious Disease
Angina Pectoris

The benefits of Panchakarma are as follows:

Toxins are eliminated from body.
Doshas get Balanced.
Stress is reduced and body gets relaxed.
Slows ageing process and increases the lifespan.
Increases glow and luster of skin.
Boosts body immunity and body energy level.
Enhances strength, energy, vitality and mental clarity.
Reduces dependence on alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
Help to implement healthy diet and lifestyle.

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

Friday, July 8, 2011

Leucoderma (White Patches, Vitiligo) and its Management in Ayurveda

Vitiligo is a pigmentation disorder in the human skin. The human skin contains special skin cells (melanocytes) that produce the pigment melanin which colors the skin. In Vitiligo, the special skin cells (melanocytes) as well as the tissues (mucous membranes) that line the inside of the mouth, nose, genital and rectal areas, and the retina of the eyes are destroyed. As a result, white patches of skin appear on different parts of the body. The hair may also turn white that grows in areas affected by vitiligo.

What causes Vitiligo?
There are several theories regarding the cause of vitiligo (see the cause) but the actual cause is not fully known. According to one theory, people with vitiligo develop antibodies that, turn upon them and destroy their own melanocytes instead of protecting them. There is another theory according to which the melanocytes somehow attack and destroy themselves. Finally, some people with vitligo have reported that a single event such as severe sunburn or an episode of emotional distress is the main cause of this order. Scientifically, events of this nature have not been accepted as the main cause of vitiligo. These are merely coincidences.

Who is affected by vitiligo? The number of people affected by vitiligo disorder ranges from 40-50 million. It forms about 1 to 2% of people in the world. 2 to 5 million people have the disorder in the United States alone.
Vitiligo affects all races and both sexes equally and ninety-five percent of its victims are below the age of 40.

What is the association of vitiligo with autoimmune disease?
In Autoimmune diseases, a person's immune system reacts against the body's own organs or tissues. Vitiligo is found to be more common in people with certain autoimmune diseases.
Autoimmune diseases that are associated with vitiligo include: hyperthyroidism (over activity of the thyroid gland), adrenocortical insufficiency (the adrenal gland does not produce enough of the hormone corticosteroid), alopecia areata (patches of baldness), and pernicious anemia (a low level of red blood cells caused by the failure of the body to absorb vitamin B12).

Is vitiligo inherited?
Vitiligo may be hereditary in some cases. Children of vitiligo affected parents are more likely to develop vitiligo disorder. However, most children will not get vitilgo even if a parent has it. Also most people with vitiligo do not have a family history of the disorder. Large number of inherited disorders are associated with vitiligo. They include: albinism of the ocular type, autoimmune polyendocrinopathy syndrome, congenital deafness with vitilego and achalasia, dyschromatosis symmetrica hereditaria, ermine phenotype, familial histiocyctic reticulosis, kabuki syndrome, and the syndrome of spastic paraparesis, vitiligo, premature graying and characteristic facies.

What are the symptoms of vitiligo?
White patches (de-pigmentation) on the skin are the foremost symbol of vitiligo. These patches are more common in sun-exposed areas, including the hands, feet, arms, face, and lips. Other common areas are the armpits and groin, and around the mouth, eyes, nostrils, navel, and genitals. Vitiligo generally appears in one of three patterns: focal pattern, segmental pattern and generalized pattern. In focal pattern, the de-pigmentation is limited to one or only a few areas. In segmental pattern, de-pigmented patches are developed on only one side of the body. But in the generalized pattern, de-pigmentation occurs on different parts of the body.
In Ayurveda, Leucoderma is known as 'shivitr' or kilaas' - Appearance of patches on skin with white or red coloration without any kind of swelling, fermentation...
Leucoderma is a skin disease also known as white patch (the development of circumscribed de-pigmentred patches). There is complete loss of melancytes from the affected patch. There may be positive family history of the disorder in those generalized leucoderma and this type is associated with auto-immune diseases such as diabetes and thyroid.

'Leuco' means 'white' and 'derma' means 'skin', thus leucoderma means abnormal whiteness of the skin. This disease is usually very difficult to treat. If the patient and the physician treat this disease for a long time with patience, it is possible to cure it. During the treatment very small blackish spots appear in the white patches. These spots keep spreading and the skin gradually becomes normal. The abnormal whiteness disappears. In this way, the disease is cured. It is not an infectious disease. Only the skin becomes white.

In terms of Ayurveda:
According to Ayurveda this disease is known as 'shivitr' or 'kilaas' - the appearance of a patche on skin with white or red coloration without any kind of swelling, fermentation, and pus formation in it. The patch of de-pigmentation of the skin is generally surrounded with normal skin. The patch might spread extensively covering the entire skin surface.Pitta is the dosha, which is responsible for occurrence of this disease. When it is increased beyond the norm it affects rakt dhatu (blood), maas dhatu (flesh), maid dhatu (fat).

Causes of Leucoderma (Vitiligo)
Why do white patches appear? So far it has not been possible to find out what causes this problem. However, there are certain things which affect the human body and can cause white patches in the skin, which spread rapidly.
When the quantity of melanin in the blood is reduced, the skin becomes white,
chronic constipation,
malfunctioning of the liver, jaundice,
ailments of the stomach,
diseases like typhoid which affect the stomach and intestines,
chronic diarrhea,
irregular food habits, indigestion,
insufficient sweating,
excessive mental tension or worries,
tubercular constitution,
hurt, burn,
wearing clothes tight at the waist,
problems of the ear, teeth and throat,

Leucoderma (Vitiligo) Management in Ayurveda:
Imbalance of Bhrajaka Pitta that colors the skin and can be compared to melanin causes blackening, pigmentation and discoloration of skin.

Grind five almonds and mix with 1 tsp of fresh cream and a few drops of lemon juice. Apply this paste to the face and neck. Leave on for about fifteen minutes.

Apply papaya juice, or mashed papaya to the affected areas.

Grind equal amounts of sesame seeds and turmeric in a small quantity of water, apply to the face or discolored skin.

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

Monday, June 20, 2011

Siddha System of Medicine (An Ancient Indian System of Medicine & One of the Oldest in the Universe) - An Overview

The Siddha medicine is a form of south Indian TAMIL traditional medicine and part of the trio Indian medicines - Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani. This system of medicine was popular in ancient India,Due to the antiquity of this medical system. The Siddha system of medicine is believed to be the oldest medical system in the universe. The system is believed to be developed by the Siddhars, the ancient supernatural spiritual saints of India and the Siddha system is believed to be handed over to the Siddhar by the Hindu God - Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi. So are the Siddhars, the followers of Lord Shiva(saivam). Siddhar's Total Nos are eighteen in them Agathiyar Is the First Siddhar.

Basics of Siddha Medicine

Generally the basic concepts of the Siddha medicine are almost similar to Ayurveda. The only difference appears to be that the Siddha medicine recognizes predominance of vatham, pitham and kapam in childhood, adulthood and old age respectively, whereas in Ayurveda it is totally reversed: kapam is dominant in childhood, vatham in old age and pitham in adults.

According to the Siddha medicine various psychological and physiological functions of the body are attributed to the combination of seven elements: first is saram (plasma) responsible for growth, development and nourishment; second is cheneer (blood) responsible for nourishing muscles, imparting colour and improving intellect; the third is ooun (muscle) responsible for shape of the body; fourth is kollzuppu (fatty tissue) responsible for oil balance and lubricating joints; fifth is enbu (bone) responsible for body structure and posture and movement; sixth is moolai (nerve) responsible for strength; and the last is sukila (semen) responsible for reproduction. Like in Ayurveda, in Siddha medicine also the physiological components of the human beings are classified as Vatha (air), Pitha (fire) and Kapha (earth and water).

Concept of Disease and Cause

When the normal equilibrium of three humors (vatha, pitha and kapha) is disturbed, disease is caused. The factors, which affect this equilibrium are environment, climatic conditions, diet, physical activities, and stress. Under normal conditions, the ratio between these three humors (vatha, pitha and kapha) is 4:2:1 respectively.

According to the Siddha medicine system diet and life style play a major role not only in health but also in curing diseases. This concept of the Siddha medicine is termed as pathya and apathya, which is essentially a list of do's and don'ts.


The treatment in Siddha medicine is aimed at keeping the three humors in equilibrium and maintenance of seven elements. So proper diet, medicine and a disciplined regimen of life are advised for a healthy living and to restore equilibrium of humors in diseased condition. Saint Thiruvalluvar explains four requisites of successful treatment. These are the patient, the attendant, physician and medicine. When the physician is well qualified and the other agents possess the necessary qualities, even severe diseases can be cured easily. The treatment should be commenced as early as possible after assessing the course and cause of the disease. Treatment is classified into three categories: devamaruthuvum (Divine method); manuda maruthuvum (rational method); and asura maruthuvum (surgical method). In Divine method medicines like parpam, chendooram, guru, kuligai made of mercury, sulphur and pashanams are used. In the rational method, medicines made of herbs like churanam, kudineer, vadagam are used. In surgical method, incision, excision, heat application, blood letting, leech application are used.

According to therapies the treatments of Siddha medicines could be further categorized into following categories such as Purgative therapy, Emetic therapy, Fasting therapy, Steam therapy, Oleation therapy, Physical therapy, Solar therapy and Blood letting therapy, Yoga therapy, etc.

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

Monday, June 6, 2011

Indian Board of Alternative Medicines introduces Pyramid Healing Therapy Center: First Time in Eastern India

Indian Board of Alternative Medicines has introduced the first pyramid healing center in Eastern India.

It is historically evident that man knew about the beneficial effects of pyramid energy as early as 6000 years ago. The ancient Egyptians used pyramids to preserve their dead. The Mayans used the pyramid for religious ceremonies. The Vedas have references to pyramid geometry. Even temple tops and church steeples were designed in the shape of a pyramid. But why the pyramid? Scientists have focused attention on this issue for the past century. It was intriguing how flowers grew better and faster, how fruits and food products improved in taste and how dead animals did not decay for weeks within a pyramid. It was found that all life forms and all matter when placed within the pyramid structure, improved in performance, behavior and appearance. Pyramid energy has, from then on, been successfully applied in healing, as well as in relieving fatigue and tension.

Students of the Indian Board of Alternative Medicines are welcome to visit the Pyramid Healing Center and spend their time inside the pyramid doing meditation or reading books or just relaxing. It is open Monday to Saturday between 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. and on Saturdays between 10 A.M. to 3 P.M. IBAM students shall be allowed entry without any charge but please carry your student i-cards with yourselves.

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

Monday, May 23, 2011

Diabetes and its Management

Diabetes Mellitus is ailment of modern era, which is creating havoc, and its prevalence is on rise with prompt pace, because of unhealthy food habits, lack of exercises and stress. Diabetes mellitus (DM) comprises a group of common metabolic disorders where hyperglycemia is the chief symptom. It is also called protean [widespread] disease because it affects every system and organ in body. Pathologically different sort of DM prevails depending upon complex interaction of genetics, environmental factors, and life-style choices. Etiological, factors contributing to hyperglycemia may include reduced insulin secretion, decreased glucose utilization, and increased glucose production.

The knowledge of DM syndrome has existed in India since pre-historic age. Its earliest reference [1000 BC] is found in mythological form where it is said that the origin of diabetes take place by eating Havishya [charak samhita nidan sthana 11]. Havishya is a special mixture of grains offered as oblation at the time of yagyna [fire ritual] and this yagyna was organized by daksha Prajapati. DM in Ayurveda is described under the heading Prameha and clinical picture is similar to Madhumeha [one type of 20 type of Prameha]. The word Prameha is derived from the root Miha Sechane means watering, excessive urine passing [quantity and frequency]. The word Prameha means Prabhut Avil Mutrata means excessive and turbid urination. The etiology, pathogenesis symptoms [roopa and proova roopa] and even principles of management described in Ayurvedic classics, got utmost parlance to those of DM. Ayurveda describe DM as Madhumeha ,which means urine like honey or sweet urine, similarly Diabetes Mellitus is a Latin word which also means honey like sweet urine.

Classifications: DM is classified on the basis of the pathogenic process that leads to hyperglycemia, not on the basis of, earlier criteria like type of therapy or age of onset. The two broad categories of DM are type 1 and type 2. Type 1A DM results from autoimmune beta cell destruction, which leads to insulin deficiency. Individuals with type 1B DM lack immunologic markers indicative of an autoimmune destructive process of the beta cells. However, they develop insulin deficiency by unknown pathology and they are usually ketosis prone. Type 2 DM is characterized by variable degrees of insulin resistance, impaired insulin secretion, and increased glucose production. Distinct genetic and metabolic defects in insulin action and/or secretion give rise to the common phenotype of hyperglycemia in type 2 DM.

Two features of the current classification of DM are different from previous classifications. First, the terms insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) are obsolete. Since many individuals with type 2 DM eventually require insulin treatment for control of glycaemia, the use of the term NIDDM generated considerable confusion. A second difference is that age is not a criterion in the classification system. Although type 1 DM most commonly develops before the age of 30, an autoimmune beta cell destructive process can develop at any age. It is estimated that between 5 and 10% of individuals who develop DM after age of 30 have type 1A DM. Likewise, type 2 DM more typically develops with increasing age, but it also occurs in children, particularly in obese adolescents.

According to Ayurvedic classifications DM is classified in Sahaja Prameha and Apthyanimitthaja which can be correlated with type 1 and type 2 DM. Similarly on the basis of management, DM is classified in to two broad categories 1) Lean Diabetic and 2) Obese Diabetic. In ancient text book of surgery Sushruta Samhita, it is described [Chikitsa Adhyaya 11:3 ] that Sahaja Prameha [congenital DM] is of krisha constitution [lean or asthenic constitution] and those of Apathya nimitthija pramehi [due to unhealthy or incorrect eating and living styles] is of sthula constitution [obese constitution], which can be correlated with type 1 and type 2 DM. In Ayurveda DM is described under the head Prameha and; Madhumeha [DM] is one of its 20 subtypes, it is also mentioned that all subtypes if not properly treated and cured eventually terminate in Madhumeha [DM] {Charak samhita Ni 4:3}. As a matter of facts all subtypes of prameha are classified according to the nature and other physical properties of urine and all of them are not similar to DM, and can be kept under different metabolic, Nephrological and other systemic ailments.

Madhumeha has got parlance with DM Syndrome. According to prognosis [sadyaasadhyata] Charak had classified Prameha in three categories 1) Sadhya or curable: this includes Kaphaja Prameha [predominance of Kapha humor], usually due to improper life style and dietary habits, and patient is usually sthula [obese]; 2) Yapya or Palliable: this includes Pittaja Prameha [predominance of pitta humor]; and 3) Asadhya [incurable]: This includes Vattaja Prameha [Predominance of Vata humor], patient is usually asthenic or lean. Charak also said that the congenital case of Prameha or one inheriting the disease from his Diabetic Parents is incurable because of genetic factor [Type 1 DM]; whatever diseases are familial are said to be incurable [ch chi :6:57]

Pathogenesis of Madhumeha [DM]

The Madhumeha can be categorized in to two broad types according to description in classical text of Ayurveda.

1 Avrita vaatjanya Madhumeha [Primary DM]

2 Dhatu kshyajanya Madhumeha [secondary DM]

Primary madhumeha [DM] : It is vaataj in nature and seemed to be fulminant from advent and can be compared with type 1 DM and advent is usually early [juvenile], usually patient is lean from the advent of ailment.

Secondary madhumeha [DM] results from the complication of all subtypes of 20 prameha and can be compared with type 2 DM

Etiology: includes excessive intake of Navanna [newly harvested Paddy] which is rich in carbohydrates,Gudavikriti [jaggery and sugar products]; Payamsi, Dahini [milk and curds], Gramya Anupa rasa [meat and flesh of aquatic and land animals] which is rich in trans fats and lipids. Other factors includes Asaya sukham [lack of exercise and sedentary life style]; savapna sukham [excessive sleeping habits]. These improper life style and dietary habits eventually leads in madhumeha ,especially to those who are prone [have family history of DM]

Clinical Features: Poorva rupa [Prodromal symptoms ]: These are the symptoms which occur prior to manifestation of disease. If in this stage we recognize the disease process by these symptoms, than it can be prevented by taking proper care of our routine and diet regimen, these poorva rupa or pre occurring prodromal symptoms are as under and they have been dealt with great details by three principle texts of Ayurveda [Vrahat Tryahi]. Because of the utmost importance in prevention of such a deadly ailment which clings to life forever: excessive sleep, fatigue, apathy, lack of pleasure, excessive growth of nails and hairs, sweet taste in mouth, dryness of palate and throat, thirst, attraction towards cold objects, greasiness and numbness, burning sensations over hand and feet, honey like urine[turbid and sweet ]. As for as modern medical view is concerned type 2 DM is preceded by a state called impaired glucose tolerance [IGT] for long period and by taking proper preventive measures like diet control and exercise can prevent or delay.

DM Symptoms and criterion for Diagnosis: The chief symptoms of DM syndrome according to Ayurveda and modern medicines are given under; although most patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus are asymptomatic for years.

1.Polyuria: increased urinary output and increased frequency; in Ayurveda this symptom is termed as prabhootavila mootrata [increased output and frequency of turbid urine]

2.Polydipsia: Excessive and frequent thirst in Ayurveda it is termed as Trishna

3.Unexplained weight loss These three symptoms are called cardinal symptoms of DM, apart from this, following symptoms are also described in Ayurvedic text as valuable for diagnosing DM

4.Maduratwa in mootra [sweet urine]

5.Pani-Pada Daha: Bunning sensation over feet and palms and Lower extremity paresthesias- pins and needle sensation; other most common symptoms encountered are lethargy, fatigue, nocturnal, erectile dysfunction.
Few cases of DM remain undiagnosed and accidentally at time of routine checkups come to notice. The revised criteria for the diagnosis of DM emphasize the FPG as a reliable and convenient test for diagnosing DM in asymptomatic individuals. A random plasma glucose concentration (200 mg/dl) accompanied by classic symptoms of DM (polyuria, polydipsia, weight loss) is sufficient for the diagnosis of DM; Fasting plasma glucose of >125 mg/dl and two hour post glucose load (75g), plasma glucose levels 200 mg/dl, and confirmed by repeat test is sufficient criterion to confirm the diagnosis Treatment. The basic principle or Chikitsa Sutra according to Ayurvedic point of view is Shodhana [purification] and Shamana [suppression]

Shodhana or purification is generally done in obese diabetic with adequate body strength and requires expertise in assessment of vitiated doshas and therapy to be applied. Mismanagement would lead to more harm than any good. Hence in general practice shaman Chikitsa is prevalent and popular.

Shaman Chikitsa: [pacificatory management]: The herbs used in the management of DM syndrome are bitter, astringent, and pungent in Rasa [taste]. All herbs having these tastes are having some anti-diabetic quality. While treating DM herbs are used either individually or with combination of other herbs or mineral [yoga or composite formulae].

Single drugs [herbs]:

1- Karvellaka or karela, Bitter gourd [Momoradia charantia ] also known as bitter melon, is one herb that has proven beneficial in the treatment of diabetes. Karavella has a long history of use as an herb for diabetes in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The plant extract was referred to the as vegetable insulin. Various studies have demonstrated the potent antioxidant activity of karavella. Treatment With karavella resulted in a significant increase in various antioxidant enzyme levels in the liver and kidney of diabetic rats. The extract of karavella exerted rapid protective effects against lipid per oxidation by scavenging free radicals, thereby reducing the risk of diabetic complications. Other studies have demonstrated the blood glucose lowering activity of karavella. The effect of karavella on fasting and post-prandial (two hours after food) blood glucose levels was studied in 100 cases of moderate non-insulin dependent diabetic subjects. Drinking of an aqueous homogenized suspension of the vegetable pulp led to significant reduction of both fasting and postprandial serum glucose levels. This hypoglycemic action was observed in 86 (86%) cases.

The active components in karavella are thought to be an alkaloid memordicine, glycosides charantin and vicine, and polypeptide-p. (Polypeptide-p is an Insulin like protein Karvellaka also reduces increased lipids specially cholesterol

2- Meshshringi [Gymnema sylvestre] also called Gudmar and madhunashini: It controls hyperglycemia and carbohydrate metabolism in in liver and in skeletal muscles. It causes complete obliteration of sweet perception by tongue due to excessive copper content in leaf. The active hypoglycemic agent is gymnemic acid and two crude saponins, gymnemosides-a and gymsemoside

3-Bimbi [coccinia indica] also called Durike bel or kunduru: The root of this herb contains hypoglycemic principle, and fruit contains a bitter glycoside containing cuceubirocin B. The expressed juice of tuberous root stem and leaves is used to control glucose in DM

4-Nimba [Azadirachta indica] also called Neem: Leaves and bark of this plant is used in DM, it is very good detoxifier, Liver stimulant and lowers the glycosuria. It is also good for keeping the blood vessels healthy and thus prevent diabetic vasculopathies.

Similarly different composite drug combination is also described in Ayurvedic texts, a few of them are Abhyadi kashyam, Nyogradhi churna, Nishaamalki kashyam, Asana bilvadi kashyam, Chandra prabha vati, Pramehantak Rasa and Vasant kusumakar rasa. Author of this paper has developed a composite herbal drug combination and found it very much effective in proper management of Type -2 DM.

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

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ayurvedic Treatment of Fibromyalgia (CFS)

Fibromyalgia is a recently recognized disorder that is regarded as a chronic condition associated with the experience of non-inflammatory pain and tenderness in muscles, ligaments, joints and fatigue. Fibromyalgia is a relatively common condition, estimated to affect about four percent of the general population. It is very similar to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS); Only point of difference is presence of musculoskeletal pain in Fibromyalgia and that of fatigue in CFS. Low level of Serotonin is considered to be most important biochemical criteria. The primary treatment goals should include raise serotonin levels, improve sleep quality, and assure adequate magnesium levels.


•Generalized aches or stiffness at many sites for more than three months.

•Generalized fatigue

•Chronic headache including migraines

•Sleep disorder, particularly timings of cycles

•Neuronal and psychological complaints


•Numbness/ tingling sensations

Ayurvedic View

It can be described as 'Mansa Dhatugat and Mansavrut Vata'. Fibromyalgia is perceived as a Vata imbalance. Vata is the main imbalance and aggravated Vata destabilizes the nervous system and can create hypersensitivity leading to pain and tenderness. Accumulation of Ama (toxins) and shrotorodha are also contributory factors.

Ayurvedic Approach of Fibromyalgia and CFS Treatment

The aggravation of Vata dosha and accumulation of Ama (toxins) are the primary causes and should be treated mainly. Associated weak digestion, constipation, and effects of chronic stress should also be tackled.

Panchakarma Therapy

Pre-purification Measures namely 'snehan' and 'swedan' are very useful to balance 'Vata' and to loosen the toxins. Snehan is the Herbalized Oil Massage. This oil is applied to the entire body with a particular type of massage. Swedan is sudation or sweating and is given immediately following the snehan. An herbal concoction may be added to the steam to further enhancement of effect. Daily herbalized oil massage also provides a deeply soothing and balancing effect to the entire nervous system. The motion of massage creates heat and friction which enhances circulation and helps cleanse the areas of chemical impurities that could be aggravating and hyper-sensitizing nerve tissues.

Diet and Nutrition

Following is the diet suggested for the patients suffering form Fibromyalgia and CFS

Vegetable juices and soups Coconut water and Coconut milk Juice of carrot, Cucumber, Beetroot Cooked vegetables like squash, zucchini and pumpkin Spices like cumin, coriander, ginger asafetida, garlic, fennel and turmeric. Green salad with a dressing of lemon juice and a little salt Khichadi (recipe made by cooking rice and mung dal, 1:1 or 1:2 proportion)

The patient of Fibromyalgia and CFS should avoid the following

Eating hot, spicy and fried foods, sweets, foods like brinjal, cabbage, Cauliflower, spinach, broccoli, okra and potatoes. Too much tea, coffee, alcohol, white sugar, yogurt, chocolate, cocoa. Sleeping during the day and staying up late at night Mental tensions like worry, anxiety, fear, stress and grief.

Yoga for Stress Management and Improved Mental and Emotional Function

It is well documented that fibromyalgia is often worsened by heightened stress, anxiety and mental fatigue. There are hormonal changes and other biochemical responses to stress that can aggravate the nervous system, and the immune response. The sleep disturbance that is often created by fibromyalgia symptoms increases fatigue which in turn increases one's susceptibility to stress which in turn aggravates the fibromyalgia condition.

Meditation,Yoga, Pranayama and studying of spiritual philosophy are all recommended for supporting personal healing and relaxation of the mind. Efforts should be made to increase the Sattvic quality of mind.

Various stretching exercises are known to have a positive effect on fibromyalgia. Regular practicing of sets of different postures are helpful in creating a healthy flexibility throughout the body. Yogic breathing practices will also create a state of restful alertness in mind and body. Progressive deep relaxation, i.e., shavasana (Corpse posture) brings about a relaxed state of mind which prepares the individual for meditation.

Lifestyle and Daily Routine

One of the most important factors for balancing Vata and maintaining stability in the nervous system is to have a lifestyle that does not disturb natural bodily rhythms. When we eat, sleep and exercise in constantly fluctuating and disturbing patterns, the body loses its natural balancing cycles. Therefore regularity in our daily routine can be extremely effective in reducing Vata imbalances.

Ayurvedic Herbs

•Decoction of the roots of ten herbs (Dashamularishtam) should be given in the dose of 30 ml., twice daily.

•Daily use of the Ayurvedic compound 'Triphala choorna' is recommended to cleanse the colon.

•Half a teaspoon of turmeric powder with warm water helps to reduce pain and inflammation in Fibromyalgia. Dosage: twice a day

•Garlic is useful for detoxification and to enhance immune system function.

•Guggul is a very helpful herb for relief of pain.

•Licorice root supports the glandular system and acts in the body like cortisone, but without the harmful side-effects. Caution: If overused, licorice can elevate blood pressure. Do not use this herb on a daily basis for more than seven days in a row. Avoid it if you have high blood pressure

•Ginger Tea. Ginger is a good alternative to aspirin to relieve minor aches and pains. Steep 1 teaspoon of the grated root in 8 ounces of hot water for 10 minutes. Strain. Add honey for taste, if you like. Alternatively, take 1 to 2 Grams of powdered ginger a day with food.

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ayurvedic Treatment of Arthritis (Painful Joints)

Arthritis is one of the most common ailment for which Ayurvedic help is being sought these days.

Disease Process in Arthritis

According to Ayurveda mostly pains are caused by the aggravation of vata (air) dosha. Arthritis is a condition which is caused by accumulation of ama and aggravation of vata. (Ama is a toxic by-product of improper digestion.) This ama circulates in the whole body and deposits or gets collected at the sites which are weaker. When it deposits in the joints and at the same time there is aggravation of vata, it results in a disease called amavata. This amavata is arthritis.


As described above ama and vata are the main causes, so efforts should be made to digest ama and to reduce the vata. The digestion should be improved so that no further ama is produced. Efforts should be made to relieve the pain and inflammation. This is the line of treatment according to Ayurveda.

Fasting is very beneficial for digesting the ama. The fasting be complete or partial depending on the strength of the person, season and place. Two tea spoons of lemon juice mixed in 250 ml. of warm water and a tea spoon of honey is good to take twice a day -morning and evening.

Body massage with sesame or mustard oil helps to reduce the vata and thus reduce the pain. The joints affected by pain can be massaged for longer time.

Light exercise is useful but you must know your limits: as a general rule if any exercise, including walking, causes pain after one hour, you have crossed your limit.

Liberal intake of orange juice or sweet limejuice or Vitamin C enhances the efficacy of any anti rheumatic drug, since Vitamin C can reduce skeletal pain.

Guggul is a very helpful herb for curing arthritis. If available it can be taken in one to 3 gm dose twice a day after meals with warm water.

Contra-indications: Not recommended for people with kidney disease or acute rashes.

Diet and Regimen

Foods which are easily digestible and do not make wind or gas are good. Vegetable juices and soups are good. Juices of carrot, beat root and cucumber mixed together is also beneficial. Green salad with a dressing of lemon juice and a little salt is also good. Fruits like apples, oranges, grapes and papaya can be taken. Cooked vegetables like squash, zucchini and pumpkin are good. Cooking with spices like cumin, coriander, ginger, asafetida, garlic, fennel and turmeric is also helps a lot.

Avoid eating hot, spicy and fried foods, sweets, wind forming foods like cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, broccoli, okra and potatoes should be prohibited. Avoid taking too much tea, coffee, alcohol, white sugar, yogurt, chocolate and cocoa, excessive smoking, sleeping during day time, staying up late in the night and mental tensions like worry, anxiety, fear, stress and grief etc., should be given up. Regular physical exercise and every day massage with oil, once or twice a week, should form an important part of life style.

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

Friday, April 15, 2011

Eating for Balance: Choosing Foods for an Ayurvedic Diet

According to ayurveda, every individual has unique needs for balance. Since diet is one of the most important ayurvedic tools for achieving balance, ayurvedic healers generally design individualized diets for people they see, based on various factors such as age and gender, the doshic tendencies that need to be balanced at a given time, the strength of the body tissues and the digestive fires, and the level of ama (toxins) in the body. The place where a person lives and the season are also factors that affect dietary dos and don'ts.

Notwithstanding the individualized approach to choosing foods for balance, there are some universally applicable principles that are important to follow if you are living an ayurvedic lifestyle:

1. Include the six tastes at every main meal

In ayurveda, foods are classified into six tastes--sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. Ayurvedic healers recommend that you include all of these six tastes at each main meal you eat. Each taste has a balancing ability, and including some of each minimizes cravings and balances the appetite and digestion. The general North American diet tends to have too much of the sweet, sour and salty, and not enough of the bitter, pungent and astringent tastes.

A fruit-spice chutney or a spice-mix can provide a little of each of the six tastes if you are in a hurry, but it is ideal to choose foods from each category for complete, balanced nutrition. Just in the category of fresh vegetables and herbs, for example, you could choose fennel bulb or carrot for the sweet taste, fresh lemons for sour, arugula or endive for bitter, radish or white daikon or ginger root for pungent and cabbage or broccoli or cilantro for astringent. Click here for more on the six tastes.

The Amalaki Rasayana, made from the Amla fruit, offers five of the six ayurvedic tastes--all except salty.

2. Choose foods by balancing physical attributes

In ayurveda, foods are also categorized as heavy or light, dry or unctuous/liquid and warm or cool (temperature), and different qualities balance different doshas. A balanced main meal should contain some foods of each physical type. Within this overall principle, you can vary the proportions of each type based on your constitution and needs for balance, the season of the year and the place you live.

To keep Vata dosha in balance, choose more heavy, unctuous or liquid, and warm foods, and fewer dry, light or cool foods. To help balance Pitta, focus more on cool, dry and heavy foods, and to balance Kapha, try more of light, dry and warm foods.

If you live in cooler climes, you'll want to gravitate towards warm comfort foods, and vice versa. Similarly, in winter, when Vata dosha tends to increase in most people's constitutions, almost everyone can benefit from including warm soups and nourishing dhals, fresh paneer cheese and whole milk in the diet. In the summer, plan on eating more cool, soothing foods to help keep Pitta dosha in balance.

3. Choose foods that are sattvic

A third ayurvedic classification of foods is by the effect they have on the non-physical aspects of the physiology--mind, heart, senses and spirit. Sattvic foods have an uplifting yet stabilizing influence, rajasic foods stimulate and can aggravate some aspects of the mind, heart or senses, and tamasic foods breed lethargy and are considered a deterrent to spiritual growth.

Everyone, whether actively seeking spiritual growth or not, can benefit by including some sattvic foods at every meal because they help promote mental clarity, emotional serenity and sensual balance and aid in the coordinated functioning of the body, mind, heart, senses and spirit. Almonds, rice, honey, fresh sweet fruits, mung beans and easy-to-digest, fresh seasonal vegetables and leafy greens are examples of sattvic foods. To get the full sattwa from sattvic foods, prepare and eat them whole and fresh.

4. Opt for whole, fresh, in-season, local foods

Authentic ayurvedic herbal preparations are made by processing the whole plant or the whole plant part, not by extracting active substances from the plant. Similarly, from the ayurvedic perspective, the most healthful diet consists of whole foods, eaten in as natural a state as possible, the only exception being when removing a peel or cooking helps increase digestibility and assimilation for certain types of constitutions. If the digestive fire is not strong enough, even wholesome foods can turn into ama (toxic matter) in the body.

Foods that are frozen, canned, refined so as to denude the food of its nutritive value, processed with artificial colors, flavorings, additives or preservatives, genetically altered, or grown with chemical pesticides or fertilizers are not recommended by ayurvedic healers, because such foods are lacking in chetana--living intelligence--and prana--vital life-energy--and will do more harm than good in the physiology.

For the above reasons, it's best to choose foods and produce that is locally grown or produced, foods that are in-season, and foods that are organic, natural and whole.

5. Rotate menus and experiment with a variety of foods

The sages that wrote the ancient ayurvedic texts would be horrified by our current fascination with the low-carb diet or the no-fat diet or the juice diet--from the ayurvedic perspective, any diet that is exclusive in nature is by definition incomplete in its nutritive value and ability to balance all aspects of the physiology. Eat a wide variety of foods for balanced nutrition--whole grains, lentils and pulses, vegetables, fruits, dairy, nuts, healthy oil or ghee, spices and pure water all have their roles in the balancing process.

If you find yourself eating the same dishes several times a week, or you gravitate towards the same produce or foods every time you shop, resolve now to start making your meals an adventure. Every week, try at least a few new foods or fix familiar foods in new ways, so that your taste buds and your digestion are constantly exposed to some new stimuli in addition to the familiar.

According to ayurveda, each meal should be a feast for all of your senses. When your plate reflects an appealing variety of colors, textures, flavors and aromas, your digestive juices start freely flowing in anticipation and your body, mind and heart are all fulfilled by the eating experience.

We constantly upgrade our site, so check back often for ideas for eating ayurvedically at our recipes and foods sections.

6. Include spices and herbs in your daily diet

Spices and herbs are concentrated forms of Nature's healing intelligence. They are particularly revered in ayurveda for their ability to enhance digestion and assimilation, help cleanse ama (toxins) from the body and their yogavahi property--their ability to transport the healing and nutritive value of other components of the diet to the cells, tissues and organs.

Spices, in ayurveda, are generally eaten cooked. Sauté spices in a little olive oil or ghee (clarified butter) and pour the mixture over cooked foods, or simmer spices with foods like beans or grains as they cook. Fresh herbs such as cilantro or mint are generally added at the end of the cooking process, just before serving.

Ayurveda recommends spices/herbs to stimulate the digestion before a meal, during a meal and after a meal. Eating a bit of fresh ginger and lemon about 30 minutes before a main meal helps kick-start the digestion. Eating dishes cooked with a variety of spices and herbs helps the cycle of digestion--absorption--assimilation--elimination. Chewing fennel seeds after a meal helps digestion and freshens the breath naturally as well.

Ayurvedic rasayanas such as Amalaki and Triphala offer additional ways to help nourish and cleanse the digestive system. Amalaki Rasayana helps enhance digestion, helps balance the production of stomach acid and nourishes the body tissues. Triphala Rasayana helps tone and cleanse the digestive tract and helps nourish the different tissues.

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

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Glimpses of the Inauguration Class of IBAM sponsored Holistic Healing Course

Indian Board of Alternative Medicines, under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Suresh Kumar Agarwal, has sponsored the conduct of a 100 hour holistic healing course for spreading natural healing know-how and wellness in Kolkata, India. This course is being offered to housewives and teenage girls to enable them to understand the importance of natural health and being. As part of the Board’s charitable activities, sponsorship of the program has resulted in it being offered absolutely free to all.

The course commenced on the 7th of April, 2011 on the occasion of World Health Day and shall continue through until the first week of June. The class has a total strength of 108 students.

Considering the eagerness of the people to learn and based on several requests from prospective candidates who were denied intakes due to reach of the maximum class limit, IBAM has undertaken to sponsor the conduct of the holistic healing course for a duration of one year comprising six batches in all, to be held at every interval of 2 months. Local Kolkatans can register themselves at our campus for the next batch commencing from June. Candidates from out of station can contact the Board for vacancy over the phone or through email. Because the training is being sponsored, the class shall remain free for students the whole year round.

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

Friday, April 1, 2011

Aromatherapy for Personal Balance in Every Season!

Aromatherapy, in the form of floral and herbal extracts and incense, has always been an integral aspect of Ayurvedic healing. From sandalwood incense to enhance the benefits of meditation to water infused with holy basil for purifying the environment, aromas have been a pleasant way to infuse the human psycho-physiology with the healing wisdom of plants.

Although single aroma incense and floral waters are not uncommon in Ayurveda, it is more typical to see blends or combinations of several different aromas. The benefits? Synergy and balance.

A synergistic blend of healing substances, according to ayurveda, delivers a holistic benefit that is greater than the sum of its parts. And careful balancing of ingredients is reported to counteract possible side-effects from a single healing substance.

Ayurveda talks about restoring balance to mind, body and spirit in every season. The three Ayurvedic operators - Vata, Pitta and Kapha - that control all the functions of the mind and body have seasons associated with them as well. Fall and winter are associated with Vata, spring with Kapha and summer with Pitta. There are traditional aroma blends that are particularly useful for restoring overall balance in each of these three seasons. Vata, Pitta and Kapha aroma blends are also useful for personal balance. If you need to pacify one of these doshas, these aroma blends are a convenient and very pleasant way to balance your environment.

Vata balancing blends generally include sweet warming oils that soothe the mind and emotions and enhance serenity - Sweet Orange, Geranium Rose, Ylang Ylang, and Frankincense, for example. Try equal parts of Ylang Ylang and Frankincense (2-4 drops each) mixed in 2 oz. of a light massage oil such as Jojoba or Sweet Almond for a relaxing therapeutic full-body massage. A couple of drops of the Maharishi Ayurveda Vata blend in hot water works well for facial steam therapy in cold windy weather. A combination of 2 drops of Lemon, 2 drops of Sweet Orange and 4 drops of Jasmine can help you unwind: try this blend as an infusion in a late evening bath. A complex Vata blend can include as many as seven or eight oils in a precise combination for optimum balance.

Pitta tends to get out of balance in situations of extreme heat, whether it be weather-related or emotions-related. Aroma blends for balancing Pitta include sweet cooling oils such as Rose, Fennel and Sandalwood, often with smaller amounts of soothing oils such as Ylang Ylang and Frankincense and some uplifting oils such as Lemon or Peppermint. The combinations are designed to keep you calm, yet focused and alert. Try 4 drops each of Ylang Ylang and Sandalwood for a bathwater infusion on hot days. Or blend equal parts of Vetiver, Sandalwood, Rose, Jasmine and Fennel and use the quantity directed in an aroma diffuser for creating a calm environment and diffusing intensity.

Kapha blends are generally warm, spicy and invigorating, designed to wake you up on damp, cold, gray spring days. They contain vital oils such as Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Peppermint and Basil, with smaller amounts of balancing oils such as Frankincense or Ylang Ylang. Try four drops of Peppermint and 2 drops each of Frankincense and Ylang Ylang as a bath infusion in a morning bath or as part of your shower gel (use 4-6 drops per 2 oz. of unscented cleanser) - you'll feel the invigorating aromas subtly balance your body and mind long after you've bathed or showered. A drop each of Eucalyptus and Basil works wonders in steam therapy water on moist cold days. This blend will help you feel fresh, alert and clear.

Healing scents afford both pleasure and gentle balance for body, mind and spirit. The Maharishi Ayurveda Vata, Pitta and Kapha aroma oils are pre-balanced blends that offer synergistic benefits. Use them in every season to restore harmony!

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

Monday, March 28, 2011

Zero In on Your Child's Health Needs with Ayurveda

You're crammed into the car for a family vacation, and your kids are getting antsy. Red-haired Mandy keeps saying, "I'm hot!" and "I'm hungry. When do we eat?" She is trying to get the others to play car games, which she usually wins. Thin, wiry Jenna is talking a mile a minute, wound up from the travel and anxious to get there. Suresh, who is prone to gaining weight, congenially listens to his sisters and then drifts off to sleep.

As every mother knows, no two children are alike. Just as one child may have blond hair and another dark, psychological and physical needs can also vary widely from child to child.

The health and creativity of the child is based on how much good feeling, how much emotional, physiological, and psychological nourishment he or she receives from the parents. And once you understand your child's mind-body type -- his or her basic make-up -- you know how to help.

Know Your Child

The three main Ayurvedic mind-body types are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Of the three children, Mandy is a typical Pitta type, with her red hair and fair skin. The fire in her personality is expressed as anger when she's stressed and affection when she's feeling balanced.

For this type of child, it's better not to make promises but just to surprise her or present things when they are in place, for she will become emotionally distraught when disappointed. A Pitta child should avoid hot, spicy foods such as hot peppers, and should eat more cooling foods such as sweet lassi, sweet, juicy fruits, and cooked vegetables. Mandy is not the sort of child who can handle it well if a meal is delayed -- she should have snacks on hand if the meal is going to be late. Even though Mandy may enjoy competitive sports, she should avoid getting overheated, and should stay out of the sun.

Jenna is a typical Vata-type -- quick to learn, always moving, and prone to anxiety and insomnia. A Vata-based child such as Jenna thrives on a daily oil massage and abundant hugs, as the sense of touch soothes Vata dosha. While a regular daily routine, with regular meals and early bed-time is important for all growing children, it is absolutely essential with a Vata child. Jenna's parents will want to take care not to feed her too much Vata-aggravating foods, such as dry cereals, raw vegetables, crackers, and cold foods and drinks.

As for Suresh, he is probably an easier child to raise in some ways; as a classic Kapha type, he is more easy-going. However, it's important for parents not to overlook the needs of Kapha children just because they aren't as demanding. John's parents should get him involved in sports, as Kapha children thrive on vigorous exercise but may not seek it out unless prodded. Kapha children may be slower to learn in school, but can be excellent scholars if given time and patience. They have excellent long-term memories. Suresh will feel healthiest if he avoids heavy, cold desserts such as ice cream and cheesecake, and in general should eat light, warm, foods such as soups and cooked vegetables.

Of course, most children won't fall so neatly into these three categories. There are seven different combinations of these three basic types. A child might be Vata-Pitta, or Pitta-Kapha, or Vata-Kapha. Or he or she might be a combination of all three.

Foods to Grow On

All children should eat lots of fresh organic foods, with plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, as these foods have more chetana or intelligence than fresh foods. An excess of "junk" foods may create mental imbalance according to ayurveda. Indeed, recent research shows that additives in junk foods, if eaten as a steady diet, can actually lower IQ.

Organic dairy products such as whole milk and freshly made yogurt are ideal proteins for children, as are soaked almonds and walnuts. Spices such as turmeric, cumin and pepper help digestion, metabolism and brain nourishment, and should be introduced in small pinches if your child is not accustomed to them. Some spices are anti-oxidants, and black pepper helps enhance utilization of oxygen in the brain.

The Main Idea is Balance

All fathers and mothers should examine the quality and quantity of fat, protein, sugar, and air the children are ingesting. The brain needs these four major nutrients for mental clarity and integrated functioning. Recommended fats include ghee (clarified butter) and olive oil, and recommended sugar includes organic raw sugar, Sucanat, honey and rock sugar. Even if it's of good quality, it's important not to let the child eat too much fat or sugar. Just as an example, the average American consumes 125 lbs. of sugar a year, when just a hundred years ago the average was two pounds.


With stress so much a part of modern life, a weekly oil massage and relaxing aromatherapy can be beneficial for children. Make sure they get enough sleep, and that they get plenty of affection and understanding. If you manage your own time and stress levels well, you act as powerful role-models for your children.

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

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Healing Waters

Well water, pond water, rain water - there are many types of water described in Ayurvedic texts, and each has a therapeutic value, just as food does.

Water represents soma, the nourishing, cooling quality that is associated with lunar energy. It helps with digestion, cools and balances Pitta dosha, supports Kapha, and counteracts the dryness of Vata. It nurtures, lubricates and also detoxifies when it flows out of the body as urine.

Water, when properly absorbed by the body, has several healing qualities:

1.Helps to remove fatigue (Shramnashana)
2.Enhances glow of skin
3.Prevents constipation
4.Increases stamina
5.Provides satisfaction
6.Helps the heart by pacifying Sadhaka Pitta
7.Helps digestion
9.Always helpful to the body
10.Easy to assimilate
The healing effects of water can be enhanced using Ayurvedic methods.

Water for Cleansing

Sometimes people have dry skin and unquenchable thirst even though they drink lots of water. The deeper physiology is not getting enough moisture. This occurs when the person's agni is low and ama blocks the micro-channels (shrotas) which carry water to the cells. In order to cleanse the channels and enhance moisture absorption, Ayurvedic texts recommend boiling the water for various lengths of time, creating a therapeutic water called ushnodaka. Another method is to add spices or herbs to the water after boiling.

Why It Works

When the water boils, it gets charged with heat, becoming sharper in quality (sookshma). This sharpness allows it to cleanse the channels and penetrate deeper levels of the physiology. Spices create an added therapeutic effect by interacting with the water on the molecular level. Spices create different effects on the body through aroma and taste. It becomes easier for the body to flush out toxins and impurities because of the sharpness of the agni (heat) in the water and because of the sharpness of the spices. Over time, it cleanses the channels so the water is unobstructed as it travels into the body to hydrate the tissues, and travels out carrying waste.

Ancient texts talk about the difference in the rate of absorption of regular water vs. boiled water:

1.regular water - takes about 6 hours if every channel is clear
2.boiled and cooled water - takes about 3 hours to be absorbed, and helps open the channels
3.hot herbalized water - takes about 1 1/2 hours, due to sharpness of agni and herbs and spices

Water for Your Body Type

An Ayurvedic expert can design a therapeutic water recipe to give a specific benefit. One water recipe might enhance immunity, another might cleanse the skin, another might help with prostate imbalance. You can also choose a spice-water recipe for your body type or imbalances.

Vata Balancing Water

Boil two quarts of water for 5 minutes. Take it off the heat and add 3 leaves mint, 1/2 t. fennel seed, and 1/4 t. marshmallow root. Place the water in a thermos. Sip it throughout the day at a warm but not hot temperature.

Pitta Balancing Water

Boil two quarts of water for 2 minutes. Take it off the heat and add 1/4 t. fennel seed, 2 rose buds, and 1 clove. Store it hot inside a thermos, but before drinking pour it into a cup and let it cool to room temperature in summer. In winter, it can be slightly warmer.

Kapha Balancing Water

Boil two quarts of water for 5 minutes. Take it off the heat and add 3 holy basil leaves, two thin slices of fresh ginger, 1/4 t. of cumin, 1/2 t. of fennel. Place the water and spices in a thermos, and sip the water at a hot or warm temperature throughout the day.

How Much is Enough?

How much water you should drink depends on your age, how much physical work or exercise you do, the weather, your diet, your stress levels, your herbal food supplements, and your body type. The warm Pitta types usually are thirstier than the watery Kapha types. Vata types are often constipated or have dry skin and thus need to drink more water. I usually recommend two quarts of spice-water a day, but every person has to determine their own individual needs. Make your spice water first thing in the morning and sipping it every fifteen minutes throughout the day. Drink plain water after 7:00 p.m., as spice-water is too enlivening to drink right before sleeping. If you don't finish the spice-water by then, throw it out and start fresh in the morning. You may want to drink some plain water during the day as well. If you have been exercising and need to drink a full glass of water, it's better to drink plain water rather than the spice water.

Water at Meals

Ayurvedic texts also recommend sipping plain water at meals, because Ayurvedic food already contains spices and you don't want to overwhelm the body. On the other hand, if you are eating a plain meal without spices, then the spice-water will help digestion. A cup of water at meals is good, but it depends on what you are eating. If you are eating soup or dhal, you'll need much less water. If you are eating a higher quantity of dry foods, such as crackers, you'll need more. Water at meals can be room temperature or hot, depending on your body type, but should never be ice-cold, as that would douse the digestive fire. Forty-five minutes after the meal, you may suddenly feel thirsty, and then it's a good idea to drink a lot of water as the body needs it for digestion. In between meals you can sip the spice-water. You will be surprised how something as simple as water can enhance your health.

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

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dr. Siddharth M. Jondhale Awarded with the Young Scientist Award for his Work on HIV Aids

Dr. Siddharth M. Jondhale, a Young Homeopath from Nanded, Maharashtra was awarded with the Young Medical Scientist Award for his excellent work and research on Treatment of HIV Aids by the Indian Board of Alternative Medicines. Dr. Siddharth has been a close associate of the Board for a long time and the entire IBAM family congratulates him for his breakthrough work and is pleased to confer upon him one of the Highest Honours of the Young Medical Scientist.

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

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Glimpses of the International Seminar on Integrated Medicines organized by the Indian Board of Alternative Medicines

Indian Board of Alternative Medicines organized an International Seminar and Convocation Ceremony on Integrated Medicines on the 23rd of January, 2011 in Kolkata, India.

The event was attended by students, Doctors and Board's faculty from 7 countries of the world and has been greatly appreciated by several national and international dignitaries including the President of India, Smt. Pratibha Patil, Chief Ministers of different States and Embassies of different countries.

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

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

You can Stay Healthy this Winter

If you follow the Ayurvedic dietary guidelines and lifestyle for each season, you can develop an established, permanent state of immunity, when sickness is no longer a threat. This is the third level of immunity (Yuktikrit), which is the goal of Maharishi Ayurveda. This is what "Bala" really means, "a state without disease"

Winter gets a bad rap. It's called the flu season, the cold season, and the season when contagious diseases abound. Yet according to Maharishi Ayurveda, winter doesn't have to be this way. Winter is actually the best season to improve immunity. It's not a weakening season if you know how to strengthen immunity.

To understand how to improve immunity in the winter season, you first need to understand the unique concept of immunity in Maharishi Ayurveda. Bala, which literally means "strength," is the Ayurvedic word for immunity.

Bala goes far beyond the Western concept of physical immunity. Besides physical immunity, it includes psychological immunity, and spiritual immunity. Bala provides endurance against any disturbance to these areas.

In Ayurvedic terms, immunity is connected with the digestion. When digestion is strong and appetite is good, then immunity is strengthened. Whatever weakens digestion weakens immunity. It's that simple.

Raising Your Immunity Quotient

Besides diet and lifestyle, there are other factors that determine your immunity quotient. These include your heredity, the season of the year and your age. It is even possible to develop an established level of immunity that remains stable throughout all the ups and downs of life. The chart below explains these three levels of immunity.

Three Levels of Immunity

1.Hereditary (Sahaj) - the innate level of immunity, which you are born with.
2.Seasonal (Kalaj) - fluctuating levels of immunity due to the change of seasons, different stages of life, and planetary cycles.
3.Established (Yuktikrit) - a balanced, permanent level of immunity that can be realized by following an Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle. This type of immunity can be "planned" using dietary and lifestyle principles and herbal preparations.
If someone is born with an innately low level of immunity, that fact cannot be changed. So that's why in Maharishi Ayurveda, we focus on strengthening the second type of immunity, which fluctuates with the seasons, age, and planetary cycles. One reason that winter is a good season for building immunity is that the digestion is stronger in cold weather. Just as your home's heating system works harder in cold weather, so your inner digestive fire stokes up when the air turns chilly.

Winter is the season when nature is ready to nurture us. Due to the digestive level being very high, people feel hungrier, and can actually digest food better in winter, thus nourishing their bodies more.

People just think this season is bad for immunity because as appetite increases, people start eating more junk food and heavy, hard to digest foods, and thus weaken their immunity. But it's important to understand that we are creating the bad immunity, not that nature is giving us that.

For this reason, it's more important that people eat immunity-boosting foods in winter, and that they follow the Ayurvedic daily routine. This should be the regimen in winter, to nourish the mind and body by getting more rest and eating well. Other seasons are better for purifying, but winter is the time to build up and nourish all systems--the hair, the nails, and the skin. It's also the best season for taking Rasayanas and herbal products, because the high level of digestion helps people to assimilate them better.

Immunity-boosting Foods and Lifestyle Tips for Winter

In general, immunity-boosting foods include those that are fresh, organic, easy to digest, pure and wholesome. These include fresh, organic milk and yogurt, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and ghee (clarified butter).

Foods that are hard to digest should be avoided if you want to increase your immunity. Commercially processed foods, as well as canned, frozen, and packaged foods are old and difficult to digest, so they weaken immunity. Leftovers, foods grown with chemicals, and foods laced with preservatives tax the digestive system and clog the channels of circulation, creating a sluggish, compromised immune system.

Foods that nourish and balance the body in the cold, dry, winter season are the sweet, sour and salty tastes. It's best to eat less of the astringent, bitter, and pungent tastes in winter, although all six tastes should be included in your diet. Warm, home-cooked, unctuous foods are ideal, as long as they are not deep-fried and are cooked with easy-to-digest oils such as ghee or olive oil. Avoid cold or ice-cold foods, as cold foods and drinks douse the digestive fire and decreases immunity.

Lifestyle also impacts immunity. Staying up late, working at night, eating at irregular times, exposing the body to stress and fatigue, and sleeping during the day can all affect the digestion and body rhythms - and thus compromise the immune system. That's why it's important to follow the Ayurvedic daily routine, to keep the digestive system and other bodily rhythms working smoothly, and thus keeping the immunity high.

In winter, when the days are shorter and the nights are longer, it's natural for the body to crave more rest. Try going to bed a little earlier, and you will wake up with more vitality and freshness. Winter is a more inward season, when nature is at rest, so you can take advantage of this natural tendency by giving the mind and body extra nourishment in winter.

Doing a daily self-massage (abhyanga) will also help enhance immunity. Self-massage stimulates all of the organs of the body, flushes out impurities, and builds resistance to stress and disease.

If you follow the Ayurvedic dietary guidelines and lifestyle for each season, you can develop an established, permanent state of immunity, when sickness is no longer a threat. This is the third level of immunity (Yuktikrit), which is the goal of Maharishi Ayurveda. This is what "Bala" really means, "a state without disease".

So this winter, try giving your immunity a shot in the arm - and spend the cold season staying warm and healthy.

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

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ayurveda Regimen for Winter Depression

Long nights, short days, sweaters, warm clothes and chilly weather make many of us sick and depressed. This depression which surfaces especially in winter is a Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and is often called as winter Time Blues or Winter depression. The exact cause for this depression is as of yet unclear. But yet few scientists believe lack of exposure to sunlight as the reason for this disorder.

The symptoms of winter depression are tendency to over eat, craving for carbohydrates and sweets and weight gain.

Had our ancestors observed this change in humans? The answer is yes. Have they recommended any remedies? Yes, they have recommended simple and effective natural remedies to overcome Seasonal Affective Disorder. They have laid down explicit guidelines about diet and lifestyles which have to be followed according to seasons.

The winter season is marked as Hemanta ritu and Sisira ritu in Ayurveda. Hemanta ritu starts from mid November and ends in mid January. This falls in southern solstice which is called as visarga kala or dakshinayana in Ayurveda. Sisira ritu starts from mid January and lasts till middle of march. Sisira ritu falls in Northern solstice which is called as Aadana kaala or uttaraayana.

The response of human body to this season is very well explained in Ayurveda. People will have increased strength and their digestion capacity is increased during the winter season. This is marked by increased hunger. These symptoms are caused by increased body fire which is supported by vata. Vata inside body increases in winter because of cold and dryness which is prevalent in outer atmosphere.

The winter time depression is noticed mostly in persons who have vata as major constituent in their prakriti or body constitution. The cause for this type of change is longer nights of winter.

Light therapy is recommended by doctors for winter time blues. Exposure to artificial light may cause headache, Irritability, Eye strain, Inability to sleep and fatigue. Exposure to sunlight and if sunlight is not available sitting near fireplace is the remedy suggested in Ayurveda.

Keeping the home well lit with lights help to reduce the intensity of depression.

Moderate exercise like yoga is another remedy for winter depression. Ayurveda recommends oil massage (abhyanga) to body and head (moordha taila). Indulging in sexual act to keep the moods elevated and to keep the body warm is another strongly suggested Ayurvedic remedy.

Meeting friends who are kind and understanding boosts morale and brightens up the day. Spending time with friends on the beach helps to expose your body to sunlight and keeps your spirits high.

Relaxing with meditation, massage , light music and laughter helps to great extent.

The following Ayurvedic tips help to prevent and reduce the intensity of seasonal disorder of winter, the winter time blues.

Expose yourself to sunlight as much as you can. In absence of sun light sitting near fire place is very helpful.

Massage your body with vata balancing herbal oil (abhyanga). Never forget to apply oil on your head (moordha taila). Then remove the oil by taking hot water bath. A mixture of flours of yellow gram (channa), green gram (moong), fenu greek seeds (methi) in equal proportion is the best herbal scrub which can be used to remove the oil. This mixture prevents the washing of natural oil from skin.

Consume hot soups. Use vata balancing foods like wheat, oil, corn, black gram and jaggery. Tickle your taste buds with sweet, sour and salt tastes. Always use hot water for all daily routine activity. Use thick blankets and sheets made of cotton, silk and wool. Always wear foot wear. Indulge in sexual act. Spend your leisure time with friends and relatives whom you like.

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