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