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 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