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