I have been practicing traditional intermittent fasting as was practiced by my ancestors, to understand its effects and I have come to observe incredible results.
It is a saying that Hindu people have thirteen festivals in three days (teen din me terah tehvar). Most of these festivals are associated with some of the other deities. However, one noticeable thing is that all these festivals form a deep mesh of intermittent fasting, based on the position and state (waning/waxing) of the moon. And it is now scientifically proven that the lunar phases have an impact not only on the tides, but also human circulatory system, menstrual cycle, nervous system, and hormones.
I started a study of ritucharya as a systematic preventive regimen against seasonal disorders in 2015. However, now I realize that it is not only a preventive system. It is much more rigorous than that. There is a huge possibility that this system can actually stay the entire aging process.
And ritucharya is more outside the ancient Ayurvedic text. It is mentioned in an indicative fashion in the classical text. However, the real practice of ritucharya is deeply ingrained in Hindu religious practices. I now believe is that a person living in a Vedic manner, should ideally not age at all.
Today, it is Ashtami (the eighth day of lunar waning) and I have been observing dry fasting (zero food and water) on each Ashtami, which is twice a month. Today, it was hotter than the rest of the days and therefore, I thought that I would rather continue with fruit and vegetable-based fast rather than a complete dry fast.
I ate fruits in the morning as I was really hungry then. In the afternoon, I was not hungry at all, but still, I had a good amount of cooked vegetables and watermelon. By 3.00 pm in the afternoon, I felt so abnormally drowsy that I was not able to keep my eyes open. This is a rare incidence for me as I also practice sleep fasting or ratri Jagran multiple times a month (zero sleep for 24 hours).
I drank approx 200 ml of coffee in the afternoon to prevent sleeping during the day. milk-based Coffee is anytime a better option than sleeping during the daytime. Normally, even 50 ml of milk-based mild coffee will keep me up for the entire night. But even after drinking this coffee, I fell asleep.
Sleep is a way of the body to counter excessive heat. Even animals like snakes and other reptiles sleep in order to cool off their bodies. This naturally happens as our metabolism is drastically reduced during sleep and therefore this helps to reduce the heat production ion the body as well.
In normal dry fasting, I would not have anything including water throughout the day. During Ashtami, I would drink water and eat one meal after the sunset. In Ekadashi, it is 24-hour fasting. And the incredible thing is that during all these fasts, I never feel weak, or tired, or sleepy. In fact, I feel lighter, cooler, and more energetic.
However, today I missed the fast. There is a reason to conclude that our body does not only have a bio-clock, it might also have a bio-calender. I believe that my body was expecting no food or water today and had other things planned for the day.
But since I had food, in addition to the increased day heat, the body had no option but to shut off the system and go to sleep.
Normally, I would sleep for 5-6 hours a day without any problems at all. But today even after sleeping for one hour extra during the day, I felt so tired and heavy in my head after waking up.
In Bihar, (a state in India), there is a highly revered festival of chatt (which includes48 hours dry fasting). It is a very tough vrata and the follower is strictly advised to never drop the annual fasting routine. Even if one has to drop the fasting ritual, there is a special procedure for it. Otherwise, the follower may invite the wrath of the presiding deity -the sun. It reinforces my belief in the annual calendar memory of the body.
I assume that body metabolism has as its own inertia of momentum and when this natural rhythm is obstructed in some manner, there is an equal and opposite )and probably not very pleasant) reaction – the wrath of the diety!
It is interesting to note that all human body parts have a presiding deity, for example, the eye is the abode of the sun god, the nose of the abode of vayu (air god), and so on. Similarly, each day of the lunar month has a presiding deity according to Vedic astrology. And today, I can definitely feel the wrath of the presiding deity of Ashtami – shiva 🙂
I will try to document all my personal experiences of Hindu Traditional Fasting and I sincerely hope that it might help to throw new light on the lost science of ritucharya!
Nature works on the base of different systems. Everything happens systematically, whether it is blooming of a bud, or death of a living being.
According to Ayurveda, the body also runs according to a set of systems. Different systems are working in deep synchrony inside the body, for example, excretory system, reproduction system, digestive system, nervous system, etc. There must be something that unites these systems, probably the nervous system.
In our system, we have two parts of the nervous system autonomic and somatic. The autonomic nervous system handles the involuntary functions of the body where is somatic nervous system processes the voluntary functions.
The autonomic nervous system has further divided into two parts sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. These two systems are opposite to each other and help the body in different conditions. The parasympathetic nervous system is dominant where the body is in a resting position, whereas the sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for Fright-fight-flight response. One single mode cannot help the body to survive in all the conditions, as it’s not complete.
I assume that Ayurveda has three kinds of control systems that govern the body while balancing each other – vata, pitta, and kapha. They have different characteristics and lead the body successfully in different conditions.
For example, vata dosha is mobile, light, and is comparable to the presence of air in the physical world. All kinds of movements, whether it is bating of the eyelids or running, is coordinated by vata dosha.
Pitta dosha is hot and sharp nature. Naturally, it presides over all the digestive processes chemical reactions or any transformational process across the body.
Kapha Dosha offers stability and coolness to the body. It initiates and supervises any creation, formation, or incubation in the body. Kapha dosha provides shape, protection, and structure to the body. For example, the formation of all the body tissues, including bones and fats deposits that form a protective layer around the abdominal organs is a part of kapha metabolism.
Another way we can understand it in the light of political systems. A country or a nation is also a body, and it can run under different systems – democracy, communism, aristocracy, etc. Now, these systems have physical manifestations, functions, and effects, but they are not physical entities themselves. We can see what happens in an aristocracy, but we cannot see aristocracy itself as a physical entity.
Similarly, we can see the brain, spinal cord, and nerves, but we cannot see the nervous system as a physical entity.
Let us take the of an organization. There are some essential functions in all organizations, like sales, finance, and HR. These are also systems. One single function is not adequate can or can have an independent existence. For example, you cannot go selling something without an investment unless you are in a job. So, for a function like sales to exist, there has to be manufacturing/service and some investment (finance). All these functions exist as essential parts of a system and compliment each other.
In Ayurveda, doshas are systems that run the body. They are comparable to different systems in an organization like marketing, HR, finance, operations, etc. These systems are not physical entities; however, no profit-making organization can function without them.
Similarly, vata, pitta, and kapha are three systems that work in perfect harmony to produce a precise balance in body metabolism. These systems become dominant one by one in a natural cycle and run the metabolism; for example, while walking one foot goes ahead, whereas the other seems to go back, but the body as a whole, moves forward.
No human survival can live without air, water, and food. One single resource is not adequate for survival. Similarly, an individual dosha or system cannot run the body in all conditions.
Vata, pitta, and kapha are called dosha – something that maligns the body. All these three systems have a natural tendency to go wrong and produce adverse effects if left to themselves. This tendency is the defining characteristic of dosha.
The effect of these systems is visible everywhere. Consider the example of a bike. The bike runs on the right track because there is a control over it. But if you leave the handles, then the natural tenancy of the bike will be – to fall. And no matter how good the bike is, it will fall. Similarly, in the case of dosha, there is a natural tendency to get vitiated or imbalanced.
Dosha action is apparent on an inanimate object like a bike, on a stationary living creature like a plant, an animal as well as a human being.
According to Vedic sutra यथा पिंडे तथा ब्रह्मांडे (universe resembles the particle), principles of nature apply to all the objects entities in existence, whether living or nonliving. For example, a natural cycle of creation, life, aging, and death is applicable for a vehicle, house as well as any living person, even the planets.
Let us extend the example of the bike. The system that causes the forward movement of the bike, as well as the internal movement of the parts in the bike, can be termed as the vata system.
As it is natural for a dosha to create imbalance, the bike can get imbalanced if you lose control of the handles. Also, the parts of the bike face wear and tear as it runs more and more. This over-activity is the effect of excess vata.
The primary quality of vata is dryness. Dryness causes necrosis(death of cells), friction, and deterioration. In the case of a bike, long term use without oiling, constant friction, excess wear, and tear and aging.
According to Ayurveda, oil is the best substance that can be used for all kinds of vata disorders, as the oil prevents dryness and friction.
Therefore regular oiling the bike is imperative to prevent rapid wear and tear.
If we try to replicate this concept in the case of the human body, the primary organs of movement in a person are the Limbs. Let us take the example of joints. According to Ayurveda, joints are considered to be a site of vata dosha, because their primary function is movement.
Now dryness in Synovial sacs and resulting friction is the primary cause of all diseases that happen in joints, whether it is knee joint pain.
Now all doshas work together in all entities to produce a life-sustaining environment in the body. The engine of a bike processes petrol or any other fuel into the form of energy. This energy is the fundamental basis for all kinds of movement. Pitta Dosha governs this kind of chemical transformation and heat production that helps the bike as a system to run.
Fire or heat is the primary characteristic of pitta dosha. If pitta dosha is in excess, the bike will get overheated and might even catch fire.
In the context of the human body, stomach or amashaya is a site of pitta dosha. If the system for pitta gets vitiated, then acidity is one of the primary symptoms. General inflammation, redness, swelling, et cetera are some of the essential heat-borne features of imbalanced pitta dosha.
Cold and mild substances alleviate the fiery effect of pitta dosha and help in pitta imbalance.
Earlier many cars had carburetors with water that used to help in cooling the engine and prevent overheating.
The primary characteristics of kapha dosha are coolness and stability. A lack of activity or transformational heat produces inertia that is naturally cooling in nature. For example, if the bike is stationary, then it will not get heated due to combustion in the engine or change in its position continuously.
However, if the bike remains stationary for a very long time, especially in chilling weather, you might experience a lot of trouble while starting trying to start the engine. This difficulty in starting the engine is a result of excess kapha dosha, where probably the oil in the engine freezes.
In the context of the human body, a lazy person has a higher tendency to develop obesity (mass), as due to lack of activity (vata) and heat (sweating, energy conversion, etc.) the fat consumed by the body is not used. Obesity is a result of excess kapha.
However, regular exercise (vata increase) and fat to glucose metabolism (pitta increase) can help to remove excess fat (kapha decrease).
Any formation creation of stability in the body is related to Kapha dosha. The formation of new tissues comes under kapha dosha.
Pitta dosha governs any heat-based transformation, chemical reactions, or digestive processes. Autophagy or cell suicide is also a process lead by pitta dosha, where a cell digests itself.
Any movement, small or big happens with the help of vata dosha.
The entire body metabolism follows the same dosha sequence. Let us take the example of digestion –
Carbs/sugars are the primary sources of energy and nutrition for the body.
Kapha Dosha governs the first part of digestion – sugar metabolism, as the sweetness is one of its central features. Sugar release in the blood creates a cooling effect and stimulate the satiety centers in the brain. Also, it causes drowsiness(stability-sleep) after meals.
The middle part of the digestive procedure focuses on the digestion of proteins that are reduced to amino acids. Acidity or sourness is one of the primary features of Pitta dosha. Therefore this phase of digestion is governed by pitta dosha.
The last part of digestion focuses on fat digestion. Fat digestion produces bitter or katu rasa(fatty acids and glycerol are bitter) the effect of vata dosha in the body. And the digestion of fatty acids comes under vata dosha.
Digestion is just one example. All the metabolic Processes happen under the same sequence of dosha cycle. Even the incubation and spread of diseases in the body is governed by this same dosa cycle, depending on the range of imbalanced dosha. Dosha and body metabolism
If we come to the concept of body types, there are primarily three kinds of body types vat, pitta, and kapha dominant.
Let us revert to the example of an organization with three functions sales finance and HR.
All the organizations have all these three essential functions. The organization is Bank; then the finance will be the primary feature of the organization. Financial activities will dominate this organization.
if this organization is an advertising firm, then the dominant function of the organization will be marketing.
If this organization is an HR consultancy, the dominant feature of the organization will be HR based activities.
All three types of organizations have all three functions. However, one feature dominates all the others. This dominating function gives a unique organizational culture and characteristics of the organization.
Similarly, Prakriti or body constitution is formed by tridosha. Three dosha are present in all the human body’s. However, one of them becomes the dominating feature of the metabolism. This dominant dosha defines the Prakriti or body type of the individual.
Everything, living or non-living has a prakrati or character.
For example, we can say that bike or any vehicle is vata dominant(major characteristics, design, and function is movement), oven or a blast furnace is pitta dominant(primary nature, design, and purpose is around chemical transformation and heat) and lake is kapha dominant (primary features, design function is stability and coolness.
Vata, pitta and kapha dominant people are similar to respectively; a vehicle(always on the move), an oven (high processing capacity), and lake(cool and stable).
Daily Dosha Cycle
The time of the day is also divided according to the dosha dominant in that part of the day. For example, kapha dosha controls first one-third part of the day. Another one-third of the day comes under the control of pitta dosha, and the last one-third of the day comes under vata dosa.
Similarly, the night also has 3 phases.
For this reason, Ayurveda considers morning to be the best time for studies as kapha is the factor for strong memory (stability).
The best time to have the biggest meal of the day is noon (pitta period) as the digestion at this time is at its best.
And you must avoid excess labor or heavy food in the evening, as vata dosha is the factor for tiredness and indigestion.
Also, you will find that most of the breathing and mucous related disorders, numbness, stiffness, etc. occur during the morning time.
Whereas acidity, inflammation, and other pitta related disorders flare-up during the midday.
And vata related disorders like joint pain, muscle cramps, headache, tiredness, etc. happen during the end of the day.
Seasonal Dosha Cycle
Dosha has natural cyclic vitiation throughout the year. For example, kapha Dosha vitiation occurs during the spring. You will find that spring is the season where we can see maximum mucus related disorders.
Sharad or early winter is the time of pitta prakop or vitiation. Therefore early winter is the time where you will see aggravation in pitta related disorders like pimples, acidity, inflammatory diseases like psoriasis, etc.
Varsha or rainy season is the time dominated by vata dosha vitiation. Therefore in the rainy season, we all can observe that all kinds of body pain, headache, migraine, joint pains et cetera get aggravated in this season.
Dosha are everywhere in the body. According to Ayurveda, Lifespan of an individual has three parts – kapha-childhood, pitta-youth, and vata -old age.
Childhood is all about growing up. For any growth, you need nutrition, stability, and peace. Kapha dosha is the spring of all these qualities. Link qualities of kapha dosha
Pitta Dosha governs the young age. Youth is the transformational stage of life. The young person is called Vardhaman in Ayurveda. The word Vardhaman means the one who is growing or advancing. A young person is not growing anymore in structure, but he improves every day in his experience and knowledge. Medha or intellect is a quality bestowed by Pitta dosha. This intellectual growth is the real advancement for a human being.
Young people have excellent digestion, lots of energy and best immunity, thanks to dominating pitta dosha.
Vata dosha governs the last stage of the life old age. A mature person is called vriddha in Ayurveda. This word means the one who has reached complete advancement or growth. An older adult is like a ripened fruit that naturally dries up and breaks away from the branch. In this stage, the physical structure starts deterioration; however, the intellectual level has reached its zenith.
These three dosa are the Trinity of the body they are like Brahma(creator), Vishnu (sustainer), and Shiva (destroyer).
Dosha and Disease Susceptibility
According to the above dosha sequence in the lifecycle, you will find that most of the kapha related disorders like cough cold, etc. occur during childhood. Children are Highly susceptible to mucus are respiratory system associated disorders as compared to youth or older adults.
Similarly, youth are most susceptible to pitta related disorders like pimples, hyperacidity, inflammation.
And in the end, the elderly are most susceptible to vata related disorders like dementia, hair fall, and all kinds of body pains.
Dryness is the primary quality of vata dosha. For this reason, we find that older people have excessively dry and wrinkled skin, dryness related problems like body pain joint pain. They also have weak digestion because of recessive pitta dosha.
Ayurveda focuses on the tridosha concept for body formation, structure, physiology, and pathology. Some classical Ayurvedic texts say that there is nothing else in the body metabolism except dosha. Everything that happens in the body is a function of the cyclic effect of the dosha accumulation, vitiation, and stabilization.
I am trying to understand Ayurveda myself. However, according to my current experience, the curative effects of Ayurveda are absolutely incredible. If you have a query or doubt, please let me know. It will help to improve my knowledge.
There is tons of “Ayurvedic” advice floating online. And they are meant to direct you to some “product”.However, many times they do not have any base in classical Ayurvedic text. I hope to create videos and animations on the authentic Ayurvedic text, with a logical explanation.
But, Ayurved is healing wisdom. It should be free of marketing clutter. I want people to know that they can keep healthy without any expensive medicines, health supplements, therapies, or exotic herbs. No one needs to buy health. Health is an innate gift given to all. Ayurved teaches us to preserve the gift!
This is a short video(1 min) to emphasize on the need of authentic Ayurvedic information for the layman. I hope that you enjoy watching it!
Initially, I will focus on the basics and preventive measures. I hope that these videos help people to find natural ways to prevent and cure diseases. We need to understand that true health, beauty, and happiness come from within, and not without. I want to make these creations freely accessible to all. If you like my content and feel that I can make a difference, please contribute on https://www.patreon.com/theayurvedachannel / Paypal (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Vomiting is a common problem faced by people suffering from
motion sickness. However, vomiting is good. It is natural protective mechanism
of the body, which helps to protect it from unknown and undesirable foreign
object entering through the oral cavity. Howvere, uncontrolled vomiting or
vomiting caused to due to an underlying disorder like stomach pain etc. should
be controlled immediately. Uncontrolled vomiting can be very dangerous. It can
even lead to death by physiological shock if it is not controlled.
In Ayurveda, vomiting is called “vaman” or “chardi”. It has
many other sanskri names apart from these 2 main synonyms.
Causes of vomiting
according to Ayurveda
Excessive consumption of extremely liquid and oily food
Consumption of food that you despise
Excessive consumption of salty food
Irregular meal time
Intake of poisonous or undesirable food
Eating food while suffering from indigestion
Lifestyle related causes
Eating food at a very fast pace
Excessive manual labor ( beyond your natural capacity)
Exercise immediately after eating
Excessive pressure on the stomach after a meal
For the benefit of the user, we will discuss a very wide range of Ayurvedic remedies for vomiting in this article. Some of them might suit you better than the others according to your prakrati. Therefore, we suggest that you either consult an Ayurvedic physician for your best remedy, or check your prakrati and follow the remedies accordingly.
Sutra for finding the best remedy
Many people try taking herbal remedies but most of the time, the herbal remedies don’t work. This is for the reason that a particular herbal remedy is not suitable for their body type. Let us take the example of auto-parts to understand this concept better. If you are a Toyota, the parts of a ford car won’t fit you, even when both Toyota and ford are cars. Smilarly, one herbal remedy might not fit you, whereas it might give excellent results for someone else. Here the Ayurvedic concept of prakrati becomes extremely important. We, as human beings, are completely distinct from one another and Ayurveda respects this fact.
Vata prakrati – warm, hot, moist or oily herbs like ginger, garlic, clove etc. work very well for all vata disorders. Even if the remedy suggest to take anything with normal water , you can try to take it with warm water if you have a vata prakrati.
Pitta prakrati – cool, refreshing, and aromatic herbs work the best for pitta dosha, for example coriander etc.
Kapha prakrati – most of the herbs that work for vata might work for kapha prakrati people as well. hot/warm, dry, light to digest herbs are very good for kapha, as kapha is heavy, oily and cold in temperament.
In case, you are confused about which remedy is best for
you, please consult your Ayurveda physician.
General Treatment policy for vomiting (chardi) in Ayurveda
Vomiting is a sign of aggravated kapha dosha in the body.
Kapha signifies heaviness and stiffness in the body. Therefore, fasting is one
of the primary line of treatment for all kinds of vomiting. It is one of the
safest and most effective treatment. However, it is important to consider the
general health of the pateinet while observing a fast.
If the patient of vomiting is very weak, traumatied, or is a child, elderly or a pregnant woman, only mild fasting is recommended. Therefore, it is imperative to be judicious while chosing fasting as the first treatment.
Also if you have a vata prakrati, you should avoid a complete fasting. You should opt for mild fasting with warm grain-less diet, like rajgira kheer, aloo recipes etc.
If you are a pitta prakrati person with hyperacidity, you should opt for a mild grain-less fasting with milk, kheer, squash, fruits, salads etc.
If you are a kapha prakrati person, you should go for a complete fast, or fast on vegetable soups.
If followed properly, fasting is a method that can completely cure fasting. For chronic prblems of fasting, you should try intermitant fasting. Here hindu religious feasivals like ekapdeshi become very instrumental in maintaining the health of a person and in effective prevention of vomiting.
Dietary and Lifestyle recommendations for prevention of vomiting
Regular meal time
Intake of light, and easy to digest food, no overeating
Peaceful and happy mindset while eating
No consumption of water immediately before, during or immediately after a meal (you can consue digestive liquids like buttermilk, jaljira etc., in small amount, during a meal)
Avoidance of sleep immediately after a meal
Avoidance of Excessive exercise after a heavy meal
Avoidance of sleeping during the transition periods of sun – dawn and dusk
Avoidance of large meals/ excessive fluid intake before a long journey by road.
How to stop a vomiting instantly
Having said all the above points , we have to acknowledge
the urgent and immediate need to stop vomiting sometimes following remedies
might help to relieve vomiting instantly. If you suffer from bouts of motion
sickness, then you can prepare and store many of the herbal remedies for instant
Ayurvedic anti-vomiting remedies
Roast 5-6 green cardamoms. Grind and mix them in 11 mg
of Mayurpiccha bhasma. This bhasma is
available in the market as a Ayurvedic medicine. You can make a larger maount
in the same proportion and store it for instant use.
When facing a
vomiting attack, add a little raw honey to 1 gm of the stored powder and lick.
This is a very good remedy for vomiting. It is suitable for all prakrati
people. However, it is esp. beneficial for pitta prakrati.
Chew mint leaves when you start to feel nauseaous. This will
help to prevent vomiitn g induced by motion sickness.
Burn the coconut shell and collect the ash. Mix ground rock
sugar (mishri) in the ash and store for instant use.
If you feel nauseated, add this powder in small amount of
water and sip. This remedy is good for all prakrati.
Roast 5-6 green cardamom and 10 gm of saunf (fennel). Add 10
gm of rock sugar, grind the entire mixture and store for instant use. If you
are not very fond off sweet things, you can also use black salt in place of
Lick the powder whne you are feeling nauseated.
Keep small pieces of raw mango/ lemon/pomegranate/ puffed
rice/ new leaves of mango tree/ sour ber (blackberry)/ khus (vetiver) powder in
a box while you are traveling. If you are prone to motion sickness, lick anyone
of these once in few minutes. This will prevent the nausea from building up.
Suck ice. This remedy is best for pitta prakrati people. Ice
helps to numb the sensations in the oral cavity and helps to prevent the
feeling of nausea.
Keep a small piece of kapur (camphor) and smell during a
long road journey. This is will help to prevent the feeling of nausea for all
Mix 1 gm saidha namak(rock salt) in 10 gm ghee(Similar
proportion should be used for a larger amount of this preparation.) and store
in a container.
Lick small amount of this mixture whenever you feel
nauseated. This remedy works very well for vata dominant people.
Add 1 gm black salt in 10 gm munnaka (black currant). Grind
this misture to make a smooth paste. Make small (1 cm diameter) balls from this
mixture. Store it for instant use in vomiting.
Consume 1 ball every 15-20 min to prevent the feeling of
nausea. This remedy is good for all prakrati people.
All the above remedies are safe to use and easy to prepare. They have a great preventive as well as curative effect. However, the most important factor that control all disorders, including vomiting should be monitored for effective prevention and cure.
Mental Control of Vomiting
Practice of constant mindfulness can help an individual to
be calm and peaceful. A stress free mind can control all the body functions, even
vomiting. For example, a person who is watching a very engaging movie during a
long road journey,might not suffer from motion sickness at all, even if he
prone to it. Mind has such a powerful effect over the human metabolism that all
disorders can be cured by controlling the mind only.
Therefore, if you suffer from motion sickness, nausea or
chrnic vomiting due to any other reason, please try meditation. It might do
wonders to you!
We hope that this blog helped you with some useful
information about vomiting. If you feel happy with the blog, please do pass it
on to anyone in need!
Indigestion is the most commom of all disorders today. It is so common that people don’t even take it to be a disorder. However, ancients considered indigestion to be the first sign of disturbed doshas in the body.
According to Ayurveda, Agni or digestion is the lord of health. If digestion is proper, you will never get any disease, no matter what you eat and where you stay. But if your digestion is disturbed, then no medicine can help you unless it is corrected.
Digestion is considered to be the doorway in side the human
body. Digestion decides what nutrients will be absorbed, how and how much. The
same is applicable for toxins.
In Ayurveda , indigestion is called ajirna. This term
consists of 2 words in union – a (negative suffix ) + jaran base word (to digest). Therefore indigestion is
basically slowing down of the digestive fire in the Annavaha strotas
Agni or digestion is the Prana rakshak or protector of the
life in human body. There are 13 types of agnis in the human body. These agnis
refer to different systems of transformational processes in the body, for
example transformation of the absorbed nutrient in to body fluid, or
transformation of meda dhatu (fat tissue) in to bones(asthi tissue).
However, indigestion or ajirna refers to slowing down of the
main agni – jatharagni. Jathar is a term used for stomach as well as parts of
alimentary canal where the digestive process takes place. Therefore jatharagni
means the agni or the transformative fire that rules the alimentary canal. This
fire is the main gate in to the human body. Everything has to pass through this
fire in order to get inside the body. Thus the good things are allowed in and
the bad things are burnt down and excreted. However, when this fire is not
strong, any and everything can pass through this fire and get inside the body.
For this reason, indigestion is considered to be the root
cause of all disorders according to Ayurveda.
Causes of Indigestion
Following dietary and lifestyle malpractices can lead to
Virrudh aahar – consumption of food with contrasting properties, for example consumption of equal amount of ghee and honey is considered to be poisonous.
Adhyashana – consumption of food when the previous meal is not properly digested
Ajirnashana – consumption of food even when suffering from indigestion (ideally one should fast and let the digestive system cleanse itself, when suffering from indigestion).
Guru aahar – consumption of heavy and difficult to digest food, for example too much bread or food products made from maida (fine wheat flour)
Kapha vitiating food – very oily, heavy food, too much of dairy products, chilled food, junk food, sleeping in the day time
Pitta vitiating factors – extremely hot, sour, too much fluid
Other factors – intake of stale food, forceful control of natural urges
If the above mentioned factors are avoided, you will never suffer from indigestion. However, because of the haphazard lifestyle, we are unable to avoid all the indigestion causing factors. So let’s look at some of the easy Ayurvedic home remedies that can help you prevent as well as cure indigestion.
Home Remedies for Indigestion
Ayurvedic remedy no. 1
If you have a feeling of indigestion after waking up in the
morning, try this Ayurvedic remedy –
Harad churna (termenalia chebula powder) – 3 gm
Saunth (dried ginger powder) – 2 gm
Saidha namak (rock salt) – 1 gm
Mix all the above ingredients and consume with normal water
after waking up. After that avoid eating anything till the time you feel really
Ayurvedic remedy no. 2
Mix the following ingredients in the given proportion and
consume with normal water every 3 hours till the time you feel some relief in
Pippali churna (long pepper powder) – 3 gm
Vacha churna(acorum calamus powder) – 5 gm
Saindha namak (rock salt) – 1 gm
Both the above remedies will help you to digest the
undigested toxins in the alimentary canal and help to relieve any constipation
caused due to indigestion.
Ayurvedic remedy no. 3
Mix the following ingredients in the given proportion and
boil them in 1 lit water. Continue to boil till the time only 50% of the water
This remedy will help you to rekindle the lost hunger and
clear the intestines of undesirable matter. It will also help to purify the
blood and reduce inflammation and pain if any.
Ayurvedic remedy no. 4
If you feel constant heaviness in the stomach region, take a
small strip of ginger, apply a pinch of saidha namak (rock salt) on it and suck
it for some time.
Try this remedy 3-4 times in a day. Mild indigestion easily
gets treated by only this remedy. Ginger flake produces a very strong digestive
juice, which when combined with the salt, acts as a melting fire for the
undesirable elemnets in the intestines.
Ayurvedic remedy no. 5
Mix the following ingredients in the given proportion and
consume in case of severe indigestion
Pippali churna (long pepper powder) – 5 gm
Harad churna (termenalia chebula powder) – 5 gm
Saunth ( dried ginger powder) – 5 gm
Saindha namak (rock salt) – 1 gm
This remedy helps to drain the excess mucus from the
internal linings of the intestines and promote excretion of the fecal matter.
Fecal matter also contributes in heat generation in the body. Once the fecal
matter is properly excreted, digestion of the food is the only way to retain
body heat. Therefore, this remedy induces the need for hunger and food in the
Apart from the above Ayurvedic remedies, some lifestyle changes can help to prevent as well as permanently cure indigestion.
Lifestyle Changes for Indigestion
avoid sleeping during the daytime. Sleeping during the day time is advisable only in summer. Otherwise, sleeping in daytime or immediately after a meal reduces the rate of digestion and thus cause indigestion.
try to have meals at a proper time. It helps the body’s bioclock to be prepared for the food. This routine leads to better digestion and thus a perfect health.
exercise once a day for at least 5-10 min. exercise helps to increase the rate of metabolism and thus the rate of digestion too.
Ayurvedic body massage is a great option to prevent various disorders, including indigestion. Massage with warm oil is esp beneficial to vata and kapha prakrati people suffering from indigestion.
reduce or completely avoid drinking too much water before, during or immediately after a meal. This reduces the optimal temperature required for good digestion and thus results in under-digested toxins.
These are few lifestyle recommendations in order to avoid indigestion.
On the mental plane, one should try to avoid stress, anger, hatred and other strong negative emotions as these emotions derails the hormonal system. They also affect the digestion severely. Therefore, a happy and peaceful mind is the ultimate prevention for all disorders, including indigestion.
Mind can completely control the body. It can prevent binge eating, improper meals and compulsive eating behavior also. Therefore, I seriously recommend meditation to train the mind.
Constipation is considered to be the root cause of all the disorders in Ayurveda. Ayurveda has a system of 3 doshas – vata, pitta, and kapha. These are metabolic systems that run the body, just like there the way finance, marketing, and HR system together run an organization. They have to collaborate and balance each other. But imagine if one system encroaches on the territory of the other, the organization is going to face the problem. All people who have worked in any organization will be able to relate to this.
Now vata is the primary dosha responsible for constipation. It is considered to be the most important of all dosha. Let’s suppose it the profit center of an organization. If the profit center is affected, the results will trickle down to each person in the organization. Similarly, when vata is vitiated in the body, each cell of the body gets affected. Vata can vitiate all other doshas. It is said that vata sweeps away other doshas from their balanced state as the way wind sweeps away clouds from their stationary position.
Ayurvedic Mechanism of Constipation
Dryness or rukshta is the defining feature of vata, just like high temperature is the defining feature of fire. So when vata is imbalanced, the first symptom that it causes is dryness in the body. Qualities of dosha. Dryness (dehydration) is the underlying factor that triggers constipation in the body.
It is interesting to note that each dosha has a head office inside the body, the physical department. These are called the abode of the dosha in traditional Sanskrit. Large intestines are the head office for vata. So if vata is vitiated, large intestines are the first ones to get affected. And the effect caused is excessive dryness. Now the primary function of large Intestines is to extract extra water from the digested matter and form fecal material. And a vitiated vata will cause the large intestine to work abnormally. The large intestine will absorb a lot of water from the digested matter and create constipation. Constipation in turns creates bloating, indigestion and a hoard of other problems in the long run. So it is an effect similar to the husband bullying the wife, wife bullying the elder child and elder child bullying the younger sibling.
The Mind is the Key
Now, there is a hidden health secret in this entire sequence of occurrences. This sequence indicates that constipation is not caused directly by less consumption of water, because ideally, less intake of water should first cause thirst. According to Ayurveda, forceful control or ignorance of natural urges leads to various disorders. Constipation is the second stage. The first stage is the thirst. When thirst is ignored, the incidental result is constipation.
Since most of the people are addicted to their work, enjoyment or electronic gadgets that they have become habitually oblivious to their natural thirst. Worse is that they forget to drink water sometimes. After that, they keep drinking water when it is not required, just like the way they keep eating when not hungry. Absence of mindful living is the first step towards all diseases. Thus I discovered that the real precursor of both constipation and thirst is mindless living…absent consciousness.
The primary factor being the mind, secondary factors are diet and lifestyle. Because of lack of awareness or conscious living, people tend to follow the wrong food and lifestyle. Ayurveda says that the body knows what’s best for it. And it conveys it to the mind, but as grown-ups, we get inattentive to these signals. Let’s look at small children, they eat only when hungry unless we pop a chocolate or potato chip in their mouth. They are naturally aware of their physical requirements. I don’t know about the gates of heaven, but if we are the children gates of health will definitely be open for us.
Hail Ayurveda, which says that each and every disorder has it’s rooted somewhere in the mind because the mind is the main computer that runs an entire factory of the body. One virus in the central processor can lead to incredible damage to the whole system. Therefore, if you are facing mild constipation, you should start meditating!!! And become more aware of your body, and it’s natural urges. This is a long term and permanent solution for not only constipation but also for all other disorders.
Mindfulness is a practice that can help you become more conscious of your body and its needs. Please find my personal experience with mindfulness in the book Instant Mindfulness. This book can help you practice mindful meditation even when you don’t have even one spare minute in your day!
Constipation is Good
Many vaidyas believe that constipation is the root-cause of all diseases. However, all types of constipation are not harmful. Sometimes, people get constipation due to freezing weather. Stored fecal matter is a source of heat and thus a source of life according to Ayurveda. If the body is not producing enough heat through metabolism, there will be constipation to preserve body heat. Constipation sometimes can be life-saving in cases where the digestive system of a patient becomes very weak, and there is no strength in the body, for example in the case of malnutrition, starvation, etc.
In such a case, the patient should focus on consuming hot and heat producing food (ginger, garlic, etc.) instead of trying to treat constipation. Besides, in such cases, constipation is preserved intentionally. Attempts are made to recover the natural heat producing system in the body, before trying to relieve constipation.
Unfortunately, most of the people try artificial methods to relieve constipation are heavy duty chemical-based laxatives. They produce results by extracting water from the intestinal lining and softening the stool. However, they can create an imbalance in the electrolyte balance in the body fluids because of the forceful extraction of water from the intestines. Besides, they are not safe for anyone suffering from any heart or kidney condition.
There is another class of constipation relieving medicines that stimulates strong peristaltic movement in the intestines and cause them to throw out the hard stool. They can be used in combination with stool softening drugs. However, they can make intestines tired and more prone to constipation.
Glycerine suppositories or enemas are also some other options. However, if the real problem causing the constipation is not corrected. All these relief methods can be habit-forming and in the long run, severely aggravate the disease.
In short, we must remember that what is not natural is not safe. In the next blog, see you with best food and lifestyle choices to prevent constipation.
Migraine is a severe disorder without a permanent cure
according to modern science. The exact mechanism of a migraine is unclear.
However, it is co-related with abnormal brain activity.
Migraine attacks may be triggered by any of the following:
Irregular sleep patterns
Exercise or other physical stress
Loud noises or bright lights
Active or passive smoking
Irregular meals, Missed meals
Perfumes, Air fresheners etc.
Stress and anxiety
There are primarily 3 disorders n Ayurveda that resemble
migraine. But before trying to understand them, we should try to decode the
concept of dosha, esp vata dosha.
It is said that dosha are the systems that work in harmony
to run the body metabolism. Now these dosha are said to be invisible, however
their effects can be seen.
All ancient Indian sciences are based on the concept “yatha
pinde tatha brahmande” – the particle is like the universe. For this reasons,
one sanskrit word is used can have innumerous meanings depending on the
This sutra helps indian sciences to extrapolate the concepts
of one science in the other. Let’s us remind ourselves that these sutra are by
the sages who formulated the decimal system, the value of zero and pi.
The whole truth is never a fact, it is a context. I can try
to explain the concept of dosha with the replicating it in a more material
The dosha system is everywhere. Let us take the context of
an organization for a lucid understanding. Most of us must have worked in some or the
other organization. All the modern organizations have these departments which
work in coordination to run the organization. Every organization has a finance,
sales and marketing and HR department. These are the basic ones.
However, it is important to note here that the marketing or
any other department is not a section of the building or a block of some
cubicles. It is not a bundle of files or a set of computers either. The
marketing people, the machines and the place together constitute what we can
call a marketing system. Thus it is not a physical thing, it is a concept.
Similarly vata is a conceptual system that is supposed to be responsible for
certain functions in the body. It is not visible but its functions can be experienced.
Dosha is a universal phenomenon. Its effect also can be seen
everywhere. Every entity, living or non-living is said to work under the dosha.
The 3 dosha are responsible for motion related to change in kinetic energy
(vata), chemical transformation and heat generation (pitta) and
inertia/stability (kapha). This is one of the dimensions of dosha.
Let’s again take a very simple example of an automatic car.
The first condition of the car is when it is moving. All 3
dosha work in harmony to get the car moving. There is the combustion which
provides the energy to run and the steering motion that guides the overall
movement of the car. At the same time, car also has a certain degree of inertia,
which keeps it moving in a single direction. The body works in a similar but
more comprehensive manner.
One dosha becomes dominant in certain conditions. In this
manner, there can be 3 possible conditions for a car –
Let’s take the first position to be stationary. When car is
standing in one place, inertia is the dominant force working on it. It is a
certain amount of force that has to be overcome in order to get the car moving.
This is the same force that provides stability to a standing car. This is kapha
dominant position of the car – stable. Stability is one of the many functions
of a very comprehensive system called kapha. In a living entity, kapha also
promotes anabolism and growth.
Another position of the car is when it is in the process of
getting started. The primary force working in this situation is the combustion
engine which produces the energy to overcome the standing inertia of the car.
Right now the car is not moving and it is not stationary either. It is in a
transformation state with respect to its physical position. This transformation
produces a change – chemical change (combustion), and heat change that leads to
the movement. This position is dominated by pitta. In a living being, pitta
changes the food into energy and provides fuel and building blocks to the body.
In the 3rd position, the car is running. While
driving, we change the speed of the car, change directions etc. Here, dominant
force is change in its kinetic energy as it moves from one place to the other. All these are mechanical changes are backed by
the chemical combustion. However, what the energy produced will do is governed
by the system of vata. Vata is related to vayu or the wind. It is the initiator
and controller of all kinds of movements in the body, right from the batting an
eye-lid to fast running.
In all the 3 conditions, all 3 dosha work together. But the
condition is dominated by a single dosha. Now we are sitting in this automatic car
that works on its own. Our body works every second to produce the comprehensive
experience called life.
This concept of dosha is not applicable to only human
beings; it is applicable to all living being. For this reason sister sceiences
of Ayurveda – vrikshayurveda (Tree healing science), Ashwaayurveda (veterinary
science focused on treatment of horses), goayurveda (focused on treatment of
cows) and many more sciences that were lost with the time.
The concept of steering wheel is interesting in the sense that
a hand is there for occasional control. This hand has over-riding power over
the systems of the automatic car. This
hand resembles the mind. Vata dosha is directed related to the mind. When the
hand on the wheel is not able to handle driving, it can lead even an automatic
car astray. When we are anxious, stressed or frustrated, vata is the first
dosha that gets vitiated.
Let’s focus on vata as it is the dosha which is said to be responsible for migraine according to Ayurveda.
Every dosha has a special place the body. Let’s take the
example of the car again. There is a specific central point for every activity,
engine for the combustion to take place, wheels to run and brake to stop the
car. Similarly, dosha also has abodes or specific physical departments in the
body. They work all over the body, but they have a specific part which is their
centre of all functions.
The main centres of vata are –
Basti – Urinary bladder
Pureeshaadhaana – rectum,
Sakthi – waist,
Padau – thighs, legs,
Asthi – bones
Pakvashaya – colon
All these organs are basically movement based organs. There
is no major chemical change that happens in them.
Both the sensory reception and motor response is attributed
to vata dosha. Since vata controls the movement of the body, nerves are under
controls of vata. Therefore, health or
disease in the nervous system is under
the control of vata.
In case of migraine, vata is the dominating dosha we can
look at. According to most of the modern research on migraine, the main reason
appears to be excitable nerves and brain cells. Hyperactivity of nervous system
appears to be the main contributing factor to migraine. At types blood supply,
hormones, and other chemicals present in the body fluid might contribute to the
pain and duration of migraine. Hyperactivity, over-excitation or any kind of
abnormal activity in the body is said to be due to vata vitiation.
Stress is also on of the main contributing and triggering factor for migraine. Stress is an influencing factor for vata.
Shiroroga (head disorders) in Ayurveda
In Ayurveda, there are 4 disorders that resemble the
symptoms of migraine. These 4 disorders are the 4 prominent diseases of the
head (Shiro-roga). It is interesting that 3 out of these 4 diseases are said to
be easily curable.
They are –
This disorder resembles migraine without aura. Vata alone or
in combination with kapha is the dosha responsible for this disorder.
In this disorder, vata dosha effects half part of the head
and causes terrible pain (described as pain caused by friction equivalent to
that produced by rubbing of two wooden planks (arani manthan) in the back of
the neck (manya), region around eye brows, temporal region, ears, eyes,
forehead. Since this disorder affects half of the head, it is called
ardhavbhedaka (piercer of half the head).
If this disease gets complicated, it can cause loss of vision or hearing power.
Causes of Ardhavabhedaka
Excessive consumption of dry food items
Eating again without proper digestion of the previous meal
Excessive exposure to easterly wind
Exposure to morning dew
Excessive indulgence in sex
Forceful control of natural urges like urination cough burping at cetera
Physical labour beyond individual stamina
One or a combination of several of these factors lead to vitiation of vata Dosha in the body and this vata Dosha combines with kapha Dosha and affects the half part of the head, manya (back of the throat), bhukuti(region in the middle of two eyebrows), temple, ear, Eyes and forehead on one side of the head.
This disorders has most of the symptoms of migraine with
aura. Vata and impure blood is responsible for this disorder.
This disorder is related to the movement of the sun. this
disease increases with the sun rise and increases with the heat of the day. The
pain and other symptoms begin to decrease as the sun goes down and ends
generally with the sunset.
This disorder causes redness, inflammation, extreme pain
that starts gradually and stays for first half of the day. It can result in
black-outs, impaired vision and hearing sensation.
Some researchers in modern medicine believe that migraine happen because of fluctuations in the blood supply to the brain. This type of migraine should be researched more for suryavarta symptoms.
The causes for suryavarta are almost same as the those of ardhavabhedaka.
Unnatural control of natural urges like urination, fecal excretion, cough, burping etc seems to be the primary cause of suryavarta. Vata vitiating reasons like indigestion, constipation etc. also can cause this disease.
All these all the above reasons cause vata vitiation in the body. This vitiated vata vitiates rakta dhatu (blood) . This contaminated blood and vata pollute marrow of the brain. According to Acharya charak the day heat causes destabilized majja Dhatu (brain marrow) to melt (decrease in solidity and stability.) as the day progresses. This causes increasing pain during the daytime.
This disorder resembles the migraine without headache. It is primarily caused by vata dosha.
In this disorder, there is extreme pain that generally starts with neck region. This pain increases and spreads to eyes, eye brows, and temporal region and stabilizes there. After that, there can be distortion in vision, or jaw-locking might occur as complications.
Causes of Anantvata
Excessive fasting starvation
Excessive misery/ sorrow
Consumption of excessively dry, cold and little amount of food
Because of the above factors all three dosha get vitiated and cause pain in throat region initially. However, vata is the primary dosha in this disease.
All the above disease descriptions are in line with Charak
Another head based disorder that is described along with the
above 3 is –
This is a terminal disorder that is said to be able to kill
a patient in a duration of 3 nights. The classical symptoms as described in
Charak Samhita are –
inflammation, redness, and excessive swelling in the area around the
temporal bone. This swelling increases rapidly and disrupts the normal
functioning of the brain and throat region.
According to Charak Samhita, a patient with this disorder cannot survive
more than 3 nights. If the patient survives after 3 nights, the physician can
have some hope of recovery.
These symptoms might occur due to accident or as a
complication of severe head trauma.
This description of Shankhaka needs some research and evidence base.
One famous Ayurvedic proverb states – “The one who eats proper food does not need any medicine The one who eats improper food will not benefit from any medicine”
According to Ayurveda, digestion is the key to strong immunity and healthy metabolism. When we eat improper food, it first affects the most important pillar of our health – our digestion.
Therefore good food is the basis of all health. Ayurveda states that food in its most natural form is the most nutritious, but food which is environmentally incompatible is toxic for the human body too. According to the above rule, the modern Ayurvedic standards for non-consumable food are defined as follows –
Vedas state that the food and water available to all human beings should be the same. Today this statement is so relevant in terms of non-organic food. Non-organic grains and vegetables are grown with the help of a bulk of pesticides and insecticides. These food items are hardly suitable for consumption. They can cause a variety of health issues, including multiple types of cancers. Therefore the new mantra for the Ayurvedic life is the organic food.
Most of the people are unaware that some of the pesticides and insecticides are designed to disrupt the physiological functions of the insects/pests. For example, an insecticide called “Roundup” acts on the intestines of the insects and tear the internal linings of their intestines. The insect population soon dies and the crops are thus saved. However, imagine what will happen when such food is ingested by the human. When we eat food that is sprayed with such pesticides, it affects our intestines in a similar way it affects the pests. Now it is scientifically proven that these chemicals cause severe damage to the intestines. They can make the intestines leaky after regular use for a long term. When the undigested food material oozes out of the leaky intestines into the abdominal cavity, it can cause severe allergies. Interestingly, a few decades back very few people would be suffering from allergies but nowadays people can develop an allergy to almost anything, right from peanuts to pollen, thanks to the non-organic food.
Genetically Modified Food
The newest and the most overlooked health threat is the Genetically modified food. This is a more serious threat than the use of pesticides and insecticides. In case of genetically modified food, the genes of one organism are planted in the DNA of another organism, for example, genes of fish are planted in the DNA of rice so that the genetically modified rice crops will not rot in the case of floods. But this is good only for the farmers and more so for the seed manufacturing companies. It is neither good for the consumers or for the environment.
The Myth of GM Food
For a long time, it was propagated that genetically modified food is crucial to bring an end to the food security in the poor populations of the world. Therefore for decades, there was no open opposition against GM food, but Gm food does not solve any problem of the world. In fact it has added many severe problems that are more complicated than the food crises. What good is the food but that causes diseases when consumed? The body has the natural potential to determine foreign objects and expel or kill them. Genetically modified food is not natural in its constitution. When it is consumed, the body fails to identify it as a nutritional substance. Genetically modified food is different in constitution than its natural counterpart. For example, if you see a person who has 3 eyes and 2 noses, you would definitely be scared and would run for protection. The body produces a similar response when it sees an unidentifiable object, which is basically a genetically modified food item. The body tends to attack the GM food and get it out of the body, instead of trying to absorb nutrition from it. Just imagine what will be the state of your health if your body is trying to kill your food!
The list of diseases that genetically modified food can produce is very long. The health problems caused by genetically modified food are –
Auto-immune disorders (Rheumatoid Arthritis, type 1 diabetes, autoimmune hepatitis, scleroderma, celiac disease and many more)
According to Ayurveda, the source of the food is very important. If the source of food is corrupt and evil, the food will bring the consequences in terms of karma. Because of this reason, in earlier times people refrained from eating in the house of anyone who is evil and corrupt.
In case of genetically modified, non-organic food, the farmers who buy the genetically modified seeds are forced to buy them again and again because genetically modified crops fail to produce seeds with similar qualities, as their parents. These genetically modified seeds not only require more fertilizers and other chemicals, they also consume more water than the natural seeds. Thus after a few years, the fields under farming for genetically modified food become infertile and the region faces the drought problem. Therefore we must stay reminded that if we are buying non-organic food, we are contributing to the problems of large-scale farmer suicide in our country. It is important that all ardent supporters of Ayurveda should say no to non-organic and genetically modified for the sake of their health as well as for nature. What is Evil, is evil for all. It does not bring good to anyone. Let’s save ourselves and our environment from the evil GM food, generated out the greed of few people.
Non Seasonal Food
Today we find almost all vegetables and fruits in almost all the seasons; we find greens around the year, which were naturally available only in winter. However, according to Ayurveda, this is a completely unhealthy trend. Ayurveda strictly prohibits one from consuming non-seasonal food. Non-seasonal food is considered to be unnatural and devoid of its original nutritional value. But unfortunately, because of the use of chemicals and genetical modification, many original and naturally occurring species of edible plants have become extinct. What we eat today might not exactly be food, it is “FOOD LIKE SUBSTANCE”.
Let us take the example of green leafy vegetables. Greens, unlike general knowledge, are hard to digest and cause a lot of digestive problems if not digested properly. The greens are naturally produced in winter, and winter is the season when the digestion is at its best. Therefore, the greens are full of their best nutritional qualities and also, the body is able to extract the best nutrition from them. Thus the perfect match of digestive power and nourishment is naturally achieved. On the other hand, digestive power if the weakest in the rainy season and thus not many food options are available in terms of vegetables and also fruits which can be consumed raw. Watermelons are naturally produced in summer and help to prevent dehydration. Coconuts grow in hot and humid weather and are cool in temperament. Nature has a perfect match for all our nutritional requirements. Therefore, let’s follow nature for a perfect health.
According to Ayurveda, locally grown fruits, vegetables, and grains are best suitable for the native people. For example, Kesar (saffron) is a spice that is abundantly found in the cold regions of Kashmir. Kesar is a hot temperament herb according to Ayurveda and is naturally good for the local people. Dates are naturally found in the desert area and they are sweet and provide instant energy to the local people, where other kinds of vegetation might be scare. Therefore, according to the law of nature, everything grows naturally in the place where it is most required. Ssomething that is grown in a different climate than that of the place where you live, is not naturally compatible with your health. Therefore, if you do not have the money to buy exotic vegetables like zucchini or squash in India, or Quinoa in the USA, or Basmati rice in Canada’ consider yourself lucky! Local food is the best for you.
The packaged food contains dried vegetables, preservatives, acidity regulators, stabilizers, and a host of other chemicals apart from the real food substance. Packaged fast food also contains a lot of excess fat, sugar, and unwanted chemicals.
If we can avoid all of the above food items, then there is a huge possibility of our staying alive and active for a minimum of 100 years. Besides, we will save a lot of pollution caused by unnecessary transportation.
Keeping in mind that food cannot be cooked separately for all persons in a house, Acharya Charak describes the food quality that should be taken regularly for all seasons and all prakrati, along with food that should be used very rarely by all prakrati individuals. However, it is particularly important to refrain from the bad food even if you have to stay hungry, as it is said that one should not eat poison even if he has nothing left to eat!
Food that should not be eaten regularly (occasionally, once or twice a year or for the medicinal purpose)
Non-vegetarian diet for the weak
Dried Meat and Vegetables
It is very convenient and sometimes cheap to store dried meat or vegetables for easy use later. Many times people store dried vegetables to be used during the offseason. Dried or dehydrated meat/vegetables are now being frequently used in “Ready to cook” food. But such products should not be used every day.
The food should be consumed in its fresh or natural form as much as possible. According to my personal hypothesis, food that is naturally juicy, like most of the meat and vegetables, when consumed in dried form, tends to absorb extra water from the intestines for getting into its original digestible form. It might swell in the intestines. If the adequate amount of moisture is not available, it might not be digested properly. Such food might create toxins due to incomplete digestion.
Most of the vegetables that grow above the ground like cabbage, cauliflower, brinjal, beans, peas, bottle gourds, etc. are dry in nature and they cause Vata imbalance(dryness in the body) when consumed without hot spices/oil etc. Also, most of the green leafy vegetables are heavy, dry and have a tendency to cause bloating (esp during the rains) if not cooked along with proper spices. When these vegetables are used in the dried form, the dryness produced in the body is multifold. Besides, it can seriously derail the digestive system. This is true for almost all the vegetables.
Therefore, if you have the option of using dried red chilies for the fresh green ones, please choose the fresh green chillis. Dried methi leaves, normally used as a flavor enhancing agent in Indian cooking, also should be used once in a while.
Meat, esp pork is supposed to be extremely heavy in nature and can cause severe digestive problems (Vata derangement) if consumed in the dried form. Beef is recommended only in diseased conditions, not otherwise. Most of the meat is heavy to digest. Dehydrated meat is harder to digest and can cause severe Vata vitiation in the body.
It is said that such food takes a long time to get digested and after digestion does not fuel the digestive fire, instead leaves it weakened. Therefore such food is classified as Dhatupradushak or contaminator of the metabolism/tissue systems. In order to understand this concept, let us take the example of throwing sand on the fire. The sand does not get burnt but brings down the intensity of the fire. It might even extinguish a weak fire!
Ideally, we should stop using the packaged ready to cook masalas which contain dried vegetables like onion, garlic, or dried chicken pieces.
Instead, meat or vegetables stored in pickled form are oiled, tender and better option for easy cooking than the dried ones.
However, dried meat and vegetables, even when used rarely, should be cooked in water/moisture/oil in order to make them soft and easily digestible. They should be served hot in order to stimulate the digestion. Digestive herbs like ginger, black pepper, asafoetida, cumin etc. should be used to make them easy to digest and absorb.
That reminds me about dried ginger powder! There are some exceptions to everything. Dried root vegetables like potato chips can be kept for long duration and consumed after frying. The use of water or oil for proper cooking is indispensable. Still, a fresh potato is a 1000 times better than the dried potato. The dried ginger powder is an Ayurvedic medicine, easy to digest and produces heat in the body and therefore is not a bad food choice. Pumpkin in dried form is not damaging to health, therefore Vadi(a dried Indian curry material) made by sun-drying the chunks of pumpkin paste and spices, are not harmful.
Also, this concept is not applicable to the medicinal herbs(aushadhi) like Ashwagandha to coriander seeds. They can be stored in the dried powdered form of at least one year. However, their other preparations like jam (chavanprash), tablets, alcohols are more useful and have a longer shelf life.
Dried meat and vegetables are not great everyday food, but they might be used for medicinal purposes, as according to Ayurveda, everything in the universe can be used as a medicine. For example, dried radish soup is used to relieve severe bronchitis.
Considering all the health dimensions of dried vegetables and meat, it is best to avoid most of the dried vegetables and meat, unless prescribed by a trained physician.
Lotus roots are considered to be very heavy and not digestible in the human system. Therefore they should not be consumed at all.
Non-vegetarian diet for the weak
Normally a person who is weak and thin is advised to consume a non-vegetarian diet, as according to Ayurveda also, flesh is the best diet to increase flesh. However, a weak person with a bad digestion should never consume non-vegetarian diet, as it can seriously hamper his digestion capacity. Ideally, according to the Ayurvedic procedure of weight gain, a very weak person should improve his digestion and health primarily on a vegetarian diet and digestive medicines. After that, he should gradually move to a non-vegetarian diet. A non-vegetarian diet for a weak person with retarded digestion is like a college assignment for a school kid. The chances of successful completion are almost nil. Besides, such a diet will cause further retardation of the already weak digestion.
The central idea of the above guidelines is to preserve the digestion. Digestion is the fuels the life-force in the body and anything that hampers digestion should be avoided at all cost.
According to Ayurveda, the one who eats healthy food will never need any medicine; and the one who eats unhealthy food will never benefit from any medicine. Therefore it is important to know thy food!
According to Ayurveda, every edible substance on earth has 3 properties –
Doshashamak (Pacifier of Dosha)- It balances the dosha (physiological systems of the body). Herbs like turmeric, ginger, black pepper can be classified as Doshashamak. Turmeric balances Kapha and Pitta, ginger and black pepper balances Vata and Kapha.
Dhatupradushak( Contaminator of Dhatu)- It contaminates the vital tissue systems. Ayurveda believes that the diseases can occur only when there is a suitable environment for their incubation inside the body system. A contaminated dhatu is the ignorant king who unsuspectingly allows the trojan horse of diseases inside the body. It is like the traitor of Sparta who gave away the strategic secrets and led to the defeat of his kingdom. Therefore, all diseases have roots inside the body and these roots are formed by the Dhatupradushak food and lifestyle habits we practice.
Onion can be considered as an example of Dhatupradushak, as it is Guru (heavy to digest). Anything that is heavy to digest is taxing for the digestive system to absorb. It has a hot temperament and helps to balance Vata. However, it is heavy, sweet in taste, and unctuous. Therefore, onion has a tendency to vitiate Kapha Dosha. Onion is also sharp in action and has bitter as its secondary taste. Therefore, it can vitiate pitta dosha by disturbing the physiological processes.
Swasthyahitkarak(Beneficial for Health) – It is the substance that is indisputably good for health. It is important to note that all Ayurvedic guidelines should be considered in a context. Sutra is the system that provides a comprehensive context for all rules. Ghee, Honey, rice, moong dal are some of the swasthyahitkarak foods, that cause almost no harm to the body in the widest range of situations.
Now, there is no physical substance that when taken in any quantity, any time and in any manner will be incontestably good for health. For example, rice is considered good for health and according to Ayurveda, one should have it every day. But uncooked rice is disastrous if consumed, an excessive amount of cooked rice is not good, polished rice is unhealthy etc. Therefore, there is a context where a substance is doshashamak, dhatupradoshak or Swasthyahitkarak. This is the broad view.
Now for practical purposes, how can we classify day to day objects in these 3 categories? Well, we can do that in the same way as we classify the solid, liquid and gas. Everything that exists on this earth can acquire any of the 3 states of physical existence, in specific conditions. For example, oxygen is a gas in normal circumstances. However, it can be transformed to liquid when compressed, or even solid. But still, for all practical purposes, it is classified as a gas, because that is its natural form of existence. In the same way, even arsenic can be good for the body. It is actually used in many of the Rasa Shastra medicines. But, for all practical purposes, it is classified as a toxin. Because it has a natural toxic effect on the body. Similarly, haritaki (Terminelia chebula) is extolled to be as benevolent as a mother towards the stomach but it is not supposed to be consumed more than a specific period of time. Still, for all practical purposes, it is a swasthyahitkarak herb.
Besides, it is important to note that each human body is different. What is good for one person might not be good for the other. For example, eating curd might be good for a person with good digestion, but buttermilk is better for a person with weak digestion. But this classification is still applicable for everyone. For example, as swasthyahitkarak substance, Ghee is invariably good for all humans, (pure and natural) milk is nourishing for all children. Similarly, too much acid like vinegar is dhatupradushak for all people. And Amla is pitta doshashamak for everyone.
Therefore, irrespective of the body type, this classification is the basis on which we can choose the food that we should eat or the food that we should avoid, in general.
Swasthyahitkarak food items should be consumed every day.
Doshashamak food items should be consumed according to requirement.
Dhatupradushak food items should be consumed rarely or not at all.
If we follow these plain and simple rules of eating, we will never fall sick.
The most interesting thing about substance(dravya) as described in Ayurveda is Kal (time), Disha(dimension), Mana(mind) and Atma (soul) are classified as substances. Therefore the above 3 classifications are applicable to the lifestyle and the thought process also.