“Most people work hard and spend their health trying to achieve wealth. Then they retire and spend their wealth trying to get back their health.”
Your body is designed to preserve its own health. It is constantly replenishing its cells. Every second, several million red blood cells are removed and replaced from your circulatory system. Every five days your stomach lining is renewed. Every thirty days, you have a brand new protective skin. Every ninety days, your body turns over all the molecules that make up your bones.
Why do we not get well?
If one has clogged blood vessels or intermittent headaches, it won’t necessarily be obvious to see how acrylamides in crisps, casein in pasteurised and homogenised dairy, free radicals in cheap vegetable oils, sugar, aspartame, and the multitude of other disease-causing compounds found in our diet are injuring our cells internally.
With the abundance and endless varieties of foods available from our supermarkets why is it impossible to feel nourished by what we buy?
It is simple …. nature is not in command. Often our foods are sweetened, emulsified, stabilized, salted, irrigated, bleached, blanched, polished, degermed, sprayed, anti-spoiled… By the time some of the food reaches our tables it is loaded with more chemicals than a chemist shop. Additionally, it is hard to observe the damage that stress-related compounds released because of anger or anxiety does to our organs. What happens to our energy stores when we act against our own values or respond out of fear? Where does our “moral compass” come into play when preventing illness or getting well.
We all know about good food choices, good lifestyle choices, exercise, sunlight, positivity and stress-coping techniques, – but it can be hard to remain focused and motivated when you can’t see the effects of our choices in real-time. I am always so surprised when people expect immediate relief in conditions that have taken years to manifest. Most alternative therapies require some form of self-responsibility.
What Then Does It Take To Stay Healthy? Everyone in today’s World who wants to be healthy, has a personal responsibility to learn as much as possible about health.
We have a huge amount of information available to us, which can be very confusing and overwhelming. Ayurveda teaches us to take personal responsibility by experiencing ie you need to participate in Ayurveda to understand it. In Ayurveda food and actions are the keys to healing. We hear a lot about food but not so much about actions (and how energetically they can affect us).
Ayurveda can’t prevent someone from aging or death. But it can strengthen body and mind to make the journey of life more enjoyable. The Ayurveda perspective is to get away from the idea of quick fixes that is so firmly entrenched in our culture. Most healing takes time and commitment. We need to heal not only the body, but mind and spirit. Both Yoga and Ayurveda aim in gradual and natural deep internal changes. Not forced or superficial. Below are some tips that I hope you find useful.
Recipe of the month.
I very much enjoy the fresh chutneys to add digestive power, but also taste to foods such as Risottos or other rice or meat dishes, that need a little zing. In Ayurveda Beetroot are best for Vata constitutions because they are sweet in taste, warm, moist and add mass.
However, for Pitta types a small amount of juice can be therapeutic for liver conditions. The medicinal properties of Beetroot utilized in Ayurveda are for uterine disorders, constipation and hemorrhoids. As beetroot are economical and still in season, this is an easy and appropriate recipe to try.
Blend one large boiled and skinned beetroot with 1 tsp each of toasted cumin seeds, coriander seeds and black peppercorns.
Sauté 1 small red onion 2 cloves of garlic and 2 green chilies.
Add 1 tsp salt, 30 grams fresh coriander, 1 tblsp Tamarind sauce, a tomato (skinned) and the juice of one lemon.
Combine and serve fresh – Delicious ….. a bit hot & spicy for the Pitta digestion but good for stimulating Kapha & warming Vata
Featured Product – Bramhi Vati
When do I think of Bramhi Vati – anytime we have that feeling of brain fog, or just lack of mental clarity. Good to use before exams or when highly stressed and “can’t think straight.”
Bramhi Vati – A traditional Ayurveda formulated product containing Bramhi, Ashwagangha and shankapusphi herbs. Click here to buy now.
Newsletter – November/December 2016
Living according to the season – the summer months
How I love summer. The sun is out, the days are longer, we can spend more time outside, and most of us feel generally happier and healthier.
In Ayurveda we see it as a time when the fire element is increased, there is more warmth, lightness and dryness. These are qualities that increase Pitta and can also increase Vata.
If we are of dominant Pitta constitution it is even more important to adjust your routine to cater for the change in weather. Pitta can build up in the digestive system, liver, eyes, skin, and heart at this time of year. This can result in conditions such as diarrhea, inflamed and red skin, sensitive eyes, hypertension, anger and frustration.
Here are some Ayurveda suggestions for your summer routine
- A light massage with room temperature coconut oil* (or Pitta reducing oil) nourish the skin and clear any heat. Wash this off with cool water.
- Your diet in the summer should consist of sweet, bitter, astringent flavors and be light and easy to digest.
- In the summer it is best to avoid all dark meats such as beef, lamb and pork as well as citrus fruits, tomato, garlic, onion, salt and sour dairy products as these all increase pitta.
- Coffee and alcohol should be avoided (or at less limited)
- Utilise the cooling herbs – cumin, coriander, fennel, peppermint leaves and mint as digestive herbs (pitta digest) – link
- When you are thirsty try drinking cool herbal teas of peppermint, licorice, fennel and rose. Limes are also very cooling.
- Before you go to bed, especially if it has been a hot day, rub the soles of your feet with *Bramhi oil to bring all the heat down to your feet
- Spray your face with *organic rose water “during the day or before going to bed– very cooling Suggested Yoga Practise to reduce Pita
- Start your yoga practice with some cooling and calming Sheetali pranayama- this is an especially calming and soothing practice where you roll your tongue into a tube and then draw the air in through this tube and out through your nostrils. You can just feel the cool air chilling you out!
- Pitta can accumulate in the digestive system, especially the liver and small intestine. Do some abdominal stretches and abdominal twists for helping to clear pitta from your belly. Try Trikonasna (triangle series), Bhujangasana (cobra), Matsyendrasana (twist), Ushtrasana (camel).
- It is important to not do too many inverted poses (esp headstand) as these bring heat up to your head if you are already a bit of a pitta prone person or are suffering from hypertension.
- After yoga anoint yourself with some sandalwood or rose oil. Place a drop on your third eye, throat and navel to keep these centers cool and calm.
Lets talk about Asparagus
I love Asparagus and have been munching my way through, many stalks, as the season is short lived in NZ Asparagus, in Ayurveda is one of the few vegetables that can be eaten by all doshas with no aggravation. Sweet, astringent and bitter, cool light and moist, it is ideal for Pitta. It stabilises Vata, being easy to digest, and lightens Kapha. Medically it can be used as a slight laxative, nerve sedative, general tonic and demulcent.
That aside it tastes delicious just steamed with a dash of ghee, some grated fresh ginger, black pepper and Himalayan salt to taste. In writing this newsletter I came across this recipe – It is a take on the kitchari recipe given last month utilizing Asparagus as the main vegetable. Have a look – it’s healing and delicious.
I have made two huge batches of this stew in the past 3 months and am not tired of it at all. Enjoy something new!
- 1 teaspoon ghee (I substituted olive oil)
- 1/8 teaspoon saffron
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek seeds
- 1/2 cup finely chopped leeks (wash carefully – white parts only)View recipe – click here
Featured Herb – Amalaki (also known as Amia)
How I love this herb…Being Pitta in nature I have first hand felt the benefit of Amalaki. It is very beneficial for the heart of the body and also the emotional heart promoting longitivtiy. It is the best single herb for controlling Pitta being a front line anti-inflammatory herb. The fruit is very high in Vitamin C and hence a powerful anti oxidant. It is used to treat hemorrhoids, gout, gastritis, colitis, liver or spleen disorders, premature greying, hair loss, and palpitation. Can be bought in caps or powder and is the key ingredient in last months featured product Chyavanprash
Rose the cooling flower
Roses are coming into full bloom…here are a couple of recipes that you can utilize to make the most of the petals… It would be appropriate to mention that 1,400,000 hand picked petals are required to produce 1 liter of rose oil (that equates to 67 blossoms to give one drop). We need to remember these statistics and savor and appreciate each drop of oil as a gift of healing.
Rose Water Toner
You will need:
- 1 cup organic rose petals,
- 2 cups boiling filtered water
- and 1 spray bottle
Place the rose petals in a pot or metal bowl. Cover the petals with boiling water and soak for around 1 hour.
Strain and pour the rose water into a spray bottle. Store in the fridge. Rose water is slightly astringent, cooling and great for sensitive skin.
Ayurveda does not separate Mind and body. We see good health as not just a absence of disease but the ability to be the best that we can possibly be. Emotions have an effect on our health and you will see in the following graphic, emotions traditionally associated with particular organs. Sometimes eating right and exercising is not enough we have to look at our ability to feel and greet our emotions – both good and bad. Carl Jung said “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the dark more conscious. “By facing our emotions we can explore them and develop more resilience This is where mindfulness and meditation have a role – reflection and self-study all play their part in healing.
At Ayurveda we take great interest in the tongue. We spend a lot of time looking at people’s tongues, which can say a lot about your present state of health, and can be a reflection of your internal organs and your level of toxicity. Every morning get up and scrap your tongue first thing to get the night slop off it. After that look again if it is pink you are doing great — If not it is sign that your system is overloaded.
This tongue coating is a sign of ama, which translates as toxins inside the digestive system. This coating, which is a mixture of bacteria, fungi and dead cells, can be clear, thick, white, yellow, brown or even greenish. We all have some coating, but the colour and amount is an important sign to your overall health. If you need more convincing, here are fi ve good reasons to
scrap your tongue daily.
• Eliminates bad breath — the cocktail of gunk on the tongue affects your breath. You will be more kissable for sure if you adopt this daily habit.
• Enhances the sense of taste — removing build up from the surface of the tongue will better expose your taste buds. Food tastes better
• Slows the growth of plaque and improves oral hygiene — leads to healthier teeth and gums assisting in tooth decay, gum infections, and gum recession. Your dentist will thank you.
• Improves digestion and immunity— the mouth is the first base of digestion. Swirling food around in a bacterial pool will not help in enhancing immune health. When coming down with a sore throat my suggestion is that we scrap the tongue more frequently so we can rid our mouths of unwanted toxins and give the body a chance to fight the infection.
• Gently stimulates the internal organs — your whole body is mapped on the tongue, just like your hands and feet (except, interestingly enough, not the reproductive organs). Scrapping your tongue stimulates and massages those corresponding organs as a form of acupressure.
WHAT THEN IS A TONGUE SCRAPPER AND HOW DO WE USE IT?
This is what it looks like, commonly made from copper or stainless steel. I tend to encourage copper due to its natural plaque and anti-bacterial actions.
This is what you do:
• Hold tongue scrapper firmly by both hands.
• Open your mouth and extend the tongue as far as possible.
• Using the fl at centre part of the scraper gently scrap from back to front using one long stroke.
• Rinse and repeat 5–6 times.
• Wash tongue scrapper well in hot water.
When you first get started be gentle, and don’t scrape if there are ulcers, open scars, or bumps on the tongue. You will be amazed how much stuff comes off your tongue in the morning and how great it feels to have a clean and fresh mouth.
Tongue Scrapper, for daily oral hygiene.
Click here to view and buy now.
Words: Perry Macdonald
(Dip Naturopathy – ND, Dip Ayurvedic Medicine)
Article by Verve Magazine