Cleanse & Detox

The Art of Panchakarma

Panchakarma is the Ayurvedic art of detoxification, purification, and rejuvenation. A multiple day in-depth cleansing program that involves herbal advises diet, medicated health spa techniques, and elimination procedure.

These ancient rejuvenation therapies are designed to nourish the physical body and access the subtle body where stored toxins, emotions and thoughts form to create blockages in our body. It is a powerful way to address and eliminate the cause of disease and has been a method for thousands of years to stay healthy, young and vital.

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease.

Healing, Anti-aging Foods

For thousands of years, humans treated their bodies as personal laboratories to discover which foods were therapeutic and which were poisonous. Prehistoric humans evaluated "healthy" and "unhealthy" foods based on their reactions to what they put in their mouths. Occasionally, eating a certain food, herb or plant would bring a certain relief to a particular ailment, and that food would be noted as possessing healing qualities. Over time, patterns emerged and were combined into longstanding principles governing healthy diet and nutrition. After thousands of years of experimentation and documentation, and which consensus of modern science, its is widely agreed that fresh fruits and vegetables should be humans' primary foods. Fruits and vegetables are low in fat and sodium, high in fiber, and best of all, these superfoods are packed with powerful antioxidants crucial for maintaining your health. 

All whole, unprocessed foods from the earth- fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and legumes, nuts, seeds - possess rich, healing properties. Take just one example: cranberries. Cranberries are antioxidant-rich and have been traditionally used in the prevention and treatment of urinary tract issues. While preceptive and health-conscious humans have recognized this truth for centuries, studies now show that cranberries contain hippuric acid, which inhibits the growth and attachment of various strains of bacteria, such as E. coli, to the bladder. Studies also proved that cranberries improve dental health and help heal stomach ulcers by inhibiting H.pylori. Cranberries are merely one healing food in your arsenal to achieve good health and longevity. As Hippocrates says, "Let food be they medicine, and medicine be thy food."

In many years of studies of centenarians, it was discovered that the same ten foods kept recurring again and again in the diets of long-lived individuals. They are plenty and wonderful healing foods and can be the best when it comes to longevity and self-healing:

1.Sweet Potatoes
2. Corn
3. Peanuts
4. Pumpkin
5. Walnuts
6. Black Beans
7. Sesame Seeds
8. Shiitake Mushrooms
9. Green Tea
10. Seaweed

Mung Dal Soup: Highly Nutritious and Detoxifying

A highly nutritious Ayurvedic recipe which detoxifies, kindles digestive fire and sharpens the mind. It promotes weight loss, reducing swelling and water retention. Mung beans are available from health food shops, Indian grocers and sometimes supermarkets. They come in green or yellow varieties. Green is more detoxifying. Eat only mung bean soup for 3-7 days and nothing else! You can eat as much as you need to satisfy your appetite, once the previous meal has digested (leave 3-4 hours  between each meal).  Make up a fresh batch for each day, reheating only as much as you need for each meal so the meal is as full of ‘prana’ (energy) as possible. A food thermos works very well if you don’t have a kitchen at work. Try not to use a microwave!

Mung beans are less gas-producing than other beans, help remove toxins from the body (including heavy metals!) and stimulate the digestive fire. This dish will balance all threedoshas. The following soup recipe is highly nutritious and naturally detoxifies the body. It works by cleansing the liver, gall bladder and vascular system of any ama (undigested toxins).

400g mung beans (whole green or split green or yellow)
2 litres water; ½ tsp. turmeric powder
2 pinch asafoetida; Lime or lemon juice; fresh root ginger
2-3 cloves garlic; an inch of fresh root ginger
1 tsp. cumin seeds 
1 tsp. coriander seeds; rock salt or herb salt
Makes 5 generous portions

Wash the mung beans and soak for at least four hours or overnight. Heat ghee or olive oil in a pan and add teaspoon of turmeric and 2 pinches asafoetida (to prevent gas). Sauté for a few seconds then add the beans, fresh water and fresh root ginger. For one part soaked mung you need about four parts of water. Simmer for 30-40 minutes adding more water if necessary, until beans are soft. In  a pressure cooker this takes 8 minutes once the vessel has come to pressure. You can then turn off the heat and leave the pot to cool for a further 10 minutes before opening it. Once the beans are cooked, heat ghee or olive oil in another pan, add 2-3 cloves chopped garlic (if you wish) and sauté lightly for a minute until soft. Add chopped fresh root ginger, then one teaspoon of cumin and coriander seeds plus any other herbs or spices (except chillies) eg: cardamom, black pepper, cumin seeds and briefly sauté. Add these sautéed spices plus some rock salt into the beans and simmer for a further few minutes. Serve soup warm with a squeeze of lime juice and some fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped. You can also add green leafy vegetables, pumpkin, leeks,  courgette, fennel, parsley, mint, coriander, or basil for variety, yams, carrots and other seasonal veggies. You can also add 1 tsp. of ghee or – if you are vegan or do not like the taste of ghee – 1 tsp. of an omega 3/6/9 oil. Omega oils should be added to food after it has cooled down a bit, as these oils are not heat stable and thus also not suitable for cooking.

Wonderful Ghee

In India, ghee has always been a sacred and celebrated symbol of auspiciousness, nourishment and healing; especially in the daily rituals of cooking and worship.

Ghee is a premium cooking oil celebrated for its taste, nutritional benefits, and medicinal qualities. Ayurveda, the ancient medical science of India, recognizes ghee as an essential part of a balanced diet, and considers it to be the best fat one can eat. Ghee is the very essence of butter; the end result of a long, slow, careful clarification process that removes all the moisture, milk solids and impurities. The absence of milk solids and water in ghee make it completely shelf stable. Ghee has one of the highest flash points (485ºF) which make this oil the best choice for high temperature cooking.

Ghee has a full spectrum short, medium and long chain fatty acids, both unsaturated and saturated. Ghee contains Omega 3 and Omega 9 essential fatty acids along with vitamins A, D, E and K. Ghee made from organic butter of pastured cows is one of the highest natural sources of CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid). 9 phenolic anti-oxidants, as well as numerous other minerals are present in ghee.

Ghee is known as a substance that gives longevity, its elemental qualities balance the aging characteristics by enriching the living body. Ghee has been used for centuries as a digestive and elimination aid, for energy, sexual vitality, skin and eye health, as a lubricant for the joints and for alkalizing the blood.

The purity of ghee allows it to be deep penetrating and nourishing as it passes through the lipid membranes of cells. For this reason, the vitamins and minerals from food cooked in ghee will be drawn deep into the body where they impart the most benefit. The assimilation of the nutrients increases when suspended in a ghee matrix. When you add spices to ghee to cook with the flavor is carried deep into the food. Many herbal preparations in Ayurveda use ghee as the carrier oil because of these characteristics.
 

Spring Cleaning

Our ancestors lived in harmony with nature’s changing seasons. Today we have lost our connection to that wisdom. The frenzied pace of the modern world, our increased exposure to environmental toxins and a growing alienation from nature have caused most of us to fall out of alignment with an optimal state of health and happiness. But each new year brings another opportunity to perform the time-honored ritual of internal cleansing. 

Spring, which celebrates rebirth is the perfect time for detoxification. Detoxifying in spring is an important part of the Ayurvedic seasonal routine. Spring is the Kapha season, because the wet and cool weather reflects the moist, cool, heavy qualities of Kapha dosha are predominate during this time of year (March-June). Biologically, nature supports cleansing the body in the spring. In winter the digestive fire is high, and people eat more sweet and heavy foods. Most the time they aren’t able to assimilate these hard-to-digest foods, so Ama (toxic product of indigestion) starts to accumulate.

When warm weather melts the snow, it has a similar effect on the body. In spring the Ama melts and the volume of Ama becomes so great that the channels of the body become clogged. If you don’t assist these toxins in moving out of the body, you can become prone to flu, colds, cough, or allergies. Or you may feel unusually fatigued, sluggish or drowsy after lunch, or lose your normal appetite.

Sharp headaches, dizziness, mild tremors in the limbs and unexplained muscle aches especially in the calf, can also be symptoms. Your tongue may be coated, and your throat may be sore. The skin can be less radiant, heavier and more oily. You may also find that you break out more often, are more prone to sunburn, and have dry patches on your skin. If you suffer from indigestion, constipation, bad breath, disturbed sleep, PMS or any of the above, a spring detox could be just the thing to get you back on track.

Spring is the best season for detoxification, because nature is already trying to de-clear out the toxins in your body. Its the time to help the body to efficiently detoxify the channels and the body tissues. A Kapha pacifying diet and lifestyle is the best at this time. If you avoid eating heavy, cold, hard-to-digest foods, and avoid or reduce the sweet, sour, and salty tastes, your digestive system will be more efficient in burning away the accumulated Ama. 

You can sip hot water ( if you do not have a Pitta imbalance) to help melt the digestive impurities that have accumulated. Sweet juicy fruits can help cleanse the body, although they should be eaten before sunset, as they have a Kapha-increasing effect after the sun goes down. You can add spices to your food -- such as coriander, cumin, turmeric, and fennel -- to help stimulate the digestion and detoxify the skin. Daily exercise, and avoiding day sleep will also help. 

According to yoga’s sister tradition, Ayurveda, health means a body that is clear of toxins, a mind that is at peace, emotions that are calm and happy, organs that function normally and wastes that are efficiently eliminated. Panchakarma, an Ayurvedic method of detoxification, aids in reversing the effects of daily living and restores good health.  Spring is the perfect time to partake in a Panchakarma. The core regime of Panchakarma consists of adherence to a diet that is appropriate for your psychosomatic constitution, sweating and purgation therapies and internal and external oil treatments. These methods gently cleanse the body’s tissues of toxins to open the subtle channels and bring life-enhancing energy that increases vitality, inner peace, confidence and well-being.