Natural Health

The Ayurvedic Pharmacy

The Ayurvedic Pharmacy

Ayurveda has a substantial pharmacology and is a time-proven system full of beautiful herbs and medicines. Being around for thousands of years, Ayurveda pharmacology, is an evidentially proven system of herbal medicine that is still effective to this day. According to Ayurveda, the animal and plant kingdom have similar constituent factors as the human body. The five elements that are found in people and foods are also found in herbs and herbal formulation.

In Ayurveda, the action of the herb is first considered by using the sensory organs. The sense experience the qualities of the shape, color, aroma, flavor, and fracture of the plant. These classifications relate to specific pharmacological actions that the herbs may have on the body. The qualities provide the basis for the theory behind the energetics of the herbs. The best way to learn about herbs is to become intimately acquainted with them; a herbalist must know a plant’s natural habitat, growing tendencies, climatic preferences and dislikes, shape, color, taste, smell and harvest times, and more importantly the herbs must be experienced personally.

“There is nothing in the world which does not have therapeutic utility when applied in appropriate conditions and situations. Drugs act by virtue of their nature and qualities at the proper time, in a given place, in the appropriate conditions and situations; the effect produced is considered to be their action (karma); the factor responsible for the effect is their energy (virya); where they at is the place (adhisthana); when they act is the time (kala); how they act is the mode of action (upaya); what they accomplish is the achievement (phala)." -Caraka Samhita Sutrasthana 26.12,13

The Ayurvedic pharmacy has developed many excellent herbal preparations. As not all herbs are not readily assimilable in their ‘raw’ state, these herbs are usually processed to enhance absorption. The form in which the herb is taken can significantly affect its potency and effect. Much medicinal substance requires a different mode of preparation according to the specific causes and symptoms of the disease being treated. There are also particular preparations that are indicated for certain illness or particular plants. Along with their therapeutic effects the medicated ghees, medicated wines, guggul's and pills retain their potency longer than fresh herbs or powders. An Ayurvedic practitioner can also develop specific custom formulas based upon any imbalances of the doshas. It is best to advise an Ayurvedic practitioner when using these traditional Ayurvedic herbs or formulas.

According to Ayurveda, our bodies are woven from food. The nutrients we ingest are metabolized into the energy and information that form our cells, tissues, and organs. Every day our bodies need essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to maintain our body’s delicate balance. Taking Ayurvedic herbs as supplements can be a highly efficient way to create that balance.

Every herb in Ayurvedic herbology has a multitude of benefits, for the mind, body, and spirit. Herbs can be used internally or externally (through the skin) - or even used as aromatherapy. These herbs can be useful for weight loss to beautifying skin to overall vitality; Ayurvedic herbs can transform your health in so many ways. Plants and herbs carry in their cells the wisdom of cosmic intelligence and the healing vibrations of nature.

Since ancient times, humans and plants have had a profound spiritual connection - we have grown with plants and have adapted and learned from them. Also, plants capture solar energy and convert it into nutrients that humans can digest. Plants do this by transforming sunlight into chlorophyll, which can then be assimilated by the human body, along with many other attributes creates a  beautiful relationship that when used correctly holds the key to our bodies homeostasis.

On a daily basis, some Ayurvedic herbs and formulas are safe to use and can be our allies. Using herbs to manage your constitution compliments the changes you make in your diet and lifestyle. For example, Shatavari, Ashwagandha, and Vidari Kanda are some of the main herbs to help support moving excess Vata from the body and maintain balance. Brahmi, Bhringaraja, Neem, and Guduchi are the principal herbs used to remove excess pitta from the body and maintain balance. Bibhitaki, Chitrak, and Punarnava are three of the fundamental herbs used to remove excess Kapha from the body and keep balance.

 

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.

Ayurveda 101

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Ayurveda, one of the oldest forms of health care, it is the tree of knowledge from which many popularized therapeutic interventions and medicines have grown. Used for 5000 years by many thousands of doctors on millions of patients, Ayurveda is the time proven medical system of India. The term Ayurveda is Sanskrit and literaly means the “Science of Life.”   It encompasses a variety of natural therapies and philosophies that support and enhance individual balance, health and wellness. It has made huge advances in the fields of surgery, herbal medicine, herbal extracts, medicinal effects of minerals and metals, human anatomy, physiology, psychology, nutrition and exercise

The World Health Organization (WHO) has defined health as a state of complete, physical, mental and social well-being - not merely the absence of disease. Ayurveda goes a step beyond this as it is not just a medicinal approach to health, but rather a complete philosophy of life. It gives equal importance to all aspects of life as well as those that are subjective and intangible when addressing disease and imbalance. Ayurveda has had its success and longevity because it helps us to maintain the knowledge of living. It teaches us how to live vibrantly by creating good health every step of the way.

Ayurveda is multi-faceted, and practitioners often undergo years of education. It is an extremely sophisticated system of observation, and categorizes its clients by distinctive anatomic and metabolic “types” also known as “Prakruti.”  According to Ayurvedic beliefs, each person has a distinct pattern of specific combinations of physical, mental, and emotional characteristics of the body. The course of illness and remedies are determined in part by each client’s constitution and the environment in which they exist.

In Ayurvedic philosophy, our Prakruit is made up from a combination of doshas. There are three doshas that govern our psychobiological functioning of the body known as Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The doshas are a combination of the five elements (panchamahabhutas) and are present in every cell, tissue and organ of the body. All five elements are present in each dosha, but the predominance of two elements create a dosha. The doshas are responsible for the huge variety of individual differences and preferences and they influence all that we are and all that we do, from our choices of food to our modes of relating to others. 

The doshas also govern the biological and psychological process of our body, mind and consciousness. They regulate the creation, maintenance and destruction of bodily tissue as well as the elimination of waste products. They even govern our emotions and metal state. When in balance, they generate understanding, compassion, love and health. When their balance is disturbed by stress, improper diet, and environmental conditions, they give rise to many disturbances such as anger, fear, anxiety, confusion, depression and disease. Thus, when in balance, they create health; when out of balance, they are the cause of disease.

The goal of Ayurveda is to protect the health of a healthy person and restore health of a sick person by maintaining or bringing the body back into constitutional balance (doshic balance). Many factors can disturb the balance of the body such as stress, unhealthy diet, toxins, weather, work, strained relationship and lifestyle choices. Such disturbances are expressed in the body as disease. Inherent in Ayurvedic principles is the concept that you are capable of taking charge of your own life and healing. When a person becomes ill, the illness is not likely to completely cure unless you change behaviors that caused it. Understanding genetic make up and getting to the bottom of these factors is an important process of the Ayurvedic medical science.

An Ayurvedic practitioner creates specific health programs according to each individual's doshas patterns, addressing each person's illness different from the next. Ayurvedic treatments may include internal and external medicinal remedies, diet plans, exercise, daily lifestyle programs, external body therapies, yoga, meditation and practices of detoxification and rejuvenation. Through a combination of these techniques and understanding individual uniqueness, Ayurveda can provide a complete system of healing with long-term solutions.

 

 

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.

Your Ayurvedic Dosha in Menopause

Ayurveda and Menopause

The word Ayurveda itself means “knowledge of life,” and to know Ayurveda is to comprehend the dynamic relationships between your body, mind and spirit, and how each relates to the world around you. While we will always know our own bodies better than anyone else ever could, when we reach an impasse, talking with an experienced practitioner of Ayurvedic medicine can be helpful. Many women have found not just relief during menopause, but improved overall health and longevity by integrating conventional, modern approaches with alternative practices such as Ayurvedic medicine.

There are many approaches in the Ayurvedic science to support menopausal symptoms. First we must understand the doshic system as it serves as a central guide. One is born with a fundamental constitution, or Prakriti, that remains with us through out life. Acting upon our constitution are the three doshas Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, which influence our state of health or imbalance. These three doshas are responsible for the manifestations, appearances of the natural forces at work in the bodies systems. Each dosha is defined or represented by two of the five natural elements: either, air, fire, water earth.

Vata, the space and air principle, is embodied by ether. It resides in the spaces of your body, filling empty airspaces and channels, and helps govern the function of the nervous system.

Pitta, the fire and water principle, exists within your body mainly as bile and acid, and is most closely associated with the digestive and elimination systems.

Kapha, or the water and earth principle, relates to the respiratory system and mucous membranes and governs the majority of our physical composition.

In Ayurvedic medicine, a course of action is always individualized and will generally be based on the individual's imbalances also known as Vikriti. If you have an imbalance or excess in one of the doshas throughout menopause, the resulting imbalance tends to produce certain symptoms that are characteristic for that dosha. Recognizing which dosha dominates your system in menopause will help to identify which Ayurvedic suggestions would best match you and ease your symptoms. Below are signs or expressions of what dosha is showing to be predominate.

Vata

  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Insomnia
  • Mild hot flashes
  • Poor skin tone
  • Constipation
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Depression

Pitta

  • Irritability
  • Angry outbursts
  • Short temper
  • Skin rashes
  • Hot flashes and night sweats
  • Urinary tract infections

Kapha

  • Sleepiness
  • Sluggishness
  • Yeast infections
  • Slow digestions
  • Weight gain
  • Fluid retention

 

Ayurvedic advises for Vata-dominated menopause: The first thing you should do is follow a general Vata pacifying diet and lifestyle plan. Create a routine in all that you do from the time you get up in the morning, meal times, to the time you go to bed. Going to bed early can also help balance excess Vata.

Use herbs such as cardamom, fennel, cumin and ginseng in warm teas and in your food. A daily self oil massage with a blend of sesame and almond oil can be one of the best Vata pacifying actions.  The use of essential oils such as sandalwood, frankincense, cinnamon and myrrh as vapor or direct application through the massage will also be effective.

Dietary habits that decrease Vata include frequent but small meals, prepared freshly cooked, warm and mildly spiced with herbs. Warm drinks and foods build strength, and it is good to try to avoid eating when you are nervous or worried about something.

In general taking Ayurvedic herbs and formulas under the guidance of an experienced Ayurvedic medical practitioner is suggested. Some gentle Ayurvedic herbs that could be used would include; Ashwaganda, Licorice, Haritaki, and Tulsi.

Ayurvedic advises for Pitta-dominated menopause: Follow a Pitta pacifying diet and lifestyle plan.  Ayurveda suggests that a good way to calm your fiery pitta-dominant menopause is with coconut and sesame oil application. You might also try massaging with clarified butter (ghee),  or take it internally. You may also benefit from the very relaxing, pitta-balancing essential oils of gardenia, honeysuckle, geranium, lotus and peppermint.

The anti-Pitta diet is also designed to cool. It consists of lots of cooling, heavy foods, warmly cooked or small amounts of raw foods. The taste should be relatively plain and not cooked in a lot of oil or heavily laden with hot spices. Its important for Pitta to eat three regular meals a day around the same time each day.  Sweet juicy fruits like grapes, pears, plums, mango, melons, and apples between meals can also benefit. It is helpful to avoid alcohol and drink generous amounts of cool clear water to stay refreshed and hydrated.

Ayurvedic practitioners also suggest and encourage women to avoid pungent, sour, salty, and hot spicy tastes and hot drinks. Incorporate herbs such as coriander, cilantro and cardamon in teas and foods. Use Pitta pacifying Ayurvedic herbs such as Amalaki, Aloe Vera, Shatavari and Bhrami daily.

Ayurvedic advises for Kapha-dominated menopause: Insure to follow a Kapha pacifying diet and lifestyle plan. It is good to remember to stimulate the mind and body at this time. According to Ayurvedic practice, lessening Kapha through your diet means eating light, dry and warm, so it’s best to avoid sweet and cold foods, as well as oily or heavy foods like meats and cheeses. Instead, women with Kapha dominance are encouraged to eat mild fruits as opposed to very sweet or sour ones, warm and drying whole grains such as millet and buckwheat rather than wheat, smaller legumes such as mung beans and red lentils, and pungent and bitter vegetables such as greens.

Any and all spices (but salt) are fine, including black pepper, turmeric and ginger. Women with Kapha dominance often find they feel best when they avoid big meals, strive for a light breakfast and dinner, and make lunch the heaviest meal. Avoid using most cooking oils, light to none if possible.

Essential oils such as basil, cedar, frankincense and black pepper can be used as a vapor or directly applied to the body. Try adding spices such as cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper ginger, turmeric to warm teas and through out the day. Ayurvedic herbs such as Guggulu, Bibhitaki, and Pippili can be taken in moderation.

 

 

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.

Two easy Ayurvedic Tips to Increase Oral Health

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Ayurveda has many natural practice that focus on oral health. Some of us just think that oral health has only to do with brushing your teeth, flossing and a regular dental cleaning. But oral health goes further then that. Oral health receives less attention then it deserves. Medical and dental professionals say how important oral health is to overall health because it affects the deeper organs and tissues of the body. Many people find that when they introduce Ayurvedic oral health practices to their daily routine, their over all health improves. We suggest adding two simple Ayurvedic oral practices to your life and see how it works for you.

First, Ayurveda recommends using a tongue cleaner at the start of each day, upon waking on an empty stomach. According to Ayurveda, the tongue is connected to our health and mirrors many of our vital organs. These include the stomach, small intestine, colon, liver, spleen, kidneys, heart and lungs. Scraping the tongue with a tongue cleaner is said to directly impact each of these organs. Most people use a tooth brush to clean the tongue, but because the tongue is soft and spongy, a firm and inflexible object cleanses it more efficiently. It clears accumulations in the folds and grooves of the tongue so they can be properly eliminated from the mouth.

Using a tongue cleaner every day can improve overall oral hygiene, enriches digestive fire, removes unwanted coating from the tongue, cleans ama (toxins), cleans bacteria from the tongue, improves taste, and stimulates the internal organs. It's very easy to use a tongue cleaner at the start of each day. Just hold the ends of the tongue cleaner in both hands, open mouth and extend the tongue. Place the curved edge of the cleaner at the rear of the tongue, as far back as you can, then press gently on the tongue pulling the cleaner to the front of the tongue.

Another easy Ayurvedic practice is oil pulling. Oil pulling is the practice of swishing oil in the mouth anywhere from 5-20 minutes. This is best done with organic sesame or coconut oil. All oils are lipid-based and so is the exterior cell membranes, including single-celled microorganisms that inhabit the mouth. When these microbes come in contact with the oil, their cell membranes adhere to the oil, which helps to detach them from the teeth and gums. This includes supporting the removal of plaque and odor causing-bacteria. Decreasing the bad bacteria in the mouth help maintain a good balance of microbes in the mouth.

Oil by nature is heavy and warm. These qualities soothe and nourish the tissues. By swishing the oil all around in the mouth, in and out of the teeth, it contacts all the tissues through out the oral cavity, introducing them to it's nourishing qualities, thus providing nutrition and strength to the tissues of the mouth. 

In addition, the action of swishing for up to twenty minutes engages a wide array of muscles in and around the mouth. These are muscles that do not often get used or exercised. This activity tones the muscles while increasing circulation to the entire mouth, thereby supporting both the nourishment and detoxification of the oral tissues and encourages strong healthy gums.

In the morning on an empty stomach, place about 1 tablespoon of coconut, sesame or a combination of both and swish for up to 20 minutes. Swish the oil side to side, all around the gums, teeth and cheeks and also pull in and out between the teeth. Once finished spit it out and rinse with water.

 

 

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.

 

3 Ayurvedic Practices for Longevity

Longevity is something most humans wish for. Its a constant battle. From the time of birth to until the time of death, the body is in a struggle with the aging process. Each day the body breaks down tissues and organs at a cellular level causing deterioration and degeneration. It is also at the cellular level that longevity can be support and rejuvenation must take place.

Each dosha plays a very important role in our health and longevity. The functions of all our billions of cells that constitutes our body are governed by the doshas. For example Vata is closely related to pranic life energy and governs all the bodies functions and movement. Pitta governs digestion, nutrition and transformation to a cellular level and Kapha maintains longevity and the structure in the cells. 

On a deeper level, to combat aging it is necessary to also balance the three subtle essences within the body. In Ayurveda, Prana is the first subtle essence is the life. It is the energy that governs respiration, oxygenation and circulation. Prana is closely related to the Vata dosha. It also governs all the motor and sensory function, natural intelligence of the body, functions of mind, memory, thoughts and emotions. The physiological functions of the heart is governed by prana, and from the heart the blood enters the body and oxygenates all the dhatus and vital organs. Prana governs the biological functions of the two other subtle essences, ojas and tejas. 

Ojas is the essence of the seven dhatus or bodily tissues. It is the related to Kapha and is the vital energy that controls the life-functions with the help of prana. It contains all five basic elements and all the vital substances of the bodily tissue. On a psychological level, ojas is respnosible for compassion, love, peace and creativity. Because ojas is related to Kapha, aggravation of Kapha displaces ojas and vice-versa. This pertains to all the doshas and its related subtle essence. Decrease ojas will create Vata-related reactions such as fear, general weakness, inability of the senses to perceive, loss of consciousness and death. Balanced ojas is necessary for biological strength and immunity. 

Tejas is the subtle essence of the fire that governs the metabolism through the enzyme system. It is related to Pitta dosha and angi, the central fire in the body that promotes, digestion, absorption and assimilation of food. Tejas is the further transformation of the ingredients of nutrition and is necessary for the nourishing and transformation of each dhatu. When tejas is aggravated, it burns away ojas and reduces immunity and overstimulates pranic activity

Just as it essential for health to ensure balance among the doshas it is just as important for longevity that prana, ojas, and tejas remain in balance. To create such balance, the Panchakarma rejuvenation process of Ayurveda is most effective. Rejuvenation must take place on a physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual level to be most effective. A yearly Panchakarma can create astonishing effects and is suggested to those who want to maintain health and longevity.

Ayurveda also provides simple techniques that can be used daily to support prana, ojas and tejas that can be incorporated into your lifestyle. When creating longevity it is importantto first avoid smoking, overexertion, cold drinks, most dairy products and hydrophilic substances, excess sexual activity, fried foods, red meats, excess alcohol staying up late or sleeping in. Its best to eat a nutrient rich plant based diet, primarily cooked foods with the balance of sweet, sour, pungent, salty, astringent and bitty tastes in each meal. 3-4 small meals a day with lunch being your biggest meal and daily light exercise is important. 

Supporting Ojas can be simply done with Ghee. Ghee is a product made form unsalted cultured butter and is an excellent appetizer en-kindling agni and enhances the flavors of foods. It helps digestion because it stimulates the secretions of digestive juices. It enhances intelligent, understanding and memory. It does not increase cholesterol as do many other oils and it has anit-Vata, anti pitta and anti- Kapha properties. Thus it aids in the balance of the Tridosha. It is a rejuvenate for all the tissues.

Incorporating ghee into your diet is easy, you can start with replace your cooking oils with pure ghee. If you would like a more direct effect take a teaspoon of ghee each morning followed by a cup of warm water on empty stomach.  Another way to support ojas, is to eat daily a date that has been soaked in ghee. Please make sure you are using organic grass-fed cultured ghee.  A lot of the ghee you find in Indian markets is not the medicinal ghee and will not be effective. 

Prana is best managed with pranyama and by eating an organic nutrient rich freshly cooked plant based meals. Pranyama is a yogic breathing exercise that brings healing and balance. As with yoga, there are different types of Pranyama. Ayurveda indicates which is suitable for a person based on their constitution. A pitta constitution should perform left nostril breathing. For this exercise, inhale through the left nostril and exhale through the right using thumb and middle finger to close and open alternate nostrils. A person of Kapha constitution should do right nostril breathing, inhaling through the right nostril and exhaling through the left. For a vata person, they should perform alternate nostril breathing, start by exhaling out of one nostril and then inhaling with the same nostril, then switch and exhale and inhale with the alternate nostril. Practice for 10-20 mins a day.

Tejas is the root of our digestive fire, it is believed in Ayurveda that the digestive system is the root of all imbalances. Improper diet, bad living habits and overuse of drugs will cause an imbalance in tejas. Substances that are hot, sharp and penetrating directly enhance tejas. Any tejas disorder can affect either prana or ojas. A great practice to enhance your tejas daily is to drink a warm glass of turmeric tea first thing in the morning. Ayurvedic turmeric paste with honey is an easy way to make tea.  

For paste use 1/3 cup  or 80 ml good, raw honey 2 1/2 teaspoons dried turmeric. Work the turmeric into the honey until it forms a paste. You can store this in a jar. For each cup of tea, place a heaping teaspoon of the turmeric paste in the bottom of a mug. Pour hot (but not boiling water) into the mug, and stir well to dissolve the turmeric paste. Add a big squeeze of juice from a lemon, and a good amount of black pepper. (pepper is invigorating and helps support the digestion of the turmeric).

 

 

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.

 

How and Why Essential Oils Affect the Body

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Essential oils are the aromatic, or volatile constituents found in plants. They contain the most active physiological plant properties. Some experts say they contain the life force of the plants. Chemically, essential oils are made up of alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, phenols, terpenes, sesquiterpenes, ethers and esters. 

The routes through which essential oils react with the body and its metabolism are called pathways. The most important pathway, in terms of its profound effect of the body, is through the sense of smell. When we smell essential oils, the vapor stimulates small hair-like extensions of our olfactory nerve. The olfactory nerve is the only nerve in the body that is directly contacts the external environment and goes all the way to the brain. All of our other senses (touch, hearing, sight, and taste) involves several nerves and synaptic junctions before the impulses reach the brain. The olfactory nerve stimulates the most primitive part of the brain know as the limbic system, also called the reptilian brain. This is important in the processing of the reaction to emotions, desires, appetites and memories. 

In the second phase, essential oils penetrate the epithelial tissues; these include the skin, nasal passages, bronchioles, lungs and gastro-intestinal tract. The essential oils will have a strong effect on these primary contact tissues and pathways. Once absorbed into the surface layer, essential oils quickly penetrate into the lymphatic and blood capillary systems, entering into the general circulation. This is also true for the other epithelial tissues of the body, including sinuses and lungs.

Once the essential oils in the lymph circulatory system it can be carried directly to the liver or fed into the blood stream. As the oil circulates within the blood, body tissues and organs the body may choose any portion of the essential oil that it wishes to utilize in its metabolic process, or simply receive the stimulation, sedation or beneficial property of the oil as it passes through.

The third state of pathways involves the elimination processes of the body. Some components of essential oils are picked up by the surface of the lungs and are out gassed as a vapor. As an example, Eucalyptol (an alcohol in eucalyptus oil) is transported to the lungs surfaces by the blood stream and calms the mucous membranes as it exits. Others, such as terpenes in juniper berry oil, are filtered out by the kidneys, and have stimulating effects on the renal tissue, ureters, bladder and urethra as they exit.  Some components of the essential oils are extracted by the liver, held briefly in the gall bladder, and dumped into the GI tract, having profound affects on these organ systems as they pass through. For example Rose oil can stimulate bile production as it is processed by the liver. Some constituents tend to migrate toward the skin, where they will exit via the sebaceous glands and become part of the protective acid mantle. Components of yarrow can increase perspiration as they are excreted. 

These direct connection in the pathways are why essential oils can have such a profound and immediate effects on very deep aspects of your being. Research indicates that very small, almost homeopathic qualities create this stimulation. Larger doses do not increase the response appreciably.

To Supplement or Not To Supplement?

Ayurveda believes you should get your daily nutrients out of food as much as possible, and you can do this by eating plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, healthy meats and seaweeds. That said, there are cases in which it makes sense to supplement your diet with vitamins. Vegetarians should take vitamin B12 and possibly vitamin D, since they are missing out on these nutrients by not eating meat. Pregnant women should take extra folic acid. Those with osteoporosis will need to take extra calcium, magnesium, trace minerals like boron, and other supplements that specifically support their bone health. People recovering from a long illness may need to take certain immune-boostig supplements.

Its important to keep in mind that the American soil from which most of our food derives from is significantly depleted of nutrients, and as a result, our food is not as nutritious as it once was, which begs the question of what if we are even getting enough nutrients by eating a wide variety of foods. If this is of concern to you, you may consider taking a general mineral supplement or daily multivitamin. Whenever possible, ingest supplements that are extracted from a whole foods source like fruits, vegetables and grains. These will have the best bioavailability, meaning the highest absorption rate by your digestive system. The best way to take vitamins and minerals in is powdered from, liquid concentrate or as a oil. Avoid taking mega- doses or and dose larger than recommended dietary reference intakes, no matter how good you think they may be for your health. 

Supplementing your diet with vitamins should be the exception, not the rule, they are, after all, called supplements. Nutrients are much more accessible and easily processed by your body when they are consumed in food forms versus supplement form. Also, there is the danger that a person taking vitamins will then rationalize that there is no need to focus on balanced nutrition from food, but there is no magic bullet and no replacement for a diet of healthy, whole foods. 

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

Ojas, The Pure Essence of all Bodily Tissues

In yoga and Ayurveda we speak a lot of ojas, most people do not understand this term, nor do the recognize the importance of ojas. In Ayurveda, we believe ojas to be the pure essence of all bodily tissues. Ojas is the essence related to vitality and immunity in an indvidual. It is like honey. As the honeybee collects the minute molecules of the essence of hundreds of flowers and accumulates them in the honey comb for survival, ojas, circulated via the heart and throughout the body to maintain the natural resistance of the bodily tissue.

In short it can be described as our immune system. Ojas fights against aging, decay and disease. It is a superfine biological substance that gives strength to all the bodies tissues. Although often hear it  as a romantic or poetic subject, ojas is a protoplasmic, biological substance that includes albumin, globulin, and many other hormones. It is formed durning biosynthesis of the bodily tissues. Modern medicine talks about the immune system which includes the hematopoietic, endocrine, nervous, and digestive systems. The Ayurvedic concept of ojas corresponds to the modern medical concept, including gamma globulin, which maintains the immunity of the liver.

Immunity depends on the quality of the digestion, liver functions, and the integrated functions of all hormones in the endocrine system.  It also includes the nervous, skeletal, and muscular systems. When all these systems preform their physiological functions, ojas is maintained. Therefore, ojas is the potential source of strength and power, and natural resistance against illness, this is natural immunity. There are two types of immunity, natural or acquired immunity. When you receive a vaccination, this is an example of an acquired immunity. Ojas is our body's  natural resistance to fight infection.

Ojas has the capacity to counteract the etiological factors or cause of disease. Ojas is influenced directly by agni, or digestive system, which determines the quality of assimilation and nutrition. These qualities of ojas also depends upon lifestyle, stress, traumas and the qualities of relationships. For example if our relationships are not good our ojas will not be good.

So how do we support our Ojas? Building ojas is an art. Perhaps one of the best ways to consistently build ojas is to eat a diet of fresh, unprocessed whole foods in the appropriate season. Through the process of healthy digestion, microscopic amounts of the essence of these foods accumulate over time and become ojas. Ghee is an effective ojas building substance that can be added to your daily diet. 

Certain herbs in Ayurveda are also prized as great ojas-builders. Traditionally, a concoction of these herbs, including Ashwagandha and Shatavari, were blended with ojas-building foods like dates, almonds, coconut, saffron, ghee, honey and cardamom in a milk base. This mixture was warmed and taken before bed as a sleep aid and an ojas-builder to boot.

Other effective ways of building ojas includes healthy lifestyle routines, such as, sleeping habits (early to bed, early to rise and not in excess), yoga, medication, breathing exercises, walking in nature, laughing, expressing and showing love and affection, creativity, taking time and not rushing, doing things that make you happy,  giving to others, daily self oil application, and daily self love.
 

Yoga and Depression

Each year more than 25 million Americans are treated with antidepressants. Effective? In some cases yes, but with added stress and side effects such as, weight gain, lethargy, and sexual dysfunction, have brought into question whether medication is the only solution. It may not be. Recent studies have shown evidence that the practice of yoga—postures, breathing techniques, meditation—has beneficial effects on the emotional well-being and mental acuity of depression sufferers. And, best of all, without any of the side effects. 

A recent study in Scandinavian, conducted by Eric Hoffman, Ph.D., measured brain waves before and after a two-hour Kriya Yoga class. It found that alpha waves (relaxation) and theta waves (unconscious memory, dreams, emotions) increased by 40 percent. This means the brain is more deeply relaxed after yoga and the subjects are in better contact with their sub-consciousness and emotions. The Scandinavian study is significant for depression sufferers because after the yoga session, alpha waves increased in the right temporal lobe. 

Previous research has shown that depressed, introverted people typically have more alpha activity in the left frontal-temporal region, while optimistic, extroverted people have more alpha activity on the right. That theta waves also increased supports the notion that yoga works to alleviate depression not only by increasing brain chemicals that contribute to a feel-good response—such as endorphins, enkephalins, and serotonin—but also by providing greater access to feelings. 

Another study, conducted jointly by the Philadelphia-based Jefferson Medical College and Yoga Research Society, found that practitioners experienced a significant drop in cortisol levels after a single yoga class. High cortisol levels are characteristics of stress and serious depression. A marked decrease in cortisol and increase in the hormone prolactin—which is believed by many professionals to be the key in producing the anti-depressant effect of electroshock therapy—was also demonstrated in tests conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in India, using the breathing technique Sudharshan Kriya (SKY). In several major controlled studies involving adults with major depressive disorder, SKY produced dramatic relief from depression accompanied by beneficial changes in brain and hormone function. 

What about long-term effects? So far, most of the longer studies have been done in the area of mindfulness-based training; the most recent one was published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (vol. 68, 2000). Here, mindfulness-based stress reduction was combined with group cognitive therapy as an eight-week treatment in the prevention of recurrence of major depression. In follow-up testing a year later, the treatment group had a significantly lower relapse rate than did the control group. 

The combination of Ayurveda, Yoga and Meditation to holistically solve depression related problems has been successful and has helped several people from eliminating years of dependency on medication. Allowing one to live a happier, fuller life.

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.