Digestion & Elmination

Digestive Tea

In Ayurveda, teas serve as an important means of delivering the medicinal effects of herbs and spices to the body’s tissues. This easy-to-make tea recipe consists of only three ingredients but gets right to the core of digestive issues. It helps to stimulate circulation and relieve bloating and puffiness caused by water retention. Its flushing action simultaneously cleanses the urinary tract and reduces excess water weight. The combination of potent yet soothing spices it contains stokes digestive fire, restoring vitality; purifies the blood; and brings calm and clarity to the mind.

Digestive Tea Blend

  • ¼ tsp coriander seeds

  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds

  • ¼ tsp fennel seeds

Boil 1 ½ cups of water, add the seed mixture, and steep for at least 5 minutes or until the tea is cool enough to drink comfortably. Strain and serve. Drink throughout the day or with every meal. It’s best to avoid drinking this before bed; otherwise you’ll probably find yourself waking up to urinate.

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. 

Why Panchakarma?

Ayurveda teaches that the key to optimal health lies in our ability to fully digest everything that enters our body and mind, integrating whatever nourishes our being and eliminating the remainder. Because of genetic tendencies and, more commonly, unhealthy lifestyle choices, the most vulnerable areas of our body tend to accumulate toxic residues from foods, experiences, and feelings that haven’t been completely digested and metabolized. When left unaddressed, the buildup of this sticky toxic waste, known as ama, can give rise to physical and mental fatigue, disease, and emotional distress. Its presence often manifests in physical symptoms ranging from high cholesterol, hardened arteries, tooth tartar, and joint pain to a coated tongue, foul body odor, and excess mucus. Signs of ama’s harmful impact on our psychological and spiritual well-being include frequent episodes of boredom, irritability, and insatiable craving.

For thousands of years, Ayurvedic medicine has relied on the purification process known as panchakarma to deal with this fundamental threat to our health and happiness. The word panchakarmameans “five actions” and refers to five procedures that intensively cleanse and precisely balance the body, mind, and emotions. The correct application of these techniques quickly reverses the degenerative process and often yields profound and long-lasting benefits. Ayurvedic practitioners use panchakarma as a preventative or supportive measure for a variety of health imbalances. It can be particularly effective for managing health problems that are chronic, metabolic, or stress related.

According to Ayurveda, every human being is unique and therefore best served by an individualized approach to health care. The aim of Ayurveda is to help a healthy person stay well and to eliminate the causes of disease in a person who is ill. In both cases, panchakarma nurtures wellness with a set of procedures that are tailored to an individual’s constitution, age, digestive strength, health issues, immune status, and situational factors.

Panchakarma therapy detoxifies the various microscopic and macroscopic structures of the body, including the respiratory, lymphatic, circulatory, reproductive, and nervous systems. By optimizing digestion, elimination, and nutrient absorption and by introducing antioxidant enzymes into the body, panchakarma helps neutralize free radicals, balance cholesterol and triglycerides, and regulate blood pressure. It can slow the aging process, boost vitality and mental clarity, and even reduce the risk of heart attacks, stroke paralysis, and cancer by enabling our mind and body manage stress more effectively. Brain wave studies indicate that panchakarma techniques foster a relaxed yet alert mental state. By inducing this state of restful alertness, these techniques help protect our mind and body from the potentially deadly effects of chronic stress and tension, while enhancing our physical and mental performance.

Many Ayurvedic practitioners believe that even healthy people should undergo regular panchakarma treatments to combat the effects of chronic exposure to today’s rising levels of environmental pollution. Traces of the thousands[EP1] of synthetic chemicals used in modern industrialized societies (including many compounds that are linked to cancer and other health threats) permeate our food, water, air and can accumulate in our bodies, adding to the toxic burden of ama on our organs and tissues.

Ayurvedic theory emphasizes the importance of a panchakarma program for easing the challenges of transitioning from one season to the next. This is particularly true during the early spring when the lingering effects of excess kapha on winter-stressed bodies tend to increase susceptibility to colds and seasonal allergies.  

The first stage of panchakarma comprises treatments that stoke agni (digestive fire) while liquefying the sticky mass of ama in your organs and tissues and pushing it toward the digestive tract. This preparatory phase, known as purvakarma, consists of oil massages, ingestion of medicated ghee, and techniques like steam baths to stimulate sweating. These treatments lay the groundwork for efficient waste removal by lubricating the body’s subtle channels. After several days of purvakarma, the practitioner chooses one or more of the five (pancha) actions (karma) designed to rid the body of the ama. This stage also typically lasts for several days. The elimination stage is followed by a series of internal and external rasayana(rejuvenation) procedures. This phase, which strengthens and nourishes the body, is just as vital as the first two to panchakarma’s goal of preventing disease and restoring our natural state of balanced health and happiness.

Just as you would with any medical procedure, be sure to consult with a qualified physician before undergoing panchakarma therapy. An Ayurvedic physician has the specialized expertise to determine your constitution, diagnose any health problems, and recommend the panchakarma techniques that are most appropriate for your condition. Specially trained technicians must administer these procedures in a defined sequence over a specified period of time. The importance of close supervision by an Ayurvedic expert at all times during the treatments can’t be overemphasized. If your body isn’t properly prepared for cleansing, or if the techniques are incorrectly administered, the process can overwhelm your nervous system or dislodge more toxins than your body can handle. Each stage of panchakarma must be performed with proficiency and grace in keeping with the rigorous standards of Ayurvedic tradition.

While many of the most popular cleanses promise fast results, these quick fixes tend to be harsh and unpleasant and their benefits often prove fleeting. Panchakarma is gentle, soft, and slow. It seeks to create a gentle, steady wave of cleansing—not a tsunami—so this time-honored Ayurvedic therapy may grant those who experience it deep and enduring rewards.

Panchakarma may help with most minor and major health problems including:

  • Nervous system disorders

  • Stress, insomnia, anxiety

  • ADD/ADHD

  •  Obesity

  • Diabetes

  • Sports injuries 

  • Arthritis

  • Frequent illness

  • Allergies, asthma

  • Infertility & sexual dysfunction

  • Hormonal imbalances

  • Muscular dystrophy

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Drug abuse

  • Stomach discomfort

  • Weight gain or loss

  • Fatigue

  • Headaches & migraines

  • Digestive disorders

  • Skin conditions

  • Psoriasis

  • Autoimmune disorders

  • Candidiasis

  • Joint immobility

  • Circulation-related imbalances

  • Thyroid conditions

  • Crohn’s disease & IBS

  • Constipation

  • Insomnia

  • Heart disease

  • Osteoporosis

  • High blood pressure

  • Menopause

  • Emotional problems

  • Seniors’ health issues

  • Parasites

  • Depression & bipolar disorder

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

Sources: 

“What Can Panchakarma Do for You,” Yoga International, https://yogainternational.com/article/view/what-can-panchakarma-do-for-you.

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. 

 [EP1]I deleted to reference to 100, 000 chemicals use in commerce. The EPA has a list of 84,000 chemicals that  are manufactured but fewer than 8,000 are in wide use.

Unwanted Cellulite?

Most of us struggle with unwanted cellulite but never know how to handle it. Ayurveda looks to restore the systems of the body by balancing the mind, emotions, and physical attributes based on a persons constitutional make up. Ayurveda also tackles cellulite in this same manner.

According to Ayurveda cellulite is an imbalance in the bodies ability to metabolize fat. The metabolic system for this in Ayurveda is called Meda Agni. Cellulite occurs when the agni (digestive system) is malfunctioning and the metabolism becomes sluggish, in this the digestive impurities interact with the body tissue and becomes toxic (ama).

Do to ama, essentially in the lymph system, the body has a drainage problem. When this occurs, toxins and fluids then accumulate as fat pockets in areas of the body that are constitutional specific. To address cellulite, one must first understand, that the accumulation of ama first starts in the gut. It then spreads through subtle channels of the body. 

By first correcting the digestive system in the gut, along with improving the circulation of the lymph in areas that are prone to cellulite, one can successfully help reduce the cause of cellulite. Since Ayurveda addresses every case differently, its best to have a consultation with an Ayurvedic Practitioner to know specifically what to do for your constitution and circumstance. If this is not possible, simply add a few of these general suggestion to your daily routine:

  1. Drink plenty of water. Sipping warm water with fresh squeezed lemon through out the day help stimulate digestion and clears toxic build up in the system.
  2. Focus on herbs that help reduce ama and promote circulation in your diet. Us more herbs such as ginger, black pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, fenugreek and cardamom in your cooking and food.
  3. Eat two fresh Tulsi leaves in the morning and at night, it helps to regulate fat and has both lightening and dry properties.
  4. Eat three regular meals a day at the same time, making lunch the largest meal of the day no later then 2 pm and dinner no later then 730 pm. This is by far most the important aspect in managing cellulite. 
  5. Have a cup of Kapha reducing tea. 1/4 teaspoon each of dry ginger, dill seed, fenugreek seed, add one clove to 1 cup water. Boil water add mixture and steep for 5 minutes and drink it. 
  6. Avoid High-Fat diet, but take a daily dose of good quality oil, such as Ayurvedic Ghee or flaxseed oil in a cup of warm water first thing in the morning.
  7. Daily self full body Abhyanga with organic almond oil. In the place of accumulated cellulite, us organic mustard seed oil followed by Calamus herb powder. Use rapid long strokes heating and improving circulation through out the whole body.
  8. Exercise is a vital part as diet is in reducing cellulite. Yogasanas like Dandayamana Dhanurasana (Standing bow pose), Ardha Chandrasana (Half moon pose), Utkatasana (Chair Pose) , Supta-Vajrasana(Reclining adamant pose),  Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) and Salabhasana (Locust pose) are recommended.
  9. Daily intake of Triphala and Turmeric. 500 mg of Turmeric in the morning upon waking and 500 mg of Triphala before bed. 
  10. Try Panchakarama. An annual Panchakarma programs which detoxifies many of the bodies channels including the liver, helps improve the bodies ability to metabolize fat. Its the Ayurvedic science of detoxification and rejuvenation and can have a profound transformative effects. 

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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.

An Ayurvedic Perspective on Healthy Elimination

For many of us, unhealthy elimination is somewhat of a routine occurrence. If we are completely honest, most of us have suffered from constipation, diarrhea or some other affecting bowel imbalance. Yet, generally, we are afraid to talk about our elimination health. Fortunately, Ayurveda is not afraid and has a lot to say about it, and the truth is, for all of us our bowel habits and stools show us a great deal about what our bodies are going through and what we need to return them to balance.

Ayurveda recognizes that the digestive tract is the very first place imbalances arise in the body. According to Ayurveda the digestive system is the root of all disease. Ayurveda places great importance on the digestive system and its abilities to transform foods properly. Without the proper digestion, foods cannot be broken down and absorbed in the body for the use of tissue renewal, instead more waste is created leading to toxic build up and eventually disease.  This being the case, our stools tend to offer us very early warning signs that something is amiss in our physiology. 

If an emerging imbalance is not properly addressed, it will either take root in the digestive tract and become a more serious condition, or spread to other tissues and create imbalances there. If we can learn to understand the early indications of disharmony in our bodies, and respond appropriately, there is the ability to self-correct and heal. It is a wonderful tool Ayurveda has given us to maintain health by paying attention to the habits of our bowels and stool. 

According to Ayurveda, healthy elimination occurs one to two times every day. Generally, the fist bowel movement should happen in the morning, with in a few minutes of waking up. It should not be stimulated by food intake and should be well formed, about the consistency of a ripe banana and should maintain its shape after being eliminated. The color is a light brownish-or yellow color, it should float and has slight oil to it and does not stick to the sides of the toilet. It should only have a mild order, not strong or pungent. 

Most people fall short of this. With the kinds of lifestyle we lead, it is difficult to maintain perfect digestive health, but this is why talking about elimination is so important, so we can foster balance in our lives, in our stool and in the body as a whole. 

In Ayurveda, the physiological systems in the body, such as reproductive, digestive or urinary systems are called channels. All channels have important overall functions to maintain whole health in the body.  Ayurveda accentuates the importance of proper movement in all the channels to preserve health with a body free of disease. The regular movement of the bowels is a fundamental part in keeping the digestive channels following correctly. 

The foods we ingest undergoes the process of digestion and absorption through the action of agni, or digestive fire. An individual’s agni largely determines how well or poorly food is digested and eliminated. When agni, is in balance, it supports strong immunity and a long, healthy life. Balanced agni also adds emotional health and makes the experience of life more enjoyable. The strength of agni is inevitably affected by a poor diet, improper food combinations, and un-supportive lifestyle, emotional disturbances and even damp, rainy weather. With a weaken state of agni, the bodies resistance to disease is weakened.  Strengthening the agni and understanding the individual is the key to finding a truly balanced diet

In general, the qualities of foods are similar to the qualities of the doshas. The intake of food that has the same quality of a dosha will tend to aggravate that dosha, such as when a Vata (dry) personal eats popcorn (dry), will create more dryness in the body. Opposite qualities tend to be balancing, such as when a pitta (hot) person drinks mint tea (cooling). This fundamental principle can help you select foods that are balancing to your own unique constitution. While there are certainly many things we can do to generally foster healthy elimination, identifying which dosha(s) are involved in a specific imbalance allows us to pursue deeper, and enables us to create a more focused therapeutic strategy. 

Sometimes it is very easy to identify personal bowel movement tendencies at a glance- if so, you can find more specific support to help you return to balance. If you remain uncertain, please see a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner to offer a more personalized assessment of your needs. It is also important to know that longstanding imbalances in the elimination channel often involve more then one dosha, and can easily lead to more complex disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. These conditions are more serious and should be treated by a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner. 

Vata Elimination

In Vata elimination imbalances the excess Vata in the channel tends to cause dry, hard, scanty stools, that can be painful or difficult to pass. Vata can also cause gas, bloating, colicky pain, gurgling in the intestines, irregularity in movements and constipation. Some people tend to alternate between constipation and diarrhea. The symptoms are usually accompanied by an irregular appetite and variable digestion. Other related ailments caused by excess Vata include low back pain, sciatica, non-bleeding hemorrhoids, prolapsed rectum and fissures or fistulas.

When Vata is eminent, you must balance Vata’s cold and dry qualities with warmth, a lot of fluids, along with healthy oils to return it to balance. It is also influential to slow the pace of life down, essential to keep warm and to stay hydrated. Support your digestion and elimination with Triphala or Hingvastak or consider taking Haritaki instead of Triphala if Vata is the true primary concern. Focus on the below diet and lifestyle suggestions.

Diet

  • Focus on eating Vata pacifying foods that favors the tastes of sweet, sour and salty.
  • Eat three solid meals a day, ideally at about the same time each day, vata needs consistency. Also eating three solid freshly cooked meals increases the digestive fire and helps with weight control and burning of toxins in the body.
  • Increase sources of fiber in you diet such as oatmeal, wheat brain, oat brain an other whole cooked grains and cooked vegetables. 
  • Increase the amount of good quality oils in your diet such as ghee, sesame oil and olive oil.
  • Eat more fruit, at least one hour before and after other foods, and do not eat it cold, room temperature fruit is the best.
  • Drink at least 60-80 ounces of fluid each day. Warm water and herbal teas are the best. Stay away from ice and cold liquids. Hot water is the best.
  • In addition chew on a slice of fresh ginger about the size of a nickel with a pinch of sea salt, a few drops of lime juice and a 1/4 teaspoon of honey 30 minutes before lunch and dinner. 

Lifestyle

  • Focus on establishing a Vata pacifying daily routine; consistency in the structure of the day is especially pacifying to Vata. Focus on calming the mood and energy, and nurturing the body. 
  • Get plenty of Vata pacifying exercise: Make sure that your exercise routine is not over stimulating, but gentle and grounding instead. Favor activities like walking, hiking, light jogging, swimming, or gentle cycling.
  • Practice Vata pacifying yoga or a handful of slow and purposeful sun salutations each morning.
  • Practice 5-15 minutes of Alternate Nostril Breathing every day on an empty stomach.
  • Daily oil massage with sesame oil after warm shower or bath. 

Pitta Elimination

Excess Pitta in the elimination channel tends to cause frequent or urgent stools that are soft, loos, liquid or oily. The stools my fall apart of being evacuated or my tend toward diarrhea. They are also often hot, causing burning pain when eliminated and have a strong and frequently offensive sour or acidic odor. Excess pitta can cause heartburn, blood in stool, bleeding hemorrhoids, acid indigestion and cause an insatiable appetite. 

In oder to balance pitta, one must balance Pitta’s hot, sharp, light and liquid qualities with food, herbs and experiences that are nutritive, heavy, cooling and dense. It is important to keep the mind and body cool and avoid heavy exercise and especially exercise at mid-day. Support your digestion with Amalaki are with Avipattikar, Triphala is also an option. Focus on the below diet and lifestyle suggestions.

Diet

  • Pitta pacifying diet that favors sweet, astringent and bitter tastes. 
  • Emphasize on cooling foods (not cold), but things that have a cooling effects such as cilantro, coconut water, peppermint tea, coriander, fennel, mint and cucumber.
  • Dink moderate amounts of fluid, mainly at room temperature avoid ice, sour drinks and sodas.
  • Take a few tablespoons of aloe vera juice or gel 2-3 times per day to cool and soothe the channels of digestion.
  • Include moderate amount of good quality cooling oils such as ghee, sunflower oil or coconut oil in your diet.

Lifestyle

  • Focus on Pitta pacifying routines as it helps to ground and cool the sharp intensity of pitta.
  • Sheetali pranayama every day on a empty stomach for 5-10 minutes a day and a few minutes of alternate nostril breathing will help balance pitta.
  • Practice pitta pacifying yoga at a gentle and purposeful rate. Do not make yoga a competition against yourself or others. Moon salutations are useful in balancing pitta. 
  • Daily exercise is important but not overly intense, do it with a relaxed effort. Walking, swimming, cycling, light jogging and hiking are best and its best for pitta to practice exercise when the day is the coolest in morning or evening. Don’t forget to breath through your nose the entire time.

Kapha Elimination
To return to balance, we need to balance Kapha’s heavy, slow, cool, oily, smooth, and sticky qualities with foods, herbs, and experiences that are light, sharp, hot, dry, rough, and clarifying. In general, when Kapha is aggravated, it is important to keep warm and dry, to avoid daytime napping, and to stay active. Use Trikatu to stimulate Kapha digestion, Bibhitaki is better then Triphala, but Triphala can also be used. In addition, the following diet, lifestyle, recommendations will help to pacify Kapha so that the channels of elimination can return to balance.


Diet

  • Focus on eating a Kapha pacifying diet.
  • Minimize the presence of oil and fat in your diet (the best oils for Kapha are sunflower oil and olive oil).
  • Reduce processed foods and sugars.
  • Favor warm and hot beverages and be careful not to over hydrate. Hot water and herbal teas like ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, or clove can help to liquefy, dry, and eliminate excess Kapha.
  • Eat three square meals each day (at about the same time each day) and try not to snack between meals.
  • Focus on making lunch the main meal and eating smaller quantities of food at breakfast and dinner. 
  • Embrace a wide variety of spices in your cooking.
  • Stoke the digestive fire about 30 minutes before lunch and dinner by chewing a slice of fresh ginger (about the size of a nickel) with a pinch of sea salt, a few drops of lime juice, and about ¼ teaspoon honey. About 30 minutes before lunch and dinner, instead.  

 
Lifestyle

  • Focus on establishing a Kapha pacifying daily routine.
  • Get plenty of Kapha pacifying exercise: Make sure that your exercise routine is fun, vigorous, and stimulating – Kapha thrives on activities like walking, hiking, running, cycling, and high intensity interval training.
  • Practice Kapha pacifying yoga or a handful of invigorating sun salutations each morning.
  • Practice Bhastrika Pranayama every day on an empty stomach. You can start with just one or two rounds of 10 breaths, but can slowly build up to five rounds of 10 breaths. A few minutes of Alternate Nostril Breathing make a wonderful complement to this practice.

 

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.