Detox

How to Ensure a Healthy Transition with the Change of Season

ayurveda spring food

Spring is almost here, but we are still feeling the cold and dark attributes of the winter. Ayurveda defines rutu sandhi as the transition between two seasons, which is generally taken to be the final 15 days of one season and the first 15 days of the next season. As we are coming out of winter and into spring, this ‘door’ or pathway between seasons is a great time to change our clothes, lifestyle and attitudes from the old season and have a fresh new start for spring. This seasonal juncture is an excellent opportunity for a cleanse like panchakarma. Chances are we have accumulated kapha in our system during the winter, which can be aggravated by the entering of the spring, also a kapha season. Ayurveda recommends incorporating certain foods, practices and herbs in our daily routine to keep kapha in balance.

Spring is the king of the seasons. During this time, Mother Earth awakens to bring new life after the winter dormant months. Spring is mild, moist, and full of color. It is a great time to test new skills, for growth and starting a new lifestyle. Since it starts getting warmer during spring, any accumulated or stagnated kapha will start to liquify and run out of the body, which is the cause of spring colds.

Spring is also a blooming season, where flowers shed their pollen and fragrance making it gorgeous for some people, while others, specially kapha individuals or people who have an accumulated kapha, suffer from allergies and hay fever. To alleviate kapha in the throat area you can gargle honey and hot water or a cup of hot water with a teaspoon of each tumeric and saltTrikatu is a combination of ginger, black pepper, and pippali (piper longum) and great for pacifying kapha, increasing digestive fire and eliminate toxins during this changing season. Eliminating any excess kapha during the pre-spring period can lower the incidence of allergies, hay fever and colds. Diet is an important part of this process.

Regimen for Spring

  • Eat a kapha pacifying diet primarily bitter, pungent and astringent foods
  • Eat light, easily to do digest foods. Favor soups and cooked vegetables
  • Use small amounts of raw honey as a sweetener
  • Fast for one day a week, preferably on Monday or Thursday for astrological reasons
  • Drink warming, cleansing herbal teas, such as ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, clove tea
  • Practice yoga, meditation, and pranayama
  • Keep warm and dry
  • A warm saltwater and herbal rinse of the nasal passages takes just a few seconds but it can save days for misery from sick sinuses

Things to Avoid

  • kapha aggravating foods like fatty and fried foods
  • Excessive amounts of sweet, sour and salty foods
  • Heavy, large breakfasts
  • Snacking between meals, except for dried fruit
  • Cold or iced beverages
  • Daytime sleep
  • Exposure to dust, dirt and pollen
  • Cold drafts and air conditioning

Foods for the season

  • Legumes, slit peas, red lentils, chickpeas, pinto beans and fresh soybean products
  • Amaranth, barely, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, radish, spinach, artichoke, asparagus, beets, broccoli, carrots, lettuces, okra, radish.
  • Apricots, berries, cherries, dark grapes, mangos, peaches, pears, pomegranates and raisins

 

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?

In Ayurveda, the state of perfect health and well-being is dependent on the body’s capability to metabolize all facets of life. Because of genetic factors and more commonly lifestyle factors, we have weak areas of our body that accumulate toxins, when unaddressed these become disease. Ayurveda understands, if you want to experience optimal health, it is crucial to maintain a strong digestion and eliminate toxins from the body.

Panchakarma is the purification procedure used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. The word Panchakarma means five actions and refers to five procedures intended to intensively cleanse and restore balance to the body, mind and emotions. It reverses the degenerative process quickly and its effects are often profound and long lasting. Ayurvedic practitioners use Panchakarma as a support to a variety of health imbalances and as a preventative. It can be particularly effective for those imbalances that are chronic, metabolic or stress related.

According to Ayurveda, every human being is unique and it is important to address health care based on the individual. The aim of Ayurveda is to ensure good health for a healthy man and to eliminate the disease of a diseased man. In both cases, Panchakarma detoxification is necessary to cleanse and balance the systems of the body and is highly individualized, based on the needs of the individual depending on the constitution, imbalance, age, digestive strength, immune status, along with many other factors.

Panchakarma therapy is known to clear the various microscopic and macroscopic structures of the body such as the respiratory system, lymphatic system, circulatory system, reproductive system, nervous system, among others that are effected by insufficiently metabolized toxins, processed foods and emotions. It removes free radicals, balances cholesterol and triglycerides, regulates blood pressure, and introduces antioxidant enzymes into the body. It can slow the aging process, enhance vitality and mental clarity and because of it’s capability of stress management,

Panchakarma may even prevent heart attacks, stroke paralysis, and cancer. It’s techniques have shown to create measurable brain wave coherence and to lower metabolic activity, thus allowing the body and mind to drop into a profound level of peacefulness. In this state of relaxation, it is possible to further cleanse toxins from the tissues as well as to release deeply held emotional tensions.

Many Ayurvedic experts believe that even healthy people need regular Panchakarma today because our environment is so polluted. According to research cited by Maharishi Ayurveda, up to 100,000 synthetic chemicals (including PCBs, dioxins, and pesticides like DDT/DDE) are used in modern industrial and agricultural processes. Traces of these chemicals pervade our food, water, air, and even our own bodies, and some are associated with allergies, reproductive disorders, certain types of cancer, and other diseases.

Toxins along with undigested food matter, is known as Ama. Ama clogs the body on all levels and, when left unchecked, it becomes the breeding ground for disease. Ayurvedic medical texts describe ama as cold, heavy, wet and sticky, it develops form environmental toxins and internal toxins generated by poorly assimilated food.

If you have high cholesterol, hardened arteries, tooth tartar, a coated tongue, joint pain, body odor, or excess mucus, you have the physical symptoms of ama. Energetically, it lurks in the system as fatigue. Mentally, ama creates dullness, irritability, and greed. According to Ayurveda, Panchakarma addresses the root causes of disease by removing years of accumulated ama (along with excess Vata, Pitta, and/or Kapha) and supporting your agni.

Traditionally Ayurveda recommends a Panchakarma at the junction between each season to clear out impurities generated during the previous season to help you transition smoothly in to the next. A Panchakarma in the early spring is always a goodbecause it can help reduce your sensitivity to pollen and prevent colds. The job of your Ayurvedic practitioner is to tailor a program to re-balance your body and mind.

Panchakarma is a three-stage process. The preparatory phase begins with en-kindling the digestive fire or agni, and loosing toxins while lubricating the body’s subtle channels with internal and external oleation and sweating techniques. According to Ayurvedic theory, these preparatory procedures liquefy the body’s impurities and push them toward the gastrointestinal tract.

After several days of Purvakarma, the practitioner will choose one or more of the five (pancha) actions (karma) of elimination to rid the body of the ama, this can also last up to several days. Once the elimination procedures are completed, it is very important to restore the body and partake in Rasayana (rejuvenation). These internal and external Rasayana techniques are just as important as the other stages of the Panchakarma, to ensure the body has not only been purified but strengthened,  limiting the possibility of future disease.

Like all medical procedures, Panchakarma must always begin with an initial consultation by a qualified Ayurvedic Physician who can determine the individuals constitution, nature of the health problem if any and the appropriate degree of the intensity of the techniques used in the Panchakarma. Specially trained technicians must administer these procedures in a definite sequence in a specified period of time.

Participation in a clinical Panchakarma requires close supervision by an Ayurvedic expert at all times. If your body is not properly prepared for cleansing, or if your techniques are incorrectly administered, you can overwhelm your nervous system or dislodge more toxins then your body can handle, along with other precautions to consider.

Ayurveda has evolved for other thousands of years, it is important to understand and preform each stage of Panchakarma proficiently with the time and grace according to its traditional practice. Most people want a get quick cleanse, but Panchakarma is gentle, soft and slow, though Panchakarma, Ayurveda is trying to create a gentle deep wave of cleansing, not a tsunami, so it may have long lasting profound effects.

Panchakarma may help with most minor and major illness including:

  • Nervous system disorders
  • Stress, Insomnia, Anxiety
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Sports injuries and Arthritis
  • Frequent Illness
  • Allergies, Asthma
  • Infertility & Sexual Health
  • Hormonal Imbalances
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Drug Detoxification
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Weight Gain or Loss
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches and Migraines
  • Digestive disorders
  • Skin Conditions
  • Psoriasis
  • Auto Immune disorder
  • Candida
  • Joint immobility
  • Arthritis
  • Circulation related imbalances
  • Thyroid Conditions
  • Crohn's Disease & IBS
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Heart Disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Blood Pressure
  • Menopause
  • Emotional Health
  • Senior Health
  • Parasites
  • Depression and Bipolar
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

 

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.

Ayurvedic Fasting

"The greatest discovery by modern man is the power to rejuvenate himself physically, mentally , and spiritually with rational fasting." 


Fasting is considered to be an important medicine in Ayurveda, as long as it is not a long term fast that would deplete the individual. It is natures ancient, universal "remedy" for numerous ailments. It is a way to expel ama (toxic build up) from our digestive system, thus strengthening the immune system. 

In our modern time, we are bombarded with many new trends of fasting, juice cleansing, lemon fast, water fast, the list goes on. Its hard to know what is right or not. In Ayurveda, there is no "one sizes fits all" approach to fasting, and some of these popular fast, can actually be detrimental to many, as it is not suited to their unique constitution. A fast that may be good for one person, will not be good for the next. It is important to take you constitution into consideration when choosing a fast. 

Fasting in a larger context, means to abstain from that which is toxic to the mind, body, and soul. A way to understand this is that fasting is the elimination of physical, emotional, and mental toxins from our organism, rather then simply cutting down or stopping food intake. Fasting for spiritual purposes usually involves some degree of removal of oneself from worldly responsibilities. It can mean complete silence and social isolation durning the fast which can be a great revival to those of us who have been putting our energy outward.When fasting with a spiritual intent, one withdraws from everything that is toxic to the mind, body and spirit. This allows the mind to become freer, to merge into higher states of spiritual communion and releases ama of the mind and the body. 

Ayurvedic fasting is an effective way to kindle the digestive fire and burn away accumulated toxins from the body and mind. It also eliminates gas, makes the body light, improves mental clarity, and preserves overall health. Ayurveda favors regular, short-term fasting over infrequent, long-term fasting. This could entail fasting on the same day each week or setting a few days aside each month to fast, depending on your constitution and cleansing requirements. Ayurveda suggests that  a more extended fasting is best at the change of each season. According to Ayurveda, fasting for up to a week can cause metabolic disorders that can take months to bring back to balance. 

In determining the appropriate type and length of a fast, it’s important to take into account your constitution, digestive strength, level of ama, and overall vitality. It’s never advised to deplete your energy during a fast. If you’re new to fasting or have a chronic illness, we recommend consulting an Ayurvedic practitioner for specifically tailored guidance.

If you are of vata constitution you should never fast on water or any other severely restricted diet nor should you fast for more then two days. Consuming light foods such as kitchari and kanjee, is a good option for the vata constitution. Vata constitution can fast once a month, or at the change of seasons. 

Pitta individuals can fast on liquids, such as, fruit or vegetable juices, broths or lightly cooked vegetables, but never on water alone. Pitta should never skip on quantity. Ideally its good for them to dilute fruit juices, like prunes, grape or pomegranate, or cucumber juice, which is both astringent and bitter in taste, and should avoid strong sour tasting juices. Fast can last 2-3 days and it is best suggested to fast only 4 times a year at the change of the seasons. If you are of vata-pitta constitution please add kitchari to your fast or focus more on grounding vegetable broths. 

Kapha individuals can easily do prolonged water fasts if they so chose. Otherwise, they many use raw juices or warm vegetable broths. For Kapha people to maintain a good strong digestion, it would be healthy for them to do weekly fasts, picking one day each week to fast. Kapha types should avoid strong tasting sweet and sour juices.  

Sipping warm teas throughout the day is also a highly effective way to flush out accumulated toxins from the body. Simply place the ingredients in a medium saucepan with 4 cups filtered water, bring the water to a boil for 5 minutes, and then steep for 2 to 5 minutes. Always add the lemon while the tea is steeping. Strain into a tea pot or thermos.

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
1 cinnamon or licorice stick 
10 fresh basil leaves 
Squeeze lemon juice

Simple fresh ginger tea and a squeeze of lemon is a good option as well. 

Note: In juicing, please do not combine fruit and vegetables juices and only use up to 2 different fruits or 2 vegetables at a time. If this is not followed it can cause slow digestion, bloating, and  can reverse the effects of fasting. It’s best to choose a fasting period in which you’ll be able to follow a peaceful, non-stressful routine. We recommend following the daily and nightly routines of Ayurveda. It’s also important always to break your fasts properly. The most important rule to remember is to begin eating again gradually, slowly working your way up to solid foods.