Herbs

An Ayurvedic Approach to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Balance your Hormones, Balance your Life

In the modern woman of all ages, most women rooted in hormonal imbalances have been brought on by doing too much while getting too little physical and emotional nourishment. Their hormones have been out of balance for an extended period of time whose medical problems range from painful periods, mood swings, fatigue, insomnia, uterine fibroids, hot flashes, and infertility.  

According to Astanga Hrdayam, twenty disorders of the female reproductive tract exist, caused by poor flow, defective ovum and ovary, and past karma. This results in an inability to conceive and other health concerns such as tumors, polycystic ovarian syndrome, hemorrhoids, menorrhagia, endometriosis, etc. The intent of this article is to discuss female hormone and reproductive imbalances associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) from the view point of Ayurveda.

Infertility primarily refers to the biological inability of a person to contribute to conception. Infertility may also refer to the state of a woman who is unable to cary pregnancy to full term. For medical treatment, infertility is the failure of a couple to become pregnant after one year of regular, unprotected intercourse. PCOS is a leading factor causing infertility.

Menstruation is evidence of a woman’s fertility and hormonal balance. When the quality and quantity is healthy she has a healthy, moderate flow. As long as she is in balance, she will enjoy regularly timed cycles. When out of balance, she may suffer from painful, heavy, scanty or irregular periods, headaches, skin breakouts, or extreme emotions accompanying her cycle. A woman’s menstrual cycle is a great indicator of her hormonal balance and when it is accompanied by unpleasant symptoms it is an indication of imbalance or disease.

Western medicine emphasizes the separate domains and functions of various kinds of hormones in the body. Ayurveda emphasizes the context within which they exist and how they relate to each other. Having the right balance of hormones gives us plenty of energy, deeper sleep and healthier menstrual cycles, happier dispositions, easier menopauses, healthier hearts, stronger bones and much more.

The first step in achieving hormonal balance is to understand it. Most people are confused about hormones. Estrogen, progesterone, and prolactin are the primary female hormones affecting women’s health. There are also some amounts of testosterone in the body playing a greater role during menopause. Besides these hormones, FSH (Follicular Stimulating Hormone), LH ( Leutinising Hormone) and Gonado Trophic Releasing Hormones are important hormones secreted by the Pituitary gland. While the ovary is capable of forming and releasing both estrogen and progesterone by itself, it is also the reservoir of the ova.

The ovarian cycle is governed by a hormonal feedback system moderated by the hypothalamus thus it requires constant feedback of hormonal levels for it to properly regulate and release the FSH and LH from the pituitary gland. As hormone levels in the body are imbalanced and the ovum is not released by the ovary the positive feedback mechanism is impeded.

However, Ayurveda does not speak in the terms of “hormones”. It has its own unique language and terms. Hormones are considered as fire elements in the tissue.  The action of hormones expresses the nature of Pitta, the energy responsible for the transformation. All stages of the female reproductive process are a result of the interplay of hormones. The spark of the intelligence behind the transformation of each stage is due to pitta reflected in the influence of the hormones on the different stages of the ovarian and menstrual cycles.

Kapha’s heavy cool qualities nourish the development of the tissues that form and support the reproductive system including the nurturing energy supporting growth of the follicle during the ovarian cycle. It is responsible for the mucosa lining that protects the tissues from digestive enzymes.

Vata is responsible for the movement of the follicle during the ovarian cycle, the rupture of the ovary wall releasing the matured ovum, the movement of the fimbriae - the finger-like projections that guide the ovum into the fallopian tubes and the movements of the ovum towards the uterus. These actions are due to Apana Vayu, the force behind downward movement from the navel down. Apana Vayu is also responsible for the movement of menses during menstruation and the energy behind the downward movement of the baby through the birth canal during labor.

By knowing one’s own prakruti (true nature), one can plan and practice an appropriate daily and seasonal dietetic and behavioral regime. With this simple effort, the body will maintain a balance of the doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha). From an Ayurvedic perspective, this balance is considered the “healthy” state of humans.

Dietary and behavioral activities bring many changes in the rakta dhatu (blood). For example; if a pitta-type woman eats plenty of hot, spicy and acidic foods while indulging in pitta-aggravating activities such as playing in the sun or taking a hot tub bath, getting angry, etc, she will aggravate the pitta in the blood. This can cause excessive bleeding during menstruation or lead to menorrhagia.

As another example; after the age of forty, the body begins to move towards the Vata stage of life and away from the pitta stage of life. During this period, if a Vata-type woman does not sleep well, works until late at night, eats plenty of cold foods and salads and eliminates sweets, salt, and fats from her diet, she will most certainly aggravate Vata in both the blood and the body. This will lead to a more difficult menopausal syndrome. In the same way, when a Kapha-type woman excessively indulges in sweet, rich food, eats plenty of dairy products and nuts, and lives a sedentary lifestyle during peri-menopause, she will be accumulating an excess of Kapha (mucous) in her blood and body which can lead to tumors or depression.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disturbance affecting women between 15-30 years of age. The disorder accounts for 30 percent of all infertility cases with 73 percent of women suffering from PCOS experiencing infertility due to anovulation. Modern medicine has been able to pinpoint a number of important factors indicating the disease, however, the exact cause of the disease is unknown. In PCOS the hormonal imbalance affects follicular growth during the ovarian cycle causing the affected follicles to remain in the ovary. The retained follicles forms into a cyst and with each ovarian cycle a new cyst are formed leading to multiple ovarian cysts. Women suffering from PSOC often present with other associated symptoms including excessive body hair, menstrual disturbance, acne vulgaris and obesity. Ayurveda observes the disease looking for indications of the dosha responsible for the disorder.

Ayurveda classifies PCOS as a Kapha disorder, and by looking at the findings of modern medicine we can correlate the exhibiting features of the disease with the dominate dosha responsible for the disorder. One of the key factors being realized in modern medicine in PCOS is the increased levels of insulin in the blood. These increased levels are due to de-sensitivity of cells to insulin, the blood stimulates androgen secretion by the ovarian stroma, the connective tissue of the ovary and reduces serum sex hormone, binding globin (SHBG) causing increased levels of free testosterone. Due to the presence of increased androgen in the ovary, the follicle undergoing maturation in the ovary cycle is affected causing anovulation of the particular follicle. This presence of insulin also impacts the natural occurring death of the defective cell causing the follicle to continue to survive whereas under normal circumstance it would have perished.

“Kapha getting aggravated by the use of foods which increases moisture leads to slaismiki characteristic by the absence of pain, feeling cold, itching and discharge of pale, slimy blood” -Astanga Hrdayam. The organs responsible for reproduction in the female body are called artava dhatu. The channels that supplies, nourishes and enables the functional action of carrying the ovum to the uterus is called artavavaha srota. All three doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) play important and distinctive roles in the processes behind the female reproductions which includes the ovarian cycle and the menstrual cycle. PCOS is due to the Kapha blocking Vata and Pitta, hence movement is obstructed and the transformation process is suppressed.

Kapha having the first affected the digestive fire, jathara agni starts to affect the metabolic aspect of the seven tissues of dhatu agni. Each dhatu agni is responsible for the nourishment and formation of that particular tissue that resides in. In the case of PCOS the dhatus that are affected are rasa dhatu, lymph and plasma, meda dhatu, the adipose tissue and artava dhatu, the female reproductive system.

Due to factors that aggravate Kapha, kledaka kapha residing in the GI tract increases in quantity and as stated affects the digestive fire in the stomach called jathara agni. As the heavy cold sticky qualities of Kapha suppress the digestive fire, food that is ingested is not properly digested forming ama. As kledaka kapha increases it mixes with the toxins and begins to move out of the GI tract entering the channel of the first tissue. Affecting the dhatu agni of the rasa, the metabolism of the lymph and plasma, rasa dhatu increases in quanity. In woman, the superior byproduct of rasa dhatu is menstrual fluid. The menstrual fluid will also take on the quality of kapha which will, in turn, begin to block apana vayu in artavavaha srota and rajahvaha srota, the channel that supports the functional action of the menstrual fluid.

Increased rasa dhatu circulating the body via the circulatory system being mixed with increased kledaka kapha and ama begins to coat the cells of the body, this begins to affect agni at the level of the cells responsible for the permeability of the cell membrane. Due to the sticky heavy qualities of Kapha the cell membrane of the tissues is coated suffocating the agni affecting the cellular intelligence causing insulin receptors on the cell to not recognize chemical structures that normally engage them. Insulin unable to engage cellular receptors begins to build up in the bloodstream moving towards artava dhatu. Kledaka kapha and ama having affected meda dhatu affects artava dhatu angi increasing tissue formation. Ama entering the cells of artava dhatu begins to affect the cellular function and intelligence as seen when insulin engages receptors on the ovaries causing the production of androgens. A mistake of cellular intelligence is also expressed in the inhibiting of apoptosis, the death of defective cells.

Vata is the principle in the body and in nature that moves things. Both Pitta and Kapha are immobile without Vata. If Vata becomes constricted, it in turns stops both Kapha and Pitta from functioning properly. Apana vayu is a function of Vata. Due to the heavy sticky qualities of Kapha and ama the srotas are blocked and apana vayu becomes stagnant, impeding the flow of Vata in the ovarian cycle. Because Vata is blocked, pitta is blocked as well. As pitta is blocked the hormones that carry the energy of transformation are unable to initiate their activities. The accumulated Kapha is expressed in the formation of the cyst in the ovary as it takes on a heavy white, sticky quality expressing Kapha and ama.

Due to Vata and Pitta being blocked in the artava dhatu the other functions of both these doshas begin to be aggravated. Pitta aggravation at the level of bhrajaka Pitta and ranjaka pitta manifests as acne and increased body hair. Menstrual problems manifest to the aggravation of all three doshas but namely apana vayu. “ Without the aggravation of Vata, the vagina does not get disordered in women, hence it should be treated before Pitta and Kapha” - Astanga Hyrdayam.

Allopathy treats the condition on lines of Hormonal imbalance and the major treatment includes HRT ( Hormone replacement therapy) where subsequent hormones are administered after proper evaluation of the patient. Diet and certain exercise are also recommended. Diabetic drugs like metformin may also be prescribed by a doctor and surgery is also an option. However, all this have their own after effects.

Hormone therapy further depletes the already taxed endocrine system and puts it to sleep. The hormones that are meant to be naturally released by the body, now provided with artificial means pushes the body into lazy mode. The HRT treatment may provide excellent results over a short period of time but it can lead to irreversible metabolic damage.

The Ayruvedic approach is to clear the obstruction in the pelvis, normalize metabolism and assist cleansing and regulate the menstrual system (arthava dhatu). We do this by addressing Apana Vayu. The seats of the function of Apana Vayu are testes, bladder, umbilical region, thigh, groin etc. It controls the functions of elimination of semen, urine; feces etc. The movements related to the delivery of fetus are also governed by it. Vata is the dosha that governs Apana Vayu. Vata is responsible for all the movements in the body. Below are a few suggested Ayurvedic protocols to balance Vata and Apana Vayu.

The first step in creating balance in someone with PCOS is addressing the Ama, as we know PCOS is an imbalance related to the Ama created from Kapha. It is important to provide the patient with herbs that are pachana. Ask the patient to take trikatu or any pungent herb, hingwashtak churna with meals to start loosening the sticky ama. Adding ginger, musta and kumari would help with the digestion of the ama.

After the digestive system is stimulated herbs pacifying Vata and supporting Apana Vayu can be given. This may include shatavari, mahashatavari, ashwagandha, arjun, pipli Aloe vera, cinnamon, fenugreek, amalki, honey, and shilajit. Some other useful medicines include arogyavardhini, dashmool preparations, kanchanar guggul, pushyanug choorna, and chandraprabha. The goal of the herbal medicine is to reduce circulating androgens, optimizing ovarian function and supporting optimal endocrine function.

Herbal suggestions:

Suggestion #1- 150 gms ashwagandha roots,  70 gms arjun bark. Divide both of these into 30 equal parts. Boil 1 part every morning in 3 cups of water and reduce to 1 cup. Filter this mixture and add 1 cup of cow’s milk to it. Boil the mixture again over a low until milk remains. Add 2 cardamoms while boiling. Consume this milk early morning empty stomach. A Little sugar can be added for taste. The remaining ashwagandha and Arjun can be used again for the evening dose. During summer months, shatavari can be substituted for ashwagandha.

Suggestion #2- 5gms ashwagandha tubers, 3gms shatavari tubers, 3 gms putrajivak seeds. Crush them in 3 cups of water and 1 cup of cow’s milk. Boil the mixture till milk remains. Filter and drink empty stomach.

Suggestion #3- 50gms pipil,  50gms Vad, 30gms shivlingi seeds. Dry and them into a fine powder. Intake 3 gms of this mixture with cow’s milk 2 times a day.

Panchkarama protocol helps to high degrees to clear many pathologies which cause a direct inhibition to fertility. Basti treatment proves very beneficial. Since Basti is targeted at regulating the Apana Vayu it facilitates the timely release of ovum and also the good production of sperms. Uttar Basti, is helping to strengthen the uterus and help implantation. Purificatory process of Vamana and Virechana also help in patients with a high imbalance of Dosha. Nasya is an important Karma to promote fertility. Nasya with Phalaghritaor simple cow’s ghee is very benficial in women for timely release of an egg, as Nasya is claimed to act directly on the hormonal apparatus. Abhyanga massage with Vata calming oils and Swedana with Vata herbs will also be beneficial.

Diet and lifestyle factors are important when dealing with PCOS. Losing weight is an essential part of the treatment. Weight loss rectifies the hormone imbalances; the serum insulin and sex hormone binding globulin levels in the body go up and the testosterone hormone comes down. Exercise and yoga are aid weight loss, relieves stress and improves blood circulation to the ovary thus naturally curing PCOS. Yoga postures that open and stretch your lower back and hips; arousing your thyroid, pituitary and hypothalamus gland can work.

A diet with at least five servings of fruits and vegetable a day increases the immunity of the body. Since the body has become insulin resistant create a low carbohydrate diet. When eating carbohydrates eat well-cooked whole grains and avoid refined flour, processed foods, and white sugar. Lentils, chickpeas contains phytoestrogens, which reduce estrogen levels. Drink plenty of warm/room temp water and avoid coffee and alcohol. Avoid foods such as soy and meats that or hormone filled. Foods that contain essential fatty acids should be taken, avocado, soaked nuts, and seeds. Make sure food is well cooked and warm and meal times are regular.

 

 

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.

Bedtime Treat That Helps You Sleep

AyurvedicSleepSupport

Delicious and easy to make, this potent bedtime tonic (known as ojas rasayana) is revered in Ayurveda for nurturing deep and restorative sleep. The recipe makes about two servings and can be diluted with water if it’s too thick for your liking.

  • 10 almonds, soaked for 8 hours

  • 1 cup whole milk (dairy, almond, or rice)

  • 2 teaspoons ghee

  • 4–5 dates, preferably Medjool

  • 8 black peppercorns

  • ½ teaspoon cardamom

  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 pinch of cumin

  • 1 pinch of turmeric

  • 1 pinch of nutmeg

Liquefy all the ingredients in a blender until the mixture reaches a smooth consistency; then pour into a pot on the stovetop. Set the burner to medium heat, and bring the mixture to a very gentle boil. Stir and serve.

If you haven’t pre-soaked the almonds, you can simply blanch them in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and run the almonds under cold water, then remove and discard their skins.

For a delicious dessert, stir in 1 cup of natural yogurt after removing mixture from heat, spoon into small bowls, and drizzle maple syrup over each serving.

 

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.

Featured Herb for Spring Renewal: Punarnava

As we move closer to spring, it’s a good idea to revitalize our body by reducing the kapha buildup that occurs during the winter. Expelling kapha from our system will get us in shape for the change of season, supporting our natural resistance to colds and flu, allergies, excess mucus, and other kapha-related conditions.  

The featured Ayurvedic herb for April is Boerhaavia diffusa, commonly known aspunarnava. This water-loving perennial creeper flowers during monsoon season and grows all over India and Sri Lanka. The whole plant is highly valued for its medicinal properties. The Sanskrit name punarnavameans “the plant that makes one new again.” Its rejuvenative action works through its capacity to open channels and clear blockages, allowing essential nourishment to reach the tissues, making it perfect for spring cleansing and renewal. 

Punarnava’s combination of rejuvenative, diuretic, and expectorant properties enables this medicinal plant to play a broad range of therapeutic roles, from supporting efficient kidney, liver, and urinary function to nourishing the heart and alleviating coughs and colic. As a blood purifier, punarnava boosts immunity and improves functioning of lungs. Because of its positive impact on kidney function and blood sugar levels, the herb can also be helpful in managing diabetes.

As a diuretic and mild laxative, punarnava promotes detoxification and prevents fluid retention, making it helpful for health problems such as edema, congestive heart conditions, and gout. Symptoms of kapha-related arthritis such as pitted skin, swollen joints, and the sensation of extreme cold, also respond favorably to the herb.    

Punarnava increases the digestive fire and helps stimulate a sluggish digestive system. Because the herb absorbs fluids from the digestive tract, it can result in constipation when taken in excess. Punarnava  prevents intestinal spasms and pain, reduces flatulence and bloating, and helps expel intestinal worms. It can also be taken in conjunction other herbs and spices to target specific conditions. For instance it can be combined with arjuna, guggulu, and turmeric for heart issues stemming from excess vata and kaphaor used with coriander, gokshura, and kalamegha for urinary tract infections. 


Ayurvedic Energetics:

  • Taste: bitter, sweet, and pungent

  • Energy: cooling

  • Quality: dry and light

  • Doshas: vata and kapha reducing (in excess it increases vata)

  • Tissues: plasma, blood, fat, nerve, and reproductive

  • Channels: digestive, urinary, and plasma

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

Uses of Eucalyptus Oil

The tall eucalyptus tree (Eucalyptus globulus), originally from Australia, grows almost everywhere and is widely known as the gum tree. Its long, smoky-green leaves have a powerful invigorating aroma and a pungent taste. In Ayurveda, eucalyptus is regarded as a source of heating energy that reduces vata while increasingpitta, helping to dispel internal chill and strengthen metabolism and circulation. Its main actions are diaphoretic (i.e., causing sweating), decongestant, and stimulant.  

The essential oil is extracted by distillation of the leaves. Its main chemical components are eucalyptol and alpha-terpineol. Due to its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant qualities, eucalyptus is widely used in commercial products like mouthwash, rubs, ointments, and beauty care products. Since eucalyptus has many medicinal properties and uses, it’s a great idea to stock a bottle of pure and therapeutic-grade eucalyptus essential oil alongside the the other products used in your daily health care routine.

Eucalyptusis ideal for clearing breathing pathways, opening airways, and promoting vigor and vitality. The oil works as an expectorant and helps cleanse the body of toxins and harmful microorganisms. To help clear nasal congestion and refresh your vital energies, pour one or two drops of eucalyptus oil into your hands, place them over your nose, and inhale deeply. You can also rub eucalyptus on your chest to ease bronchial congestion. Diluting eucalyptus with a carrier oil (coconut, olive, almond) minimizes the possibility of skin irritation.

A study from NYU Medical School found that using eucalyptus oil helped relieve sinusitis. Patients experienced faster improvement when supplementing conventional allergy and sinus treatments with eucalyptus oil. The participants gargled with the oil to help clear mucus from the throat[1] . 

The strong antiseptic qualities in eucalyptus make it ideal for supporting the healing of cuts and wounds. Take advantage of its germicidal properties by diluting it with water for use as a daily mouthwash to complement your everyday mouth care and help prevent plaque, gum disease, and cavities. Because of its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, eucalyptus oil is also an excellent choice for pain relief when diluted with a carrier oil and massaged into sore muscles and joints.  

A few drops of eucalyptus oil added to coconut or olive oil gives dry hair a nice pick-me-up, while warding off dandruff and an itchy scalp. Eucalyptus is also an effective natural alternative to synthetic chemical treatments for head lice. 

The oil can even be used as a household cleanser. To create a green alternative to harsh spray-on disinfectants, combine eucalyptus with lemon and peppermint oils and water in a spray bottle. Wiping down surfaces in your kitchen or bathroom with this mixture brightens and sanitizes them, while leaving a fresh herbal scent in the air 

Because eucalyptus oil can be toxic if taken internally in large amounts, use it carefully, avoiding the contact with eyes and keeping it out of the reach of children. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using eucalyptus oil.

You can purchase high quality, therapeutic-grade eucalyptus oil here.

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. 

Balance Kapha

"Snigdhah shita gururmandah shlakshno mritsnah sthirah kaphah".— Ashtanga Hrdayam: Sutrasthana 1:12

Kapha is unctuous, cool, heavy, slow, smooth, soft, and static. Understanding kapha’s qualities is the key to understanding how to balance this dosha. Having a kapha-predominant prakriti(constitution) means that these qualities will express themselves throughout your physical, mental, and emotional makeup.

A basic tenet of Ayurvedic medicine, is that “like increases like.” So if kapha is your dominant dosha, cold weather, dense foods, and all things inherently cool and heavy will increase the kapha in your system. For example if you’re a kapha person living in Boston who drinks a large frozen smoothie on a cool evening, you may wake up the next  day with a cold. This is because you’ve amplified the heavy and dense qualities throughout your body, making it even more difficult to move out kapha, which is already stagnant in nature and therefore hard to dissipate. 

It’s common for our predominant dosha to increase more quickly than the others. If too much of one dosha accumulates in the body, we naturally want to decrease it to restore a healthy balance to our constitution. In Ayurveda, “medicines” are substances that do this by providing qualities that are the opposite of those inherent in the overabundant dosha. In the case of kapha, those opposing qualities are dryness, lightness, warmth and activity. Therefore it’s best for people with a kapha imbalance to seek out environments, foods, and routines that embody these qualities both physically and emotionally.

A person with a kapha imbalance will do well with warming, light, freshly cooked foods. Foods and herbs with a bitter, pungent, or astringent taste will also help decrease kapha. These tastes should predominate in your diet. Bibhitaki, chitrak and punarnava are three examples of herbs that help remove excess kapha from the body and maintain balance.

The ideal environment for a kapha person is one that’s warm and dry. Take extra care to stay warm and dry in cold, wet weather and during the winter. Activity can be one of the best medicines for kapha. Try to find something that motivates you to exercise regularly. Consider signing up for a race or a competition to give yourself that extra push.

Daily self-massages with warm sesame oil will help keep kapha from becoming stagnant. Make sure that you massage yourself vigorously and that the oil you use is warm to the point where it’s almost hot. You can capitalize on the warming properties of aromatics such as juniper, eucalyptus, marjoram, and clove by applying them to your clothing or putting them in a diffuser in your home, car, and office.

These are just a few tips. If you would like more information on how to balance kapha, schedule an online appointment here.

Visit the Kapha Yoga tips article to know how to customize your daily yoga practice to balance kapha.

 

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. 

Nettles, an Ayurvedic Perspective

Nettle (Urtica urens) grows in many climates, sprouting in the spring and spreading widely in the summer. It’s often called stinging nettle because the leaves sting at the lightest touch. If you can bear the prickling sensation, nettle is a great boon to the circulatory system; traditional Mexican healers rub handfuls of nettle on the body to promote healthy circulation.

Nettle is also considered a superfood because of its rich supply of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, D and K; calcium; potassium; phosphorous; iron; and sulphur. Its sedative and nervine properties make it  an excellent support for the nervous system. Use a compress of nettles to relieve arthritis and muscular pain, as well as sciatica.

From an Ayurvedic perspective, nettle serves as a nourishing and rejuvenative (rasayana) tonic,particularly for the kidneys and adrenals. The herb increases ojas (vitality), making it particularly useful for individuals who are run down from stress or illness or need extra nourishment during convalescence, old age, pregnancy, or breastfeeding. The baby leaves at the top of the plant have been used throughout history in food and drinks to nourish and detoxify the body in the spring. By stimulating the action of the liver and the kidneys, nettle helps clear ama(toxins from undigested food) and wastes from the body via the bowels and the urinary tract (mutravaha srotas). 

Nettle’s mild astringency and general nourishing action tightens and strengthens blood vessels, helps maintain arterial elasticity, and improves venous resilience. By reducing excess pitta in the blood (rakta dhatu) and in watery secretions like lymph and plasma (rasa dhatu), nettle helps clear inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne. The herb also helps keep kapha levels in check, improving overall vitality. Its carminative properties relieve intestinal gas, and its capacity to promote peristalsis is helpful for some common vata-related intestinal problems; however, it can result in excess vata when taken in high doses. Ayurvedic practitioners also recommend taking nettle to stop diarrhea. 

Energetics

  • Taste: astringent  

  •  Energy: cooling

  •  Post-digestive effect: pungent

  • Dosha: pacifies pitta and kapha/stimulates vata 

Nettle Infusion

  •  1 liter of water

  •  1 ounce of dried nettle leaves (2 ounces fresh)

Add the dried nettle leaves to a 1 liter glass jar. Boil the water and pour into the jar; cover and let steep for at least 4 hours or overnight. Drink the herbal infusion during the next 36 hours. You can pour any remaining liquid over your hair after shampooing—it’s a great hair tonic!

 

 

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. 

Brahmi, the Ayurvedic Nervine Tonic

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Brahmi has long been revered in Ayurvedic medicine as its most valuable nervine—an herb that benefits the nervous system. It revitalizes the brain cells, removes toxins and blockages within the nervous system, and improves memory and concentration. Indian yogis eat a few fresh Himalayan brahmi leaves daily. This practice optimizes their capacity for meditation by awakening the crown chakra and balancing the right and left hemispheres of the brain. 

In addition to nurturing brain power and nervous system health, brahmi contributes to many other aspects of wellness. It calms the heart and helps protect against heart attacks. As an antispasmodic agent as well as a nervine, this multi-functional herb helps ease recovery from every kind of addiction, whether it’s to alcohol, drugs, or sugar. Brahmi also purifies the blood, boosts immunity, and supports liver and kidney health, as well as aiding management of sexually transmitted diseases.

Brahmi is also known for its dosha-balancing qualities. It not only balances and refreshes pitta, but also actively reduces excess kapha. Brahmi can also pacify vata imbalances, especially when combined with other vata-reducing herbs like ashwagandha.

According to Ayurvedic texts, brahmi ghee is an essential medicine for the mind and heart that should be kept in every home. It can be taken in small amounts daily to maintain good health. As a milk decoction, the herb is an excellent brain tonic, particularly when combined with ashwagandha. Brahmi taken with holy basil and a little black pepper is recommended for all kinds of fevers. Many people find that drinking a cup of brahmi tea sweetened with honey before meditation greatly enhances their practice.

Source:Vasant Lad and David Frawley,The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, Lotus Press (January 25, 1986).

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.

The Amazing Healing Properties of Turmeric

Turmeric is a root plant or rhizome closely related to ginger. Commonly used in curries, turmeric has a warm, slightly bitter taste for coloring or enhancing the flavor of curry powders, cheeses, mustard and more. Many of my Ayurvedic teachers have stated that Turmeric is an answer to most common aliments such as stomach ache, soar throats, cuts, infections, skin problems and many others.

According to Web MD, the list of health-related uses for turmeric is long. It is ingested for stomach problems, such as gas, bloating or diarrhea; arthritis; menstrual pain; fever and such for thousands of years in some areas. A juice version is used as a topical agent and a turmeric paste (warm milk with some powder) is employed as an antiseptic in wounds.

Countless studies have shown the healing powers from turmeric properties. Recent research on the effect of aromatic turmerone, a turmeric extract, shows that the plant extract may help regenerate damaged brain cells after things like a stroke. There are many studies conducted on curcumin, an active ingredient in turmeric. Many have dealt with anti-inflammatory abilities in curcumin. In one study, turmeric worked about as well as ibuprofen for reducing arthritis pain. There have also been clinical studies on the benefits in diabetes and pre diabetes, positive effects on cancer, prostate cancer in particular.  Also many that shows it aids in weight management, liver detoxification, and digestive disease such as chrohn's disease.

Turmeric can easily be incorporated in to your daily life. It has many essential vitamins such as pyridoxine, choline, niacin, riboflavin and more. It also contains minerals of calcium, potassium, copper, iron, magnesia, magnesium and zinc. Turmeric in the diet increases the productions of enzymes that digest fat, sugars, and stops cholesterol from forming gallstones. It is an immune support and is antiseptic that kills yeast and parasites when used internally. It is also used for headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, fibromyalgia, leprosy, fever, and menstrual problems. Other uses include depression, Alzheimer’s disease, water retention, and kidney problems

You can take Turmeric as a daily supplement and introduce it to you're cooking. It is delicious in soups, stir fry, curries and as a daily tea. Ayurvedic turmeric paste is a great way to use turmeric to make teas. The paste of honey and turmeric can store easily in a jar. 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 keep this on hand, in a jar, for whenever you'd like a cup of tea. 

Ayurvedic Daily Turmeric Tea Recipe

  • Heaping Teaspoon of Turmeric Paste
  • Paste Squeeze of lemon
  • Lots of freshly ground black pepper

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.

 

 

15 Reasons Why You Should Take Triphala Daily

Triphala is known as one of Ayurveda’s most used herbal formulation. Triphala powder is a composed blend of three dried fruits., Haritaki, Bibhitaki and Amalaki. The blend is distributed into equal parts to ensure maximum efficiency. The principle of Ayurveda suggests that healthy stomach leads to a healthier life. Thus, to remain fit and healthy, it is very necessary for a person to keep his or hers stomach fit and healthy. This herbal formula is popular among Ayurvedic practitioner and its users as it is an effective bowl cleanser. The herbal formulation offers great support to the digestive system that helps insure that the process of digestion is completed at its best, ensuring optimal working of the digestive tract. 

According to various general theories, Triphala is an effective laxative that helps in keeping the digestive system fit and working, However, in experts’ opinions. Triphala powder is not just a laxative but also as a nutritional food supplement as it has great nutritional values. Unlike other laxatives, Triphala dose not put direct effect on the liver and gall bladder to force them to secrete digestive juices to digest food. Instead, it works like a sponge that swells by absorbing fluid. Thus, it helps in cleaning not only the intestinal tract but also the liver and blood. 

Top 15 Benefits of Triphala

  1. Improves and normalizes the digestive functions.
  2. Alleviates and corrects constipation.
  3. Tones the gastrointestinal tract.
  4. Cleanses bowel.
  5. Purifies the blood.
  6. Removes excess fats out of the body.
  7. Liver and Blood Cleansing. 
  8. Builds body immunity and contains high amounts of Vitamin C
  9. Maintains good male and female reproductive health. 
  10. Nourishes and strengthens the respiratory tract and lungs. 
  11. Improves eye sight.
  12. Nurtures the voice quality. 
  13. Enhances hair color and strengthens hair roots.
  14. Rich in powerful antioxidants, polyphenols which reduces oxidative stress on the body.
  15. Contains anthraquinone that help stimulate peristalsis.


In order to get the optimum results, it is recommended that a person should take no more then 1 1/2 tea spoons at in the evening, 45 minutes after having dinner or just before bed. It is best to boil for 5 mins in 1 cup of water, but it also can be taken with a spoonful of honey or in milk. Boiling the herbs allows for the molecules to break down further for better absorption. Tablet forms are also available. For best results see an Ayurvedic Practioner for additonal health management suggestions.

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.