Ayurveda and Digestive Health Aditya Sharma, Ph.D. Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist History of Ayurveda Ayurveda is India’s traditional, natural system of medicine that has been practiced for more than 5,000 years.
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Aditya Sharma, Ph.D.
Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist
Ayurveda is India’s traditional, natural system of medicine that has been practiced for more than 5,000 years.
Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that literally translated means "science of life" or "science of longevity. Ayu means life and Veda means Knowledge.
Ayurveda was the system of health care developed by the seers (rishis) and natural scientists through centuries of observations, experiments, discussions, and meditations.
Ayurveda provides an integrated approach to preventing and treating illness through lifestyle interventions and natural therapies.
Ayurvedais based on the view that the elements, forces, and principles that comprise all of nature - and that holds it together and make it function - are also seen in human beings.
In Ayurveda, the mind (or consciousness) and the body (or physical mass) not only influence each other - they are each other. Together they form the mind-body.
The universal consciousness is an intelligent, aware ocean of energy that gives rise to the physical world we perceive through our five senses.
Ayurvedic philosophy and practices link us to every aspect of ourselves and remind us that we are in union with every aspect of nature, each other, and the entire universe.
Each of these medical specialist is addressed according to theories of:
Five elements: Ether, Air, Fire, Water, & Earth
Tridosha: Vata, Pitta & kapha
Seve Dhatus: Rasa (Plasma), Rakta (Blood), Mamsa (Muscle), Meda (Fat), Asthi (Bones), Majja (Marrow & Nerves), and Shukra (Reproductive Tissues)
Three malas: Urine, Stool, and Sweat
A health is a dynamic state of balance and integration of body, mind, and spirit.
The Five Elements
According to Ayurveda, everything in this universe is made up of five great elements or building blocks. Ayurveda defines a human made of the five great elements and immaterial self. . All substances can be classified according to their predominant element. These five elements are earth, water, fire, air, and ether.
Fire is the power to transform solids into liquids, to gas, and back again. In other words, it possess power to transform the state of any substance.
Within our bodies, the fire or energy binds the atoms together.
It also converts food to fat (stored energy) and muscle. Fire transforms food into energy.
It creates the impulses of nervous reactions, our feelings, and even our thought processes.
Fire is considered a form without substance.
Air is the gaseous form of matter which is mobile and dynamic.
Within the body, air (oxygen) is the basis for all energy transfer reactions.
It is a key element required for fire to burn.
Air is existence without form.
Ether is the space in which everything happens.
It is the field that is simultaneously the source of all matter and the space in which it exists.
Ether is only the distances which separate matter.
The chief characteristic of ether is sound. Here sound represents the entire spectrum of vibration.
A mountain is predominantly made up of earth element. A mountain also contain water, fire, air and ether. But these elements are very small compared to the earth. So, its classification is the earth.
The SensesThe five elements manifest in the functioning of the five senses of man. This allows the person to perceive the external environment in which he or she lives. They are also related, through the senses, to five actions expressing the functions of the sensory organs.The basic senses and their relationship to the five elements are shown below:
The air principle ignites the bodily fire, but water is necessary to control fire, otherwise the bodily fire would burn the tissues.
Vata moves Kapha and Pitta, since Kapha and Pitta are immobile.
When Vata is out of balance, the metabolism will be disturbed, resulting in excess catabolism, which is the breakdown or deterioration process in the body.
When anabolism is greater than catabolism, there is an increased rate of growth and repair of the organs and tissues.
Excess Pitta disturbs metabolism, excess Kapha increases the rate of anabolism and excess Vata creates emaciation (catabolism).
In childhood, anabolism and the Kapha elements are predominant because of the physical growth. In adulthood, metabolism and the element of Pitta are most apparent, because at this stage the body is matured and stable. In old age, catabolism and Vata are most evident, as the body begins to deteriorate.
Dosha Day Time:
10am to 2pm Pitta
2pm to 6pm Vata
6pm to 10 am Kapha
June – October Pitta
October – February Vata
February – June Kapha
In conclusion, the six tastes affect the doshas, is very useful in coming up with proper diet in case of imbalances in our doshas.
Digestive HerbsTriphala (Amla, Bihara, Harada)A complete body cleanser Amalaki (EmblicaOfficinalis)Bibhitaki (TerminaliaBellirica)
Triphala (Amla, Bihara, Harada)A complete body cleanser Haritaki (TerminaliaChebula)
Reduces serum cholesterol,
Improves circulation (potentiates adrenergic function),
Contains 31% linoleic acid,
Reduces high blood pressure,
Improves liver function,
Senna LeavesAn herbal laxative to support regularity.Mainly use for constipation and inflammatory skin conditions.Senna Leaves Chemical Structure of Sennosides
Peppermint calms the muscles of the stomach and improves the flow of bile, which the body uses to digest fats.
Treating symptoms of IBS, such as pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
Fennel Plant and seedsThe major chemical compound found in fennel, terpenoidanethole, is believed responsible for fennel\'s ability to inhibit spasms in smooth muscles such as those in the intestinal tract. Fennel leaves and seeds use as a carminative, a gas-relieving and gastrointestinal tract cramp-relieving agent.
Psyllium Husk - This is one of natures best sources of soluble fiber. It can help detoxify, cleanse, and refresh your total digestive system. Psyllium\'s high fiber content has the ability to stimulate, contractions in the colon so as to help flush out mucus and toxins. Bonus! Psyllium has found to have positive results with individuals with blood sugar or cholesterol issues!
Senna Leaves - This natural herb, known as the cleansing herb, has been used in Asia for centuries. Senna contains natural glycosides that stimulate the colon to increase fluid activity so as to help dissolve the mucus build up in the colon walls. Senna works wonders in softening eliminations for ease of movement.
Propriotary Herbal Blend
Fennel Seed- Fennel seed is an herb that can help in gas relief and help with gastrointestinal calming and cramps.Peppermint Leaves- This herb helps curb gas and fights spasms in your intestinal tract. Peppermint refreshes the colon and helps maintain healthy digestion.Papaya- This magic melon of the tropics is loaded with digestive enzymes needed to digest protein and fats. These natural enzymes help to breakdown food so your digestive system doesn\'t have to struggle.
Slippery Elm- The bark of this tree is a great source of mucilage, which can help coat irritated digestive system linings.Buckthorn Bark- This herb has been popular in Europe since the 13th century to help to ease constipation. Buckthorn helps the colons ability to have better contractions for better elimination.
Triphala- It\'s the basis of all ayurvedic medicine. It is a precise herbal blend of the fruits of three trees. It is widely used in medical preparations for detoxifying and helping to help promote optimum colon cleansing and health.
Ginger Root- It contains special compounds that the German Commission E has approved to help prevent indigestion. It can help fight muscle spasms in the colon and breakdown proteins.
Acacia Gum- The bark from this tree has been used medically for centuries especiallyin Australia. It has proven to be effective for loose bowels and its astringent capabilities to cleanse & refresh the digestive tract.
Aloe Vera- This member of the lily family is rich in complex sugars, enzymes, minerals and amino acids. The fatty acids found in Aloe Vera are believed to alkalize digestive juices and help prevent the colon flushing out impurities and mucus.
Dry Ginger, of Black Pepper , Nutmeg and Cloves, Fennel, Coriander (all equal part).
Add to one cup of hot water and leave it for 5 minutes, or boil it.
Drink before meal to increase appetite and improve absorption.
Pitta type use with care.
Decrease Kapha, increase Vata and Pitta.
Use: Lack of appetite, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, intestinal gas, malabsorption, Candida, metabolic disorder, cold, cough, congestion, and poor circulation.
Ayurveda’s recommendations focus on keeping your digestion strong. Good digestion nourishes the body.
A cleansing process known as panchakarma is recommended to purge these unwanted or accumulated toxins in the body. The five purification therapy is a classical form of treatment in Ayurveda. These specialized procedures consist of the following:
An important part of Ayurveda is the massage treatment.
These treatments are different for every type.
Vata types profit more from a gentle treatment with quiet and relax movements.
Pitta type prefers more and deeper movements.
Kapha type desires a firm treatment with fast and firm movements and little oil.
Benefits are detoxification, improve digestion and blood circulation and others.
In conclusion, with our personal lifestyle comes also our personal preference for types of food.
It is important for the different types - with the predisposition to diseases to choose the right type of food.
Vata-type needs to avoid fried food, eat regular, warm, earthly and sweet food.
Pitta-types need to avoid hot, spicy and acid foods as well as fried food. Raw food is good for Pitta.
Kapha-type needs to avoid greasy and oily, salt, acid and sweet food, and preferrably eat cooked food.
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