Ayurvedic Relief for Muscles and Joints

Ouch!  In response to lifestyle, diet, and emotional pattern, our doshas; vata, pitta, and kapha, can easily move out of balance. These imbalances slow down agni, or digestive fire, resulting in the toxic by-product of inadequate digestion known as ama.

Vata, the main active dosha, brings ama into the colon.  From there, ama travels throughout the system, lodging in the bone tissue and joints, giving rise to the stiffness and pain characteristic of chronic joint disorders.

Ayurveda works through both diet and supplementation to remove ama from the joints and move it back to the colon, where the body can then eliminate it.  For this, we need to keep the colon clean and active.  Triphala is the most commonly used herb for cleansing the colon, or the combination of Triphala and Guggul.  Ayurveda recommends general techniques to increase the intensity of agni and burn up the toxins harming the body.  We begin with our food by adding more spices to the diet, such as turmeric, chilis, pepper, cardamom and cloves when cooking.  herbs in bulk cropHerbal extractions of Turmeric and Boswellia support a healthy inflammation response and ease of movement, while Ashwagandha helps balance all the doshas and reduce negative effects of stress in the body.

Various oils may be applied to the skin to help the body clear toxins, relieve pain and restore mobility.  Ayurveda has used two traditional oils in particular for thousands of years:  Maha Vishgarbha Oil and Mahanarayan Oil, both containing dozens of herbs in a sesame oil base. Massaging these oils into painful areas can improve flexibility, stiffness, muscle fatigue, circulation and ease pain. These oils when massaged into the skin can also assist in breaking up blockages. After oil application; warm heat, yoga, bath, and mild exercise can further relax and relieve the body.  Tattva’s Herbs Joint Care Oil, featuring Boswellia as a topical option, is also a potent and cooling application for both chronic and acute situations.

Boswellia Tree

Allergies and Ayurveda: A simple guide to the herbs of sweet relief

Greetings, fellow Seasonal Allergy Sufferers.  Now is the season when so many of us, from all walks of life, come together with our tissues and eye dropsturmeric roots in bag and cry; “mercy!”  As you well know, the Ayurvedic approach to alleviating seasonal allergies is deep and wide, encompassing every aspect of health including; diet, activity, mind/body techniques, pranayama, and finally, herbal supplementation.  Many explorations on these topics can be found with a quick google search, so for today, we will concern ourselves only with the last category; herbal supplementation.

While any dosha imbalance can exhibit allergic symptoms, the most common spring allergies of runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, and sluggish energy characterizes a classic Kapha imbalance.  Damp, heavy, cold, sluggish, and inflamed; the Kapha imbalance profile perfectly mirrors our unfortunate present condition.  To create movement, discharge toxins and cool the cascade of inflammation are the primary goals of an herbal approach to relief.

In Ayurveda, supporting digestive fire, or agni, is the cornerstone of all healing, and the lack of this fire, the foundation of all disease.  The corresponding and integral re-action to strong agni, is the efficient removal of toxins, or ama.  This dual approach to healing makes no exception for relieving seasonal allergies. The following herbal offerings, all work to increase agni and thus encourage removal of ama, creating dynamic movement in the Kapha stalemate of seasonal allergies.  Generally, we recommend one capsule, two times a day, but dosage of these tonic herbs can be gradually increased during acute situations. For long-term dosage adjustments, we recommend consulting your Health Care Professional.

Turmeric Curcumin and Ginger, two members of the Zingiberaceae family, increase digestive ami and reduce inflaturmeric cuppammation of the mucus membranes in the respiratory system. These aromatic, pungent and spicy roots inspire the digestive system to optimal operation. Traditional ginger and lemon tea, with the addition of Turmeric can be a nice alternative to swallowing pills. Our capsules can be opened and poured out into hot water, with lemon and honey, for a daily agni- increasing tea.  I recommend a non-dairy milk in times of excess mucus production, as unfermented dairy can further stagnate the Kapha imbalance.

Amla, while exhibiting the most concentrated amount of vitamin C found in the vegetable kingdom at more than 3000 mgs per fruit, supports a healthy inflammation response, the elimination of toxins, and strong regulation of nutrient absorption.

Triphala adds to the power of Amla (Amalaki), both Bibhitaki and Haritaki.  Bibhitaki promotes healthy mucus production, and haritaki tones the mucus membrane of the intestinal wall.   This potent yet gentle Trio, considered in India as the greatest and most versatile of all herbal formulations, works synergistically to promote internal cleansing of stagnate and excessive conditions, and aids in strong digestion and assimilation of food.

Chyawanprash also wields the steady power of Amla, as the first fruit in a list of nearly 50 rejuvenative herbs in a sweet jam of ghee and honey.  Considered rasayana, a Sanskrit word describing an elixir of life, Chyawanprash decreases both Kapha and Vata, while increasing Pitta.  This ancient rasayana treat balances the immune system, strengthens the respiratory system and supports healthy cleansing and elimination of toxins.

An important addition to the agni-increasing family of herbs is Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is most well-known for its adaptogenic support of the adrenal glands, so easily depleted by our busy lives and poor nutrition, and at this task, it does excel. However, of equal and less proclaimed value, is Ashwagandha’s unique ability to modulates, or balance, the immune system.  This action cannot be underestimated in the case of allergic reactions, which send this life saving system into inflammatory hyperdrive.

For a well-rounded herbal approach to seasonal suffering; Turmeric Curcumin, Ginger, Amla, Triphala, Chyawanprash, Ashwagandha and of course, don’t forget your Neti Pot!

Heavenly Energy Laddus

Toast the following ingredients:

1/2 c sesame seeds
1 c sunflower seeds
1 c shredded coconut

add and mix:
1 c puffed rice

Then add:
1/2 c Chyawanprash
1/2 c honey
1/2 c almond butter
6 dates chopped
1/2 c cacao powder
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp cardamom
1 tsp ginger
1 Tbsp Shatavari
1 Tbsp Ashwagandha
1/2 tsp sea salt

Combine all and roll into delightful balls! Yum…

Dryfruit-and-Nut-Laddu

Each of us deserves to feel alive.

too small When life gets tough, or mundane, or uninspiring, shifting our focus and allowing our perspective to expand and lift like a big balloon filled with hot, rising air that has no where to go but up and out can offer a break. Exploring all of the corners of our experience from these new and exalted angles presents us with glimpses into new corners of potential experience that we don’t habitually inhabit, but that are really just as easily inhabitable, so long as we give them a little attention and make them, too, feel important.

Consider living from this angle: What would life be like if we insisted on choosing the experience that brought life into our lives? What if we refused to dwell and to fritter and to obsess and to stick on those things that drain life away? If we could only gently and consistently bring ourselves back and re-shift and re-focus and re-group so that we encouraged the most aliveness, all the time, no matter what–whether we are reaching for (or skipping) breakfast, or choosing how to spend the hour right before bedtime, or making big life decisions–what might this be like?

I would like to propose that each of us deserves to feel alive. (Isn’t that why we are here?!) This doesn’t mean we feel joy always, or that we eat birthday cake for every meal from this moment forward, or that we never do anything we don’t want to do ever again. It is instead that we have every right and every responsibility to evaluate all of the corners of our lives and all of the big and the small things, the today and the tomorrow things, the now or the never things–all of the things that we do with our twenty-four daily hours, all of the environments, individuals, institutions, obligations, thought patterns, food patterns, addiction patterns, relational patterns that color our lives–and that we recognize that it is in our best interest to choose those things that bring us alive, and also to learn how to orient toward things so that we rise to life.

Secondly, I would like to propose that each of us is equipped with a very special tool, that whether or not we even ask for its help, is there to tell us whether we are bringing ourselves alive. This is our human body.

Our minds are really skilled at tricking us into believing that particular small things aren’t actually that small, or that there is no way around them, and all sorts of other convincing arguments. Our bodies–every single one of them, I would argue–are quite unskilled in comparison. They have this endearing little quality about them that has them failing miserably when it comes to lying. They all fail in their own unique ways, but they fail nonetheless. They fail at upholding a false truth that everything is okay when we go on living the kind of life, or eating the kind of breakfast, or perpetuating the same old relationship dynamics, or spending the kind of time on the couch or in front of the mirror with the kind of thoughts going through our heads that do not bring us alive.

We can only go on so long choosing or resigning ourselves to or finding ways in which to numb and distract ourselves from the things and the people and the patterns that are too small for us before our bodies start to groan, or scream, or retreat, or go numb or do silly things like stop sleeping or insisting on subsisting on peanut M&Ms alone.

When it comes to making aliveness-affirming choices in our day-to-day and when it comes to huge things, our bodies are a good place to start. Taking quiet time to close our eyes and quiet our minds, and to feel what happens in our chests, or to our shoulders, or deep in our bellies when we hold this or that situation close is where the truth lives. Thoughts are too often confusing and contradictory and schizophrenic and exhausting and wordy, and maybe they don’t even have any feel to them any more, and they just make up a dried-out, worn-out story that’s been told for years and has no oomph anymore. Our bodies are where the juice and the meat and the realness is. This is our gauge for that which brings us alive.

With the sun’s big warmth still here, and as the slivers of light get shed from our days, nature calls upon us to combine the inspiration and the bounty of summer with the harvest, and the taking stock, and then the gradual cutting away and letting go of fall that we will see as the leaves begin to gently float down from the trees. Take time to harness this potent energy, combine it with the honest wisdom of your body, and take an inventory of pulsing, breathing, radiating aliveness in your life.

hot air balloon

Written by Sara Bowes
Photographs by Sara Bowes
    of Sara Bowes Acupuncture
    1804 NE MLK Blvd.
    Portland, OR 97212

Enhance you Inner Strength using Ashwaganda

Ashwagandha is a renowned adaptogen, improving physical fitness and increasing the immune power of the body.

beautiful clouds

Known by its botanical name as Withania Sominfera, Ashwaganda hails a variety of titles including Indian Ginseng and Winter Cherry.  As a Sanskrit word meaning “Horse Smell” because the roots smell like a horse, Ayurveda classifies Ashwagandha as a Rasayana.  Rasayana herbs foster physical and mental health and help rejuvenate. Ashwagandha is native to Indai, South Africa, and the Middle East, with small yellow leaves and red berry-like fruits.

Ashwagandha’s active constituents are of vital importance. Some of these are withanolides, alkaloids, choline, amino acids and other essential fatty acids.  The alkaloids are responsible for its pain relieving and antiseptic properties. The withanolides (withaferin A and withanolide D, in particular) support healthy levels of hormones in the body, thus supporting strong fertility.

Researchers have found Ashwagandha significantly affects the immune system in a positive way by increasing white blood cells known as defenders of the human body. With an increased amount of white blood cells in the blood stream, our immune system is able to counteract everyday problems of cough, cold, and fever.  Modern research now further informs us of the immune tonic nature of this herb by finding many beneficial antioxidant properties.

Ashwagandha helps relax both muscles and the central nervous system, helping those who are sick with various illnesses as it soothes pain in the joints and muscles during recovery.  Ayurvedic practitioners use Ashwaganda to support healthy blood sugar levels, and both the cardiovascular and endocrine systems.

Indian History and Ayurveda

Sanskrit elegantly combines “Ayu,” meaning life and “Veda,” meaning wisdom, to create the word Ayurveda.  This ancient study of medicine, prevalent in India for thousands of years before the first century, descended directly from the Vedas. The Vedas -Rigveda, Samveda, Atharvaveda, Yejurveda – are Hindu holy books expounding on a variety of subjects including legendary creation stories, the Hindu deities, teachings of the saints and worldly knowledge for living a happy and healthy life.

calm waterspot crop

 

Atharvaveda, consisting of 114 hymns, is an “Upveda” or a sub- section of Atharvaveda and is further classified into 8 different subjects – Surgery, Gerontology, Toxicology, ENT, Psychology, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine and Aphrodisiac Remedies.

Lord Dhanvantari, the God of Ayurveda, is considered by some to be a physician to other Indian Gods and Goddesses! All the practitioners of Ayurveda worship Him and seek His blessings before starting their medical treatments.

Charaka (known as the Father of Medicine), Sushruta (known as the Father of Surgery) and Vagbhata, all students of Ayurveda, promoted this knowledge to new horizons during their lifetimes. Their medical scriptures are known as Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Ashtanga Hridaya.  The period from 200 BCE to 400 CE is widely considered the Golden Era of Ayurveda.

Arabic and Persian translations of these scriptures show adherents following and propagating Ayurveda across the world. Charaka Samhita greatly influenced Islamic scholar Ali Ibn Rabban Al Tabari, who in turn, wrote the first medical encyclopedia. Lord Buddha further spread the knowledge of Ayurveda in eastern Asian countries like China, Sri Lanka, Korea and Tibet.

However, Ayurveda suffered alongside the rest of India’s cultural heritage during the Colonial Era when India was ruled by the British.  After India declared her independence in 1947, the Indian people resurrected the Ayurvedic Institutes to teach the layman.  Many people have returned to the Ayurvedic focus on prevention instead of modern medicine’s aggressive treatments.

Today, modern practitioners employ Ayurveda in their practice, and the power of yoga and meditation are now widely accepted and practiced all over the world.

Ayurvedic substitutes for conventional treatments

The roots of Ayurveda can be found in the Vedic scriptures known as “Atharvaveda”. The Vedas are some of the oldest scriptures on Earth, with the original texts dating back to 1500 BCE.   The original texts are still available and highly respected worldwide.

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Atharvaveda deals with a variety of medical treatments for treating the sick and unhealthy. Therapies used in the treatments are Yoga, Meditation, Aroma, Herbs, Diet, Astrology, Gems and Stones, Amulets, Massage and Surgery.

Traditional Indian beliefs give further insight into the Vedas. It is said that the Indian deity Vishnu was reincarnated on Earth as Saint Veda Vyasa and wrote all the Vedas. His students Charak, Sushruta and Vagbhata wrote about their research on the Vedas and classified the medical practices described in Atharvaveda as Surgical, Medical and Holistic.

This research was originally written in “Sanskrit” but has been translated into English and modern Indian languages. Recent studies shed more light on this ancient study of medicine. Atharvaveda has been classified into the following eight forms of medical treatments:

  • Kaya Chikitsa governs internal diseases and infections
  • Shalakya Tantra involves body parts above the neck
  • Shalya Tantra deals with surgery
  • Agada Tantra offers treatment for poisons (both endogenous and exogenous)
  • Bhuta Vidya relates to psychology
  • Kumar Bhartiya oversees pediatrics
  • Rasayana is the science of rejuvenation and youthfulness
  • Vajikarna addresses the science of fertility

Charaka Samhita: Charaka Samhita was written by Charaka during the reign of the Indian deity Krishna (another reincarnation of Vishnu). Charaka had a holistic approach.  His belief that the body and soul have a deep connection was clearly seen in his holistic treatment of all disorders. Charaka Samhita was written in Sanskrit and has 8400 verses.

Sushrut Samhita: Sushruta was a student of Charaka who broadened the horizon of Ayurvedic knowledge by expanding on the original texts. Sushruta Samhita deals with the surgical way of medical treatment. Believe it or not, Sushruta performed plastic surgery, fracture treatments, cosmetic surgery, prosthetic surgery, and transplanted organs – all in the 6th BC! No wonder today he is called the “Father of Surgery”. He believed that surgery and medicine together constitute a true way of treating disease. Sushruta explained 72 different surgical treatments and used over 125 instruments to perform these surgeries.

Ashtanga Hridaya: Vagbhata studied human psychology and wrote Ashtanga Hridaya in the 6th Century BC. He emphasized the psychological aspect of disease by expounding on the work of Charaka Sushrut and Samhita Sushrut. His approach was more holistic than spiritual and he believed that 85% of all disease could be cured without the intervention of doctors.

Though Ayurveda originated from the Hindu religion, it has propagated across the globe and is serving humanity in a variety of ways. Ayurveda preaches service to the sick as the only way for medical practitioners, healers and doctors to achieve happiness.

 

Ayurvedic ways of living a Healthy Life: Balancing your Doshas

Ayurveda is one of the most ancient systems of medicine used for healing and treating illness. However Ayurveda has many facets other than purely medicinal. The more you explore, the deeper you go, the more enlightening is the knowledge that shows you different ways, all of which lead you toward a blissful life.sunset over water.jpg

Ayurveda defines “body” in the form of three “Doshas”. The human body is made up of three Doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. It is important to keep these Doshas balanced within the body to live a healthy and peaceful life. Vata is derived from Air and hence regulates bodily functions such as respiration, blood circulation, mental activity and physical movements. People with imbalanced Vata may suffer from physical and mental illness. Balancing Vata is a difficult task but it’s not impossible. Performing specific Yoga Asanas and Meditation with a combination of a balanced diet would yield magical results. Pranayam helps regulate the respiratory activities and cleans the respiratory pipe, increasing the oxygen level in the blood. Also it helps stimulate the nervous system. Sun Salutation & Meditation can be accompanied with Pranayam to stimulate the physical and mental activities. It is important to follow a balanced diet while practicing Yoga. People with predominant Vata should include foods that provide instant energy and warmth to the body. mangos cropGinger, cardamon, cinnamon, almonds, pumpkin, lemon, carrots, asparagus, bananas, mangoes all help warm the body and enhance circulation. Drinking warm water and herbal teas helps decrease the chances of dehydration and prevents hunger pangs.

Pitta derived from Fire and Water is the major source of energy for the human body. A Pitta imbalance is commonly found in Humans during the Summer Season when the solar power drives the Pitta. Excessive heat generation in the body, peptic ulcers, hot flashes, acid reflux, and inflammation are all physical problems one may suffer from Pitta imbalance. At the same time, one can suffer from mental problems such as aggressive behavior, anger, impatience, anxiety, and frustration. To balance Pitta, one should practice a daily routine with clearly defined hours of sleeping, eating, working and other regular activities. Gentle Yoga Asnas with a blend of Pranayam and Meditation will keep the body calm and cool. Diet should include watery fruits like watermelon, cucumber, and coconut. Avoid oily and spicy food in summer season and drink plenty of water. Water helps to keep the fiery Pitta calm and cool by hydrating the body. Wear light colors and cotton clothes to help control perspiration in the scorching heat of summer.

Kapha is made up of Water and Earth and is present in liquid form in the body. All the fluids and cellular activities are driven by Kapha. Kapha regulates the immune system in the body. It lubricates the joints and skin and is responsible for cellular growth. Kapha imbalance leads to problems like excessive body weight, lethargy, emotional weakness and depression, fatigue, and poor immunity. To balance Kapha, rigorous exercise is recommended with Meditation and Yoga to activate sweat glands and stay motivated. herbs in bulk cropTo improve body fluid circulation, drink herbal tea containing ginger, cinnamon, and clove essence, which help eliminate excessive mucous from the system. Avoid cold, sticky food like ice cream and cheese. Instead, opt for warm and stimulating foods.

Once you balance all the three Doshas, you will find yourself more confident, independent and you will get a different perspective to live your life. A life you yourself will fall in love with!

Ayurveda: Healing Body and Soul

Ayurveda is an ancient study, more than 5000 years old, which describes many natural processes of healing and living a healthy life. Though its origin is in India it has now propagated throughout the world, acknowledged and adopted by many in their search for health and happiness. 

The word Ayurveda mturmeric roots in bageans sacred knowledge of life. In the word Ayurveda, “Ayu” means Life comprising the Body, Mind, Senses and Soul. In ancient India, knowledge was sourced from the 4 “Vedas”, scriptures written as guides for the path of life – namely the RIGVEDA, SAMAVEDA, YAJURVEDA and ATHARVAVEDA.

Ayurveda says that our Universe is made up of five elements – Air, Water, Fire, Earth & Ether. The Human Body represents these elements in three forms of energy or doshas namely Vata, Pitta, & Kapha. Every human body has it’s own unique composition of these three doshas. The composition defines not only the health of the human being but also the characteristics and temperament. Any imbalance in thesethree doshas generally lead to a lot of health issues – physical as well as mental.

Vata relates to air, and this energy mainly directs functions like Respiration, Circulation and Nerve Impulse. People who have Vata imbalance often suffer from dryness of skin and hair, mood swings, headaches, joint pain, bloating, constipation. 

Pitta relates to fire and water in Human body. “Fire” takes the form of Enzymes which are secreted in the stomach and liver which digest food, which is transformed in to Energy. The common symptoms of Pitta imbalance are aggression, loss of temper, acid reflux and ulcers.

Kapha is derived from the elements Earth and Water. When it is present in the right proportion it provides strength, stamina, immunity, and mental peace. Otherwise a person can experience lack of motivation, feel depressed, tired and lethargic and have abnormal food cravings.

Ayurveda says that every person should try to find their natural balanced state by modulating their behavior and environment. A person who has learned to balance all the three doshas is described as “Sushrut Samhita” in Ayurveda – which means he or she has a sound mind, healthy body and a content soul.