Showing posts with label Ayurveda. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ayurveda. Show all posts

East vs. West Medicine [Infographic]

In the West, we are obsessed with dieting, as evidenced by the sheer number of diets, dietary supplements, weight loss and physical fitness programs and exercise equipment.

Although the desire to be thin often stems from societal pressure to look good, there is a more important reason why we should worry about being overweight, particularly if we have a big waistline and lots of belly fat - obesity and being overweight is linked to many chronic, debilitating and even life-threatening diseases and medical conditions.

Yet, it is thought that various diseases and chronic illnesses (as well as certain "modern" medications) actually cause weight gain and/or impede weight loss.

Hence, in the West, an overweight or obese person who also suffers from certain illness or chronic medical condition is sometimes trapped in a vicious cycle.  This may be because Western medicine often seeks to treat only the symptoms of each condition separately with a prescription for drugs for that particular condition.  When the drugs stop working, or complications due to drug interaction or other reasons arise, the next step is often invasive surgery.

In contract, Eastern medicine (such as Ayurveda) seeks to address and treat the underlying causes of the illness or medical condition, taking into consideration each individual's unique physical, mental and emotional constitution.  By treating the cause (rather than just the symptoms), the symptoms resolve once the cause is discovered and treated.

Eastern medicine also typically relies on only natural courses of both internal and topical treatments, such as proper nutrition, herbal preparations, acupuncture, acupressure and massage, meditation and yoga, detoxification, lifestyle modification and other holistic remedies.

This Infographic entitled "East vs. West Medicine" illustrates some of the key differences between the two approaches, including the history, basic theory, examination and diagnosis, and the duration of treatment for certain ailments and conditions.

Insofar as obesity and being overweight is concerned, most functional medicine physicians and holistic health practitioners agree that any weight loss effort must first begin with a healthy physical, mental and emotional constitution.

The idea is that with a proper diet, program of physical activity, lifestyle changes and natural treatments specific to the individual person, the underlying causes of the illness will be address and weight loss will occur naturally and more easily.

Luckily, in the West, we now live in an age and time when we have access to both systems of medicine.  If we are doing something that is not working, we can become informed and educate ourselves concerning all of our available options.***  A good place to start is by reading some of the books suggested below.

***Nothing in this post should be interpreted as medical advice or a suggestion to stop using currently prescribed medication or other courses of treatment without the supervision and oversight of a qualified medical professional.

Infographic Source:

Infographic: Indian Spices

Traditional Indian herbs and spices are not only flavorful and colorful culinary additions in many world cuisines, they also play a key and central role in health and healing in herbal medicine systems such as Ayurveda.

More recently, various research and studies are confirming the potential health benefits of ingesting these herbs and spices and/or using them topically as a means of lowering the risk for certain diseases and chronic conditions, as well as treating a wide variety of ailments.  Many of these herbs and spices are thought to aid in digestion, detoxification and weight loss and promote healthy weight maintenance.

One such spice in particular, turmeric, has been receiving a lot of favorable attention recently from the holistic health, natural healing and herbal medicine communities.

This infographic illustrates and briefly describes 10 Indian herbs that already have or quickly are growing in popularity in the West for both their exotic flavors and aromas and their potential medicinal and healing properties:

✿ Cardamom
✿ Cinnamon
✿ Cloves
✿ Coriander
✿ Cumin
Mustard Seeds
✿ Nutmeg
✿ Star Anise
✿ Saffron
✿ Turmeric


Healing Herbs and Spices
10 Herbs that Heal

5 Cancer Fighting Spices

A Woman's Healing Herbs

Infographic Source:  Monterey Bay Spice Company

Ayurveda Herb Chart

The use of herbs, both internally and topically, are central to and an integral part of the science of Ayurveda and Ayurvedic healing.

This is an amazing, comprehensive reference chart (and wall poster) of 168 herbs used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine.  A picture and the Sanskrit, Latin and common name of each herb is included.  The chart can be purchased online at Ayurveda Posters - Herb Chart.

Ayurveda: Integral Plan to Health and Wellness

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda:  Books and Recommended Reading

What is Ayurveda Poster Wall Chart

Wondering about Ayurveda?  In short, Ayurveda is a 5000 year old "science of knowledge" from India that utilizes a wide variety of both topical and internal natural therapies to treat disease and chronic medical conditions.

Unlike Western medicine, Ayurveda takes into account the whole person:  body, mind and spirit and recognizes that each individual has a different constitution that makes him or her unique.

Following the principles of Ayurveda in daily life can also lead to better overall health, weight loss and healthy weight maintenance, lower the risk of disease and protect against illness.

This poster outlines the basic principles of Ayurveda.  To learn more about Ayurveda and Panchakarma (the intense Ayurvedic detoxification program) please see my list of Ayurveda Books and Recommended Reading, which includes works written by leading experts on the subject like Deepak Chopra and Vasant Lad.

The 3 Gunas in Ayurveda

Ayurveda:  The 3 Gunas
In his book, Ayurveda and Panchakarma: The Science of Healing and Rejuvenation, Dr. Sunil Joshi writes:

 "All phenomena in the universe come under the influence of three primary phases of activity called the three gunas.  Nature uses its creative mode, referred to as sattva, to bring life into manifestation.  It then uses uses its organizing, activating phase, called rajas, to build and maintain what has just been created.  When the purpose of that stage is complete, it uses it destructive mode, called tamas, to bring it to an end."

According to Dr. Joshi, the same gunas that govern our existence also regulate our minds.  Thus, it can be said that three gunas (sattva, rajas and tamas) refer to the quality of the mind and the character of the person.

In Ayurveda (the ancient Indian science of life and health), a balance in the three gunas is important in determining psychological health of an individual.  Just as an imbalance in the Ayurvedic doshas can lead to disease and physical illness, an imbalance in the gunas can lead to destructive behaviors and mental illness.  A balance in the gunas is vital, since a health body requires a healthy mind and a healthy mind requires a healthy body.

Just as is the case with the the three doshas, the three gunas are present in every individual, with one or two gunas sometimes being dominant.  The state and balance of the gunas can change or alternate in their predominance in response to a particular set of circumstances.  Environmental factors, including diet, are thought to influence the balance in the gunas.  Thus, the food consumed is considered to have an impact on and a direct relationship to the state and quality of gunas.  In fact, in Ayurveda, all foods (including beverages) are described or categorized as being sattvic, rajastic or tamasic.

When referring to a proper balance of the gunas, the ideal is that the the mind be primarily sattvic (creative, pure, calm, gentle, considerate), and just enough rajastic (active, passionate, ambitious) and tamasic (inert, ignorant, fearful) to bring needs, desires and aspirations to realization and fruition.

What is Ayurveda Wall Poster Chart
Ayurveda:  Books and Recommended Reading List
Ayurvedic Tips for All Doshas
East vs. West Medicine

Image Source:  Unknown - please contact us for proper credit.

Infographic: Aloe Vera Benefits

During my Panchakarma, an intense ancient Indian detox treatment, the Ayurvedic practitioner instructed me to take several ounces of whole leaf Aloe Vera gel every morning.

It is thought that the gel contained in the leaves of the plant helps to absorb toxins as it moves through the digestive system.  The gel is known to have strong laxative compounds which aids in bowel movement and elimination, another important component of detoxification.  When ingested, the gel is also believed to soothe and cleanse the digestive tract, aiding in digestion.

Detoxification, cleansing and improved digestive function are all associated with weight loss and healthy weight maintenance.

Aloe Vera is a succulent that has been grown as a medicinal plant and used in both internal and topical herbal health remedies for thousands of years, some of which are described in this infographic entitled "12 Health Benefits of Aloe Vera".

As usual, certain research support some of the health claims relating to the use of Aloe Vera - particularly its use as a topical skin treatment for certain conditions.  Other studies suggest that internal use (ingestion) of Aloe Vera may have some side effects and risks.  Before taking Aloe Vera orally, it is recommended that an individual learns about the possible risks, side effects and cautions and/or consults with a qualified health care provider.

Healing Herbs and Spices: Aloe Vera Juice and Gel

Further reading:
Aloe Vera: Science and Safety (NIH)
Vitamins and Supplements Lifestyle Guide: Aloe Vera
Medical Science Embraces the Healing Power of Aloe Vera

Infographic Source:  JuiceUpYourLife

Healing Herbs and Spices: Aloe Vera Gel and Juice

Illustration:  Galtier-Boissière, Larousse Medical Illustré, Paris, 1912
During my Panchakarma treatment, my Ayurvedic practitioner had me take 2 to 4 ounces of Aloe  Vera gel every morning.  Aloe Vera is recognized in Ayurveda (and in the holistic and natural health community at large) as one of nature's miracles which offers many health benefits.  During Panchakarma, it is used to to help the detoxification process and as a tonic to aid in cleansing the blood, liver and digestive system.

Panchakarma Journal: Daily Diet During Retreat and Detox

During my Panchakarma retreat, I had to stick to a certain diet.  For seven days in a row, I was only allowed to eat certain foods and drink certain beverages.  The preceding and following weeks, I was also restricted in the type of foods I was permitted to eat and the beverages I drank.  My diet was typical - nearly all Panchakarma programs follow the same basic food and beverage plan.  There may be some slight variations depending on your Dosha, the length of your program and your Ayurveda practitioner's course of treatment individualized for your specific needs.

Spas and Centers Offering Panchakarma Retreats, Programs, Services

Everyone should experience the amazing health benefits of a Panchakarma detoxification, cleanse and rejuvenation retreat!  The diet, meditation, yoga and Ayurvedic treatments performed during Panchakarma benefit the whole person: mind, body and spirit.

Ideally, a retreat should be at least one week long, with longer times recommended to address more serious health concerns.  Shorter retreat times are also beneficial for rest, relaxation and a reset.

The following is a list of spas, wellness and holistic centers, schools and institutes in the United States and Canada that offer Panchakarma retreats or programs, Ayurvedic treatments and related services.  This list is being updated regularly, so check back often!

  • Authentic Ayurveda Sedona (Sedona, Arizona)
  • MichiMagic (Cottonwood, Arizona)
  • Tucson Ayurveda and Wellness Center (Tucson, Arizona)
  • Amrita Veda (San Diego, California)
  • Ayurveda by Kailas (Los Angeles, California)
  • Blue Sage Sanctuary (Nevada City, California)
  • California Ayurveda (Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, California)
  • California College of Ayurveda Mind-Body Health Center (Nevada City, California)
  • Chopra Center - 10 Day Perfect Health Program (Carlsbad, California)
  • Dhyana Center of Health Sciences (Sebastopol, California)
  • Dr. Jay's Ayurveda and Panchakarma Center (Mountainview, California)
  • Marin Ayurveda (Larkspur, California)
  • Shakti Healing (El Cerrito, California
  • The Healing Gardens (Ojai, California)
  • Yogic Medicine Institute (Los Gatos, California)
  • John Doillard's LifeSpa (Boulder, Colorado)
  • Ayurveda Health Retreat (Alachua, Florida)
  • Ocean Drive Spa (Miami Beach, Florida)
  • Rasayana Cove (Ona, Florida)
  • Akash Ayurveda of Hawaii (Kailua-Kona, Hawaii)
  • The Ayurveda Center of Hawaii (Kauai, Hawaii)
  • The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa (Maharishi Vedic City, Iowa)
New Jersey
  • MayaShakti Ayurveda (Annandale, New Jersey)
  • Santhigram Kerala Ayurvedic Center (Edison, Denville, Brunswick New Jersey)
New Mexico
  • Ayurveda for Radiant Health (Santa Fe, New Mexico)
  • The Ayurvedic Institute (Alburquerque, New Mexico)
New York
  • Ayurveda Center (New York, New York)
  • New York Ayurveda (New York, New York)
  • Pratima Ayurvedic Skincare Spa Clinic (New York, New York)
  • Rudra Ayurveda (New York, New York)
  • Santhigram Wellness (White Plains, New York)
  • The National Institute of Ayurvedic Medicine (Brewster, New York)
  • Yoga Revolution and Ayurveda Care NYC (Astoria, New York)
North Carolina
  • Blue Lotus Ayurveda (Asheville, North Carolina)
  • Ashland Ayurveda (Medford, Oregon)
  • Ayurveda Wellness Center and Holistic Spa (Oakdale, Pennsylvania)
  • Houston Ayurveda Wellness Center (Houston, Texas)
  • Santhigram Kerala Ayurvedic Center (Stafford, Texas)
  • River View Spa (Buckingham, Virgnia)
  • Life In Balance Ayurvedic Rejuvenation Center (Seattle and Vashon Island, Washington)
  • Kanyakumari Ayurveda and Yoga Wellness Center (Glendale, Wisconsin)
  • Elemental Embrace (Ontario, Canada)
  • Ojus Ayurveda and Yoga (Surrey, BC, Canada)

Panchakarma Journal: Daily Ayurveda Spa Treatments

Buddha Reflecting by Morgan Ellis,

During each day of my Panchakarma retreat, I received 6 treatments at the Ayurveda Spa.  The purpose of the treatments is to help expel the toxins that have been released by the special Panchakarma food and herbal supplements protocols.  The treatments are considered to be a key component of the Ayurvedic intense detoxification process.

Panchakarma Journal: Tongue Scraping

Buddha Reflecting by Morgan Ellis,

One of the things I was required to do during my Panchakarma retreat was to scrape my tongue every morning.  In fact, it was the very first thing I had to do upon waking.  Scraping, or cleaning, the tongue is an essential component of the detoxification process during Panchakarma.  In Ayurveda, it is also considered a critical part of one's daily health routine.  Why is tongue scraping so important?

Panchakarma Journal: Daily Routine

Buddha Reflecting by Morgan Ellis
I have always been interested in Ayurveda and, before undertaking Panchakarma, I did a lot of research and reading on the subject matter.  Because Panchakarma is quite orderly and straight-forward, I was relatively confident that I knew what to generally expect.  As it turned out, I was not  as prepared for the experience as I had thought. 

The following is a detailed account of my daily routine during my Panchakarma treatment:

Morning Routine
  • Wake up 30 minutes before sunrise
  • Examine and scrape tongue
  • Oil pulling (15 to 20 minutes)
  • Wash face, brush teeth
  • Drink ghee
  • Dress and go outside:  grounding exercise and solar gazing, 15 minute walk
  • Return to the hotel (home):  prepare morning meal (spiced stewed fruit) and set it to cook
  • Prepare Ayurvedic herbal tea
  • Drink hot/warm water infused with ginger root
  • Yoga (30 minutes)
  • Meditation (20 minutes)
  • Eat morning meal of stewed fruits
  • Rest 10-15 minutes
  • Go back out and take 15-20 minute walk
  • Return to hotel (home) and take Ayurvedic herbs
  • Warm Bath
  • Drink Aloe Vera gel
  • Walk to treatment
Mid-Day:  Ayurvedic/Panchakarma Treatments
  • Consultation with Ayurvedic practitioner
  • Dry skin brushing
  • Abhyanga
  • Nasya
  • Shirodhara
  • Chakra Therapy
  • Vibrational and Sound Therapies
  • Steam
  • Return to hotel (home)
Related:  Panchakarma:  Daily Ayurvedic Spa Treatments

Afternoon Routine
  • Eat lunch (kitchari)
  • Rest 10-15 minutes
  • Take a 15-20 minute walk
  • Journal
  • Nap (1 to 3 hours)
Related:  Panchakarma:  Daily Diet During Retreat and Detox

Evening Routine
  • Warm up kitchari and eat
  • Take Ayurvedic herbs
  • Rest 10-15 minutes
  • Take 30-40 minute walk
  • Wash and soak Mung Dal beans
  • Set almonds in water (to soak overnight for morning meal)
  • Wash dishes and clean up living space
  • Read, listen to music and/or journal
  • Herbal/oil enema
  • Hot aromatherapy bath
  • Meditate (20 minutes)
  • Drink Aloe Vera gel
  • Rub Brahmi Oil into soles of feet
  • Journal, listen to music and/or read
  • Sleep
Related:  Ayurveda:  Books and Recommended Reading

Triphala - Powerful Ayurvedic Internal Cleanser

Illustration:  I. Pfeiderer
In preparation for my Panchakarma treatment next week, I've done quite a bit of research on Ayurvedic herbs and spices.  One of the herbal mixtures I discovered was Triphala.  In Sanskrit, Triphala means "three fruits" and is actually a mixture of three fruits:  Amalaki  (Amla or Indian gooseberry), Bibhitaki (Behada) and Haritaki (Harada).  Each of these fruits by itself has potent healing properties.  Combined, the mixture has a powerful detoxifying and rejuvenating effect.  Since detoxification and rejuvenation is the main purpose of Panchakarma, I decided to try Triphala on my own even before my treatment.

Triphala is widely available in tablet, Vcap, tincture and powder form.  The tincture and powder is consumed by first mixing it into warm water.  I did not want to be bothered with measuring and mixing and I don't care for tablets, so I opted for Nature's Way Triphala, 1500mg Vcaps   - an equal blend of the extract of the three fruits standardized to 45% tannins. 

I followed the recommended dosage of 3 Vcaps per day and almost immediately (within less than 6 hours) knew it was working because I had an unexpected and irregular bowel movement.  For the next week or so, I noticed both a marked increase in the number of bowel movements and changes in the poop itself.  Speaking of poop, everyone should be in the habit of examining their poop on a daily basis.

At any rate, after about 10 days of use, I feel significantly "lighter" in the abdomen and am not bloated after eating certain foods.  So, at least for me, Triphala is doing what it is purported to do:  improve digestive functions in the stomach, help move the food along the GI tract, aid in evacuating the bowel and act as an internal cleanser and detoxifying agent. 

Note that although Triphala is generally considered safe, it is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women.

This information is provided for general interest and informational purposes only. It is not intended as guidance for medicinal use. Consultation with professional health care provider is always advised and encouraged.

Panchakarma Detoxification and Rejuvenation

Panchakarma (or Pancha Karma) is an Ayurvedic program of intense detoxification and rejuvenation.  This powerful method of purification purges the system of toxins and restores balance to the mind, body and emotions.  It is used to both prevent and treat a wide range of ailments, illnesses and chronic health conditions.  An important aspect of Panchakarma is the release of negative emotions.

Healing Herbs and Spices: Ginger Root

Illustration:  Franz Eugen Kohler

Ginger root is the rhizome of the Zingiber officinale plant.  Native to Southeast Asia, its name is derived from the Sanskrit word "singabera" which means "horn shape".  It is from the same plant family as turmeric, cardamom and galangal.  It is available as a fresh root, in powder form or as an oil.  Fragrant, pungent and spicy, it is widely used to flavor foods and beverages throughout the world, but most notably in Asian cuisine. 

Since antiquity, ginger has been highly prized for its therapeutic properties and has been used to treat a variety of ailments.  It is known to have anti-oxidant properties and is rich in certain minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.  Fresh ginger also contains an essential oil and several volatile oils, namely zingerone, shogaol and gingerol.   Gingerol has been shown to have analgesic, antipyretic, antibacterial and sedative properties.

Ayurveda: Books and Recommended Reading List

Ayurveda (or the "science of life") is an ancient health care system originating in India thousands of years ago that continues to be practiced today.  It is not limited to medical diagnosis and the treatment of disease.  It encompasses a vast body of knowledge expounding on all aspects of the human condition:  mind, body and spirit.    It seeks to unify and balance these aspects so that an individual can live in harmony with natural and cosmic forces and, in so doing, prevent illness and maintain good health.

Ayurveda: Integral Plan to Health and Wellness

Ayurveda is traditional system of health care originating in India approximately 5000 years ago. It is widely acknowledged as being the world's oldest integral practice of medicine. But Ayurveda is not simply an ancient health management system. The term Ayurveda comes from two Sanskrit roots: Ayu which means "life" or "daily living" and Veda which means "knowing", "knowledge" or "science".   Thus, the term Ayurveda can be defined as the "science of life".

Healing Herbs and Spices: Nutmeg

Illustration:  Franz Eugen Kohler, Kohler's Medizinal-Pflanzen
Nutmeg is derived from the seeds of  the nutmeg in the Myristica genus, which is native to India and Indonesia.  Nutmeg has a slightly bitter, astringent and pungent taste and is used in various dishes in many parts of the world.  Historically, it has been a costly spice, highly prized for its flavor, medicinal and therapeutic uses.  However, nutmeg should not be used by pregnant and nursing women and must only be used sparingly

Healing Herbs and Spices: Cinnamon

Native to Southeast Asia, cinnamon is derived from the inner bark of several trees belonging to the Cinnamomum genus.  It is available as a quill (the dried tubular stick) or as a ground powder.   Its sweet, pungent taste and penetrating fragrance has made it a favorite flavoring for many foods and beverages throughout the world.  Since antiquity, it has also been prized for its healing properties, and used to treat various ailments.

Cinnamon is known to contain a number of antioxidant compounds and is an excellent source of manganese, fiber, calcium, iron, zinc, potassium and magnesium.  It also contains a good amount of Vitamin A, niacin, pantothenic acid and pyridoxine and several health-promoting essential oils, including eugenol.

Healing Herbs and Spices: Cardamom

Illustration:  Franz Eugen Kohler, Kohler's Medizinal-Pflazen

Cardamom is believed to have originated in India, where it is known as "choti elaichi".  A member of the ginger family, this exotic spice has a strong and distinctive aroma and flavor.  Cardamom is used extensively in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine and is often found in both food and beverages, such as curries and tea.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...