Monday, July 24, 2017

Ayurvedic tips to overcome Acne problems

Although Acne is more common in teenage due to hormonal changes in the body, sometimes it can continue even in adulthood which can be distressing. Yuvanapidika (Yuvana meaning youth and Pidika meaning skin eruptions) is the Ayurvedic name for pimples / acne. During puberty or menopause due to the influence of hormones, the oil secreting glands called sebaceous glands become more active secreting sebum in excess. This excessive sebum clogs the skin pores leading to the formation of acne. Sometimes pimples are not only painful but they leave behind scars.

Causes of Acne 

Acne can occur due to many reasons -
1. Hormonal changes as in puberty, PCOD, menopause, etc.
2. Excess oiliness of skin caused due to excess sebum production or application of oil based creams
3. Use of aggressive chemical products
4. Bacteria or infections
5. Certain medications like steroids, oral contraceptive pills, etc.
6. Stress

Ayurvedic approach

Mostly people opt to topical creams or lotions, chemical based soaps and antibiotic treatment which only worsens the condition. But Ayurveda helps to fight against acne and keep the skin healthy with intake of herbs and simple amendments in diet and lifestyle.

Simple tips which help in Acne

  • Remove make up before going to bed.
  • Use chemical free products on skin.
  • Avoid over usage of cosmetics.
  • Avoid scrubs.
  • Avoid pricking with nails as it will rupture acne leading to permanent scars.
  • Wipe your face gently with tissue to remove excess oil from the face.
  • Avoid application of oil on scalp after shower as it may make your face oily resulting in aggravation of acne.
  • Wash face 3 - 4 times a day with lukewarm water.
  • Sleep for 7 - 8 hours at night. Go to bed before midnight.
  • Avoid staying awake at night.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Avoid excess sun exposure.
  • Drink atleast 2 - 3 liters of water.
  • Reduce excess intake of non vegetarian food.
  • Eat low fat dairy products.
  • Include bitter vegetables like spinach, bitter gourd, etc in diet.
  • Entail the use of spices like coriander, cardamom and fennel in diet.
  • Reduce excess intake of chili, fermented food, junk food, deep fried, oily and spicy food, pickle, sauces, tomatoes, raw onion, garlic, mustard, hot pepper, sour fruits, salt and refined sugar.
  • Mix one tsp of multani mitti (fuller's earth), half tsp of powders of dried rose petal, orange peel, neem leaves and basil leaves and 1/4 tsp of turmeric. Mix this with sufficient quantity of rose water or honey. After cleaning face with water apply this paste as face mask for 5 - 7 minutes on face. Then wash it off with plain water. Do this twice or thrice a week.
  • For acne scars, Jatiphal (Nutmeg) powder can be mixed with rose water and applied externally twice a week.
  • Triphala cold infusion can be used for face wash. Soak 1 tbsp of Triphala coarse powder in a glass of water and leave it overnight. Next morning it should be filtered with a fine cloth and used for washing face. Then face should be patted dry. This will help in painful acne with pustules.

Herbs that fight against Acne

Turmeric - Improves skin luster.
Neem - Has blood purifying and anti bacterial effect.
Raisins, Anatamool and Sariva - Coolant and blood purifying action
Chandana - Coolant
Amalaki (Indian gooseberry) - Antioxidant.

Ayurvedic formulations

Some Ayurvedic formulations which help in acne are Avipathikar churna, Triphala guggulu, Khadirarishta, Chandanasava and Saribadyasava.

Do you find acne distressing and annoying? Try the above simple yet effective remedies which will help you to get rid of acne easily.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Ayurvedic approach to Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration also called as Age related macular degeneration (ARMD) is an age associated chronic eye disease and is a very common cause of gradual loss of central vision among older individuals over the age of 50 years. The symptoms usually do not appear in people below 50 years of age. The deterioration weakens the ability to read, write, drive, and recognize faces, which are all activities requiring healthy central vision. Peripheral or side vision isn't damaged. Visual loss can occur within months, or over many years, depending on the severity of AMD.

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

The symptoms of macular degeneration include blurred vision, distorted central vision (straight lines appear wavy or crooked, printed matter appears distorted), difficulty reading small print, distortion of the letters on a line, colour confusions, slow recovery of visual function after exposure to bright light, central scotomas (shadows or missing areas of vision), difficulty recognizing faces, colours may appear less bright, people may need bright light). This symptoms appear despite using one’s usual glasses. Visual hallucinations (also called Charles Bonnet syndrome) are common in people with severe visual loss of any cause. They can occur if there is severe AMD.

Risk factors

Risk Factors of ARMD include Atherosclerosis, Diabetes, Heart disease, High blood pressure, Nutritional deficiencies, Smoking, Tobacco, and Heredity.

People with ARMD are often deficient in a number of nutrients that are essential to eye health especially macula health such as lutein, essential fatty acids, zeaxanthin, taurine, antioxidants, zinc, bioflavonoids, selenium, and vitamin B-complex. Systemic inflammation, indicated by high levels of C - reactive protein has been tied to increased macular degeneration risk.

The Three Doshas in the Eyes

  •  “Vision is a priceless gift from God to enjoy the beauty of the world”. Ayurveda explains that Pitta dosha governs our eyes. Specifically the sub dosha called “Alochaka pitta” element is present in the eyes, which is responsible to engross colour & images and allows us to grasp the visual representations. When Alochaka pitta is in balance, eyes are healthy, bright, clear, shiny, luminous, and we enjoy sharp eyesight. Impaired vision is caused mainly due to the imbalance activities of pitta. So, it is always advisable to maintain balanced Pitta dosha.
  • Due to the cold and unctuous qualities of Kapha dosha, Tarpaka Kapha (one of the five types of Kapha) is used to keep the eyes lubricated, moist and cool always.
  • Vata dosha is responsible for all types of movements in the body and Prana Vata (one of the five types of Vata dosha responsible for life force), is responsible for movement and blinking of eyes and sensory perception.

Ayurvedic Approach

There is a separate branch of Ayurveda known as Shaalakya tantra which deals with eye disorders. The Ayurvedic name for defective eyesight is ‘Drishti Dosha’. The pathogenesis of macular disorders and their treatments are mentioned in Ayurveda texts. And macular degeneration occurs due to imbalance of the three doshas either individually or in combination. In majority of cases, Ayurvedic treatment helps to control the progressive degeneration so that present vision status can be stabilized. Rasayana medicines in Ayurveda gives strength to the retina and improves vision.

Macular degeneration sometimes occurs as a complication of other diseases also and hence after thorough examination of the underlying causative factor, we should proceed with treatment. Treatment consists of internal medicines, external therapies like Tarpanam along with change in diet and lifestyle and yoga. While treating the macular degeneration, underlying causative factor should also be given importance in treatment.
ARMD is a nutritional and lifestyle responsive eye disease hence can be stabilized and possibly even vision can be improved with healthy lifestyle choices. Ayurvedic treatment for macular degeneration includes elimination of Ama (Metabolic toxins), detoxification, improving nutrition to eye by administration of Chakshusya Rasayana (Rejuvenation for the eyes). The Ayurvedic treatment modalities include Panchakarma, external therapies, internal medications, and advice on food and life style changes. Proper care for the eyes is one preventive measure that helps.

The major treatment procedures done for the treatment of Macular Degeneration are as follows
  • Virechana (Therapeutic purgation) - Virechana is done with administration of medicines after internal and external oleation and sudation. This helps in removing toxins from the body and bring equilibrium of the doshas especially Pitta.
  • Nasya (Nasal medication) - It is the procedure in which medicated oil or fresh juice of herbs is instilled inside the nostrils after oleation and fomentation of the face and neck. Anu oil is commonly used for Nasya. However other liquid medium that can be used are fresh juice of durva, powder of Vidanga, Karpasasthyadi taila, Lakshadi taila, ghee, etc.
  • Netra Dhara / Seka (Eye wash) – The procedure of pouring thin streams of herbal liquids over the closed eye from a height of 4 finger breath is Netra Dhara or Seka. This procedure is carried out during the day. Triphala decoction is generally used for this purpose. Other herbal decoctions mixed with honey can also be used. The herbal liquid is poured on the closed eyes through a funner and the medicines flowing out of the eye is collected by holding a bowl against the temporal region just below the outer canthus.
  • Bidalaka or Lepa (Application of herbal paste) - Simple smearing of herbal paste on the skin surface of the eye lids avoiding eye lashes is Bidalaka or Lepa. It can be done with paste of Lodhra (Symplocos racemosa), Nimba (Azadirachta indica), Shigru (Moringa olifera), Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Eranda (Riccinus communis) depending upon the doshas vitiated.
  • Netra Tarpana (Eye rejuvenation in dry types) - Warm medicated ghee is poured into the eyes and retained inside an herbal paste boundary. Ghee is unctuous and cool hence helps mitigate Vata and Pitta doshas. Common medicated ghrita used for Tarpana are Mahatriphala, Triphala ghrita, Patoladi ghrita, Drakshadi ghrita and Jeevantyadi ghrita.
  • Anjana (Collyrium) – The application of medicine to inner aspect of the lower eyelid from the inner canthus to the outer canthus is Anjana. It can be done with special rod or finger. Vimala Varti, Bhaskara churna, etc can be used for Anjana.
  • Shiro lepa / Tala dharana (Application of herbal pastes on the vertex) – Common herbal paste used are Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna), Kachoradi churna.
  • Shiro Tarpana / Murdha Taila (Oiling the head) Oiling the head is very effective in the management of stress, hypertension, improves vision and calms down Vata dosha. Oiling the head can be done in four methods – Shiro Abhyanga (Head massage), Shirahseka (Pouring medicated oil or liquid medium on the head in a rhythmic manner), Shiropichu (Placing cotton swab soaked in oil on the vertex), and Shirobasti (Retaining medicated oil on the vertex inside a leather cap boundary).
  • Shirodhara - In this process lukewarm medicated oil (Sesame oil medicated with herbs like Brahmi, Shankhapushpi, Yashtimadhu, Chandana, etc.) or medicated liquids (Medicated buttermilk or milk or herbal decoction) is poured over the forehead in a rhythmic manner from a perforated pot suspended above forehead.

Diet guidelines

  • Include more of Vitamin A in diet. Eat fruits and vegetables that have a deep orange or yellow colour like carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, apricots, peaches, cantaloupe, oranges, papayas, and mangoes.
  • Non vegetarian foods like eggs, liver and fish are also conducive to eye health.
  • Dairy products like cheese, fresh milk, butter also possess some fair amount of vitamin A in them.
  • Green leafy vegetables such as kale, beet greens, Swiss chard, coriander, spinach, mustard and collard greens help to improve the vision.
  • Include antioxidants like lemon and berries in your diet.
  • Include more of fresh fruits and vegetables in your daily diet.

Lifestyle Recommendations

  • Splash plain water in the eyes every one hour.
  • Avoid watching television or using computer or reading continuously for long periods of time.
  • Avoid improper postures while using computerm watching TV or reading.
  • Avoid straining the eyes to read small letters.
  • Practice Trataka yogic exercise daily.
  • Put a teaspoonful of Triphala coarse powder in a glass of water and let it stay overnight. Next morning strain the water with a fine cloth or filter and wash the eyes with it.
  • Go to sleep by 10pm. One of the main causes of eye problems is lack of sleep. Without proper rest, eyes become tired, red, itchy, puffy, bleary, and bloodshot.
  • Palming is an excellent way to give the eyes some rest when they are overstrained. Eyes need a break if they have been in front of a computer or TV screen, reading, driving, or doing close-up work, for too long a stretch. Simply rub the palms together for a few seconds and gently place them over the eyes. This provides an unbelievable deep rest that blocks out outside stimulation and helps tired, blurry eyes.
  • Placing cooling cotton pads dipped in rose water, aloe vera, cilantro, or cucumber juices over the eyes is beneficial.
  • Application of sandalwood powder and water on the forehead can soothe eye strain.

Ayurvedic herbs and formulations

Ayurvedic herbs and compound formulations with a source of antioxidants are found to be beneficial in Macular degeneration.

  • Triphala (Combination of three fruits) - Triphala is an important medicine for eye health, especially blurred or impaired vision or to prevent eye disorders. Triphala strengthens the muscles of the eyes and improves eyesight. It is for both internal and external use.
  • Amalaki (Emblica officinalis) - Amalaki fruit (one ingredient of the Triphala) is an anti-aging tonic or Rasayana in Ayurveda, rich in vitamin C and anti-oxidents. Amalaki is wonderful in maintaining pitta balance, and supports cleansing. Amalaki is specifically known as a “Chakshushya”, which means “that which strengthens the eyes”.
  • Yashtimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra) – Yashtimadhu mitigates Pitta dosha, promotes longevity and is good for the eyes.
  • Bhringaraj (Eclipta alba) – Bhringaraj is Chakshushya (strengthens the eyes), Akshirogahrut (Useful in eye diseases), Rasayana (Rejuvenative) and balances Kapha and Vata dosha.
  • Saptamrit lauh is an Ayurvedic medicine in powder form containing Iron calx, triphala and yashtimadhu, balances Pitta dosha and recommended in macular degeneration and other vision related eye disorders.
  • Amalaki Rasayana is an Ayurvedic preparation with Amla as a main ingredient. Amalaki Rasayana is good for all the three doshas and is Chakshushya (Good for eyes, improves vision) and Rasayana (Rejuvenation).
  • Triphala Ghrita nourishes the nerves and tissues of the eyeball, including the lens. Triphala ghee balances Vata and Pitta doshas and can be used internally and externally (as eye drops or in Tarpan treatment) as it is beneficial in eye diseases. Purana ghee (Old ghee) is also beneficial in eye disorders as its potency increases.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Miracle of Raktamokshana (Therapeutic Blood Letting)

The father of Ayurvedic internal medicine Charaka describes the five Panchakarma procedures as Vamana (Therapeutic emesis), Nasya (Nasal medication), Virechana (Therapeutic purgation) and two types of Basti (Therapeutic enema). Another great Ayurvedic surgeon Sushruta combined the two types of basti into one category and added Raktamokshana (The therapeutic withdrawal of blood from the body) as one of the Panchakarma therapy.

Although Raktamokshana is the most limited of the five major procedures, it provides a rapid and sometimes dramatic reduction of symptoms in certain acute disorders, especially where time is a critical factor. When Pitta dosha is vitiated they get lodged in the blood.  In acute conditions when you need quick relief, and there is no time for the various phases of Panchakarma like Purvakarma (Preparation for Panchakarma), etc. Raktamokshana can be helpful. Raktamokshana gives relief from acute symptoms very quickly. After that Panchakarma regimen and internal herbs can be advised.

Different types of Raktamokshana procedures are mentioned in Ayurvedic texts for treating various conditions. A properly trained Ayurvedic physician should do all the Panchakarma procedures especially Raktamokshana as it required close observation at every stage. Raktamokshana is performed individually for each person after analyzing his or her Prakriti (Body type) and medical condition.

Recently I happened to visit Dhanvantari Panchakarma Center in a small town Kopargoan near Shirdi where Raktamokshana was extensively practiced. What is exceptional about Raktamokshana among the Panchakarma is that it can be done even without n Ayurveda. Panchakarma has a systematic approach that includes pre-Panchakarmatechniques, a sequential approach of five methods and post Panchakarma procedures in the form of a complete package.was giving instant results in pain relief if it is due to Pitta aggravation. Raktamokshana was done in many disease conditions – psoriasis, pemphigus, eczema, leucoderma and other skin problems, various eye disorders, Pitta predominant PMS and menstrual problems, some types of headache, hypertension and even in aneurysm. 

Migraine is a very common form of headache, seen in nearly 15 % of the population. Women are more likely to suffer from migraine, than men. In people with migraine, it is observed that there are usually some trigger factors that bring on the migraine attack. Migraine is a vascular disorder caused by vasoconstriction and vasodilatation of the blood vessels in the head, neck and scalp. Vasodilation (dilatation of blood vessels) may last from few minutes to several hours, increasing blood flow into the area. This increase in blood flow is what is responsible for the "throbbing" of the migraine headache. The pain of a migraine attack is believed to be due to greatly increased amplitude of pulsations in the cranial arteries. Tightening of sternocleidomastoid muscle puts pressure on the carotid sheath which contains the internal jugular vein causing the internal jugular vein to compress, thereby reducing the outflow of blood from the head potentially causing intra cranial pressure to increase with resistant pressure on.  

In acute migraine attack, Raktamokshana from the Jugular vein is beneficial. The patient is made to lie down on a cot with the head slightly lowered and turned to one side. Then the jugular vein is tapped with the the three fingers (index, middle and ring finger) noticing the elevation and then syringe is inserted and vitiated blood is withdrawn intravenously which gives relief in pain within few seconds and the migraine attack does not even recur for years. Maximum 100 ml of vitiated blood can be removed at one time and not more. The patient is monitored for 30 minutes to 1 hour after Raktamokshana. Then internal herbs, diet and lifestyle changes are advised for a specific period of time. lt is also advisable to avoid known trigger factors like different food substances (e.g., alcoholic beverages, cheese, chocolate, nitrate-containing foods such as hotdogs, and a number of other substances), disrupted schedules, lack of sleep, irregularity in meals especially missed meals, strong smell, glare, flickering lights (such as fluorescent lights or CRTs) and physical and emotional stress.

Thus Raktamokshana is one of the five Panchakarma procedures, which is effective in curing the disease as well as preventing the recurrence.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


Ginger plays an important role in prevention of many diseases. Ginger is considered safe and used for as wide variety of conditions and modern day research has found it effective in many disorders.  Ginger is also used as an Anupana or vehicle for administration of Ayurvedic medicines.  Rhizome of ginger is most widely used as a common condiment for various foods and beverages. Ginger is on the US FDA’s GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) list. The British Herbal Compendium documents no adverse effects of ginger consumption. Fresh ginger is known as Ardrak in Sanskrit and Dry ginger is known as Shunti in Sanskrit. Dry ginger and fresh ginger are quite similar in action, except that fresh ginger should be used in low amounts or avoided in autumn and summer. Powdered dry ginger root is typically used as flavouring for recipes such as gingerbread, cookies, crackers and cakes, ginger ale, and ginger beer. Ginger pickle, ginger wine and ginger candies are also prepared from ginger. 
Benefits of Ginger
  • Ginger is described as an appetizer in Ayurveda and is an excellent remedy for the treatment of digestive disorders. Oral intake of fresh ginger with rock salt is carminative, digestive, promotes taste and is a laxative. It also has anti inflammatory properties.
  • Consumption of ginger in the beginning of meals is wholesome, cleanses throat and tongue, carminative, digestive and promotes taste & helps relish food.
  • Fresh ginger when administered with jaggery before food is beneficial in Haemorrhoids, Asthma, Cold, Emaciation, Cough and disorders of Kapha vitiation.
  • Fresh ginger when dipped in lemon juice chewed after every meal gives mouth freshness.
Home Remedies with Ginger
  • In Asthma / Cough, a mixture of ginger, Amalaki (Emblica officinalis) and honey is administered. 
  • For numbness, ginger paste is applied externally on affected part. 
  • For Joint pain / Stiffness, mix ginger powder with sesame oil and apply as a paste on joints. This will help to relieve stiffness in joints.  
  • In Amavata (Rheumatoid arthritis), water boiled with ginger or ginger tea is recommended daily.
  • For headache, a glue of powdered dried ginger can be applied over the forehead to mitigate headache.
  • For Sore throat, ginger powder mixed with honey is administered.
  • For Productive cough, fresh ginger juice can be administered with honey or a pinch of fresh ginger is grinded with a handful of basil leaves, mixed with honey and administered.
  • For Dry cough, fresh ginger juice is administered with turmeric, natural cane sugar and honey.
  • In Cold and Cough, a pinch of fresh ginger is boiled with 5 whole peppercorns in a cup of water, reduced to half and taken internally. Alternatively, hot infusion of cinnamon, fresh ginger mixed with natural cane sugar will help.
  • In Nausea, Vomiting and Bloating, oral administration of ginger, asafoetida, lemon and rock salt is beneficial.
  • In Anorexia, Loss of appetite, Dyspepsia fresh ginger is given with rock salt before meals. 
  • For flatulence, fresh ginger juice mixed with jaggery can be given before meals.
  • In Colic and heaviness of abdomen, dry ginger powder mixed with long pepper powder and hot water is administered.
  • In Acute Stomach-ache, ginger powder mixed with natural cane sugar is administered with warm water.
  • For Indigestion, either ginger powder with warm water or fresh ginger juice and lemon juice with rock salt are administered.
  • In Diarrhoea due to indigestion, Ginger powder is administered.
  • For high cholesterol or high triglycerides, fresh ginger can be taken with garlic daily.
Care should be taken while administering fresh ginger in people having menorrhagia, haemorrhage, bleeding haemorrhoids and hyperacidity. Also ginger should be used in low amounts during pregnancy, lactation and in children.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Ayurveda and Breast Feeding

In the mother breast milk is produced by Rasa Dhatu. Rasa dhatu is the first of the seven tissues produced after proper digestion and assimilation of the food. According to Charaka Samhita, the most authentic textbook of Ayurveda, breast milk provides vitality and increases ojas, which is responsible for immunity and growth of the baby. It nourishes the child physically and emotionally, and is easy to digest. Breast-milk is directly influenced by the food we eat.
Factors promoting secretion of breast milk 

  • Love and affection for the baby are essential for secretion of the breast milk. Hence, looking at, handling, carrying the baby promotes secretion of milk. Sucking by the baby is the most important stimulus for the secretion of breast milk.
  • Happy state of mind and adequate rest and sleep are important for increasing breast milk supply.
  • Nutritious diet with predominantly sweet and salty taste and having soothing effects on the body and tissues is important for increasing breast milk supply.
  • Exposure to polluted and infectious climatic conditions should be avoided, since any infection to the mother during lactation period can be easily transferred to the child.

Dietetics for lactating mother

  • Intake of the canned foods, hot, pungent, and spicy food recipes should be avoided, as these decrease milk secretion.
  • The best diet for a nursing mother is a simple, bland vegetarian menu.
  • Also, Ghee and oils should be taken in adequate amount to improve digestion, facilitate the evacuation of bowels, nourish the traumatized tissues, and subdue the vitiated Vata Dosha, which gets aggravated during the process of childbirth.
  • Milk, meat, ghee, oil, and plenty of fluids help to increase the quantity of breast milk.

Characteristic of breast milk

The milk should be whitish yellow or whitish in color, should have normal smell, taste and touch. Pure milk is free from discoloration and when put in a container of water it mixes evenly, neither produces froth nor streaks, neither floats nor settles down. This milk provides nourishment and good health to the child. If the milk sinks in water, it is heavy with Kapha (hence, Kapha provoking items have to be removed from the diet) If the milk floats, it is because of the airy Vata (the child will pass gaseous stools and suffer from gripes). If Pitta is in excess, there will be foul smell. 
Factors that decrease breast milk production from Ayurvedic Viewpoint

  • Ayurveda authors mentioned the causes for decrease in breast milk production and they are authenticated by modern medical science even today. They are
  • Excessive dieting and physical exercise and resulting fatigue.
  • Consumption of excessive dry food substances - without fat or oils.
  • Excessive sexual intercourse.
  • Becoming pregnant again after a short time or re-pregnancy.
  • Lack of emotional support, grief, sorrow and depression.
  • Anger, grief, absence of affection for the child and fear.
  • Fasting.

Ayurvedic Treatment for improving breast milk production

  • This description is given in Ayurveda to improve breast milk production.
  • Use food articles that can increase Kapha.
  • Use cereals like shastika shali rice (rice harvested in 60 days), barley, and wheat.
  • Meat or meat soup is also good. Avoid meat of buffalo and pork. Fish is good.
  • Cow's milk and curd are to be taken in diet.
  • One should be allowed to take the delicious food articles of one's choice. The diet should be rich in liquid, sweet, sour and salty taste.
  • More of cooked vegetables and pulses should be included in diet. Include licorice and bottle gourd in diet. Avoid mustard.
  • Sweet porridge and other substances prepared with cane sugar is beneficial.
  • Garlic and onion are also good stimulant. It can be added in vegetables, soups, pulses and other dishes.
  • Coconut is also a good supplement.
  • Milk is better processed with Rasayana or rejuvenative herbs of Ayurveda like Shatavari or Pippali (Long pepper).
  • The diet should have adequate fat in the form of oils and clarified butter.
  • Taking adequate milk in one's diet is also essential.
  • Foods that are dry, crispy, light in weight like potato chips, corn flakes, and popcorn should be avoided. Coffee, smoking, alcohol and junk food should not be taken.
  • Breast feeding mother should avoid excessive exercise. She should be at rest and should take proper sleep.
  • Fatigue - both physical and mental should be avoided. Excess walking, hard and tiring work should be avoided. One must take sufficient rest and good sleep.
  • Mind should be happy. Anger and grief are the states of mind that might interfere with the process of lactation. One should avoid sorrow, anger, fear.
  • Milk treated with black pepper and long pepper can also be administered.
  • Long pepper, dry ginger, haritaki can be given with ghee and milk.
  • Body massage with Bala taila or sesame oil daily is advised.
  • Asthapana basti (Therapeutic enema) with suitable herbs is recommended.    

Sowbhagya Shunti benefits

Sowbhagya Shunti is an effective Ayurvedic medicine used in postnatal Ayurveda care. It is prepared in herbal jam / granular form. It is also known as Soubhagya Shunti. Shunti refers to ginger. Ginger is the main ingredient of this medicine. It is used in the treatment of complications that arise during postnatal care of the mother. It improves digestion power. It is also effective in the treatment of sprue, diarrhea.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sutika Paricharya – Postnatal Care in Ayurveda

Postnatal period is filled with happiness & contentment on one hand and with physical & mental fatigue due to delivery on the other hand as the lady has become weak or emaciated after loss of blood and body fluid during delivery. Acharya Kashyapa narrating stage of labor says that her one foot is situated in this loka and other in Yamaloka. The lady after such a difficult process of delivery is advised suitable regimen to regain the lost vitality and helps her body to revert back to pre- pregnant state. This is explained as Sutika Paricharya in Ayurveda. The duration of ‘Sutikakala’ is usually 1½ months (45 days) after delivery. So postnatal care with regulated diet and mode of life should be followed during this period.
Puerperal woman should be given powdered pippali, pippalimoola, cavya, chitraka, sunthi with ghee / warm jaggery water for 2 – 3 days till lochia rubra (abnormal blood) is properly excreted. From 3rd to 7th day, – Vidarigandha group (vidari, gokshura, shatavari, punarnava, sariva, kaunch) mixed with ghee or milk should be administered. Massage with bala taila and oral administration of fats with medicines and decoctions should be done for 3 to 7 days after delivery. From 7th or 12th day cooked shali rice and medicated meat soup with barley, jujube and horse gram is advised. 
Abdomen should be massaged with Bala taila and wrapped properly with clean cloth. This wrapping helps in compression of abdomen thus prevents vata from aggravation. Liquid rice gruel mixed with ghee is advised. Irrigation or bath with hot water in the morning and evening is recommended. Puerperal woman should avoid exercise, coitus and anger.
From the fifth to the seventh months, drugs, which give strength to the uterine muscles and nourishment to the embryo, are advised. Ashwagandha and Guduchi are particularly good in this regard. They help to ensure optimal condition of the placenta and uterine tissues as well as of the umbilical cord. The diet should be one of rice, milk, butter and gee. Fruits that are orange or yellow in color are advocated such as mangoes, apples, carrots, amalaki etc. Leafy vegetables are also advised. 
Foods to avoid include heavy to digest foods such as wheat, meat (esp. red meat) and refined sugar. These foods severely decrease the digestive fire (agni) and produce mucus and toxins (ama). Deep fried foods are also heavy to digest and highly vata increasing. Excessive intake of sour foods, sauces, vinegars and hot spices like chilies increase Pitta and heat in the body and also reduce the digestive power.
Fermented or fermentation increasing foods such as alcohol, cheese (esp. old and hard ones) and yeast containing foods, sauces and beer. All fermented foods are sour in nature and therefore have pitta increasing qualities. Ice cold foods and drinks, fast food, canned food and microwaved foods are devoid of real nutritional value, deplete the digestive fire and produce toxins in the body.
General advice on diet during postnatal period
Cooked vegetables should be included in diet whereas raw vegetables / salads should be consumed in less quantities preceding lunch.
Pulses like yellow and split green gram, pigeon pea and red lentils are easy to digest, balancing and nourishing to the body. Chickpeas, black-eyed and kidney beans should only be taken very occasionally and must be thoroughly soaked and well cooked. Tofu can also be enjoyed.
Grains including rice, oat, rye, maize, millet, amaranth, quinoa and flours made from the above grains and buckwheat can also be used. Porridge made without milk, but with cinnamon and cardamom, coconut flakes, soaked raisins or stewed fruit is easy to digest, highly nutritious, warming and energizing. It is better to avoid bread.
Seeds and nuts such as pumpkin, sesame, poppy and sunflower seeds, pine nuts, almonds (without skin), walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios should be eaten in very small amounts as they are heavy to digest and Vata increasing. They are best soaked and made into a paste or milk. The flesh, milk, cream and flakes of coconuts can be used liberally.  
All sweet fruits such as apples, pears, apricots, grapes, cherries, plums, sweet berries, fresh figs, dates and also pomegranate are good. Dried fruits are okay, but they are best soaked.
Of all dairy products ghee (clarified butter) is the best - it can be cooked with and added to practically everything. Milk should be taken warm preferably, spiced with ginger, cardamom, cinnamon or turmeric. Good alternatives to cow‘s milk are soya milk and rice milk. Fresh cheeses are easier to digest then hard, old ones. They are best enjoyed with some black pepper to stimulate digestive fire.
One should avoid white meat. White meat is okay for consumption i.e. chicken and turkey. Fish is very hot in potency; so one can chose to eat fresh water fish rather than sea fish.
Refined sugar should be replaced by jaggery (solidified sugar cane juice), raw cane sugar, date sugar, molasses, rice syrup or honey. Honey is not heat stable and becomes poisonous for the body when heated, cooked or baked.
Black tea and coffee can be drunk, but herbal teas and decaffeinated coffee are better. Ginger tea made from fresh roots is warming, Agni (digestive fire) increasing; removes mucus and toxins but ginger tea should not be drunk regularly.
Most essential is the use of spices. Cumin, coriander, fennel and saffron are the best for balancing all doshas, increasing Agni (digestive fire) and should be used liberally. Black pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, mustard seeds, nutmeg, all fresh herbs (particularly fresh coriander) and onions can be used. Garlic and ginger should also be used in moderate quantities. Asafoetida reduces Vata and should be added when cooking pulses, cabbage and beans to reduce their gas producing properties. 
Great emphasis has been laid on postnatal care i.e. Sutika Paricharya in Ayurveda, as during this period the mother restores her health and strength. Thus Ayurvedic regimen during postnatal period will help to restore Agni (Digestive and metabolic fire), normalize Vata dosha, optimize the quality of breast milk and impart strength to the body.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Garbhini Paricharya - Antenatal Care in Ayurveda

Garbhini Paricharya or antenatal care is an important aspect in Prasooti Tantra (Ayurvedic Obstetrics), as it will help in the proper development of the foetus, its delivery, the health of the mother, facilitate easy delivery and healthy postpartum period. The care of the pregnant woman reflects on the quality and health of the offspring. Garbhini Paricharya explains in detail about the month wise dietary regimen and prescriptions (Maasaanumasika Pathya), substances that are beneficial to pregnancy (Garbhasthaapaka dravyaas) and activities and substances that are harmful (Garbhopaghaathakara Bhaavas). Various foods and activities that are prescribed and proscribed, according to their effects on the Garbha (Foetus) are also explained. 
As there is a constant development of the embryo there would also be difference in its requirements of food and nutrition. Thus a detailed month wise dietary regimen for the pregnant lady with a list of things that are prescribed and proscribed is explained in Ayurveda right from the first month upto the ninth month of pregnancy, which will help in proper growth of the foetus, promoting strength of the foetus as well as the pregnant lady, preventing common discomforts during pregnancy and leading to downward movement of Vata thereby helping in timely and easy delivery of the healthy child endowed with strong immunity and excellent qualities.  
Recommended diet and regimen for various months
Diet and herbs during First trimester
  • During the first three months of pregnancy, the fetus is in a formative stage and is nourished directly by ‘upsnehan’ or percolation; therefore, a mother-to-be should take light diet and plenty of liquids as well as juicy fruits, coconut water and milk. Ayurveda considers cow’s milk an ideal constituent in the diet of pregnant women as it is a source of calcium, lactose, clarified butter, moderate amounts of protein with anabolic properties that impart strength. 
  • Also most women experience nausea and vomiting during this period thus cannot take proper diet. Use of cold, sweet liquid diet and milk will prevent dehydration and supply nourishment.
  • Herbs such as Vidari, Shatavari, Yasthimadhu, Parushaka and Brahmi are anabolic and promote growth of the foetus. Cow’s milk, honey, butter and ghee are also recommended. Brahmi helps calm the nerves and is also a good prajasthapan (sustainer of pregnancy).
  • Ginger tea helps prevent morning sickness.
Diet and herbs during Fourth month
  • In fourth month – Milk with 1-tablespoon butter, Shashtika rice with curd, soup of meat of wild animals are advised. This is because fourth month onwards muscular tissue of foetus grows sufficiently requiring more protein, which is supplied by use of meat soup.
  • A mother will also instinctually crave tastes to balance her and the baby. This especially manifests during the fourth month when the child’s heart develops and the mother becomes known as ‘the one with two hearts’ (dauhrudini). It is said that the child’s desires are expressed through the mother’s cravings and the baby will be healthy if their desires are fulfilled with judicious moderation. Healthy alternatives may be substituted for unhealthy desires. For example a craving for chocolate, which is acidic, may be substituted for alkalising carob. Sugar cravings can be managed with maple or rice syrup.
Diet and herbs during Fifth month
  • Ghee, Shashtika rice cooked in milk, rice gruel, meat of wild animals, rice cooked with milk is advised.
Diet and herbs during Sixth month
  • Ghee medicated with Shatavari or Gokshura is recommended. Intake of cow’s ghee and Sweetened curd is also advised. During the end of second trimester most women suffer from edema of feet and other complications of water accumulation. Use of Gokshura which is a diuretic will prevent water retention and its complications.
Diet and herbs during Seventh month
  • Regimen advised is same as sixth month. Sweetened ghee, ghee medicated with Vidarigandha group of herbs (vidari, gokshura, shatavari, punarnava, sariva, kaunch). Vidarigandha group of drugs are diuretic, anabolic and relieve emaciation, mitigates pitta and vata, maintains health of mother and foetus.
  • Fat, salt and water should be taken in small quantities in the diet from the seventh month onwards.
  • During the seventh month, the uterus is enlarged due to growing foetus and produces stretching of abdominal skin, which causes itching, and striations. This is known as Kikkisa (Striae gravidarum). Apply the paste of sandalwood or paste made of Neem, basil and Manjistha or oil medicated with jasmine. Irrigation of abdomen and breasts should be done with decoction of neem, manjishta and basil.
Diet and herbs during Eighth month
  • Rice gruel prepared with milk and mixed with ghee and liquid diet is advised. This is the time when yastimadhu and satavari should be consumed regularly and the use of dried grapes is also beneficial. 
  • Anuvasana basti is also advised which helps in downward movement of vata. Most women experience constipation in late pregnancy due to pressure of gravid uterus over the bowels and effect of progesterone. Use of enema in eighth month will relieve constipation besides affect autonomous nervous system governing myometrium and help in regulating their function during labor.
Diet and herbs during Ninth month
  • Rice gruel mixed with ghee, meat soup added with fat and cooked rice mixed with fat is recommended. This will help in nourishment of mother, baby and formation of breast milk.
  • Daily bath with cold decoction prepared with pounded leaves that mitigate Vata like nirgundi, dashmool, bala are recommended.
  • Anuvasana basti and Yonipichu (Vaginal douche) are recommended for lubrication of cervix, vaginal canal and perineum.
  • Yoni pichu destroys pathogenic bacteria in vaginal canal and prevent puerperal sepsis, besides this softens vaginal passage and perineum thus helps in its relaxation during labor.
During pregnancy, a women’s calcium needs go up, so least 2-3 servings’ calcium-rich foods like green leafy vegetables, raisins, dates, guava and oranges should be taken every day. Interestingly, the suggested Ayurvedic diet correlates to modern nutrition recommended for pregnant women such as high protein, vitamins and minerals. Following Ayurvedic regimen from conception till delivery will nourish the pregnant lady and help in proper growth and development of the foetus as well. It also helps facilitate normal delivery with ease and without much pain, tension, fatigue and complications as well as improve the physical and psychological condition of the pregnant lady helping her to sustain the exhaustion of labor.