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.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Care During Preconception and Pregnancy - Ayurvedic View

Charaka Samhita states ‘Evamkurvati hi arogya-bala-varna-samvahana-sampadamupetamjnatinamshreshtamapatyamjanayati’. If a pregnant woman is taken care of as advised, she will give birth to a child who does not have any diseases - a healthy, physically strong, radiant and well nourished baby.
Advice on Preconception
Just as a healthy seed bears healthy fruit, if the parent’s sperm and ovum are healthy then the child is more likely to inherit a healthy gene and immunity. Conversely if parents conceive when mentally or physically weak this may impact negatively on the child’s condition. Ayurveda suggests parents observe a preconception regime called Vajikarana. The aim of Vajikarana is to enable a couple to produce healthy offspring. About six months before conception an Ayurveda physician prescribes a personalized purification and rejuvenation regime for the couple to ensure optimal ovum and sperm quality and quantity. For a couple to produce healthy offspring, both the partners should be careful about their diet, activities, behavior and emotional status before as well as after conception.
Men are advised to take aphrodisiac herbs like Ashwagandha, Kaunch that improve virility. Women are given cleansing and fortifying herbs to improve health of uterus like Shatavari and Ashoka. The couple is advised on diet and lifestyle, suitable herbs, Panchakarma, yoga and meditation. There are also many compound formulations suggested for optimum fertility. General diet recommended include warm cow’s milk, ghee, yoghurt, black sesame seeds, black gram, green gram, honey, dates, almonds, onions and saffron. Hot spices should be avoided. Daily self massage and sufficient rest is observed. When a couple observes this advice, a healthy offspring is produced.
As plants reproduce from healthy seeds, so should we nurture the foetus with a healthy diet, lifestyle and with wisdom and kindness for others. Ayurveda compares human conception to the germination and sprouting of a seed and its transformation into a sapling. When the sperm and ovum unite and the soul enters the union, an embryo (garbha) is created. For healthy growth of a sapling, four factors namely Bija (Healthy seed), Kshetra (Proper soil), Ritu (Suitable season conducive to growth of sapling) and Ambu (Water) are necessary. In the same way for achievement of conception and proper growth of foetus, 4 factors namely Bija (Healthy sperm and ovum), Kshetra (Uterus), Ritu (Ovulation) and Ambu (Nourishing substances).
When the sperm and ovum unite and the soul enters the union, it becomes an embryo (Garbha). So also, those of antenatal care - the husband and other family members are advised to take care of the pregnant woman's diet and encourage activities that are dear to her and beneficial to the fetus or child growing in her body.
Garbhini Parichaya
The development of the fetus in the uterus is discussed in the Charaka Samhita in the section called Garbhava Kranti, and special regimens are prescribed for each month in the subsection Garbhini Paricharya. Aurveda explains the basic guidelines for an easy delivery that has to be followed during the nine months of pregnancy.
General Rules from Inception of Pregnancy to Delivery
The general rules of antenatal and postnatal care are explained in Ayurveda texts. The husband and other family members are advised to oversee the pregnant woman's diet and encourage activities that are healthy and enjoyable to her and beneficial for the child developing in her body. Guidelines regarding diet, activities, behavior and mental activity (ahar, vihar, achar and vichar, respectively) are also detailed. The goal is the protection and nourishment of both the growing fetus and the mother.
In general a pregnant woman should eat cooked, liquid, unctuous, nourishing, warm, fresh, organic meals enriched with all six tastes of sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent in the right proportion and supplemented with herbs and spices which increase appetite and digestive power. The food she eats should be delicious to her. In the latter phase of pregnancy the stomach is squashed hence small, frequent meals are usually more digestible. She should avoid skipping meals, fasting and eating on the run or in stressful circumstances. Try to eat at regular times in the day. Don’t eat too late at night and leave 1-2 hours before going to sleep. Foods to avoid include red meat, alcohol, carbonated drinks, caffeine, garlic, mushrooms, fermented foods, leftovers, dry food, heavily processed and artificial foods.
The mother-to-be should always try to be in a happy mood, be clean, neat and well dressed, wear simple clothes and ornaments, engage in peaceful and benedictory activities, and listen to relaxing music. She should also avoid excessive sex particularly during early and late pregnancy, overeating or fasting, speaking in a loud voice, sleeping during the day time and staying up late at night, wearing tight clothes and tight belts, sights which give rise to feelings of sorrow, anger, fear or pain, chemical cosmetics, long walks, negative emotions, traveling in vehicle on rough roads, squatting for a long time or sitting in an uncomfortable position or on a hard surface, lifting heavy things or remaining in a bending position for a long time, beholding natural urges, and visiting abandoned places.
Everything (diet, mood, emotions) that affects the mother impacts on the baby thus she should surround herself with positive influences and avoid detrimental stimuli. It's so important that the mother be happy and healthy, for then the baby will be happy and healthy, and will have the, best possible start in life. Techniques such as Abhyanga, the mild and therapeutic Ayurvedic massage are recommended for the mother to be under the guidance and supervision of a qualified Ayurvedic physician. The massage and other techniques balance Vata dosha, prevent fatigue and relieve tension.
Treatment of Diseases in a Pregnant Woman
Any disease occurring in a pregnant woman should be treated with drugs that are mild in action, compatible and safe to the fetus. Panchakarma (detoxifying procedures) should not be advocated, except Anuvasana basti (oil enema) in the eighth and ninth months of pregnancy.
Ayurveda also describes nine diseases, which are caused because of the pregnant status of the woman. These diseases are peculiar to pregnancy and are called garbhopadravas. They are nausea, anorexia, vomiting, and dryness of mouth, fever, edema, anemia, diarrhea and retention of urine. Their specific treatments are also elaborately described. As far as possible, medication should be avoided during the first three months of pregnancy. Only symptomatic treatment with very mild herbs and a suitable diet should be offered.
Thus, Preconception and Pregnancy care through Ayurveda will not only help in birth of a healthy child with strong immunity but also make a positive difference in the health of the mother-to-be.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Clearing of bowels is a step towards good health. There is a feeling of being uncomfortable and routine work is hampered when the bowels of a person are not cleared. Though the disease of constipation has not been discussed separately in Ayurvedic texts, its occurrence as a symptom of various diseases and ways to tackle it has been described. Constipation is mentioned in Ayurvedic texts by the name of Vibandha meaning obstructing or binding of stool. Vibandha occurs when something is wrong somewhere in our food habits. Ayurveda internal medicines along with changes in diet and lifestyle help relieve constipation. 
Simple tips to relieve and prevent constipation
  • One should increase water intake. Drink small sips of water, preferably warm water at frequent intervals.   
  • Take fiber rich diet. Diet should compose mainly of freshly cooked vegetables, soups and fresh fruits.
  • Cereals such as barley, wheat, oat, whole grain, old rice, pulses cooked until tender soft such as green gram, pigeon pea, cooked vegetables mainly all green leafy vegetables, carrot, radish, bottle gourd, cucumber and fruits mainly all citrus fruits, papaya, apple, figs, pears, prunes, berries are beneficial. So one should increase their intake.  
  • Intake of foods like frozen food, black lentil, white bread, and snacks like chips, pizza, spicy and oily diet, excess cheese, fried food, raw food and carbonated drinks should be minimized.   
  • Buttermilk is best. Yogurt is also good. One can take them during the day but avoid at night. 
  • One can drink a cup of warm milk or warm water added with little ghee at bed time.  
  • Soak 1 tbsp raisins in water overnight and eat it next morning.
  • One should include sufficient ghee or oil in diet.
  • Regular exercise is a must. 
  • Walk few steps after every meal, especially after dinner. 
  • One should not suppress the natural urges especially feces.  
  • Staying awake late in night and rising late in the morning also affects bowel movement. So one should try to go to bed before midnight and wake up early.  
Constipation is a common problem in today's world mainly due to present day lifestyle. Constipation may manifest in different ways - not passing bowels even once a day or a sense of incomplete evacuation. constipation is a symptom, not a disease but it can be a forerunner of serious diseases. Timely treatment is very much essential. Constipation can be  successfully managed through Ayurveda and simple modifications in diet and lifestyle.