According to experts, one of the best ways to overcome high anxiety levels is to do breathing exercises that produce endorphins to help you calm down. However, it is important to know the correct breathing techniques, as just breathing through your chest may not be of any help, and in-turn, disturbs the stability of carbon dioxide and oxygen.
Here are some simple breathing techniques that may be of help during periods of high anxiety to help keeping it under control.
You can do this in sitting or standing position, but, ensure that your hands, shoulders, knees and jaw are relaxed.
Now begin breathing slowly through your nose until count of four. Keep your shoulders down, and allow your stomach to expand as you breathe in.
Hold the breath for a moment and release your breath slowly as you count five.
Repeat this exercise for 15 minutes, and you can notice that you are already calming down.
Bumble bee breathing (Bhramari Pranayama):
For this technique, preferably stay alone in a room, devoid of any noise or disturbance. This technique has been used for thousands of years for calming down the mind.
Begin by relaxing your shoulders. Close your throat slightly so that you can hear the south of your breath when breathing in and out.
Cover your ears with your thumbs and eyes with your fingers.
Keep your lips closed, but lightly, and your teeth slightly apart with your jaw relaxed and breathe out slowly, making a long, but low humming sound.
Repeat this five to ten times.
Deep breathing (Dirga Pranayama):
Begin by slowly breathing through your nose, while keeping your body loose and relaxed.
Place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest, as this exercise requires your stomach to expand more than your chest,
Exhale slowly through your mouth. As you blow air out, purse your lips slightly, while also keeping tongue and jaw relaxed. You can hear a soft ‘whooshing’ sound as you exhale.
Repeat this breathing for several minutes. But, ensure that your exhaling is as long and smooth as possible. When practised well, this long slow controlled breath will quickly help you feel its benefit.
Alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana):
Sit comfortably on the floor or in a chair and take a nice deep breath.
Place your thumb next to your right nostril and place your index finger and middle finger on the centre of your eyebrow. Hold your ring finger next to your left nostril. Keep your shoulders and back relaxed.
Begin by closing your right nostril with your right thumb, and inhale slowly through your left nostril. Count till five. Then close the left nostril with your ring finger and remove your thumb from the right nostril and exhale through this till the count of five.
Then close your left nostril with the ring finger and inhale gently through the right nostril. Count till five. Now close the right nostril with your right thumb and exhale through the left nostril till the count of five.
Repeat this five to ten times.
Soft, pink and healthy lips are a true asset to one’s personality, although not all are blessed with one. However, lips need only little care to make it appear naturally beautiful. Discussed below are solutions for common lip problems and tips for beautiful lips.
Remedy for Chapped / Dry Lips
Some causes of chapped and dry lips are over exposure to sunlight, less water consumption, lack of vitamin A, B and C, skin disorder of any kind, riboflavin deficiency, use of allergic cosmetic products, smoking or alcohol consumption.
- Cut down smoking / alcohol consumption completely
- Massage lips daily with almond oil or olive oil.
- Apply ghee, butter, or milk cream daily at bed time. This will keep lips soft.
- Drink enough water to keep your lips supple.
- Honey, being a natural moisturizer, can heal dry lips. Apply honey and wash it offer after sometime with plain water.
- Dip black tea bag in warm water and place it on lips to add moisture to dry lips
Remedy for dark lips
One of the most common reasons for dull and dark lips is smoking. Stress can also take its toll by making your lips dark. Also regular use of cosmetics and lipsticks, particularly use of low grade products, can make your lips dark. According to ayurveda, lips tend to crack, become painful and dark when vata dosha increases. This vitiated vata can be normalized by applying warm ghee infused with vata balancing herbs.
- Rub lemon juice to remove darkness of lips.
- Make a granular paste of olive oil and sugar. Apply it on your lips and rub this mixture in a round motion. This will work as exfoliator giving your lips a natural shine and colour.
- Cut down on excess coffee intake and beverages as they darken the lips.
- Applying milk cream regularly for months, will make lips pink.
- Grind white sandal powder and apply on lips to get pink lips
- Cut a piece of beetroot and rub gently on lips
- Make a paste of almond, and mix it with glycerine and apply on the lips
- Consume atleast 5 Indian gooseberries daily to remove darkness and add that pinkish glow to your lips.
- Drink tender coconut water every morning on an empty stomach
- Eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of water
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is the most common progressive and disabling neurological condition that affects young adults in the world today. It is an autoimmune disease in which insulation of the nerve cell fibres of the brain and spinal cord are destroyed causing various disturbances of Central Nervous System.
Ayurveda considers this condition as a body energy disorder. Improper digestion leads to the formation of toxins and blockage of minute channels of the body which in-turn obstructs movement of certain body energies, resulting in neuro-muscular disorders.
Ayurveda believes that MS occurs due to imbalance of Vata dosha. Vata imbalance can cause excess dryness in the body, resulting in degeneration of the tissues. It also affects co-ordination of movement as well as transmission of impulses through nerve fibres. The imbalance of vata can be due to various reasons such as irregular eating habits, excess intake of dry, cold and light foods or stale food, excessive travel, sudden emotional shock and recreational drug usage.
Early symptoms of the disorder may include changes in vision and muscle weakness. MS can progress steadily causing acute attacks, following by partial or complete reduction in symptoms. Symptoms can depend on the area of nerve deterioration, which leads to weakness or loss of control of one or more limbs recurrent facial palsy and disturbance in vision. Ayurveda believes that if imbalanced vata is the cause of MS, then bringing vata into balance is the ayurvedic treatment for MS. The advanced stage of MS, considered as the third stage, is paralysis, which may not be curable, but can only be maintained.
Ayurvedic treatment involves toxin elimination and restoration of digestive fire with the help of herbal formulas. Ayurvedic treatment of MS involves arresting the progress of the condition and helping to alleviate symptoms.
In majority of cases, those subjected to Ayurvedic treatment have responded with nearly immediate remission of symptoms, either partially or totally, and reduced frequency of exacerbations.
Ayurvedic treatment involves incorporating the Panchakarma therapy (detoxification, cleansing and rejuvenation) apart from incorporating diet modification, lifestyle modifications and herbs to balance the vata element.
Another major element that form part of ayurvedic treatment for MS is stress reduction therapies. Daily massage with herbal oils offers a soothing effect to the nervous system. The massage helps improve circulation in the body, and the herbal remedies nourish the tissues, speeding up repair process.
Counselling is suggested to relieve emotional stress. Psychological support is also advised for MS patients to maintain a positive outlook and prevent feelings of hopelessness.
- Panchakarma is a cleansing, detox and rejuvenation therapy that stimulates the re-growth of healthy tissues. Panchakarma treatment for MS involves three main steps – loosening the aggravated doshas from the body through steam and oil therapy. The second is to remove toxins from the body (by use of Basti procedure), which is an effective procedure in treating MS conditions. The third is to build a healthy tissue by adopting dietary and lifestyle modifications. Myelin Sheath is one of the tissues that is rebuilt by use of Panchakarma procedure, and with this, MS symptoms disappear and patients can begin their normal healthy life.
- MS patients are treated with ‘Pizhichil’ and ‘Shirodhara’, the two rejuvenative treatments for the nerves. Mostly patients treated with ‘Maruthua’ oil, an acclaimed formulation, have been found to offer immediate relief by way of symptoms.
- Herbs: Among the common remedies in Ayurveda for MS are herbs such as Avenasativa, lavendulaangustifolia, melissaofficinalis passifloraincarnata, and St. John’s Wort.
- Aloevera gel or aloevera juice is used for detoxification process and in improving metabolism of the patient suffering from MS. Moreover, natural vitamins and minerals in aloevera helps in strengthening the immune system.
- Green Tea has huge potential in prevention and treatment of neuro-degenerative diseases. The ECGG component present in this tea helps inhibit T cells the immune cells that attack their own tissue.
- Triphala is the key ayurvedic formula that helps restore vata imbalance and regulate bowel movements and calm the nervous system.
- Ashwagandha, Shatavari and Bala help protect healthy tissues.
- Jatamansi and Licorice helps in calming the nervous system and maintain vata balance.
Yoga: Pranayama or breathing exercise invariable helps MS patients. About 80 percent of oxygen that we breath is utilized by the nervous system. So deep breathing refreshes the nerves and improves moods. Practise Pranayama daily, and drink minimum 10 glasses of plain water a day.
Diet: MS can get aggravated due to improper diet. Some foods can make vata extremely active and worsen MS symptoms. Therefore, a diet comprising fruits and vegetables is advised by some ayurvedic experts as part of remedy for MS.
MS patients are advised to avoid gluten completely. They are also advised to cut out refined sugar, animal fats, dairy products and margarines, and caffeine. Consume foods as fresh as possible, consume only foods cooked in olive oil, have more of raw vegetables and fresh fruits. They are also advised to include dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds as part of their diet.
Lifestyle modifications: Suggested lifestyle modifications include
- Eating fresh foods at a fixed time daily
- Eating with a happy state of mind
- Avoiding a hurried lifestyle
- Take time to relax
- Have a warm oil massage before bath
- Keep the body warm with sesame oil massage during cold whether
- Continue brisk walking
- Practice Pranayama regularly
Ayurveda, this week, took the digital route, to reach the global audience. The Kerala Tourism in India has launched two e-books on the ancient Indian healing system.
The e-books on Ayurveda are “Panchakarma: Ayurveda’s Mantra of Rejuvenation” and “Ayurveda: The Mantra of Niramaya”.
Panchakarama, a holistic rejuvenation therapy, combines five therapeutic actions to detoxify the body and revitalize the body system, while Niramaya is an introduction to the medicine system using texts from ancient scripts to modern research papers.
The e-books on Ayurveda targets people around the world to help them learn about age-old system of medicine, so that, they can come to Kerala and experience its health benefits, said A.P. Anil Kumar, State Tourism Minister, when launching the two e-books here.
“The Mantra of Niramaya” had won the National Tourism Award in 2003-04 for the best publication in English.
There were also other e-books being released on yoga, socio-cultural history of Kerala and yoga and healthy lifestyle.
These e-books will be available at online stores for purchase for easy reading. Purchased by Invis multimedia, these e-books will be available for easy reading on e-book readers, computer screens or mobile phones. The digitisation of the four coffee table books was sponsored by Kerala Tourism. Those purchasing the Ayurveda e-books will also get a free e-brochure on Kerala tourism.
There are several evidences in recent days which indicate that yoga therapy can do what antidepressants do to unhappy minds.
A recent article in a newspaper narrated the case of a 64-year old man, who suffered symptoms of depression mimicking dementia. He was against taking any strong anti-depressant medicines. Psychiatrists at NIMHANS (National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences) offered a combination of yoga and meditative therapy along with mild doses of anti-depressants. Within four weeks of treatment, he appeared a changed man, and became more warm and sociable.
According to Dr. B.N. Gangadhar – Programme Director at NIMHANS’ Advanced Centre for Yoga, the effect of yoga on mental health is no longer just anecdotal. There is sufficient evidence to prove that Yogasanas can influence electrical and chemical transmissions in the brain.
NIMHANS further conducted several other clinical researches, which also involved inmates of an old age home, who were subjected to six months of yoga therapy. The MRI scans that were taken before and after the therapy sessions showed an increase in size of ‘hippocampus’, the brain’s memory index. It was larger than before, as there was increase in grey matter.
The hippocampus is generally vulnerable to stress and atrophy as seen in patients with schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and severe depression. Yoga acts as an antidepressant, he said.
Meanwhile, the Delhi-based Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Science (IHBAS) has also begun offering yoga therapy for patients with mild to moderate schizophrenia and depression.
Dr. Nimesh Desai, Head IHBAS said that it has been found that functioning of brain neurotransmitters have become more synchronised with yoga therapy, as it helps in release of endorphins and controls release of stress hormone cortisol.
Dr. Desai further said that although yoga therapy may not be suitable for all mental illnesses, it is not recommended for use against obsessive compulsive disorder, early schizophrenia, severe depression and anxiety, as it can complicate symptoms. However, it is best suited for use against mild to moderate depression, schizophrenia and anxiety, when performed under medical supervision.
It is said that specific yoga packages for patients with psychosis based on Panchakosha model was found useful. These include 8 to 10 asanas and pranayam. Among the most useful of these asanas are ‘Bhujangasana’ and ‘Trataka’. The analysis concluded that yoga therapy reduced psychotic symptoms and depression, improved cognition and quality of life and produced neurobiological changes such as increasing oxygen levels, a powerful hormone associated with love and communication.
We are all well aware that addiction of any kind is bound to leave its own negative impacts on those who may knowingly or unknowingly get addicted to them. General addictive habits that can cause serious harm in the long-term are use of substances like tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. Such habits not only affect the individual’s family alone, but the society as a whole.
It is generally believed that addiction or intoxication of any kind is a social and psychological problem, which would require a holistic approach, keeping in mind the affected person’s socio-economic condition and atmosphere in mind.
Ayurveda adopts a systematic approach in treatment of such cases and recommends herbal medicines, personal counseling, exercises and meditation, as part of the therapy programme.
The Ayurvedic way of diagnosis involves detailed understanding of the individual’s characteristics, habits, sleep patterns, body type, hereditary traits, as a first step. This is followed by understanding of tridoshas within an individual. Diagnosis may also include clinical tests. Other techniques used for diagnosis in Ayurveda are examining of tongue, nails, eye diagnosis and diagnosing the pulse. These provide vital clues about nature and tendencies of the individual.
The de-addiction treatments in ayurveda include:
The popular Panchakarma therapy is used to target the uprooting toxins in the patient’s body. These are potent therapies generally performed under expert supervision.
Virechanam therapy involves intake of a mixture containing medicinal plants and their parts. It helps eliminate the toxic substances from the body through rectum. The procedure involves use of herbs such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and Embelia and others.
Vamanam therapy is also a popular cleansing therapy which involves use of the upper track leading to the mouth to cleanse the toxins caused due to indigestion of food.
These therapies follow the Panchakarma treatments which purify the body. These set of procedures further nourishes and strengthen the body after Panchakarma. For addiction-related problem, Rasayana treatments include dietary changes and consuming oral herbal medicines.
A range of herbal medicines and combinations are used as part of de-addiction treatment, which needs oral administration. Chamomile and Ashwagandha are two main herbs used in healing the lungs. They help in clearing the lungs and healing the internal tissues. Also, congestion relieving herbs such as ginger and pepper, honey or lemon are also prescribed. To reduce further dependency and craving for alcoholic drinks, herbal substitutes are advised, which are prepared using herbal elements such as barberry, turmeric and dry ginger.
The ayurvedic type of treatment involves providing adequate nutrition and resting the affected organs, and therefore, a proper diet is essential in such cases. A diet rich in carbohydrates and proteins and low in fat and high in fibre are generally recommended. Also, intake of tea/coffee is to be reduced, while alcohol intake is completely banned. Consuming large quantities of fresh fruits during the first thirty days of treatment, particularly grapes, dates and apples, helps limit desires. Consuming plenty of food containing vitamin B6 such as nuts, whole grains and green vegetables are advised.
Few other handy tips to try: Mix four ounces of water with an equal quantity of celery juice and consume daily during the first month of treatment.
Mix an ounce of tartar cream into a glass of juice and drink it every night to reduce tobacco craving.
Ensure that the patient receives atleast half-an-hour of exercise daily.
Find more pleasurable distractions that will divert attention from alcohol or tobacco and allow time of at least ten to fifteen minutes for the cravings to pass.
Take help from a friend who could come to your rescue whenever you feel the urge to use these addictive substances.
Practice deep breathing when cravings are over-powering.
Chew gum, whole cloves or jelly beans as alternative to smoking.
Finally, remember that recovering from any addiction is not an easy task, and requires plenty of patience, intervention and support of family and friends. When practiced together with counseling and meditation, it may help in making your task easier.
Common cold and flu are one of the most common illnesses which all of us have suffered from at some point of time in our lives. Generally, cold and flu improves within a week to 10 days without taking any medicine.
The general common flu symptoms include common cold (more severe than usual), body ache, headache, chills, high grade fever, lethargy and weakness, sore throat and cough. Ayurveda refers to this condition as ‘Vaata Kaphaja Jwara’.
Detailed here, are Ayurveda’s approach to common flu like conditions, and treatments suggested to get your body back to the condition of good health at the earliest.
Ayurvedic treatment for cold and flu involves administration of ayurvedic drugs, supplements, herbs, and adopting lifestyle measures that are effective for the condition.
Use a decoction made of any one of the combinations of Tulsi, Adaraka, Pippali (long pepper), Kali Mirch (black pepper), Haldi (turmeric) and Guduchi (Giloy) in morning and evening.
Ayurvedic medicines such as Sudarshanaghana vati, Sudharshana Churna, Samshamani vati, works by way of improving the host defence mechanism.
Taking half-a-teaspoon of Sitopaladi Churna with honey both in morning and evening for 3 to 5 days, helps in relief from cough.
Ayurveda suggests medicines like Sudharshan Danwati and Sudarshan Churan made of gilolya for mild flu-like symptoms, which works like paracetamol.
Having one tablet of Naradiya Lakshmi Vilasa Rasa, for 3 to 5 days, helps reduce fever to a great extent.
Vamana (emisis) procedure of Panchakarma may also be taken under observation of an expert physician, if necessary.
The delicious Aurvedic Chyawanprash, can be taken on daily basis to strengthen lungs and build immunity. It also helps rejuvenate all body tissues, increasing strength and virility, and alleviate respiratory conditions.
For persistent colds associated with flu, try Trikatu, made of ginger, black pepper and long pepper, which helps dry up mucous and clear channels. It is traditionally taken with raw honey.
Natural home remedies
Drink fresh ginger tea, as it increases circulation, promotes sweating, digests mucus, and relieves congestion. In fact, for chronic mucous, fasting on ginger tea for two to three days helps in speedy recovery.
Mix half-a-teaspoon each of fresh ginger juice and honey and take thrice a day.
Soak 2 parts of fresh ginger root, 3 parts cinnamon, and pinch of cardamom in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Add half-a-teaspoon of honey, when it cools down a little. Drink this several times a day.
Crush ¼ teaspoon of fresh ginger root with 8 basil leaves, 2 peppercorns, 2 cardamom seeds, 1 cup of water, ½ teaspoon turmeric powder, 2 cloves, and 5 mint leaves. Boil, filter and add one teaspoon of honey. Drink thrice a day.
Take one mashed onion, extract the juice. Add a tablespoon of honey. Mix well, and drink a teaspoon of it thrice a day.
To one glass of hot water, add 4 teaspoon each of fenugreek powder and lemon juice, 1 teaspoon each of honey and ginger paste, mix well, and boil for 15 minutes. This remedy improves sweating and reduces fever.
Diet, lifestyle modification and prevention
Avoid kapha-provoking diet like cold food, cold drinks, curd, fruit juice, ice cream fermented food, ice-cream etc.
Eat light, warm and simple foods such as soups. Avoid congestive foods such as sugar, fried foods, dairy, bananas, meat and yeast. Remain hydrated, and warm water is best for this.
Increase garlic intake, as it helps restrict growth of influenza (flu) virus.
Use a neti pot, as it helps prevent cold and hay fever during the spring. Do steam inhalation regularly, and if possible, add few drops of Eucalyptus, crushed ginger root, to this water before inhalation. This helps clear respiratory tract.
Get plenty of rest and practice Bhastrika to clear sinuses.
Lastly, it is a known fact that flu is a contagious condition which can easily spread through cough or sneezing of the infected person. Try not to share handkerchiefs or other common items with the patient.
Summer is here, and it is time to keep ourselves updated about the various remedies available, in case of sunburn. Most over-the-counter topical applications for sunburns contain steroids. Listed here are some natural alternatives, including ayurvedic and home remedies to treat sunburn.
Sunburn is an acute inflammatory skin condition, caused due to over exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Ayurveda believes that people with pitta constitutions are more susceptible to sunburn.
Apply aloevera cream, or if you have access to an aloe vera plant, cut open and take out gel from the plant and rub on the sun burnt area.
Coconut oil is effective for soothing mild sunburns.
Apply tikta ghrita topically.
Take equal portions of sandalwood and turmeric and make a paste of these herbs with little cool water. Apply gently on the sun burnt area for a cooling effect.
Dip a guaze pad into cold cow milk and apply it directly on the sun burnt area for a cooling effect.
Make a paste of barley, turmeric and yogurt taken in equal proportions and apply.
Apply cool compresses/baths and soothing gel/creams containing aloe vera or sandal oil or sandal paste, or crushed lettuce pulp or Rose oil or mixture of olive oil and vinegar or coconut oil.
Ayurvedic oils such as Ksheerabala, Madhuyashtyadi, Chandanadi, Dhanwantharam, Pinda Thailam, can be used as per medical advice.
Ayurvedic medicines like Triphala, Manjishtha, Amalaki, Usheer, Saariva, Mandukpami, Haridra, and Gokshur are effective in case of sunburns.
Ayurvedic ointment made with combination of Saariva, Manjistha, Usheer, Chandan, Yashtimadhuk, Haridra and Mandukparni is beneficial when applied to affected parts.
Few other specific medicines used in Ayurveda to treat sunburns are Chandanadi-Vati, Rogya-Vardhini, Chandrakala-Ras, Kamdudha-Ras, Chandan-Bala-Laxadi oil, Mahanarayan oil, Panch-Tikta-Ghrut, Yashtimadhuk Ghrut, Shata-Dhout-Ghrut, Saarivasav, Usheerasav and Gandhak-Rasayan.
Mix two teaspoons of tomato juice and four tablespoons of buttermilk and apply on affected area. Leave for about half an hour and wash off.
Using cold water several times a day in the affected areas can be useful.
Cucumber is an excellent cooling agent. During sunburn, keep chilled cucumber slices on it or dab some cucumber juice with the help of cotton ball. You can also grate the chilled cucumber and apply on the affected part of the skin.
Apply refrigerated rose water on the skin to soothe the sunburn.
Make a paste of calamine powder with rosewater or cucumber juice and apply regularly on the skin.
Apply thick chilled curd on the affected part, or it can also be applied after mixing with calamine powder or sandalwood powder.
Buttermilk is also a good option to heal sunburn. Wash off the effaced skin with chilled buttermilk to heal it.
To prevent sunburn:
The best way to prevent sunburn is to minimise exposure to sunlight between 12 noon and 4pm when the sun’s strength is at its peak. If you have to step out of home during this time, limit your exposure to not more than half an hour.
Before going out in the sun, apply a few drops of neem oil mixed with sesame oil which works as natural sun blocks. Drink plenty of coconut water.
Apply neem oil on your skin before and after shower. Adding few drops of sesame oil to neem oil is also good. Alternatively, you can apply coconut oil.
Applying a paste of Indian aloe before stepping out in the sun can serve as an effective protection.
Avoid eating spicy and fermented food and reduce consumption of carbonated beverages, caffeine, oily and spicy food.
Drink extra fluids and keep your skin well-hydrated. Drinking water boiled with root of Hemidesmus indicus, camphor powder added to boiled and cooled water is good. Butter milk and mango juice are also effective in keeping summer heat at bay.
Also, sandalwood paste works as an excellent sunscreen, and protects the skin from sunburns.
Finally, drink plenty of water before stepping out in the sun. Also, drink lemon water, orange or watermelon juice or coconut water during the day, as they all keep the body hydrated and reduce the harmful effects of the sun.