With an alarming increase in the number of diabetes cases by the day, more people are looking at alternative remedies to control these lifestyle diseases. Although yoga and meditation are not a complete cure for diabetes, it definitely helps in keeping blood sugar levels in check in a more natural manner.
Diabetes is generally categorized into Insulin Dependent Diabetes (IDDM) and Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM). While the former is dependent on insulin, as it is the mainstay of therapy, the latter, which majority of the population have, does not always require insulin for its treatment and can be managed by oral anti-diabetic medications.
In diabetics, pancreas fail to produce adequate quantity of insulin, which is responsible for maintaining and controlling blood sugar levels, leading to diabetes.
Various studies have confirmed that yoga can positively stimulate pancreas, which is associated with cells related to insulin. Apart from pancreas, yoga also has an impact on the functioning of liver and kidneys. It does so by causing a mind-body co-ordination, which improves one’s emotional and mental stability.
Some particular asanas, breathing techniques, and mudras have an impact on pancreas, leading to stimulation of blood glucose levels.
Makarasana – stimulates kidney function, activates bladder and digestive system and counters diabetes.
Halasan – compresses abdomen, stimulates pancreas, promotes healthy thyroid and prostate gland functioning.
Matsyendrasan – tones spinal nerves, ligaments improves digestion, stimulates pancreas
Dhanurasana – reduces abdominal fat and obesity.
Paschimottasan – impacts spine and internal abdominal organs.
Mudras & kriyas: Pran Mudra, Apan Mudra and Surya Mudra are beneficial to diabetics. Kriyas that are beneficial would be the Nauli kriya and Danda Kriya.
Breathing techniques: Breathing techniques like pranayama helps, especially Kapalabhati and Anulom Vilom.
On the whole, a complete yoga practice, with its backbends, forward bends, controlled breathing, invigorating and calming poses are a balanced exercise regime to counter diabetes.
Regular practice of yoga and meditation removes stress. This in turn reduces the amount of glucagon and improves the action of insulin. Yoga is successful as it creates a balance in the nervous and endocrine system, which in-turn influences all other systems and organs of the body.
When practising meditation sitting in the Siddhasana pose, the energy is directed from lower psychic centres upward through spine, thereby stimulating brain and the whole nervous system. It redirects blood circulation to lower spine and abdomen, toning the lumbar region of the spine, pelvis and abdominal organs, in-turn stimulating pancreas and helping diabetic patients.
According to new study, spices and herbs not only add flavour to food, but also helps boost heart health. According to nutritionists, the antioxidant-rich ingredients help improve triglyceride levels and other blood lipids. Generally triglyceride levels shoot up after eating a high-fat meal, which in-turn increases the risk of heart disease.
However, if a high antioxidant-rich spice blend is included into the meal, the triglyceride levels may reduce by 30 percent, in comparison to eating the same meal without the spice blend.
The Researchers took into consideration three categories of studies – spice blends, cinnamon and garlic. For instance, they looked into various cinnamon studies on both diabetics and non-diabetics. It was found that cinnamon helped diabetics by reducing cholesterol and other blood lipids considerably, but, cinnamon did not have as much effect on non-diabetics.
The garlic studies reviewed were inconclusive. Across the studies, the researchers noticed an 8 percent decrease in total cholesterol levels with garlic consumption, apart from 38 percent decrease in risk of heart diseases in adults over 50 years of age.
In the study conducted, meals were prepared on two separate days for six men of ages 30 and 65, who were over-weight, but otherwise healthy. The antioxidant culinary spice blend included by the researchers were garlic powder, oregano, rosemary, cinnamon, cloves, paprika, ginger, turmeric and black pepper to the test meal.
The researchers observed the participants for three hours after every meal through blood tests every 30 minutes. It was noticed that the antioxidant activity in the blood improved 13 percent after the men ate the test meal rich in antioxidant culinary spices and herbs and it helped in preventing cardiovascular diseases, in comparison to those who did not.
Apart from these spices, few herbs that Ayurveda recommends for improving heart health are:
Alfalfa: Alfalfa can be taken in the form of juice, and has been found to be very effective in most arterial problems and heart diseases. The juice of fresh leaves of this plant can be used, but, as it is very strong and potent, it can be taken with carrot juice combination, and this intensifies the benefits of each juice.
Arjuna: The bark of the plant and preparations made from it, have considerable stimulant action on the heart. It is often considered as a cardiac tonic. As a heart stimulant, the decoction of thick portion of the bark made with milk is administered to the patient every morning on empty stomach, or, its powder in doses of 0.75 to 2gms is used with milk and jiggery.
Indian Gooseberry (Amla): Indian gooseberry is an effective remedy for heart disease. It tones up functions of all organs of the body, builds health and destroys disease causing elements, and builds energy.
Kantakari: Kantakari is also known as Indian Solanum. The drug is used in treating heart ailments, chest pain and other muscular pains. The herb is used in the form of confection, decoction (15ml to 60ml) or juice (2ml to 8ml)
Lemon Balm: Lemon Balm is a perennial herb from mint family. It is used alone or as part of various multi-herb combination products. As the herb is effective in controlling palpitations and high blood pressure, it helps in improving overall heart health too.
The Indian Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, as a first step in keeping his promise to promote yoga and traditional Ayurveda medicine to the world, recently established a separate Department named AAYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Sidha and Homeopathy), which was earlier part of the health ministry.
Shri Narendra Modi has managed to garner the support of more than 50 nations, including US, China, Sri Lanka and Canada, to observe an International Yoga Day. On 11th November 2014, the Prime Minister created a separate ministry ‘AAYUSH’ (meaning ‘long life’ in Sanskrit), which includes Department of Ayurveda and Yoga, among others, and appointed Shripad Yesso Naik as the Minister.
This is no-doubt an acknowledgement and accomplishment to yoga and Ayurveda communities globally. Prime Minister’s call for attention towards Indian health remedies using spiritual and physical yoga practices which amplify your core inner strengths may just shift the way countries choose to rule and take care of their people.
As such, yoga and Ayurveda have a global fan following, and now, with a ministry of their own after the expansion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Council of Ministers, there is much curiosity over what exactly this particular portfolio entails.
The new Minister, Mr. Naik, said that AAYUSH is a way of medicine that belongs to India. After the British came to India, they suppressed Indian medicine and tried to focus on allopathy. Although there may be scepticism over the efficacy of such a ministry, it is in keeping with PM Modi’s focus on yoga.
During his first address at the United Nations General Assembly, Shri Modi not only urged more people to practice yoga, but suggested observing an International Yoga Day.
Mr. Naik too agreed that he practices yoga daily and prefers Ayurveda. The ‘yoga ministry’, as said by all, has managed to draw in one and all. Naik credited Baba Ramdev with introducing India’s glorious spiritual traditions to the world, while also popularizing yoga and Ayurveda across the globe.
He further said that Swami Ramdev has re-established India’s cultural superiority over the rest of the world by popularizing yoga and Ayurveda and waking up everyone to their benefits.
This is why Patanjali Yogpeeth is synonymous with yoga and Ayurveda, said Naik, during a programme organized by Patanjali Yogpeeth.
The Union Minister said that the government would collaborate with Patanjali Yogpeeth and connect each village in the country and the whole world with yoga and Ayurveda.
Speaking on this occasion, Swami Ramdev said Yoga and Ayurveda are considered alternative systems of therapy so far, but, will soon become the ‘national system of medicine’.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his own words, said that “Ayurveda is a way of life. If the world can accept yoga, it can also accept Ayurveda”.
Yoga has already gained legitimacy and in the next few years with increase in stature of India, it is possible that the world will also turn to Ayurveda. Now, with AAYUSH, the herbal medicines, naturopathy, and meditation too will get a real shot at going main-stream.
A good head massage keeps the nervous system healthy. Applying oil to hair and massaging is one of the ways to improve hair strength, and hair quality, according to Ayurvedic principles. Apart from this, applying hair oil has several other benefits including calmness of mind, sleep improvement, headache remedy, helps people suffering from baldness, prevents premature greying of hair, stress, insomnia and other diseases associated with nervous system.
The scalp and hair can be massaged with warm oil, preferably infused with hair-nourishing herbs. Ayurvedic oils meant for hair and scalp massage usually include one or more hair-friendly herbs to derive the benefit of massage. The herbs are generally slow-cooked in carrier oil and strained, and kept ready for use.
Although there are plenty of choices when it comes to hair oils, choosing the one that suits your hair type and body condition is what Ayurveda focuses on.
Hair types, time and application of hair oils
You are said to fall under Vata hair type if your hair is thin, dry, frizzy and prone to split ends. If you have thin and fine hair, which is prone to premature greying, then you have pitta hair type. Those with Kapha hair will have hair that is thick and oily.
Almond oil with sesame oil as the base is said to be good for those with vata hair type, as both the oils are very nourishing for the scalp and helps reduce stiffness in the scalp.
For the pitta hair types, a cooling coconut oil may be the ideal choice, as coconut is pitta-pacifying and can retard hair issues associated with aggravation of pitta dosha.
For those with kapha hair, sesame or olive oil are good choices, as olive oil has purifying properties that help keep pores open.
It is said that head massage or hair oil application done at evening time is most beneficial. When you divide the day time into three parts, evening time is dominated by vata dosha. However, if sesame oil is applied in the evening, it will calm down vata dosha. Coconut oil is best applied in the mornings, as it has the tendency to increase kapha/vata when applied at night.
To improve the quality of hair and to promote hair growth and prevent early greys and split hairs, it is better to apply hair oil at night and take a warm water head bath on next day morning. But, applying hair oil on the day after bath is not desirable as the hair may attract dust and grime when you go out in the sun. For better hair growth, oil can be applied to scalp, hair root and length of the hair. It is good to warm up the oil a little before applying as it helps in better absorption.
Benefits of hair oils
Sesame oil is the preferred base of oil for almost all massage oils in ancient traditional Ayurveda, and is the ideal choice for hair. The reason being that those using sesame oil regularly, do not suffer from headache, greying of hair, baldness, dandruff or hair fall. Hair becomes black, longer, deep-rooted and regular use of sesame oil helps in getting sound sleep too. Follow up sesame oil massage with lukewarm water bath after a few hours. In fact, sesame oil is also safe for massaging babies, as it helps induce deep relaxation and relieves headache. Further, it has antibacterial and antifungal properties and protects hair from damaging effects of chlorine.
Coconut oil is largely used on the scalp and hair in India as it prevents dandruff when massaged on dry scalp. It nourishes damaged hair and is also acts as a conditioner. People living in hot climate can especially use coconut oil for hair, as it is an excellent coolant. Also for people with pitta dominant condition, application of coconut oil helps. However, being a coolant in nature, coconut oil when applied to hair by people in colder regions, it increases kapha, especially in people prone to cold, cough, allergies, asthma etc. Now, having said this, if you still want to stick on to coconut oil for hair, despite being a kapha/vata hair type and living in cold weather conditions, mix a teaspoon of black pepper powder to 100ml of oil, heat it for five minutes, filter it and use it when lukewarm.
Almond is used in Ayurveda to particularly treat vata-predominant hair (thin, dry and frizzy hair). Due to its rich vitamin E, calcium and magnesium content, it is used by itself as oil for direct massage on hair, or used as carrier oil for other ayurvedic oils, to add luster, shine and strength. It also controls hair loss.
Some popular herbs used in ayurvedic hair oils are:
Amla is very effective hair oil for most hair problems and helps relieve headache, dizziness and other pitta related conditions. Most ayurvedic oils contain amla as a major ingredient, prepared in sesame oil base. It is also used with coconut oil as carrier oil as coconut conditions hair and is excellent for protection against sun damage.
Bhringraj, also known as Eclipta alba or false daisy, holds a solid place in ayurvedic hair remedies, and no wonder its name by itself translate to “king of tresses”. It is often mixed with sesame or coconut oil and used as scalp massage and for hair dressing. Bhringraj has high protein and stimulates hair growth and restores black shine of hair.
Also known as Gotu Kola or Indian pennywort, it is used to prevent premature hair loss and to increase thickness and volume of hair. Brahmi oil is made by mixing it with sesame oil or other carrier oils, and is applied to hair and scalp. Brahmi helps in calming down the mind and nervous system apart from nourishing the locks.
Neem Seed Oil
Neem seed oil has been used in India for cosmetic and medicinal purposes for years. Apart from being rich in vitamin E, it is also rich in essential fatty acids, has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. However, when used alone, neem oil tends to solidify in room temperature and is usually combined with olive oil as carrier oil for ease of application. It enriches hair and stimulates growth and prevents dandruff.
These are some of the best oils recommended by Ayurveda for regular use. However, for specific hair conditions like alopecia or baldness, you should contact an ayurvedic expert and get specific advice for your hair condition.
The ear, the organ of hearing, has two main functions. One is the sense of hearing, while the other is the sense of equilibration and of motion. Any trouble connected to the ear should, whenever possible, be treated early, due to the importance of the organ, and due to its delicacy and inaccessibility. However, there is little that one can do for unpleasant symptoms like deafness and ringing due to advancement of the disease.
Ayurveda believes most disturbance is due to vata dosha. Vata vitiation may result in damage to the auditory nerve and nerve ending which leads to hearing loss and ringing in the ear. Any impact on the vestibular nerve may result in vertigo. A vitiation in pitta can lead to infection, allergies, or autoimmune disease, inflammation in the structures of the ear and causes similar symptoms. When kapha is vitiated, it leads to obstruction of sound pathway. The types of obstruction are wax build up in the ear and fluid accumulation, which may lead to temporary hearing loss. Disturbance of kapha may lead to obstruction in auditory nerve resulting in obstruction of the flow of nerve impulses.
Earache: It is a common auditory affliction and the condition need to be treated in consultation with a physician. Earache is general cause due to inflammation in the middle ear, or due to boils, was, eczema or neuralgia affection the outer ear. Sometimes, pain in this region may also be due to decayed tooth.
The treatment varies based on the cause of the ache, but, the pain is generally removed by application of heat. In some cases, warm mustard oil may be of help. As a home remedy, sometimes, a pod of garlic is burnt in spoonful of any edible oil, allowed to cool sufficiently and then dropped into the affected ear and plugged with a piece of cotton. The pain will subside. Saline gargles are recommended twice daily.
Ringing: Ringing is a noise heard in ear without an external cause. This is also referred to as ‘Tinnitus’, and is sometimes accompanied by discharge of some part of the ear. Although this is a difficult condition to treat, if the real cause of the ringing is detected, it can be treated. For instance, ringing is also caused due to wax build-up, and the condition usually vanishes if the wax is removed.
Discharge from the ear: One of the most serious ear ailments is discharge from the external ear. The discharge may be due to eczema, boils or irritation following a plug of wax or foreign body. However, in the absence of these, it may be largely due to chronic suppuration in the middle ear through due to infection or injury of the drum. This may begin with an acute inflammation of the middle ear, arising due to cold, or due to a disease of the bone in or around the ear, or without an apparent cause in weak persons. The discharge may usually be thick and yellowish when the condition is acute, and may turn thin and watery as it improves. However, if the discharge continues without proper treatment for a long duration, it may result in deafness. Ayurveda believes that vitiation of kapha causes infection of the ear.
As for treatments, ‘Sarivadi Vati’ is a cardinal remedy. Adults are given one pill thrice a day with honey. For external application, Nirgundi, the juice of the plant is boiled with mustard oil and medicated oil is used as ear drops. Bilva is also used for external application, as the paste of the plant is boiled with mustard oil.
Laksmi vilasa-rasa is a drug of choice for treatment given internally to an adult in a dose of one pill three times a day, mixed with honey. Children are given half-a-dose of the medicine.
For inflammation in the ear, add juice of bhangra with juice of black Tulsi (basil) and few drops of the juice can be poured in the affected or both the ears for quick relief.
As a home remedy, extract juice of a teaspoon of mango leaves. Slightly warm and use as ear drops when lukewarm. Juice of neem leaves can be used as ear drops too. Another option is to take two pieces of turmeric and roast them in mustard oil Strain the oil and fill it in a clean bottle. Our a few drops of this oil into the ear or clean the inside of the help of cotton buds dipped in this oil. The pus formation may stop in a fortnight and will hearing may improve.
Ayurvedic practitioners usually treat by filling the ear with herbal oils. The patient is made to lie on his side in a practitioner’s home. A dropper is used to insert herbal oil into the ear. The oil is poured into the ear until it is full. Thereafter, the patient will have to lie to his side for 20 minutes and let it absorb. When done, turn over and drain the excess oil into a towel and the inside of the ear is wiped with a soft cloth. When warm oil is poured into the ear, the tissues surround the ear, relax and circulation improves. This is beneficial for ear infections, vertigo and prevention treatment for hearing loss.
Ayurvedic practitioners prepare different oils for individuals and conditions depending on doshic imbalance. Simple warm sesame oil or oil with herb Ashwagandha can be used as preventive measure. In case of vertigo and tinnitus, practitioners may prepare jatamansi and ashwagandha together in the oil and apply daily.
When you are facing a problem with your ear, Ayurveda recommends avoiding exposure to cold and wind, and to avoid foods that vitiate kapha like banana, curd, guava, sour fruits, and suggests that ginger, onions and garlic be taken in adequate quantities.
Commonly known as Fever Grass, Lemongrass is a popular herb in the Asian countries since ancient times due to its ability to reduce fever. Scientifically, it is also known as ‘cymbopogon’ and referred to as citronella sometimes. It is used as a popular culinary herb in Thai and Chinese cuisines and is used to substitute lemon. When used for culinary purposes, lemongrass blends well with ginger, garlic, cilantro and other spices used in flavouring soups. In Asia, powdered lemongrass is used to add flavour to traditional dishes made using meat, poultry, seafood and vegetables, and to spice up pickles and marinades.
Ayurveda makes use of this ancient herb in treating weak digestion, poor concentration, poor circulation, varicose veins, fever, intestinal infections, and certain skin conditions. When powdered with black pepper, Lemongrass is used as an excellent Ayurvedic remedy for relieving menstrual cramps, nausea, irregular periods and infectious diseases. Ayurveda also uses lemongrass in dealing with headaches, weak immune system, and depression.
In Asian countries, lemongrass is used to reduce fever and normalize body temperature during hot weather. It is used in tea or in foot-baths for reducing fever and removing excess heat in the body. In Traditional Chinese medicine, lemongrass is used to treat headache, rheumatism, abdominal pain and cold. Brazilian folklore uses the herb as medicine to calm the mind, treat muscular spasm, cramp and fatigue.
Lemongrass is also used in managing lifestyle diseases like high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and also helps in cleansing the vital body organs like kidney, pancreas, liver, bladder, by elimination of toxic substances.
In Ayuvedic treatments, lemongrass is used to treat the following ailments:
Fever, cough and cold: The raw juice or decoction of the grass is given, as it induces copious perspiration and brings down temperature. It produces a feeling of coolness.
Menstrual disorders: An infusion of the grass, mixed with black pepper, is given during painful and difficult menstruation. Raw juice or decoction of the grass may be taken in such a condition.
Lemongrass essential oil is commonly used in Ayurvedic treatments. Oil is distilled from leaves and used for medicinal purposes.
Flatulence: Lemongrass and its oil are carminative, valuable in relieving flatulence. Three to six drops are given with sugar as an emulsion. The emulsion is prepared by mixing three to six drops of common lemon grass oil with sugar.
Digestive disorders: As lemongrass helps in strengthening functioning of stomach, it is used to treat indigestion. Lemongrass oil helps treat spasmodic affections of bowels, gastric irritability and cholera.
Joint pains: Lemongrass is used locally over rheumatic joints, lumbago and sprains. Lemongrass oil is mixed with twice the quantity of coconut oil and is used as a stimulating ointment for rheumatism, lumbago, neuralgia, and other painful conditions.
Ringworm: A paste of lemongrass leaves made with buttermilkcan be used as local application in treating ringworms.
Skin infections: Lemongrass essential oil is effective against micro-organisms like fungi, bacteria and other microbes. It is more potent than any antibiotic medicine in fighting staph infection. Apply 2 drops of lemongrass oil with 15 to 20 drops of coconut oil on cuts, wounds, acne, burns, sores and other skin infections and wounds heal in no time, due to the antiseptic properties of lemongrass oil.
Improves immunity, strengthens nervous system: Lemongrass essential oil has excellent nutrients and chemical components that benefit the whole system and augment the immune power, which makes the body naturally resistant against diseases. It serves as tonic to human body, strengthening the functioning of digestive system, nervous system, excretory system and respiratory system by stimulating the process of absorbing essential nutrients. Massaging the body with six drops of lemongrass oil and 3ml of olive oil helps in treating nervous disorders like vertigo, sluggishness, convulsions, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and nervousness.
Toxin elimination: Add two drops off lemongrass oil in warm bath water or in foot bath or massage to your body with sesame oil (3:2 ratio) to get rid of toxic substances in the body.
Combats cancer: Lemongrass oil has proven its anticancer activity through various studies, causing loss in tumour cell viability by activating the apoptopic process. Also, studies have shown the presence of a-limonene and geraniol in lemongrass which inhibits cancer cells in intestinal mucous membrane and liver.
Obesity and depression: Excess of kapha dosha causes fluid retention, excess deposits of fat and stagnation of water and other toxic substances in the body. Stress, tension and depression cause metabolic changes and contribute to obesity. Lemongrass essential oil reduces kapha dosha by decreasing appetite and removing excess water and fat deposits in the body by way of urine and sweat.
Lemongrass essential oil is excellent antidepressant oil which helps alleviate stress, fatigue, depression, anxiety and any negative feelings and emotional distress. It can be used in vaporizer, burner or diffuser to help drive away negative emotions, insomnia, emotional instability, loneliness, and lack of confidence too!! It also works as insect repellent and serve as a natural air freshener.
Lemongrass can also be grown in home gardens and used in times of emergencies, due to its amazing medicinal values.
The word Swedana is derived from the Sanskrit word, meaning to sweat or perspire. Swedana Karma is a group of procedures used to induce sweating. Swedana helps in relieving stiffness, cold, heaviness in the body and produces sweat. Swedana also refers to internal excreta of the body.
According to Ayurveda, Swedana Karma is instrumental in helping to liquefy the sticky and adherent doshas that have lodged in the peripheral tissues. Swedana will help soften and melt the toxins, opens up the pores of skin and help in expelling them from the body in an efficient manner.
In the Swedana Therapy, sweat is produced with or without use of fire. Fomentation therapy is either applied to entire body or to a particular area. It is classified into wet or dry fomentation, with the intensity of fomentation being mild, moderate or strong.
Methods of Swedana Therapy:
Sankara Application – It includes application of hot herbal bolus to a clothed or unclothed patient. The bolus is used for fomenting or massaging the body. After several rounds of bolus, the cloth is unwrapped and the paste is rubbed all over. The process ends with a warm water bath, followed by rest at room temperature.
Prasthara – The patient is made to lie on a bed of leaves of Ricinus Communis, and corn, Calotropis gigantean, pulse, ginger, pippali, maricha, ghee, paayasa and krushara are also added. The patient is covered with silk or wool blankets.
Nadi – Nadi or medicated steam is directed through a hose or tube (nadi) to the entire body or to specific areas of the body.
Parisheka – In Parisheka procedure, hot herbal decoction is showered over the body from a pitcher, pot or pipe with several holes on it.
Jentaaka – The patient will be seated in a circular room near a pond or small lake, which has an oven burning special herbs to heat it.
Some other methods of Swedana Therapy without use of fire are:
Vyaayaama (exercise), Ushnasadana (being inside a warm chamber), Gurupraavarnam (wearing of heavy clothing), Aataapa (exposure to sun).
Steam Chamber treatment – This is a popular mode of treatment in Swedana therapy. Full body steam cabinet is used and is done using aroma oils based on individual needs.
Some plants like ginger root, punarnava, castor root, sesame, barley, black gram, kulattha, jujube, black gram and drumstick plant that encourage easy sweating of the body are used in Swedhana Therapy.
Benefits of Swedhana Therapy
Swedhana Therapy has several benefits as it purifies tissue and eliminates toxins, helps in detoxifying the kidneys, liver and respiratory system, and improves circulation, relieves stiffness, improves digestion, and removes blockage of strotas if any.
Swedhana can also remove excess body heat, clears the channels of the body to improve circulation, helps in easy breathing, reduces water retention, and excess weight can easily be reduced using this therapy.
Note: Swedhana Therapies are not given to pregnant women, people with bleeding disorders, alcoholics, people who are very thin or fat, people with diarrhea, anaemia, jaundice, dizziness, fever and other such ailments.
Ayurvedic treatments largely depend on your unique body constitution, your primary dosha and balance between all three of them. The main goal of these treatments is to cleanse your body of undigested food which is the cause of toxin accumulation, in turn leading to various ailments.
Ayurvedic Treatments are classified broadly into two main categories – ‘Shodhan Therapy’ and ‘Shaman Therapy’.
‘Shodhan Therapy’ is one of the basic Ayurvedic treatment methods adopted for treatment of various diseases. It is one of the main treatment methods in Ayurveda. The Shodhan Therapy includes various procedures that are applied to clean the body of toxins.
In Ayurveda, Shodhan Therapy is a procedure adopted to eradicate diseases from normal body system. This therapy is an excellent method to reduce body toxins and restore the imbalanced doshas to their balanced state. Shodhan Therapy is also known as Panchakarma, wherein the root cause of the disease is also eradicated. Hence, Shodhana Therapy is considered as being superior to Shaman Therapy, as it not only treats diseases, but removes its root cause too. Shodhana is a harsher treatment method in comparison to Shaman Therapy, but more effective than Shaman. Shodhana is strictly an elimination process.
Shodhan includes into five methods of elimination processes. They are:
- Vaman – Ayurvedic practitioners use Vaman therapy (therapeutic vomiting) to eliminate the kapha (excess mucus) present in the body. This helps from recurrent attacks of colds, cough, bronchitis or asthma which is due to fluid accumulation in the lungs.
- Virechan – The virechana therapy (purgation therapy) is done to remove the excess pitta or when the body secretes bile in large amount due to some imbalances, and the deposits in liver, gall bladder, liver and small intestine. This leads to persistent attacks of fever, nauseated feeling and jaundice. The Virechana therapy helps in stabilizing body activity in such condition.
- Basti – In Basti therapy (enema therapy), herbal preparations like sesame oil and the like are administered into the body through the rectum. This helps relieve the body from chronic fever, constipation, cold, sexual disorders, backache, sciatica, kidney stones, and other joint paints. Basti is also a cure for headaches and muscle spasm.
- Nasya – Administration of medication through nasal passage is called nasya. The body doshas in the sinus, nose, throat or head areas are cured by Nasya.
- Rakt Mokshan – Toxins entering the blood produce skin disorders. In such cases, internal medication alone is insufficient and purification of blood is necessary. In Rakt Mokshan (also known as blood-letting) leech is applied on the affected part. It helps in conditions like enlarged liver, spleen and gout.
Shaman Therapy (also known as palliation or suppression) is a milder treatment method aimed at restoring balance in the body through medication. It is used when the patient is not fit for shodhan (the harsher body purification methods). Other reasons for using this therapy are lack of time, or apprehension of the patient towards deep cleansing methods. Unlike in Shodhan, the Shaman method requires efforts from part of patient to retain the positive results of Shaman. Some methods employed in administering Shaman Therapy to the patient are:
- Deepan – Deepan means ‘illumination’. It implies empowering agni (digestive fire) to create appetite. In this process, medicated ghee and spicy and fat-rich food is administered to subside the aggravated dosha to achieve a balanced state.
- Paachan – This is a method of digesting toxic wastes or ama. Various herbal combinations administered help in digesting these undigested toxins.
- Kshudha Nigrah – This is a fasting technique, which literally means killing of appetite. Total or selective fasting is employed until the doshas are balanced in the body. Sometimes to balance a particular dosha, certain food or lifestyle activities that promote the dosha are to be given up. This practice aims to restore tridosha balance, and is particularly beneficial for diseases associated with digestive tract.
- Vyayaam – This means ‘physical exercise’. Certain specific exercises are suggested in curing conditions such as obesity, diabetes, digestive problems etc. For optimum results, it is combined with medication for optimum results.
- Aatap Seva – This method is also known as Atap Seva. It includes sunbathing for skin diseases, rheumatism, or arthritis related conditions. This treatment also pacifies vata dosha.
- Marut Seva – This method is also known as Wind Service and is the therapy which includes administration of fresh air, mostly to treat asthma, tuberculosis-related conditions. According to Ayurveda, breathing air is ‘prana’ or life. It is a method of pumping life into the body system.