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Contents The Basics of Ayurveda..................................................2 Ayurveda - Know Thy Dosha...............................................6 Kapbha Dosha............................................................8 Vata Dosha.............................................................11 Bhringaraj.............................................................12 Chyawanprash...........................................................13 Ghee...................................................................15 An Ayurvedic Perspective on Opposites..................................17 The Fire-Water Balance.................................................21 The Impact of Taste on Constitutional Balance..........................22 Dosha Balance..........................................................23 Churnas - Ayurvedic Powders...........................................24 Total Health...........................................................26 Breathe Before You Eat!.................................................. 26 Turmeric Milk Recipe...................................................26 The 12 Hour Fast.......................................................27 Herbal Tips for Meditation.............................................27 Fun in the Sun.........................................................28 Summer Meditation.................................................... 29 Keep Your Nose Clean...................................................29 Did You Know?........................................................30 Peppers in Precious Profusion..........................................30 Sweet Peppers and Green Beans..........................................31 Bell Pepper Basics....................................................32 Food for the Wise........................................................32 Cool as a Lotus........................................................36 Chill Out with Yoga...................................................37 All washed up..........................................................38 A Technique for Inner Cleansing..........................................38 Oil pulling............................................................40 The method..........................................................40 Results of Oil Pulling..............................................41 Metals in Ayurvedha....................................................43 Gold, Silver and Copper.............................................. 43 The healing power of precious metals.................................43 The Theory Behind Healing Metals.....................................45 Healing Metals in Ayurvedic Medicine.................................45 Heavy metals - Are they really heavy on human body?....................54

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Page 1: Ayurveda Treasures

ContentsThe Basics of Ayurveda......................................................................................................................................2Ayurveda - Know Thy Dosha..............................................................................................................................6Kapbha Dosha....................................................................................................................................................8Vata Dosha.......................................................................................................................................................11Bhringaraj........................................................................................................................................................12Chyawanprash.................................................................................................................................................13Ghee................................................................................................................................................................15An Ayurvedic Perspective on Opposites...........................................................................................................17The Fire-Water Balance...................................................................................................................................21The Impact of Taste on Constitutional Balance................................................................................................22Dosha Balance..................................................................................................................................................23Churnas - Ayurvedic Powders.........................................................................................................................24Total Health.....................................................................................................................................................26Breathe Before You Eat!....................................................................................................................................26Turmeric Milk Recipe.......................................................................................................................................26The 12 Hour Fast..............................................................................................................................................27Herbal Tips for Meditation...............................................................................................................................27Fun in the Sun..................................................................................................................................................28

Summer Meditation...................................................................................................................................29Keep Your Nose Clean......................................................................................................................................29

Did You Know?.........................................................................................................................................30Peppers in Precious Profusion.........................................................................................................................30

Sweet Peppers and Green Beans..............................................................................................................31Bell Pepper Basics....................................................................................................................................32

Food for the Wise..............................................................................................................................................32Cool as a Lotus.................................................................................................................................................36

Chill Out with Yoga....................................................................................................................................37All washed up...................................................................................................................................................38

A Technique for Inner Cleansing................................................................................................................38Oil pulling........................................................................................................................................................40

The method..............................................................................................................................................40Results of Oil Pulling.................................................................................................................................41

Metals in Ayurvedha........................................................................................................................................43Gold, Silver and Copper...............................................................................................................................43The healing power of precious metals.........................................................................................................43The Theory Behind Healing Metals..............................................................................................................45Healing Metals in Ayurvedic Medicine.........................................................................................................45

Heavy metals - Are they really heavy on human body?...................................................................................54

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The Basics of AyurvedaThe following are some of the principle theories and practices of Ayurveda. 

Ayurveda is divided into eight parts. Hence it is also known as Ashtanga ayurveda.

These are as follows: Kaya, Bal, Graha, Urdhwa, Shalya, Dhanstra, Jara, Vrishan.

1. Kaya: The part of ayurveda which mainly related with diseases related with body, related with digestion.

2.Bala: It is related with the paediatric age group. It is the treatment for the proper growth and diseases of children. 

3.Graha: It deals with stars and planets and other mental disorders.

4.Urdhwa: The diseases of upper part of the body above the neck. This part is also known as Shalakyatantra. In this part,

disorders of ear, nose, throat, eyes, and oral cavity are considered.

5.Shalya: This is surgical branch of Ayurveda which is well developed by Sushrut.

6.Dhanstra: It is related to the tooth where animal bites, poisoning and its treatment is considered.

7.Jara: It is the branch related to geriatrics. It deals with treatment to avoid old age. 

8.Vrushya: It is the branch related with healthy sex life and treatment related to complaints about intercourse etc.

Prakruti: At the time of conception, the particular dosha dominating is the prakruti of that individual.According to

individuals prakruti, he or she is prone to some types of disease. To cure those disorders, some hints related to day to

day life "dincharya" and seasonal behavior "Rutucharya"are given. 

Panch Mahabhoot Siddhanta: The whole body is considered to be made up of five basic elements such as Prithvi, Aap,

Tepa, Vayu and Aakash .When there is disturbance in dosha-dhatu-mala, the individual suffers from disease. Hence they

should be treated accordingly. 

The treatment part includes Shodhan and Shaman. In Shodhan, the doshas are expelled out of the body with the help of

medicines and in Shaman , doshas are suppressed in the body. Shodhan includes five ways of cleansing named

as Pancha karma. It includes;

Vaman: emesis,

Virechan: purgation,

Nasya: medicine administered by nostrils.

Raktamokshan: letting out blood,

Basti: medicated material administered through anus. 

Prakruti - The Unique Genetic Code of an Individual 

Everyone knows that there are no two fingerprints alike. No two voice modulations and no two genetic codes are exactly

alike. What makes anyone think we all have the same liver, lungs, kidneys, or anything else the same as the next person.

Therefore to propose that we all eat the same foods, take the same drugs when we are ill, or perform the same exercise

is more than ludicrous. It is unscientific! Ayurveda uses a system of historical analysis and physical examination done

almost entirely by observation (with the exception of pulse reading), to ascertain one's original nature and current


A diet and health plan are given to the individual according to the needs to correct the imbalance. The basis for all other

concepts in Ayurveda is Sankhya (the analytical study of the elements that comprise the universe). Although the modern

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physicist would delineate well over one hundred elements, Sankhya states there are twenty-four, of which five are the

foundation of the gross world: Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether. 

These five elements, when joined in different combinations, make up the three "doshas" or "biological modes" which are

the "Prakruti" or nature of an individual and the nature of all things. 

The combination of air and ether gives us Vata or the Kinetic Biological Mode. Vata is that which is electric in the

body and causes all movement in and out of the system (breathing, urination, defecation, menstruation, etc.)

The combination of fire and water gives us Pitta or the Transformative Biological Mode. Pitta is that which mutates or

transforms the outside elements of the macrocosm into the inside elements of the body (the microcosm). Pitta governs

the digestion of physical, mental, and emotional elements. 

Finally, the combination of earth and water gives us Kapha or the Structive Biological mode. Kapha is that which makes

for both lubrication (mucus, synovial fluid) and structure (bones, muscles, fat, joints, etc). 

Generally speaking most people are a combination of two modes. One is the primary and the other is the secondary. But

there are those who are purely dominated by one mode, and in rare cases, those who are a mixture of all three. This

elemental theory broken down into divisions of modes identifies not only body types for humans, but also for animals,

vegetables, plants, herbs, geographical locations, times of day, seasons of the years, and activities performed. 

Everything in the universe is categorized by this system. Ascertaining one's Prakruti (nature of constitution) and

imbalances is the service rendered by the Ayurvedic analysis using the processes stated earlier. Then the Ayurvedic

practitioner constructs a diet and recommends herbs which would be helpful to regain balance with one's original nature. 

In Ayurveda different people with the same disease sometimes receive different diet and herb plans. The constitution, the

imbalance, and the various nuances of the development of the disease in each individual must be studied to determine

the nature of the imbalance whether Vata, Pitta, or Kapha for that disease. 

For example: Two people have a history of weak lungs and chronic coughing. One is dominated by a Vata constitution

with a Vata imbalance. The other is dominated by a Kapha constitution with a Kapha imbalance. The Vata has a

tendency towards a dry hacking cough in which no mucus or phlegm is present or being expelled. The Kapha has a less

frequent, but heavy wet cough which expels large quantities of mucus and phlegm. 

For the Kapha dry, hot, spicy herbs and foods are what is necessary for burning up and drying up the excess mucus. Dry

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ginger, and long pepper are useful while all dairy, fruit juices, and cold food in general are to be avoided. But for the dry

Vata cough, hot milk with turmeric is a great healer to soothe and calm the cough, while disinfecting and moistening the

dry, hot lungs. Fresh curd with unleavened whole wheat bread (chapatis) and cooling fruit juices are also useful. So a

cough is not just a cough according to ayurveda. But according to the constitution and imbalance, "One man's food is

another man's poison". 

Unfortunately people will give up trying holistic health practices because good food was given to the wrong person. The

secret of understanding the dynamics of food and which food is for whom is in the taste, therefore, the appropriate tastes

with their elements will correct the imbalance of elements in one's constitution if taken correctly. 

The proof is in the tasting. 

There are six tastes according to Ayurveda: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Bitter, and Astringent. Each is comprised of

two elements: 

Sweet (earth and water) examples: wheat, sugar, milk, rice, dates;

Sour (earth and fire) examples: yogurt, lemon, tamarind;

Salty (water and fire) examples: sea salt, rock salt, kelp;

Pungent (fire and air) examples: onion, radish, ginger, chilly;

Bitter (air and ether) examples: dandelion root, rhubarb root, bitter melon;

Astringent (air and earth) examples: plantain, pomegranate, apples;

There are two other considerations in Ayurveda. First, whether a foods action is heating or cooling. The taste sweet,

bitter, and astringent are cooling. Sour, salty, and pungent are all heating. The second is the post-digestive effect or how

the foods "taste" to the tissues during and after assimilation. Sweet and salty are sweet in post-digestive effect. Sour is

sour, and pungent, bitter, and astringent are pungent. 

Taste, action, and post-digestive effect are known is Sanskrit as rasa, virya, and vipack respectively in Ayurveda. They

are the keys to understanding food and herbs. With this knowledge, one can unlock the mysteries of the energetic

dynamics of food and be able to make the right choices for oneself. 

Raw Foods According To Ayurveda 

Raw foods and juices are magnificent in that they are cleansing and energizing. Sprouts are especially wonderful

because they contain large amounts of enzymes and nourishment which help with digestion and assimilation of nutrients.

Some of the spicier sprouts help to destroy and eliminate toxins in the system known as ama in Ayurveda. 

Fenugreek sprouts can even help in cases of seminal debility. But in general, raw food is very cold and hard to digest in

the Vedic sense as it releases its Prana or nourishing life giving energy in the upper portion of the body between the

mouth and the stomach. This gives quick, short-term energy, but not long-term tissue building nourishment. This is good

for pittas, and some raw foods are good for kaphas, but this is not very good for vatas. 

Cooking Foods According to Ayurveda 

Well cooked grains, beans, and vegetables release their Prana in the colon. This provides long-term tissue building

energy. However, these energies cannot be released from complex carbohydrates without the assistance of enzymes. A

Clean intestinal tract is also essential for proper absorption. This coincides with two of the modern holistic health theories

of colon cleansing and enzyme consumption. But the Ayurvedic approach again is practical and individualized. Which

herbs for which constitution will produce the best colon cleansing varies. Therefore, some people find some of the

standard colon cleansing products ineffectual or difficult for their bodies to tolerate. 

Triphala ("the three fruits"), used in Ayurveda, is one of the best colon cleansers because it strengthens and tones the

muscle action of the colon. It does not cause laxative dependency by doing the work for the colon. Similarly, the

consumption of enzyme tablets will cause the digestive organs natural ability to produce enzymes for digestion to

become suppressed and lazy and possibly lose their ability to function all together. Ayurvedic cooking uses certain herbs

and spices to help stimulate the body to produce its own digestive enzymes. 

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The Secret of spices in Ayurvedic Cooking 

Spices used in small to moderate proportions according to the food being prepared and the person's constitution will

stimulate all the digestive organs to produce the enzymes required for total absorption and assimilation. This lets your

organs do their work through nourishment without "putting them in a wheelchair" while the chemicals do it. Thus cooked

food and spices are better for the poor digestion of kaphas and vatas. Pittas should use only mild spicing, as their "fire of

digestion" is generally strong. 

Consciousness and Food 

This is probably the most important aspect of Ayurveda: Your state of consciousness when you eat and when you cook.

One of the great sages of India, Rupa Goswami wrote: "If you eat food prepared by the wicked, you will become wicked".

If the person who is cooking has fears, insecurities, anger, jealousy, greed or any of many emotions we experience

everyday, the chef will infuse that preparation with that emotion. 

This is important to remember in eating - at home or away - that the consciousness of the cook is in the food. And the

consciousness of the animal or vegetable one is eating is in there as well. So in Ayurveda, food preparation is considered

a sacred act. Animal food is generally not recommended because of the extreme pain, agony, suffering, fear, anger and

terror the animal experiences has gone into the food. Add the highly toxic chemical contamination of modern factory

farming like hormones, steroids, antibiotics, pesticides, etc., and you have a prescription for death not life. 

Vegetables have life also and they also feel pain and discomfort at being eaten. The Vedas teach that each living being,

from the king to the bacteria, has a soul and is therefore sacred. The kitchen is considered the extension of the altar in

Vedic culture. In early Christianity, the people would bring their crops and lay them at the altar for sacrifice and blessing. 

This was done much earlier in Ancient India, only there everything was prepared in the kitchen according to the principles

of taste and elemental energetics and then offered with great devotion to the deities.

You can do this at home by preparing your food with love according to Ayurvedic energetic principles and offering

prayers and meditations of thanks and love to God. You will transform food into prasad or God's mercy. Thus you will

raise your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health to the highest possible levels. There is no greater nourishment

than this in all the world. 

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Ayurveda - Know Thy Dosha

Ayurveda believes that when all our doshas are in a state of equilibrium, we arrive at a balanced state of the body, mind and

spirit. read on to know more about doshas and to find out yours

My daughter gets extremely tense before an exam or a project submission while my son goes to the other extreme, taking all

pressure in so cool a manner that we sometimes get perturbed,” I mentioned to an Ayurvedic doctor, who also happens to be

a family friend. “Naturally, she is predominantly vata, while he is mainly kapha,” he replied, enigmatically.

Vata, pitta and kapha are the three doshas or constitutional types in Ayurveda, the ancient science of medicine. It is believed

that the human body is made up of five elements– space, air, fire, water, and earth. Although all these five elements flow

through the body at all times, each individual has certain elements which are more dominant than the others. For instance, a

person having a vata constitution has more of air and space; pitta has more of fire and water, and kapha, water and earth. At

the time of conception, each person’s predominant constitution (prakriti) is created by the way in which the three doshas

combine through the union of parents. Besides genetic, the prakriti is also affected by emotions, diet, lifestyle, and even

environmental factors like climate and time of the day. Once a person recognizes his prominent dosha, a lot can be done to

take care of the diseases that one is most prone to. 

The doshas

Dr Ramesh, CMD of Aryavaidyasala, Kotakkal, shares his experience with a busy company executive, who had a vata prakriti.

Because of his prakriti, he was unable to cope with the stress   in his life, and suffered from a disturbed sleep pattern,

constipation, continuous disturbance in his gastro-intestinal area, and hypertension. Treated with therapies like dhara

panchakarma, his quality of life   improved substantially, and he was able to manage himself. With a change in lifestyle, he

could cope with the stress   factor too.

The vata dosha controls very basic body processes such as cell division, the heart, breathing, and the mind. Physically people

with a strong vata dosha are either very tall or very short, non-muscular, with thin and bony limbs, and have a quick gait with

short, fast steps. They are creative, enthusiastic, fond of freedom, generous, joyful and full of vitality. However, on the flip side,

they may be fearful, worrisome and anxious, doubting, and over-analytical. 

Some common complaints for a vata dosha disposition are stiffness, especially in joints, low back and spinal pain, sciatica,

constipation and nervousness. Ayurveda   & Life   Impressions Bodywork   by Donald Vanhowten states that 60 per cent of all

ailments are due to an increase in vata because vata controls the mind, and most ailments have a mental component. Fear,

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cold climate, too little water and food, and too much of bodily activity, increase the vata. In such cases, meditation, moist heat

and massages can really help. 

The pitta dosha is said to control hormones and the digestive system. A person with a predominance of pitta has a moderately

well-developed physique with muscular limbs and a purposeful, stable gait of medium speed. Pittas have an intellectual and

precise disposition due to a very alert, focussed mind. Sharp and knife-like in anger, they are irritable, jealous, and aggressive

by nature. Discriminating and judgemental, they are articulate, learned and proud. With a developed sense of responsibility,

they can take decisions and organise affairs well. Argumentative, but with a sense of humour, their selectively

excellent memory   makes them fast learners. They are ambitious, can concentrate well, are courageous, and have an

enthusiasm for knowledge along with intelligence. However, they have a tendency to become angry, abrasive and jealous. 

Some common complaints the pitta constitutions will have are inflammation of joints, tissues and organs. Excess heat can

cause problems in the liver, blood, gall bladder and intestine. As heat rises, migraines, neck and spinal stiffness, fevers and

headaches can arise. These problems can be controlled by avoiding hot food, alcohol, red meat, too much physical and

mental activity, and too little liquid. Also meditation   (and any other relaxation activity), and drinking a lot of fluids can benefit


The kapha dosha is thought to help keep up strength and immunity, and to control growth. A thick, broad, well-developed

frame and large, long limbs go well with a pleasant, deep and resonant voice with low, slow, rhythmic speech. The skin is

usually thick, oily, pale, and cold. Plentiful, thick, wavy, lustrous hair is set on a large, rounded and full face. The neck is solid,

with a near tree-trunk quality. A large, rounded nose and large, attractive eyes are found and a mouth that is large with big, full

lips. Teeth too are big and white, and set in strong gums. Kapha-dominated people are calm, steady, considerate – stable,

patient personalities who are not easily provoked. They are honourable, true to their word, and avoid lies. Loyal, forgiving and

understanding, they can be lethargic, even lazy, if not driven by others. Learning may be slow but memory   will be strong.

Excellent in logical analysis, they take time before reaching conclusions. Long hours of deep sleep are natural to them. They

are caring, centred, compassionate, content, grounded, patient, have faith and fulfilment, feel nourished and are mature.

However, there can at times be an element of dullness, given that a kapha mind is usually too content to seek fresh mental


Some common complaints for kapha dispositions are congestion, overweight, fluid problems, swelling, head colds, lung

problems, lethargy, depression   and sadness. One needs to decrease the kapha by reducing intake of cold foods and dairy

products, too much liquid, sweets, and a sedentary lifestyle. One should try to remain active, eat light food, and try to include

hot food in one’s diet to keep the kapha in control. 

Most of us are combinations of each type, and no one is usually of one type alone. Further, there are variations during one’s

lifetime too, though one dosha usually remains predominant. However, we also have a constitution of the moment, called

vikruti which reflects our present state of health. As Dr Ramesh points out, each person’s prakriti or makeup is itself a complex

area of study, and should be assessed by a practitioner after seeing the patients, asking questions about them, and their

lifestyle and by examining them clinically. However, once the prakriti is known, there is a lot that can be done to heighten the

positives, reduce the negative fall-outs and ensure a progress towards balanced living.

Know thy dosha, to know how you can evolve your personality. For, is it not true that to know oneself is the first step on one’s

spiritual journey?

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Kapbha Dosha

In Ayurveda, kapha is the the term used to describe an excess of the water and earth elements. As such, it is a problem rather

than a constitutional type, but people who are low in fire would have a tendency towards this condition, one that is

characterized by slow digestion and excess ama, a word that can be broadly interpreted to mean phlegm or mucus.

Going back thousands of years, the great sages of India taught that disease begins in the stomach with bad digestion. While

modern medicine probably wouldn't concur, similar thoughts were held by the Iroquois and many other traditional cultures.

According to the theory, each individual is born with a particular constitutional type and all the idiosyncrasies and management

challenges of that type. So, if one is born without enough fire—what is called agni in India—there will not be enough gastric

secretions to metabolize food. Fire governs the caustic chemicals that are needed to transform food from culinary delight into

nutritional substances that the body can use. These juices include hydrochloric acid, bile, enzymes, and probably also insulin.

As a starter, let's say that the pH of the stomach acids ranges from 1.0 to 2.0 though I'm sure some people are outside this

range at times. Obviously, those with more acid are able to break food down more easily. Those who are deficient usually do

not digest food normally. Instead of separating the food into assimilable nutrients and bulk, food sits in the stomach and is

broken down by fermentation. The evidence for this is bloating, distention, abdominal rumblings, and gas. Headaches and

muscle spasms as well as heartburn. Food that is not metabolized becomes a residual and is usually stored in the body as

some form of congestion: fat and sugar in the liver, deposits in the joints, and phlegm in the lungs and sinuses and usually

also in the intestines and even the brain.

A medical doctor told me once that mucus has the same molecular structure as sugar. I have never seen this in print, but it

conforms to the Ayurvedic teaching that food is 93% "sweet," not "sugar" but comprised of the sweet taste. The main

characteristics of this taste are: coldness, dampness, and heaviness. Eaten in excess, these properties tend to congest and

thereby impair circulation and the supply of nutrients to the body.

As anyone who has read the Kamasutra knows, Indians value the water type above all others. They do so because it is the

most fertile and, all other things equal, has the best longevity. The fine line is somewhere between water and excess water.

Having a stuffy head is no fun and while such a condition is not really a clue to intelligence, duh and huh tend to give the

impression of less acuity.

My Ayurvedic teacher taught us that mucus has the consistency of wax and that when it is heated, it melts and comes out of the body. According to this system of medicine, it is normal to accumulate phlegm in the winter and to discharge it in spring. When this happens, we say we have a cold, but unless the color of the discharge suggests infection, Ayurveda says this is a completely normal occurence when the weather becomes warm

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enough to melt the accumulations of winter. They even promote the discharge by drinking hot, spicy concoctions. My teacher gave us a recipe:


t.black peppercorns


5whole cloves


inchginger root

Shyam, my teacher, said one could boil these spices in water and just drink the liquid. Most people I know can't stand the taste

unless they add a bouillon cube or soup stock. In any event, when you drink this, your sinuses really run, this whether it is flu

season or not, winter or summer, proof positive that one does not need a cold in order to decongest. In fact, there is a term for

this therapy: errhine.


To compensate for lack of digestive secretions, one has a few options:

1. eat food that is easier to digest

2. eat less frequently

3. reduce the quantity of what is consumed

4. make the food more digestible by cooking with spices

5. stimulate the appetite and output of juices with exercise and aroma

6. take supplements, hydrochloric acid and/or enzymes

7. use carminative bitters post-digestively

Of all of these, understanding that appetite is a clue to the availability of digestive power is the most important. This is the best

protection against injudicious consumption. The next is knowing what can be safely consumed and what will constitute excess

for any given meal.

Ayurveda is adamant that when the digestive power is weak, one should never eat food that has been reheated. Not only is

this food harder to digest, but the oils have been rendered unsafe. In this age of fast foods, very few people recognize that

most of our foods presented at the table are not really wholesome. Foods cooked in microwave ovens are very hard to digest

and probably aggravate most of the problems associated with kapha. Speaking for myself—and I'm a fire type—I always have

a gallbladder attack after eating something prepared in a microwave oven. I have been trying to think of ways to dispose of

these creatures without creating bad karma. Oh, one can remove them from the home, but giving them to a friend or adding

them to a landfill is not good karma!


One of the interesting features of fire is that it destroys many unwelcome pathogens and parasites. Ergo, when digestive fire is

low, not only is digestion impacted but immunity can be compromised as well. Generally, water has good immunity in the form

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of abundant white blood cells and thicker cell membranes (to rebuff intruders); so while these assets are not compromised by

low fire, fire destroys microorganisms and thereby reduces the work of water.

Water types can use foods that are spicy to increase fire. The sweet taste and pungent taste are opposites:


Cold Hot

Wet Dry

Heavy Light

Since, of the six tastes, the spicy is the only hot one, it is needed in our diets. Some cultures use spices liberally, but some do

not. India uses an enormous variety of spices in savory combinations that I personally love. However, in Japan, wasabi and

ginger are the only two major spices used in cooking. In the Southwest, chili is the only traditional spice; and in ordinary

European cuisine, spices are considered to be exotic almost all were imported, this going back to the early days when Islamic

influences in medicine and cuisine were seen throughout the Mediterranean.

The way I try to explain this to students is that a sausage is a nearly impossible challenge to the gastrointestinal system. It is

heavy, fatty, and usually made in such a way as to revolt. However, if the sausage is consumed with heaps of sauerkraut and

bitter beer, there is a chance of digesting it. If it is also made with spices, the chances are better. What has happened in

America is that sauerkraut is not usually served with sausages and the beer is not bitter. Very few people have enough gastric

secretions to knock off a sausage, even if they add a picante sauce.

The best way to address low fire is to cook with spices, not just any spices: use non-irradiated, organic spices that have lovely

aroma. If you grind fresh cinnamon bark in a coffee mill, there will be a coating of oil on the inside of the grinder. If you rub this

off with your fingers, the oil will burn your skin. You only need the smallest amount of this quality cinnamon to perk up

digestion and knock off bacteria; but if you use that dreadful stuff in cans from the supermarket, the once proud cinnamon has

become an irritant, thanks to massive amounts of irradiation and improper handling and storage. It's the same with black

pepper. Making a nice curry with peppercorns bubbly around in the sauce is different from shaking some pepper onto some

lettuce leaves. When food is cooked with spices, the spices are absorbed by the foods and the foods themselves are easier to


Ayurveda offers lots of remedies for low fire. The most basic of these is Trikatu, a formula whose name means three peppers.

We have it in our online store. It can be taken before meals to excite gastric secretion. HingaShtak is more for complaints that

arise from meals that have not been digested. Sweet Ease aids sugar metabolism and then there are a host of products such

a Triphala to help peristalsis (which is usually slow when there is not enough digestive power); Guggul for fat metabolism;

Blood Cleanse to detoxify; and on it goes.

I will try to keep adding to this so people can get a feel for how to manage their agni.

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Vata Dosha

"Vata" is an Ayurvedic term referring to the aggravation of the "wind element," what in astrology is called the air element; but it

generally involves a mixture of the air and ether elements. "Derangement" is another Ayurvedic term; it implies that a "dosha"

or "fault" has occurred that is affecting constitutional balance and harmony.

The primary characteristic of "vata" imbalances is that the symptoms are quite changeable, often causing the uninitiated to

believe that the problems are entirely psychosomatic . . . because no pathological basis for the conditions are detectable. This

attitude is a disservice to patients who suffer from vata problems, which is a large number of people in the world.

According to ancient medical tradition, whether Chinese, Indian, or Greek, good health depends on balance of the elements,

which are variously seen as competitive with each other or supportive or inhibiting. For instance, fire is hot and the other

elements are cold and therefore needed to regulate temperature and keep fevers from damaging the body.

Air is light, cold, and dry. In ordinary language, this means that air, the invisible element whose activity is deduced by

observation of the bodily functions, is quick, mobile, and insubstantial. On a psychological level, we might say that worry is

"groundless" whereas phobia has some basis in actual emotional experience. If you forget a phone number or an appointment,

it is inconvenient or embarrassing but not likely to be disastrous. However, if you are looking over your shoulder for challenges

that may or may not be serious, a higher level of psychological incapacitation is implied.

Air worries over mainly trivial things: losing keys, careless mistakes and accidents, and "baseless" concerns. Regardless of

how unimportant such preoccupations might be, they take their toll on the nervous system so "lightness" is mainly

characterized by nerves . . . which, in turn, accounts for the erratic appearance and disappearance of symptoms.

These types of vata conditions are best contained by rhythm and regularity. This means that higher levels of predictability

bring more order into chaos. If a person burns the midnight oil one night and takes a nap the next day, rises at six and crashes

at ten the next, does twenty errands the next, turns into a couch potato the next, the body cannot find a rhythm for calibrating

all the ideas that drive the individual to set the daily agendas. This causes wear and tear on the nervous system and plays

havoc with the vata dosha.

Creating reasonable schedules, sticking to them, and allowing for integration of information and stimuli between activities

pacifies the wind. Here's a way to grasp the point better. If a person is cooking dinner, watching the news on TV, opening mail,

and talking on the phone, the focus is pulled this way and that making assimilation of the information next to impossible,

certainly improbable. However, if a person watched the news, thought about it a bit over dinner, and then called a friend to

discuss what stood out as important, there would be a better sequencing of stimuli and more likelihood of organizing the

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information and remembering it. Doing mindless tasks between mental efforts is another way to integrate and ground

experiences. This could mean doing laundry, walking the dog, weeding the garden, anything that one can do more or less on

autopilot without much mental effort.

Herbally, there are also some remedies to consider. First, there are herbs that belong to a classification called nervines. Those

that increase the elasticity and resilience of nerves are best for conditions of lightness. Secondly, there are those that increase

the buffers between the nerves, either by helping to maintain the nerve sheaths or increasing the water buffers between

nerves. High quality oils are ideal for this purpose, those that are high in essential fatty acids like evening primrose oil or

borage seed oil. These generally come in capsules, but can sometimes be found as liquids.

What I like to tell people is that locking oneself out of one's car is not grounds for a doctor's appointment, but it is a sign that

there is more going on than the focus permits so it is time to slow down, assimilate, and take some precautionary measures,

such as eating foods that are more moist. In other words, on the day of distractions and minor inconveniences, do not eat rice

crackers but consider perhaps a meal with sweet potatoes or squash.

Making order out of chaos also greatly reduces strain on the nervous system. This might include organizing cupboards and

closets, desks, and accounts. It could also mean fixing things that are broken and non-functional.

ColdColdness is the second major attribute of vata derangement. People with coldness usually have poor circulation because the

air element is not propelling the blood smoothly through the arteries. They tend to have cold hands and feet but may be

generally cold and very sensitive to drafts and artificial air movement such as caused by fans and air conditioning. While some

people are soothed by breezes, air types dislike wind and tend to be less comfortable and more uneasy both in wind and when

the seasons are changing.

Psychologically, coldness is expressed by detachment, indifference, and rigidity. While air types value freedom, they can carry

openness and non-judgmental attitudes to the extreme of non-involvement and psychic and social isolation which feel more

paralyzing than liberating.

Coldness doesn't feel good to the person who is cold. Besides feeling removed and therefore out of touch, it is physically

uncomfortable. The thaw therefore comes from warmth, friendliness and joy as well as inner thermal ease. In terrible

extremes, coldness can be brutal because the ability to feel for another is compromised by extreme detachment. It can also be

almost physically paralyzing, but unlike lightness the paralysis is not due to inflexibility but ice-like immobility.

People who are cold become fearful and often cowardly. They are cured by the passion and courage of fire.


There is a technique for removing "ama" that is a variation of oil pulling. I wrote about oil pulling a couple of times in the past. It

was first brought to my attention by a Swiss endocrinologist who swore by it. That was in the early 1990s so the idea has had

plenty of time to gel. Oil pulling involves gargling with sesame or sunflower oil and spitting out the highly toxic oil and then

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rinsing the mouth very carefully with water. I tried to improve upon this by rinsing with medicated water, like a drop of wild

oregano oil or cinnamon or clove oil in the water. Gagging as this sounds, I have found the sesame oil completely palatable.

However, the equivalent of this from the subcontinent is bhringaraj leaves mixed with ghee and painted on the uvula and tonsils. Bhringaraj is massively detoxifying and causes phlegm to be disgorged and eliminated. I ordered 20 packets of seeds and will try to jump start them indoors or in the greenhouse and transplant them in May. The first harvest ought to be ready by July or August and the therapy is to be continued for 40 days. I figured there is nothing to lose.

In Ayurvedic medicine, "ama" is a catch all word for unwanted toxins, but most of what is called ama is mucus or phlegm and the trick to getting it out of the body is to soften it enough to make it mobile. I believe this method would be well supported by combining it with my cleavers tea because there are spices and sarsaparilla for cleansing the lymphatic system. Then, as with any detoxification, attention to proper elimination is important. Otherwise, the skin becomes an auxiliary eliminatory organ and this can be quite unaesthetic, not to mention itchy.

For your convenience, I have also added a page on bhringaraj to Landscaping Revolution:


You will notice that bhringaraj is in the same botanical family as daisies and sunflowers. It is an annual and very easy to grow which is another reason I am suggesting a do-it-yourself approach to this particular detoxification strategy.



The Rasayanas are meant to impart long, healthy, disease free life, intelligence, power of memory, youth and luster. Among all the Rasayanas, Chyawanprash is most useful and famous. It is the most popular rejuvenating Ayurvedic tonic in India having a consistency of jam and containing about 35 natural herbs including Amla (Embellica Officinalis) the richest natural source of vitamin C. It works on the immune system of the body protecting body against everyday infections like cough cold and fever. Thus it is very useful in children, old persons, tubercular patients and debilitated persons.

I clipped the above quote from an Indian web site. Obsessing a little here. Those of you who have listened to the Kitchen Doctor tapes have heard this story:

Long, long ago, there was a sage in India named Chyawan who lived in a forest. His hair was matted and he was covered with tree growth after years of meditating in the same place. A young princess was blindfolded and dancing in the forest when her hands touched the hair of the sage. Her father, the king, explained to the sage that it was the custom in his country that a woman could only touch one man in her lifetime. He thus requested the sage to marry to daughter. Chyawan asked if he could have

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two months to prepare for the wedding for he wished to be young again so as to afford his wife conjugal bliss. Thereupon, he developed the recipe for longevity that has remained India's most popular remedy, some say for 2000 years, others since the times of the Vedas.

Today, there are many recipes for Chyawanprash, ranging in ingredients from a mere 20 or so herbs and spices to 70 or 80 ingredients. However, the main ingredient, regardless of the exact formula is always amla or amalaki, a tropical gooseberry that is the world's richest source of vitamin C. It is, moreover, a source that remains stable in storage for years. The rest of the ingredients vary from regenerative herbs for the reproductive system such as ashwagandha and shatavari to spices that aid assimilation and digestion.

In Ayurveda, it is believed that most disease stems from problems in the digestive system. The Iroquois and many others share this belief. Ayurveda breaks digestion into three stages: the stomach, the small intestine, and the large intestines. Food that is assimilated in the stomach is used very quickly for the building of fluids, blood and lymph. What is assimilated in the small intestine affects mainly muscles and fat; and what is assimilated in the colon is used to regenerate the skin, bones, hair, nerve sheaths, reproductive fluids, and brain. Fragility of the bones and senility are thus colon problems and they are "vata" conditions, derangements of the air and ether. All proper maintenance requires good digestion and assimilation; otherwise, worn out tissues will not be regenerated, i.e. replaced by healthy new tissues.

A "rasayana" is a formula for just such tissue rejuvenation, and Chyawanprash is the most famous, and in my opinion, the most effective of these highly esoteric remedies. Moreover, it has been so thoroughly studied that it is legal to market Chyawanprash as an antioxidant, the best that has ever been researched in modern laboratories.

So, what I have been doing for years is trying various Chyawanprash concoctions. I used to import one from India produced by a lovely lady doctor named Smita Naram. It was expensive because she used fresh amla. I tried making my own for a while (with dry amla but the amount of honey needed to deal with the sourness of the amla was intimidating.) I later used a brand recommended by David Frawley. It was quite sattvic, i.e., a little sweeter than some versions and not as spicy. For the last couple of years, we have been carrying a nicely packaged brand which is the same old Dabur in fancier containers. Yesterday, I tried three versions of the Banyan Botanicals brand. They do what everyone should have been doing for thousands of years. They are making one especially for those with pitta derangements that is not quite as spicy as the one for vata and kapha derangements. I personally prefer the taste and texture of the pitta formula but I'm a fire type. Then, they make a third one with a mixture of Western gooseberries and amla that is "tridoshic," i.e. balancing to all the doshas.

In my experience, the first thing that happens with use of Chyawanprash is that assimilation of nutrients is greatly improved, and the evidence for this is that people whose hair tends to fall out, especially after shampooing, find that their hair no longer falls out and that it becomes thicker and more its natural color.

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Sounding too good to be true? Little by little, all systems of the body work better, but most especially those that relate to the lower chakras.

In India, those with the means to afford Chyawanprash take it every day, usually at least from age 40 onwards. They generally use about 1-3 teaspoons a day.

GheeGhee is made by cooking butter until the oil separates from the milk solids and the moisture is evaporated. The remaining product is "clarified" and has an extensive shelf life without the need for refrigeration. Ghee is revered in India and is often used as a carrier for herbs. This makes it into medicated ghee. It is also used topically. Being an oil, it easily penetrates and rejuvenates lipid membranes in the body, improving their viscosity and resistance to infection.

Much that we need to know and understand cannot be found in normal textbooks. So, this might be one of those emails you expect on a Sunday, but some years ago, a colleague sent me some photomicrographs and asked my opinion of what was wrong. The patient owned a vegetarian restaurant but her red blood cells were fuzzy on the edges and I mulled it over for a while and decided that the oil she was using just had to be rancid. She absolutely could not believe this but when she checked, she immediately corroborated the hunch. She was, of course, mortified, but three of us learned a great deal on that day.

When the surface of a cell is affected by something such as rancidity, many problems begin to develop. The lipids are there to protect the cell from penetration and when the lipid membrane is compromised, it is penetrable, meaning viruses and bacteria will go inside the cells, often using the cells as temporary homes while they proliferate.

I am taking the time to explain this because sometimes we read something that is a rough translation from an ancient Ayurvedic text that suggests that ghee enhances immunity or longevity and the question arises as to just how something made from butter can achieve this. Likewise, if we read in a somewhat more modern text that this or that is immune enhancing, the mechanism whereby that improvement is rendered possible is very seldom covered. Often as not, the statement is based on a study done in vitro, i.e., in a glass dish, not in vivo, meaning in a live being.

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Well, that patient, may she rest in peace, was using olive oil, and by bringing up the matter that she is no longer among the alleged living, I am not suggesting that she died of rancid olive oil, merely that something as simple as a change in the quality of the oil used can sometimes be an enormous boon to health. I was particularly sensitive to this person's struggle for survival because we were born only a few days apart, and, I'm sure you all realize that the plight of one person can trigger an avalanche of vulnerabilities in the other.

Later, when I was in Nuremberg, my friend and colleague asked me if I could make time to have a look at the blood of her assistant, a lady from Sri Lanka who had been preparing wonderful lunches for us while I there. Her blood was magnificent so lots of questions arose. Unlike German tourists who had merely visited Sri Lanka and taken home some undeclared animal stowaways, this lady was born in Sri Lanka and had had a lifetime of exposure to mosquitoes and their payloads, but her blood was practically perfect. I was rather excited and asked a lot of questions, including what kind of oil she used. She said she did not like olive oil and used only ghee. She asked me if I would see her son as well. His blood was also wonderful to behold. Later, I had my third satori experience when looking at the blood of a Pakistani man working in the clinic in Switzerland. The common denominator was ghee so I immediately proposed to some of the patients that they switch to ghee so we could see what would happen.

The improvement was not gradual, it was visible overnight. This is not actually surprising because the fluids in the body are the first to be affected by dietary changes. Muscles and fat take a bit longer. Well, if you think about this, you know it is true because building up muscle mass or losing weight takes at least a few days. Regrowing hair, finger nails, skin, and bones takes longer yet but the same protocols that support this regeneration also affect the reproductive fluids and that magical, enigmatic, and impossible to translate ojas, the secret of longevity itself.

I have been interested in oils ever since realizing that oils are sensitive to heat, light, and air so what do we do: we extract them using processes that overheat the oils, then we add chemicals to hide the sins of the first fiasco. Next, we put them in glass bottles, often as not where the sun shines through a store window onto the bottles. I went to clinic, not to be mentioned by name, that had a "health foods store" for patients where the oils were sitting in direct sunlight in glass bottles -- not to worry, however, because the patients were buying the ice cream, not the oils!

I lectured on this and relied heavily on the research of Johanna Budwig and Udo Erasmus and argued passionately that we could all experience at least a 30% improvement in health by changing the oil we use in cooking and salad dressings. Of the common cooking oils, sunflower and sesame are clearly better than olive oil -- and I base this on experiments done with real live patients whose blood I could observe when I was in Europe. However, ghee was the best.

Ghee is made by heating unsalted butter until the milk solids separate from the oil. The resulting product is called clarified butter and it is golden and translucent when warm and more or less the color of butter when cool. It does not require refrigeration and if a little turmeric or some spices are added during the heating of the butter, the shelf life is amazingly long. I often use a mixture of fennel, dill, cumin, coriander, and ajwan seeds along with a little turmeric.

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Ghee acts as a lipid enhancer when taken internally or used on the skin. It is often medicated, meaning it is blended with herbs that improve its efficacy and many Ayurvedic herbs are taken in ghee (or warm milk) rather than as teas. Ghee is often used with eye washes and in nasal rinses to increase the cleansing sometimes needed in these parts of our bodies. It is used in some Chyawanprash preparations, especially some of the ones from Kerala that are literally slithering in luscious ghee. Now, Vadik Herbs has introduced three medicated ghees: Brahmi for the mind, Shatawari for the female reproductive system, and Triphala for the large intestine. These are all considered to be rasayanas, part of the Ayurvedic repertoire for long life, but they rely on a principle that is often ignored in Western medicine and that is viscosity which in turn relates to elasticity and the capacity to manage stress on tissues.

Let me take an example of this so the concept becomes clearer. Our nerves are sheathed in myelin but if this is impaired, the nerves themselves may be attacked, resulting in anything from severe infections affecting the nervous system to partial paralysis. The early stages may not be too symptomatic, but as the underlying condition goes uncorrected, the weakness is exacerbated and the person may become more nervous and irritable. He or she may have tiny accidents, like dropping things. Practically no one would see a doctor because he or she dropped a glass on the floor, but an alert student of Ayurveda would easily put one and one together and suggest doing something to enhance the resilience and thus the coping power of the nervous system and this would begin with viscosity and result in greater elasticity. It's totally logical and clear and it's also very simple.

An Ayurvedic Perspective on Opposites

Ayurveda offers a thorough system of thought and healing that is easily applied by entry level students as well as serious professionals who wish to understand the interconnectedness of all life. This article addresses the pairs of opposites, polarities that include the extremes of hot and cold, dry and moist, light and heavy as well as the numerous other contrasts that serve to distinguish opposites, including sociological and psychological differences, such as progressive and conservative or loyal and fickle.

The easiest way to approach this knowledge is by taking very simple pairs of opposites and studying them in a way that illustrates the ramifications of imbalance and the desirability of balance. However, before doing this, it is important to make a connection to the fundamental basis of manifest existence as expounded by Ayurveda.

According to Vedic philosophy, Creation emerges from the Mind of God from whence it materializes into denser and denser substance until reaching the point where it is perceptible through the senses. In turn, each of the sensory organs is specialized to detect a certain vibratory frequency of the world of form. These frequencies are distinguished by nearly imperceptible boundaries that serve to differentiate the elements that are the building blocks of Creation.

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The Elements

As the Divine Idea reaches the level of material existence, a matrix for constructing the physical world is formed in etheric substance. For most people, this webbing is invisible, but many are able to perceive it through slightly extended vision that borders the realm of normal vision and clairvoyance. For those who can see etheric matter, it generally appears as a hazy violet surrounding everything that exists. This etheric substance serves two primary purposes. First, it acts as a kind of scaffolding for containing the form world; and second, it serves as a transmitter of energy from the invisible realms to the physical form. Given the subtlety of this substance, it is sensitive to outer influences and hence quite changeable.

The next element in the scale of subtle to dense is the air element. This element is also, of course, invisible but it can be detected by its action. The air—sometimes called the wind element—is light, mobile, and quick. It is the cause of movement so without the air element, everything would be motionless: we would not breathe, blood would not circulate, and muscles would not expand or contract. Air requires space in order to function best. When the ether and air elements combine in a manner that produces physiological symptoms, this is called the vata dosha. The nature of conditions characterized by vata derangement is that they are inconsistent, intermittent, and changeable.

Fire is the third and middle element and the only one that is warm or hot. Its chief quality is that it radiates and because anything that radiates eventually makes contact with something else, fire is not only detected by its warmth but by the various chemical and alchemical transformations that occur when two energies come into contact with each other. Fire is the most dynamic of the elements, but it is also hard for some people to manage the passions that motivate fire so derangement of the fire element causes problems that are called pitta in Ayurveda. These conditions are generally sudden in onset, often caused by impulsivity or accidents, and usually acutely painful and inflammatory.

Water is the near perfect opposite of fire. It is not just cold but it is the only element that is wet so one finds the water element wherever there are fluids and moisture. Interestingly, it is not only our Planet that is roughly two-thirds water, but our physical bodies are also mainly composed of fluids and a handful of chemicals that act as conductors and catalysts as well as building materials for the densest parts of the physical world, the part ruled by the earth element. When water and earth combine in a manner that creates psychological or pathological conditions, Ayurveda calls this kapha, and the main characteristic of kapha is that it is cold and congesting.


Inherent in the system of the elements is the notion that not only does everyone and every thing in Creation have a basic type but every influence tends to change the dominance or weakness of a particular element. For instance, cool weather pacifies excess fire but one could achieve the same

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result by taking bitter herbs or drinking a lot of water. The premises are so completely logical that even children can embrace the concepts and apply them to their daily lives.

The most important tenet of the theory of the elements is that health is the absence of imbalance. This is not too far-fetched because even contemporary experts who are searching for ways to define health tend to end up with definitions that describe health as a state in which pathologies are lacking. In short, it is very difficult to pinpoint what health is because we only recognize it by contrasting it with illness. Nevertheless, the premise of Ayurveda as well as most Oriental systems of medicine is that health exists when there is balance—and implied in this is the idea that when there is imbalance, disease begins to manifest and that this progression will be reversed when the imbalance is corrected. My personal experience is that the number and variety of symptoms always decreases when the imbalances are reduced so one way to use the teachings of Ayurveda is to implement the strategies that minimize imbalance. This can be achieved through dietary discretion, supplementation with herbs, and various life style adjustments that are harmonizing to the psyche as well as the constitution.

An Example

What will probably help most people at this stage of their introduction to Ayurveda is to take a look at the logic and see how easy it is to apply the principles in everyday life.

The air element is described as light, cold, and dry. The chief quality of lightness is that it is quick and easily destabilized by excessive stimulation. This results in a feeling of not being grounded; and the symptoms associated with this are forgetfulness, carelessness, and perhaps something as extreme as disorientation. It is the earth element that offers the heaviness that balances this particular type of lightness. Something very heavy, like a meal of root vegetables, might be rejected by someone who is distracted and unfocused, but cultivating predictability by reducing the variety of stimuli tends to pacify air and increase the influence of the earth element. If one can also submit to a routine where there is rhythm and regularity, the vata derangement may decrease in intensity. Focusing on realities also helps: organize one's space. This means dealing with clutter and chaos. Equally, one could spend more time in the garden or walking the dog or balancing the checkbook. All of this brings one into relationship with reality and reality is grounding whereas lightness is usually attended by nervous preoccupation with imaginary possibilities that may or may not ever come to pass.

If the vata derangement is caused by coldness rather than lightness, it is balanced by warmth, i.e. the fire element. This kind of derangement is usually more fearful than scattered so the courage of fire defeats the panic and terror of deranged air. Sometimes, this kind of balance is achieved by something as simple as a warm bath or blanket, but eating spicy foods or calling a friend who is fiery may have a comparably curing effect.

Finally, if the vata derangement is more dry than light or cold, it is balanced by moisture. In this case, the symptoms are usually detachment, dry skin and hair, creaky joints and brittle nails, and perhaps low libido and fertility. Water supplies the viscosity needed to restore life to ravaged tissues and failing regenerative ability.

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What is most interesting about this system is its flexibility because the psychological attributes are as important as the physical ones—and they respond to measures that eliminate the factors exacerbating imbalance.

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The Fire-Water Balance

by Ingrid Naiman

Today, I wanted to try to help people with only one toe in the door to use the theories of Ayurveda in a practical way. I have often said that learning Ayurveda is something like learning a language and you can use the parts you know right away without waiting several years to become proficient.

Since Ayurveda puts enormous emphasis on digestion, I want to discuss the fire energy, especially in relationship to water. Everyone should learn to recognize his or her basic constitutional type as well as the factors that cause doshas to arise. The word "dosha" means fault so it is actually nicer to think of oneself as a fire type than as a pitta type because the fire type is someone with a tendency to favor the adventure and lust for life typical of fire types; but someone who is angry and reckless is in a pitta mode and this is a problem.

Fire and water are nearly perfect opposites. If we study the basic polarities of hot and cold, dry and wet, and light and heavy, we see instantly that fire is hot, dry, and light whereas water is cold, wet, and heavy. These forces work in every body to maintain equilibrium and good metabolism.

In Western medicine, one learns that metabolism has two sides: anabolic and catabolic. Loosely translated, this means that we eat in order to nourish ourselves. When we eat just what we can digest and utilize, we are metabolically balanced, and we do not gain or lose weight. If we eat more than we need, we store some energy for future use; but if we burn up a lot of calories in strenuous activities, we overwork the catabolic forces and risk becoming deficient unless we replace the energy that was squandered.

The temperament and constitution are not too separate matters; they are expressions of the energy that is operating the body. You might say that some bodies are run by more fiery personalities and some by more watery ones. Think of it almost like you would a software program. You get your computer to do different things depending on what software you are running. Likewise, your body functions according to individual at the helm.

Curious as I am, it intrigues me that people with multiple personalities experience different medical conditions depending on which alter is in charge. For instance, one alter may be diabetic whereas another is not. Once someone understands this, one realizes immediately that there are countless ways to shift even the most obstinate physical and emotional issues from imbalance to harmony.

Hot and ColdDepending on what system of elements you use, there are three, four, five, or perhaps even seven elements; however,

only fire is hot. Water is ice, liquid, or steam depending on the ratio of water to fire; likewise, the temperature of anything, anything at all, a person, animal, object, lake, or plate of food is determined by the presence of fire. In the body, fire rules the caustic secretions of the gastrointestinal system as well as the ability to perceive light. Every element is related to a chakra and a sense and fire rules the solar plexus and the sense of sight; thus, anything one does to improve the functioning of the solar plexus or the digestive system has a secondary benefit for vision.

Fire is farsighted and water is nearsighted. Fire rules insulin and water rules glucose. Fire is alert and active, water is relaxed and passive. Fire is progressive and risk taking; water is conservative and concerned for safety. When something happens that "should not" happen, fire becomes angry, water becomes tearful. Fire depends on the force of arousal to transform injustice to justice so a high-minded fiery person can be an activist or force of change. Water takes in the feelings and when personal pain merges with global suffering, compassion can arise giving water the power to nurture and protect. Fire defends; water protects.

In the body, fire produces harsh chemicals to kill bacteria; water produces thick membranes to make them less penetrable and vulnerable. In an ideal situation, the two forces would cooperate like husband and wife, father and mother, lover and the beloved.

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I have studied energetics for so many years that I can say I am blessed to see exactly how this works. For instance, we can subdue fire with a little ice cream. In moderation, this is called pacification; but in excess, it can vanquish fire and leave a person feeling drowsy and washed out. Add some ginger and cardamom to the ice cream and the dessert is more balanced; make the ice cream with carrots and cream instead of milk and it's more balanced yet.

If you understand the principles, you can overcome even the worst fever (excess fire) or nausea (usually low fire) with precisely the right food for that particular moment in life.

In Ayurveda, the king of fiery formulations is probably Trikatu. This is made of black pepper, which is considered to be tridoshic, long pepper, and ginger. People with poor digestion and circulation may benefit from Trikatu. It burns kapha and helps to get rid of the excesses of an anabolic constitution. It is not detoxifying, just "kindling." A softer approach would be a formula like Digest Ease which contains both carminative and hot spices as well as some fruit and the anti-allergic herb, guduchi.

Both Kanchanar and Gokshuradi Guggulu have deeper effects and help when a condition has been ongoing for some time.

When the fire is too strong, it is brought into balance either by cooling bitters or sweet and moist foods and beverages. In either case, the effects are much more pervasive than one imagines because when fire is subdued, it is less capable of action, focus, and the sustained motivation it takes to achieve what it feels is important. This leads to countless short- and long-term problems, but since fire is antidoted by sugar and cold, you can imagine how much imbalance there is from going from a per capital consumption of 12 pounds of sugar per year in 1900 to that much per month now. Add refrigeration and air conditioning and snack foods to the mix and many people are unable to generate the fire it takes to digest, not to mention the reserve it takes to feel dynamic and purposeful.

As anyone who has ever consumed a hot curry soup knows, such meals can really stimulate the sinuses to drain. In fact, such draining, called errhine therapy, is a recognized Ayurvedic mode of treatment for phlegmatic conditions. Foods and spices, along with special culinary and medicinal herbs, can be used to help balance the doshas. Since this is one of those therapies that interfaces readily with astrology and the elements and since my own Jupiter in Cancer predisposes me to a love of cooking and this particular form of chemistry, a special section of this site is devoted to the energetics of eating.

The Impact of Taste on Constitutional Balance

In the West today, we tend either to pride ourselves on our efficiency and to toss frozen dinners into the microwave, or we try to exhibit nutritional awareness by counting calories, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, etc. Many, if not most, of my clients either hate cooking and ignore the consequences of neglect of this most fundamental requirement of life, or, they pop supplements as though it were possible to live healthfully and creatively on tablets instead of real food.

On top of these issues, there is the fact that our food is often so adulterated that the average American eats several pounds of chemical preservatives per year, not to mention how difficult it is to find food that is 100% free of genetically modified ingredients. Plus, there are no doubt side effects to irradiation and microwaving of foods: indigestion, vitamin loss, free radicals, and so on. The picture is disturbing, but even if all of our foods were as safe as the marketers and their cohorts in various government agencies would like us to believe, nothing in our culture, even the saner concepts of nutrition, takes into account the energetics of food. Not only do no standardized tests reveal the lack of prana in foods, but modern nutrition does not address the issues of body type and energetics underlying assimilation of food and the effects of food on constitutional balance.

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A hot spice, such as cayenne pepper, stimulates fire. If the individual eating such a spice is already of a fiery nature, the fire element may aggravate the pitta dosha and result in diarrhea or temper flare-ups. However, if the person is watery, cayenne may not only increase the appetite and digestion but relieve kapha and improve circulation and perhaps result in a little weight loss due to its stimulating effect on metabolism. If the individual has a cold, the cayenne may help to warm the body so that the mucus liquefies and is easier to expectorate. These concepts are so completely logical and easy to apply that children have no trouble learning strategies for health management.

According to Ayurveda, each food has a particular taste that correlates to its digestive action and that has a bearing on the balance of the elements. This taste is not a coincidence but is a direct result of the biochemical traits of the food and therefore also of its pharmaceutical properties. There are six tastes: sweet, sour, pungent, bitter, salty, and astringent.

Dosha Balance

Ayurveda offers a complete philosophical and metaphysical system for comprehending constitutional type, the factors that affect health, and the strategies for healing once disease has occurred. Ayurveda is the ancient system of medicine of India; it boasts a tradition of thousands of years and has exhibited its capacity to withstand all fashions in thought as well as ridicule and suppression during the years of occupation by the British Raj. What gives Ayurveda its longevity? Most likely the answer to this profound question is its coherence: Ayurveda makes sense because it starts with the whole and discovers the fragments within the context of the larger picture.

In the beginning . . .

In Ayurveda, everything begins in the Mind of God. We can try to understand this in whatever context we wish, but Creation emerges because the Creator wills Creation to come into existence. What we perceive with our senses is thus the precipitation of Divine Idea, and what we perceive is an infinetessmally small part of the Idea, limited by the awareness of the perceiver. As the Divine Idea becomes dense, it has attributes that are defined as elements. The matrix for the physical world exists in the ether. Here, the mold for visible matter shapes the world of appearances. If the mold changes, the appearance will also change, quickly or slowly depending on the density of the matter that has to be changed. The etheric element rules the sense of sound because the Creator causes manifestation to occur by producing sound.

Shift always occurs because of the wind or air element because there is no movement without air. We cannot see air, but we deduce its existence because of its feel and because we can see the results, such as leaves moving in the breeze. Air rules the sense of touch. Fire is the only element that is hot. It affects the chemicals of the gastrointestinal system that are necessary for the transformation of food into nutrients the body can use and waste products the body must eliminate. Fire also ruleslight and therefore sight. Water balances fire. It is the only element that is wet. It nourishes life and promotes growth and repair of tissues. Earth rules the densest parts of our material world: the skeletal system and teeth.

Each element is differentiated by its vibratory rate. Everything in the visible world is a combination of elements whose proportions one to another are always changing. For instance, if the amount of water increases, there will be swelling, weight gain, and an increase in not just clamminess but also coldness, because the ratio of water to fire is increasing. If, on the other hand, fire were to become more active, the temperature would rise and the water would evaporate. The system is so inherently logical that it is easily learned by anyone who cares to take the time to understand its simplicity and profundity.

The Chakras

Each element rules a chakra which, in turn, affects the corresponding endocrine glands and their hormonal secretions. Therefore, what might seem an innocent change in something like the weather or our diet could have a profound effect on how the body works, this because hormones are miniature chemicals that stimulate or inhibit physiological functions.

The rulership of the chakras is as follows:

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Crown InspirationThird Eye IntuitionThroat EtherHeart AirSolar Plexus FireSacral Center WaterBase Chakra Earth

The Doshas

The Doshas are "faults" caused by combinations of elements. Ether and air combine to form the vata dosha; fire causes the pitta dosha; water and earth cause the kapha dosha. The best way to explain this is to say that fire, what is called agni in Sanskrit, is pure, but if it becomes deranged, it causes a problem. This problem will involve the pitta dosha. Health is believed to occur when the elements are in balance, but when an element is aggravated, its influence increases at the expense of the other elements. The consequences will fall in a predictable range, but each individual will experience the symptoms a little differently. The elements each have characteristics. For instance, air is light, cold, and dry. If the main symptom experienced is lightness, it will usually be because the earth element is weak. However, if coldness is a stronger symptom, low fire is the cause; likewise, if the problem is dryness, there is not enough moisture or water. Very complex psychological and physiological patterns can be explained by reference to the balance of the elements and doshas.

Churnas - Ayurvedic Powders

Typically, churnas are made from fresh herbs that have been dried and ground to very fine powders so as to make them easily assimilable. A wide variety of medicinal and culinary herbs can be made into churnas, and they may be used singly or in combinations. In the case of herbs used for cooking, the churnas can be considered something like highly specialized curry powders, blended so as to impart particular medicinal properties to the food.


Since Ayurveda recognizes that each individual is born with a constitutional type that has unique characteristics as well as requirements in terms of health, it is important to understand one's type and what are called "doshas." Technically speaking, dosha means fault; it is not the constitutional type but rather the problem that arises when the elements contributing to the dosha are aggravated or "deranged." Given the right circumstances, almost anyone can, at times, manifest some of the symptoms of vata derangement or pitta derangement or kapha derangement, but if one has such signs of imbalance, it is usually wise to restore harmony as quickly as possible so as to avoid the complications of prolonged disturbance.


There is an article on vata derangement on this site. Vata is caused by excess air or wind, and the most common symptoms of this derangement are dryness, restlessness, insomnia, and short-term memory loss. Much more serious problems can also occur. These include spasms and a host of conditions affecting the nervous system, aging, and senility.

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The main characteristics of vata are that it is cold, dry, and light. Coldness can exhibit as poor circulation or detachment. Dryness affects the viscosity of joints and moisture in the tissues. It leads to brittleness of nails, hair, and bones; and is often also associated with constipation. Lightness is associated with weight loss as well as disorientation and instability.

The herbs and spices that correct for vata derangement need to be warm, moist, and heavy. The favored herbs are ginger for warmth, cinnamon for its mucilaginous properties, and asafoetida for its grounding effects. Since vata is caused by deranged air, it is useful to understand the two sides of air. The aromatic properties of food and herbs not only please the senses but neutralize toxic wind. These herbs are usually carminative, tasty, and mildly stimulating. Fennel is a lovely example of an herb with great affinity for air. It is delicate, willowy, and subtle. These mildly stimulating herbs are tolerable to people who feel fragile and they aid assimilation of nutrients. Stinky herbs, like garlic and asafoetida are grounding. They are earthy and heavy and help to anchor people who are feeling blown around by the wind.


I have been remiss in not posting more on pitta problems. Pitta can be best understood as derangement of the fire element. This can occur because of exposure to toxins or infection. It can also result from alcohol abuse or anger. The properties of pitta are that it is hot, dry, light; i.e., it is similar to vata except that it is hot rather than cold.

The symptoms of deranged fire are usually acute and painful. They have a sudden onset and are usually serious when they affect children and the elderly, but they are seldom as dangerous for people in their prime who are otherwise healthy. The most typically pitta symptom is fever, but many people today have been so heavily vaccinated and loaded with antibiotics that they do not run fevers. Instead, they exhibit other pitta symptoms such as impatience, temper, and inappropriate jealousy or competitiveness.

The herbs and spices that are used to pacify pitta are less pungent than those used for vata derangements. In theory, if you eat in a Thai or Mexican restaurant and you have a choice of one, two, or three chilis, the pitta person should go easy on the cayenne! Also, because fire resides in the digestion system, such persons may secrete more hydrochloric acid and other gastric juices. They should therefore favor the alkaloids and go easy on the acids. Coriander is one of the coolest of the culinary herbs. Nutmeg is another herb with somewhat heavier properties. Even turmeric, a member of the ginger family that imparts to curry powders the yellow color, is quite safe for those with excess fire. Perhaps more important is the fact that these people fare well on coconut and coconut milk so the spices can be added to make lovely coconut curries.


People with a tendency towards kapha derangements have slow metabolisms and usually some metabolic residuals that result in congestion and perhaps gradual weight gain. Just as pitta problems tend to occur suddenly and subside as quickly, kapha conditions are chronic and often go almost unnoticed for years.

Kapha is cold, wet, and heavy. Unlike vata types, kapha types do not feel as uncomfortable in the cold. Vata types really suffer when there is a draft or excess output from a fan or air conditioner. While those with excess kapha may not really like the cold, they are not as miserable when exposed to circulating air or wind. Also, even if their hands and feet are cold because of slow metabolism and poor circulation, they usually do not complain too bitterly about the cold. In a way, they are used to the subnormal temperatures, but this isn't healthy so the diet needs to correct for the tendency towards weak metabolism. These people need very stimulating spices, ones that are too strong for vata types and too hot for pitta persons.

These people can handle the hot curries, red chilis, cloves, and mustard. They need herbs that stimulate secretion of gastric juices, that promote assimilation, and that increase peristalsis.


Ayurveda teaches that black pepper is dosha balancing, tridoshic is the term sometimes used. This probably surprises some people, but it is worth pointing out that few Westerners have ever tasted good spices. Most the spices are old, irradiated, and lacking the volatile oils that account for much of their flavor as well as medicinal effectiveness. It is extremely important to recognize that the studies that suggest that spices are harmful are done with spices that have almost no redeeming qualities. Good spices are deliciously fragrant and savory and often beneficial.

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Total HealthBreathe Before You Eat!

By Carrie Demers, MDOur nervous system has two ways of responding to the world: the fight-or-flight

(sympathetic) response and the rest-and-digest (parasympathetic) response. When we rush through our day, worry constantly, or cling to negative mental states, our nervous system gets stuck in the fight-or-flight mode. But when we feel safe and relaxed, the parasympathetic response switches on and our heart rate drops, respiration slows and deepens, and blood flows to the core of the body—promoting healthy immunity and efficient digestion.

By ensuring that your nervous system is in rest-and-digest mode before you eat, you can help your body digest the foods you eat (and avoid the negative side effects of

poor digestion such as bloating, acid reflux, and indigestion). The easiest way to do this is to breathe diaphragmatically. So, just before you eat, take three to four deep diaphragmatic breaths—then enjoy!

Turmeric Milk RecipeBy Shubhra Krishan

Ayurvedic healers love turmeric for its anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and anti-oxidant

properties. Try this cup of comfort tonight—the turmeric will settle your stomach, the

warm milk will make you sleepy, and the spices provide extra flavor and warmth. 

Heat 2 cups organic milk with 1⁄2 teaspoon turmeric powder, a pinch each of freshly

grated ginger-root and cracked black pepper, and 1 cinnamon stick. Cook until the

milk comes to a full boil. Enjoy warm.

Variation: Use 2 crushed cardamom pods instead of a cinnamon stick. Add crushed

jaggery, honey, or sugar to taste.

Health Benefits: Scientific studies have shown that turmeric can help prevent and/or ease arthritis, heart disease, diabetes,

certain cancers, and Alzheimer’s disease. From an ayurvedic perspective, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and black pepper are

warming spices that help keep the sniffles away. The warm milk provides protein and makes tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing

amino acid, more readily available to the body.    

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The 12 Hour FastAccording to ayurveda, the body is programmed to direct its energy toward cleansing and assimilation in the hours just before midnight, when agni (digestive fire) is weakest. To support this process, ayurvedic physicians recommend refraining from late-night snacks and going to bed around 10 p.m. By fasting for 12 hours every night—between dinner and breakfast (7 p.m. to 7 a.m., for example)—you free your body from the burdens of meal-related digestion so it can conduct mental, emotional, and cellular cleansing in a more concentrated way. 

The 12-hour fast also respects agni’s daily waxing and waning cycle which, according to ayurveda, corresponds to the rising and setting of the sun. That’s why it is wise to eat a healthy breakfast in the morning, eat your largest meal at noon when the sun is the strongest, eat a lighter dinner as the sun is waning, and then allow your stomach to rest until the sun comes up the following day. This fast supports metabolism, prevents accumulation of ama, normalizes weight, and combats kapha imbalances (which are common in the spring). 

Herbal Tips for Meditation

MORE MEDITATIVE HERBSAs you experiment with different herbs to see how they affect your mind in meditation, consider these other powerful ayurvedic choices:

AshwagandhaKnown as “Indian Ginseng” in the West, ashwagandha is ayurveda’s premier rejuvenating herb—an overall health tonic which boosts vitality, virility, and stamina; stimulates the immune system; and enhances reproductive function. On top of its many rejuvenating uses, it has “the ability to nurture the nervous system, and counteract anxiety and stress to promote a calm state of mind,” notes herbalist Michael Tierra. Used traditionally in India to treat disorders such as insomnia and amnesia, modern laboratory studies are also finding it to be effective for enhancing learning and memory.

Calamus Root

Known as vacha in Sanskrit—meaning “speaking”—this herb has been used by ayurvedic practitioners for thousands of years

to stimulate the powers of intelligence and self-expression, and rejuvenate the brain and nervous system. David Frawley and

Vasant Lad write that it “clears the subtle channels of toxins and obstructions,…promotes cerebral circulation, increases

sensitivity, sharpens memory, and enhances awareness.” Sattvic for the mind (bearing the principle of light and harmony), this

herb is helpful for long-term memory recall, and is great in combination with brahmi. (Calamus should be taken in combination

with at least one other herb; licorice also provides a good balance.) 

*Please note: Despite being widely regarded as a safe and supreme herb in the ayurvedic tradition, calamus is currently under

F.D.A restrictions, and held to be toxic for internal usage.

HOW TO PREPARE HERBSMany modern herbalists favor herbal extracts as the premier method of internal administration. Other herbalists prefer pills and tablets. In traditional ayurveda, primary preparations include decoctions (with the herb boiled in water), milk decoctions (herb boiled in milk plus water), hot or cold infusions (herb set in water without boiling), and pastes made with ghee or honey.

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Ayurvedic practitioners also advise taking herbs in combination—this will enhance their properties and yield a more balanced effect. 

HERBAL SUPPLYBuy your herbs in bulk or formula combinations from these top ayurvedic suppliers, all of whom source their herbs sustainably:

Ayurveda Institute

Find your favorite ayurvedic raw herb here or try them in a balanced combination with their Brain Tonic and Awareness Tea.

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Get herbs in bulk or try their special herbal blends for the mind: Mental Clarity and Tranquil Mind.

Himalayan Institute Total Health Products

Order extracts of isolated ayurvedic herbs, or try their revolutionary mind-enhancing herbal formulas: Focus-X, Elixir 29, or

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Planetary Formulas

Carrying ayurvedic, Western, and traditional Chinese medicine herbs, their Bacopa- Gingko Brain Strength supplement hits

the mark.

Fun in the SunAh…the long, leisurely days of summer. Are you sipping lemonade by the pool? Packing for a picnic? Watching the sunset on the beach? I hope you’re having fun. But beware of summer’s side effects! 

According to ayurveda, the qualities of summer are hot, sharp, and penetrating. That’s why our pitta dosha—the subtle energy that controls metabolism and can cause us to overheat—tends to flare up when the temperatures rise. Pitta-related imbalances include sunburn, hot flashes, exhaustion, acne, and diarrhea. Emotionally, excess pitta can manifest as anger, jealousy, and impatience. Sound familiar? Try the following tips to keep your cool all summer long.

Try Ayurvedic SunbathingTake a 10-to-15-minute walk at sunrise, when the gentle rays that fall on your face and skin will stimulate sadhaka pitta—an energetic principle that, according to ayurveda, is a mood lifter similar to serotonin and melatonin and promotes creativity and joy. Sunlight also helps stimulate the body’s production of vitamin D—a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in calcium absorption, which in turn leads to stronger bones.

Stay HydratedSummer’s intense heat saps moisture from plants, the earth, and our bodies. That’s why it’s okay to add an extra pinch of salt in your food in the summer to compensate for sweating and to prevent fatigue. Also, drink at least six 8-ounce cups of water per day.

Eat Cooling FoodsSome of the best pitta-pacifying foods are leafy greens, coconut, cucumber, cataloupe, and watermelon. The best dairy products are yogurt, milk, and ghee(clarified butter). Garnish salads and other dishes with cooling cilantro, parsley, and alfalfa sprouts, and avoid hot drinks, spicy food, alcohol, caffeine, and chilies.

Moisturize DailyAfter showering, mix one teaspoon each of organic, unrefined coconut oil and castor oil in a glass bottle with a cap. Place the bottle in hot water until the oil is lukewarm (not hot!). Apply to your whole body to keep your skin supple, soft, and cool. You can also use this treatment before you swim to protect your skin from salt water or chlorine.

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Try AromatherapyDab one drop of sandalwood essential oil on your temples, eyebrow center, throat center (at the hollow of the throat), wrists, and belly button. According to subtle ayurvedic principles, your whole aura will be charged with a sweet fragrance that pacifies pitta.

Adjust Your Bedtime RoutineYou can go to bed a little later on summer nights, around 11 p.m. when some of the sun’s heat has dissipated. Sleep on your right side to open your left nostril, which corresponds to the ida nadi, the subtle energy channel that corresponds to the cooling moon.

Summer BummersFor sunburn. Rub preservative-free aloe gel on your skin. Or juice a few ounces of fresh cilantro and drink two teaspoons three times a day. Apply the cilantro pulp to your sunburn; it’s cooling and soothing. For jet lag. Mix together one part each of cumin powder and dried mint, and one-fourth part ginger- root powder. Fill 00-size vegetable capsules with the mixture and take one or two of them an hour before your flight. Skeeter bites. Apply equal parts tea tree oil and neem oil (available online) to itchy bug bites. You can also use neem oil as a natural bug repellant.+

Summer Meditation

For thousands of years, yogis have begun their day with spiritual practices that honor the sun: surya namaskara (sun salutations); surya trataka (a master practice that involves gazing at the sun); and a walk at sunrise to absorb the early morning rays. The sun is the source of all life. That’s why summer is the perfect time to recite the Gayatri mantra, the Vedic song of sunlight, during meditation.

Keep Your Nose CleanBy Tori RoseThe nasal wash has been integral to yoga practice for more than 5,000 years. Called jala neti in Sanskrit, this user-friendly

practice involves drawing a warm saline solution through the nasal passages, sometimes with the aid of a small container called a neti pot (available online and at many health food stores). Jala neti prevents—and treats—colds and other upper respiratory ailments that can crop up in the spring, including allergies, asthma, and sinusitis. In addition to washing away mucus, dust, bacteria, viruses, and fungi, the nasal wash stimulates the optic nerve, relaxing the eyes and strengthening the sight while refreshing the mind. On a deeper level, this practice helps balance the flow of the breath through the right and left nostrils—a prerequisite for a fruitful meditation practice.

How Does the Nasal Wash Work?If you’re wincing at the memory of getting water up your nose while swimming as a kid, don’t worry—jala neti uses a warm saline solution that’s the same temperature and salt concentration as your bodily fluids and is soothing to the sinuses. Here’s a basic recipe: Mix one heaping teaspoon of pure, noniodized salt with two cups of warm water until the salt dissolves completely. Adjust the mixture to your own salinity—it should taste like warm tears. Then experiment with the following neti washes: one for beginners and another for the more experienced.

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Nostril to NostrilFill your neti pot and lean over a sink, face downward. Keeping your nose slightly higher than your lips, twist your head to the right. As you breathe through the mouth, insert the spout into the upper nostril until it forms a tight seal. Raise the handle of the neti pot and let the water flow back through the nose and out the lower nostril. Repeat on the other side.

Tip: If the water flows into your mouth, lower your head slightly. If the water does not flow into the other nostril, you may need to raise your head or twist further. With a little experimentation, you’ll get the hang of the head position.

Mouth to NoseFill your mouth three-quarters full with warm saline solution. Lean over the sink, face down. To expel the water, tuck your chin toward your neck and press your entire tongue against the roof of the mouth, forcefully exhaling the saline into the sink. Keep the opening from the throat to the nose relaxed through the entire procedure. Repeat several times.

The AftermathTo clear loose mucus and water from the nose, make 10 moderately forceful exhalations into the sink with both nostrils open and the face relaxed. (Note: blocking one or both nostrils during these exhalations can force water and mucus into the Eustachian tubes.) Next, do a simple forward bend, turning the head from side to side as you do another round of vigorous exhalations. Then do the triangle pose, turning your head up to the ceiling and then down toward the floor. If water drips from your nose, do another forward bend and another round of exhalations.

Do Not Do the Nasal Wash If…you are prone to nosebleeds, acute asthma attacks, or during acute sinus infections when both nostrils are blocked. Safe for children ages 8 and up.+

Did You Know?

The sensitive lining of the nostrils secretes mucus, which, in addition to trapping dust and dirt particles, contains antibodies that help protect against infection and irritation by foreign materials or organisms. This is important because you inhale between 15,000–25,000 times daily.

Garden to Table

Peppers in Precious ProfusionThe veg of a thousand faces: hot or sweet, red or green, tickle your tongue and keep you young.

By John J. KochevarFresh peppers, artfully arrayed, easily cross the line between vegetable and plaything, inflaming appetites and reminding

us of Halloween candy, wax lips, or cinnamon-flavored Red Hots. Once peppers were mostly green and boring, lending “authentic” flavor to faux ethnic casseroles; now intriguing varieties decorate our markets, spice our tofu, and lend allure to the names of countless music groups. Health claims and uses range from antioxidants to stave off the effects of aging to ayurvedic aid for arthritis pain. How did we ever live without peppers?

Europeans and Asians have had a taste for tongue-tingling spice since ancient times. The name “pepper” derives from the Sanskrit word pippali, and originally denoted the dried black berry of a vine (piper nigrum in Latin) grown on the Malabar coast of India. Black pepper was expensive, caravanned overland to western Europe and east to China for centuries. It was the prize Columbus sought when he set off in search of a water route to India in 1492. Instead he found a genus of plants (and its relatives, the potato and tomato) with really spicy fruit. He tried positioning it as a success story and called it pimienta, “pepper,” in Spanish. Botanists, however,  were not misled and later named the new genus capsicumfrom the Greek kapsimo,

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meaning “to bite,” for the sharp, burning sensation caused by a really hot pepper.

In contrast to tomatoes and potatoes, spicy capsicum peppers caught on rather quickly, and within 100 years they became the prevalent seasoning for indigenous cuisines in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Despite their importance in the American Southwest, chilies did not assume an important place in the mainstream American diet until the last 20 years, most notably when sales of salsa finally surpassed catsup in1992.

Chile, chilli, chili? Dictionaries differ, but cookbook writers persist in calling hot peppers “chiles” and use the word “chilli” for the commercial spice mixture of chile, dried oregano, cumin, etc. used in the making of “chili,” a meat and bean stew. 

As Mark Miller notes in his beautifully illustrated volume, The Great Chile Book(Ten Speed Press), there are more than 150 varieties of peppers and not even botanists can keep them straight.

The simplest distinction is between sweet and hot. Sweet bell peppers have no spicy heat. They are green, vegetal, and a little bitter when immature, ripening to red, orange, yellow, or purple with sweeter, complex flavors as they mature. The prime examples—thick-fleshed, imported Holland peppers—are available year-round in supermarkets and are beginning to be home-grown by local farmers as well. They are a little expensive but sweet, fruity, and available in irresistible jelly bean colors. Perhaps the best-tasting sweet pepper is the pimiento, scarlet and shaped like a Valentine’s Day heart. It is used primarily for making paprika but can be found fresh in the U.S. for a few weeks in early summer. Pimientos, roasted, peeled, sautÈed in a little olive oil, and stuffed with a thin layer of fresh goat cheese, are sweet pepper heaven. 

Dried sweet peppers are ground to make paprika. The mildest are based on pimientos; spicy blends from Spain, Portugal, and Hungary include some hot pepper, the hottest being a Hungarian variety appropriately named Eros. Indian paprikas are called mirch, often with a place name for a particular blend. 

At the mildly hot end of the capsicum spectrum are round red cherry peppers, long green Anaheims, and squat poblanos. Anaheims and poblanos appear on Mexican restaurant menus as chile rellenos, stuffed with cheese and fried. Jalapenos, the most widely available medium-hot pepper, last well and are suitable for a wide variety of salsas and guacamole. (Beware: Serranos look like small jalapenos but are much hotter.)  Asian markets usually stock Thai chilies—thin, sharply pointed, red and green—bitingly hot but indispensable in Southeast Asian soups, curries, and dipping sauces. At the murderous end of the spectrum are habanero and Jamaican Scotch bonnet chilies. They are attractive, convoluted, lantern-shaped peppers with sweet tropical fruit flavors overlaying searing, blinding heat. In addition to being a culinary hand grenade they can irritate unprotected skin. Cayenne, the most used dried pepper, holds its heat and flavor in whole or powdered form. 

Hot peppers derive their heat from compounds called capsinoids. Animals will not eat chilies, but people develop a tolerance for capsinoids over time. They still experience burning, sweating, and an increased heart rate but, more important, eating lots of chilies leads to the discharge and depletion of neurotransmitters signaling pain to the brain. The body experiences an endorphin rush like the feeling of well-being runners experience when they finish a race. As chili lovers say, “It burns so good….”

So, chili is a cheap good-time high, and hot pepper addiction appears to be relatively harmless—chili does not cause ulcers or hemorrhoids as people used to believe. In addition, capsaicin (the most common capsinoid) has known health effects such as blood thinning, reduction of blood pressure, and easing of gas pain. In ayurvedic medicine cayenne is combined in a paste with mustard and applied topically to ease arthritic pain. Chilies also contain antioxidants and significant amounts of vitamins A, B, and C. A single raw bell pepper, for example, has more vitamin C than an orange.

Local farm markets are the place to go in late summer when pepper season is in full swing. Baskets of waxy peppers glow in the sun and give off a faint, appetizing perfume. Even in northern climates, farmers have learned to grow semitropical spicy chilies; fortunately they can describe the heat levels of unfamiliar peppers. Try sampling new peppers, tasting for the fruity richness beyond the burn. Give thanks to the brave Inca and Aztec agriculturalists who saw beyond the burn so many centuries ago. +

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Sweet Peppers and Green Beans

This recipe combines peppers with green beans, which are often in abundance at the same time. It should be considered

as the starting point for many later summer variations. For example, slivered carrots and celery can be sautéed with the onions

and peppers. Slivers of fresh basil added at the end of cooking will provide a fragrant grace note.

1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced lengthwise

2 large red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and sliced

1 pound green beans, stemmed and cut into 2-inch lengths

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 tablespoons olive oil (extra virgin preferred)

1 pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and sliced

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 

Salt and pepper to taste

1.  Slice the vegetables so all the pieces are approximately 2 inches in length and about 1/4 inch in width.

2.  Start sautéing the onion slices in 3 tablespoons of oil over low heat, while slicing other vegetables. Add the pepper slices

and green beans. After the vegetables have softened, add the minced garlic and sauté for another minute or two. 

3.  Add the tomatoes and cayenne and simmer until the vegetables are soft. Add water if the dish becomes dry. Finally, salt

and pepper to taste and add the remaining tablespoon of oil.  

This dish improves on standing. Serves 4 as a side dish or first course, combined with pasta such as ziti. (Simply boil 1 pound

of dried pasta in salted water, drain when al dente, and mix with hot vegetables. Pass Parmesan cheese at the table.)

Bell Pepper Basics

Fresh peppers keep well in the refrigerator, but do not enclose them fully in plastic because high moisture can cause them to deteriorate. Buy them in volume during their high season and preserve them for later in the year.

Many chefs broil or roast mature red and orange bell peppers to remove their outer skins before using them in recipes. Simply hold the pepper over an open gas flame with tongs and turn until the skin blisters and blackens.

Immediately place the blistered peppers in a paper bag. After a few minutes their skins will slip off easily. Remove the seeds and stems from the peppers, slice into strips, and freeze in small packages for easy defrosting. Or, better, thinly slice 2 garlic cloves and sauté in 3 tablespoons of olive oil until the oil is flavored (do not brown). Add 2 cups of sliced peppers and sauté over low heat until the peppers are slightly softened. Add a few tablespoons of water, salt, and pepper, and sauté for a few minutes longer until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add a handful of black olives, and when they are warm, serve as an appetizer. Or, purée the peppers, garlic, and oil and use as a spread. Both the sautéed peppers and purée freeze well.

Food for the Wise

By Dr. Carrie Demers

Long ago there lived a saint in a forest near the royal city, a very good and wise man, known and loved by the king. One day the king invited the saint to dine with him at the palace. The saint accepted the offer, and the two men enjoyed a hearty meal together.

Afterwards the king suggested that the saint rest awhile before returning to his hut, and led the holy man to the royal couple’s private chambers, where he took a short nap. When he awoke, the saint caught sight of a beautiful necklace belonging to the queen. It glittered with gems and gold, and his mind was mesmerized by it. “I need that necklace,” he thought. “I have no

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wealth, and no security for my old age. This is the perfect solution to my poverty. No one will ever suspect me.” So he tucked the necklace away in his robe and bid his host farewell.

Soon afterwards the queen noticed that the necklace was missing. The servants turned the palace upside down looking for it. The queen scolded and threatened, but to no avail—it was nowhere to be found, and none of the servants would admit to taking it, even after the beatings began.

Meanwhile, the saint began to fret about being caught with the stolen treasure. His mind raced. “They will never suspect me because of my spiritual stature. But what if they do? I will pay for this misdeed!” When he arrived home, he looked around anxiously, but the bare hut offered no hiding place that seemed safe enough. Distraught, he finally buried the necklace in the forest, carefully noting the place so he could find it again. He went to bed exhausted, but slept badly.

The next morning the holy man went outside to do his morning ablutions, and after passing stool and urine his mind became clearer. “What have I done!” he exclaimed. “Why did I steal that necklace? I’m a mendicant. What have I to do with loss and gain? What do I want with a necklace or with the money that such a piece would bring?”

Unable to comprehend his own actions, he returned to his hut and sat for his morning meditation, but he could not let go of his thoughts for long. His mind was caught in the maze: why had he stolen the necklace in the first place, and why had he been so fearful all night? Gradually, he came to the conclusion that his meal with the king must hold the answer. He realized that as long as the food was in his body, his thinking was distorted and it did not become really clear again until he had cleansed his body and quieted his mind for meditation.

Eager to test this theory, he unearthed the necklace and returned with it to the palace, which was abuzz with news of the theft. The saint told the king that he could help find the necklace if the king would answer a few questions. The king agreed readily. Although he was puzzled when the saint asked him about the origin of yesterday’s meal, he responded respectfully.

After questioning the cook and the manager of the storehouse, they discovered that the grain—which formed the bulk of the meal—came from a village controlled by a wealthy and greedy lord. (In those days it was customary for all the farmers to give part of their harvest to the king to pay their tax.) The landlord habitually stole from the villagers, collecting more grain than was required to meet the taxes, and selling the excess for his own profit. Hence, the grain was grown by people who were fearful and anxious—they knew they would be robbed at harvest time. The grain was further polluted by the greed of the landlord. Because the saint was so pure, his mind reflected the consciousness of what he had eaten strongly and immediately. Satisfied that he had found the cause of his derangement, the saint explained it to the king and returned the necklace.

Are We What We Eat?We are accustomed to the idea that the chemical makeup of food affects our bodies, that proteins, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamins are all absorbed and used by the tissues for maintenance, growth, and repair. But as this story suggests, food has other properties as well, properties that affect us at a deeper level. Does the origin of what we eat, how it is grown, processed, prepared, and eaten affect our mind and consciousness as well as our body? The sages would answer, “Of course!” According to the ancient texts these venerable scientists performed numerous experiments on themselves with a variety of foods, painstakingly documenting the results. What they discovered is that food is an embodiment of the life force; it affects us on all levels—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

Here in the West we tend to think of food as fuel, ignoring its subtler effects. We know enough to say, “You are what you eat,” recognizing that our bodies are affected by our diet, but we never dream that there is a more profound interpretation of that saying—that we are, we assimilate at a deep level, the sum of the characteristics of the food we eat. In addition to absorbing the physical components such as calories, protein, and carbohydrates, we also assimilate the attitudes with which food has been grown, harvested, processed, and sold. Thus food has the potential to feed or starve our very souls.

Let’s examine this notion, beginning with flesh foods. Research shows that foods derived from animal flesh are harmful to humans. This is not just because flesh foods often contain high levels of cholesterol, although this is a part of the problem.

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Another part is that the animals have been fed hormones and antibiotics that remain in the meat and are transmitted to those who eat it. But the real problem, according to the ancients, is that the flesh of conscious beings carries within it the memory and the emotion of the kind of life they have led, and that by eating it we transfer these same tendencies (samskaras in yogic parlance) to ourselves.

This hypothesis bears closer examination. The direct effect of food on consciousness is not easily observed, especially if—unlike the saint in our story—we are living a hectic life, full of sensory stimulation. But the yogis insist that it has a cumulative effect, whether or not we can observe it. The effect is greater if the food carries an intense consciousness, as does the flesh of animals. Let’s take as an example cattle that are raised and slaughtered for profit. These cattle are bred, pastured, and later fattened in feedlots, so they have come to depend on humans. Their instinct for self-protection has been weakened by their trust in their caretakers. When they find themselves at the door of the slaughterhouse their survival instinct tells them they are going to be killed by the same beings they have come to look to for food and protection—they go to their deaths bewildered, angry, frightened, and desperate. These powerful negative emotions release a strong chemical into the bloodstream that permeates their flesh. It follows that those who habitually eat this flesh are taking within themselves the samskara of mistrust, anger, fear, and desperation.

The samskaras of non-flesh foods are not nearly as strong. The consciousness in fruits, vegetables, and grains is not so highly developed as the consciousness in animals. According to the yogis, the only way to contaminate plant food with strong negative samskaras is for it to be grown and harvested by people who are themselves extremely negative. Even then, the samskara will be weak because the consciousness of a carrot, for example, is itself quite weak.

On the other hand, the yogis tell us that grain has a greater power to absorb and transmit samskaras. Grain is seed. In addition to containing carbohydrates, protein, and oil, it has the ability to sprout and grow. Grain gathers samskaras more efficiently than do fruits and root vegetables, for example, and for this reason the yoga texts advise those who undertake the higher spiritual practices to increase the portions of wild grains, fruits, and vegetables in their diet, and reduce the amount of cultivated grain. In fact, according to the scriptures, wild grains and fruits are permitted during practices that require fasting. The samskaras of grain that has not been cultivated, as well as the samskaras of fruits and roots, are neutral; they will not affect the consciousness of the practitioner in any active way.

Let’s take this link between food and consciousness one step further. In the wild, animals kill other animals for food—for survival. We humans kill domesticated animals for profit. And increasingly, family farms that were once the major source of our fruits, grains, and vegetables are giving way to giant food conglomerates where the only concern is for the bottom line. Thus, the consciousness we are absorbing when we eat mass-produced food is profit-oriented and business-oriented. If we are indeed affected by the samskaras of the food we eat, a steady diet of mass-produced food will eventually cause us to develop a convoluted relationship toward others—a customer/merchant relationship based on selfishness, greed, and the desire for gain.

How We Become What We EatAssuming for the moment that the yogis are correct when they say that food affects consciousness, it is reasonable to ask how this takes place. The answer offered by the science of Ayurveda is that food affects consciousness, first by affecting the three bodily humors, or doshas—vata, pitta, and kapha. Some foods are predominantly vatic, some pittic, and some kaphic. These humors in turn affect the mind, which then affects consciousness. Let’s see how this works in daily life.

Food gives us life; therefore it is important that our food have life in it. Canned foods—or anything with a bar code—has lost its vitality. It does not enliven. It still has calories, but calories that are somehow deadening. The ancients called this qualitytamasic—that which leads to a state of dullness, boredom, or lethargy. Food that is tamasic—dead, overly cooked, old, stale, fermented, or highly processed—has a dulling effect on the body and mind. It can lead to obesity even though it is lacking in nourishment. Those who build their diets around it are often overweight and undernourished at the same time.

Foods in which vata predominates are said to be rajasic. Such foods are agitating and overly stimulating to the body and mind. Sugar, caffeine, and highly spiced foods are rajasic. After eating them, our bodies grow restless, and our minds become

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overactive, critical, angry, and impatient. We often eat these foods to counter the dullness engendered by the tamasic foods we have just consumed. (How often do we reach for a cup of coffee or a caffeinated soda after eating a highly processed meal or snack?)

Those of us trying to live a yogic life strive to eat foods that lead to a state of calmness and clarity. Foods that are pitta-predominant nourish awareness and are said to be sattvic. Most fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes are sattvic, as are some dairy products—milk, ghee, and cheeses like paneer that have not been aged. Ideally, sattvic foods are grown and harvested without pesticides, herbicides, and harsh chemical fertilizers that damage the soil. Such foods are neither dulling nor stimulating. When we eat a sattvic diet our own intrinsic nature—calm, clear, and aware—has the opportunity to shine forth.

This is not to say that we should limit ourselves to sattvic foods. A healthy body needs the quality of solidity (kapha or tamas), energy (vata or rajas), and lightness (pitta or sattva). The optimal diet combines all of these, with sattva predominating. A diet so balanced leads to a body that has the qualities of weight and solidity while remaining light and energetic. Thus, what we eat affects our behavior and our energy body. The characteristics of the physical and energy bodies in turn are reflected in our mind and consciousness.

This is why the yogis tell us that the source and quality of our food is so important. Yet most of us are dependent on the food that is commercially available. We have little choice as to what type of food is sold. For the most part we do not know who grew it, how it was processed, or where it came from. Still, we do have some choices. We can avoid processed food and buy in its stead the freshest food available. We can encourage and take advantage of the trend toward organic food. We can patronize farmers’ markets. Those of us who eat animal products can buy eggs produced by free-range chickens and raw milk from cows that are well cared for. And we can pay attention to how our food is prepared and how we eat it.

The Cook as Spiritual GuardianIn India, where meditation has been a way of life for thousands of years, those who prepare the family food are dedicated to their art and valued for their skill. Here food and God, or Brahman, are recognized as one and the same. Preparing food thoughtlessly or ineptly is regarded as a form of sacrilege. Those who prepare food have the well-being of the household in their hands, for the sages say that if we prepare food while harboring angry, destructive thoughts, the food turns to poison.

Food gives life and connects us to the source of life. When we eat food prepared by those who do not care for us, those who are cooking for profit, and those who would rather be doing something else, we end up with physical and mental indigestion; we are absorbing the energy of the cook along with the energy of the food. According to the Puranas (ancient scriptures of India) selling cooked food is one of the worst sins imaginable. Food is to be offered to the god of fire, Vaishvanara, not to be treated as merchandise. And the Puranas warn that whenever the practice of selling cooked food becomes widespread, it is an unmistakable sign that the Kali Yuga has arrived.

Rather than relying on food prepared by others, we should cook for ourselves and our loved ones, or allow them to cook for us. The more time we spend handling and preparing our food, the stronger our relationship with it. When we prepare food our feelings automatically go into it, changing it in subtle but significant ways. When we buy commercially prepared food and simply heat it up, the food goes into our bodies without being mediated by our consciousness.

The stronger our link with what we eat, the more it nourishes us. The yogic method of testing this hypothesis is to experiment with it. Start slowly. Make a commitment to spend more time in the kitchen, preparing whole, fresh food once or twice a week. See what happens as you build a relationship with your food. Do you feel better? How does the food you prepare yourself compare with the prepared food you purchase? Watch and see how this changes as you become more attuned to your cooking.

In many quarters the reaction to this suggestion will be, “I simply don’t have time to cook. I’m barely managing as it is.” But stop and think what we are really saying when we insist that we have to eat on the run, that we do not have time to do our own cooking. By saying we do not have time to prepare food—that which sustains life—aren’t we saying we have no time for nurturing ourselves and those we love? Are we too busy because we are earning a living? Maybe—but what good is that living

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if we do not eat properly? And if we do not have time to approach food properly, we have no time for life.

How We EatEven if our food is fresh, nourishing, and lovingly prepared, we will not get its full benefit if we eat hurriedly and unconsciously or when we are out of sorts. Just as cooking in an angry state of mind degrades the quality of the food being prepared, so does eating when we are angry or upset. Further, food eaten on the run, or when the mind is in turmoil, cannot be digested properly. If you have done this, you know it sits like a lump in the pit of the stomach.

So it is best to eat only when we are calm and totally present, focusing on each bite with full awareness that it is life itself that is nourishing us. This can be challenging. Most of us eat on the run and have formed the habit of popping food in our mouth without paying much attention to what we are doing. Sometimes we hardly even taste it. Eating this way leads to a feeling of emptiness, and this is why we often find ourselves looking for a snack even when we have recently eaten a full meal.

If we find ourselves feeling stressed or out of sorts when mealtime rolls around, a few minutes of deep breathing or a walk around the block may quiet the mind so it can focus on the activity at hand. It is also helpful to pause and acknowledge the source of the food before we begin eating. This is why many cultures observe certain rituals before eating. In some, a portion of the food is removed and offered to domesticated animals or reserved for the poor. In others, a small portion of each dish is removed and offered into the fire in recognition of the forces that nourish us. A ritual such as this serves as a reminder that by eating we are connecting ourselves with the forces of nature—both known and unknown. To eat consciously is to acknowledge our connection with the source of our existence—which is not matter but spirit. Offering a portion of our food, even if only mentally, is a way of connecting ourselves with consciousness, which is our intrinsic nature.

That is why the yogis caution us to be mindful while we eat. Remember that food is the most basic link with the source of life. Be thankful for it, pray over it, honor it. We are not just filling our belly; we are nurturing our mind and spirit as well. Eating with full awareness puts us in harmony with nature—not only with the external world, but also our own inner nature. This creates better health, while strengthening our connection to our intuitive self. For when we are in tune with that wise part of ourselves, our thinking is clearer, we make decisions that better serve us, and we are drawn to what matters most in life.

In respecting this vehicle we have been given, and in honoring the food that nourishes it, we purify our bodies. In the East ritual offerings are made into a fire, and the smoke from such a fire is believed to have the power to purify. If the offering is tainted, the smoke is impure and taints all that it touches. The same holds true of our digestive fire; if we offer it trash, the impurities it yields affect our whole being. So let us offer into our own inner fire wholesome gifts that burn clean and yield a pure mind and body. Abiding by the laws of nature truly nourishes us in all ways.

Cool as a LotusBy Vasant LadThousands of years ago, beneath the full moon on hot summer nights in India, Ayurvedic vaidyas, or healers, collected

dewdrops from blue and white lotuses and stored them for medicinal purposes. According to the scriptures, if you place a drop of this precious substance on your tongue, it will cool your entire body. This "moon sweat" pacifies the pitta dosha, the subtle energy that controls metabolism and can cause you to overheat when it’s hot outside.

If you’re feeling dehydrated, sweaty, or irritable, you probably have excess pitta. Other telltale signs include skin inflammation, acidic stomach, burning sensations in the body, red eyes, and a flaring temper. But when your pitta is in balance, life is good: you experience unmatched energy and drive, mental clarity, joyfulness, vitality, and strength. Here are some tips for balancing pitta in the summer’s heat:

The Principle of Opposites

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Much of ayurveda’s wisdom is based on the idea that "like increases like." For example, if a fiery, temperamental businessman eats hot, spicy foods when it’s 90˚ outside, he’ll only get hotter and more irritable. That’s why ayurveda treats imbalances with their opposites. A vaidya would give this man cooling foods like cucumbers to quell his excess fire, tell him to go swimming, and take time to "stop and smell the roses"—literally. This principle is so simple it’s easy to overlook, but once you apply it to your daily life, you’ll be amazed how quickly you can rebalance your body and mind.

Watch What (and When) You EatEat breakfast and lunch before the sun gets hot. Our agni, or digestive fire, is low in the summer, so our appetite is weaker than it is in cooler seasons. In fact, it’s lowest during the hottest part of the day. Try to eat breakfast and lunch before 11 a.m. and a light dinner when the sun begins to set. 

Stay hydrated. Drink 4 to 6 cups of water daily, along with cooling beverages like fresh coconut water and watermelon juice. Make your own cucumber milk by blending 1/2 cup of peeled cucumbers in 1 cup of milk with a pinch of sugar, then garnish with rose petals. Or make your own electrolyte drink: add 1 teaspoon each of lime juice and sugar, and a pinch of rock salt to a glass of cool water. 

Avoid hot, spicy, salty foods. They’ll increase the pitta dosha. Hard liquor, red wine, and red meat are also too heating for the summer.

Eat sweet, bitter, and astringent foods instead. These tastes are pitta-pacifying. The best summer foods are made with milk, yogurt, ghee, cucumber, apples, pears, melon, watermelon, fresh cilantro, asparagus, artichoke, broccoli, and basmati rice. For breakfast, try cream of wheat cooked with milk and a pinch of cardamom and sugar. At lunch or dinner, get your daily dose of leafy greens. Fresh salads with olive oil or Thousand Island dressing are ideal. Dessert? Try tapioca pudding or a cup of sweet yogurt with 1/2 teaspoon sugar.

The Sun and the MoonSunlight—in moderation—is essential to our health and well-being, and believe it or not, so is moonlight. Here are some tips for maximizing your benefits:

Avoid direct exposure to the sun from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you have to spend time outdoors during the heat of the day, wear loose, comfortable clothing made of cotton or silk so skin can breathe. Wear colors that reflect the sunlight, such as white, blue, green, or gray, and cooling jewelry made with sandalwood beads, jade, pearl, amethyst crystals, moonstone, malachite crystals, or silver. And shade your head with a wide-brimmed hat. 

Don’t work out in the heat. Water sports like swimming, scuba diving, and water polo are ideal for the summer. But save your exercise for the early morning or late evening. 

Soothe a sunburn. Mix equal amounts of powdered sandalwood and turmeric with a little cool water and apply the paste to the sunburn. Or rub your skin with aloe vera gel or coconut oil.

Bask in the moonlight. In the evening, go for a walk on the beach or in the cool green grass. Wear white clothes and white flowers in your hair so you can absorb the moon’s cooling rays, which are soothing to the pitta dosha.+

Vasant Lad, BAMS, MASc, is a world-renowned ayurvedic physician and author. He is the founder of the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Chill Out with Yoga

Good cooling postures include the fish, camel, boat, cobra, cow, and tree poses. Practice sitali pranayama. And don’t forget to meditate—it will lower your mental/emotional temperature.

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All washed upA Technique for Inner Cleansing

By Michael Grady

Here in the West we are very conscientious about cleaning the exterior surfaces of our body—skin, hair, and nails—and even some of the more accessible interior surfaces, like the teeth, mouth, and ear canal. Yogis go much further. They do not confine their hygiene to easily accessible surfaces. In their quest for saucha(purity) they have discovered diverse ways of cleansing the body’s interior. This inner cleansing often begins with the digestive tract. There are a variety of ways of cleaning it, some of them quite startling to the Western mind.

One of the simplest and safest is the upper wash. This, as the name implies, involves washing the upper portion of the digestive tract—the oral cavity, esophagus, and stomach. Essentially, this practice involves swallowing a quantity of saline and immediately bringing it up again. It is also known as gaja karani (“the action of the elephant”), a reference to the habit elephants have of drawing water up through the trunk and then regurgitating it. At first this practice may strike Westerners as extreme. In the first place, we associate vomiting with illness, and in the second the idea of cleaning the stomach is alien to us. Why does the stomach need cleaning?

To answer this, let’s begin by looking at the digestive and respiratory systems. Both are open channels to the world outside the body. The respiratory system transports air from outside the body to the lungs, and the digestive system transports food through the stomach and intestines. Both tracts need protection from contaminants, friction, and dehydration—protection that is provided by mucus. In the respiratory system mucus traps bacteria, pollen, and dust, and helps protect the delicate lung tissue from drying out. It collects in the back of the throat during sleep, and is swallowed and sent to the stomach. In proper proportion, mucus protects the stomach from its own digestive acids and effectively lubricates the entire gastro-intestinal tract. In excess, it contributes to sluggish digestion and poor appetite. These conditions tend to create listlessness, which is the antithesis of the clarity required to practice yoga. Prolonged congestion may also be accompanied by restlessness and anxiety, which is again in opposition to the effect yoga practitioners are seeking. The upper wash can enhance breathing and reduce congestion due to hay fever and allergies, or from eating an excess of “mucus-producing” foods like milk, yogurt, cheese, or ice cream.

The upper wash expels a sizable quantity of mucus from the body quickly, and it can be useful whether you are prone to congestion or just want to alleviate cold symptoms. The upper wash not only rinses excess mucus from the upper digestive tract, it also draws mucus from the nose and bronchi. It may dry out your nose and perhaps prevent a cold from really taking hold. Doing it in the morning may save you the inconvenience of wiping your runny nose all day. Or, when the nasal wash is not sufficient to open your nasal passages for alternate nostril breathing and meditation, the upper wash may do the trick.

The Ayurvedic ViewAyurveda, an ancient Indian system of medicine, uses the five-element theory to explain the conditions which result in disease or health. This same theory is also useful in describing the benefits of the upper wash. (The elements referred to here are not atomic elements that differentiate forms of matter but rather forces that regulate states of matter and energy.) These elements are metaphorically referred to as earth, water, fire, air, and ether. For example, earth represents a stabilizing, solidifying force, while water represents that which is fluid and movable. When these five elements are in balance the organism is healthy, while an imbalance results in disease or the beginning of disease.

Earth and water elements in combination are known as kapha. An imbalance of kapha often manifests as excess mucus and may result in a cold, cough, or other respiratory problems. (Kapha is actually the origin of the word “cough.”) Ayurveda teaches that the “home” of kapha is the stomach and lungs. The upper wash throws out excess mucus, relieving the body of its heavy influence. Once the imbalance is reduced, the body is more able to heal itself—the fire element (pitta), being less dampened by kapha, empowers the immune system to burn up excess mucus, killing bacterial or viral invaders. The upper wash, however, does more than simply alleviate congestion. Ayurvedic physicians recognize that the upper wash increases the fire element, and this is why they prescribe it for a variety of conditions in which more fire is needed. Such conditions

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include asthma, diseases of the spleen, indigestion, and some skin disorders. A strengthened fire element not only improves these conditions, it also makes the mind clearer and sharper. That is why the upper wash leaves many people with a clearer mind and a clearer sense of vision.

Can Vomiting Be Pleasant?For most people the biggest hurdle in the way of practicing the upper wash is the negative association with vomiting. Chances are you have never thrown up except when you were feeling ill, and the experience has always been accompanied by the foul taste of undigested food and stomach acid. Expelling salt water long after your last meal has left the stomach is quite a different experience.

To begin, choose a morning when you’re not rushed. You’ll need about an hour for the practice, including time to rest afterwards. Find a place where you can spend twenty to thirty minutes without interruption: a bathroom or a sink in a private place will do. So will a secluded spot outdoors, except in inclement weather. It’s helpful to have empty bowels, as the pressure of the water retained in the stomach, along with the inevitable passage of some of it into the small intestine, can trigger a bowel movement. Mix two quarts of lukewarm water in a pitcher with one tablespoon of salt to make it palatable and to help draw mucus out of the tissues. Use a rounded tablespoon if you are using kosher or other coarse-grained salt. If the water is too warm it will pass more quickly into the intestines, where it is beyond the range of the upper wash. During regurgitation there is an automatic contraction of the ab-domen, which propels the water out of the stomach. The cleansing process is accentuated by intensifying the natural abdominal contraction. So, before drinking the salt water, you can prepare the abdomen with any variation of agni sara or uddiyana bandha (stomach lift).

Because the force of vomiting temporarily elevates blood pressure, the upper wash should not be done by anyone with high blood pressure or heart disease. It should also be avoided by people with stomach ulcers, hyperacidity, or hiatal hernia, and by women during pregnancy, menstruation, or lactation.

Ready, Set, GoNow you are ready to begin drinking. Squat down with your pitcher of water in hand. (If you have bad knees, or if for some reason you can’t squat comfortably, sit on a stool or step.) Pressing the thighs against the lower abdomen compresses the intestines and helps prevent the water from leaving the stomach. Compose yourself, and take a few slow, deep breaths. Resolve that you are going to quickly drink two quarts of water without pausing, except to catch your breath. If you drink slowly the water will pass into the intestines. Normally we don’t think about breathing when we’re eating or drinking, but you will become conscious of breathing while drinking such a large volume in a short time.

Both air and water follow the same route into the throat before the air enters the trachea (windpipe) and water passes into the esophagus. The epiglottis, a saddle-shaped plate of cartilage, sits at the level of the Adam’s apple and shuts like a lid over the windpipe when we swallow, to prevent water from entering the lungs. While drinking rapidly, air and water must queue up like two teams passing through a common turnstile. Only one person (or in this case one gulp of water or air) can enter at a time. A friend of mine likes to regulate his breathing and drinking in this pattern: inhale, swallow, inhale, swallow, inhale, swallow, exhale, swallow, exhale, swallow, exhale, swallow. His breaths are shallow and frequent. Another option might be: exhale, inhale, swallow, swallow, swallow, exhale, inhale, swallow, swallow, swallow. Here the breath is deeper. Either way, resist the inclination to hold your breath, which will leave you gasping for air. Staying conscious of your breath will keep you calm and centered. Drink until the water is gone. If your stomach feels uncomfortably full, that’s OK—you are going to throw it up soon. Drinking until you feel too full will make it easier to throw the water up.

The stomach is contracted if it has been twelve hours or more since the last meal—uncomfortable fullness means the stomach is stretching, and mucus will be released from the folds of the stomach lining. My first instructor encouraged me to try to drink three quarts of water. I was very uncomfortable, but those first gags came easily. After drinking all of the water, some experienced practitioners like to stand up and pump and twist the abdomen a few times, creating more turbulence in the stomach to intensify the cleansing. Most beginners, however, will have little interest in doing anything but relieving the fullness. Too much exercise at this time, or waiting too long, will cause the water to move down into the intestines. So when you have finished drinking, stand up and bend forward at the waist. Support the weight of your torso by placing one hand above the knee and leaning on it. Carefully insert the index and middle fingers of the other hand (with nails trimmed) into the mouth and follow the tongue to where it descends into the throat. (If you go a little further you will reach the epiglottis.) Touching this sensitive area will trigger a gag reflex—a shivering sensation that results in an abdominal contraction that forcefully projects the contents of the stomach upward and out of the body. You can induce a stronger abdominal contraction by pressing your

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abdomen with the other hand. Don’t suppress the gag reflex. Keep your throat relaxed and your chin extended. Regurgitation is a powerful force. Surrender to it, and you will expel the bulk of the water in a few gushes.

With practice, you may be able to do the upper wash without using your fingers—simply bend over and contract your abdomen while keeping your throat and mouth open. It can be difficult to empty the last bit of water from the stomach. Don’t give up too soon. Often the last bit is the most frothy with liquefied mucus. If a sour or bitter taste comes into your mouth, you know you’ve reached the end of the wash. The bitterness is bile drawn up from the small intestines into the stomach through the force of vomiting. An acid taste probably means that you ate too late or too much during your evening meal, and your stomach hasn’t returned to a less acidic resting condition. When you finish the wash, rest for twenty or thirty minutes. If you regurgitated most of the water, you can eat breakfast after resting. If you weren’t able to throw up the water, or threw up very little, you will probably need a longer rest before you feel like doing anything. The bloated feeling in the stomach will gradually subside as the salt water passes into the intestines. And as the water works its way out over the next hour or two, expect to urinate frequently and/or have a loose stool.

A Tool for HealthThough it may have taken a bit of encouragement for you to attempt the upper wash, consider doing it again soon. Repeat the practice on three consecutive mornings, or on every other morning for a week, and then once a week for the rest of the month. This will help you to become more comfortable with the practice. Do it while you have momentum. Thereafter, repeat the practice once a month or as needed to relieve congestion. The upper wash is particularly beneficial during the change of seasons or during the cold season when others around you are getting sick. Try it when you feel that first increase in congestion. If you catch cold anyway, but don’t have a sore throat or more serious symptoms, a daily upper wash may alleviate much of the mucus discharge and speed your recovery.

By practicing the upper wash regularly you will develop an appreciation for how it feels to have clean upper digestive and respiratory tracts. The upper wash introduces a new feeling of well-being—an alternative to feeling sluggish and congested. You may begin to accept this cleaner, more vibrant condition as normal—as the way you should feel. Then you will understand why, for many yogis, the upper wash is an integral part of their practice.

Oil pullingOil pulling or oil swishing, in alternative medicine, is a traditional Indian folk remedy that involves swishing oil in

the mouth for claimed oral and systemic health benefits. It is mentioned in the Ayurvedic text Charaka

Samhita where it is called Kavala Gandoosha / Kavala Graha.[1] It is also used to reduce enamel wear from

stomach acid in hangovers and bulimics.

The method

In the morning before breakfast on an empty stomach you take one tablespoon in the mouth but do not

swallow it. Move Oil Slowly in the mouth as rinsing or swishing and Dr Karach puts it as ' sip, suck and pull

through the teeth' for fifteen to twenty minutes. This process makes oil thoroughly mixed with saliva.

Swishing activates the enzymes and the enzymes draw toxins out of the blood. The oil must not be

swallowed, for it has become toxic. As the process continues, the oil gets thinner and white. If the oil is still

yellow, it has not been pulled long enough. It is then spit from the mouth , the oral cavity must be

thoroughly rinsed and mouth must be washed thoroughly. Just use normal tap water and good old fingers to


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Clean the sink properly, you can use some antibacterial soap to clean the sink. Because the spittle contains

harmful bacteria and toxic bodily waste. If one were to see one drop of this liquid magnified 600 times under

a microscope, one would see microbes in their first stage of development.

It is important to understand that during the oilpulling / oilswishing process one's metabolism is intensified.

This leads to improved health. One of the most striking results of this process is the fastening of loose teeth,

the elimination of bleeding gums and the visible whitening of the teeth.

The oil pulling /swishing is done best before breakfast. To accelerate the healing process, it can be repeated

three times a day, but always before meals on an empty stomach.

The practitioner rinses their mouth with approximately one tablespoon of oil

(sesame, sunflower, vegetable and coconut oils are the most recommended) for 15–20 minutes on an empty

stomach (before eating/drinking) then spits it out.[5]

This process makes oil thoroughly mixed with saliva. As the process continues, the oil gets thinner and

white. The oil is put in the mouth, with chin tilted up, and slowly swished, sucked, chomped and pulled

through the teeth. The oil changes from yellow and oily consistency to a thin, white foam before spitting out.

If the oil is still yellow, it has not been pulled long enough. It is then spat from the mouth, the oral cavity is

then thoroughly rinsed and washed with normal tap water and fingers or tooth brush. This procedure is

typically performed daily.[6]

There is no scientific literature on the use of oil pulling therapy, apart from one study that reports on the

effect of oil pulling therapy with sesame oil on the oral health status. In this study there was a definitive

reduction in the S. mutans count in plaque and saliva after oil pulling therapy. The mechanism by which oil

pulling therapy causes plaque inhibition and reduction in S. mutans is not known. The viscosity of the oil

could probably inhibit bacterial adhesion and plaque coaggregation. Other possible mechanism might be the

saponification or the 'soap-making' process that occurs as a result of alkali hydrolysis of fat. [21] Sesame oil

is a vegetable fat and when acted upon by salivary alkalis like bicarbonate, the soap making process is

initiated. Soaps are good cleansing agents because they are effective emulsifiers. Emulsification is the

process by which insoluble fats like sesame oil can be broken down into minute droplets and dispersed in

water. Emulsification greatly enhances the surface area of the oil, thereby increasing its cleansing action.

[21] But more studies have to be done to prove the antibacterial effect of the components of the sesame


Results of Oil Pulling

The result of this healing research has attracted amazement and resulted in further research. This additional

research concerning Oil Therapy has now been thoroughly documented, especially with regard to

physiological similarities between individuals. It is surprising that through this biological healing method a

wide variety of symptoms have unquestionably disappeared without any side-effects. This simple method

makes it possible completely heal such a wide variety of diseases which would normally be treated by an

operation or by powerful or potent Drugs, usually with significant side-effects.

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The simplicity of this healing system in which Oil is swirled backwards and forwards in the mouth, is due to

the stimulating effect which it has on the body's eliminatory system. Through this method it is possible to

heal individual cells, cell conglomerates such as lymph nodes and more complex tissues such as internal

organs simultaneously. This occurs because the beneficial microflora throughout the body are provided with

a healthy continuum. Without this natural bodily intrusive element evinced by the microflora the usual

pattern of human health tends to lean towards illness rather than wellness. Dr. Karach anticipates that

regular application of this treatment by reversing this process so that wellness is the dominant state of the

human body is likely to increase the average human lifespan to approximately 150 years, double the

present life expectancy.

Dr. Karach is supported in this view by other colleagues in the world. By means of this oil pulling treatment.

it is invariably the result that diseases like migraine headaches, bronchitis, diseased teeth, arterio

thrombosis, chronic blood disorders such as leukemia, arthritis and related illnesses, neuro physiological

paralysis, eczema, gastro enteritis, peritonitis, heart disease, kidney disease, meningitis, and women’s

hormonal disorders are completely eliminated from the organism. The benefit of Dr. Karach's method is that

the oil therapy heals the whole body in perpetuity. In terminal diseases such as cancer, Aids and chronic

infections this treatment method has been shown to successfully replace all others. Dr. Karach has

successfully healed a chronic leukemia patient with 15 years of harsh treatment methods behind him. Acute

arthritis in 1 patient who was totally bedridden was removed from his body in 3 days with no inflammation


NOTE: The recommended oils to use are Sunflower Oil, Seasme Oil. We are receiving many emails about

which oil to use. Our experience with thousands of people across the globe says USE COLD PRESSED OIL as

first choice, if it is not available use REFINED OIL ( which seems to be effective in the process too). We have

observed that any oil other than SUNFLOWER or SEASME may not be effective.

Regular oil swishing (at least once a day as soon as you wake up in the morning or at any time on an empty stomach) will result in significant reduction in plaque and gingivitis. It should definitely be a supplemental oral hygiene aid along with tooth brushing.

Oil swishing has other benefits according to Ayurveda. It is claimed that oil swishing can eliminate toxins from the whole body through the tongue. The tongue is supposed to be connected to different major organs of the body such as the kidneys, lungs, spleen, liver, heart, pancreas, small intestines, stomach, colon, and spine. Thus, the tongue is a key organ in eliminating waste toxins and harmful microbes from the body. The tongue is an indicator of the state of health of the body. In Ayurveda, cleaning a coated tongue with a tongue scrapper is a daily practice. The body deposits toxins on the tongue during sleep. One notices on awakening in the morning or even during a period of sickness that the tongue becomes “coated” with a yellowish foul smelling substance. Cleaning the tongue is essential for oral and whole body health.

Sublingual absorption under the tongue is very efficient and fast. Oil swishing can promote such absorption of positive phytonutrients that can aid the body in balancing off microbial accumulation.

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Metals in Ayurvedha

Gold, Silver and Copper

The answer to this is Yes and No. Yes that we can depend on Ayurveda, and no we cannot if we do not have the right knowledge, or possess limited knowledge of the same. The basic fundamental principle in Ayurveda is heat. That all treatment is based on the healing power, sought through heat. Metals for example can be taken into consideration if used in the right proportion. There are many theories that take into consideration the usage of metals.

Gold for example is the softest metal which can be used for a variety of purposes, but thanks o its sheer heat, it needs to sparingly used. It is understood that Gold provides wisdom, in proportion can be used to its best purpose. One of the reasons we can understand this is when you have a root cap made out of Gold for covering your tooth. Of course considering that titanium is far stronger than gold, its started to outdo gold so far. Silver also for example, since we are talking about the usage of metals is considered to be cold and loaded with iron.

Once exposed to the weather, silver starts getting oxidized and water drunk from glasses made of silver are quite beneficial for use. Since its loaded with iron, you can get the goodness of pure, unadulterated iron, along with the cooling effects of silver and this makes the bones strong, removes acidic toxins from the body. Copper also for example is one of the excellent means of allowing body heat to reduce to as much as fifty percent from those who constantly perspire and cannot seem to get rid of the feverish heat in their bodies!

The healing power of precious metals

When we think about precious metals, we think of jewellery — necklaces, rings and bracelets. But gold, silver and platinum are

good for much more than just decorative pieces.

Leila McKinnon investigates the healing power of precious metals.

Metal magic: gold

Marilyn Havaunes has been on a course of gold injections to treat her rheumatoid arthritis with rheumatologist, Dr James

Bertouch. Liquid gold injections cost $140 a go — so it's not cheap — but they've left Marilyn feeling as good as gold.

"In your wrist joints, what we can see is that there are some little holes in the wrists and they've probably lessened since the

last time we actually took some x-rays. So it looks like the gold treatment that you're on is actually helping the complaint," says

Dr Bertouch to Marilyn. But exactly how does gold help? Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease where the body's own immune

system — the white cells — attack the tissues lining the joints. This makes them stiff, painful and swollen. When gold is

injected it enters the attacking cells and disables them so they can no longer cause inflammation. Amazingly, the healing

power of gold is not new in modern medicine as it's been used to treat arthritis for more than 80 years.

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June Hinchen has been receiving regular doses since she was diagnosed in her late thirties. Now in her golden years, she's

convinced it's made a huge difference to her life. "I think it'd be very difficult. I don't think I'd be standing up and I wouldn't be

as active as I am," she says.

But before we all start our own gold rush, Marilyn and June are just some of the lucky ones as metal doesn't work on

everyone. Gold is also toxic and can have unpleasant side effects. According to Dr Bertouch it can affect the production of

white corpuscles and red corpuscles from the bone marrow, so patients on gold injections need to do regular blood counts.

Metal magic: silver

In olden days, people used silver to de-contaminate water because it kills germs. Professor Rustum Roy, an expert in

materials science at Pennsylvania State University in the United States, is going to prove it.

Leila: We're in the laboratory, what are we going to demonstrate today?

Professor Roy: We're simply going to demonstrate that silver colloids, silver sols, can kill bacteria and we're choosing E.coli,

that very well-known one, as an example, just to show it really does rapidly kill bacteria.

Lab assistant Manju adds a silver solution to water contaminated with the E.coli bacteria. Within thirty seconds, the green

e.coli begin to turn red — and red means dead. In less than three minutes the entire screen is awash with red, so the silver's

done an amazing job of killing off this deadly bug. "It is being used for abrasions, cuts — any exposure which can get any kind

of bacteria in there. Most of your wounds don't heal because bacteria go there and go and do other kinds of stuff," says

Professor Roy.

It's widely accepted that silver is a good natural antibiotic; it's even used in a lot of bandaids. Dr Catherine Augustine is such a

fan that she's been using it to treat a persistent sore on Nate the dog's leg. "The wound used to be all the way up into his

shoulder area and it really started quite large and now you can see it's considerably smaller," says Dr Augustine.

Dr Augustine also uses silver for many of the family's ills — she buys silver colloids from her local health food store which are

compounds of silver often suspended in water. But authorities here and in the US caution there are no proven health benefits.

In fact, if you drink large quantities of silver solution over long periods of time, your skin might turn grey. What is proven is that

silver is a great antibacterial — but it might do much, much more. Scientists are now testing silver on diseases like malaria and

leprosy with encouraging results.

The Theory Behind Healing MetalsIn the science of Ayurveda, the concept of holistic   health  is expanded to include cosmic forces. Not only does our physical, mental, and spiritual health impact our well-being, the energy emitted by the pull of the planets has some influence as well. Healing metals have the power to neutralize the negative energy that may come from the cosmos, treating the human body on a subtle energy level as well as on the physical. According to this belief system, copper, gold, silver, and iron metals in Ayurvedic medicine play a vital role in maintaining well-being. When they come into contact with human tissue, their electromagnetic energy affects the body at a cellular level. They project an 'astral light' which counteracts unwanted cosmic energy. This is why some people wear a silver bracelet or copper band for healing; it is not only for adornment.

In Ayurveda all matter contains the energy of the Universal Consciousness; in fact, everything is a manifestation of this energy. Natural substances such as metals contain reservoirs of vital energy known as prana. They can therefore be used to heal, strengthen, and protect. There is a possibility of toxins within even pure metals; so, in Ayurvedic medicine all the healing metals, including copper, gold, silver, and iron, are purified before use. The element is usually heated and then treated with a natural substance, such as oil, buttermilk, or ghee (medicinal clarified butter). When using metals for specific treatments, do so under the consultation of an experienced healer.

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Healing Metals in Ayurvedic Medicine

Copper As a healing metal copper is used for problems with excess fat. It benefits the liver, spleen, and lymphatic system. In

Ayurveda, this metal is used to treat obesity, edema, and anemia. A simple treatment for healing is to place a copper band

around the arm.

Gold In its pure form, gold can be used as a nervine tonic. It has a beneficial impact on the mind, increasing memory and

intelligence. It is an Ayurvedic healing remedy for strengthening the heart and improving stamina. Gold can be used to treat

heart and lung problems, epilepsy, and hysteria. A simple method to harness the healing energy of gold is to place the pure

metal in two cups of water. Boil the water until half of the liquid has evaporated. The resulting gold infused water is charged

with the electromagnetic energy of the element. It can be taken in teaspoon size doses, twice a day. Some people have a

negative reaction to gold, usually in the form of a rash.

Silver Silver is a cooling metal. It, like gold, increases strength and stamina. This healing metal is used to treat fevers,

weakness, and internal inflammation, especially conditions of the intestines and gallbladder. Silver-infused water is made in

the same way as gold water. Another method to receive the benefits of silver is to drink warm milk which was heated in a silver


Iron Iron is beneficial for blood circulation. It enhances bone marrow, where red blood cells are made, the liver and spleen. It is

used to treat anemia, and to tone muscle and nerve tissue. Iron is an overall strengthener and rejuvenator.

This form of treatment is not exclusive to Ayurvedic medicine; metals have been used in a number of different healing

disciplines. Gold is a traditional remedy for arthritis, silver has been used as an antibacterial agent. Copper, gold, silver, and

iron metals in Ayurvedic medicine have been considered medicinal elements for centuries, their healing powers recorded in

ancient texts. Even today in Western medicine the potential of healing metals is being examined; for example, platinum has

been used in chemotherapy to treat some forms of cancer. As long as the toxicity levels of heavy metals are kept under

control, metals have enormous potential in the field of alternative and progressive healing.

Read more: http://www.brighthub.com/health/alternative-medicine/articles/46968.aspx#ixzz0xcRNresK

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Heavy Metals in Ayurvedaby Dr. Dheeraj Malhotra, MD (Ayu)

Heavy metals: Are they really heavy on human body? 

Ayurveda is knowledge about healthy prolongation of life (Ayu + Veda). Is it

possible that the Spiritual Gurus who unveiled this treasure to the ailing humanity

could have made this blunder and reduce the life of a person? 

The answer is bold - NO. 

Those who do not understand the viewpoint of Ayurveda and the ones who do

not want to understand it says so. Let's see what exactly the definition of Heavy

metals is? 

Historically, There is no consensus on a scientifically valid definition of heavy


There is a layman tendency, unsupported by the facts to assume that all the so

called heavy metals and their compounds are highly toxic or have eco-toxic properties. There is no basis in chemical or

toxicological data. Thus the term heavy metal is both misleading and meaningless. (John H.duffus; Pure & Applied


In the earliest reference of Heavy metals, Bjerrume's Inorganic Chemistry -1936, he defined "Heavy metals as metals having

density greater than 4 gm/cm". (It simply means any metal which is 4 times heavier than water should be called as heavy

metal. Consider Silver is a heavy metal). However it was never used as a formal or official definition. This is because there is

no relationship between the density and any reactive properties associated with metals, or any other element in the periodic


Later on it was redefined on the basis of gram atomic weight and if you call this an official one, both Magnesium and

Potassium are classified as heavy metals. The confusion keeps on increasing, when you find that the most referred book on

toxicology Casarretl and Doull's toxicology never used the term Heavy Metal. Now you are confused as the rest of the medical

faculty of the world lets find out the real truth. 

All metals are present in the earth's crust and enter our bodies continuously at low levels. It is a common mistake, based on

fear and misinformation, to believe that a toxin has a linear toxic effect down to the lowest levels. All toxins have a safe

threshold below which there is no toxicity. In fact, below a safe threshold toxicity disappears and there is no toxicity at all - and

in some cases even benefit exists. Mercury is most widely used metal in Rasa-Shastra discipline of Ayurveda and to some

extent most controversial also. Recent developments have highlighted the need to research whether it should be used at all.

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Let's gather all the relevant scientific data and accept it as truth.  

How Can Mercury Enter and Leave our Body? 

A person can be exposed to mercury from breathing in contaminated air, from

swallowing or eating contaminated water or food, or from having skin contact with mercury.  Not all forms of mercury easily

enter your body, even if they come in contact with it; so it is important to know which form of mercury you have been exposed

to, and by which route (air, food, or skin). 

When you swallow small amounts of metallic mercury, for example, from a broken oral thermometer, virtually none (less than

0.01%) of the mercury will enter your body through the stomach or intestines, unless they are diseased. Even when large

amount of metal mercury (a half of a tablespoon, about 204 grams) was swallowed by one person, very little entered the


What Happens to It in the Body? 

Inhalation - 80% is absorbed.

Following ingestion, Absorption is  

1. Less than 0.01% for metallic mercury,

2. Less than 10% for inorganic mercury (mercury used in Ayurvedic medicine), 

3. More than 95% for organic mercury (methyl mercury). 

Mercury can also be absorbed through the skin, but the amount is small compared to breathing or swallowing it. (The "true

absorption" of a single oral dose of HgCl2 was calculated to be about 20% at two different dose levels).  

Mercury in the Bloodstream 

Methyl mercury (organic form) is the form of mercury most easily absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract (about 95%

absorbed). After you eat fish or other foods that are contaminated with methyl mercury, the methyl mercury enters your

bloodstream easily and goes rapidly to other parts of your body.  Only small amounts of methyl mercury enter the bloodstream

directly through the skin, but other forms of organic mercury (in particular dimethyl mercury) can rapidly enter the body through

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the skin.   

From Mother to Fetus 

There is no clear evidence that exposure to mercury or inorganic mercury compounds has adverse effects on the developing

fetus.  However exposure to organic mercury compounds can slow the growth of unborn baby and disrupt the nervous

system.  Organic mercury can be transferred from blood to milk posing the risk to new-born baby. (Pregnant workers

information leaflet for notification of pregnancy. Govt. of U.K.) 

What is around us cannot be Ignored

In the air we breathe,

(The five super thermal power plants in the Singrauli area, which supply 10 per cent of India's power, are responsible for

16.85  percent or 10 tonnes per annum of total mercury pollution . . through power generation. "A typical 100-megawatt

thermal . power plant can emit over 10 kg of mercury in a single year. . . About 200 metric tonnes of toxic mercury escapes

from industrial. . Chimneys and effluents each year in India, "said Anil Gautam,. . People's Science Institute (PSI), a Dehra

Doon based research. . Organization.)

In the food we eat

(Growing research shows a clear relationship between. . fish (tuna etc), Dental amalgams (MERCURY +SILVER) and the

presence of mercury in body organs. It also links mercury fillings to autism and Alzheimer's. This is continuous source of

mercury poisoning)

It is not possible to totally eliminate all exposure. The goal is to stay below a toxic threshold. 

It is not true that there's no "safe" level for mercury.

At what level does mercury become harmful? 

Reference ranges for upper safe limits for metals, including mercury in urine, are often printed on laboratory report forms with

ranges that apply only to urine collected without first giving a chelator. The safe upper limit on the report form will thus be

much higher after a chelator. If proper procedures are followed, a large majority of people tested will be in the nontoxic range. 

By provoking urine excretion with a chelator, metals in urine will always increase, by up to 1,000% or more, even if levels in

the body are at quite safe and low levels. The result therefore, usually appears deceptively high. That type of report is

meaningless and can frighten patients into thinking they are toxic when their levels are actually quite safe. 

Methyl mercury and HgS was orally administrated to mice for five consecutive days.

The present study suggests that the insoluble HgS (the main constituent of a Chinese mineral drug, cinnabar, used as a

sedative) can still be absorbed from gastrointestinal tract and distributed to various tissues including the brain.  

As compared with methyl mercury, the total amount of HgS accumulated in the tissues ranging is about one five-thousandth of

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methyl mercury, which is well correlated with the biological activity of HgS reported previously.  

Purification of Ayurvedic Mercurial Preparations 

From my personal scientific perspective these detoxifications do not have anything mystical or magical about them. All the

described processes lead to the elimination of impurities through mechanical/chemical treatment of the mercury, which is then

followed by a prolonged heat treatment. Sulphur is added through which process mostly the inert Compound is obtained.

Metals of Ayurveda behave differently than their counter parts in modern Medicine. 

Phenomenon of Isomerism

Kajjali and Parpati have different actions on the body although both of them are black sulphide of mercury. The difference

between them is the Sanskara (processing). The preparation of Kajjali does not involve heating while rasa-parpati is obtained

after heating Kajjali.

Patients allergic to modern sulpha drugs do not show allergic reaction when Gandhaka Rasayana is given (the difference is

processing, Ayurvedic Sulphur compounds are purified and prepared as per Ayurvedic texts). The daily dosage during an

Ayurvedic treatment is about 30-40 mg of mercuric sulphide. This usually is given in combination with processed aconite (and

together with the fruit of Terminalia chebula etc.) 

It is believed that metals in Ayurvedic preparations exist in complex ionic redicular form due to unique heat processing and

herbal treatment. e.g. Loha Bhasma does not give positive test by routine method of testing for iron i.e. with Sodium

Carbonate, Potassium Sulpho cyanide and Potassium ferro cyanide. Nitric acid is required to get the positive result for the

presence of iron .Nitric acid breaks the complex iron radicle in to a simpler radicle.

(One Tibetan Dschu-Mar 25 jewel-pill contains (depending on its origin) according to analysis between 10-50 mg Cinnabar

which corresponds closely to the Ayurvedic prescriptions. With the use of atomic absorption spectrometry at Ulm University a

project was undertaken to investigate Dschu-mar 25 pills from different origins: a wide variation in the concentration of mercury

was thereby discovered One result of this analysis seems to be of special importance: it was not only the inert and therefore

untoxic HgS (Cinnabar) which was discovered in Dschu-mar 25. 

Some Facts  

1. Inorganic mercury compounds like mercurous chloride and mercuric chloride are white powders and do not generally

vaporize at room temperatures like elemental mercury will. If they are inhaled, they are not expected to enter your body as

easily as inhaled metallic mercury vapor. 

2. When inorganic mercury compounds are swallowed, generally less than 10% is absorbed through the intestinal tract ;( the

WHO has set up Provisional Tolerable Weekly Intake (PTWI)  that allows 3.3 mg/kg of methyl mercury for tuna fish and shell

fish) considering 1gm/kg is fed to rats which is very high dose when compared to use of mercury in Ayurvedic formulations

which is 30-40mg /day in approximately 60 kg person comes out to be 0.5-0.6mg/kg. (As compared with methyl mercury, the

total amount of HgS accumulated in the tissues ranging about one five-thousandth of methyl mercury) and dividing it by 5000 it

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comes out to be .0001 a difference of 0 .9999 mg/kg between the thinking pattern of ancient scholars and western scientists.  

3. As per absorption principle inorganic mercury absorption is 1/9th to that of methyl mercury which means 0.5/9 or .055mg/kg

is absorbed through the intestines so the weekly dose comes out to be .055 x 7 =.385mg/kg bw/wk which is well below the

even for the mark set for methyl mercury (the more dangerous one) .  

4. Tissue distribution (As compared with methyl mercury, the total amount of HgS accumulated in the tissues is about one five-

thousandth of methyl mercury) and dividing it by 5000 it comes out to be .385/5000 =.00007mg/kg bw/wk. Can it be toxic!!!

This is the difference between the thinking pattern of ancient scholars and western scientists. 

According to the criteria of the WHO the weekly dose of mercury that can be tolerated by the body is estimated and the United

Kingdom's Food Standards Agency (FSA) uses the safety standard applied by the World Health Organization (WHO) -- called

the Provisional Tolerable Weekly Intake (PTWI) -- that allows 3.3 micrograms of methyl mercury per kilogram of body weight a

week (ug/kg bw/week) for the general population and 1.6 micrograms of methyl mercury per kilogram of body weight (ug/kg

bw/week) for pregnant and nursing women. 

Where as in U.S FDA /EPA reference dose is 0.7 micrograms per kg of body weight per week. (Note: the EPA reference dose

provides a ten-fold safety factor. 

5. It therefore suggests that the amount taken in with 2 to 3 pills is well below then WHO tolerance boundary for the maximum

weekly dose. There is limited laboratory evidence suggesting that several dietary components might reduce (e.g. selenium,

vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids) or enhance (e.g. alcohol) mercury's toxicity for some endpoints. Now consider the strict regime

to be followed along with mercurial preparations beside the fact that it is almost always invariably combined with sulphur which

is the advice given by noted nutritionists (It will be important to have a high protein diet as the sulfur bearing amino acids in the

protein will greatly facilitate detoxification) .... Mercury Detox Diet By Joseph Mercola, MD 

6. Inorganic mercury compounds also do not move as easily from the blood of a pregnant woman to her developing child.

The question which should arise is that whether the herbs and Metals (mind you not only metals) used according to Ayurvedic

principles does any harm to the human body if prescribed by an Ayurvedic doctor or more precisely Vaidya. ( and not when

taken by the recommendation of a good friend or a claim by a pharmaceutical company) 

The answer is Simple and one word -  NO. 

Ayurveda has given supreme significance to the human body and even ascribed special position to god in the human body,

which signifies the fact that how precious we are. Ayurveda probably is the only science which says Purshm Purshm

Vikshym (Ch.S).which means characters of one person is different from the other (thoughts working style food habits etc) or in

simple words No two human beings on this earth are same., so unlike allopathic, Ayurvedic doctor will prescribe different

medicine to the persons suffering from the same disease based on their individual Prakruti (nature), Vikruti (Disease), Dosha

-  dushya sammurchana(gradation of disease process) and Sroto-dushti (tissues involved) and that to with

proper Anupan (vehicle for medicine) along with Patya - Apathya (Do's and Dont's for diet) details. 

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e.g. Heavy Metals  as popularly explained metals with specific gravity greater than 4 gm/cm which means when they are put

on to the water they will settle at the bottom. But going by the tests for bhasmas for the final approval to use on the human

beings must have following three qualities 

1) They should float on water (what happened to the gravity!) 

2) They should be able to take the weight of a rice grain. (More weight bearing must be a heart change for the metals)

3) They should have microfiness to fit into the lines of the hand and should not glitter. 

So if the bhasmas have the same harmful properties as that of the metals how come it has lost all his physical properties and

acquired new ones? Well there are few explanations and theories to it but no facts to explain it perfectly. Mercury and other

metals become toxic only when they exceed a tolerable safe level. If billions of people can exist without toxic symptoms at a

tolerably low level of heavy metals, and if that has been the case as long as mankind has existed on the earth, it is highly

misleading to tell patients they have "heavy metal toxicity".


To understand why Triphala works for colon cleansing, let me explain Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurveda basicallys states that the

food that is digested in the stomach is used to supply energy to the blood and lymphatic system. Some foods just go directly to

our bloodstream, such as alcoholic beverages, and sweet honey as soon as we finish eating it.


Food in our small intestines, on the other hand helps rebuilds our muscles and fats. We don't drink a bunch of protein shakes

or protein bars will immediately make us strong - it takes time to build muscle mass.


Food that is in our colon is used to replenish the "precious" parts of our bodies such as our hair, fingernails, toenails, etc.

These parts are not essential organs, but if our colon is clogged with refined flour, mucoid plaque, and toxins, these parts will

not get all its necessary nutrients to rebuild.


When our colon is toxic, we have gas, which can cause shooting pains, and spasms. Our bowels become dry, leading to

constipation, and this effect can be seen in our brittle, weak fingernails, dry skin, and hair, and weak joints. No wonder, people

with eczema and skin problems recover nicely when they start colon cleansing.


Triphala helps because it stimulates the intestinal walls, and encourages peristalsis. It acts as a very mild laxative, stregthens,

and tonifies the colon. Many herbalists believe Triphala not only rejuvenates the colon, but other organs and ducts such as the

small intestines. There is no doubt, however that taking Triphala leads to excellent digestion regulation, and an end to


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Triphala is not like commercial laxatives at all in that it actually provides nutrients as well as having laxative properties. Here

are some other benefits of taking Triphala in addition to colon cleansing:


-reduces cholesterol levels 

-regulates circulation 

-reduces inflammation 

-provides internal cleansing 

-purifies the blood 

-reduces blood pressure 

-improves liver health 

-stimulates bile flow 

-contains Vitamin C, and linoleic oil


In fact, Triphala is often prescribed not only for constipation, but for many only illnesses due to the many nutrients it contains.

Unlike laxatives, Triphala does not deplete the body of valuable nutrients and vitamins such as B vitamins. It does not cause

dependency, and has no side effects.


To start cleansing the colon with Triphala, one should buy a commercial product such as Triphala Internal Cleanser, which is

available in some health stores and online. One should always take Triphala in the powder form. People usually take 1-2

teaspoons of Triphala mixed with some water 1-3 times per day. Since it is very nutritious and energizing, some people also

take it regularly once a week for good health. Whether it's for colon cleansing, or maintaining excellent health, Triphala

replenishes our inner organs and is an excellent detoxifier.

Triphala combines both nutritional as well as blood and liver cleansing (detoxifying) actions. It has little function as a local demulcent but is more of a lubricating source of nourishment and also possesses some bitter anthroquinones which help stimulate bile flow and peristalsis. The nutritional aspect is partly in the form of its bioflavonoids, high vitamin C content and the presence of linoleic oil, phospholipids and other important

Nutrients which it makes more of a tonic. Because of its high nutritional content, Ayurvedic doctors generally do not regard Triphala as a mere laxative. Some of the scientific research and practical experience of people using it down through the ages has demonstrated that triphala is an effective blood purifier that stimulates bile secretion as it detoxifies the liver, helps digestion and assimilation, and significantly reduces serum cholesterol and lipid levels throughout body. As a result, it is regarded as a kind of universal panacea and is the most commonly prescribed herbal formula.

Ingredients: - Whole powdered fruits and/or herbal (fruit) extracts of Beleric myrobalan ie.Vibhitaki or Behada, 

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Chebulic myrobalan (Terminalia chebula)Harada or Haritaki and Emblic myrobalan (Indian Gooseberry)Amala or Amalaki.

Amalaki, Emblica Officinalis, is one of Ayurveda's greatest rejuvenators and a strong natural anti-oxidant, also helps to boost the immune system. Balances Pitta.

Haritaki, Terminalia Chebula, the Tibetan "king of medicine",is a classic heart-brain-longevity tonic,it is often depicted in the extended palm of the Buddha. Balances Vata.

Bibhitaki, Terminalia Belerica, a powerful rejuvenative that reduces liver and heart disease, also improves the voice, vision and promotes the growth of hair. Balances Kapha.

Traditional Ayurvedic Qualities of Triphala

Taste: Sweet, sour, pungent, astringent, bitter


Vipaka: Sweet, Sour, Pungent

Guna: Light and dry

Dosha: Tridoshic, meaning it balances all constitutions

Prabhava: Rasayan, which means it builds Ojas, innate strength

Uses of Triphala :

Before considering pathological indications for which triphala would be appropriate, we should never ignore the value of taking it on some regular basis whether once daily or once or twice a week simply for health maintenance.

scientifically studied and confirm some of its known traditional benefits. These include the lowering of cholesterol, reducing high blood pressure, benefiting circulation, improving digestion and regulating elimination without causing any laxative dependency.

triphala have proven to be antioxidant, anti-HIV and anti-allergic Regardless of any other herbs used, triphala can be prescribed singly or adjunctively whenever

there are symptoms of inflammation, heat, infection, obesity and other conditions of excess. Because of its combined tonic and eliminative properties, it is generally quite safe to give even for

deficiency diseases including anemia, fatigue, candida, poor digestion and assimilation. Unlike other eliminative and cleansing herbs, triphala is safely taken for symptoms of wasting

heat that frequently accompanies diseases such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and AIDS. Triphala is also widely taken for all eye diseases including the treatment of conjunctivitis,

progressive myopia, the early stages of glaucoma and cataracts.

Triphala side effects: The one time not to use triphala is during pregnancy. It's 'downward flowing' energy is believed to favor miscarriage.

Triphala dosage: How to take Triphala - There are two ways to take triphala, as a powder or tablet. Traditionally triphala is taken as a triphala churna/ triphala churnam/ triphala powder.

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One would stir in two or three grams of the triphala choorna/ triphala choornam/ triphala powder with warm water and consume the entire amount each evening or divided into three doses throughout the day, between meals if possible.

or one should take two to six triphala tablets one to three times daily. Children may only require one or two tablets in the evening. The larger dose is more laxative while the smaller dose tends to be more gradually blood purifying. A smaller dose might be one or two tablets three times daily. One should increase or decrease the dose according to one's bowel movements.