Medicated smoke has an important role in Ayurveda. It can be used to fumigate a room or it can carry to an individual the essence of herbs. Incense thus has healing properties. The smoke with its gandha or aroma activates the nasal system and through it makeschanges in the body and mind of the person.
The literary meaning of dhoopa is smoke or fumes. Dhoopa is defined as dhoopahthapeiti or that which comes out from fire. The fumes from fragrant materials like chandana( santala album), Aguru ( aquarillaagurulocha) , kumkum, ela( Eletarria cardamom) Kustha (Saussarrialapa) etc. give a soothing and pleasant sensation to the body and mind. Medicated fumes are sued based on their dhosha predominance. In vata conditions a mild kind 0f smoke from guggulu, mustha, vilwasmajja, sarjarasaetc are beneficial. In pitta condition, fumes from utpala, bnark of nyagrodha, kamala Lakshaetc are beneficial. In kapha conditions strong smoke from Jyothishmathi, nish, triphalaetc are useful.
During differnet seasons, different fumes are used. In the cold season fumes from ushnadravy like guggulu, aguru can be used to overcome the chill. During summer fumes from drugs of cold potency like lotus and chandana can be used to minimise the haet.
Aromatherapy’s benefits:Soothing and aromatic smoke gives a pleasant sensation and energy to mind and body. Aromatherapy is highly beneficial for geriatric and post-surgical care. For example, as a daivavyapashrayachikitsa ( divine traetemnt) conducting homa with sugandha ( aromatic) dravyas like karpoora, ( camphor), sandal, ghee and firewood made f4rom aswatha ( Ficusreligiosa), aguru ( AquilariaagallochA) RED SANDAL. VACHA ( Acoruscalamus) Swethasarsapam ( Brassica campestris) neem leaves and ajamodha will have a a soothing effect.
Anti- bacterial properties: the fumes from the drugs like sarsapa, deva dhoopam( kundrika – Boswellia serrate) haridra ( Curcuma longa) neem, dhattura seeds ( Daturainnoxia) etc will act against microbes present in our body and environment.
During childbirth the fumes are used to help delivery in two ways:
The smoke helps during delayed and obstructed delivery and also as an antimicrobial drug, Fumes from the skin of snakes are beneficial.
Fumes protect the baby from evil spirits. Beneficial smoke is form drugs like vacha, hingu, vidhangha, saindhava, patha, prativisha, vyosham, gajapipplaitetc.
For good health: In Ayurveda, medicated dhoomapana( smoking ) is mainly advised for ENT ( aer, Nose And throat) diseasdes and as a post pacha karma therapy after nasya, vamanam , to vclear the obstructed channels.
Ingridients in incense and their effects: Sarva gandha oushadhas like ela, guggulu, kusta, aguru, charala, sarja rasa, chandana coral, parijatham, vilwam, khadiram, devadharam, etc are generally used for incense.
By and large drugs with hot [potency alleviate kaphaja diseases. Those with cold potency alleviate pittaja disorders and mild potency alleviates vataja diseases.
Adulteration: Adulteration of hard wood and other medicinal products used in dhoopa result in a bad effect to the atmosphere and the body. So one has to be careful when a dhoopa dravya is selected for fumigation.
High cholesterol is a very common health problem among men and women especially among people who don’t do any physical work. After the age of 45, it is especially advisable to check the level of cholesterol in the blood. A high level of cholesterol can narrow blood vessels in particular, coronary arteries which supply to the heart muscles.
Ayurveda looks at cholesterol as a manifestation of kaphadosha, one of the three Doshas which keeps the body in a state of equilibrium. The other two Doshas are Vatha and Pitta.In Ayurveda, high cholesterol is seen as a product of Mandagni ( weak digestion) In this condition, Ayurveda advises a diet that can improve the functions of Agni ( digestive fluids ) and does not contribute to further assimilation of Kapha in the system.
The preventive and curative measures for cholesterol in Ayurveda can be brought under the following three categories: Lifestyle, Diet, Processed preparations from natural sources.
- Do not sleep during the day. Even if you feel very sleepy due to some reason, sleep for a while in the sitting position during day time. Sleeping in lying position increases Kapha in the body but if you sleep in a sitting position, Kapha does not increase.
- Walk for a while, if you walk two to three km a day at a fast pace with both hands swinging, that will burn sown the kapha in your body.
- Dry massage: A dry massage in an upward direction on the body for a period of 45 minutes to one hour with the powder of triphala and roasted, powdered horse gram is very useful. This can be done by a professional masseur.
- Take a glass of buttermilk mixed with a small onion chopped into small pieces every day after food.
- Chop a small onion and mix it with lemon juice. Have it as a side dish with your food.
- Add garlic roasted or as a chutney with your lunch.
- Take one meal with wheat or a rice product. The second with fresh fruits and the third meal with cooked vegetables.
MAKE YOUR MEDICINE
The following medicines are useful as a dietry supplement in the intial stages of cholesterol. You can choose one or two of these medicines for daily use, depending on the availability of materials around you.
These are simple and extremely safe herbs that are easily available in urban areas or commonly seen in the wild.
- Boreahviadiffusa( Punarnava) is a weed seen all over the country. Atke 60 gms of its roots, clean well and chop into small two onch pieces. Crush slightly so that when the roots are boiled with water the juice inside can ooze out easily. Add one litre of wate to 60 gms of root. Boil till the water reduces to 250ml. after that filter this decoction and remove the roots. Reduce this 250mlof extracted decoction on a low flame to 120ml.Take 60ml in the morning on an empty stomach and 60ml in the evening, around 6pm again on empty stomach.
You can use this process to make any fresh herbal decoction. Once you know how to make this medicine, it is as simple, as or as difficult, as making a perfect cup of black tea. Please try it.
- Drumstick leaves are available everywhere. Take about 100gms of fresh drumstick leaves and make a decoction as instructed above ( add one litre of water and reduce to 120ml ) and take 60ml in the morning and 60ml in the evening with one teaspoon of powdered dry ginger and one teaspoon of honey.
- Take 5 gms of fresh ginger paste. Add enough honey to make it palatable and take it in the morning after breakfast.
- Take one teaspoon of tribhalaadichoornam (available in market) mixed with 1 tablespoon of honey at bedtime followed by a drinking of warm water.
- Tinosporacordifolia (Gudbhel or Guduchi ) : This plant grows everywhere in India. Cut 30 gms of TinosporaCordifolia into small pieces and crush. Add 30 gms of TribulusTeriesting( Gokshura – Gokhru) a thorny plant seen all over in fields.
Make a decoction of both these as referred to above and take 60ml in the morning and 60ml in the morning and 60ml in the evening.
A perceiveable result should be seen within 41 days of following this advice.
In a year there are different seasons. Seasons in Ayurveda are called ‘ritus’. The ritus are Varsha (monsoon), Sharad (autumn), Hemantha (winter), Shishira (late winter), Grishma (summer) and Vasanta (spring). Shishira, Vasantha and Grishmaritus are called the Adana kala.Varsha, Sharad and Hemantharitus are called Visarga kala.
In other words during the Visargakala, the sun is facing towards the south with its intensity attuned by time, course, cloud, wind and rain. The moon will have unobstructed strength and Nature’s temperature will be cooled by the heavenly waters. Amla (sour), lavana (salt) and madhura (sweet) rasas/ taste increase in progressive order with consequent promotion of strength in the body. Human beings experience weakness in the beginning and the end of the season. They will have medium strength in mid-term and maximum strength in the end and beginning of the periods, Visarga and Adana, respectively.
Ritucharya (seasonal regimen)is explained in the Ayurvedic classics and if these seasonal regimens are followed in a proper way then a person will enjoy strength and complexion and a healthy life.
Now that we are welcoming the first showers of rain after the scorching summer, let us know more about the monsoon or Varsharitu.
The body will have weakened during the Adana period. The digestion which will have become poor will be further disturbed by the disorders of Vata and the other doshas during the Varsharitu. The aggravation of Vata and the other doshas during Varsharitu is due to earth vapours, humidity of the clouds and the amla (sour) paka of the water. The diseases associated with the monsoon are malaria, jaundice and gastrointestinal infection like typhoid and cholera. Viral infections like cold and cough also make their presence during this season.
The puddles of water formed due to rain become the breeding place for mosquitoes. Using a mosquito net over the bed is better way of avoiding the mosquitoes. To keep the house free of mosquitoes one can fumigate the house with the smoke of dried Neem leaves in the evening for about 1 to 3 minutes. Precaution has to be taken to prevent dampness around the house. Fumigation has to be avoided if asthmatic patients are there.Moderating living is recommended during this season. One should avoid cold drinks, day sleep, dew, river water, physical exercise and the sun during this season. Using food and drinks mixed with honey is beneficial.
During the rainy season when the day is filled with wind and rain and is much cooler, a diet having predominance of amla (sour), lavana (salty) and snigdha (fatty) articles should be taken for rectification of vata.
Consuming old barley, wheat and rice along with wild meats and prepared soups is beneficial in order to protect the agni (digestion) of the individual. Drinks such as wine and other fermented liquor mixed with honey and a little quantity of rain water or water from a well or tank which is boiled and cooled may be used.
Anointing of the body is advisable. One has to take bath, use fragrance and garlands and wear light and clean clothes. It is advised to reside in a place which is free from humidity.
- Do not allow water to get accumulated around your premises
- Always keep your surroundings dry and clean
- Dry your feet and webs with soft dry cloth whenever they are wet
- Avoid eating uncooked foods and salads.
- Eat only light and easily digestible food
HOME REMEDIES FOR MONSOON DISORDERS
- Cough – Take a pinch of powdered long pepper (Piper longum) and a pinch of rock salt taken along with warm water. This will give relief from cough.
- Cold – Freshly prepared radish juice is helpful
-Fresh ginger juice half teaspoon can be taken
- Diarrhoea – Add a little ginger juice and a pinch of salt to pomegranate juice. This increases the digestive power and then the diarrhoea stops.
- Indigestion – Two long peppers can be powdered and fried in ghee and this can be mixed in rice ganji with a pinch of salt. This is helpful in relieving indigestion and ache.
Rainy season is the time when vata is vitiated and conditions like diarrhoea can happen easily. There are many light dishes that helps agni to work well and digest food properly. Liquid gruels of rice with pepper and turmeric are very good.
One good practice is to use 5 gms of paste of CentelleAsiatica (Brahmi) to clear the bowels. Doing it twice every year during monsoon is very good to avoid any stomach related diseases.
Mental disorders are explained ingreat detail in Ayurveda classics. Themind or manas of each individual isunique. According to Ayurveda, the personshould dwell in an atmosphere of pleasantnessappropriate to one’s mental constitution.Ayurveda recognizes three main mentalconstitutions or manasikaprakruti– thesaatvika,raajsika and taamasika. Any disturbancein the normal functioning of themind manifests as illness – either psychicor physical.Depression is a seriousmental condition thatalters the mind’s equilibriumwith its environment.There are basically three types of treatments for mental illnesses.
- lOral medication includingPanchakarma.
- l Psychotherapy (counselling)
- lDaivavyaprasharayachikitsa (spiritualtherapy) – prayers, performingyajna, charity, yoga, meditation,visiting holy places and penance.
- lA combination of all the above.
Milder forms of depression getrelief from psychotherapy itself. Butit is generally felt that a combinationof therapies work best. Treatment isgiven as per the severity of the condition.Certain medications as well assome medical conditions can causesymptoms of depression. The physicianshould not confuse these symptoms as depression.The causative factors of depressionare a sudden shock to the mind byincidents such as death of a belovedor break- up of a close relationship. Itcan also be a symptom of a medicalcondition like a stroke, heart attack,cancer, Parkinson’s disease or hormonaldisorders. A person appearsnormal throughout the day but feelsdepressed only at a certain time ofthe day. A depressed child may pretendto be sick, refuse to go to school,cling to a parent or worry that theparent may die. Teenagers may sulk,get into trouble at school or collegeand be negative and grouchy. Becausenormal behavior varies from one childhood stage to another, it can be difficultto tell whether the child is just going through a temporary phase or issuffering from depression.Women experience depression about twice as often as men. Hormonal factorsmay contribute to the increased rate of depression in women particularlyfactors such as menstrual cycle changes (associated with pre-menstrual
syndrome) pregnancy, abortion, the post-partum, pre-menopause andmenopause periods in life. Stress at work, additional responsibilities at homeand marital discord are also leading factors.Men rarely admit to being depressed.
Depression in men is often associatedwith increased risk of heart disorders. Male depression is often masked byalcohol or drugs, or by the socially accepted habit of working excessively longhours. Depression typically shows up in men, not as feeling hopeless andhelpless, but as irritation, anger etc. Therefore it is quite difficult to recognizethe signs and symptoms of depression in men. Even when a man realizesthat he is suffering from depression, he is twice as reluctant to disclose it tohis family doctor or even to his wife.
From an Ayurveda point of view, most depression can be explained as akapha imbalance. Initially, the brain’s electrochemistry has an erratic overreaction(vata imbalance), which triggers a loss of enzymatic activity in themetabolism (pitta imbalance). Kapha responds by trying to keep everythingdown, bringing about heaviness, darkness and stagnation, which the mindbodyinterprets as the negative message of hopelessness anddepression.
In Vata-depression, the pranavayu in the brain and heart isprovoked by a variety of factors, including terrifying experiences,especially when they occur during childhood, excessive travel, an irregular lifestyle, lack of sleep, excess talking, excess use of the telephone, habitual consumption of foodswhich are dried or frozen or foods which are microwaved, living or working in an air-conditioned room. Both recreational and prescription
drugs provoke thepranavayu, particularly cocaine,amphetamines, speed weight-lossdrugs, caffeine, and antihistamines(including ephedrine).Working night shifts is anothercause of vata depression.
The symptoms of vata depressionsare tremendous anxiety,guilt, paranoia and catastrophicideation. Insomnia or restlesssleep is a classic feature. Thespeech becomes incoherent, theperson is easily distracted, restless,unable to concentrate, forgetfuland spaced-out. Thedepressed person will not deliberatelytry to harm himself or herselfbut may forget to eat – indeedthe main hazard in treatment isthat they will be unable to taketheir herbs regularly and so willfail to improve.
Vata depression should betreated using brahmi tea, brahmighee, and brahmi oil massage.
Saraswatarishtam should begiven 20 ml daily after lunch anddinner. Oiling and sweating usingbrahmi oil will help calm thepranavayu, as will shirodhara or shirobasti. Nourishing oil basti using a brahmidecoction and sesame oil is also valuable in calming the vatadosha.
Pitta depressionis characterized by anger and irritability. In some cases, the
Person is not aware of being depressed, but is obviously angry and very easilyirritated, irrational, and perhaps violent. There may be extreme self-criticismand low self-esteem; or the critical judgmental tendencies may be
directed outwards. Suicidal ideation is a frequent symptom. Pitta depressionis the most dangerous type of depression since in severe cases suicide is adistinct possibility. In more chronic forms of pitta depression, self-destructivebehaviour such as abuse of alcohol and drugs are a common symptom.Even those with pitta depression that are not overtly suicidal often commitslow suicide by inducing conditions such ashepatic cirrhosis. Insomnia is a symptom ofpitta depression but is different from vatainsomnia.
Treatment for pitta depression also consistsof brahmi tea, brahmi ghee and brahmi oil massage.
Saraswatharishtam can be used, combinedwith herbs that are used in sadhaka pitta.These include shankapushpi, rose, sandalwoodand lotus. If there is a history of drug or alcoholabuse, shankapushpi will be tremendouslyuseful in healing the liver as well as in calmingthe mind and balancing the sadhaka pitta. For
overall balancing of pitta, a pitta diet should betaken, avoiding sour, pungent, salty and oilyfoods. Amalaki should be taken at bedtime, halfa teaspoon steeped for ten minutes in a cup ofhot water.
The causes of kapha-depression are a vitiationof the tarpakakapha in the brain by lack ofstimulus. Sleeping in the daytime, excessivesleeping, overeating and excess consumption ofoily, heavy foods can contribute to the provocationof tarpakkapha. Watching TV in excessand lack of exercise are other important factors.Frequently, kapha depression originates inhomes where parents themselves have somedegree of kapha-type depression. For example,the child who overeats resulting in overweight.There is an overwhelming atmosphere of heaviness,emotional denial and holding ontothings. Parents often give food or materialobjects instead of genuine love. The childlearns to become greedy, lazy and attached tofood, money and possessions. These tendencies,passed on through the family tree, causetarpakakapha to become increasingly provoked.
The use of downers such as sleepingpills, sedatives, tranquilizers and alcohol furtherserve to exacerbate kapha type depressionwithin the entire family unit.Patients with kapha-type depression rarelyapproach an Ayurveda practitioner complainingof depression; in fact they deny accepting theirailment in the first place. However, face- readingand pulse reveal depression, deep-seatedgrief and attachment and other obesity-relatedproblems.
In kapha-type depression coupled with obesity,triphalaguggulu can be used. Otherwise,
trikatu can be added to the saraswatharishtammixture for a more stimulating effect.Refraining from sleep during the day and vigorousexercise is essential for the treatment ofkapha-type depression. Vamana or removal ofexcessive kapha by forced vomiting is an excellent remedyfor this condition.
Ayurveda elaborates treatment for depressionnot only with medicine but also with counsellingand touching one’s spiritual base.According to the person’s culture and attitudedifferent methods are used to send positivethoughts to one’s self. There is an element ofself-healing in this process, where the thingsone does for spiritual elevation help to removethe negative vibes from one’s thoughts andassist in healing.
Food – pure, uncontaminated, fresh with alltastes and easily digestible and non- provokingis a very useful supplement for treating depression.