Smoke for good health

Smoke for good health

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.

How to Match Your Food

How to Match Your Food

In Ayurveda, there is an important concept called Viruddhaahara. This term referrers to the incompatibility of certain food articles when consumed together. The concept of Viruddhaahara has important practical implications because incompatibility causes a lot of disturbances to the physiology of the body and gives rise to the diseases of varied nature.

Over 20 different kinds of Viruddhaahara have been identified in Ayurveda. Some of these are:

Rasaviruddha: Substances having a sweet taste ( like milk) should not be consumed with substances having a sour taste ( fruits like grapes) in a very strict sense, it is hence unhealthy as per the norms of Ayurveda to drink the popular milkshakes of today.

Samskaraviruddha: These are food articles antagonistic in the way they are processed. Samskara means processing a food item to change its qualities, for example, by roasting, frying, steaming etc. some healthy food substances produce harmful qualities when they undergo specific processing methods. Curds or honey on heating become harmful to the body.

Viryaviruddha: This refers to food articles that must not be mixed together owing to their virya. Virya is the potency of food that can produce either hotness or coldness in the body while undergoing digestion. For instance, a food item prepared by using milk/ buttermilk and fish together becomes antagonistic as milk is sheethavirya (producing coldness) while fish is ushnavirya (producing heat).

Samyogaviruddha: This refers to food substances antagonistic due to the process of mixing. For instance, a mixture of fruits with sour taste and milk is contraindicated. Also, a mixture of fish with curd, or of alcohol with milk products is antagonistic to each other.

Pakaviruddha: These are articles antagonistic in the way they are cooked. Uncooked food or partially cooked food is unhealthy.

Agniviruddha: This means incompatibility due to a difference in the food ingested and digestive capacity of an individual (agni). For instance, if a person with mandaagni (diminished digestive power) consumes a lot of food then it keeps piling up, leading to indigestion and disease. This will require him to fast. Similarly, a person with pitta predominance will have tikshnaagni (increased digestive capacity) and has to take food articles which are Guru (heavy), Snigdha (oily) and Manda (foods requiring a long time for digestion).

Satmyaviruddha: A person acquainted with certain food habits should not change his food habits all of a sudden. An abrupt change to a new food regimen is known as satmyaviruddha.

Doshaviruddha: Every person has a normal constitution and due to this, he is prone to certain likes and dislikes from birth. The Vata constitution types can stay healthy by taking foods which are oily and heavy in nature and stable. Foods of these qualities help Vata function normally. But, if a person consumes a diet that is bitter, pungent, astringent and light then it will lead to the manifestation of disorders of Vata.


Every person should select a diet conducive to his nature, habitat and age. Such a course of action will help to maintain health and prevent disease.

  • An improper diet results in abnormal doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) which in turn vitiates the body tissues, causes obstruction of the channels of nutrition, weakens the digestive fire, accumulating toxins in the body ultimately causing disease.
  • The quantity of food ingested should be moderate and adequate and taken at the proper time.
  • It is important to be conscious of cleaning one’s hands, feet and mouth before eating food. The dining table dishes, spoons, bowls, water containers and cooking utensils should be cleaned scrupulously.
  • The surroundings and the atmosphere of the dining room should be clean, airy and fragrant. The clothes worn while doing the outdoor duty should be changed and clean attire should be worn whenever eating at home.
  • Ideally, the food should be freshly prepared and warm. It should contain the six rasas or tastes (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent) in adequate proportion.
  • Fatty content in proper quantity is essential in the diet while making the food tasty, it bestows strength and promotes secretion of digestive juices. It also prevents excess production of Vata dosha, nourishes the seven dhathus, increases strength, gives lustre to the skin and causes easy expulsion of stool and gas.
  • Food should be taken after complete digestion of the previously taken meal. Roughly, the interval between breakfast and lunch should be around 4-5 hours and the gap between lunch and dinner should be around 5 to 6 hours. Dinner should ideally be taken before sunset and it is advisable to retire to bed 2-3 hours after taking dinner.


Forms of Water

Forms of Water

For modern science water is just H2O. t is either potable or contaminated. But Ayurveda has a lot to say about water, and its effect on health. The qualities of water, based on its source, time of collection and so on, are explained in great detail.

The purest water, according to Ayurveda, is rain water that has been collected after the first two showers of the rainy season. This is to avoid the impurities suspended in the air before the rain.

Water is also reverentially known as Gangambu because the water of the river Ganga which originates in the Himalaya is said to be the purest and holiest. According to the Hindu mythology, the Ganga is pure because it is believed to have originated from the heavens.

Among water frim the running sources, the water from the Ganga is considered the best, for it is sweet to taste and aids digestion. Ganga water balances the doshas. It is because of such qualities that the Ganga is reckoned to be divine.

People think that water in any form- cold, luke warm, warm and hot- has the same effect on the body. Ayurveda categorises water into different types. Warm water is easy to digest. It can bring down temperature, improve digestion and remove toxins from the body by enhancing the excretory process. For certain of types of fever, warm water is the only remedy for three days. Drinking just warm water with light food brings the temperature down.

Warm water spiked with a little dry ginger makes it carminative and digestive. People who lack appetite should drink a cup of warm water with dry ginger every day. Warm water taken with one spoon of triphala powder everyday at dawn and at bedtime helps to bring down obesity and ease bowel movement. Drinking water regularly in the morning on an empty stomach and at bedtime works as a Rasayana- a rejuvenator of body tissues.

Seventy- five per cent of our body mass consists of water. It is hence a very important factor in maintaining the body’s dynamic equilibrium. Ayurveda says water consumed before food makes you lean, water consumed after food makes you obese and drinking water while eating is good for health generally. Water is the only substance that has never been prescribed in any condition. Water is life saviour.

Bhojanakutuhalam, a 14th century treatise on dietetics by Sri Raghunatha Suri, extensively discusses different varieties of water: from a well, a pond, lake, the river and falls. The treatise states that the physiological actions of water from various sources affect the body differently.

So water from saline earth, or from clay and marshy areas, from rainfed areas, act differently on the body.

Many of you might have noticed that when you drink water from another source in another place, you get a sore throat, indigestion, headache or a feeling of heaviness in the chest. This effect has nothing to do with infestation but with the source of water.

Water collected when dew is still falling generates [phlegm in the body. Water collected after it has basked in the sun is lighter and easily digestible. Water collected at night is heavy and difficult to digest.

The depths to which our scientists of yore went to understand and document the things they saw and observed can be noticed in a simple substance like water.

Water has been so extensively understood in Ayurveda that many new ideas emerging in modern science on water today were already known in Ayurveda. The best example that I can recollect from memory is a study on Gangetic water published in an International peer reviewed journal. It was found that there is an inherent mechanism in Ganga water that purifies it. This is why the water of the Ganga was believed to be the purest, but in vain, as this quality of the Ganga has been eroded by industrial and human waste.


Methi Kadubu

Ingredients:                                                                                                                                                                              Water: Sufficient quantity
Rice flour: 1/4 cup
Wheat flour: 1/4cup
Jowar flour:1/4 cup
Ragi flour:1/4cup
Salt: 1/2tsp
Green chillies:4
Methi leaves:2 cups
Onions: 2 cups finely chopped
Coconut: 1tbsp
Oil: To grease steamer

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and knead in soft dough, using a little water. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions, shape into rounds and flatten by pressing between palms. Place in steamer and steam cook for 5-8 minutes or bake in a preheated greased baking dish at 200degree centigrade for 7-8 minutes. Serve hot with some tasty coconut/ mint chutney.

Benefits:                                                                                                                                                                                    Multigrain flour: Benefit from nutritive values of a mix. Methi (fenugreek) is good for digestive problems such as loss of appetite, upset stomach, constipation and inflammation of stomach. It is also used for conditions that affect the heart such as hardening of arteries and for high blood levels of certain fats including cholesterol and triglycerides. Since the dish is steamed and very little oil is used, it is good for health.

Written by Prof Dr G G Gangadharan


Three Pillars Of Health

Three Pillars Of Health

Ayurveda touches all aspects of life – the mundane and those beyond physical existence. It perceives the gross and subtle at different junctures and proffers advice according to one’s propensity to align with them. To the seeker, Ayurveda makes available a comprehensive worldview for enriching one’s life. If one wants to limit oneself to the physical existence , the person is entitled too, knowledge available in Ayurveda is an ocean that can be accessed by the user according to his or her need and ability-sparsely or copiously.

Ayurveda perceives there human being as a combination of the body, mind and soul existing in a given space and time. Actually, this body communicates through the five sense organs that are representatives of the five great elements in nature- pruthvi, ap, tejas, vayu, and akasha. The human body is in fact, a combination of these five elements plus mind, soul, time and space. This totals nine elements that are the basis of the whole universe according to vaisesika philosophy. This also states the nexus between the living being (microcosm) and cosmos (macrocosm).

The body, which is the seat of the mind and soul, maintains its optimum health by regulating ahara (diet), svapna(sleep) and abrahmacharya (conjugal life). These are the three pillars of health according to Ayurveda which regulate the body by virtue of their actions in the body. Ayurveda delineates each of these elements elaborately.

  • Ahara: The food we take is important not just for the body’s health but also for a sound mind. The gross part of food becomes the tissues and the subtle part becomes the mind. So from a non-physiological point of view, food can be classified as Satvik, Rajasik, and Tamasik. The Bhagvad Gita explains the qualities, characteristics and attributes of these three types of food which are especially important for people who pursue the spiritual path. Physiologically, food can be divided into six tastes (savdu, amla, lavana, tikta, usna(katu) and kasahya. And according to digestibility into two (guru and laghu-heavy and easy to digest). According to potentiality, food can be categorized into two (usna and sita- hot and cold). Some foods are tissue building and some are body depleting.

Food ingredients have been labeled as Sakavarga (leafy), Phalavarga(fruits), Dhanyavarhga (liquids like milk etc ), and Mamsavarga (non-vegetarian).

It is very interesting to see how meticulously our ancestors reflected on different food types. They have developed seven types of processes for changing food qualities which include heat application, pulverizing, retaining food raw with preservatives etc, food is also classified according to its action on the organs of human body. Some of these are hrudya(for heart), chaksusya(for eyes), tvacya(for skin), varnya (for colour of skin) etc.

The characteristics of the six seasons and foods suitable for consumption in those seasons are well established in Ayurveda tradition. In summer light food is preferred as the agni(digestive fire), is low. In winter heavy food can be ingested as the agni gets rejuvenated and can digest higher quantities of food.

  • Svapna: Like food, proper sleep at the proper time and in a proper posture is very important for good health. Like dinacharya, Ayurveda also speaks of raatricharya. Raatricharya includes proper sleep of seven to eight hours continuously without any dreams.
  • Abrahmacharya : Proper conjugal life is the basis of healthy living. Ayurveda explains how sex has to be consummated, the ideal time, the frequency, the age factor etc. this itself is a great subject for learning. According to Ayurveda, a male at 25 and a female at 18 are at for marriage. Of the six seasons except winter, sexual conjugation should be regulated to the limits of one’s strength. In winter, no limit is prescribed. Sex with proper rejuvenating agents is advised. Nights, excluding sunset and sunrise, are the preferred time for sexual union. Sex should not be indulged in sacred places, public places and unfamiliar places.

The above brief information about the three pillars of mundane life are given just to educate the common man about how elaborate and meticulous our ancestors have been in reflecting about every aspect of daily life. You can read more from a well-written book by Dr. M.S. Valiathan- “Introduction to Ayurveda”.

Written By: Prof.Dr.G.G.GANGADHARAN


Kerala Ayurveda Treatment

Kerala Ayurveda treatment came into existence around 5000 years ago. Ayurveda, the science of life and longevity is the oldest form of health science. Ayurveda is practised across India and abroad with the common aim of providing a holistic healthcare care system by suggesting ways to attain equilibrium between the body, mind and soul.
Panchakarma is practised by many of the Ayurveda physicians and related treatment procedures form an integral part of the treatment program.

Kerala is known for its rich and unbroken tradition of Ayurveda and practice of specialized Ayurveda treatment procedures. Kerala Ayurveda refers to the specialised treatment procedures like  Abhyanga, Pizhichil, Dhanyamladhaara, Takradhara, Elakizhi, Dhanyakizhi, Netra Tarpana, Talapothichil, Kati basti, Griva basti etc.; the main five procedures(Panchakarma- detoxifying procedures) i.e Vamana(therapeutic emesis), Virechana( therapeutic purgation), Basti(therapeutic enemas), Nasya(instillation of herbal preparations through the nostrils), Raktmokshana(therapeutic bloodletting therapy); along with a vast range of special medicinal preparations in the form of Kashayam (decoctions), medicated Grhtas(Clarified butter) and Oils for internal and external use, medicated choornas (powders), pills, combinations of medicinal preparations etc. Another special type of treatment procedure called Marma massage is also practised by some of the Ayurveda experts from Kerala.

Few of the procedures include:

Abhyanga: Massaging the entire body with warm oils by applying specific strokes. Most of the times the oils used are medicated with different medicinal herbs depending upon the body and disease condition.

Pizhichil: Warm medicated oil is poured continuously in a similar manner all over the body for 45 to 60 minutes. This treatment is very effective for rheumatic diseases like arthritis and joint stiffness, paralysis (hemiplegia, paraplegia), paralysis, nervous weakness and nervous disorders, sexual weakness.

Navarakizhili(Shastika Shaali Pinda Sweda): This is a special form of fomentation done externally by using medicated rice pudding (Navara rice) tied in a muslin cloth in the form of boluses that are dipped in milk and herbal decoction and patted rhythmically all over the body. This treatment is advised for rheumatism, pain in the joints, emaciation of limbs and muscular diseases.

Dhanyamladhara: A special warm herbal liquid called dhanyamla is poured continuously over the body. This liquid (decoction) is prepared using some cereals (dhanyam), Navara rice, horse gram, millet etc.

Takradhara: Medicated buttermilk is poured continuously over the forehead in a rhythmic manner.

Dhanyakizhi: It is a type of dry therapeutic fomentation where cotton bundles containing raw drugs like cereals, black gram, horse gram, cotton seed etc., in semi powdered form are used for fomentation locally or for the entire body.

Elakizhli: This is a similar kind of procedure where herbal leaves, coconut gratings and lemon, are warmed in medicated oil and packed into boluses of cotton cloth. These bundles are steamed and patted rhythmically all over the body for fomentation.

These treatment procedures may be advised accordingly for 7, 14 or 21 days. These and many other types of specialised authentic Ayurveda treatment procedures are practised in Kerala and other parts of the country and world.

At RISA, different Ayurveda treatment procedures are made available following consultation with our Ayurveda experts.