Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Do You See It & Can You Feel It?

There are things we know to exist without really having seen them. What do I mean.  In the current age of technology we use things that we cannot see. Think of electricity running through wires allowing us to use televisions, toasters, charge our cell phones and more. We never see the electricity but we rely on it being there and use its service. Moreover, we never doubt its existence.

Clearly, there must be some other things that we do not see but can still benefit from. It is our power of visualization and positivity.  People who received a flu vaccine and reported a positive mood on a questionnaire had an enhanced response to the vaccine and produced more antibodies to the flu virus.
People with tumors who meditate had a better outcome on their tumor growth than those who did not. Further, think of the placebo effect, which has been a common phenomenon.  A beneficial effect is produced by a placebo drug or treatment, that cannot be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself, and is, therefore, related to the patient's belief in that treatment.

In our age of science and proofs, we should never discount the power of the human spirit to imagine something and make it a reality or the power of feeling in a good mood and how it impacts one's health.

Only you can make it happen for yourself. To get a little help, surround yourself with positive people, uplifting reading material and some time with nature.

Stay healthy & well,

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Preparing Our Bodies For Fall

According to a Wall Street Journal article I read, there are two types of people in this country, and their differences have nothing to do with politics. There are those who love fall and those who hate it. I am in the fall haters category. Maybe because I have too much vata (a body type or dosha) or maybe because I associate fall with the beginning of school, but I do know that I need to ease into fall.

In Ayurveda, transitioning into the next season is a big deal.  It is taught that the change of season is hard on the body and that little changes can help us and improve our overall health.

Summer is pitta season which was warm and promoted much agricultural growth. Too much warmth can leave one feeling dried out, dehydrated. In summer there is moisture with the heat but as fall comes, there is wind and a feeling of dryness. Notice how the leaves are drying out and falling off or how flowers seem to wilt.

Normally when treating vata, one uses warming heat. However, this heat needs to be balanced for two reasons. One, the pitta heat needs to gently release as nature is letting it and the season go. Two, vata is very sensitive and erratic. Too much heat will aggravate vata causing symptoms like sleeplessness, anxiety, poor digestion, constipation and low immunity.

A cleanse is the best way to balance the transition to fall.  Fasting is generally not done in Ayurveda as it is considered depleting. However, switching to a bland, simple natural diet and using a few medicinal herbs will create the perfect cleanse. Foods like brown rice, lentils and mung beans are good choices.  Vegetables like zucchini, asparagus and carrots are nice to use as well. Using energetically cooling spices like cilantro, coconut, peppermint, coriander, fennel, and mint is helpful.  Healthy fats are important in any diet, but the fats should be used sparingly and the types recommended are ghee and coconut oil.  Drinks should be at room temperature and should be water or unsweetened herbal teas. Taking aloe vera juice (1/4 cup) for two to three morning will also aid elimination and cool the digestive tract. Amalaki is a rejuvenating herb that has the ability to gently cleanse as well.

Doing this routine for 3 days will help reset the body for fall in a gentle way. Add vata pacifying activities like meditation, regular meals,, sufficient sleep and warm foods like soups to complete the fall transition.

I am not sure I can say that I will like fall or be able to let go of summer any easier, but at least my body will be up for the new season.

Stay healthy & well,

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Making Procrastination Work For You

Procrastination is generally considered a negative trait as it involves the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending or important tasks to a later time.

What if you could use procrastination to help you ditch bad habits? It almost sounds irrational to think the power of two bad things (procrastination and a bad habit) can be positive.

Let's put it to the test.  Suppose someone really loves eating creamy, gelato (and who doesn't?). But this gelato habit is causing weight gain and it needs to stop.  Yet, every night after dinner, the gelato is irresistible. Instead of saying no gelato which makes someone feel loss or deprivation, think instead, "I will have the gelato later." Isn't this what we do when we put off exercising, working on a report or cleaning the house? We say we will do it later. It makes us feel good like we are taking care of the valuable and necessary task.  Treat the gelato habit the same way.  Push it off for an hour, a day or even a week.  You will eat the gelato but just not now.

Some might argue that comparing exercising or menial drudge work to gelato or some other indulgence makes this procrastination tactic unrealistic.  It will be unrealistic if one chooses to believe that. Our beliefs shape our choices and actions. However, deep down inside us there is a pure part of us that wishes we could give up the gelato and take care of the stuff that will be beneficial for us. Believing that you cannot make better choices is letting that pure part of us down.  The pure part is our inner child that needs the nurturing and caring that you would give to a small child.

Play the procrastination game to your advantage and become the person you would like to be.

Stay healthy & well,

Friday, September 8, 2017

Are You a Dreamer?

A dreamer can be defined as one who lives in a world of fancy and imagination. On a more positive side a dreamer could be called a visionary.  Yet, dreaming is something we do in both our wakened and unawakened state.  Dreams are crucial to our lives in both states. Really they are both connected and necessary for the other one to exist.

Ayurveda seeks to balance health on a both a physical and emotional level.  To feel emotionally healthy, people like to feel happy and live a life of meaning and purpose.  Discovering what these things are varies with each individual (as it should!). To think and determine such important concepts requires a strong, healthy mind. People who are feeling fatigue, stress or confusion will not be very successful at it. Moreover, people who are experiencing mental difficulty like dementia or Alzheimer’s will lose this ability to dream a vision for their lives.

Ironically, our sleep dreaming can help us maintain our mind despite fatigue or stress and even prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s. The random series of thoughts, images, or emotions in our sleep state occur during the REM stage of sleep. Studies show that a lack of REM sleep and the dreaming in that state are associated with an increased risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Ayurveda and modern medicine teach that sleep is necessary for body rejuvenation and detoxification.  Diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s are associated with the buildup of amyloid plaque in the brain. Proper sleep keeps us healthy in our mind and body.

Go ahead be a dreamer in both your conscious and unconscious state. It will make you happy and healthy, which is what we all dream of.

Stay healthy & well,

Monday, July 10, 2017

Ayurveda Explains Why Coconut Oil Helps Crohn's Sufferers

Crohn's disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease characterized by inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Some of the symptoms of the condition include intestinal swelling, cramping, and diarrhea.  Once diagnosed, Crohn's disease is considered a chronic, long term condition where symptoms need to be managed to maintain optimum health.

Modern medicine treats Crohn's with medications such as steroids and immunosuppressants to slow the progression of disease. Crohn's is a serious condition and I would never recommend forgoing medical treatment. However, many of these medications have difficult and potentially harmful side effects. It is best to use as little of them as possible to keep the condition under control. From an Ayurvedic perspective Crohn's would be addressed by trying to reduce inflammation using food, herbs and lifestyle.  The goal is to reduce overall inflammation through gentle, natural means so the body will have less uncomfortable symptoms.

A recent study found coconut oil and other good fats (like avocado, cocoa butter, etc.) can bring about positive changes in one's gut bacteria thereby decreasing the symptoms of this debilitating, long-term condition.

Coconut oil in Ayurveda is recommended for people prone to or having inflammation. It has cooling properties that soothes the inflammation. It can be used for cooking and is wonderful for sauteing vegetables for side dishes, soups and stews. It can be used externally for massage and skin conditions.  Ayurveda teaches that it also has anti fungal and anti viral properties as well.

It really is no surprise that coconut oil has been shown to help people with Crohn's disease. Coconut oil is wonderful for anyone with inflammatory conditions.

Yes, the American Heart Association has condemned coconut oil as a bad saturated fat and recommend not eating it.  Ayurveda does not recommend eating and slathering coconut oil by the cupfuls.  All diets need some fats. And some people need to eat more fats and some people need to eat less fats (depending on their body type). Coconut oil is a good fat option for people with inflammatory conditions. Advice from an Ayurvedic Health Practitioner on your body and common sense will help guide people to the right amount of coconut oil.

Stay healthy & well,