Ayurveda and beauty

Everyone has heard the sayings, ‘beauty is only skin deep’, and ‘beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.’ So beauty is such a beautiful word that everybody prefers to describe. Here, let’s approach the beauty from Ayurvedic point of view.

Ayurveda adds a spiritual dimension to the definition of beauty by saying:

“Inner peace brings outer beauty”

It says outer beauty as an integrated by-product of inner beauty and virtue. Inner beauty is developed through meditation, proper diet, ethics, a positive self-image, and various therapies, such as aroma therapy, yoga, and abhyanga (a massage-like therapy). These are the essential ingredients for developing a true and lasting aura of beauty.

Besides the seven doshas (Vata-Air, Pitta-Fire, Kapha-Water, Vata/Pitta, Vata/Kapha, Pitta/ Kapha, Tridoshic (all three dosha)), a special category exists known as changing skin conditions.

Despite one’s dosha, skin conditions change depending upon one’s diet, exercise, and the climate. Sensitivity towards cold, dryness and the sun may exist. It is important to remember that it takes the body between 3 and 5 years to adjust to good or bad eating habits and climate.

This is one reason that Ayurveda suggests gradual changes towards building a healthier lifestyle. It takes time for a toxic body to be cleanses; new cells and tissues built; and a new way of life and health to develop. Below are some Ayurvedic beauty care tips.

Post-Surgery: When the skin becomes scarred from surgery, herbs help heal the tissues. Aloe vera gel and mañjishþhá are the main recommendations.

Acne: Not only do teenagers get acne, but also many adults suffer from this condition. Acne is generally an excess of Pitta (fire). Therefore, Ayurveda approaches acne from both symptomatic and causal levels. To remove symptoms, turmeric cream and sandalwood soap, found in most Indian grocery store, work very quickly.

Simultaneously, one also should reduce the causes—the excess fire and toxins inside the body. If neglected, Pitta and toxins will cause acne to reappear, or manifest as illness in another part of the body (e.g., eyes, liver, spleen, gall bladder, heat, blood, and infections). For causal balancing or healing, persons should follow a fire- (Pitta) reduction diet.

Seasonal Conditions: Each season has a predominance of Vata (air), Pitta (fire), or Kapha (water). Ayurveda recommends that persons protect themselves from these environmental changes.

Treatment of Blocked sub-vatas and Doshas

There are different types of vata as discussed in earlier posts. Here is the tabulation of symptoms and treatments of different types of Vata. Hope this would be helpful.

All sub-types of Vata can and do cover each other, for a total of 20 types of mutual covering.

Treatment of Blocked sub-vatas and Doshas

Covering Sub-type Covered Sub-type Symptoms  Treatment
prana vyana vacantness of all senses, diminution of intellect, memory and strength manage like supraclavicular disorders
vyana prana excessive sweating, horripilation, skin diseases, numbness in body parts unctuous purgatives
samana prana disorders of grahani, sides and heart, and pain in stomach appetizing ghritas
prana samana stunning, stammering, dumbness uncting substances used in 4 ways (intake, massage, snuffing + enema), and also in sustaining enemas.
prana udana stiffness in head, coryza, difficulty in respiration, cardiac disorder, dryness in mouth Treatment as in supraclavicular diseases, consoling at the same time.
udana prana loss of activity, immunity, strength, and complexion or even death. Sprinkled slowly with cold waters, consoled, and given all comforts.
prana apana Vomiting, dyspnoea, etc. Enema, etc. (the 5 karmas?), and carminitive, light diet.
apana prana Mental confusion, diminution of digestive fire, diarrhoea Emesis, appetising and astringent diet.
vyana apana vomiting, tympanitis, usavarta, gulma, distress, cutting pain Unctuous measures
apana vyana excessive discharge of stool, urine and semen Astringent measures
samana vyana fainting, drowsiness, delirium, malaise, loss of agni, immunity, and strength. physical exercise and light food
udana vyana Stiffness, poor digestion, absence of sweating, loss of activity, and closing of eyes. Wholesome, measured and light food.

Mastering the information on the above chart on Vata Sub-types will take great skill. The best place for the novice to start may be to memorize the symptoms associated with the various combinations of sub-type coverings.  By repeated practice in identifying these combinations, one should eventually become proficient at identifying the workings of the V sub-types directly.

General Treatment for The Vata Sub-types: Udana should be led upwards, apana should be directed downwards,   samana should be brought back to the middle [umbilical region] and vyana should be moved in all these three directions. Prana should be protected most carefully, because it’s location in its normal location is essential.  Those Vata sub-types dosha which are covered or moving in the wrong course should be brought back to their normal positions.

Importance of Prompt Treatment of Vata sub-type dosha

The wise, in case of a disease, gets relief by external or internal or surgical measures. The childish, due to confusion or carelessness do not know about the emerging disorder in early stage as fools about the enemy. The disorder, though having a minute start, advances afterwards and gradually becoming deep-rooted takes away the strength and life of the foolish one. The fool does not realize till he is afflicted and only then he decides to control the disease. Then he collects son, wife and kin and requests them to bring some physician even at the cost of his entire possession, but who can save him, the devoid of life, weak, afflicted, emaciated, anxious and with the sense organs waned away. Thus not finding a savior that fool leaves his life like an iguana with her tail bound and dragged by a strong person. Hence one, who wishes happiness, should counteract with medicines before the disorder is produced or when it is newly arisen.

Maatra of Aahaara (Quantity of food to be eaten)

Any padartha which passes through Anna maarga , provides energy for life, nourishes Dhatus, protects and replenishes then stabilize life processes, originate (help) in body organs is called as Aahaara. For any person, Desha, Kaala vaya, etc should be considered before deciding aahaaramaatra and aahaaravidhi.

Along with so many rules and regulations, one more very important direction should be kept in mind i.e. aahaaramaatraaa.

Stomach should be divided into three parts. One part should be filled with solid food, one should be filled with liquid food and one should be kept empty for movements of three dosaah Vaata, pitta and kapha. If this is observed, it fetches good results.

How to recognize food eaten is appropriate in amount?

Manifestations fetched by eating in proper amount are as follows:

After food no pain is felt in flanks.

  1. One doesn’t feel obstruction in cardiac area (kukshi).
  2. One doesn’t feel backache.
  3. One doesn’t feel heaviness in abdomen.
  4. One feels that his special senses are fresh.
  5. One satisfies his hunger and thirst.
  6. One feels ease in sitting posture, sleeping posture, respiration, laughing and talking.
  7. Morning and evening smooth excretion of excretory products takes place.
  8. This adds to strength, good color and well nourishment that one should eat proper amount of food.

Three Doshas- Vata, Pitta and Kapha in Ayurveda

 Ayurveda is mainly focused in the three great terms viz. Vata, Pitta and Kapha; called Tridosha. These are the great physiological terms so to understand this properly is to understand all about Ayurveda. The general meaning of Vata, Pitta and Kapha may be air, bile and sputum respectively but it’s not that. These terms in Ayurveda has a great significance.

Vata may be understood as nerve force, electro-motor, physical activity or that, which is responsible for motion. It is commonly called air. The root, ‘va’ means to spread. In Western terms, it is the electricity setting the organism into motion, maintaining the equilibrium between Pitta and Kapha (inerts). Vata relates to the nerve-force. It is responsible for all movement in the mind and body. The movement of Vata even regulates the balance of Pitta and Kapha. Pitta relates to internal fire, bile, body heat, digestive enzymes, physio-chemical, biological, metabolic and endocrine systems. It is responsible for digesting the chyle into a protoplasmic substance like sperm and ovum.

Kapha fills the intercellular spaces of the body as connective tissue. Examples of these tissues include mucus, synovial fluid, and tendons. Kapha is responsible for the gross structure of the body (solid and liquid/phlegm-plasma). Each person is made up of a combination of these elements.

Together, the doshas are responsible for catabolic and anabolic metabolism. Catabolism breaks down complex internal bodies, and Vata (air energy) sets this energy free into simpler waste. Anabolism takes food and builds it into more complex bodies. The summit of the metabolic process is protoplasm or essential matter [proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and inorganic salts]. Lifeless food becomes living protoplasm and is set free as useful energy or excess heat or motion that is emitted from the body. Thus, the purpose of the three doshas is to move the lymph chyle (the by-product of digested foods) throughout the body. This nourishes and builds the body tissues. When any or all of the doshas develop imbalance, the body ceases to be nourished, and disease develops.

The three doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) exist throughout the entire body, in every cell, yet are predominant (their sites of origin) in the colon, small intestine, and stomach, respectively. Some authorities say that Vata primarily resides below the navel, Pitta from the navel to the heart, and Kapha, above the heart.

Vata is also found in (governing) the waist, thighs, ear, bones, and skin. Pitta also governs the navel, sweat, lymph, blood, eye, and skin. Kapha additionally controls the chest, throat, head, bone joints, small intestine, plasma, fat, nose, and tongue.

Finally whatever we do to try to understand these three Tridosha; knowledge is still unsatisfactory. Yes of course we can satisfy our knowledge on Ayurveda but wisdom is still lacking. I love this beauty of Ayurveda.

Directions of eating (Aahaara upayoga sanstha )

Some things are originally healthy. But, the upayogasansthaa affects the quality of food. In Ayurveda text it is mentioned that the satmya or healthy food may be unhealthy according to the directions of use. So, they should be religiously observed for appropriate digestion of food resulting better health. Rules of such kind, which should be observed while taking food, are

  • One should eat hot:

Warm food is pleasant to eat i.e. tastes good; it increases appetite and secretion of digestive juices. Such food gets digested fast; it induces flatus and decreases Doshas kapha.

  • Unctuous food should be taken:

It enhances weak Agni. It digests food fast. It helps to pass flatus. It replenishes or nourishes body. It strengthens special senses. It increases body strength.

  • In proper amount suitable for individual eating it:

One should eat calculated amount of food. It shouldn’t be eaten in excess or in fewer amounts. Such food maintains physiological level of dosaah. It passes excreta smoothly. Agni is by no way harassed. Digestion is perfect.

  • One should eat only when previous meal is digested:

If eaten before digestion of previous meal, food to be digested gets mixed with food which is half digested. This leads to instant vitiation of three dosaah. but if eaten when previous food is ingested, all three dosaah remain in physiological limits, agni is enhanced, belching is without any smell, no pressure of heart is realized, excreta is smoothly expelled, all building blocks are well maintained and there by span of life is increased.

  •   Food stuffs with opposite virya should not be eaten together:

Two opposite strong qualities should be avoided to eat together. Such kind of eating generates disease for e.g., to eat hot and cold together.

  • Should eat in pleasant place:

One should not eat where one does not like to eat in bad places or in hideous places. One should not eat in cutlery. Psychological effect of things is emphasized here.

  • One should not eat very fast:

If one eats very fast, he chokes, vomits, insults food and develops disliking towards food.

  • One should not eat very slow:

If one eats very slowly, he doesn’t get satiety hence he eats more. Food gets cold. It for this reason does not digest appropriately.

  • One shouldn’t eat while talking or laugh while eating,

This vitiates dosha,

  • One should eat for himself with appropriate manner:

This is suitable for me – one should think while eating. This make him eats properly.

One who takes food observing the above ten rules gets satiety of food, health and proper digestion. This is also compulsory for proper nutrition accoeding to Ayurveda.

Direction for ingestion of food

According to Ayurveda, the food should be ingested considering – Prakriti, karana, samyoga, raashi, desha, kaala, upayogasamsthaa and upayoktaa. The directions of eating as stated by Caraka are:

  • Prakriti is the original qualities of food and medicines. For e.g. Black gram is heavy to digest whereas green gram is light to digest.
  • Karana is alreration made while cooking of food. These alterations and applications of various methods like – soaking, churning, cooking, roasting, washing, etc-change the quality of food stuff. For e.g. raw rice is heavier than roasted rice. A curd obstructs conveying channels; yet if churned, buttermilk enhances Agni.
  • Samyoga means combination of two or many items together. Single item may be good for health; combination may be harmful. For e.g., fish is good for health. Milk is good for health. Both are good for health if consumed separately. If they both are eaten in combination, it is worst for health, as this combination acts like poison in body and is responsible for generation of many diseases. so the change in quality of food after mixing should be considered while taking food as the healthy food may convert to poison after mixing with other.
  • Raashi is the amount of ingestion of food. This is observed in two ways- one way is to calculate total amount of food eaten and another way is to calculate each entity of food item consumed. If the Maatra or raashi of food is not considered it may give rise to various digestive problems and may cause incurable( asaadhya) aama( digestive) disease including Visuchikaa, alasaka, ajeerna and dandaalasaka
  • Desha denotes place of origin of food stuff whether it is offspring of cool country or warm country; it also denotes body, which consumes it. It means habit of body to eat certain type of food. As the quality of food and nature of consumer changes according to desha or dwelling places.
  • Kaala denotes condition of body, whether the consumer is in healthy condition or he is sick. Also kaala means the time of consuming food.
  • Upayogasamathaa indicate when to eat and not to eat. It is expected that one should eat only when previous diet is digested. Not observing this rule may prove dangerous to Agni efficiency.
  • Upauoktaa is one who eats. He should think of his own constitution, habit and then eat accordingly

If the above stated factors are not considered while taking food, the food may not do good to health because the quality of food varies according to the above which alter their actions in the body. The same food may be healthful for someone whereas it may degrade the health in other.

Ultimate fate of eaten food (Aaharaparinamkara Bhaava)

According to Ayurveda Aharaparinamkara bhava is the ultimate fate of eaten food in living body. If eaten food is as per requisites of body entities, ‘ultimate fate of food’ facilitates health. Otherwise eaten food could be problematic to health.

Ingested food is bio-transformed into body entities. If food bears qualities facilitating body entities, it is able to nourish and replenish these body entities. If food bears qualities opposite to body entities, such food is capable of killing these body entities. Hence ‘ultimate fate of food’ is to either facilitate or opposes body entities. Factors which make food to undergo ‘ultimate fate’ are called ‘Aharaparinamkara bhava’.

In other words we can say that taking food only do not nourish the body, but rather it should be digested properly or biotransformation of food should be appropriate within the body. There are many factors which affect the process of digestion which is called Aharaparinamkara bhava. The factors responsible for bio-transformation of food are:

1.   Ushma:

Ushma is parallel to Agni in word. Just as fire boils rice from raw grains, this ushma digests ingested boiled rice to absorbable products. This is the action of Agni or pacakaagni, as far as digestive system is concerned.

Similar thought is read in modern physiology of digestion. Maintenance of temperature (ushma) in digestive tract is extremely important for digestion. Digestive enzymes need typical temperature and appropriate pH in GI tract, without which digestion becomes impossible. Hence, this factor is directly responsible for digestion.

2.    Vaayu:

Vaayu or movements and stimulation of various kinds is supplementary in digestion

Other factors like vaayu are helpful in biochemical reactions of digestion of food. Vaayu drags food to proper place where Agni actually exists. Not only this but Samaana Vaayu also adds to stimulate Agni. This Agni is another help to digestion of food.

Supplementary functions of vaayu are-to induce secretion of enzymes in GI tract.

Similar thought is read in modern physiology of digestion. Movements of stomach, small intestine are in accordance to presence or absence of food; in presence of food, they are in accordance to facilitate and smoothen sown digestive functions.

3.    Kleda:

Kleda is again necessary supplementary factor as it helps in disintegrating coarse food material into finer particles. Kleda is moisture. In digestion this moisture is provided by ‘Kledaka kapha’ in stomach or aamaasaya. Kledaka kapha soaks all food material whether taken with fluid or dry and makes a fine paste of chewed food in stomach.

Similar thought is read in modern physiology of digestion. Food coming from stomach is already in fine state. This is due to churningt movements of stomach as well as mucus in stomach. Duodenum sphincture does not allow coarse food to enter.

4.    Sneha:

Sneha is in context to softness brought to food.

Similarly mucus in GI tract functions in the same fashion as read in modern physiology.

5.    Kaala:

Kaala is considered in this context as time required for digestion. However efficient enzymes are, however effective movements are, food must get certain period to get digested

Similar thought is read in modern physiology of digestion. Retention of food for the purpose of admixture with enzymes and allied appropriate movements of GI tract are described in modern physiology.

6.    Samyoga:

Samyoga is healthy combination of food items. If food items are mixed in wrong way or in wrong proportion or are cooked in wrong blending; food becomes unhealthy for human GI tract.Similarly, for proper digestion other factors should also be taken into consideration such as; when to eat (time to eat), how much to eat (quantity of food), how to eat (process of eating), etc

 

How are Patient treated through Ayurveda

Ayurveda has its own procedure for dealing with disease and patient. First of all diagnosis is done by inspection (दर्शन), palpation (स्पर्शन), and interrogation (प्रश्‍न). The specific examination includes the standard eight-point examination: (1) pulse, (2) urine, (3) stool, (4) tongue, (5) eye, (6) skin, (7) speech and voice, and (8) general appearance. These eight examination is done to find out the, particular disease is due to vitiation of which Tridosha.

 

Examination

Vata 

Pitta

Kapha

1. Pulse

Thread­like, feeble, 

snake­like motion 

Moderately heavy, 

and jumps like a frog

Heavy, slow, 

flows like swan

2. Urine 

 

Drop of sesame oil 

spreads on the surface  

of urine gives:

Black–brown color

 

 

Wave­like movement

Dark brown color

 

 

Multiple colors, like 

rainbow

Cloudy appearance

 

 

Pearl like droplets

3. Stool

 

Uniform, dark color

Yellowish color

Bulky foul smell

4. Tongue

 

Black to brown, dry, 

coarse, furred, pigmented

Red, yellow, or green,

 soft, sharp, moist

Whitish color, pale 

coated, big, soft.

5. Eye

 

Small, conjunctiva, muddy, 

iris is dark gray or brown

Moderate size, sharp, 

more sensitive to light

Large, moist, oily, 

conjunctiva is white

6. Skin

 

Dry, coarse, wrinkled,

 dusky

Wheat color, copper like color, shiny, moist

Soft, off-white, smooth, moist

7. Speech and voice

Coarse and dry

Sharp

Heavy

Before this I would like to enter into Charak Samhita (One of the 3 great triads). Here, four component of disease management are described. They are; first, the Physician, the drug, the patient and the attendant. A physician must have proper training, knowledge, and experience. A remedy must be abundantly available, effective, and relatively safe. A patient must provide all information to the physician about the disorder and be compliant. An attendant (a nurse) must have the knowledge of patient care, dexterity, loyalty, and cleanliness.

How actually the patients are cured?

First of all if there is the imbalance of Tridosha, it is balanced by using different herbal formulas, dietary and lifestyle interventions to bring dosas back into balance. Next is to eliminate the serious worry (Chinta), and and nurturing the soul to regain spiritual health (Samana). Ayurveda equally focus on physical health, mental health and spiritual health. This is the beauty of Ayurveda. Further more management of illness primarily consists of four procedures: (1) cleansing (samsodhan), (2) palliation (samsaman), (3) rejuvenation (kaya kalp), and (4) mental and spiritual healing (sattvavajaya, or psychotherapy). The management of an illness starts with cleansing and includes five procedures called panchakarma, all of which are not necessarily done at the same time or to all patients.

Dincharya, Daily routine in Ayurveda

In Sanskrit, the word dincharya refers to daily routine. According to Ayurveda one should follow the dincharya in order to live a healthy and disease free life. Everyday two cycles of chains pass through the human body each bringing a vata, Pitta or Kapha predominance. Based on the cycles of Vata, pita and Kapha our daily routine should be divided into morning, noon, evening/twilight, dinner, and bed time. In the Ayurvedic text it is written that a persons should wake up 2 hrs prior to sunrise, if he/she not suffering from any disease such as fever or diarrhea. Very young, very old and sick people are some of the exceptions.

According to dincharya the day should be kick started  by eliminating the colon and the bladder followed by a through cleaning of the senses- ears, eyes, mouth etc. This should be followed by an oil self massage. Exercise in the morning just after the massage helps rejuvenate the body and soul. After bathing, one should head towards the dining table for breakfast. The days followed by activities like studying working or travelling. During the lunch, one should consume nutritious meal. After working for day, twilight is the time to offer evening prayers. Dinner should consist of a light meal. Before going to bed, one should sit back and relax. By following the dincharya of Ayurveda one can insure a healthy life.

Though it is difficult to follow a stringent dincharya in the fast moving life it is highly recommended by Ayurvedic physicians because a number of health benefits are associated with it. The dincharya makes one to lead a healthy and disciplined life. According to the latest studies, in the field of medical science, people who stick to the daily routine are more fit than those, who do not have a particular time to perform their everyday activities. It is said that the dincharya reduces the stress level to a great extent. In addition to this, the person’s body is purified and detoxified. Therefore barring a few exception like sickness, very old and young age, Ayurvedic dincharya is recommended for everyone.

One should try to keep the routine as close to the recommended dincharya as possible. The body might resist the change for a first few days but if you do managed to persist then you are bound to get rewarded with a much healthier and satisfying life.

Laxmi Narayan Bhagat

Prakriti (Personal Nature) in Ayurveda

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Our inborn metabolic pattern is called Prakriti. Prakriti is the first creation of all. According to Ayurveda, one’s prakriti is determined according to prakriti of Shukra (sperm) and shonit (ovum). The events and situation at the period of pregnancy determines the prakriti of inborn child, that is why prakriti may also influenced by adaptation change occur in parents, especially a pregnant mother.

There is certain relation between  parents and inborn child in blood grouping. The heredity gene is directly concern with the inborn child’s metabolic pattern too. The inborn metabolic pattern of an individual is the continuation of metabolic pattern of the parents. So these relation according to modern discovery is due to gene. But around thousands of years ago no word called “gene was used. In fact the pitrij bhav (Father’s character) an matrij bhav (Matrij character) refer to gene xx and xy , it is not so direct but pointing towards these genes. Still re discovery of prakriti is not there in modern techniques. Some questions are still unanswered, Why someone is successful, rich, poor and variation in their life? Is this also inborn character that one get success every time? No answer but Philosophy in Ayurveda is trying to show path for the answers.

Lets explore; First of all the mostly accepted theory of prakriti is based on tridosha i.e. Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Among all prakriti vata are lean and thin. Pitta are intelligent and kapha are remarkably less intelligent with large size body. Usually body is not only one type, so Vata-Pitta body have the pure circulation and has a mixed characteristics. Whereas , many people who achieve all round success in life are pitta-kapha prakriti people. Vata-kapha are usually jealous. Sama prakriti (vata pitta kapha all balanced) people are best of all.

So if there would be research on prakriti along with Tridosha, it would bring some new discovery to the world.