Neem (azadiracta indica) – The Ayurvedic Friend for Skin Health

neemParts used: leaves, flowers, bark & roots

Energetics: bitter, cool, pungent, -PK +V

Neem is a fast-growing tree that can reach up to heights of 50 feet, growing in many parts of India and the subcontinent, with the ability to withstand very high temperatures and low rainfall. In Ayurveda it is known as sarva roga nivarini,  translating as ‘the curer of all ailments’, indicating its vast healing benefits. The most commonly used part of the neem tree are its dried leaves which are very bitter in nature.

The anti fungal and anti viral and powerful blood purification and properties of neem makes it a key ingredient for remedies of skin conditions and curing diabetes. It was also found to be effectively used to cure diseases like malaria, insect bites, nausea, vomiting, rheumatism, jaundice, obesity, arthritis, hair loss, urinary tract problems and parasites.

With its powerful detoxification properties, neem cools fevers and clears the toxins involved in many inflammatory skin diseases (especially burning). It has the qualities to pacify all doshas, however cautions needs to be applied in conditions of colds and debilitation.

One of the reknowned uses for Neem is the prevention of tooth decay & gum disease. Neem twigs and leaves have been used for thousands of years in India by millions of people to brush their teeth and to promote oral hygiene.

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The Ayurvedic Perspective of Gastritis

Gastritis, otherwise known as urdhvaga amlapitta in ayurveda is an inflammatory condition of the mucous membrane and glands of the stomach. Pitta types are more prone to this conditions and it is a vitiation of the pitta dosha where stomach acids such as Hydrochloric acid and other digestive enzymes secreted by the stomach become inflamed and results in the increase of these liquid secretions leading to indigestion and symptoms such as, loss of appetite, nausea, headaches, dizziness, vomiting, abdominal pain, heartburn coated tongue, foul breath, increased salivation, sour belching, irritable bowels.

The typical root causes could include, excessive intake of alcohol, strong tea/coffee, sauces, vinegars, anger, worry, grief, strong drugs such as NA

In managing and treating this condition it is advised to avoid the causative factors such as alcohol, spicy and sour foods, fried foods, yoghurts, pickles, chutneys, chocolate, caffeine, smoking, stress, aspirin. Do increase intake of boiled milk, vitamin C (not from oranges), rice and dahl, kitchari, ghee, bitter gourd, pomegranate, barley, wheat, honey.

A panca karma approach would consider a purgation treatment to eliminate the excess pitta dosha out if the body. In terms of herbs there are various options depending on the type of condition that prevails and these can include simple herbs such as yasti madhu (liquorice), Shatavari (asparagus racemosus) and Amla (Emblica officinalis) amongst other specialist compounds.

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The wonders of Tulasi (holy basil),

botanical name: Ocimum Sanctum

holy basil

Tulasi – holy basil

Tulasi, cultivated in India for thousands of years for its religious and medicinal purposes is an aromatic leafy plant. Of the two types, rama and shyam tulasi, the latter is considered to contain more medicinal properties. Ancient Ayurvedic seers, including charaka recognised tulasi as the ‘elixir of life’.

Of the plant, the leaf is most commonly used for its heath benefits, although the whole plant including the stem, roots, flowers and seeds have various medicinal properties. Tulasi can be taken in a variety of forms including fresh and dried leaf tea, fresh green leaves, alcohol tinctures, medicated ghee and used in external body treatments in herbal poultices and pastes.

Rich in vitamin A, C and minerals such as zinc, calcium, iron, chlorophyll and other phytochemicals, this pillar in Ayurvedic herbology enhances digestion, absorption and general health and well-being with positive effects on the mind and body. Tulasi is commonly used to treat various conditions from coughs, colds, flu, headaches, arthritis, ear ache, rheumatism, fever, allergies, intestinal parasites, insect bites as well as being a key herb in formulations used in treatment for conditions of the heart, blood, liver, kidneys, throat and metabolism to name but a few.

As a powerful adaptogen, holy basil has the capacity to enhance the body’s natural adaptability to physical, mental and emotional stress and various stress-related degenerative disorders.

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Ayurvedic Winter Warming Rice Kheer

One of the most common desserts is a very simple preparation of milk and rice, better known as Indian rice pudding. It is a wonderful nurturing dessert for the winter months at the same time being wholesome and vata pacifying.

Ingredients:Ayurvedic Rejuvenating Kheer
Pinch saffron (soaked in a little hot milk)
4 cups whole milk
¼ cup basmati rice (washed & drained)
1/4 tsp crushed cardamom seeds
2 tbsp blanched & sliced almonds
1 tbsp skinned & chopped pistachio nuts
1 tbsp raisins (optional)
2-3 tbsp raw cane sugar or honey (to taste)

Method:
Heat the rice milk and cardamom in a medium pan and bring to the boil, then simmer gently and keep stirring to prevent lumps. Wait until the rice is soft and start to break

Add the almonds, pistachio, saffron and raisins and simmer for a further 4-5 minutes

Add the sugar until dissolved according to taste. If you are adding honey add at time of serving (do not heat honey).

Remove from heat and serve while warm.

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Insight into ayurvedic food combining

Ayurvedic Incompatible Foods

Ayurvedic Incompatible Foods

Unlike the traditional view of a balanced diet consisting of basic food groups, such as dairy, grains, fats, meats, fruit and veg. Ayurveda suggests an approach for correct diet based on the individual’s doshic constitution (vata, pitta, kapha). Every food has its own taste (rasa), a heating or cooling energy (virya) and post-digestive effect (vipaka). When we combine food that consist of different tastes, energy and post-digestive effect, the digestive fire (agni) gets disturbed, slows down and start producing toxins in the system.

Not only can incompatible foods remain in the stomach for several hours, combining foods improperly can cause indigestion, fermentation, putrefaction and gas formation. If prolonged it can lead to toxemia and lead to various other diseases.

When foods are eaten correctly or separately they can aid digestion. eating bananas with milk; egg with fish; radishes with milk, bananas or raisins; lemon with yoghurt; melons with any other foods; raw foods with cooked foods; fruits and grains, are some examples of incompatible foods.

What happens when we eat for example melon and milk? Well milk has a laxative effect and requires more time to digest and melon is a diurectic. The digestive enzymes required to digest melons cause the milk to curdle due to the sourness. This type of constant digestive confusion can be the cause of many diseases, especially related to respiratory or skin conditions.

An Ayurvedic practitioner will be able to offer suitable dietary guidance considering nutritional value, constitution, seasons, age and any disease condition. The key to all of this is to start slowly, one thing at a time such as beginning with separating fruits from other foods.

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New Year, New Ayurvedic Outlook

Ayurvedic Herbal TeasSo we are well into the new year and so many of us made a resolution to start a ‘detox’, lose the holiday weight, stop drinking and get back into the gym. How many of us actually last past the first few weeks or even the first few days? So many people fail to complete a detoxifcation cleanse in January as it does not fit in with their lifestyle, they are not mentally prepared and lets face it, there’s still plenty of indulgences lurking in the cupboards. But do not fear all is not doom and gloom, changing diets drastically during the winter months is not conducive to our overall health and according to Ayurveda the ideal time to go through a detoxification programme is in Spring time, so plenty of time to plan and prepare.

Ayurvedic advocates following a seasonal regime to support our well being, we are in the hemanta and shishira months (December to March) and our Agni (digestive fire) is at its strongest during these months, hence the tendency to feel increased hunger. The quest to lose weight can have an adverse affect on our metabolism at this time as we starve our body of essential nutrients.

Without radical dieting, we can adopt methods to pacify winter ailments such as fatigue, mental confusion, digestive problems, aches, pains and persistent cold while giving ourselves time to prepare for a deeper cleanse and weight loss in a more suitable season. Winter is essentially a vata and kapha period and a vata pacifying diet is most suitable.

  • Avoid the causative factors such as refined sugars, fried, leftover or cold foods saturated fats, and heavy dairy.
  • Eat foods that are naturally sweet, sour and salty by taste to help pacify vata dosha, such as soups, stews, hot teas and stewed fruits.
  • Favour foods that are wholesome and easy to digest including, carrots, tomatoes, figs, dates, cane sugar, nuts, seeds, seasonal root vegetables, wheat, gram flour, rice barley, rye, milk products, edible oils such as ghee and olive oil
  • Immunity is connected to digestion and when digestion is strong then immunity is robust, so drink warm/hot water and digestion enhancing spices such as ginger, cumin, coriander, cardamom and cinnamon. Strengthen your immune system with chywanprash, a jam packed full of immune boosting herbs.
  • Good news, Ayurveda says that a glass of warmed red wine can be and beneficial in winter, you can warm with cinnamon, cardamom, clove, ginger, fennel, nutmeg and black pepper
  • Opt for regular massage and hot or steam bath
  • Arise at 7am and take plenty of exercise to keep lymph moving and prevent congestion,
  • sexual activity is encouraged
  • Wear warm clothing of cottons, silks and wools.
  • Take exposure to sun when possible
  • Engage in calming meditation

Following a more natural regime will ensure that the body is able to cope with a detox and expel the toxins out of the body more effectively. Consult a practitioner for one to one guidance on your constitution and a personalised detox plan for the Spring.

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Stay cool this summer

Image

As we enter the height of the summer period, the pitta season, it is important to adapt our diet and lifestyle so we can keep our dosha in balance and enjoy the summer sun. Opposites are cure for opposites and therefore keeping in balance with nature will ensure that we are synchronised  with our environment.

Digestion is not as strong in the summer months and therefore it is best to opt for a light and easy to digest foods. Pitta is naturally increased especially in dominant people naturally due to the rise in heat. A pitta pacifying diet is most suitable with foods that are naturally sweet or bitter. These foods can include: asparagus, broccoli, artichoke, cucumber, green beans, courgettes, carrots, bitter gourd, bell peppers, kale, coconut, ghee, plums, pears, sweet grapes, figs, dates, melon, barley, cous cous, spelt, rice, all lentils. Avoid excess of nuts, heavy meats, salty, sour and pungent foods such as chillies, pickles, alcohol, fermented or fried foods.

During the summers months it is advisable to engage in calming activities such as walks in nature, and calming exercise such as yoga, tai chi, walking or swimming. Keep a cool and calm mind and take up the practice of regular meditation. Nurture yourself with a daily self massage, listen to calming music, eating is a peaceful environment. Wear gems and stones that have cooling properties such as moonstone, pearl, sapphire.

Protect yourself from the heat by wearing loose cotton clothing, protective sunglasses. Drink lots of room temperature water or lassi with some ground cumin for a refreshing and cool day drink.

Herbs that can be taken to reduce aggravated pitta can include: coriander, cilantro, cardamom, fennel, cumin, dill, mint, rose water, saffron.

Hello world!

Welcome to my blog via WordPress.com!

This is my very first post and i’d like to introduce myself here, you can read more about me here.

I hope to use this space to share an oasis of ayurvedic knowledge by posting interesting facts including herbal remedies, recipes, management of health conditions and general health tips. I hope you enjoy reading the posts. As I continue to blog I hope to make recommendations on products and various other treatments and introduce interesting individuals doing inspiring work.

Health and Happiness to you all,

Geeta