Combating back pain with Ayurveda

indian ayurvedic oil body massageFrom shoulder aches and pains to chronic repetitive strain conditions such as sciatica, back pain has affected many of us through numerous causative factors. Back pain or ‘kati shoola’ as it is known in Ayurveda is a common condition where the one or more dosha becomes imbalanced, and of these, vata (air + space element) would be commonly responsible.

Back pain could be of varying types and caused by various factors Incorrect posture, external or sports injury, trauma or RSI will result in a degeneration of tissues (bone, muscle and connective tissue) with a rise of vata resulting in intense pain.

The increase of dry, rough and cold qualities of vata is another cause of emaciation and degeneration of bone and connective tissue leading to osteoporosis as the space element in the pores become increased in size, as vata needs to travel resulting in pain of a cutting or numb nature or as pins and needles.

Blockages in the channels of the body (veins, arteries, lymph etc) increases vata and not allowing vata to flow naturally and is forced to other spacial areas, creating again pain. The involvement of Pitta and kapha dosha are often cause complexities.

Doshic imbalance ranges from increased vata caused by stress, old age, lack of quality sleep, over-exercising, excessive intake of foods such as chickpeas, sprouts, tea coffee, alcohol, exposure to cold climates, drinks. Increased pitta dosha due to over exposure to the sun, hot and spicy, non-veg and acidic foods. Kapha increase due to day sleep, lack of exercise, intake of sweet cold foods such as yoghurt, ice-cream, fruit juices, dairy. These causative factors coupled with influencing factors of age, climate, occupation, digestive capacity can lead to doshic imbalance.

The first line of treatment would firstly be to remove the causative factors. Then physical Ayurvedic treatments to alleviate the back pain would carefully administered depended of type of pain. For example, lower back and neck pain can be effectively treated by kati basti (a pool of warm medicated oil). Pinda Sweda (hot herbal poultice) used with medicated oils to alleviate the vata out of the tissues. A simple abhyanga with specially selected medicated oils can help to alleviate back pain. In deep seated conditions vata would be eliminated through the administration of enemas, since the seat of vata resides in the colon.

Useful internal herbs to balance the dosha and condition would also be used as well as suggested back-bending yoga postures such as bhujangasana, khandarasana, surya namaskar all used with yogic breathing to heal through prana.

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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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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