What Does Ayurveda Offer Us That Modern Medicine Doesn’t?

The term “Ayurveda” combines the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (science or knowledge). Ayurveda is one of the oldest holistic (whole body) healing systems in the world. There is debate about when it originated in India; it’s safe to say that it dates back between 3000 to 5000 years. It remains one of the central methods of health care in India. In Indian hospitals, patients receive both modern medical care and Ayurvedic care. Ayurveda uses herbal compounds and formulas to help heal the body and bring it back to a complete state of health. There has been much research done in India about the effectiveness of Ayurveda, but it is not something the West has given much money to research. It does not treat symptoms the way that modern medicine does. It sees symptoms as the body’s way of communicating that something is wrong. Treating a symptom takes away a nagging complaint, but it silences the body’s communication to the person inhabiting it. It is up to the person and Ayurvedic physicians to figure out what’s wrong and get to the root of the problem. Ayurvedic physicians prescribe individualized treatments, including compounds of herbs or proprietary ingredients, and diet, exercise, and lifestyle recommendations.

Ayurvedic medicine sees the Mind, Body and Spirit as three parts to a whole. They are interconnected, and you can’t separate them out and treat them individually. They all affect each other. A classic example would be how stress in the mind causes stress-related illnesses in the body like high blood pressure, adrenal exhaustion, heart attacks and the list goes on. It is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. The body is naturally balanced through meditation and yoga because it calms the mind and nervous system.

At the core of Ayurveda is the notion that humans are interconnected with everything on this planet. Prana, the life force or energy, flows through everything. This is symbolized by the OM and the chant of OM is the vibration of this force. Interestingly, this corresponds with the vibration of strings at the core of all atoms, the premise of modern string theory.

The Chinese also acknowledge this force in Chinese medicine and call it Chi. At the core of all living things, People, Animals and Plants, is Prana. It is what animates us. It causes us to breathe, your cat or dog to run and play, and your plants to grow and look healthy. The absence of prana is death. Ayurvedic medicine is focused on building and maintaining optimal prana: both energy to be used and energy to be stored to help fight off illness. When energy become stuck or is not flowing properly through the body, the result is illness. Ayurvedic medicine will use massage, yoga and herbs to get this energy moving again. The Chinese use acupuncture and cupping.

Ayurveda promotes knowing your own body and understanding how to care for it.  Ayurvedic physicians educate people about their body types and how to eat right for their type so they have optimal health. (A typical visit to a western doctor lasts fifteen minutes and a visit to an ayurvedic doctor might last an hour or more.) The three body types or doshas postulated by Ayurvedic medicine are Vata (Space and Air), Pitta (Fire) and Kapha (Water and Earth). All of these elements are present in each living thing, however an individual may be predisposed to having more of one or two of these elements instead of a balance.  A person with a predominantly Vata constitution will have physical and mental qualities that reflect the elemental qualities of Space and Air. That is why Vata types are commonly quick thinking, thin, and fast moving. A Pitta type, on the other hand, will have qualities reflective of Fire and Water, such as a fiery personality and oily skin. A Kapha (Earth) type will typically have a solid body frame and calm temperament, reflecting the underlying elements of Earth and Water. While one dosha predominates in some individuals, a second or third dosha typically can have a strong influence. This is referred to as either a dual-doshic or tri-doshic constitution.

The doshas are dynamic energies that constantly change in response to our actions, thoughts, emotions, the foods we eat, the seasons, and any other sensory inputs that feed our mind and body. When we live consciously, acknowledging our individual natures, we naturally make lifestyle and dietary decisions that foster balance within our doshas. When we live against our intrinsic natures, we support unhealthy patterns that lead to physical and mental imbalances.

Interested in what your dosha/s might be? I like this quiz because it give you a percentage of each element according to how you answer the questions.

Please take the time to leave a comment or question. It’s much appreciated!

Treating Depression Naturally

SAMe amino acids

Depression affects everyone at one time or another in his/her lifetime.  For some of us, it is a situational condition having its roots in the death of a loved one, divorce, a health issue, or a job we hate getting up and going to everyday.  For others, it’s an on and off condition, maybe seasonal (Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD) or an unexplainable melancholy that drifts in.  For others, it’s a constant battle, a hereditary, chemical  imbalance that drains their life force and will to go on.

Anti-depressants are meant to be a temporary fix.  They are not meant to be taken long term.  We still don’t know how much damage they do to the liver or other organs over the course of a person’s lifetime.  In 2011, Harvard Health published an article on its website titled  “Astounding Increase in Antidepressant Use by Americans”; it stated “the federal government’s health statisticians figured that about one in every 10 Americans takes an antidepressant. And by their reckoning, antidepressants were the third most common prescription medication taken by Americans in 2005–2008.”  In 2013, Researcher at the Mayo Clinic reported “the second most common prescription was for antidepressants — that suggests mental health is a huge issue and is something we should focus on.”

The fact that its a huge issue is no secret, especially with the poor diets of many adults and children and the dysfunctional downturn of American society.  So what can we do to stay mentally balanced?  What is in our realm of influence?

We’ve heard a lot of these solutions before, but maybe, this time, consider really incorporating one or more into your day to day living. If you are already on an antidepressant, see your physician or a naturopath about slowly weaning yourself off your anti-depressant. Some of the supplements listed below may not mix well with the medication you are on, so get your naturopath’s approval before taking them:

Take natural supplements to support the brain. 

1. Amino acids boost the mood. How?  There are certain amino acids that the body uses to create neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline.  Taking an amino complex creates the perfect environment in the brain for the production of these happy chemicals.   Aminos are the building blocks of protein, so an additional benefit is that it helps you muscles rebuild themselves should you decide to take on a new exercise routine.

2. SAMe is a natural antidepressant and GABA is a natural anti-anxiety. SAMe is a synthetic form of a compound formed naturally in the body from the essential amino acid methionine and adenosine triphosphate (ATP).  It is also used to treat chronic pain and liver issues.   GABA  is a naturally occurring amino acid in the brain that acts as a neurotransmitter.  It reduces anxiety and nervousness and produces a feeling of calmness.

3. Tryptophan and 5HTP–The majority of our serotonin is a byproduct of these two amino acids.

4. B-Complex— Most depressed people are vitamin B deficient.  A sublingual could be most beneficial in getting the vitamins into your body ASAP.

In addition:

1. Craft a well-balanced diet and take nutritional supplements specific to your bodies needs.  If you need help, invest in your health and see a naturopath, nutritionist, or a health coach.

2. Exercise. It releases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals

3.  Laugh. I don’t mean those fake titters; deep, belly laughs are the real thing.

4.  Have Sex–Contrary to the Puritanical view many Americans have about sex, it NATURAL and HEALTHY for you!  So get busy!

5. Do either Yoga and Meditation or BOTH–A regular Yoga practice center us and puts life in perspective.  If you mind races like a rat on a wheel, try meditation and begin training it to calm down.  The same way we need to be the master to our pets, we need to work on mastering our own mind, or it will rule our lives and make us miserable.

6. Relax and HAVE FUN–Make time, at least a few hours per week, to do the things that bring you joy and make you feel most like yourself.

7.  Stay away from sugar and refined carbs.  They have no nutritional value and exacerbate depression.

 

Further Reading:

Depression Free for Life–by Dr. Gabriel Cousens

Dealing with Depression Naturally : Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Restoring Emotional Health —by Syd Baumel

Depression-Free, Naturally: 7 Weeks to Eliminating Anxiety, Despair, Fatigue, and Anger from Your Life –by Joan Matthew Larsen

The Natural Depression Cure: How To Naturally Overcome Depression Forever–by Stephanie Hall

Chill Pills & Mood Food – Natural, drug-free treatments for anxiety & depression– by James Lee

 

Balanced Health: The Evolution of Mind, Body, and Spirit

mind body spirit balance

 Perfect and Complete Health=Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Health

We all want perfect health, right? Or do we?  We may be in excellent physical health, lean, muscular, energetic, but our emotional health is off.  There may be unresolved or ignored emotional issues from our past.  Our families may complain about certain negative traits or habits that we have that are obnoxious or infuriating.

Or we may be in great psychological health having done much of the work in therapy in our youth or after a mid-life crisis, or a major death or life change, but we’re lugging around excess weight or we know we have food addictions or we know our diets could be improved tremendously.

Maybe we devote much time to our Spiritual practice and helping others, but feel, in many cases, that we don’t know how to help ourselves. We feel stuck. We don’t know how to move to the next level.  We want to change, grow and live the life that we’ve imagined.  We want more than anything to live up to our potential.

This blog is for those of us who want food for thought.  They want good nutrition, a fit body, and excellent energy.   They want honestly about themselves, being human, and the emotional and spiritual challenges we face. They like to hear what others have experienced and learn from them. They want to constantly improve themselves. Their working on manifesting that spouse, career, or dream they’ve been imagining since they were a child.  They want to fine-tune, change, grow and use this life to REALLY live up to their potential before they die.

To people like us and the journey.