Living A Life Of Balance – An Introduction To Ayurvedic Medicine

Excerpted from Dr. Aruna Bakhru’s upcoming book entitled “The Guru Principle”

Ayurveda is an ancient and holistic system of medicine, which originated in India more than five thousand years ago. The word Ayu means life (span) and Veda means knowledge i.e. knowledge of life or the science of life. One of the basic tenets of Ayurveda is that life is meant to be lived in balance and in harmony with nature. Illness happens when we move away from a life of balance to excesses or deficiencies of any kind, whether it is the way we eat, sleep, work, exercise, think or feel. Ayurveda believes that one has to live in harmony with the seasons, the time of day, the place you live etc.

According to Ayurveda, people are divided into different body types and if you follow the diet, purification routines, exercises, etc. specific for your body type you can correct many of the problems you may be suffering from.
Ayurveda places a great deal of emphasis on the mind. According to Ayurveda many of our physical problems and imbalances are first created in the mind. Unlike western medicine, which has divorced the mind from the body, Ayurveda says they are seamlessly connected and each affects the other. The place where the mind and the body connect is the place where matter interfaces with energy.

The three Doshas of Ayurveda:
According to Ayurveda, the doshas lie at the place where the mind connects with the body. If the mind and the body are not coordinated, an imbalance is created in the Doshas.
There are three Doshas and they are as follows:
1. Vata corresponds to Air.
2. Pitta corresponds to fire.
3. Kapha corresponds to water.

Each and every person has all the three doshas or principles to varying degrees, but usually one or other is dominant. i.e. if you are a Vata type then the Vata principle is dominant. This is important because your body type governs how you should live and what you should eat to maintain a life of balance.

Vata Dosha:
Corresponds to air, ether.
Function is movement, breathing, and circulation.
Emotions are fear, anxiety, and pain.
Seat of Vata is in the colon, pelvis etc.
The Vata constitution is thin, tall or too short, bony joints, thin eyelashes, sunken eyes, bent nose, variable appetite, tends to constipation, poor sleep, creative, restless, alert, poor willpower and tolerance. Cold hands and feet.

Pitta Dosha
Corresponds to fire and water.
Function is metabolism, digestion, absorption and assimilation.
Emotions are anger, hatred and jealousy.
Seat of Pitta is stomach, small intestine and blood.
Pitta Constitution is medium build, premature graying, medium sleep, warm hands and feet, short tempered, intelligent and ambitious.

Kapha Dosha
Corresponds to water and the earth.
Function is that of cementing material of the body, connective tissue, joint lubrication, and memory retention.
Emotions are greed, attachment, envy, forgiveness, calmness and maternal emotions.
Seat of Kapha is chest, sinuses, ears, nose, throat area, joints etc.
Kapha constitution is solid build, slow, deliberate, good strength and endurance, prolonged sleep, obese, calm, forgiving, loving, greedy and possessive. They are slow to grasp information but once they do they retain it i.e. good memory retention.

According to Ayurveda, the imbalance or disease may originate in the mind in the form of some negative emotion, which affects the doshas, and in turn the body or, it may originate in the body and then affect the mind. Diet and environment are the key causes here affecting the doshas, which in turn can affect the mind. We saw earlier that Vata is connected to fear and anxiety, Pitta to hate and jealousy and Kapha to greed and possessiveness.

Western medical science has not recognized the importance of the relationship between the immune system and the gut. Only now are some people beginning to recognize and label the “leaky gut syndrome” as being the cause of many diseases. Ayurveda recognized this connection five thousand years ago when it talked about disease being caused by accumulation of toxins or “ama” as a result of impairment of the “Agni” (the process of digestion and assimilation). If the agni does not function properly, then the ama accumulates in the intestines and leaks into the circulation and subsequently accumulates in other parts of the body clogging them, impairing their resistance and immunity and causing disease of that organ.

Imbalanced emotions also cause disease by impairing the agni and therefore the immune system. In the Bhagwad Gita, the Lord tells Arjuna that He Himself has become the digestive fire or Agni in the human body, serving to illustrate the importance of agni. I.e. it is the Lord’s energy, which is powering the digestive system and thus all the metabolic processes and also strengthening the immune system. Disrespect of your digestive fire by eating the wrong foods or an imbalanced lifestyle is disrespecting the Lord within you and inviting disease.

The Ayurvedic physician usually performs a detailed history and physical examination. The examination includes but is not limited to pulse diagnosis, examination of the tongue, facial diagnosis including the lines and wrinkles of your face, your lips, eyes. Examination of the nails and hair, examination of the urine, feces, sweat etc. examination of the mind and emotions. He may also check your astrological chart as this may predict disease proneness. Modern medicine treats the body as though it is a machine with various parts and each part is treated by a different specialist. The problem with a machine is that you can repair it with spare parts. The human body on the other hand functions as a whole. An Ayurvedic physician tries to assist the body in its attempt to repair itself.

Treatment in Ayurveda consists of: Panchakarma (purification or cleansing of the body), herbs, yoga, mantras, gemstones, color therapy, sound therapy using classical ragas, dietary manipulation to balance the doshas, fasting, meditation etc. Treatment is individualized to the person and not the disease. Whereas in allopathic medicine, two patients with arthritis will usually get the same treatment, its not so in Ayurveda.

Panchakarma is employed to eliminate toxins from the body. Massages using oil and herbs, enemas, nasal purgation and induced vomiting are some of the methods used. I remember as a child being taken by my parents for treatment to a local Ayurveda center and the doctors there would make me drink tons of water then come up from behind and press my upper abdomen and all the water would come out. Although disconcerting at first, I did feel really cleaned out afterwards. However, do not try this at home. It can only be done under the supervision of an Ayurvedic physician. Oil or water enemas are used depending on the imbalance present. I would not recommend getting treatment from someone who has taken a two month crash course in Ayurveda. These people can do more harm than good. The idea behind panchakarma is to open the channels and begin getting rid of the accumulated toxins. It can be very effective in getting rid of the chemicals that we are polluting our bodies (and our planet) with, in our so-called modern society.

In Ayurveda, the underlying philosophy is a reverence for all life. Therefore herbs are grown, cultivated and harvested with respect, reverence and purity in mind with the result that the healing effects of such herbs are powerful and in tune with nature. Remember the four sheaths that cover the soul. According to Ayurveda each sheath can be healed with different methods. The physical body can be healed by a vata, pitta or kapha pacifying diet, herbal treatment and yogic exercises. The astral body by the use of herbs, pranayama, color, sound, gemstones magnets (and homeopathy works at this level also). Mantras and meditation reach the causal body.

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Diagnosis And Treatment Of Acne

Acne is a skin problem that usually begins in the young teenage years and can last until the early 20s or even later. It consists of mild to severe outbreaks of pimples and cysts – mainly on the face, but also on the back, arms and chest. Cysts are lumps under the skin that have pus and other tissue in them, but do not come to a head like pimples do. These can sometimes cause scarring and blotchy, uneven skin colour. Unfortunately, acne hits people at a time when they most want to look their best. Acne can make teenagers feel embarrassed and bad about themselves. There are treatments that can help if acne is causing distress. If you are concerned about skin problems or skin care, you should talk to your doctor or chemist for information about possible treatments.

Hormones and genetics
At the start of puberty, a whole lot of hormones are released into the body. One of these hormones is androgen. Both boys and girls have androgen, but boys have more of it. Androgen affects oil glands in the skin of the face, neck, back, shoulders and chest. It makes the glands grow bigger and produce more oil (sebum). Bacteria on the skin make this oil thicken so that the pores become blocked, resulting in blackheads, pimples and cysts. A teenager is more likely to get acne if one of their parents had it during adolescence. But even in the same family, some people may get worse acne than others. Girls tend to get it at a younger age than boys and it can worsen or ‘break out’ at certain times of a girl’s menstrual cycle, such as just before a period. Boys often have more outbreaks than girls, and they often seem to get worse pimples and more cysts.

Self-help strategies
Suggestions for managing acne include:

* Washing – cleaning the skin can help, but even people with very clean skin can have problems with acne. Try washing the affected areas two to three times per day. Don’t overdo it. Too much washing can cause other skin problems, such as dryness or skin irritations. Try to keep hair clean and off the face and neck, since oil from the hair can make acne worse.
* Make-up – choose water-based, oil free products. Make-up worn during the day should be thoroughly removed at night.
* Don’t squeeze – do not pick or squeeze pimples. This can get germs into the skin around the pimple and make things a lot worse. It can lead to scarring of the skin too.
* Stress – Stress can trigger an outbreak of pimples. Stress causes the release of chemicals into the brain that can make oil glands release more oil onto the skin. This is why pimples seem to magically appear on stressful days, such as at the time of an exam or special date. Usually it is difficult to control things like tests or special events, but it’s important to know that the stress has brought on the outbreak. The outbreak is not a sign that the treatments do not work.
* Diet – many people think that lollies or chocolate cause pimples. Research has not been able to prove any such link, but some people find that it works this way for them. It is possible that a person eats chocolate when they are under a lot of stress, and that it is actually the stress that causes the pimples. However, healthy eating may help.

Acne treatment from your pharmacy
Some acne treatments can be bought over the counter at chemists or supermarkets. These work by cleaning the skin and drying up excess oil. If you are using any form of treatment and your skin becomes very dry or irritated, stop using it straight away. It is a good idea to talk to the chemist before you buy a product to find out which treatments are the most useful. Don’t rely on advertisements or the advice of friends.

Medical treatment
If the acne is bad, your doctor may prescribe medication or arrange a referral to a dermatologist. Medications can lead to huge improvements in how the skin looks and can reduce the number of new pimples. Medical treatment can include:

* Antibiotics to kill the germs, which are part of the cause
* Medications to reduce the amount of oil being produced
* Medications to reduce the amount of androgen in the body.

Where to get help

* Your doctor
* Your local chemist
* Dermatologist.

Things to remember

* Acne is a skin problem consisting of mild to severe outbreaks of blackheads, pimples and cysts.
* The triggers of acne include some of the hormones associated with puberty and stress.
* Self-help strategies include washing the affected areas regularly, using water-based make-up and resisting the urge to squeeze or pick at spots.
* See your doctor or chemist for information about possible treatments.

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Anti-aging: Important Issues For Women

Woman more so than men worry about lines, sagging, or wrinkles around the face area, chest, or other areas of the body, thus considering all the options available to them, many women can’t afford the pricey solutions for reducing wrinkles.

Women more so than men are put in positions where they struggle, since competing ads, television and many other sources has put them on the market as an object of sex. Anti-aging products are available today, but who can afford the extra $30 per month to keep the lines off the face.

Mollycoddling the face arbitrarily can reduce the wrinkles. However, if you use products, including soaps that harm the skin, it could increase your chances of getting wrinkles. In other words, natural common sense will help you to avoid wrinkles. It makes sense to stay persistent in any thing you do in life, including keeping your face and body parts fresh.

Other ideas that help to keep the face from wrinkling, is to exercise the face by switching the jaw line with the mouth open. Few gels and foams on the market that cost less than $20 work well to keep the facial area looking radiant while concealing the lines.

Supplements are not the answer. Most supplements sold today have less the ingredients they claim to have, and recent studies are pointing to harm by digesting the supplements available to reduce wrinkles.

Wrinkles is a process of aging, therefore an amount of wrinkles cannot be avoided. However, if you want to get rid of wrinkles, or make the face appear as few wrinkles exist certain surgeries can help you out. Few types of surgeries cost less than you believe. For example, some surgeries require a minimal $45 assessment charge on the first visit and the final visit is around $145. The procedure lasts an hour and is not painful according to the sources that adhere to the surgery.

The procedure is like having sandpaper run across your face and it removes pores, wrinkles, lines, crowfeet, and sagging of the skin. Your face will look radiant if the right surgeon does the job.

Masks are inexpensive tools for reducing the wrinkles. As long as you use the product daily, it will minimize your wrinkles. The product tightens the face area, thus pushing up on the skin so that it reduces wrinkles. Mask anti-aging solutions is applied to the face daily, or else during the night and is left on the skin up to ten minutes. After usage, you use warm water and soap to rinse off the residue. This brings another issue into focus. If you use the face, soaps make sure you use sensitive soaps that enhance the skin rather than causes harm to the skin.

Shielding ointments are from time to time helpful products. The creams assist in keeping your skin healthy. The creams also enhance the tone of the facial area, while serving to trim down wrinkles. A number of the routines for minimizing wrinkles, including products swarm the marketplace with all offering solutions for reducing wrinkles. According to the sellers and manufacturers, the products will eliminate wrinkles while upgrading the face, removing sags. The products that claim to do all this in ten minutes is one of the products I would be skeptical of using.

Machines for removing wrinkles are also available over the World Wide Net, in stores, and for purchase in other areas. The machines differ, but few include gloves, creams, pads, machine, and other products that work to remove wrinkles. Depending on the product, but I’ve seen first hand one of the facial machines in action, and as a witness will confess that the product did one fine job. The woman’s face was radiant after use, and her lines appeared minimal.

Still, I’ve tried products my self, such NICEL. The product from what I’ve seen this far has done nothing in line of removing wrinkles. Therefore, if you are contemplating on purchasing anti-aging products, make sure you read the reviews, or ask friends if they’ve heard of the products to make sure you are not wasting money. Visit your dermatologist to find out what is best for your skin!

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