Archive for Why Detox?
Hamsa Ayurveda Center is opening soon in Chicago!
It was a beautiful experience working with the interns today, and learning abhyanga massage!
Therapuetic Fasting. Digestion, as well as elimination, may be improved by regularly restricting food intake. Understand restricted eating is not starvation. It is identified in Ayurveda as a viable means to restore agni and detoxify the body. Many studies have shown how therapeutic fasting is anti-aging and life extending. The concept of fasting, according to ¨ayurveda, is not going for days and weeks on end without food. This practice can be risky, and even dangerous, when not done with professional guidance or knowledge. Ayurvedic fasts include easy to digest juices, spiced waters, teas and liquefied soups, or kichadis.
Samsarjana Karma is the name for diet control during and after the purifying therapies of Pancha Karma. Samsarjana diet can also be used on its own independent of panchakarma for gentle detoxification and agni restoration. Generally samsarjana consists of very liquefied soups that increase in consistency over a seven-day period. It is made from grains, legumes, vegetables and spices. Refer to your recipe section for samsarjana recipe examples.
Ayurveda calls therapeutic fasting langhana therapy, which means “reducing, or to make light.” Therapuetic fasting has numerous health benefits, and is well tolerated by all doshic types in the right season. Spring and summer months are better times of the year for fasting therapies. Vata types, who are out of balance, need to be mindful of fasting applications. If not prepared properly, fasting can send vatas in a state of worry and shock. Pittas can do well with fasting for moderate amounts of time, and kaphas do the best for extended periods of fasting. Kaphas benefit the most from frequent fasting, and can safely fast one day out of the week.
Fasting, or restricted eating, can include consuming only juices, water and tea. It can also refer to kichadis, a detoxifying soup that is easy to digest, and commonly used in panchakarma for detoxification.
Water fasting is very rigorous for all types, unless done with absolute shraddha. However, numerous scientific articles have shown at great length, how powerful water fasting is in disease reversal.
Raw food fasts can be good for kaphas, pitta-kaphas, and some pitta/vata types. It is a good antidote for the standard American diet. It is astringent and bitter, so reduces excess in the tissues. Ayurveda recognizes the detoxification abilities raw food diets contain. Because raw food diets are ethereal, light and dry, they can elate the mind and encourage a genuine feeling of well-being. In deed, many sadhus and renunciation yogis live on raw foods only, such as roots, milk, and berries. Long term, raw foods can be depleting for many types. Those with excess vata can struggle the most with this.
While undergoing a fast, it is good to consume ama pachana water, and other spices. This is “dipan” in Ayurveda, which means it stimulates digestive fire to help destroy ama. Refer to the recipe section for spiced waters.
Contraindications for fasting include vata excess or emotions such as fear apprehension or uncertainty around fasting.
Samsarjana is a fast used in panchakarma between eliminatory procedures when agni is depleted. Eating simply restores agni. Samsarjana diet consists of simple liquefied soups made of rice, beans and spices. Typically it is eaten over the course of seven days. The first day the soup is very thin, consisting mostly of water. As each day passes, and agni increases, the soup is made thicker and with a wider range of ingredients. One can follow a course of samsarjana fasting on its own.
Pancha Karma is the primary cleansing therapy in Ayurvedic Medicine. It has been practiced for over five thousand years, and has variances across India in relationship to some of its defining features. It is one of the most complex, and specific forms of detoxification practices in natural medicine.
The name Pancha Karma comes from two Sanskrit words: panch, meaning “five,” and karma meaning “action.” The five primary procedures, called Pradhana Karma, remove excess doshas from the body, and eliminate ama (toxins). It does this by drawing the excess dosha to it’s main home in the body, where it can be eliminated by its correspondent eliminative procedure.
The Pradhana Karmas in Pancha Karma include:
Vamana (Emesis) Relieves excess from the stomach with therapeutic vomiting. Mostly for Kapha imbalances such as excess mucus conditions, obesity, cholesterol, swelling, water retention, depression, lethargy, bronchitis, eczema, etc. Vamana can also relieve excess Pitta from the stomach.
Virechana (Purgation) for elimination of excess from small intestine through purgative laxatives. Mostly for pitta imbalances such as hormonal dysfunction, fast digestion, acne, heat eruptions on the skin, anger, stagnate liver, etc.
Basti (Medicated Enemas) removes excess from colon with medicated enemas. Mostly for vata conditions such as arthritis, emaciation, anxiety, nervousness, depression, insomnia, brittle bones, constipation, nervous system disorders, etc. Basti is regarded as making up 50% of the potency of panchakarma.
Rakta Moksha (Blood Letting) removes excess from the blood. Typically for pitta disorders. There are differences in opinion and practice regarding this therapy. It is not used in many parts of India, where practitioners employ a second kind type of Basti instead.
Nasya (Nasal intake of medication) removes excesses from the sinuses. Alleviates sinus conditions and improves brain and sensory function, can be shamana (restorative, used over time) or shodhana (detoxifying). Some nasya mediums include: medicated oils, ghee, smoke, and powdered herbs.
Before administering any of the five main procedures, the body and mind are prepared through several therapies called ‘Purva Karma.’ Purva karma makes the ama(toxins) soft through snehana (oil application and ingestion) and mobile for elimination through swedana (sweating). Purva karmas bring the toxins to the kostha (digestion) where they can be eliminated by the pradhana karmas.
Some of these preparatory treatments used in Purva karma include:
Pachana: Stimulating digestive agni to burn ama by injesting spices, herbs, and diet restriction.
Bhaya Snehana: The external application of herbal infused medicinal oils. The oils work to pacify excesses and cleanse the channels. It is an important part of panchakarma, but can be performed alone. There are over a dozen methods of bhaya snehana including abhyanga massage, shirodhara, netra tarpana, and many more. There are also dry methods for kapha imbalances such as udvartana.
Abyantar Snehana: Injesting medicinal oils or ghee for a specific number of days to loosen toxins.
Swedana: To cause the body to sweat after the application of medicinal oil, to open the dhatus (tissues) and srotas (channels), and eliminate ama (toxins).
Individualization Based on Ayurvedic Mind/Body Typing (Doshas)
Cleanses are individualized according to mind/body type and imbalance. Cleanses work to remove excess ama (toxins) and excess doshas (vata, pitta, kapha.) Some procedures are palliative (removes excesses slowly over time) and some are immediate (panchakarma procedures).
Most of the home based cleanse programs are palliative in nature, as the stronger eliminations are not safe to do without proper supervision from an Ayurvedic practitioner.
Digestion must be regulated before proper detoxification can occur. Spiced waters and herbs are used according to doshic type to regulate agni (digestive fire). Vata types usually need warmth and lubrication to reduce constipation, dryness or irregular digestion. Pittas need cooling to help calm the secretion of liver enzymes and fire in the small intestine, both of which can lead to fast digestion or poor nutrient assimilation. Kaphas need warmth and dryness to help stimulate stagnate and slow digestion, break up excess mucus and stimulate metabolism.
There are several elimination procedures defined as panchakarma (5 actions) used as the primary procedures. Please read what is panchakarma for a more detailed explanation. Many home procedures use a modified version of these.
Ayurveda prepares the body for a set period of days in order to facilitate detoxification. This preparation is done with the external application of medicinal oils, the internal injestion of medicinal oils (usually medicated ghee or flaxseed oil) and steam. This is to help lubricate the tissues, ensure the deep penetration of certain herbs, and facilitate their removal with sweating therapies.
Is individualized, but can be: doshic specific, ama reducing, sattvic diet, mono-diet, kichadis diet, samsarjana diet, fasting (raw food, juice, tea, soup).
Herbs are used to cleanse the body. Usually the liver, blood, lymphatic systems, and colon. After digestion, the lymphatic system is first to be affected by toxicity. From here, the toxins move into the liver. If the liver is toxic, toxins will enter the blood. These toxins can circulate deeper to different areas in the body. The liver is most connected with the emotion anger, and pitta types are most prone to this emotion when out of balance. Poor digestion, and colon function also inhibit proper detoxification. Herbs are used to safely cleanse the colon of impacted fecal matter, and restore proper functioning.
Other Common Features
Laxatives, medicated enemas, therapuetic fasting, restricted diet, herbs, skin brushing, herbal oil application.
Vata’s main seat is in the colon, and many Ayurvedic therapies will work to treat vata from there. The colon is the last part of the digestive system, and extracts excess water and salt from the solid wastes. An 8 foot long intestine precedes it, called the large intestine.
When vata is increased, a person may feel bloated or experience dry constipation. Proper colon health and elimination is imperative for health. When constipation occurs, toxins are recirculated through the body.
Vata Type Toxic Symptoms
- Wasting Away
- Dry Bowel Movements
- Mucus In Bowel
- Digestive Irregularity
Many Ayurvedic therapies address pitta imbalances through the small intestine and liver. In Ayurveda, it is believed that most disease stems from problems in the digestive system. When pitta gets high in this area, jatharagni can become disturbed causing fast assimilation, quick digestion, lack of nutrient absorption, and diarrhea.
Pitta Type Toxic Symptoms
- Poor Nutrient Assimilation
- Excessive Sweating
- Bacterial, Fungal & Yeast Infections
- Sour Smelling Body Odor
- Liver Toxicity
In Ayurveda, kapha dosha, composed of earth and water is most affiliated with the lymph, stomach and lungs. Excesses of lymph are caused by kapha (grief, melancholy, holding on, excess sweet or salty taste) and ama. When rasa dhatu is in excess, the qualities of water and kapha dosha increase.
Kapha Type Toxic Symptoms
- Water retention
- Heavy Menses
- Swollen Breasts
- Dull Mind
- Increased Bodily Secretions
- Excess mucus in the sinus, lung, breasts, digestion, etc.