Therapeutic Fasting & Samsarjana Diet
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.