Ayurveda Q & A PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Dr. Parla Jayagopal   

Ayurveda has been practiced in the U.S. for only about 30 years, yet it is a 5,000 year old Indian system of medicine and yoga’s sister science. Readers are invited to submit questions for “Ayurveda Q & A” to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Dr. Parla Jayagopal
Dr. Parla Jayagopal
Q: I am a 39-year-old overweight man with allergy symptoms (itchy eyes, dry throat, sinus congestion with copious green mucus) for most of my life. I take Claritin twice a day and have taken Benadryl in the past with little to no relief. I have been reading LA YOGA and I recently obtained a neti pot (salt water rinse) but I have only done it twice. I am desperate because I am very uncomfortable and get no relief from Western biomedicine. What can I do?

A: From the explanation about your imbalance, it looks like an improperly functioning agni (digestive fire), which instead of breaking down everything you eat into materials that can be used for energy or incorporated into your cells, your body is constantly fabricating metabolites that are noxious and cannot be reduced, digested or utilized by your own bodily tissues. Such imperfect circulating metabolites, called ama, make your body hostile for all varieties of organisms, thus leading to constant allergies. This situation is aggravated by the abundance of kapha (earth and water elements) in your body, which is showing up as excessive body mass.

As the overall origin of your issue is more extensive, using a neti pot (salt water rinse) can help clear the sinuses, but will only address the overall problem to a limited extent.

Water: Warm and Herbal

Even though you may not find it interesting, drink only warm water (avoid cold, iced water to stimulate agni and reduce ama. To facilitate this, carry a thermos with you or use a plug-in teapot at home or work to easily make hot water for yourself. Another great option is to bring 8 to 10 cups of water to boil and then add 15 pods of cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) and 15 buds of clove (Syzygium aromaticum). Continue to boil for about 10 minutes and drink this water warm throughout the day.

Ayurvedic Herbal Remedies

To clear the ama (poorly digested or toxic metabolites) and augment or stimulate the agni, these spices could be really beneficial:

  • 1 teaspoon of cumin powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of tulsi (Ocimum sanctum)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/3 teaspoon of ajwain (Trachyspermum
    ammi) seeds

Mix all of these together with one teaspoon of raw honey and just a little water to make into a paste. Eat this first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.

At times it may be necessary to take some antihistamines until your immunity recovers, but do not make it a habit. When badly congested, you can use vaporization with steam. One way to do this is to boil water, and then pour into a bowl or basin, add 8 – 10 drops of eucalyptus oil and 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric. Sit over this basin and breathe the steam for 5 minutes, which can be very beneficial.

Traditional Ayurvedic herbs such as talisadi powder and triphala guggulu both help reduce kapha. When appropriate, nasya (herbal preparations taken as nose drops) or panchakarma (Ayurvedic cleansing techniques) can be beneficial. Before doing these stronger techniques, consult a qualified and experienced Ayurvedic practitioner.

Dietary Suggestions

Have a warm breakfast like cooked barley with raisins and agave nectar sprinkled with cinnamon. Avoid drinking cold juices in the morning. Let your lunch be your largest meal and reduce the sugar and dairy you eat at lunchtime. Plan your dinner to be your smallest meal; favor small, soupy, warm and liquidy meals, such as soups or stews rather than salads or cold foods. At dinner, have only small amounts of, or better yet, no sugar and dairy.

Yoga

Consistent yoga practice is important for reducing excess kapha (earth and water elements) and stimulating digestion. Consistently practicing sun salutations, 12 each day, will gradually decrease the congestion. Work with an experienced yoga teacher to help you develop a practice geared to your current situation and level of fitness and experience. Learn how to coordinate asana (posture) and breathing in the practice.

Neti

Neti is a useful therapy when combined with practices that reduce congestion through yoga, herbs, spices, drinking hot water and managing your diet and nutrition.

Q: My mother is a 79-year-old woman with high blood pressure for which she takes medication. She is 20 pounds overweight and lives in a small town in Texas where social activities revolve around food that is heavy in carbohydrates and fats. I want to help her, but I know she will not adopt an Ayurvedic lifestyle. Do you have any advice?

A: As excess weight can significantly contribute to high blood pressure, it is important to work on weight reduction. In my practice I have seen people having significant reduction in their blood pressure just by losing some weight.

Since your mother is already on medication, do not cut down the medication without proper monitoring and working closely with her primary healthcare provider. It is important to record her blood pressure levels daily and as remedies start working, under the guidance of her primary physician, medication can be tapered. Any sudden withdrawals can be unsafe.

Walk and Sleep

Encourage your mother to walk at least 8,000 steps a day. She can use a pedometer to measure steps, which some people enjoy. Avoid day naps and favor waking up in the early morning.

Herbal Water

She can prepare this special water with herbs to drink throughout the day: 6-8 cups water with 1 tablespoon coriander
seeds, 1 teaspoon turmeric powder and 10 clove buds mixed together and boiled on the stove for 10 minutes. Sip this water throughout the day to help reduce meda (fat) and kapha dosha (water and earth elements) which hinder free flow of blood and increase blood pressure. Drinking this warm is more beneficial.

Diet and Food

Turmeric is a great herb to use in this situation. She can cook with it or sprinkle it on vegetables, along with ginger and garlic. Reduce or avoid dairy, meat, sweets and salt at night. If she reduces her fat and carbohydrate intake and increases the quantity of veggies she eats, she will positively shift her agni, or her digestive fire.

Important Herbs

  • Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna)
  • Amalaki (Emblica officinalis)
  • Punarnava (Boerhaavia diffusa)
  • Gokshura (Tribulus terrestris)

Mix 1/2 teaspoon of each herb with 1 teaspoon of raw honey and 1 teaspoon of water and take twice daily after eating. Compound preparations like kaishora guggulu can be administered under the guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner. Three triphala pills taken at night with warm water, just before bed, can help reduce stagnation and improve circulation.

Before using any of the above Ayurvedic remedies, consult with a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner or healthcare provider. The information given here represents the opinions and recommendations of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of LA YOGA Ayurveda and Health magazine.

Dr. Parla Jayagopal has an M.D. degree in Ayurveda from India and works as an Associate Professor at American University of Complementary Medicine; he teaches clinical doctorate courses and schedules consultations at the university clinic in Beverly Hills. (310)550–7445; www.aucm.org

 
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