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

Dr. Parla Jayagopal
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 .

Q: My husband suffers from chronic fatigue, a condition that started six years ago when he was in a stressful situation and developed the flu. He knows his condition is stress-related and has tried numerous holistic and allopathic remedies (both external and internal) but still has to rest three to four times a day. What can we do?

A: From an Ayurvedic perspective fatigue is a vata (air and ether or space elements) derangement. This has its origin first in the mind and then in the body. What seems obvious in his case is that his work drives his mind faster than his body can function and uses all his energy. As you are aware, stress is one of the leading factors that aggravates this condition; it is the mind that needs to be balanced first and aligned with the body. On the other hand, awakening his spiritual being can reinstate body, mind and spiritual equilibrium.

Meditation

Meditation of any variety for 20 minutes daily can awaken the spiritual aspects of his being. This is vital because spirit has the potential to connect the mind to the body.

Pranayama

When practiced regularly pranayama (yogic breath techniques) have a deep effect on a healthy state of mind. Pranayama increases mental and physical strength. Learn the following pranayama practices from a qualified and experienced instructor.

  • Nadi shodhana pranayama: alternate nostril breathing
  • Ujjayi pranayama: victorious breathing
  • Yogic breath: abdominal breathing

Practice pranayama for 10 minutes twice daily (before and after work); consistent practice can calm the mind. When your husband gets fatigued, he can practice pranayama to help manage his energy.

Massage

One of the best therapies is herbal oil massage. Self-massage the whole body on a daily basis for about ten minutes before showering or bathing. Vata is connected to the sense of touch; touch can help calm or balance vata. The heaviness and unctuousness of oil can pacify the light and dry vata element, making oil massage very useful.In my experience, any vata-pacifying or soothing oil is good. Narayana or mahanarayana oil are traditional Ayurvedic blends of medicinal herbs cooked in sesame oil and can be effective. The massage technique is very simple: place some pre-warmed oil in your hands and rub with the palms on the body until warm. Use long strokes on the limbs and flat surfaces of the body and circular strokes on the joints. After the massage, shower with warm water, which further calms vata and helps the oils penetrate the skin.

Herbs

The following Ayurvedic herbs can be beneficial for fatigue and calming vata.

  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
  • Musli (Curculigo orchioides)
  • Kapi Kacchu (Mucuna pruriens)

One teaspoon of each herb can be mixed together with 4 ounces of warm milk (cow or nondairy milk such as almond, rice, hemp or soy) and taken on an empty stomach in the morning.

Diet

A vata-pacifying diet is essential. This means warm, soupy foods such as soup or stew cooked with grains, broth, vegetables and spices. The last meal of the day should be warm and nurturing. Make sure there is enough healthy oil (olive, avocado, flax or ghee) in the diet. Have a warm breakfast (cold cereal with cold milk aggravates vata and inhibits digestion) with warm herbal teas. Pomegranate and blueberry lighten the heart and refresh the mind.

Other Ayurvedic Remedies

Oil enemas (basti) as a panchakarma practice (cleansing technique) under proper supervision are the best therapy for calming or reducing vata. Only do this with proper advice.

Q: I have been practicing Ashtanga yoga for three-and-a-half years. I sweat a lot during practice, but for the past two-and-a-half years, my perspiration has a strong odor of ammonia – it is very noticeable on my towel. This did not happen when I began my practice. My doctors have no advice for me and all of the tests they ran came back normal. Is there any thing that I can do?

A: From an Ayurvedic perspective sweat or sweda is a principle waste product of meda (adipose/fatty) tissue. Sweating is healthy as it prevents your blood from heating up but the bad odor is unhealthy. You have done well to observe that the smell of your sweat has changed in the past couple of years. This change may indicate two things: A change in your diet or lifestyle that has hampered the normal formation of sweat or an escalation of your practice without proper sustenance. If you have lost weight, remember that any weight loss must be addressed with proper dietary intake. Be careful not to drink cold water shortly before or after your practice. The same rule applies for the cold foods. Give preference to fresh fruits, vegetables and freshly prepared food. Whole barley and sesame seeds are recommended in Ayurveda as good modulators of sweat. Reduce your use of meat, mushrooms, garlic, onions, cheese and fish at night. Minimize your consumption of alcohol, coffee and beer. If you have a habit of taking naps, avoid them as well. Ayurveda recommends external use of herbal pastes or powders after showering to reduce body odor. Herbs such as sandalwood or chandana (Santalum album), agaru (Aquilaria agallocha), karpura (Cinnamomum camphora), rose or shatapatri (Rosa damascena) and padma (Nelumbo nucifera) are recommended.

Morning Remedy

  • 1 tablespoon coriander1
  • 1/2 tablespoon Indian sarsaparilla or anantmul (Hemidesmus indicus)
  • 2 cups water
  • let soak overnight and filter the next morning.

Drink this mixture on an empty stomach in the morning.

Night Remedy

  • 1/4 teaspoon mace
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon fennel

Mix with one teaspoon raw honey and eat after your evening meal. (Agave nectar can be used in place of honey. For diabetes, the herbs can be taken with warm water.) I also recommend asking your physician to check for hyperthyroidism (abnormally functioning thyroid gland) or hypogonadism (improperly functioning gonads); if these problems are causing your bad odor you will need to take a different approach.


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; aucm.org

 
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