Ayurveda Q & A PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Dr. Sarita Shrestha   

Ayurveda has been practiced in the US for only about 30 years, yet it is one of the systems of medicine native to India and is thousands of years old. 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. Sarita Shrestha
Dr. Sarita Shrestha

Q: I am a forty-two-year-old male who has congestion in my middle ear. Last year, it was so bad that it caused nausea and vertigo and I was laid up in bed for almost a month. The Western medicines prescribed to me, antibiotics and sinus/allergy steroid sprays, did nothing but make me feel worse. Eventually, I sought out acupuncture which helped to relieve my condition after two sessions. Unfortunately, acupuncture is not covered by my medical insurance, but all the pharmaceuticals that did not work are. The congestion is building up again, and I am now having trouble hearing. I was wondering if there is an imbalance in my body that could be alleviated through an Ayurvedic diet which would reduce the congestion. I have fair skin, am thin (6’/160 pounds), and from reading past articles in LA YOGA magazine, I think my dosha is vata (air/ether elements) with a little bit of pitta (fire element).

A: It seems you had a severe sinus infection which spread to the middle ear. It is very difficult to clear the infection in that area and there is a chance of recurrence and hearing loss.

It sounds like you have slow digestion and your bowel is sluggish. Therefore avoid very heavy and oily foods. You may have food allergies, possibly to wheat and dairy products. Be careful to observe any possible allergic reactions in your diet and notice how you feel after eating different foods. It can be helpful to keep a food diary or to rotate foods in your diet that you may suspect are causing you problems.

If your bowel movements are not complete or are sluggish, eat more green vegetables and add one tablespoon of flax seed to your diet. Make a habit of eating soft foods which are easy to digest and favor an abundance of greens and fruits which are less greasy and mucus forming. Avoid yogurt, dairy products (especially cheese) fish and seafood. If you are nonvegetarian, stick with chicken and turkey. Enjoy fruit but avoid bananas and pomegranate.

Drink plenty of hot water. Enjoy one glass of hot water first thing in the morning and one after dinner for four weeks.

Steam inhalation with eucalyptus oil will be very helpful. Have a nasya treatment from an Ayurvedic practitioner and have them recommend some nasya oil for your use. Nasya is a therapeutic application of herbalized nose drops. Having a personalized recommendation from a practitioner is most useful. Learn the Yogic and Ayurvedic practice of jala neti from an experienced practitioner. This will help to address your sinusitis.

Regular exercise, especially the forward bending postures of Yoga, can help to clear the congestion. Also include walking and light jogging.

Find an experienced pranayama (breath techniques) teacher and learn kapalabati (a specific version of a heating, fiery breath) done with alternate nostrils.

Wishing you a speedy recovery.

Q: I’m a twenty-six-year-old woman who is predominantly kapha (water/earth elements). Since puberty, I have had pimples, but my acne has gotten worse in the past three years. I have deeper pimples located on my cheeks and along my jawline (especially the right side of my face). Furthermore, my menstrual cycles are around thirty-one to thirty-five days apart and they are very painful. Even when I’m not menstruating, I feel as though I am more moody and tired on a daily basis than I was a few years ago. I eat a pescetarian diet (no meat except fish) and I often indulge in soy milk. What Ayurvedic herbs and treatments are best to treat these symptoms and to address hormonal imbalances? And I’ve heard good and bad things about soy – what’s the real story?

A: Since you know you are kapha, it is necessarily to avoid or limit kaphagenic foods, especially dairy. The most important dairy items to avoid are cheese and yogurt, which are the most clogging to the shrotas (channels). Pimples are a result of clogging at the superficial level of the skin and are related to both the balance of the hormones and condition of the blood. According to Ayurveda, skin problems have a relation with blood impurities. Blood cleansing would be appropriate, since it seems your menstrual cramps also have a relation with your blood. Aloe vera can be taken internally. Try taking one tablespoon every day after meals for one cycle of menstruation.

Aloe is good for cleansing the shrotas and its astringent taste reduces excess kapha. Neem (Azadirachta indica) is a bitter herb that is helpful for cleansing the blood. Neem tea (which has a strong taste) or taking neem in capsules can help cleanse the blood. Another herbal supplement that can be helpful is brahmi tea, which can promote calm during mood swings.

For the pimples, promote clear skin by washing with triphala water, made with powdered triphala soaked overnight in cold water. Favor green vegetables and fruits and eat fewer lentils. As far as soy, like many foods, it depends on the person, but in your context take care to have it warm and never cold.

Make sure to include regular exercise in your diet. Sitz baths taken in hot water for three days during menstruation for ten to fifteen minutes can help reduce congestion in the uterine vessels and promote liquefying clots.

The information provided here is for educational purposes only. Before using any Ayurvedic remedies, consult with a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner or healthcare provider. This article represents the opinion and recommendation of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of LA YOGA Ayurveda and Health magazine.

Dr. Sarita Shrestha BAMS, MD (Ayurveda) has taught and consulted for twenty years in government institutes, hospitals, and international clinics and has presented at many international conferences. Dr. Shrestha has received awards and special recognition as the first woman Ayurvedic physician and obstetrics-gynecology specialist in Nepal. She is the founder-director of Devi Ma Kunja Hospital in Sidapole, Nepal. Proceeds from her programs are used to support her hospital which provides traditional Ayurvedic care to all according to their means: saritashrestha.org.

Dr. Shrestha will be in Southern California, July 9 - 15 giving private consultations and teaching a workshop on women’s health. For more information, contact Carla Levy at (760) 268 - 0560 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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