Ayurveda Q & A PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Dr. Anupama KizhakkeVeettil, Bams, Maom   

Dr. Anupama KizhakkeVeettil

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 .

Question: Beginning three weeks before the clocks changed in the Fall, I’ve been overeating and craving sweets, such as chocolate and cakes, and salt including salt and vinegar crisps/chips. Previously, I was eating a lot of fruit; but, since the weather has become colder, I haven’t felt like eating fruit.

I suffer from depression, osteoarthritis and chronic pain and take prescribed medication for these conditions. I have recently lost 28 pounds and need to lose at least 35 more. What advice could you give me, please?

Answer: The seasonal change of Fall is aggravating to both vata (air/ether) and pitta (fire element), hence it is common to see the cravings for rich, greasy or sweet and salty substances. Gratifying these strong cravings will not help your weight loss.

You also mentioned that you have recently lost 28 pounds. If you lost that weight quickly, the sudden change can precipitate the entry of more vata in to the joints and bones and exacerbate chronic pain. Hence, I encourage you to plan gradual and steady weight loss. Since your symptoms of imbalance primarily involve the vata dosha, it is important to follow the diet and activities that balance vata.

Dietary Suggestions to Calm Vata

Favor cooked foods, served hot or warm; these are ideal for balancing vata. You can also cook foods with a little ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil (if you are vegan). Ideally, Ayurveda encourages consumption of the sweet, sour and salty tastes to balance vata. Making healthy choices of these tastes is essential. Some examples include: cooked fruits, whole grains, basmati rice, soups, sea weeks, carrots, asparagus, sweet potatoes and summer squash, such as zucchini and lauki (Indian winter squash).

Limited quantities of any variety of nuts are recommended. Sweet fruits can be taken in moderation, such as: bananas, avocados, mangoes, apricots, plums, berries, coconut, figs, grapefruit, orange, lemon, melons, papaya, peaches, pineapples, rhubarb, kiwi, dates and nectarines.

Cooked fruits such as apples and pears; or dry fruits can also be taken with hot morning cereals. Whole grains as hot cereals can help support weight loss, satisfy your cravings and they are good for balancing vata. If you are a non-vegetarian, use fresh, organic chicken, turkey (mostly as soup with less meat), and seafood and eggs in moderation.

Vegetables become more digestible when chopped and cooked with vata-pacifying spices including: cardamom, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, salt, cloves, mustard seed, basil, asafetida (hing), cilantro, fennel, oregano, sage, tarragon, thyme and black pepper.

Basmati rice is ideal for balancing vata. Cook it with a little salt and ghee for added flavor.

If you can digest gluten, wheat can be a good choice. Flatbreads made with whole wheat flour and drizzled with a little melted ghee are also helpful for balancing vata.

Drink a lot of warm water throughout the day.

Avoid:

Please avoid cold beverages, dried fruit, as well as frozen or raw vegetables, cold cereals, corn, dry crackers and granola. Make sure you avoid white potatoes, peas and raw vegetables.

In order to balance vata it is also important to maintain stability and consistency in your daily activities. Try to get to bed before 10:00 P.M., awaken by 6:00 A.M., and eat your meals at regular times. Wear adequate clothing appropriate for the season and keep your head covered when the weather is cold. Perform a daily self-massage.

Light exercise that enhances balance and flexibility is best for your condition.

Question: My daughter is six years old. She is saying that her tummy hurts around her belly button side all the time. We went to the doctor and did a blood test, urine test, X-rays, an ultrasound and a stool test. Fortunately, everything is normal. She is still complaining that her tummy hurts. I mark that it is more after if she eats dairy in the afternoon or at night.

She is complaining now that her tummy and throat hurt too. Is it acidity at this early age?

Now the doctor has prescribed Prevacid for one month. I am worried because she tells me that she feels pain three or four times a day. For the past two months, I also try to do five minutes Yoga (anulom vilolm/alternate nostril breathing and kapalabhati/breath of fire) with her for the last two months. Still nothing is helping.

Answer: It appears that your daughter is suffering from weak digestive processes; this is especially affected when she is trying to digest milk products. I advise that you avoid giving her any diary for a week and see if her symptoms still persist.

Sometimes sudden changes in a child’s routine, such as starting school, changing schools or entering new environments can result in stress. An uncertain state of mind can influence the agni/digestive fire and cause cramping or tummy pain. Please assess the situation and see if any obvious recent stressful situations may be a factor in this case.

In any case, Ayurveda emphasizes enhancing one’s digestive capability for any digestive issues. Adopt the following lifestyle modifications:

  1. Drink four to eight ounces of warm-to-hot water on an empty stomach in the morning.
  2. Don’t give any cold cereals, cold milk or cold fruits in the morning, as these foods can result in slowing down of the digestive activities.
  3. Make sure that she has regular bowel movements. Eating a tablespoon of raisins soaked in hot water (drain off the excess water before eating) can help regulate bowel movements.
  4. Playing outdoors is helpful for healthy digestive activities.

These herbs and spices can be beneficial:

  1. One-quarter teaspoon each of fennel seeds and cardamom seeds chewed well and swallowed after meals can reduce acid if there is excessive acidity. Or
  2. One quarter-cup of hot water with one-half tablespoon of chopped mint leaves and one-half teaspoon lime juice with a little maple syrup, then strained, can be given for relieving a tummy ache. Or
  3. one-quarter teaspoon ginger juice plus one-quarter teaspoon honey can be taken to improve the digestive fire. Or
  4. Ayurvedic herbs like one-quarter teaspoon musta (Cyperus rotunda) and one-quarter teaspoon vidanga (Embelia Ribes) with honey. Take twice a day after lunch and dinner.

Avoid:

Raw tomatoes, ketchup, sauces, processed foods, oily fried foods and pungent (hot and) spicy foods.

The information provided here is for educational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical care. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Before using any Ayurvedic remedies, consult with a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner or healthcare provider. It is important to rule out serious conditions when appropriate. 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. Anupama KizhakkeVeettil is an Ayurvedic practitioner and licensed acupuncturist. She completed her degree in Ayurvedic Medicine from the University of Mangalore, India. She is teaching and practicing Ayurveda over decade. She earned a Masters Degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from Southern California University of Health Science and is currently pursuing PhD in public health. She has presented papers in national and international conference. Currently she is working as an Assistant Professor and the lead instructor for the Ayurvedic program at SCUHS: scuhs.edu. For appointments please call (562) 943 - 7125.

 
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