Everybody experiences sadness at some point of their lives. When this melancholy lingers and does not let up it can lead to a serious disorder called Depression. Symptoms include profound sadness, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, lack of appetite, lack of enthusiasm, and sometimes uncontrollable crying. It can be described like hell on earth. If not treated it can lead to serious problems like suicidal thoughts, even death. When depression is heavy, medical attention must be sought out immediately.
Depression can be a reaction to external factors or it can be due to internal chemical imbalances. It's normal when a loved one dies and you feel sad for a few months. Sometimes that sadness can spiral down into a state of severe despondency or dejection. This is the time help is needed.
According to Ayurveda, internal causes are due to one of the Doshas (Vata, Pitta, or Kapha) disturbing the nervous system and interfering with the functions of the mind.
Ayurveda recognizes three types of Depression:
Vata Depression is accompanied with fear, anxiety, and nervousness. Social anxiety is a big issue, as vata individuals can get overwhelmed by crowds easily. They can also develop hypersensitivity to sounds and touch that even a hug can feel uncomfortable to them.
Useful herbs for someone suffering from a Vata form of depression are Dashamoola (very grounding), Ashwagandha (exhausted adrenals), and Brahmi (helps with all brain functions)
For social anxiety there are a few nervine tinctures that they can take before going into a social situation. These include kava kava, motherwort, or milky oat seed.
Vata imbalances need to be corrected by avoiding cold and dry foods and favoring warm, soupy kind of foods. They need to incorporate healthy oils like olive oil, ghee internally and can use sesame oil externally for a self massage.
Pitta Depression is accompanied by anger, fear of failure, and losing control. Pitta individuals tend to be perfectionists and crave control. When life throws them a wrench, they can spiral out of control. Fits of rage and irritability are common. Their depression can turn violent if left unchecked.
Pitta imbalances need relaxation and lots of cooling down. Massage therapy is a must as they hold on to a lot of tension in their spine. Best oils for pitta are coconut oil with essential oils like lavender, blue chamomile, and all the roses. They need to avoid the fire element in times of imbalance which can include ( excess sun, sour and pungent foods, excessive competition). Pittas need laughter in their life, they need to lighten up. Comedy shows or a light hearted movie can take them out of their funk.
Brahmi milk decoction can be drunk two to three cups per day. Shatavari, known for its excellent effects on cooling the nervous system is another must have herb. Skullcap in tincture form is a powerful remedy that can ease agitation and irritability as it is one the best nervines known to man.
Kapha depression is accompanied by mental heaviness, excess sleep, weight gain, and lack of energy. Kapha individuals can easily sleep fourteen hours or more. Their state of health can rapidly decline when depression sets in.
To help a Kapha suffering from depression, they will need a lot of help and support. They need the extra push from a friend to get motivated. They can start by going on an apple juice fast for a few days to get rid of the physical and mental heaviness. Heat in the form of pungent spices like cayenne, black pepper, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon is a must to kick up their metabolism. Exercise must be done and they will need a partner to motivate them. Hot yoga is an excellent choice for them. A ginger tea throughout the day is a must as it has a long history of treating depression.
According to Vedic Science, the material world contains three core primal energies. They are called the three gunas (Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas). Sattva is equilibrium, balance, harmony. Rajas is movement, agitation. Tamas is static energy. Our minds constantly go through these three gunas. In the morning you might be in a tamasic state of mind and want to keep sleeping. After your morning coffee, rajas begins to kick in and you can get excited and fired up. If you meditated in the morning maybe your day will start harmonious and peaceful (sattva).
The reason Ayurveda and Yoga talks about the three gunas is because Sattva guna brings our mind into a state of harmony which is needed when suffering from depression. The foods and the lifestyle we choose can lead you into a sattvic state of mind. Here are some examples of practices that bring sattva into your life:
Meditation A daily meditation practice is beneficial to your state of mind. Best done before 6 am, to catch the dominant ether element.
Sattvic Foods Whole Foods that are grown outside in the sun. Nuts, fruits, veggies, oils, whole grains, organic milk
Sattvic Herbs A few include shatavari, roses, jasmine, frankincense
Medicinal Oils Rose, jasmine, lavender, lemongrass, neroli, patchouli, bergamot, sandalwood are all uplifting
Here are a few other suggestions that can help everyone suffering from depression regardless of their dosha:
Sunlight getting at least 20 minutes a day of sunlight is critical. Some people suffer from depression due to lack of sunlight
Licorice Root contains eight compounds that are monamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors of potent antidepressant action. Only use short term as large amounts can increase blood pressure.
Rhodiola Root an adaptogenic herb used by the Russians for mental and physical endurance. Adaptogens are known to help you cope with stress for longer periods of time. When your depression is accompanied by body weakness, then this herb is the one to go with.
St John's Wort clinical studies show that treatment with just one of the active compounds, hypericin, results in a significant improvement in anxiety, depression, and feelings of worthlessness. Do not take if your are pregnant and avoid intense sun exposure.
Tryptophan an amino acid that is the raw material in the production of the neurotransmitter chemical called serotonin. This elevates mood and enhances feelings of well being. Sometimes serotonin runs low because tryptophan is scarce. Boost your intake with foods high in tryptophan like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and evening primrose seeds.
Depression can be deadly so go to a medical specialist if its serious. You can incorporate healthy lifestyle, food, and herbs along with the medical treatment. Give yourself a chance. Incorporate Ayurveda and natural ways of healing and you will see how wonderful life can be!
The liver is the heaviest organ of the body and one of the largest. It is a resilient organ that not only rids toxins, but it is a processing center like no other. The main functions of the liver is to process nutrients, remove toxins, make bile, and build protein.
Food is broken down into smaller and smaller pieces as it goes through the digestive tract. This liquid called chyme or rasa, eventually enters the blood and is transported to the liver for processing. These nutrients are used for the body's needs according to what the body is running low on. Some nutrients are stored to be used for a later need and some are used right away. According to Ayurveda, the liver is the home of the Bhuta Agnis. Bhuta means element and agni is metabolic fire. These bhuta agnis break down the nutrients into the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, ether) so the body can be able to use the nutrients. We are what we eat.
Old red blood cells are broken down to extract iron rich salts, which combine with cholesterol to form bile. This substance is then stored in the gallbladder for future use. When the digestive system detects fat in your small intestines, the gallbladder is triggered to release bile which emulsifies the fat.
The food we eat is a combination of nutrients and toxins. The liver's job is to utilize the useful nutrients and to eliminate the harmful toxins. When someone is consistently overeating, eating junk food, the hepatic system can be come overloaded and will start to get sluggish.
A protein is a complex chemical that is essential to living beings. In the liver, the proteins are manufactured into substances that regulate the blood. Some of those proteins are used for blood clotting..
This is just a minute insight into the liver and its functions. Scientist say the liver has over 500 functions. Knowing the importance of this organ to your health, it is of upmost importance to keep it strong. The good news is that it is capable of regenerating itself and liver treatments are highly effective. Periodic liver flushes are a great way to keep the organ healthy. Daily regimens that strengthen the liver can also be employed.
Keeping the Liver Strong:
To keep the liver clean it needs sufficient oxygen (from arterial blood), proper fuel (food/toxins), fire (metabolic energy), and a healthy outlet (gallbladder/bile).
Herbal remedies should include:
Herbs for healthy arterial circulation
Digestive spices to soften the load
Lymphatic herbs to ensure the body's drainage system is unclogged
Herbs that directly protect and regenerate the liver cells
Must Have Herbs to Cleanse Liver:
#1 Milk Thistle:
Can be taken in powder form or in tincture..
Can be used to cook with, golden milk at night, tincture, or capsules
#3 Dandelion Root:
Dandelion root is best used in a tincture, but can also be used in a tea
#4 Red Clover:
Can be used as an herbal infusion and tincture
Tinctures are best with this herb
A daily Ayurvedic regimen is the best strategy to maintain a strong liver
Following the five essentials is fundamental
(nutrition, sleep, sun, exercise, water).
#1 Nutrition: Proper timing of meals, proper food combining, doshic reducing foods
#2 Sleep: Getting sufficient sleep will keep the nervous system healthy
#3 Sun: Get your daily Vitamin D by getting at least 15 minutes of sun per day
#4 Exercise: To ensure proper prana flow exercise is a must
#5 Water: Our body's excrete 2.5 liters of water daily. Replenishing yourself with water is a must. The cells in your body are like fish, they need water for survival. We must ensure we stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Apart from the five essentials; adding digestive spices to your meals will help take the load off your liver. Another great formula to take is the famous triphala churna, which is used to tonify the digestive system and strengthen immunity. When feeling run down, tired, sick: try doing a liver cleanse, to give your body a little reset. There is much information online on how to do a liver cleanse, but it is always best to see an experienced herbalist for guidance.
The skeletal system is an internal framework that supports the entire body. Bone tissue is 25% water, 25% protein, and 50% mineral salts. It contains a reservoir of minerals from which the body can deposit and withdraw from as needed for metabolism. Osteoblasts are cells that add minerals to the bone from the blood stream and Osteoclasts are bone cells that absorb minerals from the bones and deposit them to the blood stream. Mineral absorption is the key to healthy bones.
As we age, the skeletal system begins to lose some of its density and can become weakened due to an increase in vata forces. According to Ayurveda, the air energy (vata) is heavily present in the bones. Osteoporosis and arthritis is common when excess air begins to dominate.
During a person's life span, there exists doshic cycles. Vata is predominantly air, Pitta is fire, and Kapha is earth.
From ages 0 to 25: Kapha stage of life. Kapha is anabolic. The cells of the person are constantly multiplying and increasing in quantity.
From ages 13 to 50: Pitta stage of life. Pitta represents transformation. Fire is heavily present starting with hormonal changes at puberty and continue until around 50. Nature planned it this way as fire is needed for motivation and for success in life.
From ages 50 and on: Vata stage of life. Vata qualities are cold, dry, and light. Bones can become porous at this time. Wrinkles appear as your skin loses some of its moisture. Digestive enzymes begin to weaken.
6 Strategies For Excellent Bone Health
1. Digestive fire (agni) must be strong in order to absorb nutrients. Malabsorption is the bone system's enemy. The minerals will simply not reach their destination and the bones will weaken. Some signs of malabsorption include hair loss, brittle nails, joint pain, and fatigue. Check with your Ayurvedic practitioner to see if you are absorbing well.
2. Use nourishing herbal infusions for a powerhouse of nutrients much needed by the bones. These herbs contain a good quantity of protein along with vitamins and minerals. Large quantities can be taken as there are little to no volatile oils present. Nettles, Oat Straw, Comfrey Leaf, Red Clover, Chickweed, and Horsetail are some of your more nourishing herbs. Instead of using extracted vitamins and minerals in a pill form, use a nourishing herbal infusion instead.
This is the more natural way to get your nutrition.
To Make Nourishing Infusion: Take 1 oz of nourishing herb or herbal blend and pour 1 quart of boiling water and cover. Let sit for a least a couple of hours to extract the nutrients. Then simply strain and drink 2 to 3 cups per day.
3. Lubrication of the joints is vital as they are the transfer points of much needed minerals. Ghee, Bone Broth, Omega 3 fatty acids (sardines, salmons, nuts, and seeds), supplements like chondritin, and msm can all contribute to healthy joint fluid (shleshaka kapha). Osteoarthritis is sure sign of poor lubrication.
4. Mineral rich foods such as seaweeds (kelp, kombu, wakame, chlorella) are crucial when it comes to bone health. In Japan, studies have shown that osteoporosis and bone health issues are dramatically lower than other countries. They enjoy their seaweeds and use them in large quantities.
Celtic sea salt is a great salt substitute which contain over 82 minerals. It is superior to Himalayan pink salt because it contains 3 extra magnesium molecules which help with nutrient absorption. It tastes great as well, giving your food extra flavor.
5. The number one mineral supplement in Ayurveda is called Shilajit. This is a tar that oozes out of the Himalayan mountains. It contains over 85 trace minerals and has fulvic acid. This acid acts like a charged battery in the cells and helps absorb nutrients. It is good to use Shilajit with other herbs if you want those herbs to reach their destination. Shilajit is also used for adrenal fatigue, hypothyroid, infertility, impotence (called Indian viagra), and for losing weight.
6. Finally, one of the most important things you can do for strong bones is resistance training. Light training is enough to keep your bone density and this also builds a little muscle necessary for good cushioning. You don't need to become a body builder. A little resistance training goes a long way.
Take this information and begin applying it little by little to your daily routine. Start using nourishing herbs, eating mineral rich foods, and using smart supplementation to see a great improvement with your bones. Osteoporosis, arthritis, and other skeletal system issues can be reversed with time and patience.