Coffee is believed to have originated in Ethiopia. There is a legend that says that a great goat herder noticed his goats getting excited after eating some berries from a tree. The local monastery he belonged to suggested to dry and boil the berries. That was the world's first cup of coffee.
Today coffee is one of the most popular beverages around as you see cafe's in every corner. Drinking a good cup of coffee can be described as a comforting feeling as if getting a warm hug. Within seconds a rush of feel good transmitters begins scintillating your brain. Focus, alertness, and a general sense of well being is felt. These effects are the reason many people cannot go a day without their cup of coffee.
Why not drink coffee?
Here are a few reasons coffee can be harmful to you.
- Overstimulates adrenal glands and nervous system
- Depletes tissues
- Large amounts of coffee will rob your body of minerals
Should you switch to Decaf?
During coffee processing, methylene chloride is used to make coffee decaffeinated. This pulls out the caffeine, then flavors are added. This compound is used for paint stripping, degreasing, and metal cleaning. To say its toxic is an understatement. There are some companies that don't use this but not many since the process is extremely expensive.
Ayurvedic View Of Coffee
Knowing you original constitution and current doshic imbalance is important to see if coffee will help you or harm you. The rasa (taste) of coffee is mainly bitter and astringent and it also has a warming and stimulating effect.
For both vata (air) and pitta (fire) constitutions, coffee is usually not recommended. The nervous system is dominated by the air element and coffee tends to stimulate this air element. This can cause anxiety, nervous disorders, and insomnia. Knowing this, Vata's should avoid coffee, specially if they have a chronic vata imbalance. People who are predominantly pitta have a tendency towards acidity and usually have intense personalities. With coffee's acidity and stimulating actions, it is not their best choice. Coffee is perfect for kapha dominant people, as they do need the stimulation, acidity, and warmth.
If you cannot see yourself without coffee and you are a vata or pitta constitution, no need to worry. You can still have your cup of Joe if you don't have an excessive vata or pitta imbalance.
Taking into account the time of day is important. Kapha times are 6a to 10 am, and this will be the best times for vata and pitta to have their cup. You can also make some modifications to your coffee. By adding some spices and oil we can make a tridoshic coffee.
Single espresso shot (Nespresso or any other)
Coco oil 1 tsp
Coco sugar 1/2 tsp
Cardamom: stimulates digestion, alleviates intestinal spasms and pain, redirects the flow of vata downwards, increases sexual potency, sattvic (brings joy)
Cinnamon: alleviates vata and kapha, increases appetite, destroys toxins, cardiac tonic, imparts strength, increases semen
Coco sugar: derived from coconut palm tree. Has a glycemic index of 35 compared to regular sugar which is 60 to 75. It also contains trace minerals of iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, and inulin.
Coconut oil: Contains medium chain fatty acids which help breakthrough the brain barrier. Coconut oil helps prevent the caffeine crash.
In conclusion, coffee is good for most people with little adjustments. Many studies have shown benefits in cognitive abilities, with its compound trigonelline it can lower blood sugar, with its rich source of polyphenols it acts as a strong antioxidant. Make sure to avoid coffee if you have excess vata or pitta, seizures, heart palpitations, muscle tics, and other nervous system disorders.
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.