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Spring Cleaning the Ayurvedic Way

by Sebastian Pole(more info)

listed in ayurveda, originally published in issue 132 - February 2007

Ayurveda and the Seasons

One of the key principles of Ayurveda is cleansing and rejuvenation, aimed at helping us to live the healthiest and longest lives possible. The early spring provides a good time to cleanse the excesses and accumulated mucus from winter. A thorough cleanse is invigorating, so you are ready to enjoy the lengthening days and the better weather.

Ayurveda perceives everybody as individuals with a unique constitutional makeup, that is, their dosha. Your constitution (dosha prakriti) and the seasons are intimately related. Your health is affected by the qualities of the climate you live in; your inner world is influenced by your outer environment.

Vata (air constitution) is the principle of communication and movement.Its energies are related to circulation, the transport of nervous impulses and the life-force, prana. In balance, vata people are creative, clear, spontaneous, funny and always planning a trip somewhere new, but may feel spacey, anxiety-ridden and isolated when out of balance. They are not good at managing their energy levels, and are prone to dry skin, constipation, pain, panic attacks, anorexia, addictions and sciatica.

Pitta (fire constitution) is the principle of passion and metabolism. Its energies are related to digestive fire, metabolic processes, enzyme production and heat. In balance pitta people are highly intellectual, leaders, teachers, brave, and love being the centre of attention, but tend to feel irritated, jealous, critical, self-critical, competitive, impatient and bitter when out of balance. They are prone to inflammations, skin, liver and eye disorders, heartburn, and sensitive teeth. They manage their energy well.

Kapha (water constitution) is the principle of love and structure. Its energies are related to storage, protection, lubrication, mucus and the production of fats and oils. In balance, kapha people are compassionate, steady, articulate, healthy, sweet and reliable. They love food, sleep and laughter, but may be greedy, apathetic, slow, heavy and cloudy-headed when out of balance. They are prone to hypothyroidism, obesity, clogged arteries, oily skin and diabetes. They tend to hoard and store their energy.

The Ayurvedic understanding of the disease process is that certain doshic qualities accumulate in one season and are then aggravated in the next. The trick to remaining healthy is to stay one step ahead of the changing seasons and preventing any accumulation of the dosha. Reduce the dosha that will be imbalanced in the following season before it gets aggravated; for example, follow a pitta reducing diet in early spring before it becomes aggravated in late spring, with symptoms of spring fevers and hay fever.

Cleansing and Rejuvenation

Whatever your constitution, a gentle cleanse will be beneficial.  You can choose a fairly simple cleanse or a more dedicated seven day regime. Whichever you chose, there are four basic remedies that suit all constitutions:

•    One of the simplest starts to your cleanse costs little. Hot water is a wonderful medicine and a great cleanser. Drink freely throughout
the day;
•    Aloe vera juice is a potent cleansing and rejuvenating tonic. Drink one or two tablespoons on an empty stomach, especially in the morning, although you can repeat this two or three times a day;
•    Ayurveda’s most renowned formula for regulating and cleansing the digestive system is Triphala Plus. Three Indian fruits – amla (high in vitamin C), haritaki and bibhitaki – have been used together for thousands of years for removing toxins from the digestive tract, at the same time nourishing the tissues and lubricating the bowel without irritation;
•    Guduchi & Neem Formula is an excellent combination of nine traditional Ayurvedic herbs which work together to detoxify, strengthen and regulate the liver – that much abused organ – to enhance its function of metabolizing toxins, hormones and fats. The formula also helps constipation, skin problems, stress and hormonal imbalances, as well as assisting the body’s natural elimination of toxins.

For a more dedicated cleanse, consider this home regime for seven days:
•    Eat only kicharee. This is a wonderful healing food that is known as ‘the food of the gods’.

Kicharee recipe:

One-third cup of split mung dhal
Two-thirds cup of basmati rice (or other grain) simmered in three to four cups of water (a ratio of 1:3 or 1:4)
One-quarter teaspoon each of organic turmeric, ginger, roasted cumin and coriander.
Add seasonal vegetables: spinach, peas, or seaweeds and shitake mushrooms for an all round healing, healthy and agni-kindling meal. Cook it on a very low heat in a covered saucepan and DO NOT stir after all the ingredients are added.
Add a teaspoon of ghee or hemp seed oil at the end.
•    On days one to seven, vigorously massage yourself from head to foot every day with 100-150ml warm organic sesame oil. Leave the oil on your body for ten minutes, then wash off in a hot bath or shower. This will dilate the surface of your skin and clear toxins through the skin, as well as through the digestive tract.

Start your massage at the feet and legs, progressing to the arms and back, then to the chest and abdomen. This brings lymphatic fluid back to the heart for elimination via the blood where toxins are cleared by the liver and kidneys;
•    Take three capsules of Triphala Plus every night, or 75 drops of the tincture with a glass of warm water at night.
•    Drink Detox tea;
•    On days three to six, take a dose of warm ghee. Start with 20ml instead of breakfast and increase by 5ml a day;
•    On day six – in the evening take one to two tablespoons of castor oil, but make sure you do not go anywhere the next morning as it is a strong laxative!

Reducing Kapha

Other recommendations to reduce kapha are:
•    Kapha is especially aggravated by sleeping in beyond 7am, so rising early is a useful way to reduce kapha aggravations of fatigue, lethargy, mucus and muzzy headaches;
•    Skin rubbing can be very valuable at this time for stimulating lymphatic circulation. Use the directions for massage given above;
•    Dry massage, using herbal powder, is also useful for regulating the lymphatic system, clearing fluid accumulation and cellulite from the skin;
•    A sauna during early part of spring will help to dry the excessive excretions that occur at this time;
•    Take a cup of hot ginger and lemon water to stimulate digestion and cut through any mucus that has accumulated overnight;
•    Emphasize bitter, pungent and astringent foods that help to clear mucus and excess moisture from the body. These flavours also help to open the channels of elimination. Avoid the sweet, sour and salty flavours that are heavy, and cause water stagnation in the body;
•    Increase light grains such as rice, quinoa, barley, millet, corn. As pulses are considered astringent they can be emphasized at this time of year with red lentils, adzuki beans and chickpeas for clearing kapha;
•    Avoid ice, refrigerated foods eaten cold, eating too much, eating between meals and sleeping during the day.
•    You will notice a dominance of yellow flowers in the spring, and the ‘doctrine of signatures’ (the idea that God has laid a signature over the earth to guide us to which herbs are good for which diseases or parts of the body) states that yellow and the liver are also connected. Many of these yellow flowers, such as dandelion, benefit the liver. After your initial course of kapha clearing move towards cleansing the liver of fatty and hot pitta accumulations by using some bitter herbs. Try using turmeric with organic aloe vera juice.

Further Information

For more information about Pukka’s remedies, you may contact Pukka Herbs via Tel: 01275 461950 or
www.pukkaherbs.com

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About Sebastian Pole

Sebastian Pole Lic OHM Ayur HC MAPA MRCHM MURHP is an Ayurvedic practitioner and Herbal Director of Pukka Herbs which offers 100% organic Ayurvedic remedies and teas, produced to high ethical standards, from herbs grown by farmers who are paid a fair wage. For more information, see www.pukkaherbs.com  or Tel: 0117 9640944. Sebastian's clinic is Tel:  01225 466944 or see his website for more information www.sebastianpole.com/

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