Advice for Healthy Living
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Imbalances that arise in the physiology from the effects of the seasons should not be allowed to persist beyond the change of season or they will likely give rise to problems. Most people have experienced that they are more likely to get sick at these junctions, particularly between winter and spring and between summer and fall. The transition between spring and summer is generally less problematic, because Kapha, whose influence dominates in spring, is by nature stable.
Those with adequate financial resources (~$5,000) and time (7 days) can take the royal road and go for intensive, in-residence Pancha Karma (5 Actions), the traditional approach for both seasonal rejuvenation and treatment of more deep-rooted disorders. The rest of us will have to settle for a home detoxification program.
Two to six weeks of gentle detoxification is easy to accomplish and brings many benefits. It will leave you feeling lighter and more energetic. It will also prepare your body to receive the full benefit of Rasayanas such as Maharishi Amrit Kalash Ambrosia and Nectar. Rasayanas (literally, "that which enters the essence") are intended to negate old age and disease by entering into and strengthening bodily tissues at the most subtle level.
Here are my suggestions for a home program that is affordable, generally safe, and does not require radical changes in routine. It is suitable for relatively healthy adults under age 70 who are not pregnant or suffering from major health issues such as diabetes. If your Ama Score is no higher than 25-30, you may proceed. Otherwise, it's better to have a personal consultation or invest in a period of Ama reduction.
The full home program involves the following phases:
You will get significant benefits from as little as two weeks of warm liquids, light diet and herbs during the transition between seasons. This simplified program would be safe for almost everyone including the elderly. While oleation and purgation can provide significant additional benefit, the procedure adds a layer of complexity that many are not able to comfortably accommodate. Review the instructions below and then make an informed decision. If you decide that oleation and purgation are not for you, just go with the light diet with or without detoxifying herbs (i.e., combine the Preparation and Restoration phases).
If you tend to be over-weight, you may wish to take this opportunity to develop the habit of doing a modified fast one day a week. On your fasting day, rest at home or at least limit yourself to light activity and take only warm liquids such as Kanji, Peya, Kichari (see recipes below), soup, fresh fruit juice or fresh vegetable juice. Ayurveda does not recommend total fasting, which is stressful to the physiology, reduces Ojas and may harm bodily tissues. If you begin a program of fasting one day a week, for maximum benefit, try to be as regular as possible with the habit.
Favor warm liquids and shift to a diet that is lighter in quality and quantity for 1-2 weeks before oleation and purgation. Reduce or avoid heavy foods (see graphic). If you take heavy foods, have them at lunch time when the digestion is better able to handle the load without adverse consequences. This initiates the detoxification process.
Women should not take a purgative during menstruation. Mid cycle is best. Oleation is not generally advisable during extremely hot or bitter cold weather. During the period of oleation and purgation, it's important to observe the following restrictions:
Ghee is used to prepare the body for purgation. It softens impurities and makes them easier to mobilize and eliminate. Ghee should be measured by volume when liquefied by gentle warming. Alternatively, you can use a kitchen scale and measure by weight in a small Pyrex custard cup that can later be warmed (my preference).
Ghee should be taken on an empty stomach, preferably about an hour before bed. Optionally, and in case the weather is very cold, ghee can be taken in the early morning. If you take ghee in the evening, limit yourself to an early, light and not-too-unctuous dinner. According to the following schedule, take ghee preferably by itself or, optionally, mixed with boiled milk. You may add a little whole cane sugar if needed for palatability. After about 1/2 hour, sip some hot water to aid the assimilation of the ghee.
Additional sips of hot water will help if you experience nausea. If you take ghee in the evening, you will likely have few problems and experience normal appetite the next day unless you have opted to continue for more days and a larger dose. In any case, don't eat regular food until hunger returns. Meanwhile, you can have Kanji if necessary to substitute for any missed meals. For those with normal bowel function, 3 days of ghee is sufficient. For those who are somewhat prone to constipation or dryness, a 4-5 day course would give added advantage. For those who are suffering significantly from dryness or constipation, the process can be continued up to 7 days maximum.
Pick a day that you can completely devote to rest at home and work backwards to determine when to begin oleation. It is ideal to wait about three days from completion of oleation until purgation, but it's OK to be flexible with this. During the waiting period, continue a light, warm, nourishing and unctuous diet.
You will be taking castor oil either the night before or in the early morning of the target day. Because the shrotas (channels of the body) become relatively closed at night, it's somewhat more effective to initiate the elimination of toxins in the morning. This is the best strategy for those who get a quick response to castor oil. For them, bedtime dosing would seriously impair sleep. In contrast, those who have a sluggish response may be more comfortable with the bedtime approach.
Regardless, prior to taking the castor oil, have a 20 minute hot tub bath. The heat helps to move impurities to the intestines. For maximum benefit, do a thorough and vigorous Abhyanga (self oil massage) and then rest for about 20 minutes before your bath. If you follow the Ayurvedic Ideal Daily Routine and do this first thing in the morning, you can do your yoga asanas before you bath. Then take the castor oil before pranayama and meditation.
Average women can then take 1.5-2 Tbs. of castor oil in ½ cup warm water (you can bite a lemon wedge after to counter-act the taste). Average men can take 2-3 Tbs. If you normally tend to have loose BMs, or if you had 10 or more BMs last time you took this amount, take less. If you do not get at least 3 BMs, you may repeat the castor oil the next day or suitable occasion at a higher dose.
If you take castor oil at night, have an early, light supper beforehand.
It is very important to introduce food slowly after purgation. Stay on a light and not-too-unctuous diet at least one day after following the above process. Otherwise, the digestive fire will be overwhelmed. If that should happen, you will suffer discomfort and negate some of the benefits of the procedure. Abdominal cramps and bloating can be eased by frequent sips of hot water. Don't eat solid food if you're experiencing indigestion. Stick with something light and liquid like Kanji.
Following purgation, you can begin detoxifying herbal therapy if desired. After you have completed this program, you can begin Rasayana therapy.
Take a few weeks to gradually shift to a diet appropriate to your Doshas, state of balance or imbalance and the new season. See the chart at right for guidance. If there is significant imbalance, that generally takes priority for choice of diet. Please contact me if you have questions.
The following 3 types of herbal preparations work synergistically together to eliminate toxins and strengthen the physiology. They are available from Maharishi Ayurvedic Products (MAPI.com). If you order herbs or personal care products from MAPI using the links on my website, I will receive a 20% commission. Whether or not you use these links, the price you pay will be the same.
Women should temporarily stop herbal therapy during menstruation.
Elim-Tox and Elim-Tox-O are useful for pre-emptively eliminating modest amounts of Ama that might not be causing symptoms. Choose Elim-Tox-O if you have a significant degree of Pitta in your constitution (sun-sensitivity, heat intolerance, ravenous appetite, hot temper or critical nature) or any signs of Pitta Imbalance on the Dosha Imbalance Assessment. Otherwise, take regular Elim-Tox.
Take 2 tablets after lunch and dinner. With Elim-Tox, it's better to start with 1 tablet twice a day for the first 2 weeks. With either, plan on 2-6 weeks of therapy (2-3 bottles). If you routinely take Maharishi Amrit Kalash Nectar paste and/or Ambrosia tablets, stop during this time.
Genitrac helps detoxify the genitourinary system. Take 2 tablets before lunch and dinner. Plan on 1-2 months of therapy (1 bottle per month). If you have a history of genitorurinary problems, continue for at least 3 months.
Digestone is a classic Ayurvedic formulation for balancing the Doshas and supporting good digestion and elimination. It also has Rasayana (health promoting) value and can be taken long term in conjunction with Maharishi Amrit Kalash Nectar paste. Take 2 tablets at bedtime with warm water or milk. I generally recommend a minimum of 3 months of therapy (3 bottles, 60 tablets each).
Herbal Cleanse is also a good choice for supporting the detoxification process. It contains senna and has a stronger laxative effect. Take 2 tablets at bedtime with warm water. Plan on 1-2 months of therapy (1-2 bottles) to coincide with the period during which you take Elim-Tox or Elim-Tox-O. If you have had a tendency to constipation, after the detoxification consider switching to and continuing on Digestone long term. Also consider adding some flax seed (1/2 - 1 Tbs.) and psyllium husks (1/2 tsp.) when cooking your lunch and dinner.