How to Overcome Food Intolerances

Almonds, a very common food intolerance
Food intolerances have become common currency these days.
Some surveys even suggest that a stunning 25% of the Australian population believes they have at least one food intolerance.
I personally have worked in my clinic with many patients who believed they were intolerant to some type of food, and have now managed - with proper care and the mindful implementation of very simple & straight-forward Ayurvedic principles - to reintroduce said foods in their lives, allowing them to enjoy the treats they had already sworn off a long time ago.
Overcoming food intolerances is possible when you have the proper tools and the right understanding of how digestion & nutrition work.

Factors that increase your susceptivity and reactivity to food intolerances and allergies

Food Quality and Food Transformation (samskara):
For example, one may experience inflammatory reactions after drinking cold homogenised milk extracted from stressed cows. But non-homogenised cows milk, diluted with water, then boiled… this “lightens up” the milk: reduces kapha (mucous creating, congesting qualities), and makes milk more compatible for one to tolerate and enjoy.
Especially if a food item is hard to digest for you or triggers any health implications - those who are wondering how to overcome food intolerances need to obtain quality food and “transform it” the right way, then try & reintroduce.
Poor digestion (low digestive agni):
This is a key factor when it comes to food intolerances.
The agni is the digestive fire in your gut. If the agni is not enlivened enough, you won't be able to digest properly the foods that you eat, especially the ones that your body is "intolerant" to.
In a lot of cases, it is not so much the food you are eating, but the poor function of your metabolic pathways and digestive health that impedes you to properly digest food.
I have worked with coeliacs and many managed to eat wheat again. They don’t eat it every day, but they enjoy this nourishing grain weekly in moderation with the right tools, knowledge and intuition of their own body. They enjoy high-quality wheat cooked fresh, reaction-free.
Those who eat even a tiny amount of onion and garlic and bloat like a balloon…
Those who can’t eat oxalates (e.g. almonds, spinach, peanuts, soy, beetroot, swisschard, rhubarb, cashews, sesame seeds, etc.) without swelling up, getting a runny nose, abdominal discomfort, or itchy skin…
A lot of it can be healed. And from what I have seen, it can be easy as organic ancient grain pie.
The Mind
Another key point.
It’s amusing and fascinating how many times I see patients that only after they get their “allergy prick test”, do they get reactions after eating the foods for which they tested “positive”.

When one unquestionably “accepts” the laundry list of foods they were told to avoid (in some cases, for the rest of their life!) their mind and body accept these “allergies” and reject the food whenever it comes.

Allergy Skin-Prick Tests

For the best part, as a study in the Journal of Paediatrics showed, allergy skin-prick tests are incredibly inaccurate.

One of the problems with them is that, according to another study, patients show skin reactions to allergenic foods in 50-60% of the tests- even if the person is not allergic to that food.

Food sensitivities can be complex, however, they can be healed.
Food Intolerance Skin Prick Test

How to Conquer Food Intolerances & Allergies

There are many variables & possibilities for those wondering how to overcome food intolerances.
My general principle for healing food intolerances is - first fix the digestive fire (agni), then slowly introduce the foods in a methodical way.
Also take into consideration the nervous system, gut-brain connection, toxic exposure & more.
Just eliminating the food is not the solution. You need to fix the underlying imbalance. Because if you cannot digest wheat or milk, how are you going to digest the carcinogenic glyphosate that is being spread across the air and rain onto your organic kale? Or the vaccines and spike proteins that are being passed around. Or the external stressors, electro-magnetic fields & any toxin your body has to metabolise.
It's not a matter of avoidance, but rather of applying the proper principles to reintroduce those foods that you have labeled yourself as "intolerant" or "allergic" to.

If you want to work towards superseding food restrictions and optimise your digestion health, check out my recent online offering: “The Essence of Ayurvedic Nutrition”, and/or book an online consultation.
The Essence of Ayurvedic Nutrition - Online Course

How did you overcome your food intolerances? Comment 👇


Surya Tarpana: Remedies (Upāyas) to Enliven Sun Energy

Dylan Smith doing Surya Namaskar (salute to the Sun)
Here are some techniques to enliven Sūrya (sun) energy.
You may have been prescribed these “remedies” (Upayas) by a Jyotishi (Vedic astrologer) for your unique birth chart.
The following techniques help strengthen Surya energy and connect to the sun.
Although a lot of these are generic ways to honor the sun that is good for many people, we recommend consulting a quality jyotishi to refine how you personally should be engaging deeply in communion with celestial planetary bodies.

Surya Energy

Surya is the cosmic energy that correlates with:
  • The Self. The Soul
  • Ego, power
  • Consciousness
  • Dignity
  • Organising power
  • Leadership, Government, King - the sun governs the solar system.
Further Jyotish details:
  • Exaltation: Aries (Meesha)
  • Debilitation: Libra (Tūla)
  • Moolatrikona: Leo (Siṃha)
  • Father - relationship with one’s father
  • Education
  • Pitta dosha
  • Cakra: Ajña cakra (third eye)
  • Direction: East
  • Sun in Balance: “Atma Śatki”

Practices / Remedies to Strengthen Surya Energy:

Surya Tarpaṇa

Lord Surya, or Sūrya सूर्य is the cosmic sun.
Tarpaṇa तर्पण has many meanings:
  • Fuel
  • Food
  • Satiating
  • Refreshing
  • Gladdening
  • Saturation
Sūrya Tarpaṇa is the process of imbuing Lord Surya with refreshing nourishment and energetic attention.
Surya Tarpaṇa (Offering Water to Lord Surya) Procedure:
1. Fill a cup or vessel with pure water.
2. Face the sun (sunrise and/or sunset time is ideal).
3. Pour the water in front of the sun and look through the “waterfall” at the sun.
Dylan Smith Doing Tarpana for Lord Surya
4. If you are not performing this in or at a body of water (e.g. riverside, in a river, ocean shore or in the ocean), such as an urban setting, you can pour the water into a pot plant or garden.
5. This practice is best done after taking bath (snān). Traditionally one would bathe in a river first and then offer Tarpana to Surya. This way you are purified and energised before subtly connecting with the sun.
6. Practicing Sūrya Tarpana on Sundays should be prioritised if it is not able to be done daily.
Profound Qualities:
  • The waterfall in between your eyes and the sun is not only a protecting buffer to potentially harmful direct sunlight, but also provides a “healing filter” so the sunlight can invigorate the body and eyes that it hits. Safe and effective “sun-gazing.”
  • This is a form of Surya Namaskar: “honoring the sun” - this creates a reciprocal exchange of energy that absolutely uplifts and energies both our individual self and the essential life-giving aspect of nature.
  • Offering water to the sun cools the sun and invokes Gayatri: the feminine principle of the sun, (in you and in the environment).

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations)

Surya Namaskar has been described as the most complete mental and physical exercise available.
It involves a sequence of twelve physical yoga postures or asanas that are so much more than just an exercise.
Surya Namaskar generates prana (life-force) and charges us up like a battery through solar vitalisation.
It is a medium to enhance the energising quality of the sun in us and in the environment.
Procedure:
Dylan Smith with a Group, doing Surya Namaskar
  1. Learn Surya Namaskar from a quality yoga teacher (consider potential adjustments for your unique physiology).
  2. Perform 1 - 13 rounds of Surya Namaskar while facing the sun. This can be done at anytime, but when done at sunrise and/or sunset, there is greater power.
  3. Star with 1 round daily, and can increase to 3, 7, 9, 12 and 13 as is comfortable.
  4. Avoid Surya Namaskar when yoga asanas are contra-indicated, such as when feeling ill, during menstruation and certain medical conditions etc.

Sun Bathing (Responsibly)

Sunbathing with gratitude for the energy and life force Sūrya gives to you.
Responsible sun-bathing considers the three principles of Ayurveda:
1. Desa (habitat) - Where are you in the world. Are you in Scandinavian summer or the Australian summer?
2. Kala (time period) - What time of the day are you sunbathing? In what season of the year? For how long?
Man sunbathing at the beach
3. Patra (unique individual) - What is your skin type? Are you fair or dark-skinned? How is your tan? How used to the sun are you?
These will determine the amount of sun you should expose yourself to and when to get it.
Start with a little sun and gradually increase day-by-day. Getting a little pink is good but you do not want to burn.
Putting oil on and/or the practice self-abhyanga can help protect you from the sun and metabolise the healing properties.
Ayurveda prizes the time periods near sunrise and sunset to be exposed to the sun.
Do not fear the sun, but connect with this Divine Sentient Being.

Listen to Āditya Hṛdayam (Aditya Hrudayam)

Ādityā Hṛdayam is a Sanskrit devotional hymn dedicated to Lord Surya.
It was recited by the sage Agastya to Rāma (the “perfect” expression of the dharma) on the battlefield before fighting with the demon king Rāvaṇa.
This hymn teaches one to ascend to “defeat” the ultimate “enemy”: the darkest negativity or ignorance in one’s own life.
Āditya आदित्य is one of the names of the sun that expresses the infinite cosmic mother, the divine maternal nurturing aspects of the sun.
Aditi is one of the many names given to the cosmic Mother, Mahaśakti. She is the mother of all expressions of consciousness and the source of creative power.
Hṛdayam ह्र्दयम् has a range of meanings:
  • heart, core, essence, best or dearest part of anything
  • true or divine knowledge
  • science / veda
  • going to the heart
Āditya Hṛdayam is the sounds that sequentially enliven the true divine knowledge which is the heart of Sun energy within the heart of the beneficiary (who chants it).
Best to find Āditya Hṛdayam chanted without music or minimal music.
Procedure:
Simply listen to the Āditya Hṛdayam being chanted while you are in a de-excited state (e.g. after meditation, while resting, while sun-bathing).
Listening to Āditya Hṛdayam on Sundays and on Sūrya Jayanti (Sūryas annual birthday) should be prioritised if it is not able to be done daily.

Fasting on Sundays

Fasting the day when Surya energy is strongest makes one “less heavy” (tamasic), thus more pure (sattvic), therefore increasing our capacity to connect with the subtle energies available on Sunday (Sun energy).
There is a diverse range of approaches to fasting, and it is best to consult your health practitioner on how it is best for you. In our online course, The Essence of Ayurvedic Nutrition, we go through the variety of ways you can fast so you can choose the one that is biblically right for you.

Gayatri Mantra

Gayatri mantra is the most commonly used mantra in Yoga.
It consists of primordial sounds that invoke the aspect of the sun that governs transformation and potential illuminating intelligence, called “Savitri”.
Savitri, represents the transformational power inherent in the Sun.
Savitri is the force of nature that changes night into day.
Savitri is dominant in the moments before sunrise, when the environment shifts from darkness (of the ego) into the infinite light of the higher Self.
Chanting inwardly or listening to Gayatri mantra enhances the impulse of Divine Savitri, which activates our power to move into the realm of Divine light.
It is particularly chanted at sunrise, midday and sunset.

These are general recommendations and it is always best to consult a Jyotishi for specific advice.
We also advise you be barefoot during the practice of these upayas.

What practices do you do to honor lord surya? Comment 👇

3 Actual Attributes About Apples to Apprehend

Dylan Smith, practitioner of Ayurveda, foraging apples

1. Apples are a dirty fruit

Apples are one of the most pesticide-contaminated foods in the world.

Apples are ranked in the top 5 of the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) 2021 "Dirty Dozen" list along with strawberries, spinach, kale, silver-beet/collard greens and nectarines as produce with the highest amount of toxic chemicals.

2. Pervasive synthetic waxes

Apples, even if organic! are coated with multiple edible synthetic waxes to make them look shiny and to seal the moisture to extend shelf life.

Waxed apples may look glossy, shiny and firm, but they could be soggy & tasteless under their skin.
Although these waxes are classified “edible” by government authorities who hardly care about your health or science, they are very hard to digest and chances are they will turn into a toxic sticky substance (“ama”) that leads to disease.
Ironically, apples have their own natural wax which actually supports digestion, but this is scrubbed & washed off during the cleaning process of some farms.
Apples, an excellent fruit according to Ayurveda
Synthetic waxes on apples are hard to wash off, and essentially you got to peel them off to remove them. This is a shame as you miss out on beneficial antioxidants and fibre that was intended to keep the doctor away everyday.

3. Ayurvedic Properties of Apples

Apples in Ayurveda are known as Seva सेव

  • Rasa (taste): madura (sweet)
  • Virya (potency): sheeta (cooling)
  • Vipaka (post-digestive effect): madura (sweet)
  • Doshas: VP - K+
  • Gunas (qualities): guru (heavy)
  • Therapeutic affects: 
    • Apples help improve your taste capacity, hence digestion.
    • Apples provide aphrodisiac effects & increase semen.*

What apples to eat?

Of course organic, but unfortunately you will still get added waxes because national organic certification programs (like USDA) allows waxing of organic fruit if it is a non-synthetic, food grade substance (e.g beeswax, shellac), but these still cause ama.

Go explore and forage wild or feral apples.

The Snowy Mountains of NSW are absolutely flourishing at this time of year! We made apple pies, cakes, crumbles, charoset (a traditional Jewish recipe for passover, consisting of apples, wine and nuts) & apple scrap vinegar with cores & peels.
Wild apples are more common than you think.  If you harvest at the right time of the season before the birds do, you’ll have an abundance of days to keep the doctor away.

*Bhāvaprakāśa Pūrvakhanda

Related Reading: Feature Food: Banana (“Kadali”)

Did you know these attributes about apples & their properties according to Ayurveda? Comment below 👇

Cooked slices of Apple

Why Dinner Should Be Your Lightest Meal & Low in Protein

Soup: one of the lightest and easy-to-digest meal

Why do you eat food?

For fuel. Food gets digested (hopefully) to allow the mitochondria (the powerhouses of the cells) to produce ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) which is the energy you require to function in life.

If you use the energy, like in the case of your daily activities, that is great! You are "spending" this “energy currency” well.

If you just go to sleep after eating, because your use of energy drops dramatically during sleep, you don’t have anything to spend this ATP on, you hoard it.

Hoarding is never good. Maintenance attracts destruction. The ATP over-accumulates which increases free radicals, reactive oxygen and mitochondrial damage.

You want to finish eating at least 2-3 hours before bed (before 10pm)

When you re-establish fat metabolism, you may not even require dinner at all (a healthy habit). But as a culture, we have lost the ability to burn fat for fuel. Instead, we are using sugar as fuel, quick injections of stimulants from all sorts of foods - think organic dark chocolate, organic nuts, raisins, coffee etc. If you are snacking for quick hits of energy this indicates that you have lost the ability to burn your calm and stable source of fuel - fat. Have a phone consultation with me to re-establish fat metabolism.

Why Eating a High Protein Meal at Dinner Is a Bad Idea

Protein activates an anabolic pathway called mTOR activation - causes you to build muscles. Of course you need mTOR activated but it should not be continuous.

The primary problem when you eat a heavy dinner is it suppresses an important metabolic process called autophagy (meaning “self-devouring”), which breaks down, processes cells and disassembles unnecessary or dysfunctional components. If autophagy is impaired, this can cause cancer (excess tissue). Excess protein can increase cancer risk.

When a tissue (Dhatu) increases, it can cause tumours.

Mamsa Vrdha Mamsam is an ancient slohka in Ayurveda which means eating “flesh increases flesh.”

Excess protein in some cases can be even more dangerous than excess glucose.

Your agni (digestive fire) is regulated by the sun. When the sun is strongest, ea your biggest meal (lunch). When the sun is down, your digestive strength is low, so eat light.

Scenario: Sleeping After a Heavy Dinner

  • When you sleep on top of a big dinner your heart rate pulse rate, respiratory rate, metabolic rate all slows down which causes food to linger in your system without being digested (ama).
  • You wake up in a state of indigestion with ama deposited somewhere in your body.
  • Then you think that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” and you put another truckload onto of that.
  • Then you walk around feeling blocked and inflamed. You create vascular inflammation, congestion, your sinuses are blocked, you are barely awake because you are feeling dull and heavy.
  • You don’t even feel the desire to having a big lunch since you are so out of tune.
  • So add massive doses of caffeine to give you energy which suppresses agni, causes improper appetite and further disconnects you from fat metabolism.

They Call it "Supper" for a Reason

Supper comes from the Old French word souper meaning “evening meal.” That is where we get the name soup from. Supper should be a light supplementary meal, not the main meal. Soup is a great choice.

Tips to Transition to a Light Dinner

  • Have a good, solid warm cooked lunch. Eat that in a relaxed manner to be properly nourished and satisfied.
  • Re-establish fat-metabolism by moving towards three meals a day, no snacks.
  • Learn to "wind-down" from your day with techniques like meditation, pranayama and immersing loving relationships.
  • Incorporate healthy fats in your diet such as ghee.
  • Eat an earlier dinner.
  • Eat whole foods, rather than processed foods.
  • If you eat meat, fish or eggs, only eat at lunchtime.
  • Dinner options: vegetable soup, kitchari, light vegetable dish.

The Importance of How You Eat

Ayurveda stresses the importance of not only What you eat, but perhaps How you eat is more important (unless you are eating crap). Furthermore, you want to have optimum functioning digestion (agni) so that what goes in your mouth becomes a thin fluid essence of nourishment (ahar rasa) rather than a thick toxic congesting fluid (ama).

“Eat late to gain some weight and sleep late to gain some weight.”

Ideally, you should wake up effortlessly, you should jump out of bed. You should also wake up slightly hungry. 

feature photo: Henrique Félix


Doshas and their Gunas (Qualities) and Functions

Learning the inherent Qualities (Gunas) and Characteristics (Lakshana) of each Vata, Pitta and Kapha provides a good framework to grasp an understanding of the nature of these doshas, or bio-energies.

Learning or perhaps memorising those the classical texts (sastras) mentioned provides more expertise as these are authoritative and pure teachings.

Some of these translations don't do the sanskrit words justice. It is wise to learn the sanskrit since sanskrit is the sound that nature makes when intending form, function or phenomena. These "sounds" are expressing the quality or function of the dosha. These words are onomatopoetic, not symbolic.

GUNAS (Qualities)

Vata: Akasha (Space) and Vayu (Air) Elements

Vata Gunas

Tatra rukso laghuh sitah kharaha suksmascalo ‘nilaha (A.H. ch 1. 11)

  1. Ruksha - dry.
  2. Laghu - light.
  3. Shita - cold (and dry).
  4. Kara - rough. With dryness.
  5. Suksma - subtle.
  6. Chala - (constant) movement. Like a snake or ant.
  7. Sara - lubricated movement (Caraka).
  8. Vishada - dry slippery like the touch of a reptile. (Caraka). e.g. Kapikachu (Mucuna prurita) before touching it is vishada.

Pitta: Tejas (Fire) and Apa (Water) Elements

Pitta Gunas

Pittam Sasneha tiktsnosnam laghu visram saram dravam (A.H. ch 1. 12)

 

  1. Sasneha - little less unctuousness. Hot due to paka (digestion) in transformation process. Feels like the wick of a ghee lamp.
  2. Tiksha - sharp.
  3. Usna - hot. e.g. aggressive and angry voice and chilli on tongue is sharp and hot (Tiksnonam).
  4. Laghu - light. 
  5. Visram - foul, fermented, strong. (not part of 20 gunas).
  6. Sara - slippery, like banana peel. 
  7. Drava - liquid.
  8. Amla - sour (Caraka)
  9. Katu - pungent (Caraka) 

Kapha: Prthvi (Earth) and Apa (Water) Elements

Kapha Gunas

Snigdha Shito Gsurur Mandaha Ślaksno mrtsnaha sthiraha Kaphaha (A.H. ch 1. 12) 

  1. Snigdha - unctuousness.
  2. Shita - cold.
  3. Guru - heavy - stable movement, solid.
  4. Manda - dull, slow.
  5. Slakshna - smooth (like ice-cream).
  6. Mrtsnah - greasy. Magnetic attraction. Binding. (not in 20 gunas, not even 41 gunas).
  7. Sthira - stable.
  8. Hema - very cold. With water quality (Susruta).
  9. Madhura - Sweet. (caraka) Pleasantness. Ojas.
  10. Mrdhu - soft. (Caraka).

Characteristics of Healthy Doshas

General Functions of Vata

  • Praspandanamrespiratory movements
  • Udvahanam – carrying dosas, dhatus, malas here and there
  • Pūranamfilling the respective viscera with āhāra rasa
  • Vivekahsegregation of rasa (essence) and malas (waste)
  • Dhāranamupholding / maintenance of the body. - Since vata governs movements and nourishment of the tissues, this way it upholds and maintains.

Vata Lakshana (Characteristics of Normal Vata)

  1. Utsaha - Enthusiasm
  2. Ucchvasa - Inhalation.
  3. Nivsvasa - Exhalation.
  4. Cesta - Action of all bodily functions. Peristalsis, circulation.
  5. Dhatu gatih sama - Proper development of dhatus.
  6. Samo mokso gatimatam - Proper elimination of malas.
  7. Vega Pravatana (Completing) (Vaghbata, Sutrastana. Ch. 11 (1))

General Functions of Pitta

Pitta Lakshana (Characteristics of Normal Pitta)

  1. Darshana (vision).
  2. Pakti (digestion)
  3. Usman - body warmth
  4. Trsna and krsut - thirst and hunger
  5. Deha (body) Mardava (soft) - eg. heat old bread to become softer.
  6. Prabha - glow. Radiant.
  7. Prasada - pleasant.
  8. Medha - intellect. Digesting information. Also if you have a digestive problem your intellect cannot function properly.

According to Vaghbata:

  1. Meda - fat
  2. Dhi - acquisition of information.
  3. Shaudya - bravery.
  4. Tanu mardave - soft body.
  5. Ruchi - taste in everything. Enjoying mentally and physically

General Functions of Kapha

  • Sandhisamślesana - Unification of joints and Unction
  • Ropana - Wound healing (because of apa bhuta / water element)
  • Pūranakrt - promoting corpulence - because of being abundant and massive;
  • Balakrt - strengthening
  • Sthairyakrt - providing firmness in trika joint (scapula junction) or in all locations of kapha.

Kapha Lakshana (Characteristics of Normal Kapha)

  1. Sneha - friendly, oily.
  2. Bandha - binding.
  3. Sthira - stability.
  4. Gaurava - heaviness.
  5. Vrsata - virility and endurance.
  6. Bala - power.
  7. Ksama - tolerance.
  8. Dhrti - patience and bring knowledge into action
  9. Alobha - not greedy.
Vagbhata:
  • Sthiratva - stability.
  • Snigdhava - oily.
  • Sandhi bandha - binding joints.

Dosha Lakshana as per Caraka Samhita, Ch. 18,(49-51).

Vrdhini Lakshana (Characteristics of Increased Doshas)

Vata Vrdhini Lakshana (Characteristics of Increased Vata)

  1. Kasha - emaciation.
  2. Karsnya - darkness.
  3. Usnakamatva - Liking the hot.
  4. Kampa - tremors.
  5. Ānāha - distention and disturbing in intestines.
  6. Śakrt (fecal matter) grahān (catch) - a type of constipation.
  7. Bala bhramsha - energy. Bhramsha = moves out of its place.
  8. Nidra bhramsha.
  9. Indriya brahmsha.
  10. Pralapa - excessive talking. Whatever comes you will say. Unnecessary.
  11. Brahma - delusions/illusions.
  12. Dinata - Timid. Lowliness (low in status). Begging/contrast. Like a king who has to beg.

Credits:

Slohkas chanted by Vaidya A.V. Raju

Pitta Vrdhini Lakshana (Characteristics of Increased Pitta)

Peeta vinmutra netra tvak.

  1. Peeta - yellow.
  2. Vit - (yellow) fecal matter.
  3. Mutra - (yellow) urine.
  4. Netra - (yellow) eyes.
  5. Tvak - (yellow) skin.
  6. Kshut - hunger.
  7. Trt - thirst.
  8. Daha - burning sensation.
  9. AlpaNidraha - Less sleep, insomnia - easy to get to sleep but wake up early, sleep disturbed with emotions.

Kapha Vrdhini Lakshana (Characteristics of Increased Kapha)

  1. Slesma Agni sadanam - displace of agni.
  2. Praseka - excess saliva.
  3. Alasya - lazy.
  4. Gauravam - heaviness.
  5. Shvaitya - pale skin, white.
  6. Shaitya - coldness.
  7. Shlathangatva - unstable like jelly. Like a baby walking.
  8. Swasa - dyspnoea.
  9. Kasa - cough.
  10. Atinidrata - excess sleeping.

Learn more by learning the sub-doshas

Credits:

  • Slohkas chanted by Vaidya A.V. Raju. Slohkas from Astanga Hrdayam.
  • General functions of doshas - Susruta Samhita, Sutra Sthana, Ch 15
  • Dosha Lakshana - Caraka Samhita, Ch. 18,(49-51) and Astanga Hrdaya.
  • Gunas of each dosha – Astanga Hrdayam of Vaghbata – Sutra Sthana.
  • Dosha Vrdhi - Astanga Hrdaya, S.S. Ch. 11,(6-15) / Astanga Samgraha Ch. 19: Knowledge of Dosas.
  • Watercolour paintings (copyright) by Dylan Smith.


Amalaki (Embilica Officinalis) Uses & Benefits

Dylan Smith harvesting amalaki

Amalaki (Embilica officinalis) is not only considered by many to be Ayurveda's most potent fruit, but Amalaki is one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda that is used extensively in formulations. 

Nomenclature

English: Indian Gooseberry
Sanskrit: Amalaki, aka Amla (vernacular).
Latin: Embilica officinalis or Pjullantus embilica (less common)

Synonyms:

  • Dhatri ("Mother" or "Nurse") - Amalaki is the ultimate carer and healer.
  • Amrta ("Immortality") - There are only a few herbs which have the Amrta quality. Amalaki is like nectar that promotes immortality.

Energetics

Rasa (taste): Sour (predominately), sweet, bitter, astringent, pungent
Virya (energy): Cooling
Vipaka (post-digestive effect): Sweet
Gunas (quality): Dry, light.
Dosha: VPK-

Tridoshic Fruit

One of the marvels of Amalaki is that it contains all 6 tastes except salt. Thus this fruit mitigates:

  • vata by its sour taste
  • pitta by its sweet taste and cold virya (energy) and
  • kapha by the dry quality and astringent taste.

Usually sour herbs aggravate pitta. Amalaki is an exception, and is one of the very few sour herbs that actually reduce pitta.

Ayurvedic Action

Ganas (classical groups):

  • Vayasthapana (Anti-Aging) - Caraka (The famous sage) quoted Amlaki as the best among the Vayasthapana herbs.
  • Jvarghna (Treats Fever) (Caraka)
  • Kasaghna (Treats Cough) (Caraka)
  • Virecanopaga (Purgative) (Caraka)
  • Kusthaghna (Treats Skin Diseases) (Caraka)

Indications

Rasayana - Longevity and Immunity

Rejuvenator that promotes longevity. Thus is included in the classical group of Vayasthapana. "Rasa" (the essence of properly digested food) is being spread ("ayana") to nourish all the rasavaha srotas: 10 dhaminis (arteries) and heart, as well as the udakava srotas: Talu (soft pallet) and kloma (pancreas/thyroid).

This potent anti-oxidant fruit is fantastic immunomodulator, aphrodisiac and rejuvenator. (Bhavaprakasa).

Digestion

Assists bowels and reduces inflammation in the GIT as it supports healthy intestinal skin. Especially helpful in ulcers, hyperacidity (Amlapitta), colitis, hepatitis, haemorrhoids and intestinal bleeding conditions. Great laxative and liver cleansing action. Healthy intestinal "inner" skin accordingly improves health and lustre of the "outer" skin.

Diabetes and Metabolism

Its Ojas and immune boosting action helps cope with diabetes and urinary disorders (Prameha), (Bhavaprakasa).

Home Remedy: 2.5ml Amalaki juice + 2.5ml Turmeric juice + bit ot Honey (Astanga Hrdayam U.).

More Benefits:

  • Respiratory System - Amalaki's immune boosting action strengthens the lungs and helps in cough.
  • Sattva (Pure Consciousness) - Amalaki’s prabhava (special effect) is having a sattvic effect that raises the quality of consciousness and the overall wellbeing of the body.
  • Raktapitta (Bleeding diseases) (Bhavaprakasa).
  • Caksusya karma (Benefits the Eyes) - Reduces excess pitta in the eyes. Triphala is one of the best formulations for eye diseases (Netra roga). (A.P.I.)
  • Soma Roga
  • Kesha (Hair Tonic) - increases hair strength, reduces premature baldness greying since it pacifying the pitta burning the roots of the hair. A main ingredient in the Vital Veda + the Raju family's Bringraj Amalaka 11 Oil and Rajus Kesha Oil.

Vitamin C Powerhouse

According to the studies, the average Amla fruit (22.5gm) contains 121mg of vitamin C.
The average orange (130 grams) has about 70mg of vitamin C.

So one little Amla berry is packed with more vitamin C than the orange, which a 5.8 times bigger fruit!

Amalaki has 10 TIMES the amount of vitamin C than an orange when we measure equal weights of both fruits.

Research suggests this all-natural vitamin C content contributes to the potent antioxidant capabilities of Amalaki.

This is far from mega doses of vitamin C that people are taking. But what is compelling is the ability of Amalaki to take a small amount of vitamin C and use it to activate an entire matrix of chemicals that deliver a multitude of health benefits.

More about Amalaki herb coming soon.

Important Formulations

Triphala

One of the most popular formulations in Ayurveda and rightly so because mostly everyone can use it and benefit from triphala's actions.

Triphala helps in diabetes and skin diseases. It is fantastic for the eyes (external and internal application) and helps in fever. It helps in digestion and natural, regular elimination (laxative action), thus is an essential supplement to take today when we (even health individuals) are inevitably exposes to environmental toxins. 

Note Triphala is contraindicated for those with loose motions, diarrhoea, bleeding disorders of the GIT. 

"Tri" = Three
"Phala" = Fruits

The three fruits (in equal quantity) that make up triphala are:

  1. Amalaki (Embilica officinalis)
  2. Bibhitaki (Terminalia belerica)
  3. Haritaki (Terminalia chebula)

Shodana Vati - 3-Dosha Balancing and Purification

Shodana Vati's main ingredient in Triphala plus a whole lot more other herbs. If one takes Shodana Vati (superior option) people do not need to take Triphala.

This is a Raju family formula made with love and mantras that is the best free radical scavenger and anti-oxidant; immune modulator and blood purifier. It's good for gastrointestinal disorders, allergies, tooth and oral problems, female problems, high cholesterol, chronic cough, eye disorders, addictions, helps clear the skin and more. Available at Vital Veda.

Chyavanaprasha

Chyavanaprasha is a honey based jam (leham) procured with many herbs. Eating this regularly maintains optimum energy and immunity levels, especially during seasonal and life changes. Chyavanaprasha reduces kapha, colds, and promotes inner strength.

Unfortunately most herbal manufactures are not making proper Chyavanaprasha. The only company that makes it properly to my knowledge is Maharishi Ayurveda, although Maharishi Amrit Kalash is superior.

Anand Sidhi Yog - Nutritious Immune Boosting Bliss

An easy to digest rasayana that strengthens and repairs all the dhatus (tissues). It provides supreme nourishment for rapid healing and feeds the most re ned levels of the physiology, the mind and only the healthy body, not the disease.
It strengthens the lungs, helps in chronic cough and is a great anti-oxidant. "ASY" restores physical vitality, immunity, good digestion and eternal bliss. Amalaki is the main ingredient in this Raju family formula made with love and mantras. Available at Vital Veda.

If taking Anand Sidhi Yog, no need to take Chaywanaprash or Amrit Kalash since ASY is superior.

Check out our Amla Pickle Recipe here.

If you are in India and Amla is in season (around December), take advantage of that and eat them fresh!

 

Credits:
Chywanprash photo - Jiva

 

Amla Pickle (Recipe)

amla pickle dish

Amalaki (Indian Gooseberry)

This amla recipe can be adjusted to make lemon pickle by replacing the amla with chopped-up lemons

Amla is the common name for the fruit of the Amalaki plant (Embilica officinalis). This is not only considered by many to be Ayurvreda's most potent fruit, but Amalaki is also one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda.

Tridoshic Fruit

One of the marvels of Amalaki is that it contains all 6 tastes except salt. Thus this fruit mitigate:

  • vata by its sour taste
  • pitta by its sweet taste and cold virya (energy) and
  • kapha by the dry quality and astringent taste.

Benefits of Amla

  • Rasayana - Rejuvenator that promotes longevity. Rasa (the essence of properly digested food) is being spread (ayana) to nourish all the rasavaha srotas: 10 dhaminis (arteries) and heart, as well as the udakava srotas: Talu (soft pallet) and kloma (pancreas/thyroid).
  • Good for the lungs and immunity.
  • Digestion - assists bowels and reduces inflammation in the GIT as it supports healthy intestinal "inner" skin. This accordingly improves health and lustre of the "outer" skin.
  • Diabetes.
  • Fantastic aphrodisiac and rejuvenator.
  • Amalaki’s prabhava (special effect) is having a sattvic effect that raises the quality of consciousness and the overall wellbeing of the body.

Vitamin C Powerhouse

According to the studies, the average Amla fruit (22.5gm) contains 121mg of vitamin C.
The average orange (130 grams) has about 70mg of vitamin C.

So one little Amla berry is packed with more vitamin C than the orange, which a 5.8 times bigger fruit!

Amalaki has 10 TIMES the amount of vitamin C than an orange when we measure equal weights of both fruits.

Dylan Smith harvesting amalaki

Research suggests this all-natural vitamin C content contributes to the potent antioxidant capabilities of Amalaki.

This is far from mega doses of vitamin C that people are taking. But what is compelling is the ability of Amalaki to take a small amount of vitamin C and use it to activate an entire matrix of chemicals that deliver a multitude of health benefits.

Read more benefits and information on Amalaki here.

Amla Pickle Recipe

Note this recipe can simply be adjusted to make Lemon Pickle by replacing Amlas with chopped-up lemons.

Fresh Amla is hard to get outside of Asia.

Ingredients

  1. Finely chopped Amla fruit - 1 kg
    (or if making lemon pickle, slightly peel the outer layer off then chop 1kg lemon).
  2. Rock salt - 100 gm.
  3. Sea salt - 200 gm.
  4. Turmeric powder - 25 gm.
  5. Dry roasted ground fenugreek powder - 2 tsp.
    Dry roast until it is very good smell and brownish red colour. Then grind to powder.
  6. Dry roasted ground cumin powder - 5 tsp at least.
  7. Lime Juice - 1 tbsp.

Spices to add it at the end:

  1. ghee
  2. mustard seeds - 1 tsp.
  3. cumin seeds - 2 tsp.
  4. fenugreek seeds - 1 tsp.
  5. garlic - 3 cloves finely chopped.
  6. curry leaves - 8 leaves chopped.
  7. dry chilli - 2/3 chopped (optional).

Method

Day 1

  1. Finely chop Amla fruit (approximately into 6 pieces per fruit) and remove the seeds until you have 1kg.
  2. Add 25 gm turmeric power and mix well.
  3. Add 5tsp roasted cumin powder + 2 tsp roasted fenugreek powder.
  4. Leave in a bowl loosely covered with a lid closed for 3 days (72 hours). Mix well at least a few times a day.

Day 4

  1. Add 100 gms rock salt + 200 gms sea salt. Mix well.
  2. Leave in a bowl with the lid closed for 3 days (72 hours). Mix well at least a few times a day.

(A lot of salt preserves and cooks the pickle).

Day 6:

  1. Now the pickle is just about ready but requires one last step.
  2. In a pan, heat ghee then fry in the ghee:
    • mustard seeds till they pop.
    • Then cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds till they pop.
    • garlic, curry leaves and dry chilli until the garlic becomes golden colour.

Store the pickle in a glass jar and it is ready to be used.

This pickle gets better with age when stored in a glass jar.

Have you tried this amla pickle recipe? How did that go? Comment 👇

Punarnava (Boerrharia diffusa) Uses & Benefits

Dylan Smith & Farmer harvesting Punarnava Boerhavia Diffusa

The Punarnava Boerhavia Diffusa plant promotes cellular re-incarnation. Punarnava means "tech makes old cells new."

“Punarha” = again.
“Navaha” = new.

The old cell transfers its energy (through chemistry) to the new cell. The old body is renewed. Re-incarnation occurs on the cellular level. Cellular memory (“smriti”) is revitalised and restored to perfect health.

It is a superb herb to rejuvenate the kidneys and enhance lymphatic drainage (prabhava).

Nomenclature

English: Indian/Spreading Hogweed
Sanskrit: Punarnavā
Latin: Boerhaavia diffusa
Sveta Purnanava (Boerhaavia repens) is another variety of Punarnava that has a white flower. This is more potent and rare.

Its English name “Spreading Hogweed,” is a good description of how this plant spreads as a selfish weed across the ground. Farmers usually chuck the plant out in the trash.

Energetics

Rasa (taste): Astringent, Bitter, Sweet.
Virya (energy): Cooling
Vipaka (post-digestive effect): Pungent
Gunas (quality): Dry, light.
Dosha: VPK-, V+ in excess

Ayurvedic Action

Ganas (groups):
Vayasthapana (Anti-Aging)
Svedopaga (Adjuvants to Sudation therapy)
Kasaghna (Cures Cough)

Indications

Kidneys and Lymphatic

Punarnava Boerhavia Diffusa enhances lymphatic drainage and rejuvenates the kidneys. Helps in nephritis or impaired urinary function. Excellent to reduce excess fluids, swelling, oedema and congestion from excess kapha. Thus, also helps reduce scrotal and abdomen enlargement.

Digestion

It increases digestive fire (deepana) and stimulates sluggish digestion. It absorbs fluids from the digestive system and can be constipating. It helps remove poisons and worms.

Diabetes

Punarnava’s reduces medas dhatu (fat tissue) and balances mutravaha srotas (urinary channels).

Parts Used

Whole plant, root and leaf.
The leaves can be used as a leafy green in dahl.

“Punarha naveenam karoti”
"Which makes all cells new."

Important Formulations

Punarnavadi Mandoor
One of my formulations of choice also containing iron (mandoora) aplus many more herbs which activate the liver and spleen (ranjaka pitta) to create more rakta (blood cells). This formula not only increases iron in the body but increases our ability to produce and metabolise iron. It also helps in kidney health and diabetes, anaemia, splenomegaly, piles and fever. This formula contains medicinal metals which are completely safe and which you should be educated and informed about before taking them. 

Punarnavadi Guggulu 
For reducing water retention, congestive heart conditions and treating oedematous inflammatory joint diseases and gout.

Banana “Kadali” Smoothie Recipe

Banana smoothie on a glass

This delicious banana smoothie recipe will leave you completely and utterly delighted.

Ingredients

serves 2

  • 2 large bananas
  • 3-6 medjool dates, stones removed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup of almonds that have been soaked & skin removed. Roughly crushed.
  • Good pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Good pinch of crushed cardamom seeds.
  • 1/2-1 cup of water or coconut milk (optional)

Method

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve at room temperature (since cold drinks and food put out Agni/digestive fire).

*Please note banana is best eaten alone. Combining Banana with some coconut oil (good to reduce the high blood sugar spikes from banana), cardamom and ghee is also fine. This recipe is for those who want to get a bit more creative and transition to a healthier banana smoothie option.

For more ayurvedic recipes click HERE.

Yagya – Communing with the Divine

Yagya, typically involving a fire ceremony but can also be something as simple as exercise or eating your meal, is the way in which we commune with nature’s intelligence to invoke an effect of greater purification, unity and love.

Yagya is like the cosmic mobile phone. It is the way in which we summon the divine.

We are communing. It is a communication procedure by which we are requesting an order.

Everything in nature revolves around the principle of reciprocity. When we make a request (with intent) through consciousness, we are trigging a spontaneous phenomena of reciprocity.

When we understand this principle and we incorporate agni (fire), agni becomes the transmuter, the purifier, but also the deliverer of the message of the intent. Agni metabolises intent into manifestation.

In Yagya, we offer that intent with things we hold precious to us such as ghee, sandalwood, turmeric, flowers and other various substances from the earth.

These things which we are offering to the fire hold a very sattvic (pure) quality that when transmuted from its gross physical dimension by agni into a spiritual essence, it is transmuted into a celestial substance (soma), which the devatas (spiritual beings) feed of. They feed of our sattvic soma.

This combination of intention, mantras (primordial sounds), fire, offerings and the flow of human awareness will be customised to target a very specific dimension in the more subtle realms of concioussness. Here the devatas bathe in the nectar of our attention and devotion.

This creates a bonding effect and a bridge between the subtle dimension and the gross dimension. We create a window for the light to come in, but we also send light in. It is a two way street, paved with bridges of unity.

What we are seeking to do is commune with each other. With everything – gross and subtle. The vedic world view is we wish to embody all dimensions in consciousness. Yagya is the technology by which we commune with the divine. Not just for the sake of communing with the divine, but to cause an effect…

What that effect is, is relevant to the type of Yagya and who we are “dialling”.

Medicinal Effects of Yagya

Reduces kapha and ama in the body through the smokes tikshna guna (sharp quality) and vayu (air) quality.. Especially good for the eyes as it removes cataracts (ama in the eyes).

this article is inspired by the teachings of Jonni Pollard 

photo: Natasha Mason