The Ayurvedic View, Medicinal Qualities and Risks of Onion & Garlic (2nd Biggest Myth Of Ayurveda) | Dylan Smith #082

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When ancient wisdom gets popular, confusion and misunderstanding tends to arise within.
The essence and authenticity tends to blur, and this has happened with the knowledge of Ayurveda - the Sacred Science of Healing and Higher Consciousness.
Ayurvedic practitioner and educator Dylan Smith, known for his authenticity and devoted role to keeping the purity of Ayurveda alive and thriving, dispels the 3 Biggest Myths of Ayurvedic medicine.
These MYTHS are:
  1. “You have to be vegetarian” according to Ayurveda - or even that “Vegetarian is the best diet.”
  2. “Onion and garlic are prohibited”.
  3. “Ayurvedic medicines are commonly contaminated with heavy metals.”

In this Episode we Discuss:

The Principle of The Three Gunas

The three maha gunas (great qualities) are: 
  • Sattva: purity, harmonious, creative & virtuous. 
  • Rajas: passion, acceleration, agitation. 
  • Tamas: trapped light, inertia. 

The Emergence of This Myth Being Rooted in The Realm of Yoga

Yogis and Brahmacharis typically avoid onion and garlic in their food because they are high on the rajas guna
  • They stimulate the nervous system and can possibly lead one to break bows of austerity like celibacy or brahmacharya which require the enlivening of the sattva guna instead of rajas

How to Purify Onion and Garlic to Facilitate Digestion & Reduce The Rajas Guna

It is very important to purify these foods in order to make it easier for your body to digest them, and to also enliven the sattva and simultaneously reduce the rajasic qualities in them. 
Purifying garlic: 
  1. Take out the inner green sprout (in GMO Garlic it tends to either be white or indistinguishable) and discard it. 
  2. Fry the garlic in ghee
Purifying onion: 
  1. Remove the skin from each side of the layers. 
  2. Fry it in ghee. 

The Medicinal Qualities of Garlic

Garlic is a very powerful medicine in Ayurveda, prized as a rasayana (literally meaning “that which spreads the elixir of life [rasa]” or anti-aging elixir). 
  • In India, they even call garlic “poor man’s gold”. 
Garlic is good for boosting immunity, fever, sore throats, asthma, various heart conditions and acts as a powerful blood purifier. 
When experiencing a cough/cold: garlic with chili powder and rise is a recommended food. 
It is used in the patra poultice treatment (Ayurvedic massage with boluses of herbs that help with joint pain and various other conditions). 
  • To learn more about this treatment click HERE.
According to the Aṣṭāṅgasaṅgraha of Vagbhata Sutrasthana (Ch.7), garlic is good for:
  • Heart and hairs
  • Aphrodisiac
  • Unctuous
  • Improves taste and digestion
  • Helps unions and/or fractures
  • Gives strength
  • Vitiates blood and pitta (caution here!)
  • Cures lucademia, leprosy and other skin diseases
  • Abdominal tumors, hemorrhoids and diabetes
  • Worms
  • Diseases caused by kapha and vata
  • Hiccups
  • Nasal cataracts
  • Dyspnea and cough
  • Rejuvenates the body 
A very rare feature of garlic is that it has all 5 out of the 6 tastes. 
  • Sweet
  • Salty
  • Bitter
  • Pungent
  • Astringent
Using the gunas (qualities) of garlic to heal certain imbalances in the body.

The Medicinal Qualities of Onion

Onion is cooling
It pacifies pitta when it’s cooked because it turns from pungent (raw) to sweet (cooked). 
Onion gives you energy and enlivens healing when the body feels drained. 
Onion acts as a breast milk purifier & increases sperm count in semen. 
Onion is an aphrodisiac and invigorates strength in the body. 
Good for the respiratory system: congestions and colds. 
Good for nausea.
Good for nose bleeds: cut an onion in half and give it a good sniff. 
It has a sweet post-digestive effect which is very nourishing for the body. 
Great for pitta and kapha

Why Onion And Garlic Tend to be Hard to Digest & How to Amend That

They have certain carbohydrates called fructans.
These fructans react with the gut’s flora and produce gas & bloating. 
Onions also happen to be really high in sulfurous compounds. Sulfur tends to smell quite bad, so it stands to reason that any ‘byproduct’, released as these compounds are digested, will smell quite bad too. 
Onions contain a natural sugar called fructose. Like raffinose and sorbitol, fructose contributes to gas when bacteria in the intestines break it down.
The key to solving “intolerances” to these foods is to improve your digestion. You are not really intolerant to anything! It simply is a matter of teaching your body to digest a certain food! 
  • To learn more on how to enhance your nutrition with Ayurvedic principles you can check out our Essence of Ayurvedic Nutrition course.
  • If you are interested in overcoming a specific “food intolerance” you can book a consultation with Dylan HERE
  • To read more about overcoming food intolerances check out our article: "How to Overcome Food Intolerances".

Resources

The Essence of Ayurvedic Nutrition -  Online Course

Aṣṭāṅgasaṅgraha of Vagbhata Sutrasthana (Ch.7)


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Please seek advice from a qualified practitioner before starting any new health practice.


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 👇

The Ayurvedic View on Fermented Foods

Fermented Foods in Jars
As with most dietary fads, they may not only be unsustainable but also potentially do more harm than good, and as usual, Ayurveda will have a say on it (since Ayurveda has a say on everything - It is the "science of life” after all).
Fermented foods certainly have the potential to be highly medicinal, but they have their time and place. Literally.
Fermented food is traditionally a winter food.
Fermenting folk would preserve fruits and vegetables to feed them in long winter months, which typically was only required in colder countries.

Pitta (Fire) 🔥 Aggravation

Ayurveda teaches that fermented foods are heating. The acids that are present increase pitta (fire element) in the body, which may create inflammation.
This has its time and place - like Northern and Eastern Europe who could use that pitta increase in the winter-time. But in warmer climates, like Australia and India, it can trigger imbalance.

Not only do fermented foods have their time and place, they also have their unique “person”

Consider the person eating the fermented foods.
If they have a pitta imbalance - ie. they are prone to inflammation or fire in the body, presenting conditions like acne, skin inflammation, eczema, psoriasis, anger, frustration, hyperacidity, gastric ulcers, hemorrhoids and other “hot” conditions - perhaps they should proceed with caution and moderation.

The Ayurvedic View on Fermented Foods

There is a slight dogma in Ayurveda that fermented foods are bad. This was perhaps developed because most of people in India don't need to preserve foods for the cold months since they experience warm weather year-round.
And those parts of India (and Australia) that do experience cold climates, it is for a short period of time.
On top of that, these warmer climates mostly experience an abundance of produce in summer and the months surrounding.
Fermenting foods for too long can be over-heating and even a bit dulling (tamasic) or rajasic (stimulating).
However, Ayurveda certainly utilises fermented foods:
Thin lassi, a drink of yoghurt + water or buttermilk, is a highly prized simple but powerful food-as-medicine drink in Ayurveda, which actually reduces pitta and supports gut health.
Foods fermenting in Glass jars
There are many pickles and even medicinal wines, known as ariṣṭas and āsavas.
Paneer, a fermented cheese advised having in small amounts.
But note the ways these are taken. They are taken as condiments. Don’t fill a quarter of your plate with kimchi or organic herbalised fermented veggies, or a fermented organic super berry. It should be a small condiment size.
The role here is to give that right amount of acid, that digestive stimulant, that inoculation of microbiome richness.

Benefits of Fermented Foods

Fermented foods have a wonderful ability to inoculate the digestive tract with beneficial bacteria.
Lactic acid, which commonly oozes out of fermented foods as beneficial strains of bacteria and food particles mingle, not only preserves the veggies or fruit, but also slowly releases sugars from the cellulose to feed the good bacteria in your body!
This supports a healthy microbiome, and your microbiome has a plethora of roles in your body, supporting immunity being one key component.

Do Fermented Foods Have a Place at All for Hot Climates or Pitta Types? 🔥

That being said, even in summer, fermented foods in small amounts can be utilised to support digestion and a healthy microbiome.

That is why Ayurveda recommends mixing a small amount of fermented pickle with the first morsel of food, to boost digestive strength (dīpana) for bon-appetit.

A good tridoshic fermented dish you can try is my Amla Pickle Recipe. Amla is one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda due to to its many powerful benefits. It pacifies pitta, vata & kapha. Check it out!

Amla Pickle Dish

If you are interested in learning about Ayurveda and how to properly optimize your food intake to enliven health in your body check out my course "The Essence of Ayurvedic Nutrition".
The Essence of Ayurvedic Nutrition - Online Course

You can purchase the course HERE.

What are your favorite fermented foods? How do you feel after eating them? Comment 👇

Are You Actually Hungry or Just Dehydrated?

Are you reaching for that organic cocoa, nuts, dried fruit or sweet pastry with slight guilt and intuition knowing that maybe, inaccurate hunger is causing you to delicately drool?

Although delectably comforting, is my snacking habit really what my body is craving?

Well, it could just be that you are dehydrated, and you have mistaken thirst for hunger.

Snacking (even healthy) foods throughout the day can cause metabolic disruptions, which are key causes of many diseases

Now, the question is, why do we associate hunger and thirst as the same sensation? Why is my brain unable to distinguish between hunger and thirst?
For that answer, we got to consider the lamina terminalis, a thin membrane that lives just below the third ventricle of your brain, that is responsible for sensing whether you’re thirsty or quenched.

The truth is... it is very easily tricked.

The human brain evolved to equate drinking to quenching your thirst, but in today's reality that is not so much the case anymore

Throughout history, earthlings had access to one primary source of liquid: water.

So the lamina terminalis in the brain developed a recognition that if you drink liquid, you then must be satisfying your thirst.

That’s why when you drink coffee, processed sports drinks, gatorade, soda, sugar laden juices, energy drinks or a cold beer, you experience a temporary relief from the thirst sensation.
But the reality is, these beverages proactively dehydrate the human body.
These drinks drive water out of their cells because it takes more water for the body to process these beverages, than they give back to the body in liquid

You need to get Properly hydrated.

You need to improve ability to move water from your Gastro Intestinal tract into your cells. This is what we cal Intra-cellular hydration.

I expand on proper hydration in my upcoming Ayurvedic Nutrition Online Course (sign up to our newsletter to be in the loop), but for now here are a couple things you can do:
Drink Spring Water - How can you expect to fully heal any imbalance when you are drinking tap water or filtered water (thanks for removing the poison, but the water is still dead).
In Sydney, contact Annie +61 412 858 585 for 😋 spring water (mention Vital Veda for free delivery).
For spring water in other areas in the world, check out our “Friends of Vital Veda” webpage.

Spring water is the difference between water that just satisfies thirst versus water that actively imparts life.

Collecting natural spring water in plastic containers

Assess the dehydrating factors in your life:

+ many more actions you can take.

This post is inspired by the online course I am doing on the Internal Waters of the body with Jen Isabel Friend. Listen to the popular podcast we did together on the Magic, Mystery and Science of Water.
Vital Veda Podcast Banner: The Benefits, Magic, Mystery & Science of Water