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What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda means “The Science of Life” in Sanskit. It is a healing modality that originated in India more than 5,000 years ago, and considered by many to be one of the oldest healing sciences in the world. The ayurvedic principles are based on vatta, pitta, and kapha – the three principle energies of the body.
Meet Dr. Bhattacharya
Dr. Bhattacharya is a holistic family doctor, author, and director of the DINacharya Institute in New York where she teaches workshops and training programs for ayurvedic health coaches. She was trained as a biomedical scientist. She was an international public health specialist and a primary care physician before she dedicated her medical practice to ayurvedic medicine.
How Dr. Bhattacharya Discovered Ayurveda
I came to Ayurveda because I was looking for treatments that would help heal my patients. I am of Indian origin. As a child, Ayurveda was part of our daily routines. Although we never called it Ayurveda, my mother did what she knew coming from her own mother and grandmother. When I was in medical school learning how to heal patients, I quickly realized that for every disease we only learned about the drugs used to treat them. We never learned about exercises, foods or other kinds of remedies that were more natural or more in line with what the patients were complaining about. They seemed to just mask the symptoms and I was a bit concerned. Then, I was asked to do a film for the Discovery Channel called Healers: Journey Into Ayurveda.
I saw patients with diseases over the six weeks of filming. They were gradually cured — things that I had never seen cured in my world of modern medicine in Chicago, Boston, and New York at the meccas of good medicine. It concerned me that there was so much ignorance and a wall against non-mainstream medicine. So, that’s who got me interested in Ayurveda in the beginning. After that, I found myself going to India regularly to learn Ayurveda from various teachers. As I started learning from them, and then applying what I had learned to my patients here in New York, I found things that I was told were permanent in terms of disease were alleviated in patients. It fascinated me that diseases or conditions that were incurable with modern medicine were curable in Ayurveda. For example, Ayurveda reversed many of the symptoms from what are considered permanent diseases in modern medicine like diabetes, irritable bowel, or arthritis.
Indian Herbs for Ayurveda
My mom was about 55 and she had arthritis. She used to creek her way up the stairs and had a hard time getting up from the sofa or out of a chair. I started giving her remedies like Guggulu, which is a type of resin that needs to be combined with an herb called Guduchi, which is very good for improving the immune system. If there’s too many immune cells killing the joint like the knee joint, I can give a herb called Kaishore. If there’s a lot of heat in the knee I can give something called Ganshana. All of these Indian herbs that I was had never heard before are used in Ayurveda. There are about seven or eight different herbs that are combination formulations — they’re polyherbal. I started giving them to my mom in accordance with the seasons and her symptoms. She got rid of her arthritis. When she got rid of her arthritis, a few years later, she met someone that said, “Didn’t you used to have arthritis a few years ago. She was about 65 — 10 years later.” She replied, “Yeah, I had arthritis, but I decided I didn’t need it anymore. So, I got rid of it.” Arthritis is a serious concern for many aging patients. When I saw these remedies working, I was able to use my family and friends as guinea pigs when I was first learning about it, I found that these remedies are so effective that I had to learn more about them, whether they were allopathic or homeopathic or Ayurvedic — whatever is out there is what people want. People don’t usually say, “I only want Ayurvedic medicine,” or “I only want allopathic medicine.” They say, “I have this pain, please help me get better.” So, I started moving my practice into a variety of different modalities. Over the last 10 years after I finished my residency in allopathic medicine, I studied aromatherapy. I did courses in homeopathy and nutrition. Doctors don’t learn anything about foods which is crazy. You see the kind of foods we have in the hospital and the stuff that most doctors eat at lunches and dinners. I also formally studied a course in Ayurveda and a course in yoga. I apply this information to my patients when they’re needed because I work more on the patient than I do on a disease or on a medicine. I really focus on the patient. This is fundamental to Ayurveda.
The Origin of Ayurveda
Starting about 5,000 years ago, there was a group of physicians or healers. They started looking at not only what is going to help people heal, but what is going to keep them strong. The knowledge about life and longevity that has been collected since then is called Ayur- meaning longevity or life and -veta meaning knowledge or wisdom. So, Ayurveda is the knowledge of life including both intervening on diseases and preventing diseases.
Alignment of Ayurveda with the Environment and Seasons
Ayurveda aligns with the environment. It says that cycles of nature, whether a daily day and night cycle or a monthly cycle — new moon, full moon, new moon, full moon — there’s a cycle going on. There’s also an annual cycle of the seasons. In the northeast, the relevant cycle is spring, summer, fall, winter, spring, summer, fall winter, etc. So, the body also has cycles. Ayurveda says that if you follow these cycles, you will get in tune with these cycles and your body will come back to balance. Paying attention to the lunar cycle is important, not only for women and their monthly menstrual cycles, but also for men and their testosterone cycles.
We know from the Nobel prize that was given on the clock genes that there are genes in each set of cells in an organ that produce certain proteins or certain chemicals. Sometimes hormones go to the next step, just like a factory going from an area of the factory to another. There’s a coordinated production of enzymes or hormones in the body. When we are out of balance, it’s like the factory is not working. So, follow the daily cycle and follow the seasonal cycle. It says you have three opportunities a day to medicate yourself. They are called breakfast, lunch and dinner. You have three opportunities a day to poison yourself. They are also called breakfast, lunch, and dinner. What you choose to eat determines the energy you bring in and what building blocks you bring in to become cells of your body. So, if you think that a cheeseburger and fries is going to become you, it will. A fresh bowl of soup made of fresh garden vegetables and matured old rice that you’ve kept for more than 180 days will also become you. It’s your choice of what you want to create your body with.
Ayurveda is 17 or 18 healing modalities that are combined and used in different ways for different patients depending on their lifestyle choices and on the seasons and their goals. Some people don’t like oils at all. If they really need oils, I’ll show them how to use oils. Other people love oils, so they use oils as a mainstay of their treatment and they modulate their Doshas in that way.
The Ayurvedic Doshas
There used to be a campaign called What’s Your Dosha Baby. There was a cosmetic store where the salespeople had to wear these buttons that said, “What’s your Dosha?”, and they would invite people to do these quizzes. What Americans know about Doshas is that they are fire, air, or earth, and they think of these elements. I like to think of Doshas slightly differently because I’m really interested in the authentic Sanskrit texts cand conveying that wisdom. Those wise men 5,000 years ago talked about three main pillars by which our body is strong, agile and able — call it movement. It is the biology, chemistry, and physics of movement.
If you think about the biology of why two birds fly in unison or how a mother bird finds its nest, that movement towards its nest is determined by something like a life force which we don’t understand because we’re used to using GPS signals and cell phones. If we were to understand that just as the goose knows to fly from Florida to Canada, and stop in New York on the way, these movements are determined by the life force it knows. We may not have a scientific and logical way of discussing it, but we know it to be true the same way that we know that certain molecules are attracted to each other. We know about forces like gravity from physics — if I drop something, it will fall to the floor. There are electromagnetic forces that send things around. These forces of movement that we understand in biology, chemistry, and the physics have reasons for movement. I didn’t separate these subjects into separate sciences. These disciplines say that everything that causes movement is a force and that is called Vata.
Movement in Ayurveda
In the body, there are many things that move continuously such as your heart — when you were in the womb as a fetus, the heart started creating the circulation of blood. That blood has been circulating since that time and will continue until you die. There is also breath. The moment that you were born, that breath has been continuous. We sometimes hold our breath for a moment, but it must continue after a few seconds. There’s a cycle that flows. When we move, we can’t move our limbs unless we have joints. So, the joints are another place that’s constantly moving. Our spine is another part of the body that is always moving. There is also the lower belly which moves to push food down to make into stool, and lastly send it out of the body.
There is the fourth and the fifth thing that moves — our mind and nerve impulses. There are nerve impulses — constantly firing, moving, and creating the movement of my arm, for example. My eyes and my thoughts are areas of movement that are constantly happening in the body are called Vata. If we look at these areas of movement that I mentioned and you may find let’s say you’re not breathing properly or you have issues with your blood flow or your blood pressure, or problems with your colon or problems with your mind. These are all neurological and psychiatric diseases. They are all diseases of Vata as well.
Ayuveda Dosha: Vata
Which herbs, foods, and oils will calm the Vata — calm that movement, so that the river that was moving in a shaky way, moves in a calm way toward the sea? The science of watching how Vata moves is Ayurveda. Learning these herbs takes a bit of time just like understanding and seeing how plants move take time. These herbs, oils, and foods were characterized by physicians and written beautifully into texts which are now available in different languages including English. We learn from those texts. What I just taught you in the last five minutes, you can learn from one third of all pathology. It’s actually quite easy logically speaking. You can see Vata — the calming factor — when you watch people calm down.
Ayurveda Dosha: Pitta
The second of the three pillars is called Pitta. The third one is called Kapha. Pitta is the biology, chemistry, and physics of transformation. So, it’s all the enzymes, all the receptors in the body, all the things that transform from one type of matter to another. Foods breaks down and muscles build up. Hormones are hook into their receptors to create action. All this transformation in the body from matter to energy, energy to matter, or matter to another kind of matter is called Pitta. Any interaction that happens is usually hot. So, the word for Pitta is fire. There is fire, but there is sharpness and acidity too. There’s also the sense of transformation by two elements. The two elements that transform are fire and water. Pitta is symbolized by these two qualities: fire and water.
Transformation in Ayurveda
If you put something in water, it’ll transform. If you put a potato in water, it sprouts. If you heat it up, it will cook. So, that transformation of the potato is Pitta. There is so much about the universe that is about transformation that we must see the way that the wise men were looking at it 5,000 years ago. Again, there are many areas of the body that have Pitta. There is the heat of the stomach and the enzymes there. The transformation that takes place in the liver detoxifies the blood. The skin can transform sunlight and make vitamin D. The eyes take light and transform it. Light that bounces off a book and comes to my eyes is transformed, so that I can read that book. So, transforming information from the light coming into my eyes is what enables me to read.
Lastly, there is the mental sense of what I want to do with my life. Transforming thoughts into action is key. Sometimes people don’t have the ability to transform. For example, when they’re depressed and they can’t transform thoughts, they can’t transform the food in their stomach, or they can’t clean out their blood. In America, we have this epidemic of people who have fat around their liver, and they can’t get rid of it. It’s either a cholesterol problem, or a cirrhosis problem, or inflammation of the liver. They don’t have any other disease. They just have a fatty liver. Doctors in mainstream medicine can’t work with it. However, it’s very easy. It’s just a bit of problem. If you give a bit of the reducing drug or a bit the reducing diet or a bit of the reducing oil, you can watch the person’s fatty liver go away. The best way to measure it is taking a pulse and figure out how the liver is doing. You can also do CT scans and see how much fat is around the liver. Lastly, you can watch the person’s energy level which will tell you how their Pitta is.
Rebalancing With Herbs
What I am mean to say when I refer to the calming drug is the rebalancing herb. Drug is a very bad term because anything that is in substance form could be a food. It could be an herb, a polyherbal, or oils. It could be anything that heals. Usually, it’s a combination of herbs. These combination of herbs are the best ones that we find because they find that it cleans out the liver. Every March and every September, I have a whole group of patients that come to me to do liver cleanses. This is because at the change of seasons, hot goes to cold like from March to September in New York. I have people that take three weeks of liver cleansing drugs. Once I get them on their way, depending on their pulse, I give them either a liquid or a pill depending on their lifestyle and what other issues they must take for three weeks. Some people say, “I don’t want to take a pill. I just want to do foods.” Then, I tell them to eat the brassica vegetables which are mustard greens, collard greens, brussels sprouts, and the dark green, leafy vegetables for the next three weeks and don’t eat too much other stuff. That’s a good liver cleanse and their Pitta comes down.
Ayuveda Dosha: Kapha
The third pillar of Ayurveda is Kapha. Kapha is the biology, chemistry, and physics of lubrication and stability and keeping things together so that liver cells stay as liver cells and don’t suddenly decide they want to become heart cells. This principle of Kapha keeps things that should be together, together. In the body, we have several groupings of different types of cells that stay on their own and stay lubricated. Places that we have lubrication are also the places where we have Vata which is drying you out. The lining in your lungs, the lining in your joints, the lining in the upper part of the stomach before the acidic part, the lining in your mouth, the saliva that’s in your mouth, and the lining around the nerves that are lightning fast — those glial cells that insulate are made of pure fat and heaviness.
Kapha has the properties of being very oily, very calming, very soft, very cool, and not hot. Kapha is a perfect compliment to either the Bitta heat or Vata roughness. The three together like a tripod are the foundations for Ayurvedic diagnosis, treatment, and physiologic understanding of how the body comes together. It is completely different than the idea of organ systems, but it works. It works when we are diagnosing and treating diseases and it works so well that for 5,000 continuous years Ayurveda is the oldest medical system continuously practiced on the planet. These physicians have been able to take the principles of our forefathers and foremothers and learn how to use them in clinical practice for children, adolescents, pregnant women, people with very busy lifestyles, and older people.
Basic Philosophy of Ayurveda
Instead of fighting, Ayurveda is about rebalance. The idea of fighting is a war language. Ayurveda talks more about harmony that intervenes on severe diseases, but also tells people that it’s always a lot easier before it gets severe. Thus, let’s keep you in check. Sometimes people get sick or let’s say you go out to battle because there’s a war and come home with wounds — Ayurveda treats those wounds. Ayurveda also guides a woman through pregnancy.
Disease and Rebalancing the Body
It is possible to rebalance the body even if you had diabetes, high blood pressure, and cirrhosis for many years. What I have found is that people who are mentally eager to rebalance their bodies heal very well. I’ve had stage four ovarian cancer patients who really want to get better and have not had good support from hospitals do really well and cure themselves. I have had people who’ve had pancreatic cancer who are determined that they’re going to make it and they cure themselves. The doctors are stunned. I’ve had people with asthma come back even though they’ve had asthma since their childhood. Now, they’re in their adult life. I’ve had people who have diabetes who say, “No, I am going to live this life,” and they’re happy. They live it. When you’re happy and when your mind wants to participate in the health of your body, anything can happen.
I’ve also seen people who have very minor things like a frozen shoulder or some low back pain, and they suffer for years. They refuse to let go of mental hurdles like judgements and they will not heal. They use the herbs and the foods of Ayurveda which coordinates a Pitta (calming) which is about transformation because there’s so many enzymes in the pancreas as well as Vata which is about movement through the pancreas. Sometimes there’s also stuff clogging the pancreas, which is Kapha because Kapha has the quality of being greasy and oily. We use herbs to clear that out.
I have several pancreatic cancer patients who are no longer cancerous. Their doctors were not too happy about it because they can’t explain it. I have also seen patients who have minor issues, such as a headache or a frozen shoulder, that they’re so attached to because it either gives them attention in the family or it allows them to be sick and to rest, which is something they deeply need and have not had permission for in the past. There are many emotional and mental things that go on for patients in which sometimes they don’t want to let go of certain diseases. I can fully feel that when I meet the patient. If I meet someone that has something very severe like low back pain and they’ve been up and down the series of hospitals to get diagnosed and then, they say, “I’m ready to heal,” I will work with them.
Challenges with Practicing Ayurveda
I find challenges in getting people aligned. Ayurveda is not a religious, but it is a system. It is about philosophy and lifestyle. When people believe in changing their life to heal, that’s a deep core world view of philosophy. Some people say that because Ayurveda is linked to the Vedas that it’s about Hinduism. Hinduism was a term that was defined and put together by Western Europeans looking at India. Most of the ancient cultures of Asia have had a sense of worldview or lifestyle that they have just lived. They don’t need to define it in a particular way and create boundaries between one lifestyle and another.
Sometimes people have a set prescription of how they think they’re going to get healed. What Ayurveda gives them is an individualized prescription for their lifestyle and their particular body and their mindset. Thus, what Ayurveda puts together particular to the labyrinth of symptoms that they need to weave out from. I have watched people cure themselves of ulcers that they’ve had for 20 years or irritable bowel syndrome which is currently considered incurable or arthritis. As we talked about earlier, I’ve also worked with people that have severe neurological diseases. My first PhD was working with pharmacology and neuroscience. We see very bad diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, various diseases in which the immune system was attacking the neurologic system, or diseases in which the neurons are not working clearly. Ayurveda says to first build up the track —that sheath of protection or lubrication around it.
I have thought about it for a long time about why older people today are getting so sick. They’re getting patterns of diseases. Since the sixties and seventies, we’ve been talking about how cholesterol is so bad, and it’s recently been reversed. If you’ve been eating non-fat and low-fat foods, knowing that it’s bad for you and mentally feeling guilty about it and only sometimes sneaking it in — those foods have systematically drained. Cells require cholesterol and cells require a fatty layer around the wall of each cell and around the tissues. A whole bed of muscle or an entire organ like the liver or the kidney has a layer around it. Those layers are made of fats to prevent water from breaking them down or dissolving them. When a society tells you that you can’t have those oils for 40 years, of course those people when they age, don’t have that sheath, that protective sheath around their nerve.
I didn’t understand the importance of oils despite having gone to medical school in this country. When I got to India and the wise men who are 89 years old were teaching me and telling me that what you need to do is take ghee and sesame oil and rub it underneath your feet. If you do this, in four or five days, observe that the cracks under the feet will be gone. These are problems for which I had spent hundreds of dollars looking for cures and cosmetics. There are salves and bomb to overcome these cracks. I’d get pedicures to fix these cracks under my heels. Finally, I just used some Sesame oil and some ghee, and the cracks were gone. I wondered and asked him, “What was this?” He said, “It’s a Vata. You move too much. Your brain moves fast and your feet move fast. Your life moves fast. You’re not getting unctuous or rebuilding in your body. You’re not getting that foundation of rebuilding after every day of fast movement. You need to have a place where you can rejuvenate and you’re not giving that to yourself.”
As I thought about it, I realized that people don’t spend time to rejuvenate. They just try to squeeze more in the day. They have a morning schedule. They have an afternoon schedule. They have an evening schedule. I certainly did as a doctor for many years. The Wiseman just advised me that I have a strong and robust body to go back and rejuvenate, replenish, and refortify by adding oils back into my body. This was a time when people talked about cholesterol, lowering agents, the statins, low-fat butters, and margarine, and all kinds of foods that absolutely had no oil in them. These wise men would laugh and say, “Oh, these children have no idea what they’re doing to themselves.”
Types of Ayurvedic Oils
There are many types of oils that people are using. As for coconut oil that’s pure white — it’s artificially white. Pure coconut oil should only be a little bit of white. Good and organic coconut oil is very cooling. If you have too much of it, you’re going to precipitate out. You’re going to get oil globs everywhere. So that’s not so good for you, but in the heat of summer when the jar of coconut oil is in liquid form, that’s the time to use it wherever you live. If you look at that coconut oil jar and it’s starting to get solid, that means that you’re at a place where you should stop using it. When it’s fully solid. You shouldn’t be using coconut oil.
In the south of India, where coconuts grow, they use coconut oil for most of the year. You can use it to moisten your hands in the summer when you’re very hot and constantly sweating. People will take coconut oil and put it at the nap of their neck or the fontanel of their head. I tell parents that have kids that do sports like tennis or swimming and hence sweat a lot to take some coconut oil and put it right on their head. It will cool down the body. The oil will be absorbed into the body. There have been plenty of studies with radioactive tracers that show that if you put oil on the top of the head, it makes its way into the brain. You can also put a bit of coconut oil in your belly button and that’ll cool you down. You can also cook with it if you’re going to have very hot foods. So, that’s just coconut oil which is cooling. It’s only usable in New York during the months of June, July, and August. If you’re living in Florida or California, then maybe you can use it for a few more months.
The King of Oils: Sesame Oil
The king of oils is called sesame oil. Organic, unrefined sesame oil is great for a hundred of different things. I wouldn’t cook with it all year round, but in the dead of winter in January, there are four weeks that are around the time called Sankranti. The sun starts in mostly southern states and starts making its way north again. The winter solstice is supposedly in December, but if you look at the calendar, it starts in around the 14th of January. In India, it is celebrated as Makar Sankranti. Around that time, they cook with sesame oil and sesame seeds because sesame oil is the calmer of Vata and some Pitta, but mostly Vata. During that season, there’s a lot of Vata. Vata is cold, dry, light, mobile, and rough. When you have Vata in your body and there’s that chaotic cacophony going on. Sesame oil will calm it down.
Here are a couple of small things you can try: warm up some sesame oil by putting a tablespoon of sesame oil put it over the stove for about five seconds or heat up a bowl with a double boiler if you want a lot of it. However, you must use organic, unrefined sesame oil. It shouldn’t be the toasted sesame oil that’s red. It should be a golden yellow in color. After warming it up, put a little bit of in your hands, rub it underneath your feet. Then go sit somewhere for 5 or 10 minutes and then go to bed, see how you sleep. I have had countless students, patients, and friends tell me that they sleep restfully. People who do not sleep restfully see this as such a godsend because they have been trying every sleeping aid prescription, over the counter teas, and various herbs yet they still can’t get to sleep. However, sesame oil just helps them sleep. This is because it brings down the Vata. It calms the mind. The oil douses it and brings it to a state of calm. It’s generally advised to do it around 9:00 PM or 10:00 PM around the time of sleep — not at 3:00 AM in the morning because there are other issues going on if you’re up at 3:00 AM in the morning. Try to go to bed at 9:00 PM, 10:00 PM, or 11:00 PM and try this sesame oil.
Sesame oil is also good to put on before you fly because you’re going be moving. Remember that Vata is the theme of movement. If people are about to get on a flight, I advise them to pack a little bottle which goes through airport security. Then, they get on the plane and rub that in your hands to heat it up and put it right underneath your feet, behind your ears, and on your fontanel. Unrefined sesame oil doesn’t have a strong smell and most people should be traveling in cotton which is a natural fiber, so they don’t have to worry about getting oil all over everything.
Another thing is that if you’re going to go swimming, put sesame oil on your body. That way, you won’t come out of the swimming pool with dry patches, which a lot of people get because of the chlorine. If you’ve been out in the ocean, the salt can be very caustic to the body. Put on a sheath of sesame oil in the cooler time, and coconut oil when you are in a hot place like Bali where the water is hot. Thus, sesame can be used in a lot of different ways.
A fourth way to use sesame oil is to calm oneself when feeling unnerved. I tell people to warm up a bowl of sesame oil in a double boiler or heat water in the little crock pots and put a metal bowl with sesame oil in there where the oil will heat up the slowly. Then, carry that oil bowl into the bathroom and just oil up your entire body. Give yourself a self-oiled massage. Then, do a little bit of exercise to get the muscles to get that oil down under the surface. Any toxins that are there in the muscles, including lactic gas acid will come up to the surface again when you exercise. Then, get into a lukewarm shower. There’ll be a very thin sheen of oil that is left on your body afterwards which looks beautiful rather than dry skin. People will also notice that they feel calmer and more robust. They feel like there’s more of them inside the body. The reason is that they’re not dry and they’re not letting out their electrical impulses. They’re holding their bioelectric self inside the sheath of sesame oil. I do it with older people.
Using my mom as an example, she wasn’t doing so well, so I started giving her massages from the knees down with sesame oil and just letting her take her afternoon nap. She would wake up and say I just feel so refreshed. For some time, we had someone come to the house and give her a massage for her hands, legs, chest, back, and at the end of her hair. Then, they would let her go shower. She became this very cute, older, very supple woman. She wasn’t dry. She wasn’t slow. She wasn’t arthritic. It was because of this oil that was now lubricating my mom.
Uses of Ghee in Ayurveda
Ghee is said to be the most biocompatible to our own cell wall. Ghee is clarified butter, but made from cultured butter, meaning it was milk that was made to yogurt that was made to butter and buttermilk. The buttermilk was taken aside and the butter was boiled and made into ghee. When you slow boil butter, there’s this precipitate that comes out and the thick butter becomes this golden transparent oil. Ghee has been used for 5,000 years by the Ayurvedic people to put on their food and hands. People always ask me since I am in my fifties now, “Why don’t you have wrinkles?”. My face cream is key. I have the big tub in the kitchen and a little one near my bed. At night I just take it and I just literally rub it all around my eyes. I put it all over my skin and I have a coating of ghee on my face at night. I think it’s the best night cream in the winter. I’ll use it as day cream after my shower in the morning. I’ll just put a little bit of ghee. Do I smell like butter? A little bit, but it’s not a bad smell. Ghee is a wonderful oil to take people into a place of lubrication and suppleness. So, for people who have movement disorders, I tell them to eat ghee regularly.
You can get ghee in New York City easily. For people who aren’t in a metropolitan city, I just tell them to order it online. Some brands that make ghee is Pure Indian Food and Ancient Organics. All you have to do is look for the phrase “cultured ghee” and you can find it in many places in the United States and all over the world. However, you must be careful that you don’t just get it from a grocery store because what they will do is precipitate the curd out and make butter from that. That is not what you want. You want it to be cultured through the process of yogurt because the yogurt bacteria converts the milk into the proper oils that we’re looking for. These short chain fatty acids, which are eaten through our mouth, are utilized by our gut bacteria and they create these signals for our immune system to keep it healthy. Ghee is one of the things that I help patients use, so that they can heal from gut disorders.
There are stories in my book, Everyday Ayurveda, that are about my parents and it’s a wonderful way to immortalize them because they shared so much wisdom that I want to share that with all the people that didn’t get to have my parents as their parents. What they did is incorporate rituals of Ayurveda into our childhood that they didn’t call Ayurveda in everyday life. The stories in each chapter of my book is a really great way to show the reader that Ayurveda is not just something that’s 5,000 years old and not only applicable if you live in a village in India. We can apply them today in the lives that we lead that are much faster and much more complicated with all kinds of modern technology woven in.
The stories are meant to help you to visualize how that ritual could happen in your life today. As a reader, I want each person to think about why they would want to do these rituals and maybe why they can’t do the rituals right now. I follow it up with medical stories and various health stories or cases. Then, I have a practical section that instructs how to put this into life. The reason I worked on this area is that it is the foundation of getting better. I have now had about a thousand emails from people that say that they have certain diseases that got cured just by doing these daily routines. I started thinking, I didn’t give them any drugs and I didn’t meet them. How did they just heal? All of a sudden, this idea of clock genes came to me that the factory that is supposed to build one piece and then another piece, and then the next piece builds the next piece. This coordinated production of something downstream that is efficient and good for the body happens when you have that daily routine. The daily routine sets up all those rituals that we don’t understand — the biochemicals that are changing or the physiology that’s dependent on another piece so that everything fits. The thyroid hormone is called the master hormone. It has something that signals it and it also has a whole bunch of things that it signals. If those hormones and signals are out of turn, you’re going to have problems in your body.
The daily routine tells you to wake up early in the morning, just as the farmers did. Those early rising people are generally healthier. You wake up and you clean your senses. You put water in your eyes, a little in your nose to flush it out, and swish water in your mouth. You are up and you go to the bathroom. You clean with water and not with toilet paper. You don’t want little residue of stuff outside on the skin. After you poop, you clean with water. You wash your hands and your upper body. You also take a little bit of water to drink to hydrate your body. Warm water melts all that mucus in your mouth away. These 16-17 rituals for the early morning routine takes about 12 minutes of time and you’re good to go. It’s the same thing with the rituals of the bath and evening before getting ready for bed so that you can wake up early. I put these rituals together in the book and people have really given me the feedback that it is applicable today. It’s not just from Ayurveda 5,000 years ago.