Thursday, 23 August 2007

Stop, Look Stop - Ayurveda and Contentment

Author: Unknown

Stop, Look, Stop!
Ayurveda and Contentment

“The essence of philosophy is that a man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things. — Epictetus

“Joyful.” The very word has such a warm, fuzzy feel to it.

But when was the last time you felt truly, totally joyful?

If you’re happy with what you have and what you are doing, it’s easy to be joyful. That is why ayurvedic healers see contentment and health as synonyms — they define total health as swasthya: a Sanskrit word that means “settled in oneself” (swa: self, stha: established).

But in today’s world, swasthya is becoming increasingly hard to achieve. That’s because most of us are chasing happiness in the wrong places. We’re looking for it in terms of job success, social approval and money.

Imagine that you are on a journey. Along the way, you pass many a beautiful garden. What a pity if you just keep driving along, watching the landscape through your windscreen–never taking the time to stop, step out and take in the fresh air, touch a soft petal, or breathe in the fragrance.

In much the same way, we’re all speeding through life, hurtling ourselves toward goals that are at best, dubious in their capacity to make us truly joyful.

But the great thing about life is, you can apply the brakes anytime. Whatever your age and however deep your stresses, you can stop to re-examine your attitudes–to smell that rose. Then, with a of eyes, you can proceed afresh–on a new journey toward joyfulness.

Getting rid of some old mindsets and acquiring new ones along the way will make this new journey a breeze.

OLD MINDSET: “I don’t look good.”

How can your journey of life be a pleasant one if you’re unhappy in the thought that you appear less-than-attractive to the world?

Lack in body confidence is one of the most common reasons people don’t feel good about themselves. Some time back, the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health published a survey of 3,500 people who were asked to assess their self-image. The survey found that women in particular are prone to feeling fat–even though more men are overweight.

NEW MINDSET: “If I can find a few minutes for myself every hour or so, I can look and feel great.”

In ayurvedic philosophy, negative self-image is the result of what is called pragya aparadh or a mistake of the intellect. The human intellect becomes prone to committing errors when the mind and body are subjected to stress at work, tensions at home, lack of good sleep, irregular routines, and improper diet. Each of these has the potential to make you feel down in the dumps, disrupt your metabolic rhythm, affect the quality of your skin and hair, and thus, cause the intellect to commit the mistake of feeling inferior.

To restore the wisdom of your intellect, start by taking one simple step. Slow down and give yourself some much-deserved attention. Find time to make up to your body and mind for the days, weeks, months, or possibly years of neglect. Don’t feel guilty about having done all that neglecting–we all do it to some degree.
Start with the body. The great thing is, our bodies are not only very resilient, but also incredibly responsive to the smallest gesture of kindness. Five simple ways you can feel good about the way you look:

Drink plenty of water throughout the day. It restores moisture balance to your skin, cleanses your system, and makes you glow.

Give your skin some intensive lipid support. Maharishi Ayurveda’s range of herbal Youthful Skin products will help you cleanse, tone, and moisturize your skin just the way nature intended it.

Eat fresh, warm foods as often as you can–fresh vegetables, seasonal fruits, whole grains. Filled with sattva or natural goodness, such foods bring bliss to the body and the mind.

Treat your body to a warm oil massage every morning–and if possible, massage your lower limbs, hands and feet before bed with a light, quick-penetrating massage oil such as the Rejuvenation Massage Oil for Men and Women. Daily massage or abhyanga is immensely calming and rejuvenating.

Get rid of those under-eye bags and that tired feeling. Ensure that you get restful sleep every night. Among Maharishi Ayurveda’s self-care systems are herbal combinations that will help you get “Blissful Sleep” each night.

OLD MINDSET: “All work and no play…is old hat. If I want that job/promotion/car…and I DO, I need to work, work, work!”

It’s a not-so-heartening statistic: one in every three Americans works at the desk and downs lunch at the same time. An equal number never leave the office during the day, according to a recent Oxford Health Plans survey.

Are you really happy spending most of your life’s journey inside those four walls?

NEW MINDSET: “No: I won’t be a POW (Prisoner of Work). I’ll take care not to burn out–because unlike a car or a microwave, I cannot be replaced!”

For some people, work is akin to worship. Which is not a bad thing in itself, except when goals related to job success take precedence over other, just as fulfilling aspects of daily living.

It needn’t be this way. It is perfectly possible to achieve both success and happiness if you keep your goals in perspective.

Taking just 20 minutes in the morning and evening to practice a meditation technique such as Transcendental Meditation® is a tremendous way to shed your daily stresses and lead the mind toward its natural state of restfulness.

Further, Nature has gifted earth with bountiful healing herbs that can infuse their timeless intelligence into the human mind, making it feel rejuvenated and strong once again. Maharishi Ayurveda harvests and blends the best of these herbs in precise proportions, using traditional, time-tested methods. Hundreds of people feeling the effects of job burnout aver that ayurvedic herbal supplements such as Amrit, Youthful Mind, Worry Free Tea, Blissful Joy, and Slumber Time herbal tea have helped them tremendously.

The herbs in these formulas go to work on the tiniest tissues of your being, restoring the flow of natural intelligence throughout your body and mind.

OLD MINDSET: “I really do want to spend time with my friend/take a vacation with my spouse, but oh well, someday, when I have the time.

How often do you experience that light-hearted feeling that comes with being near someone you love? You might just want to experience it more often when you read this: researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have actually analyzed that feeling. It is not simply your heart lifting, but your blood pressure dropping! So that now you have a solid health reason to find time for those you care about.

NEW MINDSET: “The company of good, positive people is nourishment for my mind, spirit, and, yes, body! Why postpone that joy?”

Therefore, do something today that will bring you one step closer to a family-member or a friend. Some ideas:

Write that thank-you note.

Take time to phone a friend.

Plan a vacation with someone you love–even if it is a day-trip.

Cook a healthful ayurvedic meal together with a friend. Cook using Maharishi Ayurveda’s delicious Churnas and Ghee– they are convenient and made from the finest ingredients.

Give a friend or a neighbor a gift of Maharishi Ayurveda’s healing mind-body beverages, such as Slumber Time tea, Be Trim tea or Raja’s Cup.

Think of these small steps as “Scenic Overlooks” which give you time to stop and enjoy the beauty of life and living.

Friday, 17 August 2007

An Herbal Menopause Therapy Gets A Closer Look

Publication: USA Today
Author: Rita Rubin

Black snakeroot, squaw root, rattle root, rattle weed, bugwort.
Call it what you will, the herb most commonly known as black cohosh has been used to treat even more conditions than it has names.

Native Americans treated rheumatism, malaise, malaria, colds, constipation and hives with it, to cite a few. In the 19th century, according to the National Institutes of Health’s website, alternative medicine practitioners prescribed it for lung and neurological conditions as well as female reproductive tract problems, such as threatened miscarriage, labor pain and infertility.

More recently, women have been turning to black cohosh supplements for relief of hot flashes and other menopause symptoms. The top-selling brand is Remifemin, made by Schaper & Bruemmer, a German company.

Nothing relieves hot flashes like estrogen, but concerns about its safety have spurred many women to look for “natural” alternatives on the assumption that they are benign. However, based on reports of several dozen hepatitis cases in black cohosh users, Australia and several European countries last year began requiring a warning about liver toxicity on supplement labels.

The regulators in those countries think the risk is extremely low, but the problem is that nothing for the treatment of menopause symptoms, including black cohosh, has been studied as widely as estrogen, whose risks and benefits have been clearly delineated. Complicating matters is the fact that there are about as many different kinds of black cohosh supplements as there are names, because they’re regulated like foods, not drugs, by the Food and Drug Administration.

Different formulas, results

Remifemin itself has changed over the years, says family physician Adriane Fugh-Berman, associate professor in the complementary and alternative medicine master’s program at Georgetown University’s School of Medicine.

“One of the problems with dietary supplements is, unlike drugs, you can change something and keep it under the same label,” she says. “Remifemin used to be a liquid and now it’s a tablet.”

The lack of uniformity in supplements may at least partly explain why the results of clinical trials comparing black cohosh to sugar pills have been mixed. That, and the tiny size of the studies.

The latest trial, a year-long study involving 351 women published last month in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that 160 milligrams of black cohosh a day was no more effective than a sugar pill.

In an accompanying editorial, UCLA internist Carol Mangione says the well-designed study “makes an important contribution, albeit one that will disappoint women who have been hoping for an effective, safe alternative to estrogen.”

Physician Tieraona Low Dog, director of education for the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona Health Sciences, wonders if the scientists who conducted the latest study got the dosage right.

“The dose for black cohosh may be much higher than that used in this trial,” Low Dog says. “Imagine if we did a trial on ibuprofen administering 40 milligrams every six hours for arthritis pain. If it didn’t work any better than placebo, one would conclude it was ineffective. However, the truth would be that the dose was inadequate.”

Fredi Kronenberg, a Columbia University scientist and director of the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, notes that the latest study used black cohosh extracted with a different type of alcohol than is used in making Remifemin, and no one knows whether that might boost or inhibit its effectiveness.

In an e-mail statement, Eckehard Liske, a scientist with Remifemin maker Schaper & Bruemmer, said the North American Menopause Society deemed the most recent study of Remifemin, published in 2005, an example of “level one” — the top level — evidence of effectiveness. “Remifemin is a safe and effective intervention for the relief of hot flashes and other vasomotor symptoms associated with menopause,” Liske said.

Treatment has many fans

No question, many women swear by Remifemin and other black cohosh supplements. The latest study found black cohosh to be no more effective than a sugar pill, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t work at all. Kronenberg notes that studies of hot-flash remedies have consistently found a strong placebo effect — by the end of the most recent study, 30% of women taking the sugar pill reported fewer and less severe hot flashes.

Maybe that finding simply reflects the fact that hot flashes subside over time in most women, whether they take anything for them or not. Or maybe, Kronenberg says, it points out that we still have a lot to learn about the physiology of hot flashes and the power of the placebo effect.

“I can’t help but observe that for those who think herbal medicine is passé or ineffective, this study provides further confirmation,” Low Dog says of the latest black cohosh study. “For those who believe herbal medicines are effective — this study is just one more example of how researchers get it wrong. And consumers — well, they just end up confused.”

Alternative Medicine: Tuina: Ancient Pain Relief Meets Modern Life


Tuina (pronounced “twee-naa”) has been used widely in traditional medicine clinics and hospitals in China as well as in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan for thousands of years. The knowledge and skill has been accumulated and improved throughout its very long history. Tuina is a form of Chinese manual medicine. It is commonly used to prevent and treat disease by removing obstructions and increasing vital energy, called Qi (”chee”), through manual methods, herbal remedies, heat pads, cupping and moxibustion.

Tuina practitioners are trained in five-year educational programs in traditional medicine colleges in China. After graduation, they serve additional apprenticeships under close supervision of experienced Tuina practitioners. Retired Tuina doctors often come to teach and pass their experience to other doctors and discuss difficult cases.

Tuina medicine is increasingly used to promote circulation, reset the relationship between bones and their surrounding tissues, increase joint flexibility, heal soft tissue and sport injuries, and balance Yin-Yang function of internal organs.

Tuina is a unique and independent medicine used for preventive as well as therapeutic purposes for both chronic and acute diseases. Diseases and conditions addressed in the U.S. by Tuina practitioners include back pain, sciatic pain, headache, muscle tightness, frozen shoulder, neck pain, tennis elbow, insomnia, fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, stroke recovery, joint dislocation, poor childhood appetite and even the common cold.

To find a qualified and well-rounded Tuina expert, look for an experienced traditional Chinese medicine practitioner who is well versed in traditional Chinese herbs and also has the LAc credential, which stands for “Licensed Acupuncturist.”

What Foods to Eat for Your Dosha

Author: Shailesh Jain

We all know that for healthy living we require a balanced diet constituted of protein, carbohydrates and fats, minerals, vitamins etc. Ayurveda has expounded about the diet in detail. The Ayurvedic diet is one that not only nourishes the body, but also restores balance of ‘tridoshas’ which is very much essential for maintaining Health. Depending on our dosha, or constitutional type, some foods can be beneficial, and others should be reduced or avoided. These same foods may have the opposite effect on another dosha. The science of Ayurveda teaches that right diet is the foundation of healing. For maximum health and vitality, the ideal diet is one that balances our doshas. Here we Ayurvedic food recommendations to balance each of the three doshas.

You will find some individual foods contradicted in different articles and books. The suggestions below are from an author living in India. Geographical location must also be considered. In the end, it is up to your intuition and personal experience choosing foods that balance your dosha. This article is for educational purposes and not meant to treat, diagnose, prescribe, or cure any illness. Readers are advised to seek professional care for health issues


The qualities of Vata are cold, dry, light, hard, and rough.


General: excess Vata can be counterbalanced with nutritive and tissue-building foods that are warm, moist, heavy, soft and oily, as well as foods with a sweet, sour and salty taste. For example, Vata pacifying foods include ghee, soft dairy products, wheat, rice, and bananas. A person with a Vata constitution should favor foods like hot cereal with ghee, hearty soups and vegetables, and whole cooked grains and chapatis. Spicy foods are generally okay for Vata.

Vegetables: Asparagus, beets, carrots, cucumber, green beans, okra (bhindi), onions and garlic, radishes, sweet potatoes, turnips.

Fruits: Bananas, coconuts, dates, mangoes, melons, peaches, all sweet fruits in general.
Grains: Oats, (basmati) rice and wheat


General: Foods with the Vata qualities, such as crackers, frozen desserts, and large amounts of raw vegetables and salads, will aggravate Vata. Also, refined foods such as white flour and white sugar have light and dry qualities (and nutrition has been striped from the food) and would be best avoided by people with Vata constitutions. Pungent, bitter, astringent; light, dry, cold foods, stimulants like smoking, alcohol, junk food, sugar, tea (esp. long leaf teas and green tea), and brown rice.
Vegetables: Cabbage, cauliflower, celery, brinjal, leafy green vegetables, mushrooms, peas, peppers (simla mirch) potatoes, sprouts, tomatoes, and zucchini (tori). If you do have these vegetables cook them in pure desi ghee or unrefined til oil. Tomatoes are best avoided except as a small addition to salads.

Fruits: Apples, pears, pomegranates.

Spices: Vatas can have almost all spices and herbs in moderation when there is aggravated Vata, the following are to be taken with caution: coriander seeds (dhaniya powder), fenugreek (methi seeds), saffron, turmeric, parsley. Avoid too much hot and dry spices such as dried chili, which will aggravate dryness.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Natural Remedies For The Cold & Flu

Publication: CBS Broadcasting Inc;
Author: Kim Mulvihill, MD

You can’t cure the common cold. However, some research suggests you can reduce your chances of getting sick with botanicals.

In Sweden, Andrographis — an herbal supplement — is used to boost the immune system. The supplement is based on Elderberry herb, which is found in Sambucol. One study shows it suppresses the flu virus.

Other botanicals include Pelargonium, an extract taken from the root of a South African scrub, a Chinese herb called Astragalus, and Echinacea, an extract taken from a flowering plant.

As for zinc or Vitamin C, the research is controversial. One study found zinc cut the duration of colds in half but had no effect on the severity of symptoms. Large trials of high doses of Vitamin C showed little, if any, benefit in preventing or treating the common cold.

However, before you stock up on dietary supplements, consider this:

“These are not generally tested rigorously for either harmful side effects or effectiveness,” said Dr. Guy Pugh.

And some research shows they may not contain what they advertise.

If you’re looking for natural ways to stay well, here are some simple things to consider:

Take a sauna. A German study found those who steamed twice a week got half as many colds as those who didn’t. One theory is that if you are in a sauna or a steamroom, you inhale air that is hotter than 80 degrees, which might be too hot for these viruses to survive.

Eat yogurt-based products. They’re full of beneficial bacteria that can reduce your susceptibility to colds by 25 percent.

Exercise regularly. A brisk walk is enough and can boost your immune system and cut colds also by 25 percent.

Use tissues. Don’t sneeze into your hands. Use tissue and then throw it away. If you sneeze into your hands, you can then transfer whatever bug that made you sick to other people.

Wash your hands. It’s back to the basics. Wash your hands often and keep them away from your eyes and nose.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Herb It Up

Publication: The Financial Express
Author: Kiran Yadav

You may not need another reason to love that extra oregano in your Greek salad, but this ‘food for thought’ is worth considering. Well, the herb clearly has more to boast than its bold flavour. For one, it is not just rich in antioxidants but also phytochemicals that help the body fight cancer.

Other exotic herbs like thyme, rosemary, basil, peppermint, parsley, savory, marjoram and chives too rub shoulders with oregano when it comes to health properties. The better news is that as people increasingly experiment with Mexican, Italian, Greek and Mediterranean cuisines, more and more exotic herbs are finding way to the Indian palate.

Says chef Abhijit Prasad of InterContinental, Delhi, “Herbs spice up the food in a health way. We try and use as much fresh herbs as possible, growing a lot of them here at the hotel.”

A research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry highlights that herbs propel higher antioxidant activity than fruits, vegetables and even some spices like garlic.

But what are antioxidants? Dr Karuna Chaturvedi, head, dietitics wing, Apollo Delhi explains, “Antioxidants prevent cellular damage caused by free radicals.

Environmental pollution and pesticides in the food that we are subjected to daily cause the generation of free radicals in the body. Research has proved that destroying free radicals can help the body fight heart diseases and even cancer. Consuming antioxidants is important because the body cannot manufacture it internally. Vitamin E, C and beta-carotene are the main antioxidants.”

According to research, the oregano family is most anti oxidant dense. On a per gram fresh weight basis, oregano has 42 times more antioxidant activity than apples, 30 times more than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges and four times more than blueberries!

Dr Bindu Sharma, medical director at Dr Batras Positive Health Clinic says, “Oregano’s anti-bacterial properties make it a potent cure for gastrointestinal disease Giardiasis … even more than its prescribed drug Tinidazol. It is also rich in calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, Omega 3 and other fatty acids.”

Other herbs high in antioxidants include dill, garden thyme, rosemary and peppermint. For instance, the pine-scented herb rosemary contains carnosol, a strong antioxidant, which helps guard against breast cancer by detoxifying substances that can initiate cancer process. It may also protect against skin and lung cancers.

Says Dr Sakshi Chawla, chief dietician, Fortis Hospital, Noida, “Indian herbs are as healthy. Just eating 1-2 cloves on an empty stomach everyday helps lower cholesterol and relieve hypertension. Turmeric is well-known for its antiseptic and pain relieving properties. Aloe vera, rich in anti-oxidants, is excellent for hair and skin and also helps fight cancer. Most importantly it can be easily grown at home.”

Using even small amount of herbs in cooking provides many phytochemicals with potential anticancer benefits according to scientists at the American Institute for Cancer Research. For instance Parsley, with its faint and subtle flavor, is rich in polyacetylenes which protects against carcinogens found in tobacco smoke and may also help combat tumor.

So be it in soups, stews, salad dressings, baked vegetables or roasted chicken…for flavour or merely for garnishing, preferably fresh or else dried, just go ahead and herb it up! But remember, a balanced diet is indispensable.

Abhyanga - The Ayurvedic Daily Massage: A Pleasant Prescription for Mind/Body Health

Author: Unknown

How can a ritual so luxuriously relaxing, so blissfully comforting as a full-body warm oil massage rev up your body and mind, gearing them up for peak performance? There is an explanation for the seeming contradiction. Accumulated stress and toxins in the mind and body dissolve during the daily massage. A daily full-body warm oil massage therefore acts as a powerful recharger and rejuvenator of mind and body.

“Abhyanga” — the ayurvedic oil massage — is an integral part of the daily routine recommended by this healing system for overall health and well-being. Traditional ayurvedic texts wax eloquent on the benefits. Here’s what one says — “Give yourself a full body oil massage on a daily basis. It is nourishing, pacifies the doshas, relieves fatigue, provides stamina, pleasure and perfect sleep, enhances the complexion and the luster of the skin, promotes longevity and nourishes all parts of the body”.

Here are some of the benefits traditionally associated with regular performance of this pleasant daily ritual:

Increased circulation, especially to nerve endings
Toning of the muscles and the whole physiology
Calming for the nerves
Lubrication of the joints
Increased mental alertness
Improved elimination of impurities from the body
Softer, smoother skin
Increased levels of stamina through the day
Better, deeper sleep at night

Abhyanga provides the means for trans-dermal absorption of the healing qualities of the material used in the massage, and it helps the skin, which is the largest organ in the body, perform its diverse functions efficiently, whether it is allowing toxins to be released from the body or nourishment to be absorbed by the tissues. It is like oiling the engine of your car — if you do it regularly, your engine will be in peak condition, and give you years and years of trouble-free performance.

The ayurvedic massage is traditionally performed in the morning, before your bath or shower, to facilitate the release of toxins that may have accumulated during the previous night. You can use cured sesame oil, an herbalized massage oil, or an aroma massage oil. Maharishi Ayurveda offers them all.

If you choose sesame oil, look for cold-pressed, chemical-free organic sesame oil for the best results from your massage therapy, such as the Organic Sesame Oil offered by Maharishi Ayurveda. Sesame oil contains antioxidant properties, and is helpful in protecting the skin from free radical damage. It is considered highly nourishing for the physiology. To “cure” or purify the sesame oil, heat the oil to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from heat once this temperature is reached, cool and store for use as needed. Up to a quart of oil can be cured at a time. Of course, you should observe safety precautions when curing oil. All oils are highly flammable. Use low heat, and don’t leave the oil on heat unattended. Maharishi Ayurveda also offers pre-cured Sesame Oil for your convenience.

Herbalized massage oils contain a blend of carefully chosen herbs known for their ability to strengthen the physiology and balance the mind. So the daily massage with an herbalized massage oil has twice the beneficial power — the benefits from the performance of the actual massage and the added healing wisdom of the herbs. Country Mallow, Winter Cherry and Sensitive Plant are some Ayurvedic herbs you’ll find in herbalized massage oils. Country Mallow is renowned for its nourishing effect on the physiology. Winter Cherry, a powerful adaptogenic, aids the body’s natural ability to withstand stress, and helps balance the mind and emotions. Sensitive Plant helps nerve regeneration. The Maharishi Ayurveda Moisturizing, Soothing and Stimulating Massage Oils are carefully blended to correct Vata, Pitta and Kapha imbalances respectively.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Life Extension: Evergreen Secrets from Ayurveda

Author: Unknown

Elders in India traditionally bless the young with the words: “Shataayu Bhavah!” which means: “May you live a hundred years!” The blessing is not too removed from the literal. According to ayurveda, the human body is indeed engineered for a full five score years and more. The three pillars of life — diet, sleep and self-mastery — form the foundation on which ayurveda says you can build good health and longevity.

Here are some tips from The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians to help you chart your course to a long, happy life.


“Aaharah Praanah,” says ayurveda. Which means, food is a synonym for life. Food nourishes more than the body. It determines the quality of your very consciousness. What you eat, how you cook, when and in what company you eat … these seemingly small details have a big impact on your overall health, and, ultimately, your life-span.

Use plenty of spices and herbs in cooking. Spices are not only taste-enhancers, but also great healers. Sprinkle some freshly cracked black pepper on your sandwich and it helps you absorb the nutrients readily. A pinch of turmeric in your soup adds not only color but also works as an excellent anti-oxidant. Combined in the right proportions, spices lend their synergy to everyday soups and curries. If you are not sure how to blend them, try Maharishi Ayurveda’s gourmet Churnas, which will spice up your food with no fuss and lots of flavor.

To derive maximum benefit from your spices, sauté them in clarified butter or Ghee before adding them to prepared foods. Ghee helps the body absorb the lipid-soluble part of spices with ease. It’s highly aromatic and delicious, too.


Ayurveda believes that disease and disorders develop as the result of accumulated “ama” or toxins in the body. While physical “ama” leads to disturbed digestion and forms the breeding ground for disease, mental “ama” can impact resistance to day-to-day stress. Lack of good quality sleep is a major factor in generating high levels of mental “ama. Nature intended sleep as a nightly ritual of rest and rejuvenation. When sleep does not come easy or is disturbed, the day’s piled-up stresses or ama fails to be cleansed. A good night’s sleep, on the other hand, increases ojas or vital life force.

Ayurveda has several remedies for disturbed sleep. Drink a glass of warm milk with a little honey just before you sleep. This has a settling influence on the mind and body. Milk contains the amino acid tryptophan, which is a precursor of serotonin, a brain chemical that facilitates sleep. Use honey that has not been heat-treated and be sure not to heat it above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, as this eliminates its beneficial qualities.

Transcendental Meditation helps combat the daily build-up of stress, making it easier for the mind to shut off for the night.

The herbal formulations in Maharishi Ayurveda’s Blissful Sleep System™ can help correct specific sleep imbalances naturally and gently.


Ayurvedic healers have always emphasized the value of regularity in everything, be it rest, play or work. They observed it in the daily and seasonal rhythms of life itself, and adapted it to their own lifestyles. Most of it is practical advice: Go with the flow of nature as often as you can. Sleep on time-never after 10 p.m. if possible. Wake up early. Spend time and attention on your morning ablutions, including the daily self-massage. Eat a good, fibrous breakfast, and have lunch at noon, when the body’s agni or digestive fires are at their peak. Meditate twice a day-Transcendental Meditation is a proven stress-reduction technique. Spend time with your family.

One of the key elements of regular routine is good elimination. Although getting more fiber in your diet can help, Maharishi Ayurveda’s Detoxification System is a highly effective support system for good digestive health. It helps purify the liver, supports balanced fat metabolism, reduces digestive impurities, curbs the buildup of impurities in fat and muscle tissue, strengthens the entire urinary tract and aids liver function for pure blood and better absorption of nutrients.


Though you can choose any time of the year to cleanse your body, ayurveda believes that spring is king. It is, after all, Nature’s own chosen time to regenerate, renew and cleanse the environment of winter’s accumulated rough, dry and cold qualities.

Panchakarma, done at this time, is a wonderful way to cleanse and detoxify the body through healing massages and baths. Research on Panchakarma indicates that it is a very powerful way to increase biological youthfulness and improve overall well-being.

If you meet the demands of the seasons year-round, you can maintain both body and mind in peak health. In summer, stay cool with healthy shakes and sherbets, cool, not ice-cold. Eat lots of sweet juicy fruits. In the fall, fill up on figs, prunes and raisins to fortify the body and improve elimination. Let the winter months be as nourishing as you can make them, for both body and soul.


While your own efforts will take you a long way in your journey towards a long, healthy life; a little help from Mother Nature will make matters much easier. Nature has an astounding pharmacy, and each herb it creates has its own concentrated synergy and intelligence. Researchers at Maharishi Ayurveda pick the best and the ripest of herbs, fruits and spices, then combine and process them to ensure maximum benefit.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Meditation for Heart Patients

Publication: Journal of the American Medical Association

Transcendental meditation may improve cardiac risk factors in patients with coronary heart disease.

A relaxation technique known as Transcendental Meditation may decrease blood pressure and reduce insulin resistance among patients with coronary heart disease, according to a report in the June 12 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Transcendental Meditation, derived from the ancient Vedic tradition in India, is taught through a standard protocol involving lectures, personal instruction and group meetings. It has previously been shown to lower blood pressure but its effect on other risk factors associated with coronary heart disease, including those linked to the metabolic syndrome, has not been thoroughly examined.

The metabolic syndrome refers to a cluster of symptoms that increase cardiac risk, including high blood pressure (hypertension), abdominal obesity, high cholesterol and insulin resistance, which occurs when the body is unable to use the insulin produced by the pancreas to process sugar into energy.

Maura Paul-Labrador, M.P.H., Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, and colleagues conducted a 16-week trial of Transcendental Meditation in patients with coronary heart disease. Fifty-two participants (average age 67.7 years) were instructed in transcendental meditation and 51 control patients (average age 67.1 years) received health education.

At the beginning and end of the trial, the patients fasted overnight and then gave a blood sample, participated in a medical history review and underwent tests of blood vessel function and heart rate variability. Heart rate variability testing assesses the functioning of the autonomic nervous system, which controls the heart and other involuntary muscles.

Overall, of the 103 participants who were enrolled, 84 (82 percent) completed the study. At the end of the trial, patients in the Transcendental Meditation group had significantly lower blood pressure; improved fasting blood glucose and insulin levels, which signify reduced insulin resistance; and more stable functioning of the autonomic nervous system.

“These physiological effects were accomplished without changes in body weight, medication or psychosocial variables and despite a marginally statistically significant increase in physical activity in the health education group,” the authors write.

“These current results also expand our causal understanding of the role of stress in the rising epidemic of the metabolic syndrome,” they continue. “Although current low levels of physical activity, unhealthy eating habits and resultant obesity are triggers for this epidemic, the demands of modern society may also be responsible for higher levels of chronic stress.” Such stress causes the release of cortisol and other hormones and neurotransmitters, which over time damage the cardiovascular system.

“Our results, demonstrating beneficial physiological effects of Transcendental Meditation in the absence of effects on psychosocial variables, suggest that Transcendental Meditation may modulate response to stress rather than alter the stress itself, similar to the physiological impact of exercise conditioning,” the authors write. This method of controlling the body’s response to stress may provide a new target for the treatment and prevention of coronary heart disease, warranting further study, they conclude.

A Fresh Pair of Eyes

Author: Unknown

Ancient ayurvedic treatises dwelt at length on the care and nurturing of the eyes. Today, we talk of our eyes in terms of pupil, retina, and iris. Back then, thousands of years ago, ayurveda understood eye structure quite differently.

The eyeballs are said to be composed of all five elements-the Panchamahabhutas-earth, fire, air, water, and space. Of these,

Earth governs the muscular part of the eyes.
Fire rules the blood vessels.
Air makes up the black of the eyeballs.
Water dominates the white of the eye, and
Space contributes to the tear ducts or cleansing channels.
Ancient ayurvedic healers identified dozens of causes that can bring eyes to grief. Among them were:

Misuse of the eyes-straining too much, concentrating too hard on minute objects, or looking too far in the distance constantly.
Excessive anger, jealousy, or negative feelings. (Echoing the thought that the eyes mirror the soul).
Suppression of natural urges like hunger, thirst, sleep, and the need to cry.
Suppression or neglect of sleep. Also, changes in one’s regular sleep/wake routine.Therefore, ayurveda has a different way of looking at eye problems. It sees them as the result of disturbed dosha-balance.

Let’s observe the ayurvedic perspective on three common eye problems:

Crow’s feet, dry eyes and eye strain

Causes: These problems are caused by a Pitta imbalance. Other factors include worry, lack of sleep, excessive intake of alcohol, or not drinking enough water.

Cures: Stop using chemical-and-preservative laden make-up. Rest your eyes as often as you can. Take regular breaks between computer jobs. Protect your eyes against direct sunlight. Maharishi Ayurveda’s Youthful Skin Eye Gel contains a blend of rare ayurvedic herbs including Sacred Lotus to provide all-natural support for the delicate skin around the eyes. This eye gel has a Chakshushya effect — “that which imparts health and longevity to the eye area. The formulation is pure, gentle, balanced and holistic. Sacred Lotus is a cooling herb, one that increases soma, or lunar energy, to balance agni, solar energy. Thus it is very effective in pacifying Pitta related problems and cooling and relaxing the eye area.

Dark circles under the eyes

Causes: This could be either a Vata or a Pitta imbalance. Look for these factors: have you been unwell lately? Not eating fresh food? Suffering menstrual problems? Are you anemic? Have you been suffering from anxiety or poor circulation? All these cause dark under-eye circles.

Cures: Soothe your eyes with cotton-wool dabbed in pure Rose Water. Place the cotton pads on eyes for ten minutes, and lie still to ease away tension. Avoid fried, greasy foods and leftovers-cook fresh meals. Close your eyes as often as you can, putting your palms against them to rest them further.

Puffy eyes

Causes: These are caused by an aggravated Kapha Dosha. When prolonged, this condition can indicate that you might have a kidney or liver disorder-therefore seeing a physician is advised. Other causes include slow digestion, poor appetite, water retention and hormonal imbalances.

Cures: Drink lots of water, which will de-clog your body’s channels. Eat lots of fresh fruit, and avoid make-up until the problem is solved. Do not sleep during the day.

Eye-Friendly Lifestyle Tips
Protect your eyes from the ravages of the elements-sun, wind and water. All of these can disturb the doshic balance of your eyes, interfering with good vision and causing disease and eye-fatigue. Wear sunglasses, scarves, or caps to shield your eyes when the elements are lashing about you.

One of the best eye-care routines you can follow is a daily self-massage or abhyanga. At some point in life, you are sure to have known the deliciously relaxed-almost sleepy-feeling that comes when you gently rub the soles of your feet with a warm herbalized oil such as the Rejuvenation Massage Oil. Done just 10 to 15 minutes daily, a massage will de-stress your eyes and fill you with radiance.

Stress is an enemy of the eyes. When you’re tense, angry, or unhappy, your eyes look swollen, dull, and unhappy. Avoid stressful situations as far as you can. And when you are caught in one, respond to it as calmly as you can.

Stress disturbs sleep, and lack of sleep is one of the biggest eye-enemies. Make sure you get your full quota of rest to keep your eyes sparkling and fresh. Maharishi Ayurveda’s Slumber Time Therapeutic Aroma Oil is a blend of six pure essential oils-including sweet orange, marjoram, lavender, and jasmine. If set up to diffuse a little before you go to bed, the relaxing aromas of these oils will ease you into sleep. For chronic sleep problems, Maharishi Ayurveda’s Blissful Sleep and Deep Rest formulas are the answer.

Pay attention to what you drink. The best drink for those with puffy eyes and dark circles is plain warm water, which detoxifies the system. Avoid ice cold and carbonated drinks. Stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol are eye-dullers. Try reducing or, ideally, giving up your intake of these substances, and your eyes will reflect the difference very soon. If you are in the mood for a beverage, try switching to Maharishi Ayurveda’s mind/body beverages. Pick and sip from among a wide range of herbal teas, or try the Raja’s Cup, a delicious time-tested beverage that stimulates the mind and energizes the body without a trace of caffeine.

Take time to learn what your body’s nutrition needs are. In general, eyes feel nourished with foods like coconuts, raisins, papaya and sweet juicy fruits. Reduce your intake of sugar. Avoid red meat and heavy fried foods. These general rules work for everyone, but of course, a vaidya can advise you best on what particular dosha imbalance is causing your eye problems. He will prescribe you a diet routine accordingly.

Say yes to Yoga. Some yoga asanas, like Shirshasana and Surya Namaskara asana are very beneficial for eyes-they boost circulation to the blood vessels and capillaries, relax the eyes, and, over a period of time, are reported to even improve vision.

Monday, 6 August 2007

The Six Tastes of Ayurveda — Balance through Nutrition

Publication: Discover Ayurveda
Author: Unknown

With Maharishi Ayurveda, a balanced diet does not revolve around calories, vitamins, carbohydrates, and proteins. These nutrients are known to us intellectually but the tastes are a direct experience and give enormous and useful information directly to the tissues in the body. Ayurveda allows us to eat a balanced diet naturally, guided by our own instincts, without turning nutrition into a complicated intellectual exercise.

Tastes should be balanced in the diet for optimum nutrition and health. All of the Maharishi Ayurveda herbal formulas are based on the science of the six tastes. For example, the bitter effect of herbs helps in the fight against infections. What is the first medicine prescribed by an allopathic physician for infections? Penicillin, a very bitter tasting medicine.

There are six tastes described in Ayurveda. The term taste not only applies to the perception of taste buds located on the tongue, but to the final reaction of food in the acid medium of the stomach. These tastes are sweet, sour, salty, astringent, bitter and pungent. Vata dosha is balanced by sweet, sour, and salty. Pitta dosha is balanced by bitter, astringent and sweet, and Kapha dosha is balanced by pungent, bitter, and astringent.

All the six tastes are combinations of the five building blocks of nature. Each taste contains all five elements in it but has a predominance of two elements. This is known as the prakriti of the tastes. They are as follows:

sweet - earth and air
sour - earth and fire
salty - water and fire
bitter - air and fire
pungent - air and fire
astringent - earth and air

It is best to include all six tastes in each meal, but include more of the tastes that balance your individual physiology and follow the rhythms of the seasons and a lesser amount of the tastes that create imbalance in your body and mind.

As a general guide, the following are a list of foods in each of the taste categories:

Sweet - increases Kapha and balances Pitta and Kapha, brings satisfaction to the mind and body, feels nourishing, brings contentment and generates a soothing feeling. However, too much of the sweet taste brings dullness and drowsiness. Sugar, honey, cream, rice, wheat, butter, milk, ghee, dates, sweet fruits, coconut and licorice root are examples of the sweet taste.

Sour - increases Pitta and Kapha and balances Vata, sparks digestion, adds flavor to food, can add to fluid retention, and excess sour foods lead to acidic stomach and skin inflammation. Lemons, grapefruits, olives, yogurt, cheese, pickles, tomatoes, and vinegar are sour in taste. Maharishi Ayurveda recommends avoiding sour tastes from vinegar, fermented foods, and alcohol because they are toxic to the system and agitate the mind.

Salty - increases Pitta and Kapha and balances Vata, adds flavor to food, stokes the appetite, starts the flow of saliva and stomach juices, aids digestion and heats up the body. Too much salt causes bloating and skin disorders and can be overheating for Pitta. Salt, kelp, and salty pickles are examples of the salt taste.

Bitter - increases Vata and balances Pitta and Kapha, a corrective taste that brings cravings for sweet and salty into balance, tones the tissues and cools the body in hot weather, good for balancing Pitta, reduces bloating, and is good for the liver. In excess, the bitter taste depletes the tissues and creates a Vata imbalance. Raja’s Cup, bitter melon, leafy greens, turmeric, aloe vera, nettles, basil, golden seal, iron, lemon rind, spinach, barley, and fenugreek are examples of the bitter taste.

Astringent - increases Vata and balances Kapha and Pitta, purifies the blood, helps digestion, helps decrease diarrhea. In excess it creates gas, heart pain, and constipation. Pomegranates, legumes, coral, turmeric, Raja’s Cup, apple, quinoa, sprouts and coriander are examples of the astringent taste.

Pungent - increases Vata and Pitta and balances Kapha. The pungent taste helps to reduce fat, is an appetizer, and helps to alleviate allergies. Pungent food should be taken with Ghee or it may irritate the stomach lining and imbalance Pitta. Ginger, garlic, horseradish, black pepper, and chili are examples of the pungent taste.

In general, for a balanced ayurvedic diet, you should eat a predominance of the foods and corresponding tastes that correct any imbalances and include a lesser amount of food groups that include the other tastes. For example, if you have a Pitta imbalance, then you should eat primarily astringent, bitter and sweet tastes but include small amounts of the pungent, sour, and salty tastes. A typical meal may include basmati rice (sweet), mung dah (astringent), mixed spiced vegetables such as bitter melon (bitter) swiss chard (bitter), zucchini (sweet), whole wheat flat bread (sweet), and lassi yogurt drink (sweet and sour).

You’ll find that Ayurvedic cooking can be delicious, fun and easy and your “best medicine” for creating balance.

Potent Ayurvedic Formulas

The Maharishi Ayurveda churnas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) are convenient and easy to use and are precise blends of spices and seasonings that include all six ayurvedic tastes. Sauté the Churna in Ghee and add to your dishes, soups, stews and sauces as they’re cooking or sprinkle over prepared vegatables or rice at the table.

Simple Ways to Minimize Acid Indigestion

Author: Unknown

Individuals with a pitta imbalance are susceptible to hyperacidity, peptic ulcers, and some types of inflammatory disorders. Stress, anger, impatience, extra-hot spicy foods, and environmental factors such as extreme heat can aggravate pitta. A few simple changes in lifestyle and diet can help bring pitta into balance for smoother, more effective digestion and greater calm and contentment.

Individuals with a pitta imbalance are susceptible to hyperacidity, peptic ulcers, and some types of inflammatory disorders. Stress, anger, impatience, extra-hot spicy foods, and environmental factors such as extreme heat can aggravate pitta. A few simple changes in lifestyle and diet can help bring pitta into balance for smoother, more effective digestion and greater calm and contentment.Pitta is the heat energy within every cell but it is mainly located in the stomach area. Excess intake of heat producing foods can mean that the digestive tract overreacts with an increase in acid production. Pitta aggravating foods such as vinegar, tomatoes, sour citrus fruits, orange juice, salsa, yogurt (except lassi) onions, garlic, chili peppers, salty fried foods, and alcohol all aggravate the digestion when too much acid is present. These foods should be completely avoided until the acid level is brought into complete balance. And if there is a sensitivity to these foods they should be avoided in general.

It is important to not skip meals if you suffer from acid indigestion. Eating breakfast is especially crucial. Even if you are not especially hungry in the morning, it is important to at least take something light like stewed fruit, warm milk, or a date shake. Skipping breakfast has the effect of aggravating a subdosha of pitta called sadhaka pitta which governs the emotional heart. It is responsible for contentment and bliss. As lunch time approaches, with agni (the digestive fire) increasing and so also stomach acid, an empty stomach is not ideal from the ayurvedic viewpoint. It may result in irritability, anger, impatience and a feeling of being over hungry so that when lunch time comes you tend to overeat.

Try to avoid high-stress situations and practice stress management techniques. Enjoy natural beauty. The appreciation of natural beauty helps to balance sadhaka pitta and reduces stress. Favor cooling foods and drinks such as fresh coconut juice. Use an electric drill to make a hole in the coconut and use a straw to sip on the coconut juice. Use the fresh coconut meat in your vegetables, rice dishes, or chutneys. If you feel discomfort during the day, take a few sips of cool milk on an empty stomach.

Pomegranate juice and pomegranate chutney also help balance the acid in the stomach. It tastes sour but it is actually both astringent and bitter, which help balance pitta.

Fresh aloe vera gel straight from the leaf is balancing. Avoid the store bought juice as citric acid is used as a preservative and it is too acidic if you suffer from acid indigestion.

Baked fennel seeds are also recommended to help settle the stomach and balance digestion. Eat 1/4 teaspoon of baked fennel seeds 3 times a day between meals.

Rose water or mint lassi is good to drink with a meal as they are cooling and sweet to taste. Favor astringent, bitter, and sweet tastes in your diet. Split mung dahl, green leafy vegetables, grains, watermelon, honeydew melon, lettuce, mangos, and spices such as fenugreek seeds, coriander, cardamom, and mint should be included in your daily diet.

The Herbal Aci-Balance formula from Maharishi Ayurveda helps balance stomach acid and digestion. It contains turpeth root, a special herb that both cleanses and balances the digestion. The Mind Plus formula helps balance the mind, especially in stressful situations.

Ayurvedic Comfort Foods

Publication: Discover Ayurveda
Author: Unknown

What do you think of when you hear the words “comfort food”? Mashed potatoes and gravy at Thanksgiving, Rocky Road ice-cream in the middle of the night or cream donuts for breakfast? That may be what you crave, but these foods won’t comfort you very long; in fact, they may even cause discomfort in your digestion. How about a warm soup or rice pudding? Real comfort foods are nutritious, nurturing, wholesome and satisfying. According to ayurveda, they should also be intelligent, and balance the mind and body.

Ingest nature’s intelligence with your food

The food you eat should be lively. Fresh, organic, home-cooked food has the power to carry nature’s intelligence to your brain and body. “These foods are called triptighna, which means they are satisfying and nourishing,” says The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians. Preserved, frozen, processed foods and leftovers, on the other hand, leave your body unsatisfied and craving for more. Since these junk foods are void of intelligence they cannot support the intelligence of the physiology, so you end up eating more and craving for more without ever getting nourished or fulfilled. What’s more, you can easily gain weight this way.
Cooked food versus raw food

While we want to preserve the intelligence of our ingredients, we also want to make them digestible. That’s where cooking comes in, which inserts agni, digestive fire, in our food so we can digest and assimilate it properly. Certain food items, such us grains, beans and dahls should always be eaten cooked. Most vegetables are also more beneficial cooked, and some of them, such as spinach, chard, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, should never be eaten raw. Milk is another item that can be hard to digest so ayurveda recommends always boiling it with some cardamom and cinnamon. Make sure, however, not to overcook or burn anything. Add some ghee or olive oil, water and spices to protect nature’s intelligence. You don’t have to cook everything and skip salads entirely. Juicy vegetables, such as cucumber and lettuces, can be refreshing for lunch in the summer but stay away from them at night and in the winter since they can aggravate Vata. Also, if your digestive fire is weak, stay away from sprouts. Fruits are also good raw during the day. In the morning, a stewed apple is best to stimulate the digestive system.

Use spice-power

In addition to their delicious taste, spices can greatly increase the intelligence of your meals. They also help with digestion and assimilation. To bring the most out of them, cook them with your food or sauté them in ghee and add them to your meals. For best assimilation of the benefits of therapeutic spices, eat them cooked, instead of sprinkling raw spices over foods. Ayurvedic spices such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, saffron, cinnamon and cardamom offer rich and varied aroma and flavor besides helping to balance different doshas and enhancing the metabolism. They can transform simple dishes into feasts for all your senses, providing fulfillment and contentment from meals.

Stop the cravings

The first thing you can do to avoid feelings of false hunger and cravings is to increase the intelligence in your meals by eating, fresh, home-made meals, and avoiding “junk” foods. You also need to eat a variety of foods with all six tastes. Make sure to eat sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent foods to satisfy the body. Cooked food is also more nourishing than raw foods. Raw foods are harder to digest and can diminish agni. When agni is weak, the body creates ama (accumulated toxins), which clogs the channels and prevents the body from receiving nutrients from food. This, in the end, results in cravings. Ayurveda also encourages portion control. Eat enough but don’t overeat. Your stomach should be two-thirds full after main meals.

Sweets for the heart

Emotional downs are the result of an imbalance in Sadhaka Pitta, the subdosha that governs the heart. The sweet taste pacifies pitta, which explains our cravings for sweets. But before you reach for cookies or chocolate, think for a moment. Although these foods provide the sweet taste, they lack the intelligence to carry it to your brain, which won’t register it and the craving won’t stop. Try a piece of sweet, juicy fruit, soaked dates or raisins, rice pudding, milk-date shakes or mango shakes. These healthy foods will deliver to the brain and heart what they need and leave you satisfied..

Foods to pacify worries

Worries and mental imbalance are the result of aggravated Vata dosha. To calm the mind, eat easy-to-digest, nourishing meals and use spices such as black pepper, cumin and coriander to open the channels of the brain. In addition to the above-mentioned sweets, walnuts, almonds and coconut milk are especially supportive for the mind.

Realizing that junk foods will not satisfy your body is the first step in beating the cravings. With a little attention you can switch to healthier options and receive more nutrition, which will decrease your desire for unintelligent snacks. A well-nourished body is only hungry for healthy food!


Author: Unknown

Almonds are the oldest and most widely grown of all the world’s nut crops. They are the seeds of a fruit tree that is related to plums and apricots. Whole almonds are eaten raw or toasted, while almond oil is used in cosmetics and massage oils. Almonds are also highly regarded in ayurveda for their nutritional value and Vata-pacifying effect.


Worried about gaining weight, many people stay away from nuts and seeds because of their fat content. However, if eaten in moderate quantities, almonds provide several essential nutrients. For one, they are 20% protein. If you eat an ounce of almonds a day (about 24 nuts) you will get about 5.6 grams of protein. They are also rich in Vitamin E and magnesium and contain calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.


Maharishi ayurveda recommends sweet almonds instead of bitter ones. Because of their sweet and warming quality, they are best for pacifying Vata dosha. They lubricate the skin and the microcirculatory channels and support all the seven dhatus (tissues), especially Shukra dhatu (reproductive tissue). Almonds are also good for Pitta but people with Kapha imbalance should eat them in small quantities. Due to their heavy quality, you need a strong agni, digestive fire, to metabolize them. If your agni is low, strengthen it first before you take almonds. The only people who should not consume almonds are those with high Pitta in the blood. An ayurvedic consultant can determine whether you have this condition and how to balance it.

Buy whole organic almonds, which contain most of Nature’s intelligence. Their skin is hard to digest so ayurveda recommends blanching them. Soaking also helps their digestibility. If eaten without soaking, they can aggravate Pitta in the blood. The best way to prepare them is to soak them overnight and peel the skin off in the morning. Then you can blend them with dates and raisins, which also reduce Pitta aggravation in the blood. Eat up to 10 almonds in the morning and evening. Almonds should not be eaten by themselves on an empty stomach, but always mixed with other foods such as milk, grains or vegetables, to avoid Pitta imbalance. Since they are so versatile, you can add them to most of your dishes. You can sprinkle chopped almonds on puddings and add them to muffins and breads. You can mix almonds in your grains and cook them together. Add toasted almonds to your salads, or blend them with the salad dressing. Toasting enhances the flavor of the nuts and helps their digestibility. Blend almonds with dates and raisins and add them to your breakfast cereal. Make an almond milk-shake or a fruit smoothie for a satisfying drink. Mixed with walnuts, sunflower seeds, dates and raisins, they provide a delicious and nutritious snack, you can take with you to school or work.


Sweet almond oil is the best massage oil for Vata people, or those with a Vata imbalance. As almonds balance Vata when you eat them, almond oil pacifies Vata when applied externally. It penetrates the skin easily and nourishes the deeper layers.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Mango - The King of Fruits

Publication: Discover Ayurveda
Author: Unknown

Mangoes are not eaten as routinely in America as are apples and pears, for instance, but if you ever try a fully ripe, sweet juicy mango, you will want to try it again and again. Eaten by themselves or in a variety of dishes, mangoes add antioxidants and fiber to your diet.

The “king of fruits” has been around for at least 6,000 years. Native to India and Burma, this sweet fruit was described in the ancient Sanskrit literature, for example in Valmiki’s Ramayana. The mango was also the fruit of the kings in ancient India, where princes used to pride themselves on the possession of large mango gardens. Persian traders took the fruit into the Middle East while the Portuguese brought it to Europe and the New World. Mango cultivation arrived in Florida in the 1830s and in California in the 1880s, and now it is also grown in Hawaii, Mexico and South America.

Ever since the Vedic period, mangoes have been highly appreciated in ayurvedic healing and cooking. Mango trees belong to the same family as cashews and pistachios, and can grow to the height of 50 feet in India. All parts of the tree are used for different purposes. The leaf plays an important role in Hindu festivals and ceremonies. The bark, leaf, flowers, fruit and seed offer a variety of medicinal purposes. There are also over a thousand varieties of mangoes that vary in shape from round to pear-shaped to narrow and oval, and that can weigh as much as four pounds each.

Ripe mangoes are succulent and sweet, with a yellow-orange or red skin. They are ready to eat when they are soft to touch and yield to gentle pressure. They should also omit a full fruity aroma from the stem end. Most supermarket mangoes are green but you can ripen them at room temperature. Once they ripen, store them in the refrigerator for up to three days. The best eating mango is fibre free, but even a stringy mango can be sweet and juicy.

Ayurveda considers ripe mango sweet and heating. It balances all the three doshas and acts as an energizer.

Green, unripe mango is also used in Indian cooking. Several varieties are especially cultivated for using raw. Green mango could be picked long before ripening while it is still hard. The fruit is grated and added to dhals and vegetables, or made into chutneys and pickles. The ayurvedic qualities of green mango are sour, astringent and cooling. They should not be eaten alone or in large quantities because they can aggravate the doshas, especially Pitta dosha. However, prepared ayurvedically, in combination with spices, for example in a chutney, they help digestion and improve the flavor of food.

Mangoes are in season from January through August, peaking in June. Mangoes from South Florida are the best in the United States, since the soil and climate is ideal. Try to find organic mangoes that have not been treated with fertilizers or pesticides. Also beware of imported mangoes, which are often irradiated or sprayed with chemicals banned in the United States. Your supermarket or grocer can tell you where the fruits are from.

Mangoes are rich in antioxidants such as beta-carotene, and Vitamin C, Antioxidants have been shown to play an important role in the prevention of cancer and heart disease. They also contain bioflavonoids, the compounds that help plants capture energy from the sun, and when eaten they aid our immune system. Mangoes also supply potassium and fibre and are low in calories. The insoluble fibre, abundant in mangoes, aids the elimination of waste from the colon and prevents constipation.

Mangoes support all the seven dhatus (body tissues) and provide a very satisfying snack or dessert. An ayurvedic mango lassi provides a great refreshing drink for any summer meal. A milk-mango shake cools the physiology and helps weight gain. Mangoes can also be added to puddings, salads or fruit desserts. Try to use fresh mango instead of canned mango puree which is void of the nutritional benefits of fresh fruit and may contain added sugar.

Tender Loving Coconuts

Publication: Discover Ayurveda
Author: Unknown


The dark, fibrous shell breaks, and fragrant coconut liquid begins to ooze out. Using a sharp knife, you separate the luscious white flesh from its shell; then grate it to make rich, delicious coconut milk. The milk will add delicate flavor and a smooth creamy texture to your lentil soup simmering on the stove.

But it is not only for its taste that the coconut is valued, says The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians. “Coconut,” says The Council, ” is considered a divine plant in the Vedic tradition. Whenever you perform a sacred ceremony like a yagya, a coconut must grace the occasion. Thus, the coconut enjoys the hallowed status of a select few herbs and fruits-like holy basil and amla-in the Vedic tradition.

“What’s in a Coconut? The Council goes on to reflect on the flak that the coconut has received from certain quarters. “I know that people accuse the coconut of being heavy, ama-causing, and cholesterol-increasing. In my opinion, they are only partially right. A recent research study from the Department of Biochemistry in the University of Kerala states that the fatty-acid composition of coconut changes as it grows. This change in composition is being studied by scientists in many places. But ayurvedic scholars knew many centuries ago that coconut has different properties at different stages of its life.”

“In the ayurvedic nighantus or classical texts which talk about raw materials or fruits, the coconut is actually divided into three types of coconuts,” says The Council.

Baal: tender or baby coconut

Madhyam: half-mature coconut

Pakva: fully mature coconut

The Three Coconuts

Baal or Tender coconut: This type is 90 to 95 percent water. The liquid from this coconut is at its purest and most healing. It is considered the best for its cooling properties, for it is a proven pitta-pacifier. While unclogging the body’s channels, tender coconut water lubricates the dryness caused by ama. It repairs the gastro-intestinal tract, and its snigdha or sweet quality gives it a pranaropana-life-restoring-capacity.

Madhyam or Middle-aged coconut: In addition to water, the coconut at this stage has some soft pulp. Madhyam coconuts have less water than tender ones, but more water than mature coconuts. The water is slightly milky at this age. In the classical ayurvedic texts called Raj Nighantus, the middle-aged coconut is said to be the most nutritious. This type generally has more carbohydrates, protein, minerals, phosphorus, and Vitamins A, B, and C than the other two forms.

Mature or Pakva coconut: This type of coconut has firm “meat” or pulp, and very little water. Ancient ayurvedic scholar Bhav Mishra wrote that when a coconut becomes mature, it becomes heavy to digest, and it can also aggravate pitta or vata if the digestive agni of the individual is low. Mature coconuts can also build up toxic ama by interfering with digestion. If large quantities of this variety are consumed daily, then a person can suffer hyperacidity, and worse still, elevated cholesterol levels.

Therefore, people who have low agni or digestive power are not advised to eat mature coconut, unless it is combined with ingredients that balance its negative properties. In the south of India, for instance, says The Council, a popular way to eat coconut is in the form of chutney. Combined with healthful ingredients like roasted chickpea flour, curry leaves, mustard seeds, and oil, the coconut is used in smaller quantities, and can actually be beneficial.

The Key To Eating Coconuts

The Council points out that if you understand the samyoga and samskara of coconuts: that is, the right ways to choose, combine, process, and prepare them, then you can extract the maximum benefit from this healing fruit.

In general, tender and middle aged coconuts are good for almost anyone. But if you’re a kapha-dominated person and drink coconut water at night, then it will make you feel so cool and heavy that your kapha dosha will go out of gear, causing all sorts of health problems. Ayurvedic literature is full of praise for the tender coconut. Ayurveda’s revered ancient healer, Sushruta, noted that tender coconuts are “bal maans prada” in nature. That is, they strengthen muscle, the cardiovascular system, and the seven body tissues. Middle-aged coconuts are also said to possess these healing properties. Both kinds help cleanse the urinary tract.

The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians quotes Charaka, who is widely credited as being the founding father of ayurveda, as having observed that tender and half-mature coconuts have “bringhan, snigdha, seetani, balyani, madurani ” properties. Which means they increase the quantity and quality of all 7 tissues, they are vata-pacifying in nature because of their unctuous qualities, they cool and strengthen, and are filled with sweetness. To this, Bhav Mishra adds that “komal narikelam nihanti pitta jwar pitta dosha.” That is, the tender coconut helps get rid of any heat related to pitta aggravation, and alleviates any pitta-related disorders.

17 Reasons You Should Love Tender Coconut

There is much to love about the tender coconut: There are times when your body fills up with pitta-charged ama-visha (toxic matter). This causes the ph levels in the deeper digestive system to fall, leading to severe hyperacidity or amla pitta. That’s when the coconut can step in to heal. Because it is anuloman in nature-capable of getting all the toxins and Vata to move downward and helping to move pitta and purify the digestive system of it-tender coconut balances acid levels and cools the system. This makes it superior to other herbs and fruits that can cool down pitta, but do not flush it out of the system.
Ayurveda considers coconut a natural stress-buster.

Coconut cools sadhaka pitta, which is associated with emotions.

Combined with spices like cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, cumin, coriander, and turmeric, coconut is not only delicious and versatile, but also heals the digestive system and promotes better metabolism.

The juice of tender coconut has been billed “the world’s safest natural soft drink” for being a nutritious thirst-quencher.

Combined with poppy seeds and ghee, coconut can help you sleep better! For the complete recipe, visit the recipes section.

Coconut has keshya properties — that is, it improves hair quality. In Southern India, women apply coconut oil to their hair every day-which gives them long, lustrous locks.

Coconut is good for curing stomach disorders related to aggravation of pitta dosha.

Due to its soma-enhancing or nurturing value, coconut heals hot flashes and restores emotional stability in menopausal women.

Coconut improves the complexion. You can make coconut-based skin packs at home. The Council suggests mixing coconut oil with oatmeal powder and a little bit of lavender flower powder to make a soothing facial pack.

A burning sensation in hands and feet is cooled down by drinking coconut water/milk. All you have to do is make a paste of crushed middle aged coconut and apply it on hands and feet.

Coconut is traditionally considered a wound healer, especially effective at preventing the formation of scars if applied topically.

Hiccups due to pitta are also eased by coconut water.

If you have urine retention from heat, then coconut water helps. Similarly, liver problems, such as inflammation, are also soothed by drinking tender coconut water.

There is a word called karshan meaning “that which supports the body to stay slim by enhancing fat metabolism.” The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians says recent research suggests that coconut is good for burning fat and lowering cholesterol- and it is clearly written in ayurveda that the oil has karshan properties.

Coconut helps detoxify and flush toxins out of the body.

It is delicious!
Coconut Cooking Basics
You can drink the liquid that comes out of a coconut, but don’t use it in cooking. Fresh coconut is always best, but if it is not readily available, you can generally find good quality dried, grated coconut and coconut chips in natural food stores. Use the unsweetened type, which is free of chemical ingredients. Tender coconuts, or ones with pulp and water, are generally available at oriental groceries. Slash off the top with a sharp knife (the store will sometimes help open coconuts), insert a straw, and enjoy!Use coconut milk the same day-make it fresh each time. Grate fresh coconut and blend with a little warm water. Squeeze to get the rich first extraction. Add more water re-blend and squeeze again to get a thinner second extraction.

The sweltering days of summer are ideal for cooking-and cooling-with coconut.

We hope you will try different ways to enjoy this nourishing, cooling food.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

20 Simple Ways To Live Ayurveda

Author: Unknown

1. Schedule a walk with a friend or co-worker. Ayurveda considers walking a tridoshic exercise: it balances all three doshas without putting excessive strain on your body. It calms the mind and nourishes the senses.

2. Create a fresh lunch. Foods that are processed, canned, frozen or packaged are harder to digest, and thus create ama. Also, because they are old, denatured by processing, or include harmful ingredients such as chemical preservatives, they no longer contain nature’s intelligence. Rather, they create ama and block nature’s intelligence from reaching the cells. Just for today, make the effort to eat a fresh, warm lunch. Eat in a settled, quiet atmosphere and focus on your food when you eat.

3. Drink a glass of water. Water flushes out accumulated ama or toxins, and keeps the digestion smooth. Sipped throughout the day, water is an excellent healer.

4. Drink a glass of milk. At the end of a tiring day, when you cannot seem to close your eyes, don’t be frustrated: drink a glass of warm milk. Milk should be organic and free of additives, and boiled with a pinch of cardamom before it is drunk in order to make it easier to digest. Drink it alone, away from meals, to avoid indigestion.

5. Sit down and close your eyes. Take a “just-for-me” break right now, right here. Disconnect from the outer world and tune in to your own self. Even if you do this for a minute, you will feel healed. Practitioners of Transcendental Meditation® say their daily 20-minute sadhana helps conquer stress and increase positive energy and a sense of well-being.

6. Sip herb tea. All-natural, caffeine-free teas prepared from nature’s healing herbs are a perfect way to relax and recharge: choose from among Maharishi Ayurveda’s wide range of gourmet beverages to pick the flavor and blend that suits your unique dosha type and your needs.

7. Massage your body. The skin thirsts for your touch and attention. When warm herbalized oil is rubbed gently all over the skin, your body and your mind feel pampered and relaxed. Treat your skin to the magic of massage today. For step-by-step instructions on doing self-massage or Abhyanga, visit Steps for Abhyanga. With over twenty powerful botanicals working synergistically, the Youthful Skin Massage Oil for Men or Women is especially formulated to nourish, rehydrate and heal the skin.

8. Call a friend. People whose company makes us feel happy and loved are like medicine: they heal and restore us. Keeping in touch with such people nurtures our own hearts.

9. Make your own skin-pack. Ayurvedic healers recommend using totally natural products on your skin: preferably those ingredients that are also safe to eat. Choose from among foods like honey, rose water, cucumber, oatmeal, ground blanched almonds, milk, and yogurt to prepare packs that will exfoliate, cleanse, and moisturize your skin. At Maharishi Ayurveda, we take the definition of all-natural even a step further. All-natural actually relates to the ability to protect nature’s own intelligence in a product. Not only do we use completely natural ingredients, we make sure that the techniques used to process those ingredients are such that they do not destroy the natural benefits.

10. Breathe deep. Mindful breathing improves the flow of oxygen and other vital nutrients to the tiniest channels of the body, giving you an instant sense of well-being.

11. Go to bed early. Ayurvedic physicians emphasize and re-emphasize the value of good sleep, simply because rest is the basis of dynamic activity. If you have been suffering from sleep imbalances, turn to Maharishi Ayurveda’s Blissful Sleep formula. Made from some of the most healing herbs in nature, Blissful Sleep will bring you quality rest without any side-effects. Deep Rest is for people who wake up feeling energetic between two and four a.m.

12. Rise with the sun. This will be easy to do if you go to bed before 10 p.m. Waking up early gives you time to concentrate on your morning ablutions, and to prepare a good, nourishing breakfast. In addition, it gives you time to enjoy the early morning calm of nature.

13. Have a good breakfast. Skipping breakfast particularly irritates sadhaka pitta, a subdosha of pitta. An imbalanced sadhaka pitta can result in irritability and unsettled emotions. Some suggestions for breakfast: cooked apples, eaten first thing in the morning, help to create “ojas”–the final and most refined by-product of digestion. Ojas contributes to enhanced vitality, strength, immunity, and overall well-being. Sweet juicy fruits are excellent cleansers–they help to eliminate impurities from the body. According to ayurveda, it is recommended that fruits be eaten first thing in the morning, 30 minutes before other breakfast items such as hot cereal.

14. Care for your hair: When your locks are limp and lifeless, your whole approach to life can turn pessimistic. Counter the problem by paying attention to what you put inside your body. Build small changes into your daily menu. Instead of popcorn, eat fresh fruit. Don’t snack on candy: eat soaked blanched almonds instead. Read Maharishi Ayurveda’s Flavors of Health newsletter for hundreds of ideas on fresh ways to cook with fruits, vegetables and spices.

15. Detoxify: From time to time, follow an ama -reducing diet. Periodic internal cleansing with a Maharishi Ayurveda detox formulation such as Elim-Tox-O also helps flush the ama out and prevent more from building up.

Here is an ama -reducing spice water recipe from our ayurvedic expert, co-author of The Answer to Cancer:

Ama Pachana Spice Water

To make the water, boil two quarts of water and put it in a thermos flask. Then add two to three thin slices of fresh ginger, 1/4 tsp. cumin, 1/4 tsp. fennel, 2 black peppercorns, and 2 leaves of mint. Let it steep. Drink this water throughout the day for a very purifying effect. Also, this ama pachana water will help enhance your digestion.

16. Decorate your dining table. Make each meal a celebration. A pleasant table, set with sparkling cutlery, crisp clean napkins, and appetizing colors whets the appetite and promotes good digestion.

17. Boost your immunity with Amrit. Amrit epitomizes the ayurvedic principles of sanyog–precise combination–and sanskar–meticulous processing. Forty-four rare whole herbs and fruits are combined in precise proportions in this powerful formula to create synergy–a whole that is more powerful than the sum of its parts.

18. Spice up your dinner plate. Turmeric, cumin, coriander, fennel, cardamom — these and other spices used in ayurvedic cooking add not only aroma and flavor, but also healing goodness to your food. Turmeric is an antiseptic, cumin aids digestion, coriander cleanses the system, fennel settles the stomach and cardamom cools the system. Discover the health benefits of spices: start with Maharishi Ayurveda’s Churnas: precisely blended spices that calm the doshas. Spices add good flavor and have a yogavahi property, which means that they support digestion and make the nutrients easily available to the body.

19. Bond with nature: When you spend time with flowers, butterflies, and trees, you connect in the most intimate way with the earth: of which ayurveda believes we are all an integral part. This sense of connection is tremendously soothing, particularly for those of us who are under stress.

20. See a vaidya. At any given time, most of us do have small or big imbalances in our physiology. Even small imbalances can lead to discomfort and malaise. A vaidya will help you understand and correct your imbalances: see one even if you are not feeling particularly unwell.

12 Tips to Relieve Constipation

Author: Dr T.R. Shantala Priyadarshini

1. Include more fruits in your daily diet helps (grapes-lemon-apples-banana-oranges etc.)

2. Chew each morsel of food 30-40 times before swallowing

3. Eat steamed freshly bought vegetables. Green leafy veggies may be balanced for Vayu doshas by cooking with ginger, cumin, coriander and asafetida.

4. Drink a glass of water upon waking, just after visiting bathroom

5. Dry fruits like raisins, dates or figs to be soaked overnight and eaten in the morning.

6. Eat papaya before or after meals is helpful not only in relieving constipation but also helps you look young.

7. Lemon juice squeezed in a cup of hot water with a pinch of salt to be taken early morning ?daily

8. One hour before your wakening time drink 1-2 cups of saline hot water and then go back to bed again ?this helps clear your bowels

9. Adding 1-2 spoons of castor oil to milk and drinking it daily at bedtime helps

10. Avoid eating lot of spices, fried food, frozen food and food/drinks with preservatives, don’t suppress natural urges.

11. Squat for 10 minutes first thing in morning to relieve gas and stimulate apana Vayu (downward air movement) to induce urge to pass stool. Twist the upper torso from side to side to trigger energy points on the lower belly for the same goal.

12. Then squat on toilet or place feet on small step bench when attempting to pass stool.

Shatavari: An Ayurvedic Herb for Women

Author: Raghvendra Dubey

In India, Shatavari is considered the women’s equivalent to Ashwagandha. The name translates to “she who possesses 100 husbands”, referring to the herbs rejuvenative effect upon the female reproductive organs. This sweet and bitter herb best known as a female rejuvenative having effects on the female reproductive system

Shatavari helps in restoring (natural healing) the damaged metabolism/cells/system on human body and helps it in faster recovery. Shatavari is also known as natural coolant of body having anti-inflammatory qualities. This herb is known to increase sattwa, or positivity and healing power. It also enhances the feelings of spiritual love, and increases ojas. Shatavari also helps in treating ulcers and acidity related complaints.

Healing qualities of Shatavari are very effective on the female reproductive system related problems. It helps in minimizing the women’s complaints related to menstrual cycles (Shatavari minimizes the pain, controls the loss of blood and other fluids during menstrual cycle) and balancing the female hormonal system. It also helps in decreasing the inflammation of female sexual organs, in fighting tiredness and morning sickness, helps in problems related to infertility, leucorrhea, and in regulating ovulation etc, which occur during the menopause cycle. Those women, who face problems of hot flashes, they should try combination of Shatavari and Kama Duba.

Shatavari is used as an ingredient in herbal mixtures, which fight against impotence, weakness in sexual activities and sexual organs, inflammation of sexual organs, and a condition called Spermatorrhea.

Shatavari contains a chemical composition, which is diuretic in nature, and helps in fighting infectious conditions such as bladder infections, intestinal infections etc. Because of its properties, Shatavari is used in dysentery, cystitis and such internal infection conditions.
Along with all the above uses, Shatavari is also used in treatment of chronic fever, dehydration, inflammation of internal walls of the heart and lungs, etc. Combination of Shatavari and other herbs is also used to treat ailments and other problems.

Latin Name: Asparagus racemosus

Family: Asparagaceae

Synonym: Shatavari, Indian Asparagus, Hundred Roots, Asparagus roots, Tian men dong
Doshas: Vata, Pitta. Shatavari helps in treating (balancing) ‘Pitta dosha’.

Parts Used : Roots (Rhizomes) and leaves.

Geographical Source: Grows in low jungles areas throughout India.

Properties: Nutritive tonic, rejuvenative, aphrodisiac, galactogogue, laxative, antispasmodic, antacid, diuretic, antitumor, demulcent, powerful anabolic.


- Good for eyes, muscles, reproductive organs, increases milk secretion and helps to regain vigour and vitality.

- Useful for infertility, impotence and general sexual debility, decreased libido, threatened miscarriage, menopause, leucorrhea, and has the ability to balance pH in the cervical area.

- Used to treat gastrointestinal disorders (eg. Hyperacidity, stomach ulcers, diarrhea.) and as an external wash for wounds.

- Useful in cases of bronchitis and chronic fevers. It is believed to bring into balance all of the body’s fluids.

- Nourishes and cleanses the blood and the female reproductive organs.

- Used in for those who have had hysterectomies, as it supplies many female hormones. It nourishes the ovum and increases fertility.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Neem: An Ancient Cure for a Modern World

The Neem tree ( Azadirachta indica ) has been known as the wonder tree for centuries in the Indian subcontinent. It has become important in the global context today because it offers answers to the major concerns facing mankind. The history of the Neem tree is inextricably linked to the history of the Indian way of life. Although the antiquity of Neem is shrouded in the mists of time, this evergreen robust looking tree has long been cherished as a symbol of health in the country of its origin. It has, for a very long time, been a friend and protector of the Indian villager. Brihat Samhita, an ancient Hindu treatise, contains a chapter of verses on plant medicines. It contains recommendations for specific trees to be planted in the vicinity of one’s house. Neem was highly recommended.

The Tree

Neem is a medium sized to large tree characterised by its short straight trunk, furrowed dark brown to grey bark, and dense rounded crowns of pinnate leaves. Native to India, Neem is widely planted and naturalised in semiarid areas throughout Asia and Africa. Neem is an evergreen of the tropics and sub-tropics. It belongs to the family Meliaccae and is a cousin of the Chinaberry. With an extensive and deep root system, the hardy Neem can grow luxuriantly even in marginal and leached soils, and thrives up to an elevation of 1500m. The Neem flowers profusely between February and May. The honey-scented white flowers, found in clusters, are a good source of nectar for bees. Neem fruits are green drupes which turn golden yellow on ripening in the months of June, July and August, in India. The kernels have about 45% oil. The termite resistant Neem timber is used as a building material, and in making furniture and farm implements. The bark yields tannin and gum. The amber hued gum is used as a dye in textiles and in traditional medicines.

Medical Properties

The medical properties of Neem have been known to Indians since time immemorial. The earliest Sanskrit medical writings refer to the benefits of Neem’s fruits, seeds, oil, leaves, roots and bark. Each has been used in the Indian Ayurvedic and Unani systems of medicines, and is now being used in the manufacture of modern day medicinals, cosmetics, toiletries and pharmaceuticals. Neem fruits, seeds, oil, leaves, bark and roots have such uses as general antiseptics, antimicrobials, treatment of urinary disorders, diarrhoea, fever and bronchitis, skin diseases, septic sores, infected burns, hypertension and inflammatory diseases. This is mainly due to the chemical constituents which enable Neem to protect itself from a multitude of pests by a substantial number of pesticidal ingredients. Its main chemical composition is a blend of 3 to 4 related compounds along with over 20 lesser ones, which are equally as active. The general class of these compounds is triterpenes and within this category, the most effective are the limonoids, which are abundant in Neem oil. At least nine limonoids are effective in inhibiting insect growth, especially some of the most deadly varieties found in human health and agriculture worldwide. Of these limonoids, azadirachitin has been found to be the main ingredient for fighting insects and pests, being up to 90% effective in most instances. It repels and disrupts the life cycle, however does not kill immediately, but is nonetheless one of the most effective growth and feeding deterrents ever examined. Meliantriol is another feeding inhibitor which prevents locusts chewing, and has therefore been in traditional use in India for crop protection. Nimbin and nimbidin, also found in Neem, have anti-viral properties and these have been effective in inhibiting fungal growth on humans and animals. Gedunin, a lesser limonoid, is effective in treating malaria through teas and infusion of the leaves.


Neem has proved effective against certain fungi that infect the human body. Such fungi are an increasing problem and have been difficult to control by synthetic fungicides. For example, in one laboratory study, conducted by Khan and Wassilew – 1987, Neem preparations showed toxicity to cultures of 14 common fungi, including members of the following genera:• Trichophyton – an ‘athlete’s foot’ fungus that infects hair, skin and nails;• Epidermophyton – a ‘ringworm’ that invades both skin and nails of the feet;• Microsporum – a ‘ringworm’ that invades hair, skin and (rarely) nails;• Trichosporon – a fungus of the intestinal tract;• Geotrichum – a yeast like fungus that causes infections of the bronchi, lungs and mucous membranes;• Candida – a yeast-like fungus that is part of the normal flora but can get out of control, leading to lesions in mouth (thrush), vagina, skin, hands and lungs.

Components of the Neem tree and their uses Bark

The bark is cool, bitter, astringent, acrid and refrigerant. It is useful in tiredness, cough, fever, loss of appetite, worm infestations. It heals wounds and is also used in vomiting, skin diseases and excessive thirst. Twigs have been used as a ‘toothbrush’ and for dental care, since antiquity. Neem toothpaste has been on sale in the US and Germany for some time, and is now available here.


According to Ayurveda, Neem leaves help in the treatment of Vatik disorders (neuromuscular pains). Neem leaves are also reported to remove toxins, purify blood and prevent damage caused by free radicals in the body by neutralising them.A paste made with leaves is used in India for the cure of chicken pox, smallpox and warts. A poultice is effective for boils, ulcers and eczema.


Neem fruits are bitter, purgative, antihemorrhodial and anthelmintic (vermifuge) in nature.


The flowers are used in vitiated conditions of pitta (balancing of the body heat) and kapha (cough formation). They are astringent, anthelmintic and non toxic.


Neem seeds are also described as anthelmintic, antileprotic (cures or prevents leprosy) and antipoisonous. Seeds, along with leaves and dry Neem cake, are an active ingredient in mosquito coils.


Neem oil, derived from crushing the seeds, is antidermatonic, a powerful vermifuge and is bitter in taste. It has a wide spectrum of action and is highly medicinal in nature. As an oil used in aromatherapy, it has been effective in the treatment of head lice in children, especially where tea tree has failed to clear up the condition. This was particularly noticeable on an outbreak of head lice, two years ago, at a school local to my practice, where I treated several children. Those with blonde to reddish hair had their head lice condition cleared up much quicker with Neem oil applied at a 3% dilution to a shampoo base, than with tea tree.

Specific uses of Neem

Skin Conditions

Neem has an almost magical effect on chronic skin conditions that fail to respond to conventional treatments. Acne, psoriasis, eczema, and ringworm are conditions that are effectively treated by a Neem preparation.

Hair and Nails

Scalp conditions like dandruff, scaling and even hair loss improve with Neem products. Yellow or brittle nails, caused by the presence of yeast or fungi, are normalised by the use of Neem.

Teeth and Gums

Neem mouth rinse is very effective in the treatment of infections, tooth decay, bleeding and sore gums. A mouthwash, using Neem oil, has been used at my practice for the treatment of mouth ulcers.

Fungi, Parasites and Viruses

Stringent laboratory condition tests have proved the efficacy of Neem in destroying fungi, parasites and viruses without killing off beneficial intestinal flora. It is very effective in the treatment of Athletes’ Foot, thrush, candida infestations and herpes.

Heart and Blood

A recent study showed that a Neem treatment lowered high cholesterol levels. It has also been tested, with good results, for other heart conditions.


Neem is a very effective insect repellent, without being toxic to pets and humans.
Tests are currently being carried out, with encouraging results. During the course of the freedom movement in India, led by Mahatma Gandhi, there was an upsurge of the ‘Swadeshi’ or nationalistic sentiment. This led to a move to encourage ‘Swadeshi’ science. Neem research in India was part of this movement. Pioneering work on the possible commercial use of Neem oil and cake was done by the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore during the 1920s.
Mahatma Gandhi kept the tradition of Neem alive, and is known to have been a firm believer in the goodness of Neem. Dr Ekaid informed Gandhi that laboratory experiments revealed that Neem leaves contain more nutritious elements than any other similar vegetation that has been subjected to chemical analysis earlier. A Neem leaf chutney was a part of Gandhi’s everyday diet. A nutraceutical tea, now being manufactured, would surely have been Gandhi’s favourite beverage.

Physico-composition of Fresh Neem Leaves: Neem Tea and its Uses

Tender leaves, along with black pepper, are effective in intestinal helminthiasis (parasitic infections). An aqueous extract of tender leaves has been found to possess antiviral properties against vaccinia (viral disease in cattle), variola (smallpox), fowl pox and New Castle diseases. Fresh mature leaves, along with the seeds of Psoralea corglifolia and Cicer arietinum are effective in leucoderma. Studies on plasma clotting time using Russell’s viper venom have proved that the leaf extract contains a clotting inhibitor, justifying its use in the treatment of poisonous bites. Animal-based experiments have shown that total extract of Neem leaves is a potent hepatoprotective agent. Water extract of Neem leaves shows significant antiulcer activity and reduction in severity of gastric damage, and prevents most cell degranulation and mucus depletion. The phosphate buffer, ether and alcoholic extracts of the leaves inhibit the activity of the micro-organism Micrococcus pyrogenes var. aureus. The essential oil possesses anti-bacterial activity. It inhibits the growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Salmonella paratyphi, Salmonelbtyphi, Vibrio cholera Pacini and Klebsiella pneumonia (Schroter) Trevisan (organisms which cause typhoid, cholera and pneumonia. Chewing fresh Neem leaves acts as a sedative and relaxant.

The Future with Neem


Today’s exploding growth in human population is seriously depleting the world’s natural reserves and economic resources. Unless the run-away human population growth rate is slowed down, there would be little hope for raising everyone out of poverty in the developing world. Besides educational constraints, the non-availability of inexpensive methods of contraception, which do not cause trauma or aesthetic, cultural, and religious sensitivities of people, limit the success of birth regulation programmes. However, recent findings indicate that some Neem derivatives may serve as affordable and widely available contraceptives. A recent controlled study in the Indian army proved the efficacy of Neem as a contraceptive. According to a recent report by the Washington based International Food Policy Research Institute, by 2020, the world will be an even more unfair place than it is at present, with food surpluses in the industrialised world and with chronic instability and food shortages in the south, particularly in African countries. The US Academy of Sciences currently attaches very high importance to the Neem tree. The United Nations declared Neem as the “Tree of the 21st Century”.


Search for environmentally safe pesticides received an impetus in early 1960s following the publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson in 1962. It was around this period that Indian scientists reported the feeding deterrent property of Neem seed kernel suspension against desert locust. Subsequently, several bioactive ingredients were isolated from various parts of the tree, more notable being the isolation of meliantriol and azadirachtin. These findings aroused world-wide interest in the bioactivity of the Neem tree. The Neem seems to be a virtual designer tree – tailor-made for combating the serious problems confronting mankind today. The information being generated on it in the modern format of science continues to confirm all the ancient claims. Its mammalian safety and environmental friendliness reports are highly encouraging. Its bioactivity spectrum against the harmful organisms is ever increasing. Neem is now widely used in America in fields ranging from pharmaceutical, health and beauty, pet care, pesticides and insecticides, and agriculture, while health and beauty and pharmaceutical products are available in Austria and Germany. Neem products are also available in the UK and a nutraceutical tea is the newest product to come on the market. A key advantage to using Neem, as opposed to some medical treatments and other herbs, is its compliance with the first tenet of the Hippocratic Oath taken by all physicians: “First, cause no harm.” Over thousands of years, Neem has been used by hundreds of millions of people and no hazards have been documented for normal dosages. Only at very high levels may Neem be toxic, something each of us understands can be true of anything taken internally.