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Alandi Images Milk Cow.jpg

Cows and their milk hold a special place in Vedic lore. A hymn in the Rig Veda, a gavo agaman extolls the virtue of cows. " The cows have come and have brought us good fortune. In our stalls, contented, may they stay." (The Vedic Experience: Mantramanjari by Panikkar, Raimon). Lord Krishna enjoys his childhood and youth as a cowherd boy in Vrindavan, dancing with milkmaids, known as Gopis. And Dhanvantari, the God of Ayurveda is born of the churning of the ocean of milk.

Milk in general is considered as 'the best of all life-giving (jivaniya) substances'; since it is the pure essence of grass. And in ancient times specific herbs would be given to cows to create special types of milk--for example, a pure white cow would be fed amlaki, a herb for longevity and rejuvenation. Drinking milk from such a cow was part of an ancient process of kayakalpa or youth-restoration.

Sushrut considers the milk of cow, goat, camel, sheep, buffalo, horse and mother's milk. However, although camel milk is second only to mother's milk in its unique suitability for humans, we will consider here only cow and goat milk, as these are the most widely available.

Sanskrit: Dugdha or kshīra

Latin name: there is not a scientific name but the Latin word is lactis

Hindi: दूध doodh

Rasa: Sweet (madhura)

Virya: Cold (shita)

Vipak:

Guna: Heavy (guru), emollient (snigdha), slimy (slakshna), cloudy (picchila), mild (manda)

Reduces vata and pitta

Dhatus: Rasa, rakta, mamsa, asthi, majja,

Srotansi: Rasa, rakta, mamsa, asthi, majja, sthanya, manovaha,

Actions (karmas) of milk in general:

  • Laxative
  • Life-giving
  • Rejuvenative
  • Refirgerant
  • Good beverage to restore energy after exercise
  • Sacred
  • Building
  • Tonic
  • Spermatopoeitic
  • Aphrodisiac
  • Medhya (builds intellectual capacity)
  • Heals factures
  • Good in nutritive basti (enema)
  • Increases longevity
  • Can be used as emetic and purgative
  • Builds ojas

Used in:

  • Chronic fever
  • Cough
  • Breathlessness
  • Wasting diseases
  • Gulma
  • Psychosis
  • Acites
  • Epilepsy
  • Vertigo
  • Delirium
  • Burning sensations
  • Morbid thirst
  • Diseases of the heart
  • Bladder diseases
  • Dysentery
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Colic
  • Constipation
  • Malabsorption
  • Female reproductive disorders
  • Nourishing children, the elderly and those with cachexia or debility.
  • Use to rebuild energy after sex or physical labour

Special points about cow's milk

  • Demulcent
  • Does not increase slimy secretions
  • Heavy
  • Good elixir
  • Sweet, cold, calms vata and pitta
  • One of the most effective life-giving (jivaniya) remedies

Special points about goat's milk

  • Shares most of the benefits of cow's milk
  • It is lighter than cow's milk
  • It is astringent and appetizing
  • Helpful in breathlessness, cough and GERD.
  • Curative in all diseases
  • Goats tend to favour bitter and pungent greens; goat milk is more appropriate for kapha.

Morning vs. evening milking

Traditional dairy farmers will separate milk from the morning and evening milking; for example in traditional Morbier cheese one layer was from the morning and the second from the evening. Sushrut considers morning milk to be heavier, colder and more slowly digested, as it was produced by night, when the cow was resting and temperatures we cooler. Evening milk is invigorating to the eye and restores vata to a healthy state.

Milk temperature

Milk should not be consumed cold; cold milk is extremely heavy and mucus-forming. However, it should not be over-boiled unless one wishes to gain weight.

Remedies:

Remedies using milk are numerous; we mention a few of the most important.

Using milk internally:

Methods of preparing milk remedies:

Kshirapaka:

  1. Boil 1 part herb with 8 parts milk and 32 parts water. Then boil out the water so only the 8 parts of milk remains (from Sarngadhara Samhita).
  2. 2 Tbsp. herb, 1½ cups milk and 4 cups water. Boil down to 3 cups liquid, add sweetener and strain the milk. Then boil down to 1½ cups milk.
  3. Herbs prepared in equal quantities of milk and water, the water boiled out.

Sidha dughdam:

Boil ½ tsp of herb in ¼ cup water and 1 cup of milk. Boil until there is only one cup liquid left.

Spiced milk:

Simmer the spice in the milk for just a few minutes (for example nutmeg)

Herb stirred into milk:

Milk is only slightly warmed, not boiled. Herbs such as Shatavari, Ashwagandha, or Arjuna are simply mixed in.

Some specific remedies:

  1. Bronchial Congestion: Pippali milk. ½ tsp. ground pippali, 1 cup milk, ¼ cup water, cook down to 1 cup liquid.
  2. Sore throat, cough: Turmeric Milk. ½ tsp. ground turmeric, 1 cup milk, ¼ cup water, cook down to 1 cup liquid.
  3. Dry cough: Ginger milk. ½ tsp. ground ginger, 1 cup milk, ¼ cup water
  4. Hyperacidity: drink 1 cup hot milk with 1 tsp. cardamom.
  5. Hyperacidity, heartburn: Shatavari 1t, milk 1c, drink in early morning.
  6. Chronic indigestion: Ginger milk. ½ tsp. ground ginger, 1 cup milk, ¼ cup water, cook down to 1 cup liquid.
  7. Lymphatic congestion: Pepper milk. ½ tsp. ground peppercorn, 1 cup milk, ¼ cup water, cook down to 1 cup liquid.
  8. Fractures, injuries, osteoporosis: Turmeric milk. ½ tsp. ground turmeric, 1 cup milk, ¼ cup water, cook down to 1 cup liquid
  9. Chronic fatigue, low libido: Almond milk. ¼ tsp. ground cardamom, ¼ tsp. ground almonds, 1 cup milk, ¼ cup water, cook down to 1 cup liquid.
  10. Memory, libido: 1tsp. cardamom in 1 cup milk, cool, add honey, drink before bed.
  11. Insomnia: mix two pinches nutmeg in a cup of boiling milk; simmer for a minute and drink.
  12. Sexual debility: 1 cup hot milk at bedtime with a pinch of saffron (works best if you soak the saffron in a little hot water for at least 20 minutes and add the saffron and its soak water to the milk).
  13. Low ojas, sexual debility: Fry 4-5 almonds in ghee. Add a pinch of saffron and a cup of hot milk and blend until smooth. Drink at bedtime.
  14. For spermatogenesis: 1t ashwagandha with 1 cup milk morning and evening
  15. Low libido: Ashwagandha 1 t ,hot milk 1 c one hour before sex.
  16. Sexual debility: (men or women) Ashwagandha 1 tsp water ½ cup , cow milk 1 cup boil back to one cup total
  17. Poor sleep: Ashwagandha 1 t with 1 cup hot milk 2 hours before sleep.
  18. Poor sleep: 1 cup hot milk at bedtime with a pinch of nutmeg and a pinch of saffron (works best if you soak the saffron in a little hot water for at least 20 minutes and add the saffron and its soak water to the milk).
  19. Poor memory, mild cognitive impairment: Saffron brahmi milk--Soak 1 pinch saffron in a little hot water for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile bring 1 cup milk to the boil and add 1 tsp brahmi (gotu kola). Let steep for 10 minutes and strain. Now and add the saffron and its soak water to the milk. Drink this preparation at bedtime.

Using milk externally

  1. Burns and scalds: immediately pour on cold milk or soak affected area in cold milk.
  2. Eye irritant: If the eye has been exposed to a irritant, immediately irrigate with cold milk.
  3. Acne: make a face mask with nutmeg, milk and honey and apply
  4. Beauty: milk is used in an array of facial masks and similar treatments.

Alandi Images Milk Goat.jpg

Alakananda Ma is a Certified Ayurvedic Doctor (NAMA) and graduate of a top London medical school. She is co-founder of Alandi Ayurveda Clinic and Alandi Ayurveda Gurukula in Boulder Colorado, as well as a spiritual mother, teacher, flower essence maker and storyteller. Alakananda is well known and highly respected in the Ayurveda community both nationally and internationally.

Enliven your holistic health! Book an ayurvedic consultation with Alakananda Ma to support the overall rejuvenation of your body, mind, and spirit. In-person and phone appointments available. Book now!

Alandi Images Honey.jpg

"How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" says the Psalmist. Honey is the epitome of sweetness and deliciousness, yet this golden treat is also an important Ayurvedic medicinal food.

Scientific Name: The honeybee is called apis mellifera

Sanskrit: Madhu

Hindi: Madhu

Ecological Status: Seven species of Hawaiian yellow-faced bees were added to the endangered species list in 2016. Bee populations worldwide are declining at an alarming rate due to factors including varroa mites, neonicotinoid pesticides and climate change.

The goddess of honeybees, the mysterious Queen Bee, is known as Bhramari Devi or Bhramarambika. She resides in one of South India's most important temples, Shri Sailyam in Andhra Pradesh. Bhramarambika is s special protector of the Feminine. Long ago, a demon, Arunadānava, tried to take over the heavens intending to drive out the gods and capture the beautiful goddesses. The goddesses appealed to Adi Shakti, the supreme feminine power, who transformed herself into a black bee with a swarm of bees emanating from her. The bees surrounded and protected the goddesses. They filled the world with their buzzing and destroyed the demon army, while the Queen Bee herself stung Arunadānava to death. This myth shows a profound understanding not only of the Queen Bee but also of the fact that guard bees are female warriors who will fight to the death to protect the hive and queen. Tiny bees are capable of fighting off a marauding bear.

Bhramari Devi.jpg

Rasa: Sweet, astringent after-taste (Anurasa)

Virya: Cooling

Vipak: Sweet

Guna: Light, dry

Brings down kapha by lightness, brings down vata and pitta due to sliminess, sweetness and astringent taste.

Fresh honey is best for pitta and older, crystallized honey is better as an expectorant, anti-fat and anti-kapha medicine.

Contains: Dextrose, levulose, B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, calcium, amino acids. Natural raw honey contains valuable pollen and propolis constituents including p-coumaric acid, pinocembrin, and pinobanksin 5-methyl ether, which benefit immunity.

Karmas:

  • Drying
  • Scraping
  • Unites wounds
  • Purifies wounds, burns and ulcers
  • Aphrodisiac
  • Astringent
  • Yogavahi--carries herbs and medicines to the minutest subtle channels
  • Anti-obesity
  • Cures hiccough
  • Expectorant
  • Anti-parasitical
  • Antitoxic
  • Demulcent

Used in:

  • Asthma, breathlessness and cough
  • Dysentery
  • Vomiting tendency (although excess can act as an emetic)
  • Morbid thirst
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Obesity
  • Wounds and burns
  • Used correctly, can be curative for diabetes
  • Hiccup

Remedies:

For all these remedies, you need to use high quality raw honey.

  1. Canker sores, also known as apthous ulcers: Gently clean the sore with a cotton swab dipped in some water or saline solution, then gently apply some natural raw honey with a swab. Do this after each meal. (You need runny honey for this remedy).
  2. Peptic ulcers: Drink a cup of warm milk with a teaspoon of honey and a pinch of cardamom twice a day.
  3. Nausea, vomiting, indigestion: Mix equal parts lemon juice and honey. Lick this mixture slowly to calm symptoms.
  4. Bleeding piles: Take one tablespoon of honey and mix it with radish juice. Apply it on the area of the piles
  5. Hiccup: Hold honey in the mouth or slowly lick honey.
  6. Cold or catarrh: mix ½ tsp. cinnamon with 1 tsp. honey. Eat this mixture two or three times a day.
  7. Colds and sore throats: Hot water with a squeeze of lemon and a spoonful of honey can be taken 2-3 times a day.
  8. Allergies: Mix 1tsp. turmeric powder with 2 tsp. local honey and lick for fast relief of allergy symptoms.
  9. Cough: Mix a pinch of black pepper in honey and lick it from a spoon. If you have pippali, add a pinch too. (Pippali= piper longum or long pepper)
  10. Bronchitis: Mix fresh ginger juice and honey together to form a linctus and lick it from a spoon.
  11. Asthma: Mix a pinch of pippali powder in honey and lick it from a spoon as soon as you get asthma warning signs.
  12. Burns: Apply a 'honey bandage' by spreading honey over a non-stick dressing and then taping over the burn.
  13. Scrapes, cuts and abrasions: Dressing the wound with honey can help healing and prevent infection.
  14. Diabetic ulcers: Sprinkle turmeric or a mixture of powdered neem and turmeric on the ulcer and then apply a honey bandage, using a non-stick dressing.
  15. Obesity: Drink a cup of hot water in the morning with a teaspoon of raw honey. Ideally, add a pinch of pippali.
  16. Conjunctivitis, blepharitis: Dissolve ¼ teaspoon of honey in warm (not boiling) distilled water and add a pinch of Himalayan salt. You can gently drop this in the eye using a dropper.
  17. Honey for hair health: Mix a tablespoon of coconut oil and a tablespoon of honey and apply to dry or wet hair. Wait about half an hour before shampooing out.
  18. Honey facial: After washing your face, take a couple of tablespoons of honey and apply it gently to your face. Leave on for fifteen minutes and then wash off with lukewarm water.

Alakananda Ma is a Certified Ayurvedic Doctor (NAMA) and graduate of a top London medical school. She is co-founder of Alandi Ayurveda Clinic and Alandi Ayurveda Gurukula in Boulder Colorado, as well as a spiritual mother, teacher, flower essence maker and storyteller. Alakananda is well known and highly respected in the Ayurveda community both nationally and internationally.

Enliven your holistic health! Book an ayurvedic consultation with Alakananda Ma to support the overall rejuvenation of your body, mind, and spirit. In-person and phone appointments available. Book now!

Alandi Images Pomegranates.jpg

Pomegranate

Latin name: Punica granatum L

Sanskrit: dādima

Family: Lythraceae

Hindi: Anār

Pomegranate in history and myth

Pomegranate originated in the region between Iran and Northern India, where it has been cultivated for millennia and still remains a characteristic feature of the cuisine. Since ancient times pomegranates have been grown in the Mediterranean region, the Middle East and South Asia. Pomegranate plays a rich part in the myths, lore and literature of the Silk Road lands and the Mediterranean, finding its place in Greco-Roman, Jewish, Christian and Islamic scriptures and rituals. Islamic Hadith notes that pomegranate "cleanses you of Satan and from evil aspirations for forty days." And in another inspiring Islamic quote, the Prophet Muhammed's cousin, Sayyiduna Ali, said that the light of Allah (God) is in the heart of whoever eats pomegranate.

The fruiting of the pomegranate heralds the onset of winter; so it is told that Persephone was abducted by Hades (Pluto) and carried off to the underworld. Because she ate four pomegranate seeds in the realm of Hades, she had to spend four months a year in the Underworld, returning to bring the springtime.

Spilling over with fertility in the form of rich, ruby-red seeds, pomegranate is a symbol of Divine Mother and of the Madonna, as beautifully portrayed by Botticelli.

Botticelli,_madonna_della_melagrana_01.jpg

BOTTICELLI, Sandro, Madonna of the Pomegranate (Madonna della Melagrana), Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Pomegranate is known as an Ayurvedic pharmacy in its own right. The bark and root bark are used for diarrhea and dysentery, while the fruit and the rind (pericarp) are used as medicinal foods and home remedies as well as in more complex Ayurvedic formulations. Pomegranate rind is a rich source of phytoestrogens helpful for menopause. The fruit contains numerous antioxidants including phenolics, flavonoids, ellagitannins, and proanthocyanidin compounds as well as minerals, mainly potassium.

Despite containing phytoestrogens, pomegranate is not merely safe in breast cancer; pomegranate has been shown in vitro and in animal studies to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells, prostate cancer and skin cancer. Pomegranate is also a beneficial antioxidant for heart disease and blood lipid disorders and has been found in animal models to help erectile dysfunction. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2014/686921/

Pomegranate seed essential oil is obtained by pressing pomegranate seeds and is a rich source of the antioxidants ellagic acid and punicic acid. Keep a bottle of organic pomegranate essential oil in your bathroom and apply it to any inflamed or sun-damaged areas. It is usually safe for sensitive facial skin.

Pomegranate breast oil is made by mixing one part pomegranate rind with sixteen parts water, cooking this down to four parts and then cooking this decoction into an equal amount of mustard oil until all the water is evaporated, after which the pomegranate peel is strained out. This oil is rich in compounds that help prevent breast cancer and can be used for a weekly or daily breast massage.

Pomegranate juice is an important Ayurvedic medicine. Fresh is ideal; if you are using bottled pomegranate juice, dilute with water.

Sweet varietals of pomegranate are the most highly prized in Ayurvedic texts and by Islamic hakims (traditional doctors) and the following information refers to sweet pomegranate:

Rasa: Sweet, sour, astringent with a touch of bitter

Virya: Cooling

Vipak: Sweet

Guna: Light

Calms all three doshas

Actions:

  • Relieves morbid thirst
  • Relieves burning sensations
  • Anti-febrile
  • Removes bad odour from stomach, throat and mouth
  • Nourishing
  • Promotes semen
  • Absorbent, binds stools
  • Brain tonic
  • Tonic
  • Builds blood
  • Antiparasitical

Used in:

  • Intestinal parasites
  • Anaemia
  • Fever
  • Thirst
  • Debility
  • Diarrhoea and dysentery
  • Cough
  • Halitosis
  • Bleeding piles
  • Heart palpitations

Remedies:

  1. Bad taste in mouth or lack of relish for food: Do mouthwash with some pomegranate juice with a pinch of rock salt and a teaspoon of honey, holding it in the mouth for as long as possible. It is said to cure even incurable loss of appetite.
  2. Nosebleed: instill 2 drops pomegranate juice into each nostril.
  3. Burning eyes: instill 1 drop of fresh or diluted pomegranate juice into each eye at bedtime.
  4. Nausea, especially in pregnancy: Drink a cup of pomegranate juice with a pinch of cardamom.
  5. Cough, especially in child: ½ cup pomegranate juice with a pinch of ginger and a pinch of pippali (piper longum).
  6. Rashes, hives: 1 cup pomegranate juice with 1 tsp. turbinado sugar and a pinch of ginger.
  7. Excess thirst, dehydration: 1 cup pomegranate juice, ½ cup grape juice, 1 tsp. tubinado sugar, 1 pinch ginger powder.
  8. Bleeding piles: For hemorrhoids that are painful and bleed, take 1 Tbsp. fresh pomegranate juice with 1-2 tsp. raw sugar twice a day.
  9. Bleeding piles: Take 1 cup pomegranate rind powder. Add 4 cups water to it and boil the mixture. Allow it to cool. One glass of this mixture can be taken each morning and evening.
  10. Dysentery: ½ cup pomegranate juice with pinch clove and 2 pinches ginger powder 2-3 x daily.
  11. Weight reduction: Fast on pomegranate juice two days a week.

Pomegranate home remedy sources: Alandi Remedies Manual and Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing by Usha and Vasant Lad.

Alakananda Ma is a Certified Ayurvedic Doctor (NAMA) and graduate of a top London medical school. She is co-founder of Alandi Ayurveda Clinic and Alandi Ayurveda Gurukula in Boulder Colorado, as well as a spiritual mother, teacher, flower essence maker and storyteller. Alakananda is well known and highly respected in the Ayurveda community both nationally and internationally.

Enliven your holistic health! Book an ayurvedic consultation with Alakananda Ma to support the overall rejuvenation of your body, mind, and spirit. In-person and phone appointments available. Book now!

Alandi Images Ganesha Carrot.jpg

An Indian carrot variety looking like Ganesha

Revered in ancient Rome as an aphrodisiac and proverbial for their benefits on eyesight, carrots are sweet and bitter with a heating energy. They calm vata and kapha. Their high antioxidant content is the reason why carrots are used for blood cleansing, liver cleansing and cancer healing. Yet, delicious and comforting as they are, carrots may disturb pitta if consumed in excess. Balance carrots with pitta-soothing vegetables such as green peas, leafy dark greens or cilantro. And be especially cautious with carrot juice, because it is highly concentrated. It is best for pitta to combine cucumber, cilantro or aloe vera juice with their carrot juice.

Daucus carota subsp. sativus (Hoffm.) Arcang.

Apiaceae

Sanskrit: Gājara

Hindi: Gājar

Carrots were first cultivated on the Iranian plateau--a region comprising today's Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. Although wild carrots (Daucus carota var carota) have a woody and unpleasant-tasting whitish root, the agriculturalists of five thousand years ago developed tasty and nutritious purple and yellow carrots. Over centuries of cultivation, carrots with different nutritional profiles were developed. In Europe we are accustomed to orange carrots, which are the richest variety for beta-carotene content and easy to grow as well. However, in India, red, purple and near-black carrots were grown, (Daucus carota ssp. sativus var. atrorubens Alef.). Purple and black carrots contain major antioxidants--anthocyanins, pheolics and flavonoids, while red carrots are a good source of the important eye nutrient, lycopene. Seeds of these Asiatic carrots are now available from seed companies. We recommend growing or using both European and Asiatic varieties of carrot for their specialized antioxidant profile, although red and black carrots are definitely more erratic producers than standard orange varieties.

Rasa: Madhura tikta (Sweet and bitter)

Virya: Ushna (heating)

Vipak: Katu (pungent)

Guna:Laghu (light)

Karmas:

  • Anti-haemorrhage
  • Anti-haemorrhoid
  • Anti-dysenteric
  • Good for eye health

Remedies:

  1. Diarrhoea and dysentery: Well-steamed carrots with ghee are the first vegetable to eat after an episode of diarrhea or dysentery and help in gut healing. Carrots are an important prebiotic food to aid restoration of your microbiome.
  2. Haemorrhoids: 1 cup carrot juice with 2 tsp. cilantro juice twice daily on an empty stomach.
  3. Sprue and malabsorption: 1 cup carrot juice with a pinch of trikatu twice daily. (Trikatu consists of dry ginger, black pepper and pippali or long pepper. If you don't have trikatu use dry ginger instead).
  4. Chronic indigestion: 1 cup carrot juice with 1 pinch dry ginger powder daily.
  5. Cancer support: Combine ½ cup carrot juice and ½ cup aloe vera juice and take twice daily.
  6. Alcohol detox: Take 1 cup carrot-beet-cucumber juice daily and eat a daily portion of Liver Cleanse Sabji.
  7. Probiotic support: In North India it is traditional to make a lacto-fermented carrot beverage known as kanji for probiotic support.

Sources:Alandi Pulse Manual, Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing by Usha and Vasant Lad.

Alandi Images carrots in bowl.JPG

Orange, yellow and purple garden carrots.

Alakananda Ma is a Certified Ayurvedic Doctor (NAMA) and graduate of a top London medical school. She is co-founder of Alandi Ayurveda Clinic and Alandi Ayurveda Gurukula in Boulder Colorado, as well as a spiritual mother, teacher, flower essence maker and storyteller. Alakananda is well known and highly respected in the Ayurveda community both nationally and internationally.

Enliven your holistic health! Book an ayurvedic consultation with Alakananda Ma to support the overall rejuvenation of your body, mind, and spirit. In-person and phone appointments available. Book now!

Alandi Images Pears.JPG

Known in Sanskrit as amrita phalam, fruit of immortality or nectar fruit, pears were revered in ancient India and China as a symbol of immortality. In Roman mythology they were sacred to Juno, the mother, Venus, goddess of love and Pomona, goddess of fruitful abundance and orchards. Sweet and light, pears are calming to all three doshas. They are described with the Sanskrit adjective susvada, meaning 'extremely delicious' but also having meanings of prosperity and welfare.

Pyrus communis L.

Rosaceae

Hindi: nāshpātī

Rasa: Madhura (Sweet), kshaya (astringent)

Virya: Shita (Cold)

Vipak: Katu (pungent)

Guna: Laghu (Light)

Karmas:

  • Vrishya (aphrodisiac)
  • Nourishing
  • Tridoshahara (controls all three doshas)

Remedies:

  • High cholesterol: Eat stewed pears spiced with cinnamon to lower cholesterol.
  • Gallstones: Dilute half a cup of pear juice in half a cup of hot water, add a teaspoon of honey and drink three times daily as a preventative or home remedy for gallstones. (Note: gallstones can be extremely dangerous and may require surgical treatment. However, you could try this remedy while you wait for your diagnosis and surgical treatment.)
  • Bone health: Pears are a good source of boron, a trace mineral needed for bone health. Include pears in your diet for bone health.
  • Diarrhoea: Eat one just-ripe pear (it should not be overripe or have brown spots) to help control diarrhoea.
  • Low appetite or abdominal discomfort: Eat stewed pear spiced with ginger, cardamom and nutmeg.
  • Excess thirst: Eat slices of pear with a squeeze of lime to cool and calm excess thirst.
  • Urinary tract infection: Eat two pears in the morning on an empty stomach.

Alakananda Ma is an Advanced Ayurvedic Practitioner and graduate of a top London medical school. She is co-founder of Alandi Ayurveda Clinic and Alandi Ayurveda Gurukula in Boulder Colorado, as well as a spiritual mother, teacher, flower essence maker and storyteller. Alakananda is well known and highly respected in the Ayurveda community both nationally and internationally.

Enliven your holistic health! Book an ayurvedic consultation with Alakananda Ma to support the overall rejuvenation of your body, mind, and spirit. In-person and phone appointments available. Book now!

Alandi Images Cucumbers.JPG

In English we have the phrase 'cool as a cucumber,' referring to the marvelously cooling properties of this medicinal vegetable. The coolness of cucumber has been revered in Ayurveda since ancient times, indeed, one of the Sanskrit synonyms of cucumber is sushitalam--very cooling. Cucumber is not only a delicious food for late summer and the warm days of fall--it also has many medicinal uses.

Latin Name: Cucumis sativus L.

Family: Cucurbitaceae

Sanskrit name: Trapusam; synonyms kantikphalam, sudhāvāsa, sushitalam

Hindi: Khīrā

The cucumber is native to the Himalayan foothills in the Indian subcontinent, where it forms a key part of cuisine and home remedies to this day. It was popular in the ancient world. Cucumber is listed among the products of ancient Ur and the legend of Gilgamesh describes people eating cucumbers. In the book of Numbers in the Torah, the Israelites, during their wandering in the desert, dining on manna, hanker after the foods they enjoyed in Egypt. "We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic." Cucumbers were also an important food in ancient Rome and were a favourite food of Emperor Tiberius, according to Pliny the Elder. The phrase 'cool as a cucumber' is first found in John Gay's New Song of New Similes, written in 1732.

Pert as a pear-monger I'd be,
If Molly were but kind;
Cool as a cucumber could see
The rest of womankind.

Rasa: Astringent, sweet, slightly bitter

Virya: Shita (cooling)

Guna: Laghu (light)

Reduces Pitta

Karmas:

  • Suppresses thirst
  • Relieves fatigue
  • Relives burning sensations
  • Controls haemorrhage
  • Pacifies difficulty in urination.
  • Antibacterial

Cucumber seeds are cooling, drying, diuretic and relieve diseases of pitta and blood.

Cucumber Home Remedies

  1. Sunburn: Blend some cucumber and apply the pulp to the burned area. The cool astringency of cucumber will heal all but the worst burns.
  2. Sunburn: Cucumber milk. Blend together a medium cucumber, half a cup of organic whole milk and half a cup of pure water. Apply this topically to sunburn or irritated skin for instant relief and drink the rest.
  3. Summer heat: Blend together a medium cucumber, a handful of mint leaves, half a cup of organic whole milk and half a cup of pure water and drink to alleviate thirst and heat stress.
  4. Cystitis: Drink cucumber juice to relieve burning urination.
  5. Gout and high uric acid: drink a cup of carrot, beet cucumber juice daily. All three of these vegetables reduce uric acid; however carrots and beets tend to have a heating energy, so adding cooling cucumber to the juice blend brings balance.
  6. Sore throat: sip cucumber juice for its cooling and antibacterial effect
  7. Puffy eyes, dark circles: Apply a slice of cucumber to each eyelid and relax for ten minutes.
  8. Acne, pimples: Grate ¼ cup of cucumber. Stir in1 tsp. besan flour (available from Indian grocery stores). Apply as a cooling face pack to relieve acne.
  9. Cucumber yoni cleanse: In the Taoist White Tigress tradition of sexual health a cucumber yoni cleanse is performed weekly to maintain a clean, fresh, smelling yoni and healthy vaginal microbiome. The part of the cucumber to be inserted vaginally is peeled to allow the healing juices to seep into the vagina, while the lower part is left unpeeled to serve as a handle.

Apple: An Ayurvedic View

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Sevam: Apple

We are all familiar with the adage, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." Indeed, apple is such an important medicinal food that it has found a place in the texts of Ayurveda, where it is known as sevam (or in Hindi seb). When I lived in India in the 1980s, an apple was a rare treat, since at the time they mainly grew only in Kashmir. To be given an apple as prasad (blessed food) instead of the more common banana was a mark of the guru's special favour.

Latin name: Malus domestica Borkh.

Family: Rosaceae (Rose family)

Sanskrit: Sevam, seva, sivitikā

Hindi: Seb

Apples originated in Western Asia, a region that includes today's Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Armenia, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, and Syria--places where agriculture had some of its earliest origins. 4-5,000 years ago, the ancient Phoenicians were cultivating apples along the Mediterranean coast. In the Song of Solomon, the beloved is compared to an apple tree, "As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the young men." Clearly, the sexually rejuvenating properties of apples were well understood at the time, for another verse of the Song of Solomon says, "Sustain me with cakes of raisins, refresh me with apples: for I am sick with love."

Apples were widely grown and eaten in the Roman Empire. In Greek mythology, Paris of Troy presented the golden apple of discord to Aphrodite, goddess of love, setting in motion the cascade of events that led to the Trojan wars.

The Jewish New Year is celebrated with apples dipped in honey to offer the promise of a sweet New Year.

European colonists brought the apple to America. Apples were spread throughout the Midwestern United States by nurseryman John Chapman, the legendary Johnny Appleseed.

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The real Johnny Appleseed

Rasa: Sweet

Virya: Cooling

Vipak: Sweet

Guna: Heavy

Decreases vata and pitta

Karmas:

  • Brimhanam (building)
  • Ruchyam (promotes taste and appetite)
  • Shukral (Promotes semen)

Apple home remedies

  1. Debility, convalescence: Give warm apple juice spiced with cinnamon and clove to help restore taste, appetite and strength.
  2. Gastritis, colitis, cystitis: Cool (not chilled) apple juice helps calm burning sensations. A few fresh mint leaves could be added.
  3. Dysentery: Stewed peeled apple with goat milk is a great dysentery recipe; if mother's milk is available it is even better.
  4. Diarrhoea or dysentery: Peel and stew two apples; add a pinch of nutmeg, a pinch of saffron and 1 tsp. ghee.
  5. Migraine Headache: eat an apple first thing in the morning, sprinkled with salt. Follow this with warm water. Continue this remedy for a several days at a time to help reduce frequency of migraines.
  6. Depression: Eat an apple dipped in honey and follow with a cup of warm milk spiced with cardamom or saffron. Continue this remedy daily as a brain tonic.

Dr. Lad's honey apple pulp.

Ingredients:

5 apples

Raw honey to taste

1/8 tsp. cardamom powder

1 pinch saffron

1 pinch nutmeg

10 drops rosewater

Remove the skins and the core from the apples .

Blend or mash to a pulp.

Add honey, spices and rosewater and mix thoroughly. Eat this one hour after your meal.

Good for heart and circulatory tonic, varicose veins, sexual debility, arthritis.

Sources: Bhavprakash, Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing by Usha and Vasant Lad

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Bhutanese red rice.

Would you like arsenic with that? Of course not! We all know arsenic is poisonous. In fact inorganic arsenic is a potent carcinogen, associated with higher rates of skin, bladder and lung cancers. There is no determined safe level of arsenic in rice. This points us to a more general problem--there are 'safe' levels of everything from plutonium to mercury, but nobody really knows the effects of chronic low-level exposure to these so-called 'safe' levels

News about arsenic in our rice was first broken in a 2012 study by Consumer Reports. Despite the organization's demand, the FDA has yet to set a federal limit for arsenic in rice and rice products. Now, a new study published by Consumer Reports points to ways that children and people with food allergies could be consuming excess arsenic. Children and adults with food allergies or coelic syndrome often make use of substutute foods that are rice-based. Examples include: rice cakes as a bread substitute, rice pasta as a substitute for wheat pasta and rice milk as a substitute for dairy milk. In addition, rice cereal is a favoured baby food. This is of especial concern where young chilren are concerned, as they will be far more vulnerable to toxins such as arsenic. The new consumer report states: "rice cereal and rice pasta can have much more inorganic arsenic--a carcinogen--than our 2012 data showed...Rice cakes supply close to a child's weekly limit in one serving. Rice drinks can also be high in arsenic, and children younger than 5 shouldn't drink them instead of milk."

Consumer Reports has come up with rice levels assigning a point value to different types of rice foods, with the suggestion that we consume no more than seven points a week. As they point out, just one serving of rice cereal or rice pasta alone can put a child over the recommended weekly level.

US-grown rice can be particularly dangerous, because of our prior use of lead-arsenate insecticides (banned in the 1980s but still contaminating our land and water). Rice from the Southern states has the highest arsenic levels. Brown rice has more arsenic than white rice because arsenic tends to concentrate in the germ. Basmati rice from India, Pakistan and California had much lower levels of arsenic. And among the lowest levels of all was Bhutanese red rice.

The texts of Ayurveda devote significant space to a discussion of the merits of different kinds of rice. Basmati rice--a medieval innovation--comes under the heading of shali rice (long grain rice) and as such is considered superior to many other types of rice. However, the highest praise goes to red shali rice, best and most healthful of all types of rice. Bhutanese red rice has the benefits of a whole grain, yet is low in arsenic. It is a good source of fibre and B vitamins and contains minerals such as manganese, magnesium and molybdenum. The unique colour of red rice is associated with its content of anthocyanin and proanthocyanidins, linked to blood pressure reduction and better management of diabetes. So red rice is a smart choice both Ayurvedically and in terms of lowering arsenic consumption.

How to lower your arsenic consumption:

  • Wash your rice thoroughly. This will reduce up to 30% of the arsenic

  • Use trusted suppliers such as Lundberg and Lotus Foods. These suppliers have great integrity and voluntarily test their rice. Lotus is the supplier of Bhutanese red rice.
  • Avoid processed rice products such as rice milk and rice pasta. These products are usually made of rice from the Southern States.

  • Enjoy foods such as quinoa, millet and buckwheat. For gluten free pasta, select buckwheat noodles or a quinoa pasta.

  • Give Baby a variety of foods. Rice cereal is high in arsenic. In addition, feeding babies mainly rice cereal is thought to be the reason why kids tend to favour bland, white foods such as mac 'n cheese. Introduce all kinds of foods, especially vegetables, to your baby's inquisitive palate.

What about all the arsenic I've already eaten?

If you've eaten a lot of rice and rice products down the years (especially the higher arsenic kinds), you might indeed have a higher-than-average arsenic level. Ayurveda considers this in the category of dusha visha or chronic, subclinical poisoning. According to the texts on Ayurvedic toxicology, chronic poisoning can flare up and become symptomatic when the body is under stress. So the texts recommend a specific remedy, dushivishi, for chronic poisoning. In our pharmacy, we're working on creating this formula and hope to have it available by fall (we have to grow one of the constituents ). A Pancha karma cleanse is also recommended for clearing the body of accumulated toxins. And regular use of cilantro helps chelate toxic metals and pull them out of the body.

So enjoy your rice judicioulsy, favouring basmati rice and Bhutanese red rice, and remember to keep your diet varied!

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A traditional Ayurvedic meal featuring Royal Rice

Resistant starch (RS) is the latest buzzword in glycaemic control, prebiotic support for our microbiome and improved fatty acid metabolism. How does this hot new topic relate to the ancient teachings of Ayurveda?

In this article we will consider:

  • What is resistant starch?
  • What are the different types of resistant starch?
  • How does resistant starch help us?
  • What kind of resistant starch is best for me?
  • How does it feature in an Ayurvedic diet?
  • Should I worry about resistant starch?

As some of you know, my watchword is: eventually the latest research will 'prove' controversial teachings of Ayurveda to be correct. Resistant starch is one such example, as you will see.

What is resistant starch?

Resistant starch is starch that is resistant to digestion by small bowel enzymes. As such it acts as part of our dietary fibre, passing into the large intestine and being fermented by our gut microbes. Note the word fermented here. If we introduce too much resistant starch too fast, or the wrong kind for our particular microbiome (aka agni type), we will get gas--and Ayurveda takes gas seriously as a symptom of vata buildup.

What are the different types of resistant starch?

There are four main types:

  • Type I is found in seeds, beans and whole grains and is resistant because it is encapsulated. The Ayurvedic diet is full of this type of resistant starch.
  • Type II is inherently resistant due to its amylose content. Green bananas, raw potato starch and raw plantains fall into this category (but could be very vata disturbing).
  • Type III is formed when we cook and cool starchy foods. This type of resistant starch is thankfully not destroyed when the food is re-heated--in fact it may even increase. (That's a mercy, because we don't want you to eat cold food!)
  • Type IV barely deserves a mention as it is a chemically modified high amylose industrial corn product, which we definitely don't recommend.

How does resistant starch help us?

  • Resistant starch feeds our gut microbiome, the key factor in good health.
  • Resistant starch is beneficial for glycaemic control, lowering the postprandial glucose spike--or in plain English, it helps your blood sugar not to spike up after meals. Foods with more resistant starch are considered as having a lower glycaemic index than foods with less resistant starch.
  • Regular intake of resistant starch improves insulin sensitivity.
  • Resistant starch improves fatty acid metabolism.
  • Resistant starch lowers appetite.

What kind of resistant starch is best for me?

Read this carefully--there are a lot of people who want to sell you a product with the buzzword 'resistant starch.' Probably the different types of resistant starch would have different effect on the microbiome, but the research on this isn't done yet. But Ayurveda tells us that we need 'different strokes for different folks.'

  • If you are kapha prakriti, try to meet your RS needs with type I sources. Quinoa and cooked buckwheat groats are brilliant sources of resistant starch that will best suit your metabolic type, as well as some whole beans and some seeds. If you are on our Diabetes Prevention diet, make sure to include these foods on a regular basis to help your gut bacteria and glycaemcic control.
  • If you are vata prakriti, your digestion is more delicate and you are more gas-prone. It's fine to have some Type I RS to the extent that you can tolerate it, but you can also support your microbiome with Ayurvedically prepared Type III RS. And in a few minutes I'll tell you how to make that!
  • If you are pitta and have really strong digestive fire, you might want to try including green banana in your diet! But many of us pittas are quite delicate and probably would do well with a combination of Type I and Type III RS.

How does RS feature in an Ayurvedic diet?

As it turns out, Ayurveda has come up with ancient agricultural and culinary techniques that create Type III and IV RS using the basic food--rice. A new, hot off the press Sri Lankan study recently presented at 249th ACS National Meeting & Exposition in Denver, CO has served only to illustrate the advantages of these traditional techniques. Here are some highlights:

  • Traditional rice varieties like basmati rice and Bhutanese red rice have higher levels of RS and are inherently lower glycaemic than new and 'improved' varieties.
  • Parboiled rice--a traditional Indian rice processing technique--contains more RS. and hence a lower glycaemic index.
  • Traditional cooking methods create more RS in rice. For example, pilaf rice and fried rice have more RS than boiled or steamed rice.
  • In the Sri Lankan study, rice was cooked the traditional Sri Lankan way, then cooled for 12 hours in the refrigerator, with an increase in RS. This increase was not reversed by re-heating the rice. And this is important because rice can be a source of botulism and should either be eaten fresh or heated up thoroughly.

How to Make:

Lower glycaemic rice: boil the rice in extra water until it begins to fluff up. Then drain, rinse, add new water and finish cooking. This simple method lowers the glycaemic index of rice.

Yellow Rice: Adding turmeric to your rice will lower the blood sugar spike from eating rice.

Sri Lankan high RS rice: Start with a traditional and ideally a parboiled rice. Wash thoroughly and soak for an hour. Then cook the rice with a teaspoon or two of coconut oil. This should help increase the amylose in the rice--and it's delicious and traditional. After cooking the rice on the stovetop for 40 minutes, oven-dry it in a low oven for a couple of hours. Now refrigerate the rice for use the next day. Steam or better still fry it before you eat it. Voilà--higher RS rice!

Should I worry about Resistant Starch?

  • If you are on a standard American diet, (SAD) you're not getting enough RS. But then, you are not getting enough of many nutrients. So instead of adding commercial RS to your deficent diet, why not start eating an Ayurvedic diet of whole grains, beans, vegetables, nuts, seeds and healthy oils?
  • If you are on a Paleo diet, you should worry about RS because you're probably not getting enough. Bear in mind that your microbiome is totally different from that of a hunter-gatherer who never tasted sugar or refined flour and never had any exposure to antibiotics.
  • If you are on an Ayurvedic diet, rest assured that our ancient sages have already featured plenty of RS into your diet, as long as you adhere to traditional foods, traditionally prepared.

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Sunset on a Tuscan olive by Sadananda

On Thursday this week, Holy Thursday (or Maundy Thursday in Britain), Catholic cathedrals around the world will be conducting a special olive oil blessing, the Chrism mass. All the oil to be used throughout the year for confirmation, ordination and anointing the sick and dying will be consecrated by the local bishop. My birth name being Olivia, the ancient name of the goddess of the olive groves, I always loved this ceremony and naturally feel a special affinity for olive trees.

Olives were loved across the ancient Mediterranean world and have been cultivated in the Levant for over 6,000 years. In Greek mythology, the creation of the olive tree was the result of a contest between Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, and Poseidon, God of the Sea as to who would be the patron of a newly-built city in Attica. Poseidon struck a rock with his trident and water gushed forth, creating a spring of salty water. But then Athena struck a rock with her spear and produced the olive tree. The citizens chose the gift of Athena --peace, plenty and fruitfulness. And so she forever became the patroness of the city, named Athens to this day. The athletes competing in the Olympic games were massaged with olive oil and the victor was crowned with a wreath of olive leaves.

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The Romans similarly saw the olive tree as the gift of Minerva, goddess of wisdom and healing, while to the Egyptians, Isis bestowed the olive tree.

The olives have their own Catholic saint as well--Saint Olivia of Palermo, a Sicilian noblewoman who was martyred in Tunis, or so her legend goes. She is still the patroness of Tunis, whose cathedral today is dedicated to St Vincent de Paul and St Olivia. Even more remarkable, the grand mosque of Olivia, the oldest mosque in Tunis, is said to stand over her tomb, and she is revered by the Muslims of Tunis.

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Saint Olivia of Palermo with olive branches

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Mosque of the olives (or of Olivia) in Tunis

Noah's flood finally came to an end when the dove returned to the ark bearing an olive branch--showing that dry land had appeared again. The dove with the olive branch has become a symbol of peace, as has 'holding out the olive branch.' Jesus spent the last night before his crucifixion in the olive grove of Gethsemane, while St Francis made his hermitage on Mt Subasio beside an olive that is growing to this day.

Today olive oil is revered as a bestower of good health, due to its content of oleic acid and other monounsaturated fats. The main fat used in the Mediterranean diet, olive oil consumption is associated with a low mortality from cardiovascular disease, as summarized in a review article by Marıa-Isabel Covas.

The olivey taste of olive oil is associated with special phenolic antoxidants, oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol, while carotenes and tocopherol (Vitamin E) are also important components.

Good olive oil should have a peppery, somewhat acrid taste. It's worth spending money and also taste-testing carefully. Many blogs and news sources have been reporting on a study from UC Davis indicating that a number of well-known brands of olive oil are adulterated. I have several issues with that study. Sample sizes were unscientifically small. The study was funded by the California Olive Oil Council and by some of California's largest olive producers--and recommended we buy only California olive oil. And a single study does not prove anything--the results have to be reproducible by other researchers. Even more intriguing, the link to the pdf of the actual study has been removed from UC Davis Olive Center's website. However, there is no doubt that olive oil scams abound, as they have done for 6,000 years. See this website for more information. Some tips for buying the best possible olive oil include:

  • Don't buy the cheapest--good oil isn't cheap
  • Taste test before you buy--look for the fruity, bitter and peppery taste
  • Use a light-protective container--and use up the oil quickly (never a problem in our household)
  • Buy oils bottled this year, or within their 'best by' date.
  • Buy only olive oil labeled 'extra virgin'
  • Prefer PDO and PDI olive oils, coming from a protected geographical location.

Fair Trade olive oil is also available. For my birthday I got Rumi Tree olive oil from Palestine, sold at our local fair trade shop.

Another confusing issue about olive oil is the claim some make that 'you shouldn't cook with olive oil.' This is not true. And were it true, the entire Mediterranean diet, demonstrated to be so healthy, would be invalidated. Olive oil smokes at 420'F, a far higher temperature than the 'sizzle point' at which you can effectively stir-fry or sauté your food. Some studies have subjected olive oil to high temperatures (below its smoke point) for long periods of time without destroying its special phytonutrients. I'm leaving the references at the end of the article in case you need further convincing. However, since some of the olivey flavor is lost in cooking, Spaniards and Italians (and Alakananda & Sadananda too) always add some extra, fresh olive oil at the table.

Olive trees should never be harmed, even in war. As it says in the Book of Deuteronomy in the Torah, 'Are the trees your enemy, that you should attack them?' They give us so much--shade, shelter, wood, olives and oil. (Deut. 20, 19). As gifts of the Ancient Mother, the trees and those who tend them deserve our love, respect and protection.

1. Bastida SS-M, FJ. Thermal oxidation of olive oil, sunflower oil and a mix of both oils during forty continuous domestic fryings of different foods. Food Sci Tech Int 2001;7:15-21.
2. Gennaro L, Piccioli Bocca, A, Modesti, D, Masella, R, Coni, E. Effect of biophenols on olive oil stability evaluated by thermogravimetric analysis. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 1998;46:4465-4469.
3. Allouche Y, Jimenez A, Gaforio JJ, Uceda M, Beltran G. How heating affects extra virgin olive oil quality indexes and chemical composition. J Agric Food Chem 2007;55:9646-54.
4. Cicerale S, Conlan XA, Barnett NW, Sinclair AJ, Keast RS. Influence of heat on biological activity and concentration of oleocanthal--a natural anti-inflammatory agent in virgin olive oil. J Agric Food Chem 2009;57:1326-30.

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