Avoiding Back Pain in the Fall and Winter

Driving through my neighborhood this week I noticed many people preparing their homes and yards for winter. This alertness to the change of seasons also needs to extend to our own physiologies. As we head into the fall season it is very important to start taking measures to pacify Vata dosha. Vata controls all movement in the body and, not surprisingly, it is the first dosha to move out of balance. Late fall and winter are known as Vata season because they are marked by the same qualities that characterize Vata: cold, dry, and moving. As Vata increases in the environment it increases in our bodies.

Vata imbalances include insomnia, aching joints, arthritis, back pain, constipation, high blood pressure and anxiety. All body types are vulnerable to Vata imbalance at this time of the year, but those whose body type is predominantly Vata need to be especially alert to staying in balance. Let’s look specifically at back and joint pain.

The Vata/Kapha Connection

One very common result of Vata imbalance is the sudden onset of back pain. Often it seems to come out of nowhere. You get out of bed in the morning or lean down to tie your shoe and suddenly find yourself immobilized.

In Ayurvedic terms, back pain is often the result of an initial imbalance of Vata dosha that goes on to create a Kapha imbalances. Lower back pain often appears in the fall and winter because this is the season when Vata predominates. This relationship of back pain to Vata also explains why Incidences of back and joint pain increase with age. According to Ayurveda, when we are 60 and over we enter the Vata time of life.  Thus it makes sense that Vata imbalances — and their resulting problems — appear more frequently during Vata season and during the Vata period of life.

In the case of back pain, the build up of Vata interferes with the ability of Kapha dosha to support and lubricate the spine. This increasing dryness further aggravates Vata, creating a vicious cycle leading to back pain, aches and stiffness in the joints, and constipation or difficulties with elimination.


Ama —toxins and impurities that accumulate in body—is another factor to be considered with back and joint pain. When Vata and Kapha are aggravated they “color” ama with their qualities, creating either a Vata-aggravated ama or a Kapha-aggravated ama. This ama can become lodged in the joints, blocking joint movement and interfering with the production of fluid lubricating the joints. This leads to cracking joints, stiffness, pain, loss of cartilage and overproduced bone growth at the joints resulting in osteoarthritis.


Effective preventive treatment for chronic lower back pain should include regular stretching, such as yoga exercises. The traditional detoxification treatments of Ayurveda (Panchakarma) offered at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa specialize in removing ama and impurities that have accumulated in the joints and tissues.  The treatments also help to balance Vata, allowing Kapha dosha to once again function normally.


If you are prone to lower back pain, avoid eating Vata-aggravating foods such as dry foods and raw vegetables. Also avoid root foods, which not only aggravate Vata but also have certain properties that can adversely affect joints. To reduce ama, avoid cheese, meat and heavy, fried, or processed foods. Eat your main meal at noon and take a lighter meal in the evening. Drink lots of warm or hot beverages, such as herbal teas (like licorice root and ginger teas) throughout the day. Avoid cold, iced drinks and food. This is the time of year to make sure you include ghee and olive oil in your foods, as the oil helps combat the dryness of the season.

Daily Oil Massage

Pacifying Vata is the key to keeping everything else in balance. A simple home oil massage each morning or evening can help soothe Vata and also help remove ama from the skin tissues.


Many people find that their back goes out when they are under stress. In a stressful situation the whole body can tighten, tense, and can easily go into muscle spasm, which can push vertebrae out of place. At The Raj, daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique is recommended to reduce stress, thereby reducing incidences of lower back problems.

For more information on Panchakarma treatments or Transcendental Meditation, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa web site:


Reduce Top Risk Factors for Stroke with Ayurveda

Just recently an international research study looking at people from every continent in the world found ten modifiable risk factors that were associated with 90% of stroke cases. In other words, 90% of strokes are seen to be preventable with basic lifestyle changes. The study looked at men and women, young and old, in 32 countries across the globe. High blood pressure, lack of exercise, high lipids and diet were found to be the top four risk factors.

Let’s look at the top four risk factors from from both a modern and Ayurvedic perspective.

High blood pressure (hypertension) affects 47.9% of stroke cases

According to an international team of researchers led by the Population Health Research Institute at McMaster University in Ontario, “Hypertension is the most important modifiable risk factor in all regions, and the key target in reducing the burden of stroke globally.” The study looked at men and women, young and old, in 32 countries across the globe.

More than three million Americans are diagnosed with high blood pressure every year, with blood pressure above 140/90. This chronic condition forces blood against the artery walls in a way that produces crippling pressure. According to the study, eliminating hypertension in patients would practically cut their stroke risk in half (48 per cent).

Modern medicine recommends medications along with a diet low in salt, more exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol and reducing stress to combat hypertension

According to Ayurveda, the causes and symptoms of high blood pressure can vary from individual to individual. People with Pitta and Vata predominant constitutions (and Pitta and Vata imbalances) are more prone to hypertension than Kapha types.

Vata – Anxiety and mental stress and strain can aggravate Vata and put pressure on the nervous system. Other contributors include not getting enough sleep, having an irregular lifestyle, and watching TV or working on computers at night and constantly rushing from activity to activity

Pitta – Because one of the main seats of Pitta is in the heart, emotional stress can create imbalances in Pitta dosha. Eating spicy, salty, or sour food can also aggravate Pitta. When Pitta is out of balance, our emotions can also get out of balance. The resulting anger or hostility can lead to high blood pressure.

Kapha – Sluggish digestion, sedentary habits, and a diet filled with fats, sweets and processed foods can lead to being overweight, feeling depressed, and having high blood pressure.

The Ayurvedic approach to pacifying these imbalances also includes dietary and lifestyle recommendations, yoga exercises, meditation, specialized Panchakarma treatments and herbal supplements.

Lack of exercise affects 38.5% of stroke cases

The cardiovascular benefits of exercise include making blood less likely to clot, controlling weight, lowering blood pressure, and increasing levels of protective high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol — the “bad” cholesterol.

According to Ayurveda, exercise also helps remove toxins and impurities (called ama) that have accumulated in the physiology. These deposits are a major factor in the breakdown of the body’s natural healing mechanism and cause blockages throughout the physiology. Exercise according to body type is a key recommendation for maintaining health.

Vata: Because Vata types have the quality of motion and changeability highly enlivened in their physiology, they need less exercise than other body types. Yoga, dance, aerobics, walking and light bicycling are good for them. A half hour of mild exercise is usually sufficient.

Pitta: Pitta types have good drive and endurance and can exercise in moderate quantity. Sports with a challenge and that bring a sense of accomplishment can be especially satisfying for Pittas. Water sports, because of their cooling influence, are highly recommended.

Kapha: Kapha types have a tendency toward heaviness and lethargy and need significant quantities of exercise. Kaphas have strong frames and joints and can easily withstands more vigorous and extended sports. Running, aerobics, rowing and other endurance sports are good Kapha types.

High Lipids (transport cholesterol) affects 26.8 % of stoke cases

A high lipid disorder means that you have high levels of either low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or elevated levels of fats called triglycerides.

LDL cholesterol is considered the “bad” cholesterol because it contributes to plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can clog arteries and make them less flexible. High levels of “bad” cholesterol has been linked to may health problems, from heart disease (cardiovascular disease) and strokes to  brain deposits that cause Alzheimer’s Disease.

Modern medicine recently switched its focus from total cholesterol levels to the ratio of “good” to “bad” cholesterol. 3.5 to 1 is the standard. A healthy ratio of good vs. bad cholesterol is associated with lower levels of the plaque in the brain and heart health.

Ayurveda agrees that cholesterol is only “bad” when it is out of balance. It is “good” when it is balanced, supporting and lubricating the body’s numerous circulatory channels, known as the shrotas.

The health of the circulatory channels, or shrotas, is essential to a well-functioning physiology. There are micro-shrotas, which carry nutrients to the cells and waste from the cells. There are larger shrotas, such as the arteries and veins, which carry blood to and from the heart. And there are delicate shrotas that lead to our brain. All of these shrotas must be flexible and elastic if we are to remain healthy. And cholesterol, when it is balanced, plays a critical role in lubricating and maintaining all these channels of circulation. With this perspective, one can see why high amounts of good cholesterol would be associated with longer life-span.

“Good” cholesterol becomes “bad” cholesterol when we have large amounts of ama in our system. Ama is the sticky waste product of poor digestion, absorption and metabolism. It accumulates as a toxin in the fat tissues. When it continues to accumulate over time, ama  spreads into other parts of the body, including the important channels of circulation, nourishment and detoxification.

According to Ayurveda, the production of cholesterol does not necessarily need to be lessened, but instead needs to be balanced. Which comes down to maintaining a healthy and well-functioning power of digestion. In Ayurveda, digestion is king. When our digestion is balanced and healthy, the body will produce the right amount of cholesterol, in the right proportion to nourish the body.

To lower “bad” cholesterol Ayurveda recommends a two-pronged approach: Improve digestion and follow a Kapha-balancing diet to enhance fat metabolism.

Poor diet affects 23.2 % of stoke cases

According to the study, a better diet would cut the risk of a stroke by almost a fifth (19 per cent), the study says.

Health experts today recommend eating more fiber and legumes and to favor lean meat over red meat. In fact, earlier in the year the USDA came under fire for not advising Americans to reduce their red meat intake. Avoid fatty foods, and sugary foods to improve cardiovascular health.

Ayurveda takes into account the doshic balance of an individual before recommending a specific diet. For example, not everyone who is overweight has a Kapha imbalance. It could be that an underlying Vata imbalance is actually at the root of imbalances in the other doshas. If you are dealing with hypertension it would be best to find an Ayurveda expert who can accurately pinpoint the specific imbalances in your physiology.

At The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa, we consider Ayurveda to be an ideal complementary approach to good health. Check with your physician while you are integrating natural, preventive modalities.

For more information on Ayurvedic programs for hypertension or consultations with an Ayurvedic expert, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:



Keeping Kids Healthy with Ayurveda

From an Ayurvedic perspective, kids are inherently healthy. Then why do we think that colds, fevers, allergies, earaches and sore throats are a natural part of childhood?

The traditional medical view is that kids get sick with colds, flu and other common illness because their immune system is untested and they have not previously been exposed to viruses. When they do come in contact with viruses and upper respiratory infections, they easily succumb. Later in life, having developed a resistance to these diseases, they do not get sick as often.

Ayurveda takes the view that children tend to stay healthy if they eat the right foods, get proper rest and have a good routine. This helps the child maintain his or her own resistance and immunity. We know that some children are exposed to such things as upper respiratory viruses and do not get sick at all, where as other children seem to get sick all the time. To some extent this is due to the child’s body type and inherent resistance, but proper rest, diet and routine will maximize the possibility of remaining in good health.


According to Ayurveda, each of the three doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha—are responsible for the expression of various aspects of nature in the body. Vata is responsible for movement, quickness and change. Pitta is related to heat processes and energy production. In the body, Vata directs circulation and nervous system functioning. Pitta governs digestion and metabolism.

Kapha is more structural and is responsible for heaviness and solidity. And Kapha is responsible for maintaining the structural aspects of the body—muscles, joints, tissues, etc. as well as lubrication.

During the growing years, as the physical structure of the body is forming, Kapha dosha is more predominant than the other doshas. Kapha is slow, heavy, sticky, firm and strong. And its proper functioning is essential for the ever-strengthening physiology to grow. If Kapha becomes imbalanced, it can—because of its heavy and sticky qualities—slow digestion and produce excess mucus in the body. This will lead to colds, ear infections, etc.


What is a proper diet for your child? The recommendations from Ayurveda take into account the Kapha-dominated period of early childhood.

Excess of sweets and cold drinks and foods are more difficult for the slower digestion of early childhood to handle. It is better to avoid offering these kinds of foods to children. Unfortunately, many of these foods—especially candy, chocolates, pastries, ice cream, cold drinks, cheese, potato chips and highly processed foods—tend to be easily accessible and are often what children ask for. This is one reason that holiday times—between Halloween and Christmas—are times when it is common to see an increase in colds and sickness in children.

Ayurveda recommends a vegetarian diet as the ideal diet for a young child. It should include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and can provide plenty of protein through a combination of grains, legumes, dairy and nuts.

Ayurveda recommends mild for most children. Boiling milk makes it easier to digest and it is best to drink it warm. Avoid serving milk with a meal containing tastes other than sweet as milk mixed with salty, sour, astringent, bitter and pungent tastes causes problems with digestion. Milk is best taken with grains (cereal) or by itself.

Children should take their main meal at noon, when digestion is stronger. Try to avoid serving heavy foods such as cheeses, yogurt or meat in the evening.


The second essential in keeping kids healthy is making sure they get enough rest. According to Ayurveda, the great the rest (in both children and adults) the stronger the immune system.


When children are tired from staying up too late they become more susceptible to colds and other respiratory illnesses. For greater strength and balance physiological functioning, children should go to bed earlier in the evening than is generally practiced. Children under five should go to bed between 7:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Children between the ages of eight and ten should go to bed by 8:30 p.m.


Ideally, children should get enough exercise through their daily play. Try to avoid having them sit for hours in front of the television or playing on electronic devices. Kapha requires exercise to keep balance and healthy. Otherwise, dullness and lethargy can develop.

If your child has repeated health problems, a parent should ask, “Do I have a proper routine?” Children are very sensitive and impressionable. If a parent is stressed, fatigued, has a poor diet or does not have a good routine himself, the child can easily pick up these habits.

In fact, the diet and routine that Ayurveda recommends for adults is very similar to that for children: early to bed, early to rise, eat fresh, well-cooked foods, get proper exercise, and meditate regularly to relieve stress and promote well-being and happiness.

The close relationship between parents and children is reflected in the health of the entire family. As a parent it is important not only to give care and guidance to your children but to take care of yourself as well.

For more information on Ayurveda, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:


Avoiding Flair-ups of Psoriasis with Ayurveda

Psoriasis is a complex disorder involving both the skin and the joints, which are governed by Pitta and Vata, respectively. While only an Ayurvedic pulse assessment can reveal an individual’s exact needs, imbalances of both Pitta and Vata are usually at the root of this problem.

The end of summer and beginning of fall can be a time when psoriasis can flare up. This is because Pitta dosha has been building up all summer and is at its peak in the physiology. At the same time, increasingly cool fall weather and brisk winds can begin to aggravate Vata. If you have not been taking steps to pacify Pitta dosha throughout the summer, the combination of Pitta and Vata aggravation can trigger episodes of psoriasis.

The accumulations of toxins and impurities in the physiology (referred to as ama in Ayurveda) can also play a role in the outbreak of psoriasis. During the summer months, the physiology reacts to the extreme external heat by turning down its own internal heat. As metabolism decreases, so does the ability to digest food. When we do not properly digest food, a sticky substance (ama) is produced that is not able to be utilized by the body. Instead it builds up in tissues, joints and channels of circulation, blocking the healthy functioning of the body. Unless you adjust your summer diet accordingly, it is easy to create ama during the hot months of the year.

Moving from Pitta season to Vata season does not automatically improve our digestion. In the fall, when Vata becomes more predominant in our environment, the drying quality of Vata can adversely affect our digestion. This combination of accumulated Pitta, increasing Vata, poor digestion and accumulated ama can lead to all kinds of health problems, including psoriasis. Seasonal transitions are known to be especially can be hard on the phsyiology. This is why the ancient texts of Ayurveda encourage Panchakarma (traditional purification and detoxification treatments) at the end/beginning of each season. While quarterly Panchakarma treatments may not fit into our busy modern-day lives, an Ayurvedic expert can suggest to you which seasonal transition puts the most demands on your physiology. Even once a year Panchakarma can help keep the body balanced and functioning properly.

The Ayurveda approach to the treatment of psoriaisis is multi-dimentional, and includes recommendations for diet, daily routine, yoga and meditation to reduce stress, herbal formulas, Panchakarma and other purification procedures.

Home Purification

One purification procedure that you can try at home is castor oil. Castor oil has been used as a home laxative by mothers around the world for many generations. But in addition to being a natural laxative, castor oil can be used to gradually draw accumulated impurities and toxins from the cells and tissues into the eliminative organs. Small quantities of castor oil can be used for this purpose without creating a laxative effect. If a laxative effect occurs, simply reduce the quantity of castor oil.


Recommended Diet

(Please note that these are general recommendations ~ with severe psoriasis it is better to get individual recommendations from an Ayurvedic expert.)

Avoid Pitta aggravating foods—foods that are sour, pungent and salty. This includes yogurt (except in the form of lassi —and even with lassi, yogurt should be fresh), citrus fruits, fermented foods, junk food and processed foods, red meat, and alcohol.

Favor foods that are sweet, astringent and bitter.

Avoid iced or refrigerated foods and drinks.

Avoid whey.

Avoid sweets, sugary pastries, and chocolates.

Avoid fried foods.

Avoid common table salt.

Avoid all kinds of chiles or pungent spices.

Only take milk with foods with a sweet taste (such a grains). Never drink milk while eating fruit or with meals that contain salty, pungent, bitter, astringent or sour tastes.

Eat your mail meal at lunch. Dinner should be light. Soup and steamed vegetables is ideal.

Pacifying Vata

To pacify the rising influence of Vata, be sure to get to bed on time, wake with the rising sun, give yourself a daily oil massage, eat at regular times and be regular with your mediation practice.

For more information about Panchakarma or scheduling a consultation with an Ayurvedic expert, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:


Can Ayurveda Help with Dementia and Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia, a brain disorder affecting the parts of the brain controlling thought, memory and language. About 4.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s and the number of cases are expected to quadruple by 2050. Ayurveda, the original health science of India, offers much needed knowledge on how to reverse aging trends, even in cases of brain deterioration such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Early detection provides a greater opportunity to delay or reverse the existing symptoms of aging disorders. Ayurveda, offers a comprehensive system of effective interventions.

A consultation with an Ayurvedic health expert using the ancient technique of Ayurvedic pulse assessment can help with early detection. Pulse assessment can help identify specific imbalances in the body which can predispose an individual to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders. This individual diagnosis is a powerful tool for designing an individualized treatment program and home recommendations.

Factors Affecting Alzheimer’s

Drugs, alcohol, stress, the buildup of toxins and poor nutrition are all factors whose effects accumulate over time and contribute to the degeneration of our brain’s ability to function properly. While available drugs have been shown to be somewhat effective in reducing some aspects of cognitive decline, changes in diet and lifestyle remain the only proven means of affecting the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s.

Don’t Let Your Brain “Dry Up”

The thousand year-old texts of Ayurveda indicate that with advancing age, the brain and body gradually become more agitated and dry. Alarik Arenander, Ph.D, a UCLA-trained neuroscientist with degrees in Molecular Biology, Developmental Biology, and Neuroscience, notes that Alzheimer’s is often associated with marked shrinkage of the brain. “The ‘drying’ effect of Alzheimer’s”, says Arenander, “must be remedied by proper diet, digestion and routine. This is the specialty of Ayurveda.”

Ayurvedic experts can offer individualized recommendations to regain balance in the physiology and nourish the brain in an effort to counteract the brain’s natural “drying” influence and establish an optimum level of mental and physical function.

In addition, Ayurvedic treatments and massages help to increase lubrication and stability and sustain quality of functioning, thereby decreasing drying, agitation and distruption of body and mind. These treatments also remove accumulated toxins and impurities which are associated with the degeneration of optimal functioning of the mind and body.

Toxins linked to Alzeimer’s

A recent study published in JAMA Neurology found that patients with Alzheimer’s had four times as much blood levels of DDT as healthy people. While the findings are not conclusive, researchers believe the chemical increases the chance of Alzheimer’s and may be involved in the development of amyloid plaques in the brain, which contribute to the death of brain cells. Even though DDT has been banned in the US since 1972, the average American still ingests small amounts of the toxic chemical every day.

It turns out that the ancient science of Ayurveda provides the only known means of removing this harmful chemical from the body.

Current mainline thinking is that the only way to eliminate DDT from the body is to let nature take its course. DDT’s half-life — the time it takes to naturally fall to half it’s original value — is 2 to 15 years. But a published research study conducted on the traditional Ayurveda detoxification treatments at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa and Treatment Center in Fairfield, IA showed that 50% of DDE levels (DDE is the by-product of DDT found to be linked to Alzheimer’s) can be eliminated through a 5-day treatment program. To read more about the study visit http://theraj.com/rajresults/index.php


Ayurvedic Tips to Nourish Your Brain

  • Stay physically active: Recent studies suggest that exercise which raises your heart rate for at least 30 minutes several times a week can lower your risk of Alzheimer’s. One study, conducted at the University of Chicago, looked at two groups of mice. One group was allowed to exercise and the other was not. The brains in the physically active mice had 50 to 80 percent less plaque than the brains of the sedentary mice. In addition, the exercising mice produced significantly more of an enzyme in the brain that prevents plaque.
  • Mental activity: stay mentally alert by reading, playing cards, crossword puzzles and writing.
  • Eat a wide variety of green vegetables and include milk products (only milk contains significant levels of B12 which is absolutely essential for proper nervous system function) in your diet. If you are feeling mentally weak and are experiencing memory loss, have your doctor check your vitamin B levels, especially vitamin B12
  • Include plenty of antioxidants in your diets. Free radicals and oxidative stress are major factors in premature aging. Include plenty of organic fruits and green vegetables in your diet.
  • Include high quality oils in your diet. It is good to sauté spices such as tumeric and black pepper when you use oils. Your brain is composed of over 50% fat. Nervous system tissue is most nourished by oils, especially ghee, or clarified butter. Organic ghee and olive oil are the best cooking oils. Tumeric and freshly ground black pepper have the ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, which helps lubricate the brain. In India, where tumeric is used in great quantity, the rate of Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases are very low.

The treatments and techniques of Ayurveda are based on age-old wisdom of how to maintain perfect balance in the physiology. This ancient wisdom sheds light on how to maintain and promote healthy, youthful brain functioning.

Learn more about Ayurvedic programs to optimize brain functioning at The Raj, Ayurveda Health Spa website:


Hidden Factors Blocking Your Weight-Loss Efforts?

Most people who lose weight gain it back within a few years – with many regaining even more than they lost. What they may not know is that there may be a number of factors triggering their weight-gain that are beyond their ability to control.

Mind/Body Types

According to Ayurveda, different mind/body types have different body shapes and sizes that are natural  — and healthful — for that particular physiology. The goal of Ayurveda is simply to maintain or restore one’s natural balance. As one restores balance, weight will naturally shift back to what is normal for that particular physiology.

Diet and Digestion

Crucial to maintaining balanced health is good digestion. Suppressing our appetite means suppressing our digestive “fire”. As a result, the food we eat does not get digested or metabolized property. When the body is not nourished properly it begins to send messages to the brain that it is starving. The dieter gets cravings that cannot be ignored. This can lead to binge eating, creating further imbalances and weight gain.

Toxins: Environmental Toxins and Ama

Environmental toxins

Environmental toxins are now being recognized as major contributors to obesity and removal of these toxins may be an effective treatment approach for treatment-resistant or chronic weight gain. Researchers are pursuing indications that certain chemicals, which have been shown to cause abnormal changes in animals’ sexual development, can also trigger fat-cell activity — a process scientists call adipogenesis.

The chemicals under scrutiny are used in many products, from marine paints and pesticides to food and beverage containers. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found one chemical, bisphenol A, in 95 percent of the people tested, at levels at or above those that affected development in animals.

The suspected link between obesity and exposure to “endocrine disrupters,” as the chemicals are called because of their hormone-like effects, has been called “plausible and possible.”

Exposed mice became obese adults and remained obese even on reduced calorie and increased exercise regimes.

Ayurveda offers a time-tested approach to removing fat-soluble toxins that is comfortable, safe, and, in fact, more effective than any other form of purification approach available today. A published research study (Sept./Oct. 2002 issue of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine) on the Ayurvedic panchakarma (purification) treatments offered at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa in Fairfield, IA showed that  50% of these dangerous toxins were removed with a 5-day program.  No other methods of detoxification have been shown to remove this class of fat-soluble toxins from the body.


Not all toxins come from our environment. We actually create some toxins ourselves due to poor digestion or poor food choices. Ayurveda refers to the toxins created by poor digestion as ama, a sticky residue that gradually clogs up the cells and channels of the body. This waste material can impair cellular functions and accelerate aging. It can also cause lethargy, fatigue, dullness, erratic eating habits and compulsive eating.

When ama blocks the channels of the body, Vata, the principle of movement, no longer flows property and can become trapped in the abdomen. This can stimulate an abnormal digestive “fire”. As a result, a person feels hungry and begins to eat excessively, beyond their actual need.

The specialized Panchakarma treatments can help “chisel away” impurities and toxins that have been slowly building up in the body over years. Removing these blockages and toxins allows the natural intelligence of the body to become more expressed. Cravings disappear and more natural eating habits are more easily established.


Five Weight Loss Tips

Ayurveda recommends five actions steps that are helpful for everyone – no matter what your body type. These tips are easy to implement and can bring about great changes in your over-all health and wellness.

  1. Eat a light evening meal favoring easy-to-digest foods (fresh vegetables, soups, grains such as barley and couscous). According to Ayurveda, digestion is weaker in the evening.  Also, going to sleep just a few hours after eating slows digestion, metabolism and circulation. This leads to poor digestion and the accumulation of toxins, fat and promotes excess weight gain.
  2. Eat the largest meal of the day at lunch favoring a wide variety of warm, cooked, organic food. Digestion is strongest at noon and we have many active hours to metabolize the food before we sleep.
  3. Drink warm or hot water frequently during the day. This helps flush the digestion tract of accumulated toxins.
  4. Avoid eating heavy foods such as red meat, leftovers, packaged foods and deep-fried food. These are hard to digest or lack energy-giving freshness. “Eat fresh food, freshly prepared” sums up the essence of Ayurvedic food guidelines.
  5. Move!  Exercise improves digestion, metabolism, elimination, body tone and strength and bone density.  It helps us normalize weight gain. Try to take time every day to get out and walk. It is good to walk 15 minutes or so after eating. Walking after the evening meal is especially encouraged.

The basis of successful weight-loss is a deep understanding of the most fundamental causes of weight gain: imbalance of the doshas, poor digestion and accumulated toxins. Ayurveda offers a time-tested approach that ensures that a comfortable, healthy weight can be both established and maintained.

For more information on Ayurvedic weight-loss programs, visit


Vata Can Cause….Dandruff!

The foundational understanding of doshas gives us insights into every aspect of our physiology — including dandruff.

An excess of Vata dosha is behind the onset of dandrfuff. Dandruff is a common chronic scalp condition marked by flaking of the skin on your scalp. While dandruff is not a serious medical condition, it can be embarrassing and sometimes difficult to treat.

Vata dosha governs the nervous system and activity in general. The head is a high-Vata area because of all our intellectual and mental activity. Dandruff is caused by the drying quality of Vata (when it is imbalanced). Dandruff often appears hand-in-hand with fatigue, stress, overthinking, worry, anxiety or sleeplessness—all Vata disorders.

Excessive or imbalanced Vata dosha can also result in an obstruction in the flow of the food nutrients that supply nourishment to the hair cells, leading to dry scalp, dry hair, split ends, and finally, thin hair or hair loss.

In order to control dandruff, we need to control Vata. One helpful approach is to start the day with Ayurvedic oil massage, particularly of the scalp. Sesame oil is a deeply penetrating oil that is good for Vata. However, sesame oil is also very heating. If you have Pitta imbalances as well as Vata imbalances and/or if you are giving your scalp a massage during the hot summer months, you may be more comfortable using coconut oil or olive oil.

Here are some other measures to address dandruff:

Drink plenty of water. Sometimes inadequate fluid intake can cause dryness in your body, skin and scalp.


Avoid harsh soaps or shampoos. Wash your hair with filtered water (use a shower filter that can remove the chlorine). Anti-dandruff shampoos claim that they can get rid of dandruff, but they do not address the root-cause of imbalanced Vata. Avoid overuse of hair styling gels and products that contain chemicals.

Don’t keep your head under water for too long during your shower. Best not to use hot water on your head. Room temperature water is best for washing your hair.

Get enough sleep. The best short-cut to balancing Vata is rest. If you are not getting the sleep hours you need ‑— and if you are not getting them during the Pitta hours of 10:00 PM to 4:00 AM — you are short-changing your body’s self repair mechanisms.

Those who suffer from dandruff may notice that the problem may increase with age. This is because the later time of life is governed by Vata dosha. Other symptoms of a Vata imbalance as we grow older are creaking joints, dry skin, memory problems, weak digestion and constipation. While we can’t turn back the clock, it is possible to take measures to balance Vata. Check with an Ayurvedic expert for a list of recommendations that will address your body’s needs.

Panchakarma treatments are very helpful in balancing Vata. Panchakarma is a series of therapies that systematically remove deep toxins from the body.  The following are treatments that support hair health.

  • Shiro abhyanga – warm oil massage on the scalp to prevent dry scalp and to enhance the lustrous nature in hair
  • Nasya – nasal administration of oil to promote circulation
  • Shirodhara – prevents stress, improves the nervous system
  • Shirolep – This is an herbal paste application that includes the herbs triphala, amalaki, neeli, bringaraj, etc.

For more information on programs to balance Vata and for specific treatment that will vitalize your hair and scalp, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:


Exercise Without Stress by Following the Principles of Ayurveda

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Ayurveda views exercise as an important part of a healthy daily routine. When done properly, it clears the body of toxins, improves circulation and creates energy.

Ideal exercise, according to Ayurveda, does not produce stress in the body. In fact, the ancient science holds that the true purpose of exercise is to reduce stress and to improve mind-body coordination.

Rather than being focused on how far you can run, how big your muscles are, how many pounds you weight—the common goals and end-products of being fit—Ayurvedic exercise focuses on how much comfort, balance and exhilaration you are experiencing. If you feel exhilarated and rested while working out, then you know you are exercising properly. Rather than being object referral (how many steps have I taken today) Ayurvedic sport and exercise is completely self-referral, focusing only on the inner experience of happiness.

With Ayurvedic exercise you stay within the realm of comfort and ease—never stressing the body. By staying completely within your comfort zone, you will naturally increase your capacity for exercise each day. And because you will not be stressing the body, you will not need to spend any time recovering. Rather than creating a cycle of stress and recovery, Ayurvedic exercise produces unrestricted improvement in performance each day.

Tips for Exercising Without Stress

  1. Use comfort, balance and rest as your criteria for healthy exercise. If your breath becomes labored or uneven, if your heart starts to beat uncomfortably fast, if your foot starts to drag or your arm starts to ache, then you know you are pushing yourself too far and should slow down or stop to rest.
  2. Exercise according to your body type. If you are a Vata type, then calming, milder activities—such as walking or swimming—are best for you. Pitta types can sustain moderately vigorous activity, but need to be careful not to get overheated in the sun. Kapha types need regular, vigorous exercise, which their stronger bones and muscle structure can handle well.
  3. Do not divide the mind. Exercise should reconnect the mind and body. Watching TV or listening to music or audio books while exercising breaks down the mind-body connection. During exercise, the mind should be completely on the body, responding to its signals.

For more information on Ayurveda, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:



Ayurveda’s Approach to Dental Hygiene, Gum Disease and Bad Breath

Dental health and a pure breath are thought of as good indicators of health and vitality. The ancient science of Ayurveda offers preventive dental tips that are easy to follow and pack surprising results.


Of course when thinking of promoting healthy teeth and gums, proper diet is a key approach. In particular, eating too many sweets, refined sugars and carbohydrates can lead to tooth decay and other dental problems. Therefore, it is helpful to avoid too many sugary foods and drinks.

Just as your dentist has told you, it is also necessary to clean your teeth properly. The original Ayurvedic texts mention using special twigs to clean teeth. The toothbrush and dental floss are our modern equivalents.

Tongue Scraping

Ayurveda recommends the usage of tongue cleaners for the scraping of the tongue.


This daily cleaning of the tongue’s surface helps removes any build-up on the tongue, which, if left untreated, could lead to bad breath. Tongue scraping stimulates the reflex points of the tongue and stimulates the secretion of digestive enzymes. It also helps contain bacteria growth (approximately 500 varieties). There is actually medical evidence now indicating that regular usage of tongue scrapers can help eliminate anaerobic bacteria, while decreasing odor from the mouth.


Gandusha (sesame-oil gargle and sesame-oil massage of the gums) can protect your mouth from bacteria and gum deterioration. Research on the practice showed that seame-oil gargle significantly reduces bacteria in the space between teeth and gums. Researchers consider bacteria in this area to be the major cause of gum disease.

Traditionally one performs gandusha in the morning after a full-body Ayurvedic oil massage. Use fresh, warm sesame oil.

Here are the instructions for performing gandusha:

  1. First, fill your mouth as full as possible with warm water. Hold this in your mouth for about half a minute. Then spit it out.
  2. Next, fill your mouth as full as you can with warm sesame oil. Hold it in your mouth for about a half a minute to a minute. Dispose of the oil.
  3. Take a little oil in your mouth and gargle for half a minute to a minute. Dispose of the oil.
  4. Massage the oil into your gums with your finger. Be gentle, but use enough pressure for the message to be pleasantly invigorating. Take two or three minutes to do this thoroughly.
  5. Finally, if you wish, you can rinse your mouth with warm water to reduce any oily residue.

Note: Although sesame oil is healthy for your gums, it can clog bathroom drains and pipes. Therefore, it is a good idea to keep a small container handy to hold the used oil until you can dispose of it properly.

As gandushan strengthens and purifies your mouth, it also improved digestion. This is helpful during the summer months when our natural ability to digest weakens. From the Ayurvedic perspective, the root cause of bad breath is poor digestion and/or poor oral hygiene. The two are usually related, in that poor digestion accelerates oral activity that leads to unsavory breath.


If you find you consistently have bad breath or wake up with a thick white coating on your tongue, you probably have some accumulated impurities or ama in your body. The traditional purification treatments of Ayurveda, known as Panchakarma, are designed to remove deep seated impurities and toxins. You might also want to consult an Ayurvedic expert about improving your diet and strengthening your digestion.

For more information, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:


WHEN We Eat Affects Weight and Insulin Levels

In Ayurveda there is a basic framework for health that you can’t escape. No matter what subject you are dealing with, whatever specific tips and recommendations might apply to that subject, there is always an underlying truth: live in tune with the cycles and laws of nature that apply to the rest of the world and your body will function in a better way. Because, whether we acknowledge it or not, we are a part of nature.

Ayurveda gives us a handy reference guide. It outlines the building blocks of life, Vata, Pitta and Kapha, and shows us how they relate to our individual physiologies and how the three doshas support various activities and functioning at different times of the day, different seasons of the year and different times of our life.

For the majority of man’s existence, it was natural to life a life in tune with these cycles. When it got dark, folks settled into their homes and headed to bed. When the sun came up, so did the population. The biggest meal was at noon because people had been working since sunrise and needed fuel to work the rest of the day. Now our lives are topsy turvey. We stay up until the wee hours, work through lunch and enjoy big family dinners at night. This throws all sorts of things out of balance.

There is now emerging evidence that people who consume the exact same diet in terms of calories, fats, carbohydrates, and protein may see big differences depending on how food is distributed during the day. When we eat affects weight control, blood sugar control, triglycerides and cholesterol levels. Researchers concluded that it is metabolically better to consume most of our carbohydrates and calories in the early part of the day, as opposed to consuming them in the evening.


We know the Ayurveda take on this: it is basic Ayurveda 101. Eat your main meal at noon. Pitta is at its peak from 11:00 to 1:00 and thus the body is better able to transform and metabolize food during this time. In the evening the Pitta quality in our physiology is more subtle. It is meant to repair the body from the activity of the day rather than digest large amounts of food.

How does modern science explain this? They say that these results relate to our hypothalamus, the part of our brain that governs our “master biological clock,” also known as circadian rhythms. In response to different cues, most notably light and dark, the master clock regulates genes that produce the hormones, enzymes and cell receptors responsible for metabolizing and storing carbohydrates and fat.

In the early hours of the day, people are more sensitive to the effects of insulin, requiring less of this hormone in order to clear our blood of the sugar produced from our meal. At night, people are less sensitive to insulin, resulting in higher blood sugar levels, higher levels of insulin secreted and increased amounts of fat storage in response to higher carbohydrate meals.

Because insulin is an “anabolic” hormone, it promotes storage and retention, making it difficult for us to burn stored carbohydrates and fat for energy. Having chronically high levels of insulin circulating, therefore, can have an effect on our weight in the longer term.

This is why Ayurvedic programs for conditions such as diabetes and weight loss can be so successful. They recognizes the multifactorial nature of these conditions and offer a framework that covers all aspects of life, rather than considering parts in isolation. Our body is an ecosystem. We need to treat the body as in intelligent, self-interacting system, in which each aspect of our lives affects all the other parts.

For more information on Ayurvedic programs for diabetes and weight loss, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa: