Meditation and Yoga Change How Our DNA Is Expressed

Meditation, Yoga and other “mind-body interventions” (MBIs) can reverse the damaging effects of stress and anxiety on the level of our DNA, according to a new study.

When our body becomes stressed, our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) goes into survival mode and tells our body to increase the production of a molecule called Nuclear Factor kappa B, or NF-kB. This molecule regulates how our genes are expressed.

NFkB tells our genes to produce proteins called cytokines, which cause inflammation at a cellular level. This reaction is useful for a short-lived “fight or flight” response, but if triggered continuously, can lead to serious health concerns such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, accelerated aging, and even psychiatric disorders such as depression.

According to the new study, those who practice MBIs, actually exhibit the opposite effect: a decrease in the production of NFkB and cytokines. This means a reduction in the pattern of pro-inflammation gene expression — and thus a reduction in the link of inflammation-related diseases and disorders.

Lead researcher, Iyana Buric, noted, “”These activities are leaving what we call a molecular signature in our cells, which reverses the effect that stress or anxiety would have on the body by changing how our genes are expressed. Put simply, the MBIs cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our wellbeing.”

The researchers looked at 18 studies featuring a total of 846 participants over 11 years. They were able to chart a distinct pattern in the molecular changes that happened within the participants’ physiologies as a result of regular practice of MBIs.

Ayurveda, which literally means “the science of life”, has long understood that the mind/body system must be considered as a whole. Ayurveda is a comprehensive system of medicine that places equal emphasis on the body, mind and spirit, and strives to restore the innate harmony of the individual.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the Transcendental Meditation technique, was instrumental in restoring Ayurveda to its comprehensive and integrated form in a system known as Maharishi Ayurveda. He emphasized the inseparable, very intimate relationship between the unmanifest field of consciousness and all the manifest levels of the physiology. According to this view, the primary approach to health must be from the most basic foundation: the field of consciousness.

The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa offers an integrated approach of purification treatments (Panchakarma), the Transcendental Meditation program, Yoga, diet, life-style and herbs, emphasizing a unique, individualized, and holistic approach to health that has seen remarkable results in the lessening and abatement of a wide range of disorders.

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

www.theraj.com

 

Ayurvedic Treatments Help Combat Heart Disease

 

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Free radicals, or reactive oxygen species (ROS) are fragments of molecules that are electrochemically unstable. They are like tiny molecular “sharks” that damage every living cell and help cause problems such as heart attacks, cataracts, arthritis and cancer.

Pollution, poor diet, smoking, second-hand smoke, alcohol, pesticides, excessive exposure to sunlight, chemotherapy, and stress are know to contribute to the uncontrolled formation of free radicals, which can then initiate chain reactions capable of causing extensive damage to normal cells and tissues.

Free radicals are damaging because they are unstable molecules containing oxygen. Just as oxygen rusts automobiles and contributes to the burning of forests, so the oxygen in free radical molecules “rusts” and “burns” biological molecules within each cell. The resulting damage tears apart cell membranes, destroys the cell’s energy-producing mechanisms and disarranges the genetic code in the DNA.

This damage not only helps cause 80% to 90% of all diseases, but is also produces wrinkles, grey hair, stiffness and other signs of “normal” aging.

Panchakarma Removes Free Radicals, Promotes Heart Health

Studies on the Panchakarma treatments (traditional Ayurveda detoxification and purification therapies) given at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa found that Panchakarma:

  1. Reduces lipid peroxide levels. Lipid peroxides are fat molecules that have been damaged by free radicals. They are thought to be important in the initiation of atherosclerotic heart disease. Lipid peroxide levels in the blood are uses as a measurement of free radical activity.
  2. Balances biochemistry and improves cardiovascular risk factors: a) *VIP (vasoactive intestinal peptide) rose 80% three months after Panchakarma treatment; this is significant because VIP is responsible for dilating blood vessels and increasing blood flow to the heart. b) *HDL, or “good” cholesterol increased 75% three months after treatment. HDL protects against atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and is associate with decreased incidence of heart disease.

It is proposed Panchakarma achieves its results through tree possible mechanisms.

  1. The special, pure oils used in the cleansing program, massage and heat treatments of Panchakarma replace damaging lipid peroxides in the cells.
  2. Panchakarma treatment loosens lipid peroxides from the cells and sets them into the bloodstream from where they can be eliminated.
  3. The deeply soothing and relaxing influence of Panchakarma reduces biochemical stress factors that contribute to free radical formation.

Panchakarma fights free radicals with unique effectiveness. For more information on Panchakarma treatments, visit the The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

 

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:

www.theraj.com

How Ayurveda Can Help Prevent Asthma, Arthritis and Heart Disease

The Ayurvedic approach to creating health has two goals: to restore balance to the level of underlying biological intelligence and to open the channels of communication and circulation. This helps bring re-establish the lively coherence between biological intelligence and the material level of the physiology.

Enhancing Mind-Body Coordination

At its deepest level, the body is a network of intelligence that is constantly being influenced by our mental state. In fact, Ayurveda holds that all health problems are ultimately due to “mistakes of the intellect.” This is because in the mind-body system that constitutes our selves, “consciousness is primary and matter is secondary”. Enhancing the body’s connection with the network of intelligence at its source is the most important step in creating ideal health.

Diet and Proper Routine of Life

Proper routine of life is also a prerequisite for health. In the majority of cases the imbalances at the basis of disease are created over time by simple life-style mistakes in diet, exercise and behavior that disrupt natural biological rhythms.

Our diet and daily routine of eating, sleeping and exercising determine whether we become stronger and healthier day by day or whether we create imbalances that continually grow toward disease. Without proper diet and routine of life, the effectiveness of any treatment program, whether it is a Western medicine approach or an natural medicine approach, will be greatly reduced. This is because the true cause of most diseases and disorders will continue to exist. The primary goal of an Ayurvedic program is to help structure day-to-day behavior so it has a balancing and strengthening effect on health. (See our blog, Staying Healthy with an Ayurvedic Routine)

Internal Cleansing

Impurities blocking the channels of circulation and communication are a major factor in the body losing contact with its own network of intelligence. Most blockages develop gradually over time due to poor digestion, which leads to the creation of impurities (referred to as “ama”), and poor elimination, which allows the impurities to be absorbed into the system.

Improving digestion and elimination and removing accumulated impurities is an important step in your Ayurveda health program. This can be achieved by simple internal cleansing therapies that can done at home can be prescribed by an Ayurveda expert, depending on your individual state of health and balance. For more profound internal cleansing, the traditional detoxification treatments, called Panchakarma, are recommended. (Read our blog on Panchakarma)

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The following examples describe how an accumulation of ama can be at the basis of various diseases.

1)Arthritis: When ama starts to accumulate in the joints, this can create an inflammatory and immune response that creates the symptoms of arthritis.

2) Asthma: When ama accumulates in the lungs, impeding the circulation in that area, the body can both accumulate more allergens and also become more sensitized to those allergens.

3) Cardiovascular disease: Modern medicine describes how impurities block the cardiovascular system. When the accumulating impurities are high in free radicals, they become very reactive with the blood vessel walls and damage them.

For more information about specific disorders and how Ayurvedic programs can help restore balance, contact the Vedic Health Office at The Raj, Ayurveda Health Spa:

www.theraj.com